Sunday, October 30, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-30-2011


DUKE WINS NATIONWIDE TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP

Ken Duke won the season-ended Nationwide Tour Championship on Sunday to also secure a spot on the big tour.

Duke closed with a 4-under 68 to finish at 10 under on Daniel Island Club’s Ralston Creek Course, two better than Scott Brown. The 42-year-old Duke earned $180,000 and went from 36th to seventh on the money list.

J.J. Killeen won the money title, which made him fully exempt on the PGA Tour and gave him entry into the The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in May.

And the day ended with some drama as Brown made a long par-saving putt on the 17th and birdie on the 18th to finish alone in second when a bogey down the stretch would’ve dropped Billy Hurley III from the final qualifying spot at No. 25.

James Nitties, who began the week in 23rd, fell to 26th, just outside what it took to join the PGA Tour.

  Erik Compton earned a PGA Tour card when he finished in the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list.

Compton wasn’t sure he’d ever play pro golf, let alone be member of the PGA Tour.

Yet the two-time heart transplant recipient finished off his dream Sunday. Compton mostly secured his spot in June when he won his first Nationwide title at the Mexico Open. He ended 13th overall with $239,737 to advance.

The 31-year-old Compton has played 30 career PGA events, but none with a tour card in his bag.




 VAN PELT WINS ASIA PACIFIC CLASSIC
 Bo Van Pelt ran away with the Asia Pacific Classic on Sunday in hot and humid conditions, birdieing five of the last eight holes for a 7-under 64 and a six-stroke victory.

The winner of the PGA Tour’s 2009 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, Van Pelt finished at 23 under at The Mines and earned $1.3 million in the second-year event sanctioned by the PGA and Asian tours.

Fellow Indiana player Jeff Overton was second after a 69.

Van Pelt pulled away with birdies on Nos. 13-15, hitting within a foot on the par-4 13th and par-3 14th and holing a 4-footer on the short par-4 15th after driving into a greenside bunker. He added a two-putt birdie on the par-5 17th.

The 36-year-old former Oklahoma State player opened with rounds of 66, 64 and 67 to take a one-stroke lead over Overton into the final round.

Fredrik Jacobson had a 68 to finish third at 16 under, and Cameron Tringale, Camilo Villegas and Mark Wilson were 15 under.



 GARCIA TAKES SECOND IN A ROW
 Sergio Garcia held off fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez to win the Andalucia Masters by one shot on Sunday for his second straight European Tour victory.

Garcia shook off two early bogeys with two birdies on a flawless back nine to card an even 71 and finish with a 6-under total of 278 at the Valderrama course.
Jimenez seized the lead early when Garcia three-putted the sixth hole and bogeyed the next. The 47-year-old Jimenez dropped shots on the 13th and 15th before making a pair of birdies to press Garcia until the last hole.

Jimenez had a chance at pulling even with a birdie on the 18th, but his 15-foot putt fell short and Garcia calmly made par.

Richie Ramsay of Scotland, who led for the first two rounds, finished two shots back in third, with Irish golfer Shane Lowry a further shot behind in fourth.

The 31-year old Garcia won the Castello Masters by 11 strokes last weekend to end a nearly three-year title drought.

His fifth European Tour win on his home soil will lift him back into the top 20. It also qualified him for next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and moved him to the top of the European Ryder Cup points race.



 MCILROY TAKES HOME THE  CASH
U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy won $2 million in the Shanghai Masters on Sunday, beating Anthony Kim with a par on the first hole of a playoff.

McIlroy holed a 2-foot putt for the victory after Kim missed a 3-footer.
McIlroy had a chance to win in regulation, but the 22-year-old star from Northern Ireland missed an 8-foot birdie putt. He closed with an even-par 72 to match Kim  at 18 under.

The $2 million first prize is the richest in golf. The top players, staying in Shanghai another week for the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International, also received appearance money and last place paid $25,000. Because the event isn’t sanctioned by a major tour, there were no ranking points at stake.

Kim earned $750,000.

Hunter Mahan  and South Korea’s Noh Seung-yul tied for third at 13 under in the 30-man event. Second-ranked Lee Westwood aced the par-3 12th en route to a 67 that left him fifth at 12 under.
McIlroy gave up an early three-shot lead, then rallied from a stroke down on the back nine to force the playoff.

Ian Poulter was 11 under, Retief Goosen  and K.J. Choi  were another stroke back and Y.E. Yang, Padraig Harrington  and John Daly were 6 under.




