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Finishing Kick

The 2007 PGA Tour Season Wraps Up With a Stephen Ames Victory—and a Final Litany of Winners and Losers

Ames's WinCompletes the Comeback Swing, '07 Season

The last thing we expected from the PGA Tour's first Fall Series was relevance.The four-week FedEx Cup playoffs in August and September were supposed to bringdown the curtain on the "real" season, and the seven leftovertournaments figured to be orphans doomed to wither and die in the shadow ofcollege and pro football. But we were wrong. The Fall Series turned out to bethe Comeback Swing, as name players such as Chad Campbell, Steve Flesch, JustinLeonard and Mike Weir rediscovered their games and returned to the winner'scircle. Hey, we could call it the Resurrection Connection—tell the boys down inmarketing to get to work.

Stephen Amescomposed the theme's final movement on Sunday at the Tour's honest-to-goodnessfinal stop, the Children's Miracle Network Classic at Walt Disney Resort inOrlando, and his one-shot victory over Tim Clark may have implications for2008, because Ames won with a retooled swing.

It's not as if theold Ames was a chop. Remember how he blew away the field at the 2006 playersChampionship? And despite competing while in the middle of a swing change, Amesplayed well enough this year to get into one of the final pairings on Sunday atthe U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. Both Sunday rounds went badly—twotrombones (76s)—but simply getting that far was encouraging. Now the makeoverappears to be complete. "I came here to work on my swing, and here I amwinning," said Ames. "I'm progressively getting better at the ripe oldage of 43."

Why change a swingthat had worked so well in the past? "My back didn't hold up," saidAmes. "I was done after the [2006] PGA." So, shortly before last year'sSkins Game (which he would win), Ames embarked on a full-swing makeover withthe help of Sean Foley, the national coach of the Canadian Junior GolfAssociation. (A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Ames now is a Canadian citizenand lives in Calgary.) Ames says he was only "40 percent" comfortablewhile contending at the Open and the PGA. And, in fact, he was a cumulative 45over par for the '07 Masters, Players, U.S. and British Opens and the PGA. Lastweek he said he was finally close to 100%. "The work that Sean and I havedone has made such a difference," said Ames, who broke through a crowdedleader board with three birdies in a row on the final nine, starting at the13th.

To clinch the winAmes parred in on the Magnolia course's three newly lengthened closing holes—nomean feat. He found a greenside bunker at the par-4 18th but played a brilliant65-foot sand shot to three feet and made the putt for a four-under-par 68. Hewas 17-under 271 for the week. "The second shot wasn't what I wanted,"said Ames, "but the bunker shot turned out perfectly."

The only player whofinished the week nearly as happy as Ames was Kevin Stadler, who came in 15that 10 under. The $73,600 Stadler won lifted him from 127th to 124th on thefinal money list, giving him exempt status for '08. Stadler, the son of Craig(the Walrus) Stadler, was the only player not already exempt to crack the top125. He bumped Ted Purdy, who began the week at No. 125. "It's not life ordeath," said Stadler, but it's a hell of a big deal."

The Fall Seriescouldn't make that ultimate pronouncement, but the Tour's last lap certainlyturned out to be a bigger deal than expected.

Wind Fall
Top 10 money-winners from the Fall Series, with their rankings on the moneylist before and after the seven tournaments.

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

 

$ Rank Before

$ Rank After

Fall $

1. Justin Leonard

99

33

$1,255,825

2. Steve Flesch

70

26

$1,124,013

3. Daniel Chopra

116

48

$1,101,150

4. Mike Weir

82

35

$996,000

5. Stephen Ames

64

31

$875,267

6. George McNeil

114

61

$820,560

7. Chad Campbell

85

49

$723,440

8. Michael Allen

154

95

$704,655

9. Jesper Parnevik

139

90

$642,160

10. Mark Hensby

146

102

$602,320

Ill Will and Troubled Tummies in Singapore page G21

MY SHOT Why USGA News Went Unnoticed page G24

MIRACLE CURE
Ames's yearlong swing changes paid off at last in Orlando.

MY BAYONNE

A Native Sees Worlds Collide in New Jersery
BY MICHAEL FARBER

 

PHOTO

DAVID CANNON/GETTY IMAGES

NICE MOVE

By finishing 15th, Stadler jumped from 127th to 124th—and exempt status—on the final money list.

PHOTO

Photograph by fred vuich

PHOTO

ERICA LANSNER (BAYONNE)