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The Back 9-Edition 5

1.       With his win on Sunday at the Sony Open, Jimmy Walker won for the second time in his last 6 starts (the first being the Frys.com Open which kicked off the 2014 season……in October). Walker played flawless golf in Sunday’s round shooting a superb 7-under par 63 to claim the trophy over Chis Kirk. Walker had played the Tour for 7 years encompassing 187 events before his maiden victory in October. Perseverance pays off.

2.       South African Louis Oosthuizen birdied the last two holes to retain the Volvo Champions title on Sunday. What had really given the 2010 British Open Champion momentum however was a thrilling eagle that he had made earlier on the eighth hole. Oosthuizen would finish the elite 36 man field at 12-under par and come away a one stroke winner over fellow South African, Brenden Grace. It was the sweet swinging Oosthuizen’s first victory since this event last year and his 7th overall, European Tour title. There are a great many aficionados in the game who think that the laid back Oosthuizen could become the best player in the world, if he were to ratchet up his competitive motivation a few more notches.

3.       In that same event there was a Padraig sighting. Harrington that is. After an abysmal 2013 campaign that saw the Irishman’s best finish be a tie for fourth in Durban, Harrington finished at 9-under par for the tournament in a tie for fifth. Here’s hoping that the three time Major Champion re-captures his form.

4.       Speaking of the Irish. Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki made things “official” on New Year Eve in Australia when they announced their engagement (on Twitter, of course).

5.       16 year old phenom, Lydia Ko, has just signed an equipment contract with Callaway to play their clubs and use an Odyssey putter. Ko turned professional in October after a stunning 3 year Amateur career that saw her win 4 LPGA Tour events and rise to the #4 ranked player in the world.  The financial terms of the deal with Callaway were not revealed but it is one that is sure to be worth many millions of dollars to the Kiwi star.

6.       When 25 year old star Rickie Fowler was asked why he switched coaches and now is being taught by Butch Harmon he had this to say: “I know that I’m known for what I wear on the golf course, but I want to be known as a great player.” At 25, Fowler has a lot of years ahead of him to live up to the potential that he has shown, but having only one win so far, is a disappointment to him and his many fans.  

7.       At 38, the clock is ticking faster and faster for Tiger Woods and his passionate pursuit of the one record that he covets the most: the 18 Major Championships won by Jack Nicklaus. Woods’ total is stuck on 14 and has been for 5 years since his triumph in the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008. After that win, it was the general consensus that not only would Woods break Nicklaus’ mark but that he would so handily. Logic would say that Woods would really need to win a Major in 2014 to have a realistic shot at the Golden Bear’s iconic record.

8.       LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan announced last week that the Tour was introducing a new season long event called the “Race to the CME Globe.”  The winner will get the largest payday in Women’s golf, a cool $1 million. The top 72 players in the Race to the CME Globe would qualify for the Tour Championship.  There will then be a “reset” that will only allow the top three players in the standings to stand a guaranteed chance of the bonus by winning the tournament, while only the top nine in the standings will have a mathematical chance to win the bonus and a crystal globe.  If it sounds like the FedEx Cup it is; but kudos to the LPGA Tour and its commissioner for really turning things around in the last 3 years.

9.       Now in the twilight of his career, Darren Clarke has finally caught the fitness bug. The 45 year old Northern Irishman has transformed his jolly body and lost 40 lbs in the last 3 months. Here’s hoping that it transforms the loveable Clarke’s game also and that he re-captures the magic of his Open Championship win in 2011.