Sunday, June 26, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 6-26-2011

JACOBSON GETS FIRST PGA TOUR TITLE
Fredrik Jacobson closed out his first PGA Tour title Sunday, shooting a 4-under 66 in the Travelers Championship for a one-stroke victory over John Rollins and Ryan Moore.

Jacobson hit all 28 fairways over the weekend.

Rollins and Moore closed with 63s. Moore missed a 4-foot par putt on 18.

Michael Thompson, a 31-year-old who came out of qualifying school this season, shot the best round of the day, a 62, including a 29 on the back nine. He finished fourth at 18 under.

Jacobson was trying to become the first player since Lee Trevino in the 1974 Greater New Orleans Open to play 72 holes without a bogey.

And he almost did it.

He had 63 consecutive bogey-free holes before running into problems on the par-4 10th. His second shot went right, ending up resting against the cart path, but after taking relief and pitching onto the green, he couldn’t make a 12-foot putt for par.

Moore birdied his first three holes, making short putts on each and was 5 under for the day through the first seven holes. He hit his second shot on the par-5 13th about 262 yards to 10 feet of the pin, but missed his eagle putt. His birdie put him in a three-way tie for the lead.

Moore made three more birdies in a row at Nos. 14-16 to got to 20 under and catch Jacobson again. But he hit into two sand traps on 18, before pitching inside 5 feet.

Jacobson’s second shot on 18 stopped up about 14 feet away, leaving him with an easy two-putt for the win.

After tapping in, he threw both arms in the air as his caddie slipped the flag off the pin as a souvenir.

He hopes it’s not his last.

 

LARRAZABAL IS KING AT BMW
Pablo Larrazabal birdied the fifth playoff hole to win the BMW International Open by beating fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia on Sunday, capturing his his second European Tour tournament.

Larrazabal made his short put on the par-5 18th after Garcia missed from about 5 feet to add to his victory at the Alstom Open de France title in 2008.

Both players have now qualified for the British Open at Royal St. George’s at Sandwich next month. Their prize money won putting them top of a money list from six European Tour events, starting with the BMW PGA Championship and ending in Munich.

Garcia birdied the 18th during his final round to shoot 4-under 68 and join Larrazabal (68) on 16-under 272 to force the playoff.

There was nothing between them for four playoff holes, matching each other’s score at No. 18 twice, No. 12 and No. 17 before playing the last hole for the fourth time Sunday. Garcia sent an eagle attempt four feet beyond the hole and missed his birdie chance.

Before the playoff, Larrazabal had birdies at Nos. 1, 6, 7 and 9 before two more at No. 10 and 11 gave him the outright lead.

Garcia’s started steadily with five pars but, having relinquished the lead, a long eagle putt on No. 9 took him back into a share of the lead at the turn.

He picked up seven shots in six holes up to No. 11, which he eagled to move two shots ahead of Larrazabal, who bogeyed No. 13.

Garcia, however, then made three straight bogeys from No. 12 for Larrazabal to cut the lead.

PGA Championship holder Martin Kaymer shot a 69 for a share of 18th place with Dustin Johnson (67) and European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie (69) seven strokes back.

Kaymer will drop out of the top three when the golf rankings are published Monday, allowing U.S. Open winner Rory McIlory of Northern Ireland to rise to third behind English pair Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. It will be the first time that the top three has been filled by players from Britain and Ireland.




TSENG WINS LPGA MAJOR
Yani Tseng of Taiwan underlined her status as women’s world number one by winning the LPGA Championship by 10 strokes on Sunday to become the youngest golfer to amass four major professional titles.

The 22-year-old Tseng, who began the overcast day with a five-shot lead, doubled her advantage by posting a final-round 66 at Locust Hill for a record-equalling total of 19-under-par 269 that left American Morgan Pressel (71) a distant second.

Tseng, who won the 2008 LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock and last year’s Kraft Nabisco and Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale, surpassed Pak Se-ri of South Korea and Tiger Woods, who were both 24 when they won a fourth professional major.

Patty Berg was 23 when she captured her first four majors in the years before the formation of the LPGA.

The long-hitting Taiwanese matched the best women’s major score in relation to par, duplicating Cristie Kerr’s total here last year, Dottie Pepper’s winning score at the 1999 Kraft Nabisco and Briton Karen Stupples’ total in claiming the 2004 Women’s British Open.

Her brilliant showing at Locust Hill represented a rebound from disappointment at the previous women’s major, the Kraft Nabisco in April, where she lost a two-shot lead in the final round to finish second to Stacy Lewis.

The victory was her third of the season and gave her three major wins from the last six women’s majors played.

In a telephone interview with the Golf Channel, 10-times major winner Annika Sorenstam called Tseng “the new face of the LPGA”.

The other top players in women’s golf battled for second.

