Sunday, April 24, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 4-24-2011

 SNEDEKER WINS HERITAGE
Brandt Snedeker won The Heritage in a playoff with overnight leader Luke Donald on Sunday, denying Donald the chance to become world number for the first time on Monday.

Snedeker clinched his second PGA Tour title at the third extra hole, the par-four 18th, where he safely parred after narrowly missing a birdie attempt from 15 feet.

Englishman Donald bogeyed the hole after hitting his approach into a greenside bunker from where he was unable to get up and down from a buried lie, lipping out with his par chip from the fringe.

In late afternoon sunshine at Harbour Town Golf Links, the first two playoff holes were halved in nerve-jangling fashion as Snedeker and Donald each began birdie, par.

Donald pumped his right fist in delight after sinking a downhill birdie putt from 12 feet at the first extra hole, also the 18th, before the American followed suit from 10 feet.
They then parred the short 17th, Donald getting up and down from the front greenside bunker and Snedeker two-putting from just off the green.

The pair had finished the 72 regulation holes on 12-under-par 272, world number three Donald parring the last for a one-under 70 and Snedeker closing with a sizzling nine-birdie 64.

American Tommy Gainey, bidding for his maiden PGA Tour victory, finished alone in third place at 11 under after closing with a 68.

A stroke in front going into the final round, Donald slipped back early on to trail two different leaders  Snedeker and American Ricky Barnes on a wildly fluctuating afternoon before regaining his poise on the back nine.

He knocked in an 18-foot birdie putt at the 13th to draw level with Snedeker at 12 under and then narrowly missed a birdie opportunity from seven feet at the 16th to claim the outright lead.

Donald again seemed to be in trouble at the last where his approach ended up in the front bunker but he coolly got up and down from there to take the tournament into a playoff.

Snedeker, a distant six strokes off the pace after the third round, birdied five of the first seven holes before reaching the turn in six-under 30 to surge into title contention.

Although he failed to maintain that red-hot momentum over the back nine, he knocked in a 12-footer to birdie the last and hold the clubhouse lead at 12 under.

Snedeker then had to wait for almost two hours to see if he would be overhauled by any of the later starters.



WESTWOOD REGAINS #1 RANKING WITH VICTORY
Lee Westwood won the Indonesian Masters on Sunday and ended up regaining the No. 1 spot in the world when Luke Donald lost a playoff in the PGA Tour event in South Carolina.

Donald would have jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 with a victory, but lost to Brandt Snedeker on the second hole of a playoff in The Heritage at Hilton Head Island
After waiting out a lightning delay on the final hole, Westwood finished off a 3-under 69 for a three-stroke victory over Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.

The English star, ranked second behind Martin Kaymer entering the week, won on his 38th birthday.
Asked what he wanted for his birthday, Westwood replied, “Something silver and shiny.”

As he stepped off the 18th green a portion of the gallery sang “Happy Birthday.”

Westwood finished at 19-under 269 in the Asian Tour event at Royale Jakarta. He took a five-stroke lead into the final day after opening with rounds of 68, 66 and 66.



 EGER AND MCNULTY TAKE LEGENDS OF GOLF CROWN
The putt to extend the playoff looked like a tap-in to Kenny Perry. Maybe 14 inches. His opponents saw it as somewhat longer. Closer to 3 feet, they said. But Perry missed it.

As a result, David Eger and Mark McNulty won the better-ball Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf on the second playoff hole Sunday against Perry and Scott Hoch.

Eger and McNulty, who started four shots off the lead in the 54-hole event at The Club at Savannah Harbor, shot 11-under 61 in the final round for 27-under 189. Perry and Hoch shot 64 to get into the playoff.

Second-round co-leaders Wayne Levi and Keith Fergus finished with 66 for 26-under 190, tied for third with Russ Cochran and Mark Weibe, David Frost and Michael Allen, Corey Pavin and Tom Lehman and Ian Baker-Finch and Joe Ozaki.

In the playoff, both teams settled for par on the 18th, a 457-yard, par-4. They returned to play the hole again. This time, all four players failed to hold the sloped green with their approaches but all chipped fairly close.

