Sunday, February 26, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 2-26-2012

 MAHAN WINS MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
Hunter Mahan stopped Rory McIlroy’s march to No. 1 by winning the Match Play Championship on Sunday.

Mahan won four holes in a five-hole stretch starting with a 9-iron to 2 feet on the sixth hole, building a 4-up lead through 10 holes. Even as McIlroy threw his best stuff at him on the back nine, Mahan responded with two clutch birdies to stay in control.

Mahan won, 2 and 1, to capture his second World Golf Championship title.
McIlroy defeated Lee Westwood in the semifinals Sunday morning, a high-stakes match because if either of them won the Match Play Championship, they would replace Luke Donald atop the world ranking.

Mahan made sure that didn’t happen this week.

He played 96 holes in his six matches and had 35 birdies on his scorecards. Mahan defeated Mark Wilson in his semifinal match—Wilson was his only opponent all week who had not played in a Ryder Cup or a Presidents Cup.

McIlroy, who made seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch Sunday morning to beat Westwood, couldn’t muster any magic in the afternoon. He missed a 4-foot par putt that would have won the opening hole, then fell behind with a series of mistakes.

On the seventh hole, with Mahan already in trouble in a deep collection area left of the green, McIlroy pulled his short iron and joined him there. But it took McIlroy two chips to get on the green, and he lost the hole with a double bogey.

Then McIlroy’s sand wedge hopped over the green on the par-5 eighth and he lost that hole with a bogey.

Mahan’s big lead was enough to withstand the McIlroy charge. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland played the opening six holes on the back nine in 5-under par, but still picked up only one hole on Mahan.

Mahan became the first American to win the Match Play Championship since Tiger Woods in 2008. He became only the sixth player to win multiple WGC titles, joining Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy and Darren Clarke.

In the consolation match, Wilson played the 18th hole for the first time all week and defeated Westwood, 1 up.

 

 HUH TAKES MAYAKOBA CLASSIC
Robert Allenby had the lead going into the final hole but he doubled bogeyed the 72nd hole to force a playoff with John Huh.  Huh parred the eighth hole of a playoff to beat Robert Allenby and win the Mayakoba Golf Classic on Sunday.

Making his fifth PGA Tour start, Huh parred all eight holes in the playoff that matched the second-longest in PGA Tour history.

The 21-year-old Huh closed with an 8-under 65 to match Allenby at 13-under 271 on the seaside El Camaleon course. Allenby had a two-stroke lead with a hole to play in regulation, but the 40-year-old Australian closed with a double bogey.

The playoff fell three holes short of the PGA Tour record of 11 set in the 1949 Motor City Open when Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum were declared co-winners. The playoff was the fifth to go eight holes and first since the 1983 Phoenix Open.

Matt Every and Colt Knost shot 66 to tie for third, two strokes back.

Chris Stroud was a stroke behind entering the final hole, but also made a double bogey for a 71 to drop into a tie for fifth at 10 under with third-round leader Daniel Summerhays, Dicky Pride and Alejandro Canizares. Summerhays closed with a 73, and Pride and Canizares shot 66.

Huh eagled the par-5 fifth and had six birdies in his bogey-free final round. He finished in the top 12 in two of his first four PGA Tour starts, tying for sixth at Torrey Pines and tying for 12th the following week in the Phoenix Open.

Allenby was trying to win for the first time on the PGA Tour since the 2001 Pennsylvania Classic, his fourth victory in a two-year span. He also won the Nedbank Challenge and Australian PGA in consecutive weeks late in 2009.


STANFORD WINS HER FIRST SINCE 2009
 Angela Stanford of the United States captured her fifth career victory on the third playoff hole at the $1.4 million HSBC Women’s Champions on Sunday.

Stanford shot even par on the last playoff hole, beating South Korea’s Jenny Shin into joint second with China’s Shanshan Feng and Na Yeon Choi of South Korea. Feng was eliminated at the first playoff hole, Choi at the second at Tanah Merah Country Club.

Stanford, a 34-year-old Texan who hadn’t won since 2009, said it was an emotional victory.

Stanford, who earned $210,000 for the win, trailed Shin by a shot after the 17th when play was suspended for about 90 minutes because of lightning. When play resumed, Shin hit her tee shot out of bounds, leading to a double bogey. Stanford shot a bogey on 18 to fall into the four-way joint lead at 10-under 278.