The 23-year-old Pressel, winner of the 2007 Kraft Nabisco, birdied the par-five 17th hole to snap a four-way tie for second place and finish on nine-under-par 279.

Tied a further shot back were Americans Kerr (69) and Paula Creamer (69) as well as Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (67), the 2007 winner.

Pettersen also praised Tseng.

The resilient Tseng overcame a stumble at the first hole before turning the final round into a romp.

Disturbed by a photographer snapping a picture on her backswing, she pulled her opening tee shot into the left rough leading to a bogey-five that cut her lead to four shots.

The long-hitting Tseng roared back with three birdies in a row, bombing a drive 300 yards from the elevated tee on the third hole that outdistanced the drive of playing partner LaCrosse by nearly 60 yards.

She made a two-foot birdie at the second to reclaim her five-shot lead, a 10-footer at the third and another two-footer at the fourth.

After parring the fifth, Tseng birdied two of the next three holes for good measure and the rout was on as she made the turn with a 10-shot lead.



HUSTON TAKES CHAMPIONS TOUR EVENT
John Huston finally slowed his normally quick pace as he walked the 18th fairway at En-Joie Golf Club.

Playing in just his third Champions Tour event, Huston shot a 7-under 65 on Sunday, taking advantage of three straight bogeys by the normally steady Mark Wiebe, and won the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open by three shots.

Huston finished at 16-under 200, earning a three-shot victory over Nick Price, who had a 66. Wiebe was another shot back after a 71.

It was Huston’s first win since the PGA Tour’s 2003 Southern Farm Bureau Classic.Wiebe won two weeks ago at Rock Barn and began the day with a two-shot lead over Huston, but his string of bogey-free holes stopped at 75 when he bogeyed Nos. 12-14 to drop out of the lead.

Still, Wiebe managed to regain his composure and rallied with two straight birdies, then had a chance for another at the short par-3 17th.

 Huston also birdied No. 16 and then sealed the victory after hitting his tee shot at 17 to within a foot of the pin.An errant drive at the par-4 closing hole brought a smile to Huston’s face after it bounced just past the water hazard that lines the left side of the fairway and left him with a nice lie.

Local favorite Joey Sindelar (68) finished at 11 under, tied with Jim Gallagher Jr. (65). Peter Senior (67), Ted Schulz (68), Jay Don Blake (70) and Peter Jacobsen (68) finished at 10 under and tied for sixth.






2 TIME HEART TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT WINS MEXICO OPEN
Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton has won the Nationwide Tour’s Mexico Open, closing with a 7-under 65 on Sunday for a two-stroke victory over Richard H. Lee.

The 31-year-old Compton was diagnosed at age 9 with cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that hinders its ability to pump blood. Three years later in 1992, he received a new heart. That one failed in 2008, and he needed another transplant.

Compton finished at 17-under 271 on the El Bosque Country Club course. His win put  him in position to earn a 2012 PGA Tour card as a top-25 finisher on the developmental tour’s money list.

Lee bogeyed the par-5 18th for a 69.



 IN OTHER NEWS
The fourth annual Notah Begay Challenge has been postponed.

 The charity event at Turning Stone Resort and Casino’s Atunyote Golf Club was scheduled for July 5, but an injury Tiger Woods  has forced Begay to put it on hold. Woods has committed to play but is still recovering from injuries to his left leg.
 Begay says an announcement of a new date and any changes to the format and playing field will come later.
 The event, aimed at benefiting Native American youth, has raised more than $2.4 million.



Tiger Woods  will miss another golf tournament as he recovers from injuries to his left leg, saying Wednesday he will not play in the AT&T National next week outside Philadelphia. “Doctor’s orders,” Woods posted on Twitter.
He said he would be at Aronimink to support the tournament, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. Woods said he is “feeling stronger,” but is still not 100 percent.
Woods, who has slipped to No. 17 in the world ranking, has not completed a tournament since he tied for fourth at the Masters. He said he hurt his left knee and Achilles hitting a shot on the 17th hole of the third round from an awkward stance in the pine straw.
He tried to compete in The Players Championship, but withdrew after nine holes.



More than $1 million has been donated to the Seve Ballesteros Foundation following a series of fundraising activities at Wentworth in honor of the late Spanish golfer.
A pro-am last month featuring a field of 24 leading golfers, including Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal, was held at the European Tour’s headquarters, while there also was an auction and donations from the public.
The European Tour says the money will go directly to Ballesteros’ foundation in partnership with Cancer Research UK.
Ballesteros died on May 7 from brain cancer.



The tour, the state of South Carolina and the Heritage Classic Foundation announced that Royal Bank of Canada had agreed to underwrite the cash-strapped Hilton Head event through 2016.
The Boeing Co. will be a local presenting sponsor, securing the Heritage's immediate future since Verizon's decision to stop sponsoring the event in the fall of 2009.



