Is This Man Houdini

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.

AND....EXHALE....: Phil Mickelson rolled in a 9-foot birdie putt on the final hole to edge Tim Clark and Rod Pampling to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Mickelson has now won at both of Hogan's Alley's - Riviera and Colonial ' this season.
Backspin It might be a stretch to say this was Phil's wildest win ever, but not by much. And only watching the event live on TV can do it justice - Phil standing on the 18th tied for the lead; Phil going all 'Winged Foot' on everybody and blasting his tee shot waaaaay left; Phil standing practically in a forest trying to figure out if he even had a chance to advance his approach shot toward the green; Phil going into full 'Phil the Thrill' mode and hitting a near miracle shot to within 10 feet of the cup; Phil draining the birdie putt to close out the tournament in a fashion that would make Houdini proud; a Phil-fanatic going nuts with excitement jumping into the 18th's greenside pond. In just one hole, Mickelson summed up his golfing career. It was even better than those Mickelson Crowne Plaza commercials.
SEE YOU AT TORREY: Tiger Woods will not return to action until the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Woods, still rehabilitating after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, will return to action for the second major of the year after an eight-week break..
BackspinThe last time Tiger had such a layoff was two years ago when he sat out nine weeks while dealing with the death of his father Earl. Woods went on to miss the cut in a major for the first time as a professional in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. We dont mean to suggest that Tiger will miss the cut, but to play your first competitive golf in two months at a U.S. Open is going to be tough. Then again, its not like Woods hasnt surprised us before.

B-R-U-T-A-L: Jay Haas won the Senior PGA Championship by a stroke over Bernhard Langer to win the Champions Tour's first major of the season. Haas' four-round 7-over total marked one of the highest winning scores in the history of the tour.
Backspin Talk about brutal. Although the media guide will forever state Haas as the victor, it was famed Oak Hill that seemed to come out on top. The 36-hole cut line was a staggering 12 over. And by the end of the tournament not only didnt a single player come close to even breaking par, but only a handful were able to keep it to single digits over par. So hats off to Haas who - how shall we say this? - got beat up less than the rest of the field.

DOES ANYONE HAVE A LIGHTER?: Miguel Angel Jimenez emerged from a two-hole playoff with Oliver Wilson to win the BMW PGA Championship in England. It was the Spaniard's 15th career European Tour title and makes him almost a lock for this year's Ryder Cup team.
Backspin Jimenez, perhaps known better for that famous ponytail and his cigar chomping, should also be recognized as a model of consistency. Only once in the past 10 years has he not finished in the top-20 in the European Tour's Order of Merit list. And with his big win at Wentworth, he now sits atop the money list, ahead of the likes of Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Trevor Immelman. Enjoy that victory cigar Miguel!

FEEL THE PRESSURE: Leta Lindley birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat Jeong Jang and win the Corning Classic. Lindley shot a 5-under 67 in the final round to grab her first career victory in 296 starts.
Backspin The story, however, may have been what happened to 54-hole leader Erica Blasberg, who had put herself into position to scoop up her first win, only to collapse in the final round with a 7-over 79 to finish in a tie for 37th. Blasberg, who was listed on GOLF CHANNELs show of Top 10 sexiest golfers, will now still have to fight off the style-over-substance arguments, fair or not. Maybe she can start asking Natalie Gulbis how to deal with ' and overcome ' such questions.

RULES ARE RULES?: Lorena Ochoa was fined $25,000 for not being in the field for this past week's Corning Classic in New York. The LPGA Tour has what they call the 1-in-4 rule, in which each player must compete in every event on the tour's schedule at least once every four years.
Backspin Ochoa, who last played in the Corning in 2004, was a victim of a good rule gone bad. Simply put, Ochoa became the victim because of her own incredible play and winning percentage. The world No. 1 not only has eight title defenses on her schedule this year, but the four majors and two events in Mexico as well. There are only so many places Ochoa can be throughout the year without her game suffering from burnout and fatigue.

STAGE FRIGHT: The European Tour announced last week that they will start random drug testing beginning in July. The R&A wont, however, have testing at this years British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Backspin In an era in which sports have been forced to go down this road, it is methodically starting to include the world of golf. Often trumpeted as a gentleman's game - a game where players call penalties on themselves - a not so gentlemanly pee cup will become part of the process. Almost all players have stated that they believe the sport is still squeaky clean; it is now becoming just a matter of time to see if their beliefs will be backed up by the drug testing. And one can just imagine the glare Tiger will give the guy who first hands him a cup.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Southern California won the NCAA womens golf championship, edging cross-town rival UCLA by six strokes, while Arizona States Azahara Munoz won the individual honors; Jeff Klauk birdied the 72nd hole in regulation to win the Nationwide Tour's Melwood Prince George's County Open in Maryland.
Backspin USC's victory snapped an incredible run by the Duke Lady Blue Devils, who had won three straight NCAA women's titles; Klauk, whose victory all but assures him of earning his PGA TOUR card for the 2009 season, summed up the thought succinctly, 'It's been a dream my whole life.'

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Crowne Plaza Inviational
  • Full Coverage - BMW PGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - Sr. PGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - Corning Classic
  • More Headlines
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    Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

    After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

    Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    “The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

    Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

    Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

    His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

    “When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

    Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

    Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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    Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

    By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

    The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

    Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

    Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

    He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

    There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

    In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

    So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

    The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

    Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

    When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

    Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

    Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

    Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

    “The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

    This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

    The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

    It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

    “The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

    Pay per view does that.

    “You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

    If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

    Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

    Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

    Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

    By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

    AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

    District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

    Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

    Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

    Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

    LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

    By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

    LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

    View this post on Instagram

    Finally got it down lol

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

    Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

    View this post on Instagram

    How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.