Backspin: Loren Roberts wins yet loses

Wednesday March 21st, 2007

LOREN ROBERTS lost the AT&T Classic when Tom Purtzer beat him in a playoff, but at least he shattered a Champions tour record in the process. Roberts's 67 last Friday was his 33rd consecutive round at par or better, besting the 32 straight amassed by Larry Nelson in 2000. Roberts went on to shoot 70-69, extending his streak to 35. Nelson's streak included four wins, while Roberts's run has yet to result in a victory.... Hale Irwin will give the commencement speech at his alma mater, Colorado, on May 11. Irwin, a 1967 grad who starred in football and golf for the Buffaloes, plans to consult with his friend and former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor about what to say.

THE PGA TOUR does more than provide playing opportunities for millionaires. At next week's Shell Houston Open, the Tour will run its first media training session for players. If that conjures an image of grown men in khakis and baseball caps sitting in a conference room droning cliches such as "We police ourselves" and "It's a fair test," don't worry. The program offered by national media consultant Jeff Hunt includes dynamic-sounding sessions such as "Deliver More Value to Your Sponsors, Your Tour and Yourself" and "Learn the Dos and Don'ts of an Effective Interview." On second thought, panic.

A WEEK after SI GOLF PLUS detailed Justin Leonard's 2007 plunge—six starts, no cuts made—the former Ryder Cup hero made it to the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. What was behind the turnaround? Leonard switched caddies, hired a new sports psychologist and parted ways with swing coach Butch Harmon to return to Randy Smith, his childhood teacher. Alas, Leonard and Smith have much work to do. Two thirds of the field makes the cut at Bay Hill, and after an opening 70, Leonard shot 73, 79 and 78 to finish at 20 over, the second-worst score among players who made the weekend.... One person who would have been happy to switch places with Leonard was Richie Ramsay of Scotland, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. Ramsay, 23, accepted an invitation to Bay Hill, but neither he nor the Scottish Golf Union, which sponsored his trip, officially filed his entry. The result? Ramsay arrived in Florida to discover there wasn't a spot for him in the field. Not all is lost. Ramsay will still play at the Masters, the Verizon Heritage, the U.S. Open and the British Open, assuming he gets through the red tape.... The Florida Highway Patrol continues to investigate the March 10 car accident near Windermere involving Tour player Arjun Atwal. Although Atwal was uninjured, the driver of a second car, John Noah Park, was killed. An official report and a decision about whether to file criminal charges against Atwal-and what those charges would be-should be issued in 30 to 60 days.

SUGGESTED WOODS BABY NAME OF THE WEEK A-game.

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