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Sunday, June 19, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 6-19-2011

THE U.S. OPEN
Rory McIlroy continued to dominate Congressional Country Club to win the U.S. Open by 8 strokes over Jason Day. The top finishing Americans were Kevin Chappell and Robert Garrigus at -6 ;  ten strokes off of the pace.

In complete control his game, McIlroy never slipped. He won his first major championship by shooting a 2-under 69 at ultra-soft Congressional and closed his four-day onslaught at 16-under 268,  four shots better than the U.S. Open scoring record formerly held by four players, including Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

McIlroy now joins them on the list of major winners, two months after a collapse so thorough, some wondered if he could ever recover. He took a four-shot lead into the final day of the Masters. But after hitting his 10th tee shot near a cabin on the outskirts of Augusta National, he melted down, shot 80 and finished 15th.

His shot on the 10th hole of this one showed how far he’s come. On the 214-yard par-3, a downhill shot over water, McIlroy knocked the ball above the hole, then watched as it stopped for a split second and started spinning backward, before stopping an inch or two from the hole.He tapped in for a birdie that got him to 17-under par at a tournament that had never seen a score lower than 12 under before Friday.

He ended up at 16 under, coming short of the all-time major record of 19-under par set by Tiger Woods at St. Andrews in 2000.

He owns the scoring records for 36, 54 and 72 holes at the toughest test in golf and he became only the third player to break 70 in all four rounds of the U.S. Open.

He did it at age 22, the same age as Nicklaus when he won the first of his record 18 majors. The two have become friends and The Bear appreciates what he’s been seeing.

Day ended up winning the real competition in this one the race for second, and has now been runner-up in the first two majors of the year. Kevin Chappell, Lee Westwood and Robert Garrigus tied for third at 6 under.

McIlroy kept his head down throughout this round, sticking to his mental game plan of thinking about golf shots, not championships. Finally, as he walked to the 18th green, he waved and smiled to a gallery on hand for one of the most dominating performances the game has seen.

He became only the sixth player to shoot under par in all four rounds of a U.S. Open. Earlier, Garrigus became the fifth player to accomplish that feat .

The dissection started right away, when McIlroy dug his approach shot on No. 1 out of a divot to 6 feet for a birdie. He made another one after hitting to tap-in range on the fourth hole to move to 16 under.
McIlroy didn’t give a stroke back to par until No. 12 but it was only his third over the entire tournament including his double bogey on No. 18 on Friday and a bogey on the 10th in the third round. As if to prove he was human, he three-putted the 17th green for another bogey. It was the first time he’d done that all week.

It was another calm, overcast day at Congressional, and there were more low scores to be had. The Blue Course has been taking a beating despite measuring 7,574 yards—second longest in U.S. Open history.

“It’s not really a U.S. Open golf course, to be honest,” Martin Kaymer said.

But nobody took advantage better than McIlroy, whose dad was in the gallery, watching his son take a bite out of the record book.


After the final tap-in, Gerry McIlroy met his son as he walked off the green.



 GOGGINS WINS WICHITA OPEN
Australia’s Mathew Goggin won the Wichita Open on Sunday for his second Nationwide Tour title of the year and fourth overall, birdieing the final hole for a 2-under 69 and a one-stroke victory over Kyle Thompson.

Goggin, also the winner of the season-opening Panama Championship, finished at 18-under 266 on the Crestview Country Club’s North Course. He earned $108,000 to push his season total to $303,898, guaranteeing a top 25 finish for the season and a 2012 PGA Tour card. He also moved within a win of an in-season PGA Tour promotion.

Kyle Thompson, the Rex Hospital Open winner last week in Raleigh, North Carolina, also finished with a 69.
 

 

ZIONS WINS SAINT OMER OPEN
Matthew Zions of Australia shot a 2-under 69 to win his first European Tour title Sunday at the Saint-Omer Open.

The overnight leader made four birdies and two bogeys for an 8-under 276 total to finish seven strokes ahead of Daniel Denison of England, who shared second place with Peter Gustafsson of Sweden and Craig Lee of Scotland.

Zions was a runner-up at last year’s Karnten Golf Open on the Challenge Tour, and his previous best result on the European Tour was a ninth-place finish at the 2007 New Zealand Open.
Zions was briefly under pressure from Andrea Perrino of Italy, who made two birdies to pull within three shots of the lead. But the Italian had three consecutive bogeys after the turn to slip to fifth place, tied with six other players at 284.

Zions got some breathing room by making three birdies in a four-hole span to increase his lead to six shots after No. 11.

The 32-year-old Australian won by the biggest margin at this tournament. Christian Nilsson of Sweden had clinched the title by six strokes in 2009.



JI HEE LEE TAKES JLPGA EVENT
Ji-Hee Lee fired a 7-birdie 67 in the final round of the Nichirei Ladies to secure her 14th career JLPGA victory by 2 shots over Miki Saiki. The roller-coaster battle was decided over the final 4 holes in dramatic fashion, in which Lee birdied 3 of them and Saiki could only manage 2 and a bogey.

