Riding the Pine Until Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 21, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
CUTS LIKE A KNIFE: In a surprise announcement, it was reported Tuesday on Tiger Woods' Web site that he had undergone successful arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage in his left knee.
Backspin Just two days after a disappointing runner-up finish at the Masters - which quickly dashed his hopes of the grand slam - Woods' surgery took most of the golfing world off guard. 'I was shocked. I couldnt believe it,' said Brandt Snedeker. Shocked, too, are the event organizers and fans at the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, who now won't see Tiger back to defend his title in two weeks. Woods will also miss THE PLAYERS, an event he has never missed as a professional. He is, however, expected to be ready in time for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. In the meantime, everyone in the golfing business will have to try and deal with the Tiger shakes.

DEJA BOO ALL OVER AGAIN: Boo Weekley won the Verizon Heritage for the second straight year, cruising home with a three-shot win. It also happened to be his second career PGA TOUR victory.
Backspin In what had to be one of the funniest scenes you'll ever see - make that hear - at a sporting event, Weekley walked up the 18th fairway towards the green as the thousands of fans in attendance greeted him with the deafening sounds of boos. Just Boo's luck - he pulls off another big win on TOUR and has to live with the fact that his nickname is Boo.

UP AND DOWN: Ernie Els headlined the list of big names, along with Zach Johnson, who failed to advance to the weekend at the Verizon Heritage. Jim Furyk, meanwhile, took advantage of the Tiger-less event, and managed to finish alone in third. Davis Love III shared the opening-round lead before fading to a tie for 36th.
Backspin With Tiger on the shelf, and not playing at this event anyway, you would have thought this would have been a perfect week for a good showing from The Big Easy. Of course, you would have been wrong as Els missed another cut. Furyk was the highest ranked player to make it to the weekend but came up short in his Sunday charge. As for Love, there was magic in the air after Thursday's bogey-free, 5-under 66. But alas, the five-time Verizon champ couldn't keep up the pace.

AND THE BEAT GOES ON...: Lorena Ochoa won yet again on the LPGA Tour, although this time she allowed for a little drama, winning by just three shots over Taiwan's Yani Tseng. Her 2008 average margin of victory coming into the Ginn Open was a staggering 8.5 strokes.
Backspin The 26-year-old Mexican is starting to creep into the 'one name' superstar status just like Annika did before her. And for good reason, as she wrapped up her fourth straight LPGA Tour title in Orlando. The last time a player won four consecutive events on tour? Back in the 2001 season - and, of course, it was accomplished by Annika. But Lorena has won in four consecutive weeks. The last player to do that? Mickey Wright in 1963.

TREVOR'S TRAVELS: Trevor Immelman's whirlwind green jacket tour was in full force last week with appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, Live with Regis and Kelly,' and a locker room visit during halftime of a Boston Celtics-New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.
Backspin Immelmans Top Ten list on Letterman was amusing to say the least. But the highlight for the South African was meeting NBA stars, saying, They were telling me they were in Atlanta and watched the end of the tournament, and that they were proud of me. Its kind of weird to see superstars congratulate me on something Ive done.

HOCH AS IN...YES, CHOKE!: Tom Watson escaped with a win at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am when Scott Hoch missed a very, very short putt on the 72nd hole of regulation to force a sudden death playoff. It was Watson's second straight win in Florida.
Backspin Hoch's miss - and subsequent toss of the putter - was eerily similar to what happen back in 1989 at Augusta National when his 2-footer to win the Masters slid by the hole. Granted this was a Champions Tour event and it was to force a playoff and not a putt to win it... but still. Watson must have been quite pleased with the missed putt as he had choked himself moments earlier when his approach on the final hole found a watery grave.

IF ONLY NOTRE DAME WAS THIS GOOD: Irishman Damien McGrane captured his first European Tour victory Sunday, winning the China Open by a whopping nine strokes as rainstorms swept the course. No player broke par in the final round.
Backspin Not to take anything away from McGrane, who took care of his business and carded a 1-over 73, but the real winner was Mother Nature. Twenty-three players shot in the 80s on Sunday, 23! Poor Wu Wei-Huang shot a dismal 14-over-par 86, as weather turned out to be the mitigating factor in the influx of high scores. That said, a job well done in damage control by McGrane to get his first win.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: John Daly had surgery to repair a torn muscle in his stomach; Robert Damron won the Nationwide Tour's event in Athens, Ga.
Backspin One can only imagine how long Daly's surgery must have lasted, considering what the doctors had to work with and around; Damrons win quickly shot him from 131st to seventh on the money list and put him in good shape early to earn a return trip to the PGA TOUR.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Verizon Heritage
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Open
  • Full Coverage - Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am
  • More Headlines
  • Getty Images

    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.”

    Getty Images

    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 golfodds.com.

    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

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.”