Maginnes On Tap: A week of firsts in golf

Rickie Fowler (left) receives congratulations from Rory McIlroy after winning the Korea Open. Fowler shot 16-under 268.

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It was a week of “firsts” in professional golf. That makes sense considering that it was an entire year of firsts all over professional golf. From the four major championship winners on the PGA Tour to 16-year-old Lexi Thompson winning on the LPGA, maiden voyages have been the norm. No single week seemed to exemplify that across golf’s paid landscape more than this past one.

What could have been the week’s most interesting “first” came Sunday at the Fry’s.com: Tiger Woods was in the first group off the back nine. Consequently, Woods, his good friend Arjun Atwal and Rod Pampling made the turn onto the first hole just after the leaders teed off. Ernie Els and Paul Casey are certainly accustomed to having Tiger behind them on the weekend, but probably not under these circumstances. Playing in front of Tiger has always been the worst tee time in any golf tournament; his gallery is moving constantly trying to stay ahead in order to get a better view of him. Surely, this has to be the first time that the leaders of a golf tournament on Sunday had to deal with this kind of madness.

Rickie Fowler was half a world away winning the Korean Open by six shots over Rory McIlroy. It was a long-awaited first professional victory for Fowler, and he won in convincing style. Fowler will tee it up at the McGladrey in Sea Island, Ga., this week, more than a dozen time zones away.

On the European Tour, an Englishman named Lee Slattery won the Madrid Masters. It was the 33-year-old’s first victory on the European Tour. Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, finished 11th. It wasn’t the first time this season that Donald has finished outside the top 10 on either side of the Atlantic, but it certainly seemed like it.

The affable Christina Kim won something called the Sicilian Ladies Italian Open. No, the tournament was not limited only to Sicilian ladies. It was Kim’s first victory on the Ladies European Tour. Kim banked 30,000 euros for her effort. Sounds like one heck of a nice vacation to me.

Brad Faxon may have felt as if he was on vacation in Houston this weekend. He didn’t have to do much on Sunday to win his first Champions Tour title. He didn’t have to hit a golf shot, never rolled in a putt. Shoot, he didn’t even have to get out of bed. The Insperity Classic was washed out on Sunday and reduced to a 36-hole event. Faxon had a one-shot lead heading into a final round that never was played. He adds a Champions Tour victory to a resume that includes eight PGA Tour wins, the last arriving in 2005. Tommy Armour III finished second – again – one shot out. Ironic that it rained in an area (Houston) that has been drought-plagued for most of the summer.

Bryce Molder’s twilight victory at the Fry’s.com Open in California was the first of his career, too. Molder slipped past Briny Baird on the sixth playoff hole. The victory came in Molder’s 132nd PGA Tour start, and he became the 14th first-time winner on Tour this season. I doubt that it is any consolation to Baird that he is ahead of all those first-time winners on the career money list. With $12.46 million in career earnings, he’s the all-time money leader among non-winners on Tour.

And then there is Scottish golfer Elliot Saltman, who won his weight in ham at the Madrid Open. His third ace of the year – he had two in the same week at the Wales Open – was worth roughly 240 pounds of the Spanish delicacy. (Saltman said he’d been trying to lose weight, but given the events in Spain, was pleased he had not been that successful.)

Strangely enough, it was not the only time last week that lunchmeat made it into the golf headlines. Tiger Woods was distracted on Sunday when a fan jumped the ropes and tossed a hot dog at him. The wienie-wielding weirdo was arrested and received a citation for disturbing the peace. Judging by the trend this season, we’re guessing he was only a first-time offender.

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