But it ended when, after McNulty tapped in for par, Hoch and Perry both missed short putts to extend the match—Perry’s ball lipping out.

McNulty said afterward that Perry’s ball was outside his, which he estimated to be about three feet from the cup. Still, it was a putt nearly everyone figured Perry could easily tap in.

Perry-Hoch came to the final hole at 27-under, tied with McNulty-Eger, who had been in the clubhouse for nearly an hour. Perry’s birdie putt for the outright lead from about 30 feet hit the right edge of the cup but wouldn’t fall.

Eger had made a putt of nearly 40 feet on the final hole of regulation to get his team into the playoff.
Perry, who played in only two Champions Tour events in 2010, is still considered a rookie on the senior circuit. This was his second senior event this season and his first Legends.

It was the third consecutive year the Legends has been decided by a playoff on the island layout in the Savannah River, each time going two extra holes.

 Tom Lehman remained atop the Schwab Cup standings with 850 points, 290 ahead of John Cook who withdrew after teammate Joey Sindelar hurt his back and was unable to continue.






COLSAERTS  SETS RECORD AT CHINA OPEN
Nicolas Colsaerts set a tournament record at the China Open on Sunday, finishing at 24 under to win by four shots over a group of four players.

The Belgian, who regained his European Tour card only last year, made six birdies in a 6-under 66 to total 264 and beat the old mark by five strokes.

Pablo Martin of Spain, Peter Lawrie of Ireland, Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and Danny Lee of New Zealand  were next at Luxehills International Country Club in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Prayad Marksaeng in 1996 and Ed Fryatt in 1998 both totaled 19 under to win the tournament.










Monday, April 18, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 4-17-2011

 ROOKIE GETS FIRST PGA VICTORY
First-year PGA pro Brendan Steele stayed steady enough to make his one-stroke, final-round lead hold up and win the Texas Open.

It wasn’t until it was time to celebrate that the rookie mistakes began.

The 28-year-old Californian cut his finger on the glass-and-stone trophy as he posed with it for pictures. Then he struggled to pull on the boots that came as part of the tournament prize. “Do I get a horse too?” he quipped.

His 1-under 71 in Sunday’s relentless wind moved him to an 8-under 270 for the tournament, one shot better than fellow PGA Tour first-year player Kevin Chappell, and Charley Hoffman.

The leader by a stroke heading into the final round, Steele largely stayed out of trouble throughout the day.

He gave a small fist pump, then thrust his arm downward and smiled broadly to celebrate his first Tour victory after holing out on 18.

The tournament featured the Tour’s highest scoring average, 73.665, this season and Steele’s 280 overall was the highest winning score at the Texas Open since the 1934 edition.

Steele birdied the par-5 second hole, dropping his approach from a bunker to within 10 feet of the pin, then bogeyed the par-4 No. 5, leaving a 12-foot putt from the fringe short. But he put his tee shot within three feet of the hole on par-3 No. 7 to move back to 8 under.

That’s where he finished. Steele, whose previous best was a tie for 17th at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego in January, could have then padded his lead, but missed a couple of other makeable birdie putts late.

Instead, he settled for 12 straight pars and it was enough to hold off Chappell, who had two birdies on the front nine, then put his second shot to within seven feet on par-4 No. 10 to grab a share of the lead.

Chappell,  stayed tied with Steele through seven holes, but hit his 2nd shot on the par-4 17th well right of the hole and then couldn’t save par.

It was the first time since the 2006 Phoenix Open that two Tour rookies finished 1-2 at a tournament. Another rookie, Charl Schwartzel, won last week at the Masters, making this the first time rookies have won back-to-back on Tour since 2002.

Winds that were a factor all week, pushing drives into the woods and knocking down approach shots, continued to blow strong at 20 mph Sunday—with gusts exceeding 30 mph.

Tying Chappell for second was the 34-year-old Hoffman, who found the hole from the fairway 52 feet away for an eagle on the par-5 No. 8. He followed that with a birdie on 464-yard No. 9—where Kevin Na had the worst par-4 hole in the PGA Tour record books during Thursday’s opening round, shooting a 16.