The 19-year-old Shin, who turned professional in 2010 and has competed in 18 LPGA tournaments, said her inexperience may have led to jitters at the 18th.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng began the third round at 1-under but a 5-under 67 on Saturday and a 4-under 32 on the first nine holes Sunday put her in a brief tie for the lead with Shin. A disastrous double bogey on 10 and another bogey on 14 pushed her back down the leaderboard and she finished fifth, one shot behind the leaders after 72 holes.

Stanford started the day tied for the lead with Shin and Katie Futcher, who faltered Sunday with five bogeys for a 4-over 76 and finished tied for 11th.

Karrie Webb, who won last year in Singapore, shot a 2-under 70 to finish 9 shots off the lead to tie for 25th place.

American Michelle Wie had another disappointing round with a 75 and was 32 shots behind the leaders. Wie finished the tournament second to last, ahead of only Singapore amateur Sock Hwee Koh.

The tournament featured a field of 63 golfers including 18 of the 20 top-ranked players when play started Thursday.



 IN OTHER NEWS
 The PGA Tour is keeping the FedEx Cup for at least five more years with a significant sponsorship renewal.

Commissioner Tim Finchem announced Wednesday that FedEx has extended its umbrella sponsorship through 2017. That’s the final piece of sponsorship renewal that the tour navigated through a troubling economic climate.

Finchem already has kept the PGA Tour fully sponsored—only Tampa, Fla., is missing a title sponsor—along with extending the television agreement through 2021. Now it can keep its FedEx Cup, which culminates with four big events and a $10 million bonus for the winner.

Finchem did not get into financial details, though he says there will be “some growth” during the next five years. The FedEx Cup offers a total bonus pool of $35 million.


Paula Creamer, the No. 5-ranked player, withdrew after the second round for family reasons.  Apparently, Paula is fine and will not miss any future tournaments.


Mike Weir entered this season on a “non-exemption medical extension” giving him three starts to earn $644,854 US to retain his Tour card.

Weir made his first start at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am two weeks ago, where he missed the cut, and made his second start at the Mayakoba Golf Classic where he also missed the cut.  Weir's third start will be at The Honda Classic, March 1-4 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

There are other options for Weir to utilize in order to play on TOUR right away, specifically his ability to exercise a two-year exemption due to his ranking 15th on the career winnings list. According to his agent Danny Fritz, however, Weir is a bit hesitant to use that option at this point in his career.
 


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Sunday, February 19, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 2-19-2012

 HAAS DEFEATS LEFTY AND BRADLEY IN PLAYOFF
Bill Haas knows anything is possible from even the most dire positions. Remember, this is the guy only five months ago saved par with his ball partially submerged in a lake and won the FedEx Cup.

And here he was at Riviera doing it again.

In thick rough behind the 10th green, the second hole of a three-man playoff with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, Haas smartly played away from the flag with hopes of making par and going on to the next hole.

He wound up holing a 45-foot birdie putt across the green to win the Northern Trust Open.

Mickelson and Bradley worked their own heroics just to get into the playoff.

Haas, who closed with a 2-under 69, was on the practice range at 7-under 277 as he warmed up for a playoff only he thought might happen. He was trying to convince himself that Mickelson or Bradley—maybe both—would make birdie on the 18th hole, even though it had yielded only six birdies all day.

Mickelson rammed in a birdie putt from just outside 25 feet, pointing his putter and slamming his fist as the gallery packed into the hill below the  clubhouse let out a cheer that could be heard all over LA.

 Bradley’s birdie putt from just outside 12 feet took one last, slow turn at the cup and disappeared, setting off another enormous cheer. No one had to tell Haas what was happening.

They started the playoff on the 18th, and Bradley had the best look at birdie with a 15-footer from just off the back of the green that touched the right side of the cup.

It was decided on the 312-yard 10th hole, regarded as the best short par 4 in America, certainly among the most interesting holes in all of golf. It can be reached with a drive, but it’s all about position—and none were in a particularly good spot.