 IN OTHER NEWS
Luke Donald has withdrawn from the HSBC Champions next week in Shanghai to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.


“Making history in the sport is very important to me, but the roles of husband and father are the most important in the world to me and being there for my wife and family is where I have to be,” said Donald, who on the PGA Tour’s season-ending event last week to take the tour’s money title.

“My goal has been to try and top the money list on the PGA Tour and the European Tour and I still hope to accomplish that. WGC-HSBC Champions is a world-class event, and as a player you look forward to competing against the best. I think it is great for the game to have such an important event in Asia, and I look forward to being able to participate next year.”



The LPGA Tour is returning to Australia, co-sanctioning the Women’s Australian Open in February at Royal Melbourne.

The LPGA Tour and Australian Ladies Professional Golf said  that the $1.1 million Women’s Australian Open will be played from Feb. 9-12 and begin a three-tournament swing in Asia that includes stops in Thailand and Singapore. In 2013, the Australian Open will move to Royal Canberra.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng won the event this year at Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne.

The Australian Ladies Masters was co-sanctioned by the LPGA and ALPG from 1997-2000, and they also sanctioned an unofficial team event in Perth in 2007.


The Japan LPGA has canceled a team event against South Korea in Bangkok in December because of the severe flooding that has hit the Thai capital.

The competition, the first to be held between the two countries since 2009, was scheduled to take place in a suburb of Bangkok on Dec. 3-4.

The Japan LPGA said  that the decision to cancel the tournament was taken after consulting with organizers in Bangkok.


The PGA Tour was going to send its postseason awards ballot to the players on Tuesday until realizing the World Golf Championship in Shanghai counts as official if a PGA Tour member wins.
So it will wait until after the HSBC Champions next week.


The Nationwide Tour Championship will be played at the TPC Craig Ranch course in Texas next fall.
The course in McKinney, Texas, hosted the 2008 tournament. Tour officials said a formal announcement would come Monday.

The Tour had said last month it would not return to the Daniel Island club after three seasons hosting its year-ending tournament because the area is also holding the PGA Championship at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island.

The tour and Daniel Island are discussing a return to the Ralston Creek Course here in 2013.



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Sunday, October 23, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-23-2011

 DONALD IS KING
Luke Donald ran off six straight birdies on the back nine Sunday and closed with an 8-under 64 to come from five shots off the lead and win the Children’s Miracle Network Classic

Donald, who trailed Webb Simpson by $363,029 coming into the final tournament of the year, was two behind Simpson when they made the turn. Then came a performance that ranks among Donald’s best, even in his greatest season of golf.
He holed four straight birdie putts inside 8 feet, took the lead with an 18-foot birdie on the par-5 14th hole, then sealed his stunning rally with a 45-foot birdie on the 15th hole.

It was his second PGA Tour win of the year. Donald also won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. With no one else winning more than twice this year, Donald established himself as a heavy favorite to be PGA Tour player of the year.

The award is a vote of the players, and ballots go out on next week.

Donald also kept alive his bid to become the first player to win the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season. His lead in Europe is just over $1.8 million over Rory McIlroy with five tournaments remaining.

He wound up with a two-shot win over Justin Leonard, who finished with eight pars for a 71. Leonard already is exempt for next year, but kept alive his streak of never finishing out of the top 125 on the money list since joining the tour in 1994.

Donald finished at 17-under 271 and earned $846,000, giving him just over $6.6 million for the year. Simpson was runner-up on the money list, just as he was in the FedEx Cup.

Tom Pernice Jr., a 52-year-old who refuses to give up on playing with guys half his age, closed with a 69 for a three-way tie for third, earning enough money to finish at No. 121 and earn back his PGA Tour card.

Donald only entered Disney after Simpson decided to play at Sea Island last week, and when Simpson was the runner-up to take the lead on the money list, Donald knew his best chance was to win.

Never mind that he was five shots behind to start the final round. Or that it has been five years since he last won a stroke-play event on the PGA Tour. Over the next hour, Donald showed why he is No. 1 in the world.

He matched birdies with Simpson on the easy par-5 10th, and from there, Donald was in his own world. A wedge to 8 feet on the 11th. An 8-iron to 6 feet on the 12th. A lob wedge to 5 feet on the 13th.

