May 10, 2008

Sunday's Winners and Losers

Golf World's Tim Rosaforte tells you who's up and who's down after the final round of the The Players Championship

WINNERS

Sergio Garcia and Stan Utley

Garcia gets redemption on the course and in the pressroom for his performance at Carnoustie, but we have to give props to the coach, too. As the putting guru, Utley, said Sunday morning from Scottsdale, "He's stroking it so much better than he did four months ago. He's just got to keep playing. It looks bad because he hits so many more greens than anybody else. It's all relative."

Paul Goydos

He didn't win the Players crystal, but he won over America with his story, his demeanor and his golf. At one point in the broadcast, Johnny Miller said Goydos' finish was that of a 64-year-old, but Goydos kept hitting fairways and greens--until the 73rd hole. Frumpy and wrinkled, it was like a golf writer was leading an almost major--except his lines were better. Like when Bob Costas asked why he buttoned the top button of his golf shirt on such a brutally hot Saturday. Because, Goydos explained, he doesn't have any shoulders, and if he didn't button his shirt, it would fall off. Badda-boom.

17th hole

Ernie Els wanted to blow it up on Friday, but it's becoming the most famous island in golf. Sunday's finish, with Goydos rinsing his tee shot and Garcia sticking the shot of the tournament, after making a par-saving putt in regulation, only raised the awareness. "For me to complain to Pete Dye now would be as sour grapes as you could drop," Goydos said. "The hole was designed to do exactly what it did. Just got me instead of someone else."

LOSERS

Kenny Perry

The goal was to make the Ryder Cup team at Valhalla, 120 miles from his home in Franklin, Ky., and with nine holes to go, Perry was still in position. But 43 strokes on the back side detoured that road to Louisville for now. It looked like he wanted it too bad.

Phil Mickelson

The defending champion caught the flu and was playing with the aches and weakness associated with such a sickness, but since he didn't want to make it an excuse, we won't either. Mickelson's closing 78, which started with a double bogey at the first, was his second 78 of the year—the first time he has posted scores that high in the same year since 2003. That final round aside, the defending champion kept saying he was turning 66 into 70 (Thursday) or 68 into 71 (Saturday), which indicates he is closer going to Torrey Pines than he was entering the tournament.

Bernhard Langer, Adam Scott and Anthony Kim

We expected more on the weekend out of Langer (75-77), Scott (80 on Sunday) and Kim (79-76). Langer is 50 and lost his swing. Scott, who won The Nelson two weeks ago, was one over teeing off Sunday morning and in position for a top-10. But at least Kim showed signs of growing through his old temper. "For one thing, I wouldn't be standing here," said Kim, 22, when asked if he might have responded differently following his collapse. "I think maybe my bag would be in the water."