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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