Sunday, September 18, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 9-18-2011

 ROSE BLOOMS AT BMW
 Justin Rose chipped in for birdie on the 17th hole and hung on to win the BMW Championship on Sunday.

Rose closed with an even-par 71 at Cog Hill for a two-shot victory and is headed to the Tour Championship with a shot at the $10 million FedEx Cup prize. But it wasn’t that easy. He watched a five-shot lead shrink to one shot over John Senden until the birdie chip gave him a cushion.

Senden closed with a 70 to finish alone in second and go from No. 55 in the FedEx Cup to No. 9, making him among the top 30 who qualify for the Tour Championship.

Geoff Ogilvy finished third. That gave him a spot at East Lake and at Royal Melbourne for the Presidents Cup.

Rose captured his third PGA Tour win, and the biggest of his career. The BMW Championship also was the final event for the top 10 players to qualify for the Presidents Cup.

Despite all the possibilities for the U.S. team, there was no change.

David Toms went from No. 10 to No. 8 with his tie for 10th. The heartache belonged to Bill Haas, who was tied for third at the BMW going into the final round. He was poised to claim one of the 10 spots until he posted a 42 on the back nine and shot 78, when a score of 75 would have been just enough.

It’s the second straight year that Haas walked away from Cog Hill feeling empty. A year ago, he finished 31st in the FedEx Cup by a mere seven points.

Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk nailed down the last two spots for the United States. The other seven who had locked up spots were Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson.

Nothing but the order changed for the International team, either. Its list is based on the world ranking. Ogilvy, who was narrowly No. 10, moved ahead of Ryo Ishikawa to No. 9. The other eight players are Jason Day, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, K.J. Choi, K.T. Kim, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els and Y.E. Yang.

Captains Fred Couples and Greg Norman will make two picks after the Tour Championship. Couples already has said Tiger Woods will be one of his picks.

For the FedEx Cup, Bo Van Pelt nailed down the 30th spot by a comfortable margin over Martin Laird. Even so, there were some tense moments.

Despite difficult conditions, Camilo Villegas made nine birdies and had the best round of the day at 66. But he made bogey on the 18th hole, walked off the green to check a scoring terminal and slammed his fist onto the table.



 TEEN WINS LPGA EVENT
Lexi Thompson has become the youngest player to win an LPGA Tour event at the age of 16.

The Floridian closed with a 2-under 70 on Sunday to win by five strokes at the Navistar LPGA Classic over Tiffany Joh.

Thompson shattered the age record for winning a multiple-round tournament held by Paula Creamer, who won in 2005 at 18. Marlene Hagge was 18 years and 14 days old when she won the single-round Sarasota Open in 1952.

Thompson, who turned 16 in February, led by five strokes entering the final round and built that to seven through 10 holes at the Robert Trent Jones Trail’s Capitol Hill complex. Then came the teen’s only big lapse on the pressure-packed day when she bogeyed the next two holes while Joh surged to within three strokes.

Thompson erased any concerns of a collapse with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.

Cool under pressure most of the day, Thompson and her caddie father, Scott, couldn’t contain broad smiles as they approached the 18th green with the win, and a spot in LPGA history, in hand.

The home-schooled teen from  Florida, tapped in for par, hugged her father and got a celebratory dousing of bottled water over her head from Joh.

Now, the question is will she be granted LPGA Tour membership? Thompson will have to petition for an exemption of the 18-year-old age requirement.

The LPGA already granted her petition for qualifying school, and she won the first stage by 10 strokes in July.

Joh, who opened the day seven shots back, finished with a 68 after closing the gap with four straight birdies starting on No. 12. Her previous best finish was 12th at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.

Angela Stanford shot a 66 to surge into third place at 11 under, posting three sub-70 rounds after an opening 73. Brittany Lang and Karen Stupples were 10 under.

Meena Lee, who opened the day in second and five shots back, finished with a 73 and tied with Stacy Lewis at 9 under.



 BLAKE GETS CHAMPIONS TOUR WIN
 Jay Don Blake beat fellow American John Cook on the fifth playoff hole at the Songdo IBD Championship Sunday for his first Champions Tour victory.

The pair both shot a 68 in the final round to finish tied on 13-under 203 with Mark O’Meara and Australian Peter Senior at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea. O’Meara and Senior were eliminated from the playoff after bogeys on the third.

Senior shot a final-round 64 to reach the playoff, while O’Meara had a 67.

Overnight leader Michael Allen shot a 75 and fell back to 7 under to finish in a tie for sixth.



BRITAIN & IRELAND RETAIN SEVE TROPHY
Britain & Ireland held off a strong fightback from Continental Europe in Sunday’s singles to retain the Vivendi Seve Trophy 151/2 to 121/2.

The defending champions had a commanding five-point lead heading into the final day. But Continental Europe won the final days' first five singles to level the contest with each team on 111/2 points.

It took narrow wins by Ian Poulter, Scott Jamieson and Mark Foster to clinch victory.

“Losing five and a half points out of the first six was a big body blow to the team,” Britain & Ireland captain Paul McGinley told the European Tour website. “But fortunately the guys at the end came through when I really needed them.”

Spanish golf great Seve Ballesteros created the event, a biennial competition, to help Europeans get more match-play experience outside the Ryder Cup.

Continental Europe captured the inaugural event in 2000, but Britain & Ireland have since won the trophy six straight times.




 CHAN YIH-SHIN WINS MACAU OPEN
 Taiwan’s Chan Yih-shin grabbed four birdies in five holes on the back nine to win the Macau Open by three strokes on Sunday.

Chan shot a final round 69—with straight birdies on holes 12-14 and another on No. 16—for an overall 14-under 270. It’s Chan’s first win on the Asian Tour in more than two years.

Australian David Gleeson shot a 66 to finish in second place with an overall 11-under 273.


IN OTHER NEWS
The LPGA has canceled a tournament in China that was scheduled to be held in two weeks. The LPGA says it received official notice from the China Golf Association late Monday that the Imperial Springs event scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 2 was off.

“Blindsided by the news, the LPGA has exhausted all possibilities to carry on with the event as scheduled, but have been told that the tournament must be canceled,” the LPGA said in a release late Tuesday.

“We are unable to share further details of the cancellation at this time. We view China as an important market for the LPGA and remain open to creating a world-class event with long-term success.”

The tournament was originally scheduled for August, but was postponed “to allow the title sponsor and tournament organizers more time for proper permitting,” according to the LPGA release.



Steve Stricker withdrew from the BMW Championship on Friday because of weakness in his left arm that first began to bother him nine months ago.

It’s the first time Stricker has not finished in the money since he missed the cut at the 2009 PGA Championship, a stretch of 40 tournaments that had been the longest active streak on the PGA Tour.

“I’ve lost some strength in my left arm and I had a hard time hanging onto the club,” Stricker said while driving home to Wisconsin. “It just kept getting worse.”

Stricker, who had rounds of 76-70 at Cog Hill, said he consulted a neurosurgeon Friday morning who recommended a couple of days of rest. He said he would get a cortisone shot Monday that should allow him to play in the Tour Championship.

He attributed the weakness in his arm to a disk problem in his neck that he first noticed in December while bow hunting.




The top five men who can claim the Fed Ex Cup by winning next week are
  1. Webb Simpson,
  2. Dustin Johnson,
  3. Justin Rose,
  4. Luke Donald,
  5. Matt Kuchar.


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