DO THEY MAKE MILLION-DOLLAR BILLS?: Forbes reported this past week that, by their estimate, Tiger Woods has surpassed the $1 billion earnings mark. Forbes took into account prize money, appearance fees, endorsements, bonuses and his golf course design business. Woods, if the numbers are correct, would be the first athlete to cross this barrier.
I should be jealous, but I find myself feeling like Ron Burgundy when he discovered his dog ate an entire wheel of cheese. It is amazing that one man can accumulate so much. And don't go thinking this is just a byproduct of his success. This is an achievement for Woods, one he's long wanted to accomplish. Woods loves money more than Burgundy loves scotch.
SEPARATE LIVES: Just days before the start of the Presidents Cup, Greg Norman and Chris Evert announced their separation. The star couple was married for only 15 months and did not say whether they planned to divorce. Norman is the captain of the International Presidents Cup team.
This will make Norman's Tuesday press conference at Harding Park more interesting. Of course, he'll ask the media to respect his privacy ... but when has that ever worked. Divorce, however, is a serious matter and we'll respect it as such in Backspin. It's one of those things where someone should be allowed to say what they want on the subject and nothing more – without bother.
GREEN NOT FEELING BLUE: Ken Green, who had his lower right leg amputated after a vehicle accident in June, said he plans to return to the Champions Tour by April. A tournament was held this past week in Green's hometown of Danbury, Conn., to help raise money for Green's increasing medical and personal expenses.
Fred Funk, Andy Bean, Scott Simpson, Chip Beck, Bob Tway, Phil Blackmar and Brad Bryant were among the pros who took part in last Monday's event. Green has been playing recently, doing so with a special prosthesis that includes an ankle that will pivot. Green not only lost his lower right leg in the recreational vehicle accident; he also lost his brother, girlfriend and dog, who all died in the crash. That he's persevering in life and not wilting away in a dark corner is far more impressive than Tiger Woods' billion-dollar earnings.
SIMPLY AMAZING: For all the stars at the European Tour's Dunhill Links Championship, it was Manuel De Los Santos who was the main attraction. De Los Santos, who lost his left leg in an automobile accident, played the tournament without the use of a prosthesis.
The 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic teamed with professional Richard Bland and missed the 54-hole cut by one shot, finishing at 20 under. 'I didn't make the cut but I am not disappointed, because I have had the most fantastic week,' De Los Santos said. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we'll just let the above image speak for itself.
WELCOME, MATT: Matt Kuchar won his first PGA Tour event since March 2002, defeating Vaughn Taylor on the sixth playoff hole at the Turning Stone Resort Championship. The duo completed two playoff holes Sunday before darkness suspended play and then needed four more holes on a cold and windy Monday morning in New York to determine the winner.
The way most people treat Fall Series events, you'd think everyone was playing for pride and little more. Kuchar, however, nearly doubled his yearly earnings, collecting $1.08 million for the victory. He's now inside the top 30 on the money list, which, if he finishes there, will be good enough for a ticket to the 2010 Masters – something a Fall Series victory doesn't provide.
SUPER STAR: Lorena Ochoa sucessfully defended her title at the Navistar LPGA Classic, defeating Michelle Wie by four shots in Prattville, Ala. The victory was Ochoa's third of the season and first since April. She moved to fifth on the 2009 money list and second in the Rolex Player of the Year standings.
This win was just a natural progression for Ochoa, who had finished, in order, T-10, T-4 and second in her previous three starts. Wie, meanwhile, collected her fifth top-5 of the season, thanks to bookend 66s. On another note, 14-year-old Alexis Thompson, who opened the tournament in 64-69 for a share of the 36-hole lead, closed in 74-74 to tie for 27th, 12 back of Ochoa.
IT'S OVER, IT'S FINALLY OVER: Jay Haas, fresh off his first win of the season a week prior, captured the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Haas shot 6-under 64 in the final round to rally past Tom Watson, who was trying to become the oldest winner of a major championship on the Champions Tour. The 60-year-old led by four entering the final round, but shot even-par 70 to finish one back of Haas.
This officially puts an end to the 2009 major season. Surprisingly, it was Watson who provided the most memorable performance of the year across all tours. That it happened on the PGA Tour – and not the Champions – and came in a losing effort makes it all the more amazing. Watson played in seven combined majors this season and had five top-10 finishes, including that unforgettable playoff loss at Turnberry in the Open Championship.
GAMES, SET, MATCH: Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics Games. Chicago, considered one the favorites to host the Games in seven years, was the first city voted out Friday in Copehagen, Denmark.
The selection of Rio over Chicago shouldn't affect golf's chances of being included in 2016. That decision will come down this Friday. Chicago, with its multitude of championship courses, certainly would have been a great host site for golf, but if you're fortunate enough to cover the Olympics in seven years' time where would you rather be? I've seen 'Blame it on Rio.' I want to go there.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Arnold Palmer said he plans to return Bay Hill to a par 72 for next year's Arnold Palmer Invitational. ... Kenny Perry's mother died after a long battle with blood cancer. ... GolfChannel.com senior writer Randall Mell reported that Navistar agreed to a one-year extension as sponsor of their Alabama event, with a two-year option. ... Jerod Turner won the Nationwide Tour's Soboba Classic.
The course was a par 70 the last three years, but two of the current par 4s will be changed back to par 5s, including the 16th hole. Fans want to see birdies and Palmer wants to please the fans. ... Perry still plans to play in the Presidents Cup, with his family's wishes. ... More tournaments are agreeing to stick around for one more year to see if they like what they see. We hope they do. ...Even Golf Channel's Jerry Foltz, who knows the most obscure golfers in the world, had never heard of this guy before last week.