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The Back 9- Edition 6

1.       The decision by the USGA to host both the Men’s and Women’s US Opens at Pinehurst in back to back weeks this June is fraught with the possibility of disaster.  The men play in the first week which is no cause for concern.  It is the women that may be playing in some very difficult conditions.  The women’s tees are moved forward from the men’s, meaning they will be playing approach shots from roughly where the men will have in the previous week.  If you have ever seen an aerial shot of a well-worn area on the Sunday (after 4 days of bombardment) of a professional tournament you will know that it is a quadrant of sand filled divots.  An area like that takes roughly three weeks to recover, so the women will be playing some pretty sandy lies.  Additionally, it is the custom of the USGA to make greens for their Major Championships as fast as possible which puts the putting surfaces on the very edge of burning up and dying.  The 2008 US Open at Shinnecock comes readily to mind when the greens-keeping staff had to actually hand water the greens during the final round.  A repeat of that scenario would be a nightmare of Elm Street proportions.  The original idea of having back-to-back Opens at the same venue has some merit on the surface (is the first time that it has been attempted), in that it will save a great deal of money because of staff and TV travelling expenses and corporate tent set-ups etc.  The reality of the decision on the other hand, is that it may present a venue to the LPGA professionals that is just, unfair.

2.       Golf’s forgotten superstar, David Duval, played brilliantly in the first round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship to shoot a 4-under par, 66 and be just one shot off the lead.  He did this in spite of having had excruciating elbow pain in his right arm the day before when he had to contemplate withdrawing from the event.   Sadly for Duval, and all of those willing him to regain his old form when he was the best player in the world, his great play did not hold up and he shot  a 2nd round 76 to miss the cut by a single shot.    

3.       Continuing the comeback vein, 2003 Masters Champion, 44 year old Mike Weir, resurrected his career with a runner-up finish at the very same, Byron Nelson Championship.  Weir finished at 12-under par for the tournament and two strokes behind first-time winner Brendon Todd.  Weir has struggled with injuries and swing changes for several years.  Things were so bad for the 7-time PGA Tour winner, that he missed 36 of 39 cuts in a two year stretch in the 2011-2012 seasons.  Weir has gone back to his “old swing” and is healthy for the first time in a long time, so the future looks bright again for Canada’s favorite golfing son. 

4.       Up and coming US player, 24 year old Lizette Salas, joined the list of first time winners this weekend at the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill Championship.  Salas has had several close calls before her breakthrough win and her consistent play was finally rewarded as she carded a 4 stroke win over Australian, Sarah Jane Smith and Yani Tseng (whose 2nd place finish was her best result in a long time).  Wasn’t it yesterday when Tseng was winning almost every week?        

5.       Golf’s “Most Interesting Man”, Miguel Angel Jimenez, was doing his thing again this weekend when he won the European tour’s Spanish Open in a three way playoff to claim his 21st European Tour victory.  He also broke his own record of being the oldest winner on the Tour.  A record that he has now broken three times. At 50 years and 133 days young, he bested the standard he set last December at the Hong Kong Open when he triumphed there (49 years, 337 days).  It’s been a pretty impressive run of form for Jimenez which began with his amazing 4th place finish at the Masters last month, followed by his victory in his inaugural event on the Champions Tour a week later.  It is his goal to make one more Ryder Cup team later this year which would seem more and more likely for the ageless free spirit from Malaga.     

6.       Adam Scott became the world’s #1 ranked player this week in the Rolex World golf rankings and he wasn’t even playing at the Byron Nelson.  In fact the 33 year old Australian has had a largely lackluster campaign so far in 2014 so the reason for his ascendancy to the top spot is by virtue of his outstanding play in 2013.  While someone’s s play from a year ago should be factor in the ranking system, it is perhaps given too much weight.  We are unabashed fans of Scott and it is a wonderful achievement for him to become only the second Australian player (the first was Greg Norman) to be the world #1, but it is a stretch to say that he is currently the best player in the world.  

7.       LPGA star, Paula Creamer, saw a very impressive streak come to an end on Friday at the Kingsmill Championship. Having made the cut in 82 straight events, the 27 year old Creamer shot rounds of 72 and 73 to miss the halfway mark by just one stroke.       

8.       20 year old phenom Jordan Spieth was upstaged this week by any even younger player at the Byron Nelson.  17 year old Scottie Scheffler, the reigning US Junior Amateur Champion, playing in his first PGA Tour event, shot opening rounds of 71 and 68 to play the weekend.   Scheffler then had a hole in one in Saturday’s round on the 221 yard 2nd hole en route to a round of 1-under par, 69.   Scheffler would close with a 2-under par, 68 on Sunday to best Spieth by 2.

9.       Tiger Woods’s ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, recently spoke as the outstanding graduating senior in her class at Rollins College.  In her speech, Nordegren came up with the quote of the month (maybe the year) as she described finishing a class in communication and media when she quipped: “I probably should have taken more notes in that class.”