Hoffman just missed a 10-footer to save par on No. 14, but his birdie on 18 moved him back to 7 under for the tournament.

Brandt Snedeker, 30, had two birdies on the front nine but missed an 8-foot putt on the par-4 11th to slide back to 6 under for the tournament, good enough to finish alone in forth.

Cameron Tringale is in his second year on Tour but is 5 years younger than Steele at 23. He had three bogeys to offset a pair of birdies and finished tied for fifth at five under.

Also tied for fifth was Pat Perez  and Fredrik Jacobson, who finished second at the 2010 Texas Open.

Players in their 20s have won three of the last four PGA Tour events and four of the last six. A player in his 30s has not won since Rory Sabbatini at the Honda Classic, a span of seven events.



COOK WINS IN PLAYOFF




John Cook won the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on Sunday for his second Champions Tour victory of the year, rebounding from a double bogey on the final hole of regulation with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff against Jay Don Blake.

Cook, also the winner of the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric in Hawaii, closed with a 2-over 73 to match Blake at 9-under 204. Blake birdied the final hole for a 70.

Cook hit his 175-yard approach shot into the water on the par-4 18th en route to the double bogey.

In the playoff, Cook hit a 6-iron from 168 yards to about 6 feet to set up his winning birdie.

Blake’s second shot out of a fairway bunker landed in the grenade rough.

Blake is winless since the PGA Tour’s Sheraton Lehman Brothers Open.

The 53-year-old Cook earned $255,000 for his seventh career Champions Tour victory. He opened with rounds of 66 and 65 at TPC Tampa Bay to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

Joe Ozaki and Russ Cochran  tied for third at 7 under.


MANASSERO YOUNGEST WINNER IN MALAYSIA
Italian teenager Matteo Manassero shot a 4-under 68 Sunday to earn a one-stroke victory at the Malaysian Open, upstaging Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Rory McIlroy.

Manassero had an eagle on the par-5 10th and added two birdies on the back nine to finish at 16-under 272 two days before his 18th birthday.

Gregory Bourdy was second after a 67 that included eight birdies. The Frenchman charged up the leaderboard with four consecutive birdies beginning at the third hole, but he bogeyed the eighth and had a double bogey on No. 11.

McIlroy had a 69 and was third, two shots back, after a holding the second-round lead as he tried to bounce back from his Masters collapse last Sunday. Schwartzel shot a 70 and finished tied for 11th at 7-under 281.

Martin Kaymer, No. 1 in the world rankings, was eight shots back in a tie for ninth after closing with a 72.

McIlroy had four birdies and a bogey on the first 11 holes, but stumbled with a double bogey on No. 12. However, the Northern Irishman rallied with three more birdies and could have forced a playoff with another birdie on the par-5 18th, but his hopes evaporated when his second shot went too far to the right.

Manassero, who became the European Tour’s youngest winner with his victory at last year’s Castello Masters, said it was “just fantastic” to earn another trophy before turning 18.
Manassero will move up to 35th in the world rankings next week. He received $416,660 for winning and became the Malaysian Open’s youngest winner.


CHOPRA TAKES FOG SHORTENED EVENT
Daniel Chopra won the Nationwide Tour’s Fresh Express Classic on Sunday when fog forced officials to cancel the final round at TPC Stonebrae.

The 37-year-old Swede, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, shot a career-best 9-under 61 on Saturday to reach 12 under and take a one-stroke lead over Luke List and Russell Knox.

The start of play was delayed four hours Sunday until 1:30 p.m. The fog returned four hours later—the first groups were through 16 holes and the final groups played seven—and the round was canceled because of insufficient time to complete the round Sunday. The tour said it didn’t have the option to resume play Monday.

Chopra stumbled with a bogey at No. 2 and eventually relinquished the lead to Knox, a Monday qualifier making only his fourth career start on the tour. Knox took the lead with as birdie at the par-3 sixth hole. Playing with Knox and List, Chopra birdied No. 7 to regain a share of the lead before play was stopped.

Knox, from Scotland, had a chance to tie for the lead Saturday, but missed a 4-foot birdie putt on his final hole. That turned out to be the difference between a chance at a playoff and a share of second place.

Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton, Mathew Goggin, Doug LaBelle and Marco Dawson tied for fourth at 8 under.


 IN OTHER NEWS

Jim Thorpe, the 62-year-old golfer recently completed a one-year prison term for failure to pay $1.6 million in taxes between 2002 and 2004 and spent 10 months in an Alabama prison camp before transferring to a halfway house and home detention.

Thorpe was released Jan. 17 and is back on the Champions Tour for the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, which opened Friday at TPC Tampa Bay. It’s his first tournament since 2009.
“I did what I had to do there, and, no, you don’t want to be there,” Thorpe said. “I had to make it work, and you’d be surprised what you can do when you have to do something. I don’t want to see any of you guys go there, but I had to accept it.

“I apologize to everyone for the mistakes that I made, and I blame no one else but myself. I did the things I had do to and just want to move forward.”

Thorpe, who had three PGA Tour wins in the 1980s, joined the Champions Tour in 1998 and is making his 12th appearance at Outback, where his best finish was a tie for fourth in 2003. Thorpe was last on tour two years ago, appearing in 22 events and posting three top-10 finishes, including eighth at the Outback.



Kevin Na  will remember the ninth hole at the Texas Open for a long time.
Na set a new low Thursday for the worst par-4 hole in the PGA Tour record books, shooting a 16 with a nightmarish sequence of shots.

His problems included an unplayable lie from the tee, a two-stroke penalty after the ball ricocheted off a tree and struck him, and five consecutive strokes from the woods.

Na ended the first round thinking he shot a 15 on the hole. But another stroke was added after Na reviewed the video replay before signing his scorecard. He finished the round with an 8-over 80.

The worst single-hole score at a PGA Tour event belongs to John Daly, who had an 18 on the par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill in 1998. Ray Ainsley took 19 shots on the par-4 16th hole at Cherry Hills in the 1938 U.S. Open.


Jan Stephenson is set to appear on the 2011 version of Dancing with the Stars.
Stephenson's golfing legacy is probably a little overshadowed by the controversy surrounding her marketing approach but let's not forget she was one very talented golfer. She won 25 times in her professional career including three majors and 16 victories on the LPGA tour.



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Sunday, April 10, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 4-10-2011



SCHWARTZEL MASTERS CHAMPION
  Charl Schwartzel birdied the final four holes and took the Masters as he separated himself from the crowd, fifty years to the day after his countryman Gary Player became the first South African to win the majors. It was an exceptional performance, made all the more impressive by the who he had to beat.

Schwartzel played exactly the kind of round he needed to win on this day: hot early (a birdie and an eagle the first three holes), steady midround (ten straight pars from 5 to 14) and a hammer-down finish with those four straight birdies. He closed at -14, two strokes ahead of the field.

And it was a crowded field indeed, with both veteran major winners and too-young-to-be-scared kids.

Tiger Woods seized a large share of the golf world's attention, but this time, at least, that attention was warranted. Woods shot an impressive 31 in the front nine to erase a seven-stroke deficit. Poor putting would eventually doom Woods; he missed too many short putts to put any real pressure on the players teeing off behind him. Like last year, Woods finished tied for fourth at -10, but it could have been, and may still one day be, much better.

But the heroics of Schwartzel and the charges of Woods, Geoff Ogilvy and others wouldn't have been necessary had 54-hole leader Rory McIlroy played Sunday the way he played Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, McIlroy completely melted down on the 10th hole, triple-bogeying the par 4 and effectively ending not just his chances but his sanity for the rest of the day.

Other players had a chance at the green jacket, but none came closer than Adam Scott, who carried a lead all the way up 18. It was there, that Scott heard the third of Schwartzel's four birdies drop, giving Schwartzel the outright lead. Scott couldn't convert the birdie attempt, but the onetime phenom-turned-cautionary tale may have discovered a second life in golf.

Jason Day, Scott's fellow Australian, also hung close enough to make a late charge, birdieing the last two holes and four of the last seven. And like Woods, Geoff Ogilvy came from seven strokes back to briefly grab a share of the lead. Angel Cabrera, Bo Van Pelt,  Luke Donald, KJ Choi each had a chance and each came so very close.