Lee and Saiki were tied at the start of the round and at many times throughout it. After they both birdied the 1st hole, Lee fell 2 shots behind Saiki when Lee bogeyed the medium-length par 4 and Saiki birdied it, but their roles were reversed on the very next hole, coincidentally enough another medium-length par 4. Saiki then took the lead with a birdie on the 193-yard par 3 but gave it away 2 holes later with a bogey on the very next par 3. Lee took her 1st lead of the day with a birdie on the very next hole, the par-5 7th, but Saiki matched it with a birdie on the par-4 8th. Lee bogeyed the par-5 10th to fall behind again but bounced back with a birdie on the par-3 11th. Saiki returned the favor with a birdie-bogey combo on the 13th and 14th, so they were tied at -9 with 4 holes to play.

Na-Ri Lee and Junko Omote had gone low earlier in the day with a 66 and a 67, respectively, to stand as co-leaders-in-the-clubhouse at that same number, so the outcome was in serious doubt, but Lee and Saiki both birdied the par-4 15th to knock them out of the running. The tide turned in Lee's favor for good when Saiki bogeyed the long par 4 to fall back to -9 and Lee birdied the long par 3 to get to -11. After Lee matched Saiki's walkoff birdie, she had her 14th JLPGA win and first since last August.




 IN OTHER NEWS
A 29-year-old man was hospitalized Thursday after collapsing along the 11th fairway at the U.S. Open.

The man fell to the ground near the spectator ropes as the group that included defending champion Graeme McDowell was about to play the hole at Congressional Country Club.

Assistant Chief Scott Graham of the Montgomery County Fire Department said the man was in serious condition when he was taken by ambulance to nearby Suburban Hospital. A state trooper and local police officer assigned to provide security for the players performed CPR, and emergency workers brought in a defibrillator.

McDowell’s group teed off, even as the man was being given chest compressions. McDowell stared intently at the scene as he walked past.

“We heard someone obviously was having some problems over there,” McDowell said. “You’re out there trying to do your best, but it certainly puts golf in perspective when you see someone obviously fighting for their life. All the people that USGA has in place this week for events like that, it’s great to see the paramedics reacting and doing the job they’re here to do. We obviously hope that person is doing OK right now.”

Heart attacks are often a concern at golf tournaments in the mid-Atlantic region because of the area’s high heat and humidity. Thursday’s weather was unusually mild for the time of year, with plenty of cloud cover and the high temperature hovering around 80.



 There was a record 26 subpar rounds at the Open on Saturday.  The previous record for subpar rounds in the third round of a U.S. Open was 24, set at Medinah in 1990. Congressional could produce scores like this back when the Kemper Open was played here and no one would blink, but it’s now supposed to be rigged up for the toughest test in golf.

The U.S. Golf Association spent years planning for this weekend. All the greens were rebuilt. Tee boxes were moved back so far that they’re nearly bisecting other fairways, making it often confusing to figure out which hole is next without the aid of a map or a directional sign. It’s a whopping 7,574 yards from start to finish if all the back tees are used.

But last week’s stifling temperatures and humidity sent the heat index into triple-digit territory, stunting the growth of the rough, wilting the fairways and greens and putting the USGA behind in its preparations. The rain finally started falling on Thursday after play was under way softening up the course, and making the greens easier to shoot to.



The U.S. Open will return to Shinnecock Hills in 2018, heading back to a course that produced one of the most embarrassing final rounds in the tournament’s history.

Retief Goosen won by two shots over Phil Mickelson in 2004 after a final round marred by greens that were almost too fast to play. At one point, officials had to sprinkle the seventh green simply to keep balls on the putting surface.

Ernie Els played in the final group that day and shot 80. No one broke par in the final round and the average score was 78.7.

It was widely viewed as one of the worst days for the USGA, which prides itself on setting up the toughest courses in tournament golf. Even the USGA officials conceded they lost control of the course.

The new setup guidelines feature “graduated rough”—grass that’s grown longer and thicker the farther it gets from the fairway. The idea there is to penalize players more for shots that go further astray than those that miss the fairway by a foot or two. The USGA also started moving tee boxes around to better adjust to weather conditions that affect scoring.

The USGA is hoping the recent changes will prevent another debacle at Shinnecock, one of the country’s hallmark courses, which will host its fifth U.S. Open.

The USGA had already awarded the 2019 U.S. Open to Pebble Beach. Other future tournament sites: Olympic Club in 2012; Merion in 2013; Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014; Chambers Bay in 2015; Oakmont in 2016 and Erin Hills in 2017.