The most meaningful shot came at the par-5 14th, where Donald had gone bogey and double bogey the previous two rounds, then pledged to reporters he would make birdie Sunday. He rolled in an 18-foot putt to get his revenge and take the lead.

Kevin Chappell, the PGA Tour rookie who shared the 54-hole lead with Leonard, was tied for the lead when he missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the 10th and dropped a shot on the 11th with an approach into the bunker. Chappell closed with a 72 and was in the group at 274 that included Pernice and Sunghoon Kang, who birdied the last hole and moved into the top 125.



 GARCIA ENDS WINLESS DROUGHT
 Sergio Garcia won his first title in almost three years on Sunday, dominating for the third straight day at the Castello Masters while earning an 11-stroke victory that matched the third-largest margin of victory in European Tour history.

The 31-year-old Garcia, playing on a course where he was club champion at the age of 12, shot an 8-under 63 in the final round to finish at 27-under 257.

Garcia had shot his best ever back-to-back rounds of 63 and 64 to lead the field since Friday, and he did not let up on the final day, recording nine birdies and just his fourth bogey in the event.Fellow Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano finished a distant second, and Alexander Noren was third.
Once ranked No. 2, Garcia had dropped outside the top 75 after near-misses at the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie and 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

He has now returned to the top 35 with his second win at the Club de Campo del Mediterraneo, capping his improved season that includes top-12 finishes in the last three majors.



 TSENG DOES IT AGAIN
 Yani Tseng won the LPGA Taiwan Championship on Sunday for her 10th worldwide victory of the year and third in front of her  home fans.

The 22-year-old Taiwanese star closed with a 6-under 66 at Sunrise for a five-stroke victory over Spain’s Azahara Munoz and South Korea’s Amy Yang.

The top-ranked Tseng finished at 16-under 272 and earned $300,000 for her seventh LPGA Tour victory of the season to increase her tour-leading total to $2,873,629. She donated $100,000 to the Taiwan Golf Association to support junior golf.

Tseng won her first four events this year, taking the Taiwanese tour’s Taifong Ladies and sweeping the Australian Women’s Open and Ladies Masters before opening the LPGA Tour season with a victory in the LPGA Thailand.

The LPGA Tour player of the year for the second straight season, Tseng won major titles this summer in the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open and has 12 victories in four seasons on the tour.

After opening with rounds of 68, 71 and 67 to take a two-stroke lead into the final round, Tseng birdied the par-3 second and reached 14 under with birdies on the par-5 sixth and par-4 seventh and eighth holes.

She parred the next seven holes, birdied the par-3 16th, increased her lead to four strokes with a par on the par-4 17th and birdied the par-5 18th.

Yang finished with a 67, and Munoz had a 68.

American Morgan Pressel shot a 65 ,the best round of the week in the inaugural tournament, to tie for fourth with Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist at 9 under.



 IN OTHER NEWS
By winning Sunday at Disney for his second PGA Tour win of the year, Donald won the points-based player of the year award from the PGA of America over Webb Simpson.

Both players won twice on the PGA Tour, worth 10 points each. Donald won the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, and winning the tour money list over Simpson was enough to give him 60 points. Simpson had 56 points.

Donald is the first British player to win the award since Nick Faldo in 1990.
The PGA Tour player of the year is a vote of the players. Ballots are to be returned by Dec. 9.



The PGA Tour is launching a developmental tour south of the border, hoping it can expand its presence in South America as golf prepares to become an Olympic sport again in 2016 in Brazil.


The “PGA Tour Latinoamerica” will start next year, featuring 11 tournaments that will be played in seven countries, most of them in South America but including Mexico and Puerto Rico.

The tournaments will have 144-man fields consisting primarily of players from the region, although there likely will be some access for Americans who now play the mini-tours. The top players on the Latin American tour then will have access to the Nationwide Tour.

Tournaments are to be played next year from September through December in Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru. The Nationwide Tour already has an event in Colombia, and will have one next year in Chile.

The tour still has to determine how many players from Latin America could advance to the Nationwide Tour. A decision is expected before the Latin American tour starts play.



U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy split from agent Chubby Chandler on Friday to join Ryder Cup partner Graeme McDowell at a Dublin management company.

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman had been represented by Chandler’s International Sports Management since turning professional in 2007. McIlroy will now be affiliated with Horizon.

“I am now keen to move onto the next stage of my career and I feel this will be facilitated by a fresh view and a new structure around me,” McIlroy said in a statement.

