Sunday, October 24, 2010

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-24-2010

ELS TOPS TOMS
Ernie Els ran off three straight birdies on the back nine Wednesday and turned a three-shot deficit into a one-shot victory over David Toms in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

Els, an alternate who was filling in for Masters champion Phil Mickelson, closed with a 2-under 69 and earned $600,000. It was his second victory in the 36-hole event for the year's four major champions. Els also won in 1997 when it was at Poipu Bay.

Toms, another alternate who replaced British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, chipped in for birdie on No. 12 and stretched his lead to three shots when Els bogeyed the 13th. 

Els made the first of his successive birdies on the 14th at Port Royal Golf Course, but his hopes for a two-shot swing ended when Toms again chipped in, this time for par.

The turning point came on the 15th, when Els made birdie and Toms bogeyed for a share of the lead. Els pulled ahead with his third straight birdie on the 15th, and he holed a 10-foot par putt on the 17th to keep his one-shot advantage.

Kaymer birdied the 15th and 17th to catch McDowell, and they each made par on the last hole.


BYRD IS ACES IN VEGAS
Cameron Percy, Martin Laird and Jonathan Byrd A all went to a playoff in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. All finishing regulation at 21 under.

When all was said and done, Byrd made, what maybe the shot of the year when he aced the fourth playoff hole for the victory.

Byrd, Martin Laird and Cameron Percy debated whether to keep playing the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open because of darkness. They all decided to go one more hole Sunday the 204-yard 17th at TPC Summerlin.

And it ended with a bang.

Byrd’s shot landed about 10 feet short of the flag and disappeared into the cup. It was so dark Byrd wasn’t even sure it went in. All he had to do was wait for Laird and Percy to hit their shots for Byrd to come up with his first win of the year.

It was the second dramatic finish in the Fall Series. A week ago, Rocco Mediate holed out for eagle on the 17th hole at CordeValle.


COUPLES ROLLS TO VICTORY
Fred Couples left the field way behind in the Administaff Small Business Classic, shooting a 9-under 63 on Sunday for a seven-stroke victory.

Two strokes behind Corey Pavin after 10 holes in the final round, the 50-year-old Couples played the final eight in 7 under, making an eagle his second of the round and five birdies.

Mark Wiebe was second, Dan Forsman and Brad Bryant followed at 9 under, and Pavin  and John Cook tied for fifth at 8 under.

Couples birdied Nos. 11 and 12 to tie Pavin, then made a long eagle putt on the par-5 13th. After Couples’ eagle, Pavin made a bogey, missing a 7-foot putt.

Couples moved two more shots ahead on the next hole with another birdie and Pavin’s bogey.

Couples also birdied Nos. 16 and 18.

Bernhard Langer, 535 points ahead of second-place Couples in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, shot a 66 to tie for 13th at 3 under. Kenny Perry tied for 35th in his first start on the 50-and-over tour, closing with a 70 to finish at 1 over.



KANG WINS LPGA EVENT IN MALAYSIA
Jimin Kang won the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia for her second LPGA Tour title, beating Juli Inkster by a stroke Sunday when the 50-year-old Hall of Famer bogeyed the final hole.


Kang, the 30-year-old South Korean player who went to high school in Edmonds, Wash., and starred at Arizona State, made a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th for a 6-under 65 and a 9-under total at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

Inkster finished with her second straight 67. She birdied Nos. 15-17 to take the lead, but couldn’t hold on in her bid to break the LPGA Tour age record of 46 years, 8 months set by Beth Daniel in the 2003 Canadian Women’s Open.

Playing in the group behind Kang, Inkster pushed her second shot into the right greenside bunker at 18, then nearly holed out from the sand before two-putting for bogey.








MANASSERO IS YOUNGEST WINNER ON EURO TOUR
Matteo Manassero of Italy became the youngest winner on the European Tour on Sunday, shooting a 4-under 67 to claim the Castello Masters by four strokes.