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Sunday, June 12, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 6-12-2011

FRAZAR CAPTURES 1st  PGA TITLE
Harrison Frazar  won his first PGA Tour title in his 355th tournament, beating Robert Karlsson with a par on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff Sunday at the St. Jude Classic. He won a month before turning 40 when Karlsson pushed a par-saving putt 3 feet past the hole.

And Frazar had been so ready to quit golf he had plans lined up for a new job at the end of the year.
He turns 40 on July 29, misses his family back in Texas, and is playing this year on a major medical exemption after separate surgeries on his hip and shoulder last summer. Memphis is just the fourth cut he’s made in 10 events, though he just qualified for the upcoming U.S. Open at Congressional.

Now Frazar has the biggest paycheck of his career, taking home $1,008,000. He knows he’ll be playing at least a couple more years now he has a slot in the Tournament of Champions in Maui in January and in Augusta next April for his first Masters.

Frazar hadn’t had a chance to share the news with his wife and three children when he talked with reporters. He said his wife likely was stuck in the Dallas airport, flying to meet him at Congressional.

Frazar missed a chance to win on the 72nd hole when he made his first bogey of the day. He shot a 3-under 67 to match Karlsson (68) at 13 under. He became the seventh first-time winner on tour this year and the first to win his first title in Memphis since Dicky Pride in 1994.

Karlsson led after the second and third rounds, and he has shot below par on his past eight rounds here. Now the Swede has lost in a playoff at the TPC Southwind course for a second straight year, though he said he couldn’t have done much more in what he called a great match.

Camilo Villegas (64) tied for third with Tim Herron, Ryuji Imada, Charles Howell and Retief Goosen. Lee Westwood, the 2010 champion here, tied for 11th.

This final round turned into a two-man playoff almost from the opening hole with no one closer than three strokes early, a margin that expanded to six.

Frazar kept catching Karlsson atop the leaderboard, finally getting the lead to himself when Karlsson bogeyed No. 17 after yanking a 3-wood way left off the tee. Frazar promptly gave the stroke back on the 72nd hole when his second shot landed near the green and dribbled into the water.

Karlsson stroked in an 8-foot par putt to set up his second straight playoff in Memphis.

In the playoff, Frazar had a 17-footer for birdie and the win on the first hole at No. 18 where he had just bogeyed. But he pushed his putt a foot past. Karlsson had an 18-foot birdie putt for the win on the par-3 11th only to just miss right, while Frazar two-putted from 45 feet.

Frazar had a nice drive on the third hole, the par-4 12th, that left him 93 yards to the pin. He hit his approach to 22 feet and two-putted.

Karlsson had to chip onto the green, and the ball sped past 11 feet past the hole. Needing to hole out to extend the playoff, Karlsson missed his par putt left.

Frazar tied Karlsson at 12 under through three, at 13 under through eight and at 14 under when he stuck his tee shot on the par-3 No. 11 6 feet from the pin for his fourth birdie of the round. With nobody else closer than six strokes, the men matched par for par over the next five holes.

Frazar had birdie putts of 4 feet and 15 feet to take the lead on Nos. 16 and 17 but couldn’t knock them in.

Still sharing the lead, Karlsson yanked his tee shot on the par-4 No. 17 way into the rough. His 8-iron came up 42 yards short of the pin, leaving him a 6-footer for par. He started it left of the hole, and it never moved off the line rolling 4 feet past the pin.

Frazar gave it right back on 18, taking his drop and knocking his ball to 2 feet to salvage bogey after Karlsson’s par putt from 8 feet.


WIEBE WINS IN PLAYOFF
Mark Wiebe parred the third playoff hole following a weather delay and won the Greater Hickory Classic on Sunday when James Mason missed a four-foot par putt.

Wiebe earned his first Champions Tour title since 2008 in a bizarre finish that included a delay following the first extra hole at Rock Barn. Mason, a Monday qualifier, three-putted from 20 feet to end his chances of earning a one-year playing exemption.

Both players birdied the 18th in regulation to finish at a tournament-record 19 under. That move them past clubhouse leader Fred Funk, who shot 62, and finished tied for third with Chip Beck.

Bob Tway, who led by one shot after the first and second rounds, faded after a double-bogey on the sixth. He shot 71 and finished tied for eighth. 



TSENG WINS LPGA STATE FARM CLASSIC
The #1 ranked woman player in the world, Yani Tseng shot a 68 on her way to a three stroke victory over Cristie Kerr at what might be the final  LPGA State Farm Classic.

 Tseng, from Taiwan, had a 21-under 267 total on the Panther Creek course for her seventh tour title in four years. She also won the season-opening LPGA Thailand and three other worldwide events this year.

In the 2008 tournament, Tseng led by a stroke with a hole left, but flew the green, made bogey then lost to Ji Young Oh in a playoff when she three-putting the first extra hole.

Kerr, the 2010 winner, finished three strokes back, shooting a 67.

Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome (70) tied for third at 16 under.

