Sunday, May 15, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 5-15-2011

CHOI TAKES PLAYERS
K.J. Choi made par on the island-green 17th in a playoff Sunday to win The Players Championship for his first tour win in three years.

Moments after David Toms hit his best shot of the week from a divot in the 18th fairway and made an 18-foot birdie putt to force a playoff, he missed a 3 1/2-foot par putt in the playoff that cost him a chance at his first win in five years.

South Korea’s Choi closed with a 2-under 70 to become the fourth straight international player to win the PGA Tour’s biggest event. He had to make a par putt just inside 5 feet to get to the playoff, then watched Toms hand him the victory.

Toms had a one shot lead, but hit his second shot on 16 into the water. That turned the whole day around.

So many other players felt they also squandered chances, none more than U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Nick Watney.

McDowell, who had a one-shot lead when the third round concluded Sunday morning because of rain delays, lost his way after an errant tee shot into the trees on the sixth hole. He hit four shots into the water the rest of the way and closed with a 79.

Watney was in control late in the third round until playing a three-hole stretch in 4-over par, then fell behind with consecutive bogeys at the turn in the final round and could never catch up.
Paul Goydos, who lost a playoff to Sergio Garcia in 2008 when the tour decided to make the 17th the first playoff hole, closed with a 69 to finish alone in third.

Luke Donald never got on track, but still managed a 71 for his seventh consecutive top 10. He tied for fourth with Watney  and moved to No. 2 in the world, giving England the top two spots in the world ranking.

Donald and McDowell wore an all-navy blue outfit in honor of Seve Ballesteros—his famous Sunday colors—who died last week.
 


 CLARKE RALLIES TO WIN EURO EVENT
Darren Clarke rallied from four shots down to win the Iberdrola Open by three strokes Sunday after overnight leader Chris Wood stumbled on the back nine.

Clarke shot a 1-under 69 to finish at 6-under 274.

Wood held a comfortable margin over Clarke and Shane Lowry going into Sunday’s final round at the Pula golf course, but a terrible back nine cost the English player his first European Tour victory.
Wood’s 6-over 76 left him tied with runner-up David Lynn  of England.

The 42-year-old Clarke takes home a $235,000 paycheck with his 13th career European win and first since 2008.

The 23-year-old Wood three-putted at the 12th and 13th before powering his drive out of bounds at No. 15, where Clarke’s birdie put him in the lead for good.

Alastair Forsyth finished four shots back in third, one better than Paul Lawrie  of Scotland, Ireland’s Lowry , Graeme Storm  of England and Spanish golfer Jose Maria Olazabal, who helped redesign the course where he won in 2005.




IN OTHER NEWS 

 Tim Clark’s right elbow was starting to swell. The pain was growing with every shot, too.
So Clark, the defending champion, felt as if he had no choice but to withdraw from The Players Championship in the second round Friday.

Clark shot 2-over 74 in the opening round and played 10 holes Friday before stopping.

“It’s just been getting a little worse as the day went on,” Clark said. “I hit a shot out of the rough on 9 and I could feel it getting worse. There’s just no point in staying. I tried as good as I can for two days. Yeah, at the moment it’s starting to get a little worse. I can see it’s swollen right now and there’s no point.”

Clark developed tendinitis in his elbow following a second-place finish at the Sony Open in January. He played in the Masters, but missed the cut and only showed up at TPC Sawgrass to defend his lone PGA Tour victory. Now, he’s not sure when he will play again.

He plans to withdraw from next week’s event in Texas.




Tiger Woods return to  The Players Championship from what he had described as a “minor injury” lasted only nine holes Thursday. Woods withdrew because of pain in his left knee and Achilles, but not before taking 42 shots for his worst nine-hole score on the TPC Sawgrass course.

“I’m having a hard time walking,” he said.

Woods flexed his left knee after hitting tee shots. He took baby steps to climb out of a bunker. He walked with a golf club for support, lagging a football field behind his playing partners with a noticeable limp. His quickest steps were to catch up to Martin Kaymer on the way to the 10th tee to tell him he was done.

Before driving off in a white Mercedes, Woods ducked into a fitness trailer with a sign painted on the side that said, “Is knee pain holding you back?”

Woods already has gone through four surgeries on his left knee. Now he has an Achilles problem, too. He has gone 18 months since his last win, three years without adding to his 14 majors, and he has no idea when he will be fit enough to compete again.



Geoff Ogilvy withdrew because of a sore left shoulder.

Ogilvy shot a 3-over 75 in the first round Thursday and played nine holes Friday before bowing out. He was 2 over when he walked away.

Ogilvy said last week his shoulder started bothering him toward the end of the Masters and at the Texas Open. He thought it would be fine when he got to Quail Hollow in Charlotte, but then decided another week of rest would make sure it doesn’t become a bigger problem.

It’s unclear whether he will be able to play next week in Fort Worth, Texas, his wife’s home state.



 With his ball nestled near a tree on the par-4 fifth at TPC Sawgrass, Mark Wilson decided to turn around and hit a left-handed chip shot.

It ended up being a costly mistake.

Wilson seemingly struck the ball twice and called a two-shot penalty on himself. The extra strokes caused him to miss the cut at The Players Championship on Friday.

“I think I hit it twice,” Wilson said. “Not for certain, but I heard two clicks. I asked my caddie what he thought and he was, ‘Yeah, I think I heard two clicks, too.”’

Wilson asked PGA Tour officials for help. They checked video replays, but decided those were inconclusive. So they left the call up to Wilson.

“You never know for sure,” Wilson said. “If I was 1 percent (sure) that I thought I hit it, then I have to call the penalty on myself. It’s not like (if it’s) 50-50, it goes in the player’s favor. If 1 percent of me thinks I double-hit it, then I have to take the penalty.”

Wilson, a two-time winner this year, shot a 3-over 75 and finished at 1-over 145, one stroke off the cut.
It wasn’t the first notable penalty Wilson has called on himself.

In the 2007 Honda Classic, Wilson called a two-shot penalty on himself because his caddie told another player in the group what club he hit on a hole. Without that penalty, Wilson might have won the event in regulation. Instead, he needed to win a four-man playoff the following day.



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