Talk is Cheap Maybe Not

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
In Backspin, GolfChannel.com takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.
 
ABOUT FACE: Less than one week after news broke that the LPGA would be requiring all of its players to speak English, commisioner Carolyn Bivens back-peddled saying that those in non-compliance would not be suspended, as originally stated.
 
Backspin This is actually worse than the original mandate. Bivens had to know the kind of backlash she would receive relating to the original policy. If you're going to make such a statement, you should be prepared to stand behind it. She didn't. Backing down just further goes to diminish her effectiveness as a leader of this tour.
 

THE 2030 MASTERS CHAMPION?: Tiger Woods announced Tuesday that he and wife Elin are expecting their second child in late winter. Woods, whose daughter Sam was born on Monday after the 2007 U.S. Open, did not go into specifics on the due date.
 
Backspin With Tiger likely sidelined over the remainder of Elins pregnancy, Woods wont be pressed too hard on the gender of the child. Wonder if he has another daughter if hell want to have children until he produces a son? Wonder what his wife, a former swimsuit model, would think about that?
 

VIVA VILLEGAS: Camilo Villegas grabbed his first career PGA TOUR victory with a wire-to-wire, two-stroke win at the BMW Championship. The 26-year-old Colombian, in his third year on Tour, collected $1.26 million for his efforts, as well as moved into second on the FedExCup standings.
 
Backspin Villegas, a former Florida Gator, has been knocking on the door for a few months now, starting with holding the 36-hole lead at the Open Championship, and culminating with this past week's success. Villegas always seems to play his best in the playoffs, the question is now can he build on his breakthrough?
 

SUSPENSE OVER: With Villegas' victory, Vijay Singh only needs to show up for the TOUR Championship in three weeks to win the FedExCup, and its hefty $10 million bonus. Villegas could even win the final event and have Singh finish in last, and the Big Fijian would still have a 101-point lead.
 
Backspin Back to the drawing for Mr. Finchem, as the adjusted FedExCup format was supposed to produce suspense. Knowing who the champion before the final leg is the antithesis of drama. But we have little doubt that the folks at the PGA TOUR are already drawing up ways to fix the problem. That being said, with the Tour off this week and the Ryder Cup coming up, you can bet your bottom dollar that even though he could shoot a 100 each round and still win, Singh will still spend hours, and hours, and hours and ' well, you get the point ' on the range.
 

THANKS FOR NOTHING: When approached by NBC Sports after his round Sunday for a few comments regarding his all-but clinching of the FedExCup, the surly Singh brushed them off as well as a group of waiting media.
 
Backspin You'll hear a lot about how Singh is misunderstood. That he has a great sense of humor. That he can be generous. He may be those things, but most of the negative perception cast towards Singh is through his own doing ' and is much deserved. There are plenty of reasons to pull for him, and plenty of reasons to root against him.
 

A BORESOME FOURSOME: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger finalized his team Tuesday in New York by selecting Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, J.B. Holmes and Chad Campbell as his wildcards.
 
Backspin Unfortunately for Azinger, he didnt have much to choose from, as no player proved to be a must have after the PGA. Were not exactly sure what Azinger saw in these four picks, but we know it wasnt experience (three rookies among the four picks) and it certainly wasnt personality. Take Boo Weekley off this team and you might have the dullest Ryder Cup squad in history.
 

A CLAP FOR THUNDER: Tommy Bolt, the 1958 U.S. Open championship, died Aug. 29 at the age of 92. The passing was revealed last week. Bolt won 15 PGA TOUR events, competed in two Ryder Cups (1955, 57) and was inducted, in 2002, into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
 
Backspin As great a player as Bolt was, he will be remembered much more for his temperament. Bolt had a bevy of nicknames based on his demeanor on the golf course: Terrible, Tempestuous, Thunder. Ben Hogan once said, If we couldve screwed another head on his shoulders, Tommy Bolt could have been the greatest who ever played. But, as his wife Mary Lou Bolt said, He was the best man I ever knew.
 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: News broke this past week that Tadd Fujikawa's father was indicted by an O'ahu grand jury on two counts of first-degree methamphetamine trafficking and, if convicted, could face up to 40 years in prison Brendon Todd cruised to a six-shot victory to win the Utah Championship, but the big story was produced by Peter Tomasulo, Chris Stroud, Brian Stuard and Jonathan Fricke - each of whom had holes-in-one in Thursday's opening round Ten Duramed Futures Tour players earned 2009 LPGA membership by finishing in the top 10 on the season money list.
 
Backspin Victor Bakke, Derrick Fujikawas lawyer, said his clients biggest concern is the shadow that this might cast on his son and his sons career. Agreed...You have to go back to the 1989 U.S. Open to find the last time there were four holes-in-one in a single day. In '89 the aces all happened on the same hole. Pretty incredible stuff Of those 10, Vicky Hurst led the money list and is expected to have an impact on the LPGA in 2009. Also among that group, coming in at No. 10, was Big Break IX winner Kim Welch.
 
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    Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

    His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

    “I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

    “I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

    Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

    It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


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    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.