Sunday, April 15, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 4-15-2012


PETTERSSON WINS RBC HERITAGE
Carl Pettersson shot a 2-under 69 Sunday to win the RBC Heritage by five over Zach Johnson. It’s the fifth victory of the Swede’s career and his second in an RBC event — he also won the 2010 RBC Canadian Open. With the victory Pettersson moves to fourth in the FedExCup standings.

Top-ranked Luke Donald needed to finish eighth or better to retain his ranking, but tied for 37th and will fall behind Rory McIlroy.

Johnson shot a 70 to finish second at 9 under, while Colt Knost's chances for his first PGA Tour title fell apart with a 74. He was third at 8 under.

Kevin Stadler (68) and Billy Mayfair (69) tied for fourth at 6 under. Two-time Heritage winner Boo Weekley had his worst round of the week, 73, to tie for sixth with Matt Bettencourt (69).

No one, though, was catching Pettersson in this one. He rolled in a 24-footer on No. 1 to get things started with a birdie. He added another birdie, from 16 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, then two-putted from 40 feet on the par-5 fifth to go up by four shots. When Johnson took bogey at No. 10, Pettersson was five strokes in front and cruising.

Pettersson used a run of five straight birdies on the front side Saturday to gain the lead. He was 13 under on the front nine the four days.

He also didn't feel too bad on the greens, needing just 104 putts over 72 holes.

Knost was on top after Thursday and Friday and felt good as part of the final pairing. But those nerves Knost acknowledged Saturday were apparently back again in the final round.

He missed an 8-foot putt for par and made bogey on No. 1 for a second straight round to drop three shots behind Pettersson. And just like Saturday, Knost fought back with a birdie on the second hole - he made eagle there in the third round - to close in on Pettersson.

However, Knost's chances ended, a hole later with a horrible drive out of bounds left on No. 3 that led to a triple-bogey seven and left him five shots behind and out of contention.
When Knost flew his approach to the 12th green way left, he simply stood in the fairway and stared straight ahead, hands on hips, in disbelief.

Johnson, four strokes behind Pettersson at the start, tried to make a charge with birdies on the second, fourth and fifth holes. Johnson closed to three shots when he birdied No. 15 and Pettersson had his first bogey of the day moments later.

But Johnson ran out of steam on the 16th hole when he drove into a waste bunker and took bogey. Still, it was Johnson's best showing of the year and first top-10 finish since January.

Donald was largely resigned to surrendering No. 1 when he woke up early for his 9:46 a.m. start time, more than four hours before the final group of Pettersson and Knost teed off.

Donald's round began badly with a double bogey at No. 1. He worked his way back with birdies on the fifth and sixth hole and that's where he stayed. Donald ended a four-week run at No. 1 that began after he won the Transitions Championship last month.

Donald said he's proved he's among the world's best and is confident he'll stay in that conversation, no matter where he's ranked. ''Now, my focus is winning tournaments,'' he said.


ALLEN TAKES CHAMPIONS TOUR EVENT
Michael Allen won the Encompass Insurance Pro-Am on Sunday for his second Champions Tour title, closing with a 3-under 68 for a three-stroke victory over Kenny Perry.

Allen finished the three-day event at 12 under. He took a five-shot advantage into the final round, tying the tournament record for the largest 36-hole margin.

Allen bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4 at TPC Tampa Bay to cut his lead to one, but rebounded with birdies on two of the next three holes. He extended his advantage to four shots with birdies on 12 and 14.
Isao Aoki (1996) and Bruce Fleisher (2000) also took five-stroke leads into the final round of the tournament. Aoki wound up tied for eighth, while Fleisher won by four shots.

Perry eagled the par-4 first hole and par-5 12th during a round of 65. It was the fifth time in the event's history that a player had a pair of eagles in a round.

Allen also won the 2009 Senior PGA Championship. He had gone winless in 40 consecutive Champions Tour events since then.

The 63-year-old Fleisher, who lead after the first round, shot a 74 to finish at 4 over.
Peter Senior was third at 7 under after shooting a 67.

One of Perry's playing partners, Corey Pavin, also had an eagle on 12. Pavin shot 70 and ended up fourth at 5 under.

Kirk Triplett had a 72 to tie for eighth at 2 under in his first start on the 50-and-over tour.


