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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