Sunday, January 23, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 1-23-2010

KAYMER WINS TAKES OVER #2 RANKING
Martin Kaymer shot a 6-under par 66 on Sunday to win the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship by eight shots and climb above Tiger Woods as No. 2 in the world rankings.

Kaymer earned his third win in four years in Abu Dhabi with a 24-under total of 264. Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland finished second after a final-round 69, while Retief Goosen and Graeme McDowell were another two shots back in third.

It was the biggest winning margin and lowest total score in the history of the tournament. The victory will lift Kaymer from third to second in the world rankings, below Lee Westwood.

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington was disqualified before the second round of the HSBC Championship after the Irishman was judged to have illegally moved his ball during Thursday’s first round.


European Tour senior referee Andy McFee said Friday that a viewer emailed to say Harrington replaced his ball on the green and, as he took the coin away, his hand moved the ball. Since the ball was not replaced, Harrington incurred a two stroke penalty not reflected on his scorecard.




ROOKIE GETS FIRST WIN
Jhonattan Vegas made a 13-foot par putt on the second playoff hole to win the Bob Hope Classic on Sunday, holding off Gary Woodland for his first PGA Tour victory.

The first Venezuelan to win a PGA Tour event, the rookie won in just his fifth tour start despite hitting his tee shot in the water on the 92nd hole of the five-day tournament. Vegas capitalized when Woodland made two poor chip shots, pumping his fist in celebration after his putt fell.

Vegas and Woodland eliminated defending champion Bill Haas with birdies on the first playoff hole after all three finished the final round at 27-under 333. Vegas is the third straight player to get his first PGA Tour victory at the Hope, joining Pat Perez and Haas.

Playing one group apart, Haas and Vegas both missed short putts on the final regulation hole. A few minutes after Haas botched a 6-footer for birdie, Vegas couldn’t connect from 9 feet, making his only bogey of the final day.

Vegas and Woodland closed with 3-under 69s and Haas shot a 66.

Woodland and Vegas shared the lead after each of the final three rounds, and Woodland got into the playoff with a birdie on the final regulation hole.

With the light fading Vegas shook his head in dismay after dropping his tee shot in the water on the second playoff hole but Woodland showed a bigger case of nerves with the win in sight. His approach shot landed in a bunker, and his sand shot trickled to the opposite side of the green.

After his drop, Vegas confidently put his exceptional approach shot behind the pin before holing a $900,000 putt.

While Vegas saved pars on the 15th and 16th holes with solid putts, Woodland appeared unable to make up for his early mistakes until he pulled back within one stroke on the 16th, putting a 103-yard shot from the fairway within 4 feet for an easy birdie.

At almost the same moment Vegas barely missed a 26-foot birdie putt on the 17th green, Haas missed his birdie putt on the 18th. Woodland then missed a 4 1/2 -foot par putt, falling two strokes behind Vegas heading to the 18th.

Vegas’ approach shot on the 18th was 47 feet short, and he failed to two-putt to victory.

Ryan Palmer shot an 8-under 64 in the final round to finish fourth at 26 under, while Brian Gay’s 10-under 62 shot him up from 37th place to a tie for fifth with Kevin Na at 24 under.



COOK TAKES OPENER
John Cook birdied five straight holes after the turn to win the Champions Tour’s season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship on Sunday, shooting a second straight 8-under 64 for a two-stroke victory over Tom Lehman.


The 53-year-old Cook had eight birdies in his bogey-free round for a 22-under 194 total and his second straight victory. He finished last season with a successful title defense in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

After two birdies on the front side, Cook scorched the back nine, dropping putt after putt. He birdied six holes during a seven-hole stretch to take home the trophy.

The win was Cook’s sixth on the 50-and-over circuit.

Lehman, who closed with a 64, had an eagle, eight birdies and two bogeys. Defending champion Tom Watson shot a 68 to finish third at 19 under.



 IN OTHER NEWS
Jose Maria Olazabal will captain Europe’s Ryder Cup team when it defends the trophy against the United States at Medinah in 2012.

The 44-year-old Spaniard, who played in seven Ryder Cups and was Europe’s vice-captain for the last two matches, was appointed captain on Tuesday. He succeeds Colin Montgomerie, who guided Europe to a 14 1/2 -13 1/2 victory at Celtic Manor, Wales, in October.

Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion was the unanimous choice among Europe’s leading players.



Davis Love III  was introduced Thursday as the next U.S. captain of the Ryder Cup. The daylong celebration of Love’s appointment wraps up a week that put the Ryder Cup in the news some 18 months before the next shot is struck. Europe, which won the gold trophy in Wales last October, appointed two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal as its captain Tuesday.

Love’s appointment was hardly a secret, and it was clear he’s already working on a plan to reverse the Americans’ recent Ryder Cup woes. Europe has won six of the last eight matchups.

Love has started talking with PGA and Medinah officials about course setup. He’s thought about the qualities he wants in his vice captains and who might be suited for those jobs. At dinner Wednesday night, he and wife Robin spent part of the time looking at the ballrooms and imagining how they could be configured for team meeting rooms.



Scottish golfer Elliot Saltman was banned for three months by the European Tour on Wednesday for marking his ball incorrectly during an event last year.

The incident happened during the first round of the Russian Challenge Cup in Moscow on Sept. 16. The 28-year-old Saltman was disqualified from the event and attended a disciplinary hearing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

A statement released by the tour said its tournament committee unanimously found that Saltman “committed a serious breach,” suspending him from all European Tour and Challenge Tour-sanctioned tournaments with immediate effect.

Saltman is the first professional to be banned from the European Tour since 1992, when Johan Tumba of Sweden was suspended for 10 years for altering his scorecard at qualifying school. David Robertson was also banned for 20 years in 1985 for replacing his ball incorrectly in a qualifying event for the British Open.

Saltman admitted after the event in the Russian capital that he had broken the rules but has since retracted those comments, saying last month that he was “sorry now that I didn’t stand up for myself.”

He has the right to appeal against the tournament committee’s verdict within 28 days.

Saltman’s two playing partners in the event in Russia—Marcus Higley and Stuart Davis, both of England—also attended the disciplinary hearing.

Saltman gained full membership of the tour in November.



A nurse who was fired for looking at golfer Tiger Woods’ medical records in the days after his November 2009 car crash is suing an Orlando-area hospital for defamation.

David M. Rothenberg has sued Health Central for $400,000 in damages, reinstatement, and is asking for a letter from hospital officials explaining that he was fired based on circumstantial evidence.
Woods was treated at the facility after the crash outside his home in Windermere, Fla., Orlando’s richest suburb.

Officials say they fired Rothenberg, a registered nurse, in December 2009 for using his computer to look at Woods’ records three times over a 10-minute period. Rothenberg faces losing his nursing license because of the allegations.

In the lawsuit, he denies looking at the records.


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