Title sponsor State Farm Insurance Companies had declined to renew its commitment after this year and a replacement sponsor has yet to be found, putting the event in danger of folding.



 ROCK GETS FIRST VICTORY IN ITALY
 Robert Rock completed a wire-to-wire victory in the Italian Open on Sunday to earn his first European Tour title, shooting a 5-under 67 fend off a charge by Thorbjorn Olesen.

The 34-year-old Englishman finished at 21-under 267 at the Royal Park Roveri club for a one-stroke victory over Olesen of Denmark and Gary Boyd of England.

Olesen put pressure on Rock from the start in shooting a 62, while Boyd had a 66.

Rock drove into the trees on the par-4 17th, but hit a risky second shot up the fairway then got up and down from 60 yards. Needing only a par on the par-5 18th, he played it safe, using three shots to reach the green before rolling his fourth shot to within inches of the cup, then tapping in for victory.

Rock has qualified to play in his first U.S. Open this week at Congressional.

Rock’s previous best results were three second-place finishes. This was his 209th event as a professional and he made a slight change in his putting grip during the opening round after reading a tip from an old golf book given to him by a friend.

Peter Whiteford of Scotland placed fourth at 19-under for his third consecutive top-10 finish and Joost Luiten of the Netherlands came fifth at 18-under.

Italians Matteo Manassero and Francesco Molinari—the only two players ranked in the top 50 entered—ended in a tie for eighth at 16-under then flew off for the U.S. Open.



THOMPSON BIRDIE 18 FOR NATIONWIDE EVENT VICTORY
Kyle Thompson won the Rex Hospital Open for the second time in five years, birdieing the final hole Sunday for a one-stroke victory over Scott Brown, Troy Kelly and Martin Flores.

Thompson closed with a 3-under 68 to finish at 14-under 270 at TPC Wakefield Plantation. The former South Carolina player earned $99,000 for his third Nationwide Tour title and jumped to No. 6 on the money list.

He started the day in a three-way tie for fourth place at 11 under, and played in the next-to-last threesome. Thompson closed with his sixth birdie of the round, holing a 7-footer putt.

Then, he waited to see if anyone would force a playoff. Kelly and Flores each needed birdies to tie. Flores’ 25-foot birdie putt curled behind the hole, and Kelly also missed from about 20 feet.
Brown shot a 68, and Kelly and Flores finished with 70s.



SUN-JU-AHN TAKES JLPGA EVENT
Chie Arimura had a 2-shot lead on Sun-Ju Ahn with 6 holes left to play in the Suntory Ladies Open after last year's leading money-winner on the JLPGA uncharacteristically bogeyed the 514-yard par 5. But then Ahn birdied her next 2 holes in a row to catch Arimura

Arimura, however, played steady golf, parring every hole on the back, even as Ahn matched her with pars on 15, 16, and 17. It all came down to the 416-yard par-4 18th, Ahn parred--and Arimura bogeyed, ending her bogey-free streak at 26 holes at exactly the wrong time. With that, Sun-Ju Ahn had her 2nd win of 2011 on the JLPGA



IN OTHER NEWS
Tim Clark has withdrawn from the U.S. Open with an injury to his left elbow that keeps bothering the South African.
Clark has only played twice since his runner-up finish at the Sony Open in January. He missed the cut at the Masters, then withdrew as the defending champion at The Players Championship last month.
He will be replaced at Congressional by J.J. Henry, the first alternate from the qualifying site in Columbus, Ohio.


Steve Williams, who has been on the bag for 13 of Woods’ major championships, was working with Adam Scott at Congressional. A USGA official says they were seen together during a practice round Saturday at the course outside of Washington, D.C.
Woods withdrew from the U.S. Open on Tuesday because of lingering injuries to his left leg. He has not said how long he will be out.
Scott recently parted with longtime caddie Tony Navarro.



President Obama and Speaker John  Boehner  have agreed to tee it up and play some golf together on June 18, though on which course is unknown, though it's safe to conclude that Congressional Country Club is out; the third round of the U.S. Open will be played there on that Saturday.


In the June issue of Golf Digest , Steve Rushin wrote, that the political adversaries should come together on the golf course, "for the sake of the country," he wrote.

They are two of the more passionate golfers in Washington, though Boehner clearly is the better player. Boehner's handicap index is 7.9, while Obama's handicap is believed to be about 17.



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Sunday, June 5, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 6-5-2011

STRICKER 'S  WIN IS MEMORIAL
Steve Stricker won the Memorial Tournament by one stroke over Bradt Jobe and Matt Kuchar after a lengthy weather delay.

Stricker, who had never finished in the top 10 in his 11 previous trips to Muirfield Village, built a big lead on the front nine and then relied on his silky putting stroke for two clutch pars to hang on for a one-shot victory.