Haas went long into thick rough, with enough of the back bunker in his way that he smartly played out to the right and left himself a long birdie putt that at least would assure him par.
Mickelson and Bradley each came up short, a horrible angle. Mickelson’s flop shot landed near the hole and rolled into the back bunker. Bradley was in the bunker, and did well to blast out to 15 feet, just through the green.

Haas ended the suspense with his putt.

Bradley, who closed with a 71, missed his birdie putt after Mickelson, who also had a 71, failed to hole his bunker shot.Mickelson, who rallied from six shots behind with a 64 to win last week at Pebble Beach, was trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods in August 2009 to win back-to-back on the PGA Tour.



 PERRY IS VICTORIOUS IN CHAMPIONS TOUR EVENT
Kenny Perry shot a 2-under 70 Sunday to win his second Champions Tour title, cruising to a five-shot victory in the ACE Group Classic.

Perry birdied three of his first eight holes, and no one ever got closer than four shots after that. Perry totaled 24 birdies, two short of the tour record for a 54-hole event,and tied Allen Doyle for the largest margin of victory in the 25-year-old tournament.

Last year’s Champions Tour rookie of the year set the tour’s 36-hole scoring record in relation to par at 18 under following a 62 in Saturday’s second round.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer eagled No. 17 for the third straight day and finished in second place after a 70. A bogey on the final hole dropped Perry into a tie with Langer for the tournament scoring record Langer set last year.

Tom Lehman, the 2011 player of the year, was in second for most of the day but bogeyed No. 12 and the par-5 17th after hitting in the water. He finished at even par to tie Bill Glasson  and Mike Goodes  for third.

First-round leader Larry Mize was tied for second on the last hole, but put two balls in the water and dropped to seventh with a 75.

After two calm days resulted in low scores, wind gusts topped 30 mph during the final round.
Perry, also won the SAS Championship in October a day after his sister died of breast cancer—and two years to the day since Perry’s mother also succumbed to cancer.

Perry had previously won twice in Naples, teaming with John Huston in 2005 and Scott Hoch in 2008 at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, an unofficial PGA Tour event.



YANI DEFENDS TITLE
 Yani Tseng watched Ai Miyazato’s approach on the 18th hole of the LPGA Thailand and knew she had to come up with an equally impressive shot to avoid a possible playoff.

Tseng met the challenge with a shot fitting her No. 1 ranking, controlling the spin perfectly to set up a tap-in putt.

The 23-year-old Taiwanese star successfully defended her title for her 13th LPGA Tour victory, matching Miyazato with birdies on the final two holes to hold off her Japanese friend by a stroke.Tseng closed with a 6-under 66 to finish at 19-under 269

She opened with a 73, then shot consecutive 65s to enter the final round a shot behind Miyazato.Last year, Tseng won the event for the first of her seven 2011 LPGA Tour victories, including major victories in the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open.

The five-time major champion finished the year with 12 worldwide victories. She has 33 career worldwide professional
victories

Miyazato finished with a 67.

South Korea’s Jiyai Shin, tied for the lead with Tseng after a birdie of her own on the par-4 17th, had a 67 to finish two strokes back.

South Korea’s Amy Yang shot a 69 to finish fourth at 14 under.

Sixteen-year-old Thai amateur Ariya Jutanugarn followed her third-round 65 with a 74 to tie for 12th to 7 under. She played the final five holes in 4 over, making a double-bogey 7 on No. 18. Last year, Jutanugarn won the U.S. Junior Girls’ Championship and was the Rolex Junior Player of the Year.



 KRUGER GETS HIS FIRST IN INDIA
Jbe Kruger of South Africa won his first European Tour title Sunday, protecting his overnight lead by shooting a 3-under 69 for a two-shot victory at the Avantha Masters.

The 25-year-old Kruger made four birdies and overcame a bogey on the 17th to finish 14-under 274.

Jorge Campillo of Spain and Marcel Siem of Germany were two shots back in a tie for second.

Jose Manuel Lara of Spain and Australian Marcus Fraser finished joint fourth at 11 under.
Kruger finished second on the Asian Tour three times in 2010, while his best previous result on the European Tour was third at the Africa Open the same year.

His best on this year’s European Tour has been ninth at the Joburg Open in South Africa.






