Monday, February 7, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 02-06-2011

 WILSON WINS SECOND OF THE YEAR
Mark Wilson  made a birdie on the second playoff hole in Arizona to outduel Jason Dufner and post his second win in 2011. Wilson holed a  9-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff  for the victory.

Wilson, two strokes ahead when play resumed Monday, closed with a 2-under 69 to match Dufner at 18 under. Dufner shot a 66, birdieing Nos. 16 and 17.

The 36-year-old Wilson, who won the Sony Open last month in a 36-hole Sunday finish, made a 4 1/2 -foot par putt on the 18th to extend the playoff after Dufner had tapped in for par. Wilson then won on the par-4 10th, setting up the deciding putt with a 7-iron approach from the middle of the fairway.

Dufner was facing a 7 1/2 -foot par putt when Wilson ended the playoff.

Delays for frost and frozen turf the first four days forced the Monday finish.

Wilson earned $1,098,000 for his fourth PGA Tour title. He also won the 2007 Honda Classic and 2009 Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Martin Laird and Vijay Singh  tied for third at 16 under, and Gary Woodland , J.B. Holmes  and Nick Watney  followed at 15 under.

Third-round leader Tommy Gainey, a stroke back with two holes left, closed with a 74 to tie for eighth at 14 under. He made a triple bogey on the par-4 17th after hitting into the water twice on the driveable hole.

Phil Mickelson tied for 29th at 10 under. He finished with consecutive 71s after getting into contention with opening rounds of 67 and 65.



BJORN TAKES QATAR MASTERS
Thomas Bjorn of Denmark won the Qatar Masters on Sunday, shooting a bogey-free 3-under 69 to beat Alvaro Quiros of Spain by four shots.

Bjorn led overnight and finished at 14-under 279 to earn his first win since the Estoril Open in Portugal last year. The Dane had three birdies in the final round, including one on No. 18 to capture his 11th European Tour title.

Quiros closed within two shots of the lead with a birdie on the 14th, but faltered at the end. He bogeyed two of the final four holes, including a three-putt on 15. Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain and second-round leader Markus Brier of Austria finished another shot back.

World No. 2 Martin Kaymer shot a 1-under 71 to finish 2 under in a tie for 28th. He needed to finish at least second to overtake Lee Westwood for the top ranking.



 TSENG DEFENDS TITLE
Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, bogeying only two of 72 holes, successfully defended her Women’s Australian Open title, shooting a final-round 2-under 71 Sunday to win by seven strokes.

Tseng finished with a four-round total of 16-under-par 276 on the par-73 Commonwealth Golf Club course.

No. 1-ranked Jiyai Shin was tied for second with two others. Shin shot a final-round 75, tying with South Korean Ji Eun-hee, and England’s Melissa Reid.

Jennifer Song of the United States finished fifth after a 71, nine strokes behind Tseng.
Four-time champion Karrie Webb shot 70 Sunday, 11 behind Tseng. Laura Davies of England shot 74 and finished at 290, 14 strokes behind the winner.

The 22-year-old Tseng, a three-time major winner and voted the 2010 LPGA player of the year, ran away from the field in the final round.



 IN OTHER NEWS
 The LPGA  has scrubbed this year's $1.3 million Tres Marias Championship in Mexico because of concerns about violence linked to the drug trade, officials said Wednesday.

"We hope to return next year, but would need to see significant improvement from a safety perspective," an LPGA spokesman said, adding that the tour was concerned about the safety of the players.

The tournament had been scheduled for April 21-24 in Morelia, located in north-central Mexico, where violence linked to drug cartels has been an ongoing problem.



Tiger Woods' charity concert is back on the calendar in Las Vegas this year.

Woods says his "2011 Tiger Jam" will be April 30 at Mandalay Bay Events Center, featuring Grammy Award-winning singers Keith Urban and John Mayer in a concert that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. Tickets go on sale Feb. 12.

The concert was not held last year. Greg McLaughlin, the president of Woods' foundation, says organizers could not coordinate the schedules of artists and when Mandalay Bay was available.

Woods says Tiger Jam has raised more than $12 million for his foundation and that he is excited to continue the tradition.



Golf has shown some promise the first month of the year, with significant increases in viewers on The Golf Channel, which broadcast the opening three events and the first two rounds of Torrey Pines; and CBS Sports, which had the weekend at Torrey.

CBS said its national rating for the final round was 3.5 with a 7 share, which was up 59 percent from a year ago.

The Golf Channel, meanwhile, said it got a 1.0 with 997,000 viewers for the first round of Torrey Pines, which was up 89 percent from last year. It said the season-opening Tournament of Championship was up 38 percent, and the Bob Hope Classic was up 60 percent, despite the final round going up against the NFC and AFC Championship games.



And finally,  all good things must come to an end. For Arnold Palmer, that meant bringing to a close one of the most meaningful  chapters of his life this week.

On Monday, Palmer piloted his Cessna Citation 10 for the last time, flying from Palm Springs to Orlando. It was an emotional flight for “The King,” who spent what seemed like his entire life jet-setting around the globe.

Palmer logged almost 20,000 hours in the cockpit, an astonishing number when you consider those hours equate to more than 833 days in the air. But for a guy who enjoyed traveling and seeing the world from the sky – in 1976, he set a round-the-world speed record that still stands – the figure doesn’t seem so crazy.



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