Pain But No Gain

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2008, 5:00 pm
In Backspin, takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.
FRUSTRATING FINISH: Annika Sorenstams storied career came to a sudden and frustrating halt Friday when she missed the 36-hole cut at the ADT Championship, her final LPGA event before stepping away from competition.
Backspin As if Annika wasnt mad enough about going out with a whimper instead of a bang, she then had to endure the ignominy of giving a urine sample for a drug test. Sorenstam will have plenty of fond memories when she looks back on her career. None of them, however, will include this past week.

MILLION DOLLAR BABY: In Annikas absence, Ji-Yai Shin won the $1 million first-place prize at Trump International. She beat seven others over an 18-hole sprint to collect her third victory of the year, which also includes the Womens British Open.
Backspin Good for Shin. Not so much for the LPGA. The tour saw Annika, defending champion Lorena Ochoa, Cristie Kerr and South Florida native Morgan Pressel all miss the first cut. This format is much like match play: it adds excitement and a change of pace, but it is also volatile and can lead to people switching their televisions to bull riding on Sunday.

WHERE IS MY APPENDIX?: Paula Creamer, who with a win could have won the season-long money title, survived to the final day of the ADT Championship and ultimately finished in a tie for third. But she almost didnt make it to the course on Sunday. Creamer went to a local hospital Saturday after play due to pain similar to appendicitis. Doctors cleared her to play ' with an inflamed abdominal wall ' even though she still experienced discomfort.
Backspin Creamers rush to the hospital and back was probably the most exciting part of the ADT weekend. You would think eight players, including Creamer and Karrie Webb, battling from scratch for $1 million would be great excitement. For at least this weekend, youd be wrong.

BIVENS SPEAKS!: LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens took to the podium on the eve of the her tour's season finale to give her 'State of the Tour' address. Topics discussed were the 2009 schedule, the controversial LPGA language initiative, and the economic challenges it faces next season.
Backspin Bivens arrived to the press conference on crutches, which was symbolic of the tour right now. Tournaments will be down next year (34 to 31), as will total prize money (about $5.25 million). And things may get worse before they get better. Unfortunately for the LPGA, they don't have a Tiger Woods to carry them through the lean times.

HONEST HAYES: J.P. Hayes became golf's latest symbol of honesty when it was revealed that he disqualified himself from the second stage of Q-School after he discovered that he used an illegal ball during play.
Backspin The best thing about all this isn't that Hayes was honest about not cheating; it's that he was honest in his emotions after the fact. Hayes admitted that he was disappointed, but reminded everyone that he had made over $7 million in his career and would be just fine without playing full time on the PGA Tour in 2009. In fact, he can now spend more time with his family. Don't worry about J.P., because he's not.

WHITE HOUSE WELCOME: President Bush welcomed the victorious U.S Ryder Cup team for a tour of the White House and visit to the Oval Office. Seven of the 12-member team made the trip, along with captain Paul Azinger and assistant captain Raymond Floyd.
Backspin A PGA Tour player meeting a Republican president must be like a Trekkie meeting William Shattner. It's hard to believe only seven of the 12 players showed up. Perhaps Bush should have offered up an appearance fee.

HONG KONG PHOOEY: Wen-Tang Lin defeated Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari in sudden death for his first European Tour title at the UBS Hong Kong Open. Molinari was knocked off on the first extra hole, while Lin took out McIlroy with a birdie on the second playoff hole.
Backspin McIlroy may not have won, but he was mighty impressive on Sunday. The 19-year-old, who made a splash at the Open Championship two years ago, shot 5-under 65 in the final round. With all of the big names set to star on the European Tour this 2009 season, McIlroy might steal a little limelight himself.

DALY DOINGS: Not to be overlooked in Hong Kong was John Dalys performance. Daly opened with back-to-back 68s and, after a third-round 73, closed with his best round in years: a bogey-free, 8-under 62.
Backspin Hard to figure where this came from. Maybe he got a good nights sleep Saturday. Daly next heads to Australia for this weeks Aussie Masters. With most of the golf world in hibernation right now another strong performance from Daly would wake up some fans.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: La Paz hospital in Spain released Seve Ballesteros from the intensive care unit this past week. ... Nick Faldo stated that he'd like another shot at captaining the European Ryder Cup team. ... 14-year-old Jason Hak became the youngest player in European Tour history to make the cut, doing so in his native Hong Kong. ... Tommy Armour repeated as champion of the Pebble Beach Invitational.
Backspin Seve isn't out of the woods just yet. But if anyone knows how to escape from wooden areas, it's Seve. ... Sure, Nick. Just jump in line ' right behind Sir Jack Neveragain and Anthony Areyoukiddingme. ... Hak broke the record of Sergio Garcia, who was 15 years, 46 days. ... Armour started the final round with a five-stroke lead, but after shooting 76, needed a 36-foot birdie in sudden death to win again.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' ADT Championship
  • Full Coverage ' UBS Hong Kong Open
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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”