Schwartzel's late dominance meant this Masters was a couple strokes away from being a playoff. But Scwartzel was steady and the green jacket is his.



 IN OTHER NEWS
 In a change directed at scorecards and television viewers, golf revised one of its rules Thursday so that players who learn of a violation after they sign their cards can be penalized without being disqualified.
The Royal & Ancient and USGA announced the new interpretation an hour before the Masters. It is effective immediately.

The change stems from two incidents earlier this year on separate tours.

Padraig Harrington was disqualified after opening with a 65 in the Abu Dhabi Championship when a slow-motion replay on high-definition television revealed that his ball moved ever so slightly after he replaced his marker.

Harrington knew the rule, but did not realize it had moved. It should have been a two-shot penalty, but because it was discovered after the round, he was disqualified for signing an incorrect card.
Under the change, Harrington would have had two shots added to his score and could resume playing the tournament.

In the first PGA Tour event of the year in Hawaii, Camilo Villegas was disqualified for signing an incorrect card after a television viewer noticed he had tamped down a divot in an area where his chip was rolling back down a slope. In that case, Villegas still would be disqualified for not knowing the rule.

It is not a change in the actual Rules of Golf, rather a book of Decisions that allows officials various case studies. The new interpretation is of Decision 33-7/4.5, that essentially gives officials more latitude to determine if a player should be disqualified.

Even with the new interpretation, it makes clear that knowing the rules is up to the player.

 For the last three decades, there have been a few incidents in which TV viewers will see what they believe is an infraction. It can lead to penalties, but often the reporting of the violation comes after the player has signed his card.

“This is a logical and important step in our re-evaluation of the impact of high-definition video on the game,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We collectively believe that this revised decision addresses many video-related issues never contemplated by the Rules of Golf.”






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Sunday, April 3, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 4-3-2011

MICKELSON TUNE UP IS A GOOD ONE
Phil Mickelson is ready for  the Masters.

The defending champion at Augusta outdueled Scott Verplank on Sunday to win the Houston Open by three shots, his first victory since earning his third green jacket last April.

And it comes with a notable distinction.

The win moved Mickelson’s world ranking to No. 3, while Tiger Woods dropped to No. 7. It’s the first time Mickelson has been ahead of Woods in the ranking since the week before Woods won the 1997 Masters for his first major championship.

The 40-year-old Mickelson shot a 7-under 65, the lowest closing score by a winner this year, to finish at 20 under.

He was 16 under over his final 36 holes, after tying the course record with a 63 on Saturday, his lowest round in two years. He won for the fifth straight time when he’s shot 64 or better in at least one of the rounds.

Tour rookie and second-round leader Chris Kirk (67) tied Verplank (68) at 17 under.

Lefty is hoping he can repeat some history at Augusta this week. The 39-time tour winner is the last player to win the week prior to a Masters victory, capturing the BellSouth Classic in 2006 before earning his second green jacket. The Houston Open became the run-up event to Augusta in 2007.

While many top players, including Woods and world No. 1 Martin Kaymer sat out this week, Mickelson saw no disadvantage in coming here and trying to win. Anthony Kim won last year and finished third at the Masters.

Verplank, meanwhile, needed a victory just to get to Augusta. The 46-year-old Verplank, with his sore left wrist wrapped in black tape, would’ve become the fifth-oldest champion in the last five years.

His wrist is weakened by a degenerative bone condition, and it affected his grip Sunday. He was making only his fourth start this year.

Verplank earned $519,200 for finishing second, and moved into 14th on the career money list , passing Retief Goosen and Stuart Appleby. He plans to play in San Antonio in two weeks and at Hilton Head in three.

Mickelson ignited a roar from the huge gallery on No. 1, chipping in from behind the green for birdie. He hit errant drives on Nos. 2 and 3, then birdied the par-3 seventh to start his charge.

Verplank kept pace for a while, with birdies on Nos. 8, 10, 12 and 13.

