Sunday, March 20, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 3-20 -2011

WOODLAND BREAKS THROUGH
Gary Woodland’s only par on the back nine Sunday gave him his first PGA Tour victory.

Woodland surged into the lead with birdies, fell back with consecutive bogeys and won the Transitions Championship with a 10-foot par on the final hole for a 4-under 67 and a one-shot victory over Webb Simpson.

Simpson, playing in the group behind Woodland, was in a similar spot behind the 18th green. His chip went 20 feet by the hole and he failed to make the par putt. He closed with a 69.

Woodland became the first player to earn his first PGA Tour victory at Innisbrook, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The win sends the big-hitter from Kansas to the Masters.

PGA Tour rookie Scott Stallings fell out of the hunt with a double bogey on the 16th, but still finished third.

The win gives Woodland an invitation to Augusta National, where his awesome power and soft putting touch could make for an interesting marriage at the Masters. A late-bloomer, Woodland missed the second half of his rookie season two years ago with shoulder surgery, but began to show his potential when he lost in a playoff at the Bob Hope Classic.

Justin Rose,  a two-time winner last year who started the final round with a one-shot lead, was tied for the lead until making four straight bogeys through the 10th hole to fall out of contention. He wound up five shots behind.



JACQUELIN MAINTAINS LEAD IN SUSPENDED  EVENT
France’s Raphael Jacquelin  held a one-shot lead over England’s Anthony Wall when final-round play at the inaugural Sicilian Open was suspended because of darkness Sunday.


A lightning storm before the leaders teed off at the Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa slowed down play. The year’s first European Tour event on European soil will be completed Monday.
Seeking his first tour title since 2007, Jacquelin bogeyed his final hole, the par-5 12th, and stood at 11-under. Wall birdied the 12th, with Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara another shot back through 15 holes.

Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm is fourth at 7-under with the clubhouse lead. Karrie Webb rallied to win the



 WEBB WINS HER SECOND IN A ROW
 Karrie Webb rallied to win the LPGA Founders Cup for her second straight victory, shooting a 6-under 66 on Sunday to beat Brittany Lincicome and Paula Creamer by a stroke.

Webb won when Lincicome bogeyed the final hole, missing a 10-foot par putt.

The 36-year-old Hall of Famer, the winner three weeks ago in Singapore, earned $200,000 for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Japan relief efforts in the charity event at Wildfire Golf Club.

Webb has 37 LPGA victories, also winning the previous Phoenix event in 2009 at Papago and in 1999 at Moon Valley. She finished at 12-under 204.

Lincicome shot a 70, and Creamer had a 66.



IN OTHER NEWS
Tiger Woods says he will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week at Bay Hill.

Woods is a six-time winner at Bay Hill, including one stretch of four straight victories. He last won in 2009 with a dramatic birdie on the final hole, but did not defend his title last year while coping with the crisis in his personal life.

His commitment to play was not surprising, although until a year ago, Woods typically waited until the Friday before a tournament to announce he was playing.

Woods says he watched the tournament on TV last year when Ernie Els won.

Bay Hill will complete a full year for Woods from when he returned to golf last year at the Masters. It will be the 20th tournament since that time.

He has not won since the Australian Masters in November 2009.



John Smoltz has accepted a sponsor's exemption to play the South Georgia Classic next month on the Nationwide Tour. The former Atlanta Braves pitcher tried U.S. Open qualifying last year, and has played several casual rounds in Florida with Tiger Woods.

The South Georgia Classic starts April 28 at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club.

Smoltz is the only player in Major League history with 200 wins and 150 saves. He says he knows professional golf isn't easy, and he wants to experience it for himself.

Smoltz turned pro last year and finished second in a celebrity event in Lake Tahoe, Nev.



The European Tour has a new policy in its regulations this year that forbids a player or a caddie to place a bet on any golf tournament in which they are participating.

That's the letter of the law. But it's not the intent.

"It's a completely new regulation for us," said David Garland, director of tour operations. "We just feel that looking at other sports, and instances of gambling scandals in other sports over here, we didn't have a policy. It's been a little topical at the moment."

Betting, particularly in Britain, is almost a sport unto itself. Garland said golf is the fourth-most popular betting sport in the United Kingdom. During some of the major championships, there can be bets on who will have the lowest score among a particular group, or even as simple as who will place in the top 10.

The first section of the policy is that no player or caddie can either directly or indirectly bet or be involved in a bet in a competition they are playing or have any influence. Another section forbids players or caddies to provide information in which either has inside information.

So is this policy directed mainly at caddies?

"Not at all," Garland said. "We know the caddies have a range of small bets. It's just making them aware that it can lead to other things. They've got to realize caddies are an integral part of the golfer's team. They can influence, and they need to be aware of this policy."

Garland said the tour essentially needed to protect itself with a policy, especially in light of other scandals. Unlike the anti-doping policy, in which a six-month education process preceded the policy taking effect, the tour put it in the books immediately and will spend the next year talking to various people involved to make them understand.



Golf Channel said it averaged 1.07 million viewers the opening two rounds of the Cadillac Championship, the best two-day viewership for Doral since 1.09 million viewers in 2002 when it was on USA Network. Golf Channel now has had higher ratings for all 36 of the PGA Tour rounds it has broadcast this year.


Former Masters champion Mike Weir has had a cyst on his left wrist drained and will miss the Arnold Palmer  Invitational next week at Bay Hill. The Canadian hopes to be ready for Augusta National.

Weir had a tendon injury in his right elbow last year and tried to play through it until deciding to take off the final four months of the season. He says he is skipping Bay Hill because he does not want to make the same mistake twice.

He says by having the cyst drained now, it will be able to heal properly and allow him to play the Masters and the rest of the year.

Weir failed to make enough money the first two months to retain his card. He is playing the rest of the year on his status as a past PGA Tour winner and through sponsor invitations.


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