KENDALL TAKES NATIONWIDE TOUR OPENER
Skip Kendall rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, the first tournament on the 2012 Nationwide Tour schedule. Kendall needed only an even-par 71 at the Country Club of Bogota to claim his third career title.

Kendall finished at 10-under 274 but had to wait to see if fellow third-round co-leader, and playing partner, Andrew Svoboda would make his 20-foot birdie putt that would have forced a playoff. Svoboda's putt came up inches short putting Kendall back in the winner's circle for the first time since the 2007 Chitimacha Louisiana Open.

At 47 years, 5 months and 10 days Kendall also becomes the fourth-oldest to win in Tour history.

Svoboda held the lead during much of the final round after a birdie at No. 5 but couldn't muster any more and played the final nine holes 2 over. His 1-over 72 left him at 9-under 275 and tied with Andres Gonzales, who shot a 3-under 68 and was done at 9-under and hoping for a playoff.

James Hahn  and 49-year old Kirk Triplett tied for fourth, two shots back of Kendall.
Svoboda and Kendall began the final in a share of the lead with Triplett only one back. Kendall was forced to chase the lead after starting his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Kendall, a veteran of 591 combined starts on the PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour, hung tough and canned a couple of birdies to take sole possession of the lead midway through the back nine.

Kendall stumbled with a bogey at No. 16 to drop into a tie. He and Svoboda came to the 570-yard, 18th still tied for the lead.



 WRIGHT WINS IN AUSTRALIA
Australia’s Lindsey Wright made a 13-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke victory Sunday in the New Zealand Women’s Open.

Wright finished at 10-under 206 at Pegasus Golf Club in the event sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and Australian Ladies Professional Golf.

The 32-year-old former Pepperdine player is a regular on the LPGA Tour.
American Alison Walshe and Australia’s Jessica Speechley tied for second. Walshe closed with a 69, and Speechley had a 65.

Canada’s Lorie Kane and Australia’s Stephanie Na shot 69 to tie for fourth at 8 under.
Fourteen-year-old Lydia Ko, part of a six-way tie for the second-round lead, shot a 74 to tie for 17th at 4 under. The South Korean-born New Zealander, the world’s top-ranked amateur, became the youngest winner of a professional tour event last month in the Women’s New South Wales Open.


 IN OTHER NEWS
Tiger Woods is returning to the Honda Classic for the first time since he was an amateur.

Woods announced on his website  that he would play the Match Play Championship next week in Arizona, followed by the Honda Classic and the Cadillac Championship at Doral.

The Honda Classic is March 1-4 at PGA National.

It’s the second time this year Woods has added a tournament not typically on his schedule. He played the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last week for the first time in 10 years, closing with a 75 to plummet from contention.

Woods played the Honda Classic in 1993 as a 17-year-old, when it was held at Weston Hills. He had rounds of 72-78 and missed the cut.

"I've heard great things about the Honda Classic, and now that I live here, I want to play whenever possible," Woods said. "Jack's [Nicklaus] involvement in the tournament and the benefits to the local community are also important."

With the tournament being in Woods' backyard , the decision seems to make a lot of sense from a logistical standpoint.  But the fact that he decided to add the Honda means Woods is making good on his promise last year to play at least one new event this season.


Hall of Fame golfer Lee Trevino has some advice for Tiger Woods: Become a student of Butch Harmon again.

Harmon is currently Phil Mickelson's teacher and a former instructor for Woods. Harmon worked with Woods from 1996, when he won his third U.S. Amateur Championship, until August 2002. Woods won eight majors and played some of his most dominating golf under Harmon's watchful eye, including his 15-stroke victory at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2000.

Trevino, who won six majors on the PGA Tour in his career, said he believes both Woods and Harmon should "bury the hatchet" and work with each other. Woods has worked with teacher Hank Haney after his departure with Harmon and is now with Sean Foley.

Trevino said Woods "doesn't trust what he's doing yet."

"He can't drive the ball," Trevino said. "That's the problem. He doesn't stay down long enough on the ball. Augusta would be the only one he has a shot at winning if he drives it poorly. He's not going to win the U.S. Open or PGA because there's too much rough."


 Adam Scott was on the range at Riviera last week  and had every reason to feel like a stranger. He is the only player from the top 10 in the world who had yet to play a tournament this year.

