Sunday, January 15, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 1-16-2012

 WAGNER TAKES SONY OPEN
 Johnson Wagner played bogey-free over the last 12 holes,on a tough day at Waialae, and closed with a 3-under 67 to pull away from a half-dozen contenders and win the Sony Open on Sunday.

Wagner was among six players who had a share of the lead at some point in the final round. He was the only guy to stay there, and wound up with a two-shot win over Carl Pettersson, Sean O’Hair, Harrison Frazar and Charles Howell III.

Coming into the year, Wagner only had seven top 10s in 139 starts on tour, including two wins. He opened the year at Kapalua with a tie for ninth, and then rallied from a two-shot deficit to win the Sony Open.

Frazar had the best chance. He had the outright lead briefly after a birdie at No. 10, then made pars the rest of the way for a 67. Pettersson overcame a double bogey on the second hole and finished with four birdies on the last six holes, also for a 67.

O’Hair had a 30-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole that burned the edge. He had to settle for a 67, while Howell birdied his last hole for 69 to join the group tied for second.

Jeff Maggert and Matt Every, tied for the lead going into the last day, both collapsed early. Every was 4 over through six holes and rallied for a 72. Maggert missed a slew of short putts and shot 74.

PGA champion Keegan Bradley hit 8-iron into about 6 feet for eagle on the par-5 ninth, creating a five-way tie for the lead along with Maggert, Every, Frazar and Wagner.

Bradley fell back when his long bunker shot sailed 20 yards over the 10th green, turning a birdie chance into a bogey. Frazar hit his easier bunker shot on the 10th to a foot to take the outright lead, only to be joined a short time later by Wagner, who birdied the ninth. Michael Thompson joined them briefly in the lead until a bogey on the 17th.

Wagner was the only player who kept it going.

He started the back nine by driving safely into the front left bunker and holing a 10-footer for birdie to take the outright lead, and he never gave it back. No one else made enough birdies, and Wagner didn’t make any mistakes. He seized control for good on the 15th when his approach settled just on the fringe about 15 feet away for birdie and a two-shot lead.


 GRACE WINS FIRST IN SOUTH AFRICA
 South Africa’s Branden Grace won his first European Tour title Sunday with a par 72 for a one-shot victory at the Joburg Open.

Grace had a bogey and birdie on the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to edge Englishman Jamie Elson, finishing at 17-under 270.

The 23-year-old Grace had his three-shot, third-round lead cut to one when Elson made a 30-foot putt for eagle on No. 18 to finish with a 63. Elson had seven birdies along with his eagle, including six in his first eight holes.

But Grace, one of 27 players to complete his third round in the morning because of rain delays, held on with nine straight pars coming home for his second professional win after a 2010 victory on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour.

Two Scots, David Drysdale and Marc Warren were part of a six-way tie for third. Retief Goosen had a 73 and finished 16th, seven shots behind the leader.


 IN OTHER NEWS
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem received a four-year contract extension Wednesday, keeping him in charge of golf’s biggest tour through 2016.


He suggested last year that he might be willing to stay on the job after his contract expired in June 2012, and Finchem said he made up his mind after talking to his wife. Their youngest daughter starts college next year.

The 64-year-old Finchem also wanted to get through the most recent television contract, an unprecedented nine-year deal with NBC Sports and CBS Sports.Finchem was appointed commissioner in 1994. By staying on through 2016, he would be the longest-serving commissioner of the three that have served since the PGA Tour broke away from the PGA of America in 1969.



 Lucas Glover is leaving Hawaii without hitting a single shot in competition.
Glover limped from the practice range back to his hotel room Wednesday after withdrawing from the Sony Open with a sprained right knee that still is not strong enough for him to play golf.

The former U.S. Open champion sprained the medial collateral ligament in his knee on Dec. 31 during a freak paddle boarding accident upon arriving on Maui for the PGA Tour’s season opener. His foot caught the side of the board as he fell into the water, sending his body one direction and his knee the other.

Glover withdrew from the Tournament of Champions, but thought he might be able to play the Sony Open because Waialae Country Club is relatively flat and easier to walk.

He hit three wedges and a 9-iron on the range before his pro-am before deciding to withdraw.



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