Sunday, May 29, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 5-29-2010

BRADLEY GETS FIRST PGA VICTORY
Keegan Bradley won the Byron Nelson Championship, parring the first hole of a playoff with Ryan Palmer on Sunday. Bradley sank a 2-foot par putt at the 419-yard 18th hole in the playoff, while Palmer’s approach went into the water before a 13-foot bogey putt.

Bradley, a PGA Tour rookie who never won on the Nationwide Tour, got his first professional victory nine days before his 25th birthday.

About an hour before the playoff, Bradley finished his closing round of 2-under 68 with a par at No. 18, dropping into a squat and hopping a few times in frustration when his 10-foot birdie chance slid by the hole.

Palmer and Bradley finished at 3-under 277, the highest winning score on the PGA Tour this year and the highest in relation to par in a non-major since 1999. It was the fifth playoff in six weeks and 10th overall.

Palmer forced the extra hole with a 6-foot putt at No. 18 for only the second birdie there all day. When that putt dropped, Palmer punched his right fist in the air and then raised both arms over his head.

Bradley and Palmer then played No. 18 again, both going way right with their tee shots to start the playoff.

Tournament volunteers quickly dismantled and moved a temporary lemonade stand to give Bradley, a Vermont native who played at St. John’s, a line of sight to the green and avoid the necessity for a drop.

Bradley’s approach was dangerously close to sliding off the side of the green into the water, but stayed up. Palmer went in the same direction but his ball didn’t stay dry.

On the 172-yard 17th hole, Bradley sank a 12-foot par-saving putt and responded with an emphatic fist pump. After Bradley tapped in his par putt at No. 18, third-round leader Palmer was in one of the five groups still playing.

Bradley then sat for a few minutes before going to the practice range to prepare for a playoff that almost wasn’t necessary for him to become the PGA Tour’s sixth first-time winner this season.

Ryuji Imada and Joe Ogilvie finished a stroke back at 2 under. Imada bogeyed three of his last four holes after getting to 5 under.

Defending Nelson champion Jason Day  was fifth at 1 under, the last player under par this week at TPC Four Seasons. There were brutal scoring conditions, particularly for both weekend rounds when the wind was sustained at 25 mph with gusts howling near 40.

Sergio Garcia, the 2004 Nelson champion who hasn’t won since 2008 and hasn’t locked up spots this year in the U.S. Open and British Open, began the day one stroke off the lead and in the final group.

Garcia missed a 4-foot par putt on the opening hole, then slammed his putter down on his bag walking off after his bogey putt. Things only got worse from there on way to a closing 77. He had a double bogey at the par-4 fourth hole after needing four shots to go the final 12 feet—his first chip rolled back to his feet and he ended with a double bogey.

Day, the runner-up at this year’s Masters, had his fourth top-10 finish in his last five tournaments.

Bradley’s playing partner was local teenage amateur Jordan Spieth, who had a rough finish. The 17-year-old player closed with two double bogeys and two bogeys for a 7-over 77 to finish at 6 over and tie for 32nd. That was 10 strokes higher than he shot last year at TPC Four Seasons, when he tied for 16th.



 
DONALD TAKES BMW AND #1 RANKING
Luke Donald won a duel for No. 1 with a playoff victory over fellow-Englishman Lee Westwood.

Westwood entered the BMW PGA Championship at No. 1, but it was Donald’s approach shot on No. 18—the first playoff hole—that will send him to the top when the new golf rankings are released Monday.

While Donald’s approach landed a few feet from the hole Sunday, Westwood sent his shot into a water hazard in the tournament at Wentworth. And just like that, Donald was a winner and No. 1 in the world

The win was only the second in stroke play for Donald in the past five years. He won the Madrid Masters on the European Tour last year. In February, he beat a top field in winning the Match Play Championships in Marana, Ariz.

Having trailed co-leaders Matteo Manassero and Donald by two strokes entering the final round, Westwood shot a 3-under 68. Donald shot 70 and both finished at 6-under 278.