Waiting until the Northern Trust Open to begin his 2012 season was only partially by design. Scott had planned to be at Kapalua for the PGA Tour opener, but he had his tonsils taken out in December. He said the recovery time for an adult is about three weeks.

Scott said he had tonsillitis at least five times a year for the last couple of seasons, and when it happened at the Deutsche Bank Championships he was tied for the lead through 36 holes—that was the last straw.

The three-month break was the longest of his career, and it was the first time in 10 years Scott has spent so much time at home in Australia. It allowed him to get his mind off golf, and it made him eager to return. So how did he do


Natalie Gulbis is in the 2012  Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Gulbis is not actually wearing a swimsuit in any of the photos in the magazine. It's body painting.

 Gulbis is one of three athletes included in the bodypainting section of the 2012 SI swimsuit issue.

Pics of Gulbis' body painting can be found at si.com/swimsuit.


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Sunday, February 12, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 2-12-2012

 "LEFTY"  IS  BACK IN THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Phil Mickelson went from a six-shot deficit to a two-shot lead in just six holes, closed with an 8-under 64 for a two-shot victory over Charlie Wi and gave Tiger Woods a thrashing at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday not many saw coming.

Mickelson and Woods played in the second-to-last group, and Mickelson beat him by 11 shots. He won for the fourth time at Pebble Beach, and became only the ninth player in PGA Tour history with 40 wins.

It was anything but that for Woods, who was reduced to a supporting role on a cool, overcast day along the Pacific. Right when it looked as though Woods might still be in the game after holing a bunker shot for birdie on the par-3 12th, Mickelson answered by pouring in a 30-foot par putt.

Mickelson seized control for good with a 40-foot par save on the 15th hole, and he played it safe Mickelson is capable of that every once in a while, on the 18th hole and still made birdie.

Wi, who started the final round with a three-shot lead, four-putted for double bogey on the opening hole and never quite recovered. He closed with back-to-back birdies for an even-par 72 and his fifth runner-up finish on tour.

It was the third straight week on tour that the winner started the final round at least six shots behind a 54-hole leader going after his first tour victory.

Mickelson finished at 17-under 269 and earned $1.152 million for his first win since the Houston Open last year. He will move to No. 11 in the world.

Ricky Barnes closed with a 67 and finished third. Kevin Na tied for fifth and earned a spot in the Match Play Championship in two weeks at Arizona. 



PAVIN GETS FIRST CHAMPIONS TOUR WIN
 Corey Pavin made a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat Peter Senior and win the Allianz Championship for his first Champions Tour title Sunday at Broken Sound.

Both players shot a final-round 71 to finish tied at 11-under 205. Senior forced the playoff with a birdie on the last hole of regulation, but his birdie try in the playoff stopped an inch short of the cup.

Mark Calcavecchia appeared to be cruising to the victory when he birdied the par-5 11th hole to take a three-shot lead over Pavin. But Calcavecchia, who was 5 under for the day at that point, bogeyed six of his last seven holes to finish tied for seventh after a 73.

Bernhard Langer  and Michael Allen  tied for third place, a shot ahead of Jay Haas  and John Cook .



 CABRERA-BELLO TAKES DUBAI CLASSIC
Rafael Cabrera-Bello won the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, shooting a 4-under 68 to beat Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher by one shot for his second European Tour victory.

It appeared to be Westwood’s tournament to win, with the third-ranked Englishman taking a one-stroke lead over Cabrera-Bello into the final round. But after making a 35-foot eagle putt on the second hole to go up by two, Westwood struggled with his putting the rest of the way.

The Spaniard birdied the 17th for the outright lead and then made a short par putt on No. 18 to finish with an 18-under total of 270.

Westwood had a chance to force a playoff, but his chip rolled past the hole. He then just missed a 25-foot birdie. Gallacher  also had a chance to tie but missed a 15-footer for birdie.



 KORDA WINS LPGA AUSTRALIAN EVENT
 American teenager Jessica Korda won the Women’s Australian Open on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title, holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a six-player playoff.

Korda closed with a 1-over 74 to finish at 3-under 289 in the first women’s professional event at Royal Melbourne, the historic sand-belt layout that was the site of the 2011 Presidents Cup.
Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Julieta Granada, So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo also were in the playoff that matched the largest in LPGA Tour history.

