Monday, November 1, 2010

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-31-2010

WESTWOOD TAKES #1 SPOT IN WORLD RANKINGS
Lee Westwood reached No. 1 on Sunday for the first time. He ended a record run by Tiger Woods, who had led the world ranking for 281 weeks.

Westwood is followed in the rankings by Woods, Kaymer, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker.


 
CRANE IS VICTORIOUS  IN ASIA
Ben Crane drove the 292-yard 15th hole to within 8 feet for an eagle, then won the inaugural Asia Pacific Classic on Sunday with an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole to close with a 2-under 69 and beat Brian Davis of England by one shot.

Crane, who won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January, finished at 18-under 266. He earned $1 million, and heads to Shanghai for the HSBC Champions and its $7.5 million purse.

The PGA Tour and Asian Tour sanctioned the Asia Pacific Classic, although with only a 40-man field, it does not count as an official PGA Tour victory for Crane. He still earned world ranking points, and likely will move into the top 35.

Martin Laird of Scotland and Luke Donald of England  tied for third at 16 under. Ernie Els , Robert Allenby  and Rickie Fowler were among those at 14-under 270.



IT'S MCDOWELL IN SPAIN
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland shot a 74 Sunday to win the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama.

He finished at 3-under, two shots ahead of Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin, who shot a 76 to finish in a tie for second place with Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and Ireland’s Damien McGrane.

McDowell, who won the Wales Open and the U.S. Open in June, is expected to move to No. 10 when golf’s rankings are announced Monday.

Those rankings will be topped by England’s Lee Westwood, who will replace Tiger Woods as No. 1. Martin Kaymer needed a top-two finish in Spain, but shot a closing 75 to finish tied for 21st.

Kaymer also finds his lead dwindling in Europe’s Race to Dubai money list. By winning the $697,000 first prize, McDowell cut Kaymer’s advantage.



QUALIFIER WINS CHAMPIONS TOUR EVENT
Monday qualifier Rod Spittle won the AT&T Championship on Sunday for his first Champions Tour victory, beating Jeff Sluman with a par on the first hole of a playoff.


Spittle, a 55-year-old Canadian, and Sluman closed with 4-under 67s to finish at 12 under on the Oak Hills Country Club course..

Spittle birdied Nos. 15-17, hitting a wedge shot to 2 feet on the 17th and parred the 18th, while Sluman birdied 15 and 16 and finished with two pars.

He’s the 11th player to win on the Champions Tour after qualifying Monday and the first since Pete Oakley won the Senior British Open six years ago.

Sluman hit his tee shot into the front bunker on the playoff hole—the par-3 18th—and had a bogey putt left when Spittle won with a 4-foot par putt.

Two-time Oak Hills winner John Cook , second-round leader Larry Nelson and Chien Soon Lu  tied for third at 11 under.




CHOI SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDS LPGA TITLE
Na Yeon Choi successfully defended her title in the LPGA Hana Bank Championship, shooting a 3-under 69 on Sunday for a two-stroke victory over Vicky Hurst.


Choi finished at 10 under for her second LPGA Tour victory of the year and fourth in two years.

Hurst closed with a 70.

Second-round leader Song-Hee Kim was third at 7 under .Kim has five runner-up finishes in her winless LPGA Tour career.

U.S. Women’s Open champion Paula Creamer, second-ranked Jiyai Shin  and Suzann Pettersen  followed at 6 under.

Michelle Wie shot a 70 to tie for 12th at 3 under in a group that included top-ranked Cristie Kerr and 50-year-old Juli Inkster.



 NATIONWIDE EVENT IS A STEELE
Brendan Steele  won the Nationwide Tour Championship, beating Colt Knost on the fourth hole of a playoff Sunday. But both players left feeling like champions as they finished among the top 25 money winners to earn PGA Tour cards.


Steele began the season-ending event 30th and Knost, the 2007 U.S. Amateur champion, was 36th. Steele knocked in an 8-foot birdie on the fourth extra hole, ending a nerve racking day.

Steele finished sixth on the final money list and Knost 15th, both among the 14 first-timers out on tour next season.



IN OTHER NEWS
Lorena Ochoa came out of retirement and made $1.28 million with her two-shot victory Sunday over Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie in the pro-celebrity Star Trophy at Mission Hills.

Ochoa, the Mexican star who retired last year at the top of her game, had rounds of 71-71 to earn the winner-take-all check. Montgomerie was penalized two shots after his caddie moved a sign on the 16th hole.

Candie Kung and Hong Kong celebrity Eric Tsang won the team competition.

The field included Greg Norman, Annika Sorenstam and Nick Faldo, along with celebrities Catherine Zeta-Jones, Hugh Grant, Michael Phelps and Matthew McConaughey.



Matte Manassero has pulled out the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama to focus on getting a visa in time for next week’s HBSC World Championship in Shanghai.

The 17-year-old Italian qualified for both events at the Castello Masters on Sunday when he became the youngest European Tour winner in history.

He’s in Rome trying to get a visa to visit China for the $7 million tournament in Shanghai.

Apparently Manassero has still not obtained the necessary letter of invitation from the sports ministry to get a visa.



The founder of Shoal Creek Country Club, whose comments about the admission of blacks created a stir, has died.

Club president Bob Luckie says in a statement that 87-year-old Hall Thompson died Wednesday morning. Thompson developed the club in suburban Birmingham and it played host to the PGA Championship in 1984 and 1990, and the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1986.

He was the subject of controversy before the 1990 PGA Championship after he was quoted as saying the golf club could not be forced into accepting blacks as members. Thompson claimed he was misquoted.

The club now has black members, including former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.



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