Lefty tried to use his length advantage over Verplank on the 319-yard 12th, driving onto the front of the green, 66 feet away. He two-putted from there for his fourth straight birdie and his 16th in 30 holes.

They both birdied the par-5 13th, but Verplank three-putted on No. 14, leaving Mickelson alone at the top. Mickelson three-putted the par-5 15th, but then widened the gap for good on the 16th green.

 
LEWIS GETS FIRST VICTORY AND MAJOR
Stacy Lewis held off defending champion Yani Tseng to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship by three strokes Sunday, earning her first LPGA Tour title in the year’s first major.


Lewis shot a 3-under 69 to finish at 13-under 275, rallying from an early two-stroke deficit while going head-to-head with the world’s top-ranked player.

She punctuated a tenacious back nine in gusty wind at Mission Hills with an improbable 20-foot par putt from the fringe on the 17th hole, prompting a celebration in the raucous gallery.

Tseng shot a 74 with four bogeys, losing focus in her quest for her fifth worldwide title already this year. Lewis bogeyed the 15th hole to allow Tseng to pull within one stroke, but Tseng bogeyed the next two holes.

Lewis’ putt on the 17th broke abruptly to the left and dropped straight home, with Lewis raising her fist in celebration. The 26-year-old from Texas with her alma mater’s Arkansas Razorbacks head cover on her driver then stood staring at the green, hands on her knees in exhaustion, while Tseng missed an 18-foot par putt that essentially clinched it.

After sinking her final 3-foot putt on the 18th, Lewis raised her arms in disbelief before hugging Tseng and her caddie, and several players quickly doused her with beer in the LPGA tradition for a first-time winner.

Lewis and her family then took the Kraft Nabisco’s traditional winner’s leap into Poppie’s Pond, holding hands while running to the water, where Lewis and her caddie did modified cannonballs.

Morgan Pressel, Katie Futcher and Angela Stanford finished nine strokes behind Lewis in a third-place tie. Michelle Wie (75) and 2007 Kraft Nabisco champion Pressel (76) both faltered badly in their final rounds after starting the day within striking distance of Tseng and Lewis, with Wie falling into sixth place—still the former child prodigy’s best finish in a major since 2006.

Lewis led going into the final round of the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open, finishing third in her first pro tournament. She established herself as a solid pro in the 2 1/2 years since, but still hadn’t won.

Lewis shared the first-round lead with road roommate Brittany Lincicome and opened a three-stroke lead after two rounds, but Tseng blitzed past her playing partner Saturday with a bogey-free 66 when temperatures finally cooled after two days of stifling heat. Lewis struggled to a third-round 71.

A night off clearly refreshed Lewis, who came out in the final round with all the aggression and confidence she lacked as the leader Saturday. She birdied the second and third holes, and Tseng’s bogey on the fourth hole allowed Lewis to pull even.

Tseng took the lead with a birdie putt on the eighth hole, but Lewis immediately pulled back ahead with a long birdie putt on the ninth before Tseng missed a short par putt. Lewis went two strokes up with a 12-foot par putt on the 12th, punctuated by a confident fist-bump with her caddy.

Pressel birdied the fifth hole to move within two strokes of the leaders, but never got closer.


 

LEHMAN WINS CHAMPIONS TOUR EVENT
Tom Lehman made things look easy while taking the lead at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. Holding on for the victory proved a little more difficult.


Lehman won his second Champions Tour title of the season Sunday, closing with a 3-under 69 at Fallen Oak.

Lehman, who won the Allianz Championship in February, started the day with a one-stroke lead over Jeff Sluman and bogeyed the first hole to briefly fall into a tie.

Lehman didn’t make many more mistakes, with five birdies despite windy conditions that made for a more difficult challenge than Saturday, when Lehman shot a course-record 64. The 1996 British Open champion’s methodically effective performance after the first hole wasn’t interrupted until a bogey on 18.

After two days of nearly ideal weather conditions on the course, Sunday brought variable wind that occasionally gusted to 25 mph. Lehman managed to stay out of trouble, hitting 13 out of 14 fairways and staying out of the deep bunkers that line most of the holes.

Once Lehman navigated the front nine without any serious trouble, he felt good about his chances to win.

