Sunday, March 11, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 3-11-2012

 ROSE WINS WGC CADILLAC CHAMPIONSHIP
 Justin Rose won his first World Golf Championship, making up a three-shot deficit against Bubba Watson, and then a two-shot deficit against Keegan Bradley. Rose was steady down the stretch, even with a bogey from the bunker on the 18th hole, and closed with a 2-under 70 to win the Cadillac Championship.

Watson, as always, made it interesting. He hit a bullet of a 4-iron out of the palm trees to just inside 10 feet for a chance to force a playoff. His birdie putt missed on the low side, ending a wild day even by his standards. He closed with a 74.

If that wasn’t enough, Tiger Woods muddied his Masters future when he left after 11 holes with soreness in his left Achilles tendon, wincing badly on his final shot—a 321-yard drive down the middle of the 12th fairway.

Woods said he would have it evaluated to determine the scope of the injury.
New #1 Rory McIlroy pulled within one shot of the lead with a birdie on the 16th hole, but he closed with a bogey and a 67 to finish alone in third.

Through it all, Rose worked his way to the top of the leaderboard with a nifty up-and-down behind the green on the par-5 10th, and he seized control of the tournament with a shot into 5 feet for birdie on the 14th.

Rose finished on 16-under 272 for his 10th victory worldwide, moving him back into the top 10 of a world ranking that remains loaded with Europe

Watson didn’t hit a fairway on the front nine, and only one tee shot managed to stay inside the bunkers that frame the fairways. He was in the water twice, once in a canal on the fifth hole that not many knew were there. He shot a 39 on the front nine, which included three putts outside 8 feet to limit the damage.

Watson wasn’t the only player who faltered. Bradley opened with an eagle, tied for the lead with a wedge into 3 feet for birdie on the fifth, then rolled in a 12-foot birdie at No. 7 that gave him a two-shot lead.

Bradley came undone with bogeys on the par 5s, even though he was around the green with his second shot on both of them. On No. 8, his ball buried so deep in the grass behind the green he called for a ruling to see if it had plugged , that he purposely played 20 feet away from the flag, knowing it would roll off the green. He failed to get up-and-down.

Then, he three-putted from about 6 feet on the par-5 10th, turning a birdie chance into bogey.
Bradley dropped four shots over the last four holes, including a double bogey on the 18th for a 75. He went from leading at the turn to a tie for eighth with a 41 on the back nine.

Rose was the last man standing. Throughout the back nine, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, McIlroy and even Luke Donald for a brief moment all looked to be poised for a run.

Rose never came seriously close to a bogey on the back nine until his approach landed in the back bunker, and he blasted out through the green and just off the edge. He chipped to tap-in range for a bogey, dropping his lead down to one shot. Then, he headed to practice range to see if Watson could catch him. It was there he celebrated when Watson missed the tying putt.



MCNEILL RALLIES FOR WIN IN PUERTO RICO
George McNeill has birdied his last three holes for a 3-under 69 to rally past Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa and win the Puerto Rico Open.

Ishikawa, on the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that left his homeland in ruins, closed with a 68 on Sunday and had a one-shot lead. McNeill caught him with a birdie on the 16th, took the lead with a birdie on the 17th and added another birdie on the par-5 18th.
It was the second career win for McNeill, who finished on 16-under 272.

Ishikawa had his best career finish on the PGA Tour.

Henrik Stenson and Boo Weekley  tied for third, three shots behind.

 McNeill finished at 16-under 272 and earned $630,000 for his second career victory. He won the 2007 Frys.com Open in Las Vegas as a PGA Tour rookie.


HALEY WINS IN CHILE


Paul Haley II won the Chile Classic in his third career Nationwide Tour start, closing with a 1-under 71 on Sunday for a three-stroke victory.

The 24-year-old former Georgia Tech player shot 64 on Friday and Saturday to take a six-shot lead into the final round. He finished at 22-under 266 and earned $108,000 in the inaugural event.

Joseph Bramlett shot a 64 to finish second at Prince of Wales Country Club.

Paul Claxton was another stroke back after a 68.

Haley missed all but one fairway in his first 12 holes.Haley found the fairway on the par-4 12th and made a 6-foot birdie putt to widen the lead to three, then hit the fairway on the par-4 14th and holed a 12-footer for birdie to push his advantage to four strokes.

A bogey on the par-3 15th cut the lead to three, and he parred the final three holes.



IN OTHER NEWS
Ryo Ishikawa no longer has to worry about trying to qualify for the Masters. The 20-year-old from Japan received a special invitation for the second time.

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne says the Masters historically invites international players to expand the major’s global reach. He says Ishikawa will help increase interest in Japan and throughout Asia.

Ishikawa has won nine times on the Japan Golf Tour. He also received an invitation in 2009 when he was 17. He was the second-youngest player to compete in the Masters.

In the last 10 years, the only player not from Asia to receive a special invitation to the Masters was Greg Norman in 2002.

Among those yet to qualify this year is Ernie Els of South Africa.



Donald Trump has monster plans for his purchase of the Doral Golf Resort.

As I said last week, Trump bought the famous golf resort outside Miami for $150 million and said Thursday he plans to invest more than $200 million to revamp the Blue Monster championship course and stop at nothing to make Doral the ultimate golf destination.

Doral has held a PGA Tour event since 1962, and it was elevated to a World Golf Championship in 2007. It is hosting a 74-man field this week that includes the top 50 players in the world ranking. 

Trump said the course would be shut down after the 2013 tournament, and Gil Hanse would renovate what is now called the TPC Blue Monster.

Hanse was selected Wednesday to design the course in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics.

Trump is likely to change the name of the Doral course but won’t decide until the project is finished.

Trump already has Trump International in West Palm Beach, which once hosted the LPGA Tour Championship. He also has courses in New York, Washington, along the coast in California.



Professional golfer Jarrod Lyle suffered a recurrence of leukemia upon returning home to Australia to prepare for the birth of his first child.

Robert Allenby, the fellow PGA Tour player who supports a cancer program that once had Lyle as a patient, said he received word Thursday morning that Lyle was going to start chemotherapy as soon as his wife gave birth.

Lyle was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at age 17. He not only recovered, he went on to earn his PGA Tour card. He thought the chemotherapy from his teen years would make him infertile, and was thrilled to learn his wife, Briony, was pregnant.

Lyle’s manager Tony Bouffler said Friday the player was in good spirits and elated about the birth of his child, which was expected by Saturday.

Lyle matched his best finish on the PGA Tour three weeks ago at Riviera, where he missed a playoff by two shots and tied for fifth. He went to Mexico and tied for 37th.

Perhaps his greatest fame in America came last year in the Phoenix Open, when he made an ace on the raucous par-3 16th hole at the TPC Scottsdale.



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