Manassero finished at 16 under at the Club de Campo Del Mediterraneo to beat Ignacio Garrido of Spain, who had a 68.

The Italian, who is 17 years, 188 days old, eclipsed the record of Danny Lee of New Zealand, who was 18 years, 113 days old when he won the Johnnie Walker Championship in 2008. Manassero had already become the youngest winner of the British Amateur Championship, capturing the title in 2009 as a 16-year-old.

Joost Luiten of Netherlands,Peter Lawrie of Ireland  and Christian Nilsson of Sweden also were at 11 under.



MATHIS WINS PGA CARD
David Mathis closed with a 1-under 69 on Sunday to win the Jacksonville Open on the Nationwide Tour, earning more than enough money to secure his return to the PGA Tour next year.

Mathis started the tournament at No. 35 on the money list, and the $108,000 for winning moved him up to No. 12. The top 25 earn PGA Tour cards, and the only tournament remaining is the Nationwide Tour Championship next week.

He finished at 8-under 272 for a one-shot victory over Won Joon Lee, Jeff Curl and Kyle Reifers. Curl was at No. 81 on the money list, and his runner-up finish moved him to No. 54, putting him into the 60-man field next week in the Tour Championship.

Mathis rallied from a three-shot deficit on the Valley Course at the TPC Sawgrass, then struggled once he got out in front. He led by as many as three shots, but his lead was only one shot after his double bogey on the par-5 16th. Mathis hit a delicate chip-and-run to tap-in range from short of the 17th green for par, then made par on the final hole to close out his second career Nationwide win.



IN OTHER NEWS 
Lee Westwood and major winners Padraig Harrington, Louis Oosthuizen, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will line up for Africa's biggest prize at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in December.

Ryder Cup winners Miguel Angel Jimenez, Ross Fisher and Edoardo Molinari are also part of the 12-player field named by organizers Thursday for the $5 million invitational tournament at Sun City casino resort.

Defending champion Robert Allenby, Anders Hansen, Justin Rose and Tim Clark complete the entry list chasing the $1.25 million first prize.



Anthony Kim of the United States missed out on getting his 2011 European Tour card.

The 25-year-old Kim did not compete in the required 12 tournaments this year, but had hoped to obtain medical exemption after missing three months of the season with a thumb injury.

However, the European Tour's tournament committee chairman Thomas Bjorn said Kim had "made no effort to complete his 12 tournaments" since returning to action in August.



Sergio Garcia returns from a complete two-month break with a renewed appetite for tournament golf at his hometown Castello Masters starting Thursday.

A combination of burnout and a broken heart after the end of his relationship with Greg Norman's daughter, Morgan Leigh, saw the 30-year-old Garcia slip to 68th in the world from a career-high second in March last year.

However, Garcia has dusted off his clubs to play in the European Tour event he promotes in his hometown near Valencia in eastern Spain. His luxury hillside villa overlooks the 7,111-yard course at Club de Campo del Mediterraneo, where he won two years ago.




 Kevin Chappell is headed to the PGA Tour. The former UCLA star, with his first Nationwide Tour victory among seven top 10s this year, he is No. 8 on the money list with two tournaments remaining and mathematically assured of finishing in the top 25 to graduate to the big leagues.

Chappell won the Jack Nicklaus Award in 2008 as the nation's top college player, and he had high expectations. But he started his first full season as a pro with no status on the Nationwide Tour, and he had to try to Monday qualify.

He missed out on his first nine attempts.

What kept his spirits high was his performance at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he tied for sixth in a tournament that was shortened to 54 holes because of rain. That was worth $197,487, and it was enough to pay the bills as he struggled on the Nationwide.



 Jose Maria Olazabal is unsure whether he will accept an invitation to captain the 2012 Europe Ryder Cup team.

Olazabal is concerned he may not be able to meet the European Tour's requirement that he play a full tournament schedule. He has rheumatoid arthritis, limiting his appearances on the tour in recent years.