Lehman finished the tournament at 16 under, winning $240,000 of the $1.6 million purse. It’s his fourth career Champions Tour victory and extends his lead in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. He’s also first on the Champions Tour money list with $718,038.

Sluman (72), Nick Price (67) and David Frost (69) tied for second, four shots back. Hale Irwin tied for seventh, earning his 200th top-10 finish on the Champions Tour. 




HORSEY WINS IN PLAYOFF

David Horsey of England had a birdie on the second extra hole of a three-way playoff to earn his second European Tour title Sunday, taking the Trophee Hassan II after a final round that included a hole-in-one.

Horsey was one shot ahead of defending champion Rhys Davies of Wales and Dutchman Jaco Van Zyl at the par-4 18th, but stumbled to a double bogey that left him at 13-under 274.

Davies missed a 4-footer for par that would have given him the win and Van Zyl  made par on the last to join the playoff.

All three parred the first playoff hole before Horsey won it on the second.
Horsey had his hole-in-one at the par-3 second, giving him the lead after being tied with Davies overnight.

Davies missed an easy putt on the last hole that would have given him the victory.

Thomas Bjorn of Denmark set a course-record 62 to finish at 6 under in 15th place.




 


IN OTHER NEWS
Ryo Ishikawa   first made people take notice because of his golf. He won his first Japan Golf Tour event as a  15-year-old amateur, won the money title at 17 and last year became the first player to shoot 58 on a major tour.

Wanting to do his part to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated his native Japan, Ishikawa decided to donate his entire tournament earnings this year—plus a bonus for every birdie he makes—toward relief efforts.
Ishikawa, who at 19 already has nine wins on the Japan Golf Tour, was third on Japan’s money list last year with just over $1.82 million.



 Shell Oil Co. has agreed to a five-year extension as the title sponsor of the Houston Open.

The oil giant has been the tournament’s title sponsor since 1992, the third-longest tenure on the PGA Tour. The event dates to 1946, and is the 10th oldest tournament on the tour.

Since Shell became the lead sponsor, the tournament has raised more than $50 million for the Houston Golf Association to contribute to regional, youth-based charities. Last year, the tournament generated about $2.1 million for charities.

“Shell Oil Company has given our event great stability and its support has enabled our organization to continue to positively impact the lives of young people every year,” HGA president and CEO Steve Timms said.



Researchers at the University of Maine designed a golf ball  made from lobster shells that normally would have been sent to the local landfill. While the ball  looks good, it's designed with cruise ships in mind. The ball has a biodegradable "binder and coating" that make it perfect for the sea. The balls cost about 19 cents a piece.



Have you ever heard of the English Open, , yes the English Open not The Open Championship, but the English Open,  well  the long-troubled event ran from 1979 to 2002, then went on hiatus until 2008. In 2009 and 2010, it was scheduled to be played at the Nicklaus-designed St. Mellion International Resort course in Cornwall but financial difficulties forced postponement to this year.

Now, that's not going to happen either. Difficulty in locating sponsors,which is not a surprise for a tournament that has not been held in nearly a decade, has forced event planners to postpone the tournament for yet another year.

It's a tough financial blow to St. Mellion, which has invested £20 million in the last two years to bring the course up to speed. But tourney organizers couldn't find a sponsor to pony up £2 million to cover the tournament, both because of the still-shaky economy and the commitment that many blue-chip companies have made to London's 2012 Olympics.



 U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein won the Georgia Cup on Tuesday, building a 4-up lead at the turn and holding on to beat British Amateur champion Jin Jeong on the 16th hole.

It was the 14th year of the Georgia Cup, which matches the U.S. Amateur and British Amateur champion at The Golf Club of Georgia in the week before the Masters.

Uihlein flew back to Oklahoma States University after his 4-and-2 victory. He plans to return to Augusta National this weekend to compete in the Masters for the first time.

Jeong, a 21-year-old Korean who lives in Australia, tried to fight back from the big deficit at the turn. Uihlein, however, closed him out with a shot into 3 feet for birdie.

U.S. Amateur champions now hold an 8-6 lead in the competition.