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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