The European Tour's tournament committee plans to meet in Abu Dhabi in January to pick the successor to Colin Montgomerie.


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Sunday, October 17, 2010

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-17-10

ROCCO WINS FRYS
Rocco Mediate holed out for eagle for the fourth straight day, hitting a pitching wedge from 116 yards that spun back into the cup on the par-4 17th Sunday en route to a one-stroke victory over Bo Van Pelt
and Alex Prugh in the Frys.com Open.

The 47-year-old Mediate won his sixth PGA Tour title and first since 2002, finishing with a 2-over 73 for a 15-under 269 total. He had a hole-in-one on the par-3 third hole Thursday, holed out from 160 yards Friday on the par-4 fourth, and holed out from 111 yards Saturday on the par-5 15th hole.

Prugh shot a 69, and Van Pelt closed with a 71.



 RECARI GETS FIRST LPGA VICTORY
Spain’s Beatriz Recari won the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title, overcoming soggy conditions and a late bogey for a one-stroke victory over France’s Gwladys Nocera
.
The 23-year-old Recari, a tour rookie who made cuts in only three of her first 13 stroke-play events this season, rebounded from a bogey on the No. 17 with a par on the 18th for a 2-under 70 and a 14-under 274 total on the Blackhawk Country Club course.
Nocera birdied the final hole for a 70.
Michele Redman and Karine Icher tied for third at 12 under.

Cristie Kerr missed a chance to overtake Ai Miyazato for the No. 1 ranking, closing with a 70 to tie for fifth with Wendy Ward at 11 under. Kerr needed to at least tie for third to take the top spot.



GREEN TAKES PORTUGAL MASTERS
Richard Green shot a 65 Sunday to win the Portugal Masters over a group of four players two strokes back.
Green began the final round seven shots back of overnight leader Pablo Martin of Spain, but Green took a clubhouse lead of 18-under 270 and never was caught.

It was Green’s third victory on the European Tour, but his first since the 2007 BA-CA Open in Austria.

Francesco Molinari of Italy shot a 62, Gonzalo Fernandez of Spain had a 68, Robert Karlsson of Sweden a 67 and Joost Luiten of Netherlands a 69 to share second at 16 under.

Martin finished in a three-way tie for sixth at 15 under after a 75.



GORE WINS MICCOSUKEE CHAMPONSHIP
Jason Gore won the Miccosukee Championship on Sunday for his record seventh Nationwide Tour title, closing with an even-par 71 in windy conditions for a four-stroke victory over Kevin Kisner and Scott Gutschewski.

Gore, also the 2005 84 Lumber Classic winner on the PGA Tour, broke a tie with Sean Murphy, Matt Gogel and Kevin Johnson for the developmental tour’s victory record.

Gore finished at 16 under and earned $108,000 to jump from 124th to 39th on the money list with $141,451. The top 60 after the Jacksonville Open next week will qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship and the final top 25 will earn 2011 PGA Tour cards.

 

 HARRINGTON WINS ON ASIAN TOUR
Padraig Harrington earned his first victory in two years Sunday, winning the Asian Tour’s Iskandar Johor Open by three strokes over Noh Seung-yul of South Korea.

The three-time major champion shot a 3-under 69 to finish at 20-under 268 in his debut in the tournament.  Harrington last won at the 2008 PGA Championship.

It was the Irishman’s third Asian Tour title after wins in Taipei and Hong Kong.



IN OTHER NEWS
At least 12 Ryder Cup team members and multiple major winners will join host Tiger Woods at the Chevron Challenge in December

Still to be determined is whether the All-Star field will be without the No. 1 player for the third straight year.
Woods' foundation announced the 16 players Monday who qualified from the world ranking a group that starts with Woods and goes down to Sean O'Hair at No. 28. The field includes U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and PGA champion Martin Kaymer.


The tournament is to be held Dec. 2-5.



Lana Lawless, a former police officer who underwent a sex change operation five years ago, is challenging the LPGA’s ban on transgender players.