Playing in threesomes on the par-4 18th, all six players opened the playoff with pars. On the second, Lewis, Lincicome, Granada and Seo made par and Ryu had a bogey.

Ryu and Seo, playing ahead of Korda and Nikki Campbell in the second-to-last group, topped the leaderboard at 4 under going into the final hole of regulation, but both closed with bogeys to shoot 73.

Lewis finished with a 70, and Lincicome and Granada shot 71.

Playing in the first playoff threesome, Lincicome had a good chance to win on the first extra hole, but her 6-foot birdie try circled the cup and stayed out.

After Korda made her birdie putt in the second group on the second playoff hole, Granada missed a 12-footer that would have sent the two back to the 18th tee.

Making her 16th start as an LPGA Tour member, Korda began the round with a one-stroke lead and was two ahead at 7 under after birdieing three of the first eight holes.

She had a double bogey on No. 9, bogeyed 10, birdied 11, and bogeyed Nos. 14-16 to drop to 2 under, then rallied with a birdie on the par-5 17th and parred the 18th to get the final spot in the playoff.

Projected to jump from 285th to 30th in the world ranking, she became the sixth youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and the fourth youngest to win a 72-hole event.


 IN OTHER NEWS
 This is a Ryder Cup year and the interest is building already.

The U.S. players are starting to earn points from regular PGA Tour events, with Kyle Stanley atop the standings based on his runner-up finish and win in consecutive weeks. Davis Love III walks onto the range and players call him “captain.”

Love, however, said the race to make the team really doesn’t start until late May. That’s when two dozen or so players begin getting fitted for uniforms.

Love still hasn’t announced his assistant captains, saying he will work with European captain Jose Maria Olazabal to find a good time when they can do that together. He thinks four assistants is a good number.



Rory McIlroy, reigning U.S. Open champion and unquestionably one of the finest talents now playing, is preparing for the Dubai Desert Classic this week. And he noted that the first time he was at the event, way back in  2006, he took a rather unconventional approach to checking out the then-world No. 1.

"I remember I played on Thursday morning, and then on Thursday afternoon Tiger was playing. I came out in the afternoon and took one of the photographer's cameras off of him and was able to follow inside the ropes, which was pretty cool."

McIlroy, of course, has gotten much, much better, and isn't quite so intimidated and awed by Woods any longer.



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Sunday, February 5, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 2-5-2012

 STANLEY RISES LIKE A PHOENIX
 Kyle Stanley rebounded from a devastating loss to win the Phoenix Open, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit Sunday in a comeback as unlikely as his collapse last week at Torrey Pines.

In tears seven days ago in San Diego after blowing a big leaddropping the final strokes with a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole and losing a playoff, Stanley took advantage of Spencer Levin’s meltdown Sunday to win his first PGA Tour title.

Stanley closed with a bogey-free 6-under 65, holing a 4-foot par putt on the par-4 18th, to finish at 15-under 269.

Ben Crane had a 66 to finish a stroke back.

Levin, six strokes ahead entering the round and seven in front after one hole, shot a 75 to finish two strokes behind Stanley.



D.J. Trahan had a 66 to finish fourth at 12 under, and Brendan Steele (64) was another stroke back along with Kevin Na (65) and Bubba Watson (70).


 LAWRIE TAKES QATAR MASTERS
 Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie chipped in for an eagle and a birdie on his way to winning the wind-shortened Qatar Open on Sunday, shooting a 7-under 65 to hold off Jason Day and Peter Hanson.

Lawrie finished with a 15-under total of 201 to win his seventh European Tour event and his second in Qatar. Day (65) and Hanson (67) tied for second, four strokes back.

It was Lawrie’s second victory in a year—he also won the Andalucian Open last March—after a nine-year drought. Now in the top 45, he could contend for a spot in the 2012 Ryder Cup.
Lawrie came into the final round with a one-shot lead over Nicolas Colsaerts.

The 1999 British Open champion started slowly, with only a birdie on his first eight holes. But just as several players, including Sergio Garcia (68), were challenging for the lead, Lawrie sank a 20-yard chip for eagle on the 9th hole to go up by two.

