Sunday, April 29, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 4-29-2012

 DUFNER BEATS ELS IN PLAYOFF
Jason Dufner beat Ernie Els with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff Sunday in the Zurich Classic to win for the first time in 164 starts on the PGA Tour.

After entering the fourth round with a two-shot lead, Dufner shot a 2-under 70 at TPC Louisiana. Els had a 67 to match Dufner at 19-under 269.

After both players missed birdie putts within 8 feet on the par-5 18th, they went back to the 18th tee for the second extra hole, which Dufner won by hitting the green in two strokes and tapping home a short birdie putt after Els' birdie attempt from the fringe narrowly missed.

Dufner lost playoffs last year to Mark Wilson in the Phoenix Open and Keegan Bradley in the PGA Championship for two of his three career runner-up finishes.

On the second playoff hole, Els' tee shot went into a fairway bunker, and his second shot landed 137 yards from the pin. His third shot landed on the fringe, nearly 19 feet from the pin, but he nearly saved birdie from there, his putt missing by 2 inches.

Dufner then made his birdie putt from less than 2 feet, and in his typically low-key way, briefly raised both arms to acknowledge the cheering crowd before casually walking off the green to accept some congratulatory hugs.

Luke Donald shot a 67 to finish third at 17 under, and move past Rory McIlroy for the No. 1 ranking in the world.

Defending Zurich Classic champ Bubba Watson, playing for the first time since a life-changing win at the Masters over Easter weekend, entered the final round eight shots off the lead. He was unable to mount a charge after bogeys on his first two holes. He wound up tied for 18th at 11 under, a solid outing by most standards, but one of his worst finishes of the year.



LEWIS WINS HOLDS OFF TEEN SENSATION
Stacy Lewis won the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic  for her second LPGA Tour title, holding off charging teen Lexi Thompson by a stroke.

Lewis, who held a five-stroke lead early in the day, reclaimed the edge with a birdie on No. 16, while the 17-year-old Thompson parred the final hole and had to wait.

Lewis parred out. Her week was so solid that her finishing 3-under 69 was her worst round en route to a 17-under 271 total. The former Arkansas star also won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Thompson found redemption from her final-round fall in Mobile a year ago. She didn't flinch under the pressure given a second shot, closing with rounds of 66 and 65, tying her career low in a bogey-free round.

Lewis secured the win with a two-putt par from the edge of the green. Karine Icher of France closed with a 68 to finish third, two strokes back.

Lewis spent her teen years in a back brace with scoliosis, then had surgery that corrected her spine with five screws and a steel rod.

Lewis had birdied holes 15-17 each of the past two days, when she was a combined 9 under on the back nine.


WIESBERGER GETS FIRST AT BALLANTINE'S
Bernd Wiesberger of Austria shot a final-round 4-under 68 to earn his first European Tour victory with a five-stroke win at the Ballantine's Championship on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Wiesberger made four birdies on his way to claiming the win to become only the third Austrian to win on the European Tour after Markus Brier and Martin Wiegele.

Wiesberger finished at 18 under, five strokes ahead of Richie Ramsay of Scotland, who shot a 65 to equal the course record.Victor Dubuisson, who had led after the first round, finished third alongside Australian Marcus Fraser. Another Australian, Adam Scott, the highest ranked player at the event at No. 12, finished 12th after shooting 65.

Wiesberger went 55 holes without dropping a shot during the tournament, after making a double bogey on the No. 13 par-3 in his first round.

His victory gives him his European Tour playing card until the end of 2014.

Englishman Ian Poulter finished tied for 15th with a 281, as did Y.E. Yang.

Paul Casey continued to step up his comeback from a shoulder injury and finished 25th at 5 under, finishing 1 under for the day.

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez managed his first top-five finish of the season after finishing 10 under.