She filed a federal lawsuit late Tuesday in San Francisco federal court claiming the LPGA’s “female at birth” requirement for competitors violates a California civil rights law.

Lawless is seeking to prevent the LPGA from holding tournaments in the state until the organization changes its policy to admit transgender players. She is also seeking unspecified damages.

Lawless said the LPGA is one of the few athletic organizations to bar transgender competitors. She noted that the International Olympic Committee has allowed transgender athletes since 2004 as long as the competitor underwent surgery and at least two years of hormone-replacement therapy.



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Monday, October 11, 2010

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-10-10

 SLOCUM WINS MCGLADREY CLASSIC
Heath Slocum  knocked in a 6o foot putt on the 16th hole for an unlikely birdie that sent him to a 2-under 68 and a one-shot victory over Bill Haas.

Slocum was in a three-way tie for the lead in the final hour of the inaugural tournament, having led by three shots on the front nine. First, Robert Allenby blocked his tee shot into the hazard on the 18th hole and took double bogey. Then, David Toms three-putted from just inside 15 feet on the 16th hole in the group ahead of Slocum.

Slocum suddenly had a two-shot lead, allowing him a cautious bogey on the final hole to finish at 14-under 266.
The victory moved Slocum to No. 29 on the PGA Tour money list with one tournament left on his schedule. The top 30 earn invitations to the Masters.

Next up is the Frys.com Open. Troy Matteson defends.



KAYMER WINS THIRD IN A ROW
PGA champion, Martin Kaymer closed with a 6-under 66 at St. Andrews to win the Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday, making him the first European Tour player in 21 years with three straight victories.


Kaymer’s streak began with his playoff win at Whistling Straits in the PGA Championship. The 25-year-old German then won the Dutch Open last month while preparing for the Ryder Cup.

Kaymer finished at 17-under 271 for a three-shot victory over Danny Willett.

Lee Westwood, who needed at least a three-way tie for second to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world, shot 73 and tied for 11th. The Englishman does not plan to compete the rest of the month because of lingering pain in his ankle. That means Westwood will go to the top of the world ranking for the first time in his career Oct. 31.

Kaymer won for the fourth time this year, and his earnings of $808,352 increased his lead atop the European Tour money list.

The next stop on the Euro Tour is the Portugal Masters.  Lee Westwood was the 2009 winner, but he will not defend.



 O'MEARA TAKES THE SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Mark O'Meara knocked in a 4-foot par putt on the first playoff hole Sunday to defeatMichael Allen and win the Senior Players Championship, his first individual victory on the Champions Tour.


O’Meara had a three-shot advantage on the back nine at the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, but a bogey on No. 16 shrunk his lead, and Allen charged into contention with birdies on three of the last five holes. Both finished at 7 under.

In the playoff, O’Meara hit a perfect drive and Allen wound up in the rough, setting the stage for O’Meara—a nine-time runner up on the over-50 tour—to finally pick up the elusive victory.

Loren Roberts took third place, and Jeff Sluman finished fourth.

The tour is off next week.



HULL WINS NAVISTAR CLASSIC
Katherine Hull rallied to win the Navistar LPGA Classic on Sunday for her second career LPGA Tour title, pulling ahead with a birdie on the par-5 17th and finishing with a two-putt par for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke victory over Brittany Lincicome.


Hull,  who won the 2008 Canadian Women’s Open, finished at 19-under 269.  After opening with a 68, she had three straight bogey-free 67s.

On the par-4 18th, Hull missed the fairway to the left and was faced with a challenging lie. She hit her approach on the green, 50 feet from the hole. Her birdie try stopped 5 feet short and she saved par for the victory

Cristie Kerr who had the lead coming into the final round, shot a 72 to tie for third at 17 under with Na Yeon Choi . Kerr played the first 50 holes in 20 under, then was 3 over on the final 22.

Next up is the CVS Pharmacy/LPGA Challenge. Sophie Gustafson defends.