Day and Garcia continued their charge, but Lawrie recorded four birdies on a flawless back nine that included clutch birdie putts on 11 and 14. And when Hanson chipped in for eagle on 16 to pull within three, Lawrie responded with chip in for birdie on 17. He played it safe on No. 18 and closed out with a short par putt for the win.

First-round leader John Daly (67) finished fourth at 9 under, with Garcia, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (65), Ricardo Gonzalez (70) and Soren Hansen (66) another shot back in a tie for fifth.


 BOELJON WINS IN AUSTRALIA
Christel Boeljon birdied the last hole to win the Australian Ladies Masters by one stroke on Sunday and avoid a four-way playoff.

The 24-year-old Dutch golfer closed with a 4-under 68 in the final round to finish with a 21-under total 267  taking the lead for the first time on the par-five last hole.

She was one shot clear of overnight leader So Yeon Ryu and Kim Ha-neul of South Korea and Italy’s Diana Luna.

It was a second LET victory for Boeljon, who made her debut for Europe in the Solheim Cup last year.

U.S. Open champion Ryu started the final round with a three-stroke lead, due mainly to her 11-under 61 on Friday, but closed with an even-par 72 and was overtaken on the last hole.


Luna and Kim each finished with rounds of 67 to claim a share of second place.

Sharing the lead with three others as she walked to the 18th tee, Boeljon reached the green in two and, with Ryu in the greenside bunker, left her eagle putt about five feet short. She made the easy birdie putt while Ryu flew her bunker shot too far.

Lydia Ko, the 14-year-old New Zealand amateur who become the youngest winner of a professional golf tour event with her victory at the New South Wales Open last weekend, finished as the leading amateur on 6 under at the Ladies Masters.

Veteran Laura Davies of England shot a 71 and finished well off the pace at 4 under. Seven-time champion Karrie Webb did not play and will start her 2012 season next week at the Australian Open, which is co-sanctioned by the LPGA Tour.

 IN OTHER NEWS
 Phil Mickelson filed a lawsuit against an Internet service provider in Canada to learn the identity of a person who has been posting “vexatious statements” that the four-time major champion says is a deliberate attack on his reputation.

“I’m all for freedom of speech, but I won’t tolerate defamation,” Mickelson said Thursday after his opening round in the Phoenix Open.

In his lawsuit against Videotron S.E.N.C in Quebec Superior Court, Mickelson cited comments posted on Yahoo! Sports from Nov. 11 to Nov. 12, in which one or more persons under the pseudonyms “Fogroller” and “Longtitude” make statements that allege, among other things, that Mickelson’s wife had an affair and that he fathered an illegitimate child.

Mickelson says he is a victim of defamation. He is asking the court to force Videotron to identify the person so Mickelson can “stop the dissemination of false and wrongful statements … and obtain reparation for the prejudice already suffered.”

The motion was filed in Montreal on Jan. 25.

Mickelson first filed a complaint Nov. 21 in San Diego County superior court, which authorized him to subpoena information from Yahoo! Inc. That led to identifying “Fogroller” as a Montreal resident, with Videotron as the Internet provider.

Mickelson wants the Quebec court to demand that Videotron supply him with all information of the person using the Internet protocol address who first registered under the “Fogroller” pseudonym on Dec. 16, 2008, and of the person using the IP address that posted the statements about him.

 
Three players were disqualified from the Australian Ladies Masters on Friday for unknowingly breaching rules on preferred lies.

A rules official from the co-sanctioning Ladies European Tour said Australians Corie Hou and Inhong Lim and Australian-based South Korean amateur Annie Choi were disqualified after playing one hole of their second round.

The players, who were in the same group, said they had misinterpreted a local ruling during their first round which allowed preferred lies on fairways but not in the rough.

Choi had an opening-round 2-under-par 70, five strokes behind first-round leader Lee Bo-mee. Lim shot 80 and Hou 81.

The 16-year-old Choi said they had misunderstood what the starter said before they teed off about the local rule allowing preferred lies on the fairways because of wet conditions on the Royal Pines course.

The trio had played only one hole of their second round when the rule breach was reported to Ladies European Tour operations director Cyprien Comoy.

All three admitted to taking preferred lies off the fairways in the first round and were disqualified because it meant they’d signed incorrect scorecards.


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