ISM said it took “great pride … in guiding him successfully through his formative years as a professional golfer.”

McIlroy, ranked No. 3, thanked Chandler for his “guidance, representation and management.”

“Chubby and his team have played a very important role in my success to date,” he said. “I have made great progress under their management and for that I will always be grateful.”



Tournament host K.J. Choi won the Asian Tour’s C.J. Invitational on Sunday, closing with a 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory.

The 14th-ranked South Korean star finished at 17 under at Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club.
Countryman Noh Seung-yeol was second after a 66.

American Anthony Kim  and third-round leader Lee Ki-sang  tied for third at 13 under.




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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-19-2011

Keegan Bradley held off a final-round charge from Charl Schwartzel to win the PGA Grand Slam on Wednesday.

Bradley’s par-71 left him 4 under for the tournament and a shot ahead of Schwartzel, who finished with a course-record tying 65 to improve from 3 over to 3 under.

Overnight leader Rory McIlroy struggled with tee shots at Nos. 7 and 15, which led to bogeys. He finished with a 75 for the round.

Darren Clarke shot a 74 to finish 9 over in the two-day event in Bermuda.


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Sunday, October 16, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-16-2011

 CRANE COMES FROM BEHIND TO TAKE MCGLADREY
 Ben Crane was seven shots behind with 11 holes to play, He then  ran off seven birdies to close with a 7-under 63, and then won the sudden-death playoff when Webb Simpson missed a short par putt on the second extra hole Sunday.

Crane nearly holed his approach on the 14th to start a string of four straight birdies. He had a long two-putt on the par-5 15th, followed by a pair of birdie putts from about 20 feet.

Simpson closed with a 66, despite not making a birdie over his last seven holes.

They finished at 15-under 265 and extended the PGA Tour’s record with the 18th playoff this year. It looked as if it might last more than two holes when Crane made a 5-foot comeback putt for par, and Simpson had a par putt just over 3 feet. But it caught the right lip and spun away, giving Crane his first win of the year.

Simpson was trying to become the only three-time winner on tour this season, which might have made him a favorite in the wide-open race for PGA Tour player of the year. The consolation could be the money, which is the reason Simpson came to Sea Island in the first place.

With his runner-up finish, Simpson moved to the top of the money list by $363,029 over Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world ranking. Both players have entered the season-ending tournament next week in Disney, though Donald’s task became a lot more difficult.

At the very least, Donald would have to finish no worse than a two-way for second to have any chance to move past Simpson and resume his bid to become the first player to win money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour. Donald already has a comfortable lead in Europe.



LEWIS IS A QUICK WINNER
 English golfer Tom Lewis needed just three tournaments to earn his first title as a professional, shooting a 7-under 65 Sunday to win the Portugal Masters by two shots.

Lewis made five birdies over the last seven holes to overtake Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who held a four-stroke lead going into the final round. The Spanish golfer hit into the water on his way to a double bogey 7 at the 12th to see his chances of victory fade.

The 20-year-old Lewis finished with a 21-under total of 267. He turned professional last month, after raising eyebrows by becoming the first amateur to lead the British Open following a first-round 65. He was playing on a sponsor’s invitation, but the victory gives him a two-year exemption to play on the European Tour.

Lewis’ start tops even that of Tiger Woods, who needed five tournaments to get his first win. U.S. Open winner Rory McIlroy’s first victory came in his 38th event.Gregory Havret , David Lynn, Christian Nilsson, Thomas Bjorn  and Jamie Donaldson finished three shots behind.



COUPLES GETS BIG WIN
Fred Couples ran away with the Champions Tour’s AT&T Championship, shooting a bogey-free 6-under 66 on Sunday for a seven-stroke victory, the largest margin on the 50-and-over tour this year.
Couples opened with rounds of 65 and 62 and finished at 23 under in  San Antonio.

He won for the second time this season and sixth time in two seasons on the tour.

Mark Calcavecchia shot a 66 to finish second. Charles Schwab Cup points leader Tom Lehman and John Cook tied for third at 14 under. They also closed with 66s.

The closest anyone came in the final round was four strokes when Calcavecchia holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole, but Couples birdied five of the last eight holes, including the final two. Last year at The Woodlands outside Houston, he also had a seven-stroke victory.

It was the final full field on the Champions Tour. The top 30 in the point standings are headed to the Charles Schwab Cup on Nov. 3-6 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.