IN OTHER NEWS
Jumbo Ozaki finally gets to celebrate in America when he is inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Ozaki, who won more than 100 tournaments and led the Japan Golf Tour money list 12 times, was elected Wednesday through the international ballot by receiving 50 percent of the vote from a panel of journalists, golf dignitaries and Hall of Fame members

He will be inducted May 9 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., along with Ernie Els, Doug Ford, the late Jock Hutchison and former President George H.W. Bush.

Ozaki had 111 victories, all in Japan except for the New Zealand PGA Championship in 1972. The knock on Ozaki was that he never won in the United States, although he had top 10s in the Masters and U.S. Open.
He joins Isao Aoki as the only Japanese men in the Hall of Fame.



Asia Tour organizers say Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy will join Tiger Woods at next month’s HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

A statement from the Asia Tour on Thursday also said three-time major winner Padraig Harrington will compete.

With defending champion Phil Mickelson confirmed as well, seven of the world’s top 10 golfers are set to be in Shanghai when play begins Nov. 4.

The HSBC Champions is the final World Golf Championships event of the season.



Tiger Woods will play in a one-day skins tournament in Thailand next month, returning to his mother’s home country for the first time in 10 years.

Organizers announced Thursday that Woods will play in the Nov. 8 event, which is part of celebrations to mark King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th year on the Thai throne.

It will be staged at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, a seaside province southeast of Bangkok, and comes the day after the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai.

Paul Casey of England, Camilo Villegas of Colombia and Thailand’s top player, Thongchai Jaidee, will also compete for total prize money of $300,000.



PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem expects some form of a “world tour” in golf in the future, even if he’s not around when it takes shape.

Europe already has one, with sanctioned tournaments on five continents. The PGA Tour is going to Malaysia later this month, returns to Shanghai for a World Golf Championship and has Japan on its wish list.

One reason Finchem believes a world tour is inevitable is marketing and sponsorship, which includes the players. Phil Mickelson is sponsored by Barclays, which promotes tournaments in Singapore, Scotland and New York. He is playing all of them this year.

The U.S. tour also has such multinational title sponsors as Deutsche Bank and BMW (both playoff events), Accenture and Zurich.

The European Tour was the first outside tour to set up golf in Asia, and one year had more tournaments in China than in Scotland. Now comes the American tour looking to create tournaments and opportunities for its members.


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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-5-2010

 Hindsight is 20/20 but perhaps Corey Pavin was not the best choice as Ryder Cup Captain. Yes, the team rallied and almost pulled out a dramatic victory, but the mayhem that proceded it has to fall on the captain. From the raingear debacle to the poor team matches nothing to go well for the Americans. Maybe the next Captain will be better prepared.



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Monday, October 4, 2010

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-4-2010

EUROPE WINS RYDER CUP
The Europeans hung on to win  the Ryder Cup by one point as the United States team made a terrific comeback but fell short. The Americans rallied from a three-point deficit to tie the score, bringing the title down to the 12th match. It all came down to Graeme McDowell vs Hunter Mahan.


McDowell made a clutch birdie putt at the 16th and was conceded his par putt at No. 17 when  Mahan flubbed a chip shot, then missed a last-gasp putt from off the green to save par

The youngest  American,  Rickie Fowler, gave the visiting team hope of pulling off an improbable comeback when he won the final three holes to halve his match with Edoardo Molinari. Fowler rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th to extend the match, then made an 18-footer at the final hole to stun the Italian.

A few minutes later, Zach Johnson finished off a  win over Padraig Harrington, evening the score at 13½.

That brought it down to McDowell vs. Mahan.

The Irishman was 3 up with seven holes left. But he made a bogey at No. 12, and an errant tee shot at the 15th, a short par-4, handed Mahan another hole.


With Fowler's half-point, Mahan merely had to halve his match for a 14-14 tie that would've kept the trophy in American hands.

But McDowell rolled in a downhill putt from 15 feet at No. 16 for a  birdie. When Mahan made a mess of the 17th hole, the winner didn't even have to bother with his final putt.

