Sunday, September 25, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 9-25-2011

HAAS WINS  FEDEX CUP
Bill Haas beat Hunter Mahan with a par on the third extra hole to claim both the FedExCup and the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. With the $10 million bonus that comes with the FedExCup, Sunday’s win was worth $11.44 million.

Haas also hopes the win will be enough to convince U.S. Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples to make him a Captain’s Pick. Couples will announce his last Captain’s Pick on Tuesday.

Haas came into this week with a longshot chance to win the FedExCup. He was ranked 25th in points and needed a handful of scenarios to play out in his favor.

Mahan was in a similar spot, having come into the week ranked 21st in points. Both players entered East Lake looking for their first win of the season.

With Webb Simpson, the FedExCup points leader, finishing in 22nd and Luke Donald, who ranked No. 4 in points, finishing in a tie for third – and the other three players in the top five not getting into contention – the scenarios worked out in their favor.

Haas shot a 2-under 68 to finish at 8 under in regulation. When Mahan parred the 18th hole to also finish at 8 under, the two had their playoff to decide both the tournament champion and the FedExCup champion.

Haas’ most important shot in the playoff came after his approach at the par-4 17th dribbled into the water to the right of the green. Most of the ball was above the water line and he hit a tremendous shot to within 3 feet to save his par and force another hole.

Sunday’s win was the third for Haas in his TOUR career. Last year, he won the Bob Hope Classic and the Viking Classic.

Haas seemed to have control of the tournament in regulation when he birdied the par-4 15th to move to 10 under. At one time, he held a three-shot lead.

But he bogeyed two of his last three holes to open the door for others to take their shots.
Jason Day was at 8 under through 16 holes but he bogeyed the final two holes to eventually fall into a tie for sixth.

K.J. Choi came to the 18th hole needing a birdie to get to 8 under but could not find the green with his tee shot. Aaron Baddeley also came to the 18th needing a birdie but couldn’t roll in his birdie putt from 34 feet.

Luke Donald made birdie at the 18th to move to 7 under. Had he been able to finish in solo third instead of a three-way tie for third, he would’ve won the FedExCup.



EUROPE WINS SOLHEIM CUP
Europe won the Solheim Cup for the first time since 2003 on Sunday, finishing powerfully to beat the United States 15-13 at Killeen Castle.

Norway’s Suzann Pettersen turned the momentum Europe’s way when she recovered from 1 down with birdies at the last three holes to beat Michelle Wie by one hole.

Her win left Europe needing just one point from the last two singles to win the trophy but the side captained by Alison Nicholas did even better.

Caroline Hedwall of the Netherlands—2 down with two holes to play—earned a crucial halved match to give Europe a 14-13 lead when rookie Ryann O’Toole bogeyed the 17th and 18th.

Spain’s Azahara Munoz birdied the 17th in the final singles to go 1 up on Angela Stanford and guarantee Europe’s victory before closing out a one hole win at the last.
Nicholas said Europe’s win was the greatest achievement of her career.

American captain Rosie Jones also praised her players.



FERRIE TAKES AUSTRIAN OPEN
Kenneth Ferrie beat fellow Englishman Simon Wakefield in a playoff to win the Austrian Open on Sunday for his first European Tour title since 2005 and third overall.

Ferrie and Wakefield both carded a 67 to finish 12-under 276 for the tournament. In the playoff, Wakefield’s approach to the green landed in the rough. Ferrie holed a 7-foot birdie to wrap up the victory.

Ferrie, age 32, won the Spanish Open in 2003 and the European Open two years later but only just managed to keep his card last season.

Wakefield, chasing his first title on the tour, looked out of contention after bogeying the par-4 17th.
However, last year’s Qualifying School champion got the birdie he needed on the last hole to level with Ferrie, who missed a putt on the 18th which would have won him the title in regular play.

Joost Luiten of the Netherlands led the leaderboard for most of the final round. He hit five birdies before bogeying the last hole and finishing third, one stroke off the lead.Thomas Norret of Denmark, who had a two-stroke overnight lead, carded a double bogey on the par-5 13th and finished fourth for his best career result.



IN OTHER NEWS
Tiger Woods will hire Joe LaCava as his next caddie.

Two people aware of the deal said Sunday that LaCava has left Dustin Johnson and will go to work for the former No. 1 player in golf. LaCava was the longtime caddie for Fred Couples. He began working for Johnson in June, and they won The Barclays a month ago.



Steve Stricker, said Friday his left arm feels so weak that he could not guarantee being fit enough to play the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in November. He said making the team was a goal and he desperately wants to play.

Stricker has a herniated disk and a bone spur that he first detected last December. His condition has improved since then through exercise, and he won twice this year on the PGA Tour.

But the 44-year-old said the arm has become progressively weaker, and he withdrew from the BMW Championship last week to get a cortisone shot. His immediate future depends on an MRI exam scheduled for Tuesday, which he hopes will show the extent of his injury.

Stricker is the highest-ranked American golfer at No. 5 in the world, and he finished second in qualifying for the Presidents Cup. If he cannot play, U.S. captain Fred Couples would have a free pick.

 


After nearly two years of not knowing when he would be able to play, Scott Verplank decided to have surgery to rebuild his left wrist and will be off the PGA Tour for about five months.

The surgery last Friday in Cleveland came one month after Verplank was in contention on the back nine of the PGA Championship until his tee shot came up a fraction short on the 17th green and led to a double bogey.

Verplank said that was one of the few weeks—and there weren’t many—when his wrist felt strong enough for golf.

Out of 15 tournaments, he withdrew three times and missed the cut three times, and there were two tournaments—the Honda Classic and Colonial—when he never made it to the first tee.

Verplank was at No. 75 to start the FedEx Cup playoffs. He missed the cut at The Barclays and withdrew after one round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, ending his season.

Verplank  hopes to return to competition as early as February.



16-year-old Lexi Thompson said she plans to petition for an exemption to the tour’s 18-year-old age requirement. That comes as no surprise to LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, who said he will consider any petition from Thompson when he returns from the Solheim Cup, which begins Friday in Ireland.

In the 15 months since she turned professional, Thompson has played 14 events, had three top-10 finishes and earned more than $500,000. She also is the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Open, as a 12-year-old in 2007.

The LPGA already has shown a willingness to make allowances for Thompson, whose parents have carefully managed her development on and off the course.



John Daly walked off the course during the second round of the Austrian Open on Friday after a dispute with officials over a ball drop and two-shot penalty.

After completing the 15th hole, Daly was told by referee Andy McFee he had dropped his ball in the wrong place after it landed in an unplayable position under a TV tower. Instead of accepting the two-shot penalty, Daly decided to quit. He was 4-over before the penalty.

The 45-year-old Daly, a two-time major champion nicknamed ‘Wild Thing,’ had thrown a club into the water after a mishit on the same hole.


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