 CHOI WINS LPGA MALAYSIA EVENT
Na Yeon Choi won the LPGA Malaysia on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour victory of the season and fifth in three year, closing with a 3-under 68 to beat top-ranked Yani Tseng by a stroke.

Choi finished at 15-under 269 . She birdied the par-3 17th to pull ahead and parred the par-4 18th to hold off Tseng a week after finishing second behind the Taiwanese star in South Korea.

Choi became only the second South Korean winner on the LPGA Tour this year, joining U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu. The victory also was the 100th LPGA Tour win by players of Korean descent.

Tseng, a six-time LPGA Tour winner this season, parred the final two holes for a 65.Tseng, four strokes behing Choi entering the round, pulled even at 14 under with birdies on the par-3 15th and par-5 16th.

After Tseng missed a birdie opportunity on No. 17, Choi hit her tee shot to about 5 feet to set up the deciding birdie.

Spain’s Azahara Munoz closed with a 69 to finish third at 12 under, South Korea’s Se Ri Pak followed at 10 under, and Americans Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lang were 9 under. Michelle Wie had a 75 to tie for 18th at 2 under.



KOKRAK WINS NATIONWIDE EVENT
Jason Kokrak won the Miccosukee Championship on Sunday for his second Nationwide Tour victory in five weeks, closing with a 5-under 66 to beat Mark Anderson by seven strokes.

Kokrak, the Boise Open winner Sept. 18, had a 20-under 264 total on the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club course and earned $108,0000 to jump from 15th to fourth on the money list with $301,592. The top 25 after the final two events of the season will earn 2012 PGA Tour cards.
Kokrak opened with rounds of 63, 66 and 69.

Anderson finished with a 68. Harris English, Roger Tambellini and Matt Every tied for third at 11 under.



IN OTHER NEWS
Luke Donald decided Friday to enter the PGA Tour’s final tournament next week at Disney, a response to Webb Simpson playing this week in the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island.

Donald made a birdie on the final hole of the Tour Championship to tie for third, pushing him to the top of the money list by $68,971 over Simpson. Donald is trying to become the first player to win the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour.

It could be the first time since 2003 that the PGA Tour money title came down to the final tournament of the year.



David Gleeson shot a 4-under 68 in the final round to win the Indian Open, his third career title on the Asian Tour, by three strokes over local favorite Chiragh Kumar on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Taipei-based Australian was 4 under after five holes and made 13 consecutive pars in the final round to finish with a tournament record 20-under 268. His round included an eagle on the par-4 third when he chipped in from 140 yards.

Kumar shot a final-round 70 for a career-best finish that also secured an Asian Tour card for 2012.



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Sunday, October 9, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-9-2011

MOLDER BREAKS THROUGH AT FRYS
Bryce Molder won the Frys.com Open after the longest playoff this year on the PGA Tour.
Molder made a 6-foot birdie putt on the sixth extra hole Sunday at CordeValle to outlast Briny Baird and capture his first tour victory in his 132nd attempt.

Molder rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in regulation to close with a 7-under 64 and force a playoff. He had to play the hole three more times including a par he saved from a hazard on the fourth playoff hole— before he could claim the win.

Baird is now 0-for-348 in his 12 years on tour.

Tiger Woods finished 10 shots behind in a tie for 30th in his first tournament in seven weeks. He finished with three consecutive 68's.



FAXON WINS FIRST CHAMPIONS TITLE
Brad Faxon won the Insperity Championship without hitting a shot on Sunday when heavy rain washed out the final round of the Champions Tour’s event.

Faxon, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour who turned 50 on Aug. 1, shot a 7-under 65 in windy conditions Saturday to take a one-stroke lead at 10-under at The Woodlands Country Club.

Tommy Armour III was second, and Eduardo Romero finished two strokes back. Jay Haas, Olin Browne and Schwab Cup points leader Tom Lehman  followed at 7 under, and winner Fred Couples was 4 under.

Faxon won his first title on the 50-and-over circuit in his sixth start.

The round was washed out after two morning delays, Faxon was asked if had ever won a tournament as a pro or amateur, without hitting a shot because of weather on the final day.

Champions Tour official Brian Claar said tour regulations do not allow for a Monday finish.

Armour remained winless on the tour, but did move into top 30 in the money standings to possible qualify for the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup.

Lehman retained his large lead in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup points standing headed to the final two events of the season.