He closed with a 4-under 68, lagging from 20 feet for a two-putt bogey on the 18th hole. By then, the hard work was over. Stricker twice saved par from bunkers on the 16th and 17th holes, making putts of 15 feet and 7 feet to go to the last hole with a two-shot lead.

Stricker moves to No. 4 in the world and becomes the highest-ranked American for the first time in his career. 

Dustin Johnson closed with a 65 to finish fourth, followed by Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who had a 68. The biggest consolation prize went to Gary Woodland, who had a 68 to finish alone in sixth. Woodland likely will move to about No. 40 in the world ranking, making him virtually a lock to get into the U.S. Open. He had faced a 36-hole qualifier Monday morning.

Stricker, who led by four shots at the turn, made it more interesting than it needed to be, especially after a 2½-hour storm delay that slowed his momentum following a spectacular bunker save behind the 12th green.

He had a three-shot lead with five holes to play when he missed a short birdie on the 14th, then pulled his tee shot into the woods on the par-5 15th to make a bogey. His lead was down to two, and he faced a tough finish.

Stricker found the back bunker on the par-3 16th and blasted out to 15 feet, lightly pumping his fist when it dropped in the center of the cup for par to keep the two-shot cushion. From the middle of the 17th fairway, he badly pushed his 6-iron off a mound and into a deep bunker right of the green. He splashed it out to 7 feet, and the par putt again was never in doubt.
 
Needing only a bogey to win, Stricker hit into a fairway bunker on the 18th, missed the green to the left and was happy to chip onto the top tier to 20 feet that locked up his first win of the year.



LINCICOME WINS  SHOPRITE LPGA CLASSIC
Brittany Lincicome made a 4-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic for her first victory in two years.

Lincicome’s birdie capped a bogey-free 5-under 66 that gave her a one-shot victory over third-ranked Jiyai Shin and No. 4 Cristie Kerr. It was the long-hitting Lincicome’s first win since the 2009 Kraft Nabisco and her fourth on the LPGA Tour.

It also came on a day when the players endured delays that caused the twosomes to play 4 1/2-hour rounds.

The 25-year-old Lincicome finished the 54-hole tournament on the Bay Course at Seaview with an 11-under 202 total, and the difference definitely was par 5s.

Lincicome played nine par 5s in the tournament and had seven birdies, an eagle and a par, with the last birdie coming on the par-5, 501-yard 18th.

Shin, who was tied with Lincicome heading to the final hole, left a 15-foot birdie putt on the edge of the hole. Lincicome then hit out of greenside fescue to 4 feet before making her winning birdie.

Kerr, who led Catriona Matthew by a shot heading into the final round, left an eagle putt from off the green about 4 feet short and settled for a birdie and a 69 that tied her for second with Shin (66).

Matthew also shot a 69 and was two shots behind the winner and one ahead of Anna Nordqvist and I.K. Kim., who both closed with 66s. Top-ranked Yani Tseng was seventh after a 65, the same final round that put Karrie Webb in a group at 207.



GILDER WINS CHAMPIONS TOUR EVENT
NOREN CAPTURES WALES OPEN
Alexander Noren captured his second European Tour title by winning the Wales Open on Sunday, shooting a 1-under 70 for a two-stroke victory.

The 127th-ranked Noren finished at 9-under 275 at Celtic Manor, where he’d led since the second round. The victory added to his win at the 2009 European Master

Noren won’t be able to celebrate for long. He is scheduled to tee off at Sunningdale on Monday in a qualifying tournament for the British Open at Royal St. George’s next month.

Gregory Bourdy of France had a bogey-free 67 to finish joint runner-up with Anders Hansen of Denmark, who had a 71.

Johan Edfors (69) and Peter Hanson (72) of Sweden, Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina (67) and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain (67) were another stroke back.

Noren acknowledged feeling some tension after entering the third round with a one-stroke lead, then said he expected a tougher task Sunday.

Helped by Hanson and Hansen failing to mount a challenge, and Bourdy starting his surge too late, Noren never looked like he would be caught.

Graeme McDowell, the 2010 champion who was aiming to become the first player to retain the title, shot a 71 to improve by 10 strokes on his catastrophic third round. Having trailed by one, he fell 11 shots off the pace heading into his last competitive round before defending his U.S. Open title.
McDowell struck the ball well in making three straight birdies from No. 9, but four bogeys showed his game still needs work.

Elliot Saltman, who returned to the tour last month after serving a three-month ban for incorrectly marking his ball, will leave with happier memories after hitting his second hole-in-one of the tournament in a 69 Sunday.

The Scot aced No. 17 and then finished with an eagle in Thursday’s opening round. He repeated the feat at the same hole Sunday, but his ensuing eagle putt at the last hole just missed the cup.

Eamonn Darcy at the 1991 Mediterranean Open was the last player to hit a hole-in-one twice in the same event.