OOSTHUIZEN WINS IN MALAYSIA
Louis Oosthuizen won the Malaysian Open on Sunday, a week after losing a playoff to Bubba Watson in the Masters.

The South African completed a 3-under 69 in the rain-delayed third round, then closed with a 68 for a three-stroke victory over Scotland's Stephen Gallacher.
The 2010 British Open champion finished at 17-under 271 on Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club's West Course.

Gallacher shot a 70. American David Lipsky also closed with a 70 to tie for third at 12 under with Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello and England's Danny Willett. Cabrera-Bello and Willett shot 71.
The tournament was sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.


 ARAGON WINS STONBRAE CHAMPIONSHIP
Former Stanford player Alex Aragon won the TPC Stonebrae Championship on Sunday for his first Nationwide Tour title, closing with a 4-under 66 for a one-stroke victory over Matt Harmon, Duffy Waldorf and Paul Haley II.

Aragon had a 10-under 270 total and earned $108,000.

Harmon finished with a 61, and Waldorf and Haley shot 68.



IN OTHER NEWS
Speeding between the Masters and his next tournament cost Jose Maria Olazabal $621 when a Georgia sheriff's deputy pulled him over for driving 97 mph on a rural highway.

Olazabal, the Ryder Cup captain for Europe, agreed to follow a deputy to the Effingham County Sheriff's Office and pay the speeding ticket in cash. The Spaniard was stopped Monday afternoon traveling from Augusta to Hilton Head, S.C., for the Heritage tournament, sheriff's spokesman David Ehsanipoor said.

Ehsanipoor said Tuesday that Olazabal ''apologized, he was cooperative and after the paperwork was done he went on his way.''

He says the deputy clocked Olazabal's Mercedes exceeding the posted limit of 65 mph on the rural stretch of Ga. 21, a divided four-lane highway near the Georgia-South Carolina state line.

The two-time Masters champion wasn't jailed, but his mug shot was taken. Ehsanipoor said the sheriff's department photographs everyone who is brought in on a criminal charge or citation.



The Houston Open has created an identity as the last chance for a player to qualify for the Masters.
But not next year.

The Masters traditionally ends on the second Sunday of April, and the way the calendar falls in 2013, that pushes it back one week later than usual. The Masters next year will be April 11-14.

That leaves an extra week between Bay Hill - the end of the Florida swing - and the first major of the year. The PGA Tour has decided that Houston will stay the week after Bay Hill, and the Texas Open in San Antonio will take the spot the week before the Masters.

But it's less than ideal for Houston.

For starters, the Houston Open will end on Easter Sunday next year. And if that's not enough, the PGA Tour has agreed to move the Tavistock Cup - a Monday-Tuesday exhibition - from the week of Bay Hill to the week of Houston. That made-for-TV gig attracts 24 players, most of them in the Orlando, Fla., area.

That roster typically includes Tiger Woods, who represents Team Albany from The Bahamas. And that might hurt the one upside of Houston moving away from the week before the Masters - a chance to get Woods for the first time. Steve Timms, the Houston Tournament Director, spoke to Woods' agent last week at the Masters about the schedule change.

The last time this scheduling quirk happened was in 2008. New Orleans was inserted after the Florida swing, and Houston kept its spot before the Masters. Woods did not play in New Orleans that year.

It's the second time in three years the Texas Open has been given a spot that belonged to another tournament. Hilton Head is traditionally the week after the Masters, but in 2011 when the tournament was trying to replace its sponsor, it was moved to two weeks after Augusta. The Texas Open followed the Masters.

Why can't Texas go a week before the Houston Open next year?

According to two officials, the Texas Open contract says that it cannot end on Easter Sunday, which is why it was given the week after the Masters last year. The tournament is one of the top contributors to charity on the PGA Tour, with much of that money coming from a golf outing it holds the day after its event. The fear is that ending on Easter would limit participation in the outing.

Timms sees some positives out of the date change for 2013. There's still a chance he can get Woods. And because it will fall two weeks before the Masters, that will be the cutoff for players trying to get into the top 50 in the world to qualify for the Masters.

''We'll only know next year at this time if that's able to outweigh some of the challenges with Easter,'' Timms said.


Miki Saiki Made up 5 Shots on Ji-Yai Shin over her last 3 Holes to capture 4th Career JLPGA Victory at the Studio Alice Ladies Open.



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