TSENG WINS LPGA EVENT
Top-ranked Yani Tseng won the LPGA Hana Bank Championship on Sunday for her sixth LPGA Tour victory of the season and 10th overall title of the year, shooting a 5-under 67 to edge Na Yeon Choi by a stroke.

The 22-year-old Taiwanese star, the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open winner, finished at 14-under 202 on Sky 72 Golf Club’s Ocean Course.

Tseng earned $270,000 to push her tour-leading total to $2,396,838. She has 11 victories in four full seasons on the LPGA Tour.

Choi, the 2009 and 2010 winner, shot a 68, closing with a birdie in front of the large home crowd.

In 2009, Choi birdied the final hole to beat Tseng by a stroke.

Brittany Lincicome , Jamin Jang and second-round leader Soo-Jin Yang  tied for third at 11 under. Michelle Wie had a 69 to tie for 35th at 1 under.



SLATTERY MASTERS MADRID
Lee Slattery of England held on to win the Madrid Masters on Sunday, his double bogey on the final hole good enough for a one-stroke victory that gave him his first title in seven years on the European Tour.

No. 328th-ranked Slattery shot a 1-under 71 in the final round despite wobbling at the par-5 18th. He finished at 15-under 273 to stave off a challenge from Lorenzo Gagli of Italy.

Slattery had also started shakily. His two-shot overnight lead disappeared as he bogeyed the par-3s at Nos. 3 and 5 before recovering with a birdie at No. 7.

Four birdies in five holes after the turn helped him to a three-shot lead going into the final hole that proved to be just enough.

Slattery hit his second on the par-5 No. 18 into a bunker and put his third shot into the water, but gathered himself to pitch his fifth within 15 feet for a two-putt finish.



FOWLER BREAKS THRU GETS FIRST PRO WIN
Rickie Fowler won the OneAsia Tour’s Korea Open on Sunday for his first professional title, closing with a 3-under 68 for a six-stroke victory over U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.

The 22-year-old Fowler, the 2010 PGA Tour rookie of the year, finished at 16 under at Woo Jeong Hills. He opened with rounds of 67 and 70 and shot a 63 on Saturday.

McIlroy finished with a 64. South Korea’s Kim Meen-whee (71) was third at 10 under, and countryman Y.E. Yang (75) followed at 5 under.



 IN OTHER NEWS
Tiger Woods has his first major endorsement since his downfall two years ago, announcing a deal Wednesday with Rolex to be one of its ambassadors.

Woods had lost five major endorsements in the two years since he was exposed for serial adultery and eventually divorced. He previously had a watch deal with Tag Heuer, which dropped him two months ago.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although it is believed to be longer than five years.

Woods earlier this year announced a deal in Japan to endorse a heat rub product for Kowa Company Ltd., although that was geared exclusively for Japanese markets.
His agent at Excel Sports Management, Mark Steinberg, promised more deals to come.

Steinberg said Rolex would be the first of a “couple of announcements” related to endorsements, including a deal for Woods’ golf bag. He has had his foundation logo on the bag since AT&T dropped him a month after Woods’ sex scandal unfolded in November 2009.

He said a bag deal was likely to be announced as early as six weeks. Woods has been in negotiations with Fry’s Electronics, sponsor of this week’s tournament, although those discussions have been going on for most of the year.



Sun Mountain provided rain suits for the U.S. team for the 2010 Ryder Cup. Of course, they were supposed to repel water, but on Day 1 of the event, when rain was coming down in buckets, the company's outerwear did nothing but soak the precipitation up like a sponge,  forcing the team to buy new waterproofs for the rest of the week.

It was a PR nightmare that forced the company into damage-control mode. While Sun Mountain has bounced back from the ordeal, most figured the odds of them getting a second chance were pretty slim.

However. on Wednesday, Sun Mountain announced the company had been chosen to be the official outerwear provider of the U.S. Presidents Cup team.



Webb Simpson plans to play the McGladrey Classic next week, giving him a shot at replacing Luke Donald atop the PGA Tour money list.
Donald is trying to become the first player to win money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same year. When the FedEx Cup ended, Donald was No. 1 on the list by $68,971 over Simpson.
Simpson’s agent, Thomas Parker, said Simpson planned to play at Sea Island next week and that he would decide later whether to play the season-ending tournament at Disney.

Donald has a large lead in the money list in Europe. He could add Disney if he wanted, although his wife is expecting their second child.