WHEATCROFT WINS BY 12
Steve Wheatcroft ran away with the Melwood Prince George’s County Open, finishing a staggering 29 under Sunday for a Nationwide Tour-record 12-stroke victory.

The 33-year-old former Indiana University player eagled the final hole for a 7-under 64 after opening with rounds of 66, 60 and 65 on the University of Maryland Golf Course.

Wheatcroft had the lowest 72-hole total in tour history at 255, fell a stroke short of tying the mark for relation to par, and broke the record for largest margin.

Wheatcroft earned $108,000 to jump from 32nd to second on the money list.

Ryan Armour (62) and Jon Mills (65) tied for second.

Nicholas Thompson (69) followed at 16 under. He played alongside Wheatcroft on Sunday.

On Monday, Wheatcroft will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open.

He had 96 putts in the event, one off the tour record.



BI-O TAKES CHINA OPEN

Kim Bi-o's gamble to play in the more lucrative China Open rather than a low-key event on home turf, for which he was fined by the Korean Golf Tour (KGT), paid off on Sunday as he won the OneAsia Tour event.

KGT fined the 20-year-old South Korean and compatriot Kim Dae-hyun $4,600 each for skipping a $460,000 home event to play in the $1 million China Masters instead.

Kim Bi-o had reasons to feel vindicated as he prevailed in a sudden-death play-off against New Zealand's Michael Long to win the title at the Nanshan International Golf Club in Shandong province that made him richer by $180,000.
Leveled at 10-under with three others, he holed an eight-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole to seal the title.



IN OTHER NEWS
Tom Watson has been selected as the next honoree at the Memorial Tournament.

Watson is a longtime rival and friend of tournament host Jack Nicklaus. He won 39 times on the PGA Tour along with eight majors, none as memorable as the two times he beat Nicklaus. First came the famous “Duel in the Sun” at Turnberry in 1977 for the British Open, then Watson’s chip-in behind the 17th green to beat Nicklaus at Pebble Beach in the 1982 U.S. Open.

One of his last PGA Tour wins was at the 1996 Memorial, which Watson won at age 46 by two shots over David Duval.

Watson will be honored at next year’s tournament, and get a bronze plaque on a wall that includes all the game’s greats.



Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III was among eight players who qualified for the British Open on Monday, giving him a spot in all four majors for the first time since 2007.

Brian Davis of England was the medalist at Gleneagles Country Club with a 6-under 64, while Chad Campbell finished one shot behind. The 36-hole qualifier was reduced to 18 holes because of heavy rain that caused a six-hour delay.

The British Open will be played July 15-17 at Royal St. George’s.

Love, who tied for fourth when the British Open was held at Royal St. George’s in 2003, was in the group of qualifiers at 66 that included Nathan Green, Spencer Levin, Chris Tidland and Bob Estes.

Jerry Kelly, who had a 67, earned the last spot in a six-for-one playoff, beating out Justin Hicks. It at least will give Kelly a shot at redemption at Royal St. George’s, where in 2003 he made an 11 on the opening hole with four shots that traveled about 15 feet in the thick rough. Kelly wound up with an 86 and had to withdraw with a wrist injury.



Patrick Reed closed out Augusta State’s second straight NCAA golf title Sunday, beating Georgia’s Harris English, 2 and 1, in the featured matchup between each team’s top player.

Reed needed only a double bogey to halve the 17th hole and win the championship after English hit his second shot into a lake left of the green.



One of golf’s more puzzling, and occasionally vilified, rules has been changed by the United States Golf Association and will soon be officially off the books.

A rules official said Rule 18-2b, which governs the movement of a ball after it has been addressed by a player during competition, was being modified to eliminate a player’s stance as one of two banned factors for causing a ball to move. The other factor, the grounding of the player’s club behind or in front of the ball, will remain in place, the official said.

“The ball will be addressed when the player places the club in front of or behind the ball. It won’t have anything to do with the stance; it won’t say anything about a stance. They’re taking the stance part out.”

A rules spokesman for the U.S.G.A. declined to comment on the specifics of what had been discussed in the rules meetings. Jeff Hall, the U.S.G.A.’s managing director for the rules of golf and amateur status, said in a telephone interview that no formal announcement of any rule changes would be made until the fall, probably in October, and that they would not be implemented until Jan. 1.



Sakura Yokomine won the JLPGA"S Resort Trust Ladies Tourney winning a seesaw battle between Satsuki Oshiro.

Oshiro, who finished the tournament tied for 2nd with Rui Kitada and Ah-Reum Hwang.



U.S. Open runner-up Gregory Havret pulled out of the Wales Open following the death of his father.

The Frenchman was at 2-over 144 after two rounds when he withdrew at Celtic Manor on Saturday. He was 10 strokes behind leader Alexander Noren of Sweden.

Ranked No. 117, Havret has won three times on the European Tour since turning professional in 1999.






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