April 25, 2009

Birdies And Bogeys

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In securing his first PGA Tour win in seven years, Jerry Kelly's trip to New Orleans proved to be more than just a good eating week.

Nobody can blame Jerry Kelly for feeling great about Sunday's win in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana, his first in seven years and 200 starts. Although he frittered away a three-shot cushion, the happy-go-lucky ex-hockey player was the last man standing, wishing in a three-foot par putt on 18 for a one-stroke victory over Charles Howell III, Rory Sabbatini and Charlie Wi.

But as good as Kelly felt -- and he showed his appreciation for local chefs Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme after eating well all week by rubbing his belly and thanking the crowd as he approached the 18th green -- Howell likely felt sick to his stomach. And no, it wasn't the food. Howell overtook Kelly and held a two stroke lead midway through the back nine, but bogeyed 15 and 17, then failed to birdie the par-5 18th.

"I hit a lot of good shots," said Howell. "I just wish I could have finished better."

It was a crushing blow for Howell, who like Kelly, was searching for his third PGA Tour win. Winning is tough, especially when so much is expected out of you. Howell played lights out on the front nine, blazing a 5-under-par 31, but couldn't finish.

Still, don't feel sorry for Howell. Sunday's second-place tie lifted him over $1 million in earnings for the ninth-straight year. While he would love more wins, Howell is living the good life and is still only 29.

Birdie: To Tom Lehman, who was victorious in his Champions Tour debut with Bernhard Langer in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. Lehman holed a three-foot par putt on the second hole of sudden death to seal the win.

Lehman, who plans to play about 10 times on the Champions Tour and 15 on the PGA Tour, on what he expects from the 50-and-over circuit:

"You get the same song and dance from everybody, a bunch of old guys that can't play anymore and just take it easy on us. I know better. That's like being set up on the first tee, giving me two and two and the guy shoots 66."

Bogey: To Jeff Sluman, who missed a four-foot par putt on the second extra hole against Lehman-Langer that would have extended the playoff.

Birdie: To J.B. Holmes, for pounding a 371-yard drive on the 364-yard par-4 13th hole during the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Bogey: To Holmes, for making par on the hole.

Birdie: To Tiger Woods, who had several humorous lines in his promotional appearance at Congressional Country Club on Monday for the AT&T National Media Day.

Asked if speaks Swedish, Woods said:

"I speak a little. It's not very good. I'm better at reading it than anything else, or, 'Take out the trash' or 'clean up the house' or 'wash the dishes.' I understand those. Actually I understand that in Thai, too."

Woods was also asked about his friend Charles Barkley's quest to improve his golf swing with Hank Haney:

"As far as Charles' swing, it certainly is interesting. It certainly is like a speech impediment, you're right. It's like anything, though, it can't get any worse; it only can get better."

Bogey: To Andres Romero, the defending champion at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, who was disqualified on Friday for signing an incorrect scorecard. He signed for a par-5 on the 18th, where he actually made a 6.

Birdie: To Lorena Ochoa and Suzann Pettersen for their stellar play in the LPGA's Corona Championship in Morelia, Mexico. Ochoa was a one-shot winner with rounds of 65-65-69-68 for a 25-under-par score of 267. But Petterson almost matched her shot-for-shot, shooting 69-64-67-68.

Bogey: To former U.S. Women's Open champion Birdie Kim, for shooting 77-78 and missing the cut.

Birdie: To Andy North and Tom Watson, who have now gone an amazing 216 holes in the Legends of Golf --12 rounds dating back to 2005 -- without a bogey. However, the duo fell short of a fifth title in the tournament, finishing tied for 11th.

Bogey: To Craig Stadler, who looked like his nickname -- the Walrus – paired alongside Sluman at the Legends of Golf. Still showing a winter coat, Stadler's shirttail was out most of the week.

Birdie: To John Daly, for losing 40 pounds after having lap-band stomach surgery in February.

Bogey: To Daly, who could lose even more weight if he avoided Hooters.

Birdie: To Jay Haas, who had a double-eagle on the par-5 11th hole Saturday in the Legends of Golf, where he holed a 3-wood from 272 yards. It was the 34th albatross in the history of the Champions Tour.

Bogey: To Lanny Wadkins and brother Bobby for finishing 30th out of 31 teams in the Legends of Golf. The new Hall of Famer must have been thinking about his acceptance speech.

Birdie: To NBC announcers Gary Koch and Roger Maltbie for winning their third Raphael Division title in the Legends of Golf. Maltbie made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final green to help lead the team to a two-stroke victory over Mike Hill and Lee Trevino, each pocketing $60,000.

Birdie: To the Quail Hollow Championship, for attracting the top four players in the world -- Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Geoff Ogilvy, not to mention Padraig Harrington (6), Vijay Singh (8), Camilo Villegas (10), Robert Karlsson (11), Anthony Kim (13), Jim Furyk (14) and Masters champ Angel Cabrera. Should be a fun week in Charlotte, where Saturday daily tickets are sold out.

Birdie: To the South Georgia Classic on the Nationwide Tour, which featured 31 players who have won on the PGA Tour, including 10 players who had multiple wins.

Bogey: To reigning U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee, who missed the cut in his professional debut at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, posting rounds of 76 and 75.

Mark Soltau is a contributing editor to Golf Digest and the editor of TigerWoods.com.

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