Scottish golfer Elliot Saltman made a hole-in-one during his second round at the Madrid Masters and earned a tasty prize—his bodyweight in ham.
Saltman made the shot from the par-3 third hole at El Encin Golf Hotel. Heavily cured and salted ham is a Spanish delicacy.
Saltman has a knack of carding holes-in-one he hit two in different rounds at the 17th hole in the Wales Open in June.
Ham was the prized offered for a hole-in-one at the third prizes on other holes included a car and a watch.
Tournament spokeswoman Maria Madrigal told The Associated Press that Saltman would take home about 238 pounds of ham, with organizers going by the weight listed on his official European Tour profile.



A strange year for Tiger Woods  took another bizarre twist Sunday when a fan was arrested for running toward the seventh green at CordeValle and tossing a hot dog in Woods’ direction.

The bun barely reached the green. The hot dog landed on the putting surface.

The 31-year-old man, whose name wasn’t released, dropped to the ground to be arrested as Santa Clara sheriff’s deputies converged on him. Woods backed off his birdie putt, then quickly resumed play.




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Monday, October 3, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 10-2-2011


 NA GETS FIRST PGA TOUR WIN
Kevin Na birdied holes 15, 16, and 17 and parred the 18th to stay at 23 under and hold off Nick Watney and win the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Sunday at TPC Summerlin.
Na, a Las Vegas-area resident, has been close many times before but never broken through with that first victory. Making his 132nd career start, Na put together rounds of 66-65 on the weekend to break out of ties following the second and third rounds.
The victory moves Na to 33 on the PGA TOUR money list.



HOEY WINS DUNHILL
Michael Hoey edged countrymen Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell to win the Dunhill Links Championship by two shots on Sunday, continuing his country’s recent success in world golf.

Hoey, ranked No. 271, lost his three-shot overnight lead early in the final round but regrouped well, birdying three of the last four holes for a 4-under 68. His 22-under total broke the tournament record, set by Lee Westwood eight years ago, by one shot.

McIlroy’s closing 65 gave him second place two shots clear of McDowell  and Scotland’s George Murray, who finished tied for third.

Hoey led or held a share of the lead after every round of this week’s prestigious pro-am played over three of Scotland’s best courses—St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

This was the first-ever Northern Irish 1-2-3 at a European Tour event, just adding to the country’s strong run in the sport. McIlroy, McDowell and current British Open champion Darren Clarke each have won a major in the last 15 months.



 PERRY WINS FIRST CHAMPIONS TITLE
Kenny Perry won the SAS Championship on Sunday for his first Champions Tour title, making a 30-foot eagle putt on the par-5 17th en route to a 2-under 70 and a one-stroke victory over Jeff Sluman and John Huston.

The 51-year-old Perry, a 14-time winner on the PGA Tour winner, had an 11-under 205 total—the highest winning score in tournament history—on the Prestonwood Country Club course.

Sluman also finished with a 70, and Huston shot a 71.



 IN OTHER NEWS
Lexi Thompson proved she was good enough to play on the LPGA Tour as a 16-year-old when she beat a strong field by five shots two weeks ago. She was granted membership Friday based on more than birdies and bogeys.

LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan approved Thompson’s petition to become the LPGA Tour’s youngest member effective in January, impressed with how the Florida teen handled herself in all aspects of tour life.

Thompson filed a formal petition Thursday that the LPGA waive its policy of members being at least 18. Whan approved it one day later, although he described that more as a formality.



Tests have confirmed that Steve Stricker has a herniated disk in his neck. The next step for the highest-ranked American golfer is figuring out what to do about it.

Stricker’s agent at IMG, Jon Heaton, said Wednesday that an MRI confirmed the neck injury. He says Stricker is not feeling any pain, although he is weak in his left arm.

He says Stricker is consulting specialists and evaluating treatment options.

Still to be decided is whether Stricker is fit enough to play Nov. 17-20 in the Presidents Cup. U.S. captain Fred Couples has said if Stricker can’t play, he would be replaced by PGA champion Keegan Bradley.




According to Tim Rosaforte  of the Golf Channel, Tiger Woods broke the course record at The Medalist, a Greg Norman design in Florida, on Friday, shooting a 62 to best the previous record by two shots. Tiger posted a back-nine 29 that included seven birdies, not bad for a man that has broke 70 only once on tour since returning from injury in August.

It was just a practice round and didn't count for anything on the PGA Tour, but it's still an impressive number by the former world number one.



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