LIST TAKES NATIONWIDE EVENT
Luke List eagled the 13th hole to jump into the lead, and later made a birdie to help secure a two-stroke victory at the South Georgia Classic. List, the longest hitter on the tour,won on the longest course on the tour.

List had bogeyed the 12th hole to fall behind, but his strong closing stretch allowed him to earn his first career Nationwide Tour win. He carded a four- under 68 to finish at 16-under-par 272.

Brian Stuard fired a six-under 66 on Sunday at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club, but started the round too far back and took second at minus-14.

The victory was a long time in the making for List, who had been close to winning before. Prior to Sunday, he had six career top-10s, including a pair of runner-up finishes. One of those came in early March at the Panama Claro Championship, where he was one of four tied for second place behind Edward Loar.

The 27-year-old's victory was a convincing one. He came up with crucial shots down the stretch when many of his competitors faltered.

Woody Austin, who shared the third-round lead with List, stumbled to a one- over 73 after carding three bogeys on the back nine. Austin finished in third place at 11-under 277.

Will MacKenzie had perhaps the most stunning fall. He was alone in first after making a birdie at the 10th, which put him at 15-under. But a bogey at 11, double-bogey at 12 and triple-bogey at the last sent him into the clubhouse with a 73. MacKenzie shared seventh place with three others at minus-nine.


IN OTHER NEWS
Asked on Golf Channel's Morning Drive about advice to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, Hal Sutton basically told Love to stay out of the way.
 
"I don't know that guys are following anyone but their own selves today. We live in a pretty selfish world. It's not a criticism. In my mind that's a fact," said Sutton, the 2004 captain.

"In order to be a leader you've got to understand that from the beginning. These guys don't want to follow anybody. The hard part about being a captain is you're the greatest guy in the world if you win and did the worst job in the world if you lose and you never hit a shot. And with golf I think there's more to it than that."

The 2004 team lost to the Europeans 18 1/2 to 9 1/2. The competition is remembered for Sutton pairing Tiger Woods with Phil Mickelson.


When Rich Beem won  the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine he received a  10-year exemption on the European Tour.
He never used it because he didn't need it — until now.

Beem's only status on the PGA Tour is as a past champion, and sponsor exemptions have been limited. In the last year of his exemption in Europe, he took up membership and is having more fun than he imagined.

His  results,so far, have not been great .

Beem missed the cut in his first three events,  the Joburg Open, Andalucia Open and the Hassan Trophy in Morocco before he tied for 11th two weeks ago in Italy at the Sicilian Open. He plays the Spanish Open next week, then gears up for seven tournaments in eight weeks in which he will play in England, Wales, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, France and Scotland.

The events he has played in continental Europe are not among the top events, and thus the galleries have been a bit sparse.He figures that will change when Europe gets to the meat of its schedule this summer, and every tournament is no more than a short flight from London.

Beem isn't sure where this will lead. The worst-case scenario is that he tries to go through two stages of PGA Tour qualifying school and tries to get his card back. Or, he could play great and work his way back toward the top 50 in the world.


 The course at Royal Lytham and St. Annes has been lengthened by 181 yards for this year's British Open, with all but two holes having been altered since the last time the tournament was held there in 2001.

Royal and Ancient Chief Executive Peter Dawson said Monday that the total length of the course has increased to 7,086 yards, but that it will remain a par 70.

Dawson said the biggest changes were made to the seventh, 10th and 11th holes. The 10th is 52 yards longer compared to 11 years ago, while No. 7 is 35 yards longer and has a completely new green. The 11th now measures 592 yards — 56 yards longer than last time.

The only holes that have not been changed are the par-4 fourth and par-3 12th.


 Budding LPGA star Lexi Thompson needs a date for her high school prom.

The 17-year-old Thompson has posted a YouTube inviting young military men 18 to 20 years of age,  to make a bid to be her date by sending their qualifications to her Facebook page.

Lexi will even take care of the details, and provide free transportation to Fort Lauderdale.


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