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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