The Europeans got off to a strong start in singles, but U.S. captain Corey Pavin backloaded his lineup in hopes of rallying at the end. It almost worked.

Tiger Woods played in the eighth spot and routed Francesco Molinari 4 and 3, even after losing the first two holes. The world’s top-ranked player finally looked like it, holing out from the fairway at No. 12 for eagle and playing 15 holes at 9 under.

Phil Mickelson, who lost all three of his team matches, played in the 10th spot and beat Peter Hanson 4 and 2.

But the Europeans put up just enough points to reclaim the cup. Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jimenez the oldest player at this Ryder Cup won their matches. Rory McIlroy pulled out a crucial half-point against Stewart Cink, whose putter went ice cold down the stretch..

And so we wait for two years for a shot at winning the cup back.

This was an event marked with bad weather, ugly uniforms, and just confusion and chaos all along the way by the U.S team.

The 2012 Ryder Cup will be held on U.S. soil at the  Medinah Country Club, outside of Chicago.



HAAS WINS VIKING CLASSIC
Bill Haas overcame five bogeys in the final round to win the Viking Classic by three strokes on Sunday. Haas, who never trailed in the tournament, bogeyed the first hole, and had four bogeys on the back nine—including one of the par-5 18th. He also scattered five birdies to finish at 15-under 273 for his second victory of the year.

Michael Allen came as close to being a threat as anyone, tying Haas on No. 12, only to drive out of bounds on the next hole and ending up with a double bogey. He had a 71 and finished at 12 under. Allen, 51, who turned professional in 1984, has now played in 357 PGA tournaments without a victory.

D.J. Trahan and Brendon de Jonge  tied for third at 277, and three players finished another shot back.

Next week the Tour reunites for the McGladrey Classic. A new event on the Fall schedule.




HALLBERG TAKES ENSURE CLASSIC
Gary Hallberg shot a record-setting 11-under 61 Sunday to win the Ensure Classic by one stroke ahead of Fred Couples.

Hallberg finished at 18-under 198, tying the event record at the Rock Barn Golf and Spa and winning his first career Champions Tour title. Hallberg bettered the final-round record of 62, set by Bob Tway earlier Sunday. Tway’s round had surpassed the former mark of 64 set by Doug Tewell in 2004.

Hallberg—whose best finish on the tour had been a tie for second in the 2008 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn.—tied the overall tournament record, first set by R.W. Eaks in the first round in 2008, and tied a Champions Tour final-round record by a tournament winner, set by Rocky Thompson in 1994 and tied by Loren Roberts in 2006..

Couples, who led the tournament after Saturday’s second round, had a chance to force a playoff, but he missed an eight-foot putt for birdie on No. 18. He shot 67 on Sunday, and finished the three-day tournament at 199.

Bernhard Langer, who now leads Couples by 644 points in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, finished third at 200. Tway was one stroke back, and Morris Hatalsky  was two shots behind.




 BOWDITCH TOPS FIELD AT SOBOBA CLASSIC
Australian Steven Bowditch shot a final-round 68 on Sunday to set the tournament record of 19-under par, winning the Soboba Golf Classic by three shots for his second career Nationwide Tour victory.
Soboba Classic
Bowditch made birdie at the first and eagle at the sixth, and was never seriously challenged during the final round. Daniel Summerhays also shot 4-under 68 to finish alone at 16 under, and Keegan Bradley (71) and B.J. Staten (70) were another two shots back.

The victory and its $180,000 first-place check moved Bowditch from 76th to No. 11 on the money list with four weeks left in the season. The top 25 earn PGA Tour cards for 2011.



IN OTHER NEWS

The raingear the U.S. team is wearing looked like basketball warmups and   is absorbing too much water for the U.S. players. After 2 hours of play in the rain Friday  the US Team Captain Corey Pavin decided to go to the merchandise tent and buy new raingear. Apparently they knew about this problem on Tuesday but ignored the problem until it became a real problem on Friday.




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