Simon Dyson of England finished third at 280, with Marcus Fraser of Australia, Raphael Jacquelin of France and Shane Lowry of Ireland another shot back .

Donald missed two previous chances to become No. 1, losing  in the World Match Play final last week in Spain and falling to in a playoff at The Heritage in April.

But his consistency in finishing in the top 10 for the past nine tournaments ensured his first playoff victory on either the European or PGA Tour will give him the No. 1 ranking.




AGELESS WONDER WATSON WINS MAJOR
Tom Watson had stood over putts like this pressure-packed 3-footer at the Senior PGA Championship for most of his adult life.

Watson summoned up some of his old major magic, holing the short birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat David Eger on Sunday.

The 61-year-old Watson, down a shot with four holes left in regulation, became the oldest player to win a major since the senior tour was created in 1980. He also became the second-oldest winner of the Senior PGA, behind only Jock Hutchison who was 62 in 1947.

Watson became the third-oldest winner of a Champions Tour event. The victory came 10 years, 2 days after he won his other Senior PGA Championship at Ridgewood Country Club in 2001.

Watson closed with a 2-under 70 to finish at 10-under 278 and capture his 14th career major, six since turning 50 to go with five British Opens, two Masters and a U.S. Open.

Both Eger and Watson missed short birdie putts on the 72nd green that would have won for either in regulation, Eger pulling a 6-footer and Watson pushing one from 4 feet.

Watson went for the green with his rescue-club second shot on the playoff hole, the 18th, but it came up short and in the deep and gaping bunker that fronts the green.

Eger caught a bad break when his drive came to rest in a grassy finger on the edge of a large bunker along the left side of the fairway. He hit a layup and then a wedge to 10 feet, but missed the birdie attempt.

Taking little time after blasting out of the sand to 3 feet, Watson calmly stroked in the winner while the large gallery at Valhalla Golf Club cheered and applauded.

Kiyoshi Murota, who had at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds, closed with a 72 and was alone in third, a shot out of the playoff.

Eduardo Romero, the benefactor of a lucky bounce off the rocks that turned a bogey into a birdie at the 13th hole, and Peter Senior were at 7 under. Nick Price shot a 72 and to finish another stroke back.

The leader changed every few minutes in the final round.

Eger grabbed the top spot by rolling in a short birdie putt at the 15th. But he turned right around and gave it back on the next hole when his approach came up short of the green and he made bogey.

An instant later, Watson stroked in an 18-footer for birdie from the first cut behind the 15th green go up by a shot.

Eger responded with a 7-foot birdie putt at the uphill 16th to even things up once again.

After first Eger and then Watson missed easy birdie putts that would have given them a win, they headed for the extra hole.

“Wow. Winning again at 61,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t think it’s an age thing but, God, I’ve been out here a long time.



IN OTHER NEWS

Keenan Bradley has a golfing great in his family. Bradley's aunt is former LPGA star Pat Bradley. Pat had six major championships and 31 tour wins in her career and now her nephew has his first.



Mariajo Uribe entered Sunday's final round at Itanhanga Golf Club two-strokes behind first round leader, Heather Bowie-Young. Uribe quickly gained the lead with a birdie on the par-four fifth and held on to claim the $108,000 first-place check and take home her first-ever unofficial money win on the LPGA Tour. The Colombian recorded rounds of 69-66 to finish one-stroke ahead of Lindsey Wright.

In just her second year on the LPGA Tour, Uribe finished runner-up at last year's HSBC Brasil Cup after coming up short in a six-hole playoff with Meaghan Francella. She becomes the third champion of the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup following Meaghan Francella's win in 2010 and Catriona Matthew in 2009.




John Daly was the fourth player to quit the BMW PGA Championship when he departed after 14 holes of Friday’s second round.
Daly cited a hip injury as his reason for retiring. Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul Waring, and Robert-Jan Derksen each left the premises during the first round because of back, hand, and rib woes, respectively.



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