The Front 9-Edition 8

June 30, 2014 -
  1. It is with great pride that we announce Craig Waryan’s election into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame.  Craig is one of Bird Golf’s Senior West Coast instructors and this great honor is certainly deserved for a lifetime of brilliance.  Craig was the 87th member of the PGA of America to achieve “Master” status, and also served as the Minnesota Section of the PGA’s President in 1984-1985. Craig has received a host of awards and honors in his distinguished career including being both the “Teacher of the Year” and “Golf Professional of the Year” multiple times in the Minnesota Section PGA.  Additionally, Craig has been ranked “#1 Teacher in State” by Golf Digest magazine on several occasions which is a distinction that all of his students would agree with.
  2. The much anticipated return to golf of Tiger Woods, (three months after having had back surgery) would be a pain of a different kind for the former #1 player in the world.  Competing in the event that he hosts by Quicken Loans National, on one of his favorite courses, Congressional, Woods shot opening rounds of 74 and 75 to be 7-over par for the tournament and miss the halfway cut by 4 shots.  Remarkably this is only the 10th missed cut in 300 career starts on the PGA Tour.  While his swing was not his best, it was his normally iconoclastic  short game that let him down more than anything when he failed to get up and down for par in 13 of the 16 times he missed the green.  Nonetheless, Woods took his two competitive rounds as a positive, insisting that he could easily fix his rusty short game and that he was happy to be able to play without pain.  Woods is not expected to compete again until the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in three weeks.
  3. Jim Furyk’s caddie, Mike “Fluff” Cowan, stayed on at Pinehurst following the men’s U.S. Open to caddy for 17 year old sensation, Lydia Ko, the following week in the women’s U.S. Open.  The unassuming Ko relayed that more people asked the legendary looper for his autograph than hers, saying: “I think personally he’s more famous than me”.  Cowan would help steer the young Kiwi into a tie for 15th place.
  4. 31 year old Paraguayan, Fabrizio Zanotti, crafted a final round 7-under par 65 to get into a four-man playoff at the BMW International Open in Cologne, Germany.  He was joined in the sudden death foursome by Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, Frenchman, Gregory Havret, and Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain for a truly “International” finale.  After Havret and Cabrera-Bello fell out and Stenson found the water on the 5th playoff hole, Zanotti would become the European Tour’s first winner from Paraguay.
  5. Saturday was a great day for Arline Deacon of Fayetteville, Georgia.  When Sweden’s Peter Hanson made a hole-in-one at the Quicken Loans National on Congressional’s par-3 3rd hole, Deacon would have her next 12 months of mortgage payments made by the event’s title sponsor.  Hanson’s perfect shot was with a 4 iron from 222 yards and was his first on Tour.  No doubt the big Swede has a big new fan.
  6. Ageless 56 year old Bernhard Langer took a 3 shot lead into the final round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship, one of the 5 Major Championships on the Champions Tour (if the PGA Tour can’t make the Players’ Championship their “fifth” Major on the regular Tour, that doesn’t prevent them from creating this one in the 50+ Tour).  A balky putter would derail Langer for most of his round as his lead would slip away and he would join the ranks of the pursuers.  But Langer would show his steely resolve and make a putter-redeeming 35-foot putt for birdie on the 17th hole that left him tied at the top of the leaderboard with Jeff Sluman at 15-under par for the Championship.  After making a par-5 on the final hole, Langer and Sluman would head into a playoff, which the German would win on the 2nd hole of extra time (sure enough that is Soccer parlance but with all the playoffs this weekend we were running out of ways to describe them).  The Senior Players became Langer’s 3rd Champions Tour Major Championship and his 21st overall.
  7. Earlier in the week, all the players from both sides of last year’s President’s Cup at Muirfield were invited to the White House for a special ceremony.  “I’m not used to seeing these guys in suits” quipped President Obama when addressing the players.
  8. Fresh off her breakthrough victory at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, Michelle Wie continued her run of superb golf with a pair of opening a pair of round, 5-under par 66’s, to take a commanding two shot lead entering the last day of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship (don’t you sometimes wish that instead of these tournaments with long names we just had more like; The Masters?).  Like Langer, a suddenly uncooperative putter would betray Wie as she would struggle to a final round 2-over par, 73.  Local favorite and University of Arkansas alum, Stacy Lewis, would prevail in a thrilling low-scoring Sunday and emerge a 1-shot winner after a 6-under par 65.  The World’s new #1 player prevailed over Christie Kerr, Angela Stanford, and the aforementioned Ko, to notch her 3rd win of the season and her 11th overall on the LPGA Tour.

And at #9: Self-proclaimed “Top 5 Player in the World”, Patrick Reed, held a two stroke advantage entering the final round at Congressional (we’re done using the long-winded “correct” and corporate “meme” for the event name used earlier in the article).  Reed has been impressive in capturing 3 victories on the PGA Tour in the last 12 months in which he took a final round lead into each win.  However, that streak would not continue as he collapsed with a 6-over par, 77 and a tie for 11th.  Congressional is the most demanding of venues and requires the same kind of patience and precision that a U.S. Open venue does.  2013 U.S. Open Champion, Justin Rose, is just that kind of player and showed his mettle on Sunday shooting a 1-under par 70 to close at 4-under par for the Championship.  He would be joined by 32-year old American Shawn Stefani in a playoff after an un-Rose like, bogey-5 on the last hole.  On that hole, Rose had pulled his tee shot left into the trees leaving him 243 yards from the green.  Rose had then tried to play a miraculous shot under trees to the island 18th green that found the water on the left.  After a mediocre chip shot that finished 20 feet behind the hole, Rose made the longest putt of his day to ensure his survival.  On the first playoff hole on that same 18th, Rose made a par-4, while Stefani found the same Rose-water to give the Englishman his 6th career PGA Tour win.

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