Sunday, May 20, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 5-20-2012


DUFNER CAPTURES NELSON CHAMPIONSHIP

Jason Dufner made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday for a one-stroke victory at the Byron Nelson Championship, his second win in three weeks.

Dufner's winning putt wrapped up a closing 3-under 67 for an 11-under 269 total, one ahead of Dicky Pride.

Dufner got his first PGA Tour win three weeks ago at New Orleans, a week before getting married.

Pride, whose only PGA Tour in a 20-year professional career came in 1994, was at 10 under after a par-saving 22-foot putt at No. 18 after hitting his drive into the water.

J.J. Henry, who had an early hole-in-one, was in the lead at 11 under after consecutive birdies at Nos. 15 and 16, overcoming a bad tee shot on the first and a greenside bunker on the second.

But Henry, in the final group with Dufner, hit his tee shot at the par-3 17th over the green. He lost the lead with a double bogey after a 4-foot putt slid just outside the cup.

After watching Henry's meltdown, Dufner made a tap-in par at No. 17 and then hit a big drive on No. 18 in the middle of the fairway. He hit his approach to the middle of the green, avoiding a playoff with the long putt and joining Hunter Mahan as the only two-time winners this season.

Pride had made a 13-foot birdie putt at No. 17.

Joe Durant, who was the final alternate added to the Nelson field, shot a 65 to finish in a tie for third at 271 with Henry (68), Marc Leishman (66) and rookie Jonas Blixt (66).

Phil Mickelson, making his first Nelson start in five years, had four consecutive birdies on the front nine and went on to a round of 66 to finish four strokes back. He tied for seventh with Ken Duke, who also had a string of four birdies in a row in his own 66.

While Henry and Dufner were playing the 17th hole, Pride drove his tee shot at No. 18 left into the water. After his drop, Pride hit his approach to 22 feet and made that par-saving putt to remain at 10 under, letting out a scream when the ball dropped into the hole.

Pride, then watched the final group play the 18th hole and waiting to see if he would be in a playoff. Even he had to applaud on the clinching putt by Dufner, who went to rival Auburn.

Matt Kuchar, the fifth-ranked player who won The Players Championship a week earlier, had 70 and finished at 276 in a tie for 15th. He was trying to become the first PGA Tour player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win in consecutive weeks.



COLSAERTS WINS MATCH PLAY

Nicolas Colsaerts handled fierce winds to top Graeme McDowell and capture the World Match Play Championship on Sunday, boosting his chances of making Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Colsaerts won a slow final 1 up in southern Spain for his second European Tour title and earn a winner's check of $900,000.

McDowell, the 2010 U.S Open champion, bounced back after falling 1 down three times on the front nine, but was frustrated on the long closing stretch with his iron play letting him down.

Colsaerts had a two-hole lead after No. 16 and although his advantage was cut when he three-putted the next hole, he made par on the last hole to win one of the most prestigious titles on the calendar.

The victory lifted Colsaerts into 10th place in the Ryder Cup points table - the last automatic spot for the European team - but perhaps more importantly demonstrated to team captain Jose Maria Olazabal his prowess at match play ahead of the September matchup against the United States in Medinah near Chicago.

It would be Colsaert's first appearance for Europe and would cap a successful season in which he has grabbed seven top-10 finishes in 11 events - the most of any player so far.



MUNOZ TAKES SYBASE CLASSIC

Azahara Munoz beat Candie Kung 2 and 1 on Sunday to win the Sybase Match Play Championship, a title that was set up when Morgan Pressel was penalized for slow play while in control of their semifinal match.
 
It was the first LPGA Tour win for Munoz, but this one is going to be shrouded in controversy. It also will put more focus on pace of play in golf.

Pressel appeared to take a 3-up lead with a par at the 12th hole at the Hamilton Farm Golf Club. But before she could tee off on No. 13, tour official Doug Brecht informed her that she had violated the tour's pace of play rule and lost the hole, dropping her lead to 1-up and changing momentum. Munoz, a former Arizona State star from Spain, then rallied to beat Pressel 2 and 1.



FLANAGAN WINS BMW EVENT

Nick Flanagan defeated Cameron Percy at the BMW Charity Pro- Am for his fourth tour victory and first since a 3-win '07 season.
 
Flanagan wouldn't have been in position to win without a fortunate bounce on the 72nd hole of regulation, where he drilled his approach over the green. The ball hit a video camera and bounced back onto the green, nearly rolling into the hole in the process.

He rolled in the birdie to reach 15-under par 271 and tie Percy, who had bogeyed the hole one group earlier to reduce his lead to one stroke.

The two Australians returned to the par-four 18th, which had been playing tough all week at Thornblade Club, for a playoff. But neither could come through with a key shot the first two times they played it -- both bogeyed the hole on the first try, then managed to sink their par putts on the second.

Percy found the woods with his tee shot the third time around, while Flanagan hit his second into a bunker.

But while Percy had a tough time getting to the pin -- he chipped his second shot out of the trees and into the rough beside the fairway, then hit an iron past the green -- Flanagan came through with a crucial shot.

He blasted out of a bunker to within two feet, and after Percy carded a six, Flanagan ran home the short par putt to secure the victory in just his second Nationwide start of the season.

Sam Saunders (67), Aaron Watkins (67) and third-round co-leader Brad Fritsch (70) tied for fifth at minus-13.



IN OTHER NEWS
The U.S. Amateur trophy is among the artifacts missing after a burglar broke into the U.S. Golf Association Museum in northern New Jersey.
 
Somerset County prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano says police responded to the building in Bernards Township after a burglar alarm was activated there around 2:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Officers found several trophy cases had been extensively damaged with an ax and noticed some trophies and other items were missing.

Museum officials say among the items taken were the U.S. Amateur trophy that was created in 1926, and a replica of the late Ben Hogan's Hickok Belt, which he won for being the nation's top professional athlete in 1953.

Soriano says security video shows the burglary apparently was carried out by one person.

 
Tournament organizers for The Greenbrier Classic announced Monday that Tiger Woods has committed to play July 5-8 in the event, which began only two years ago. It is played on The Old White TPC Course, where two years ago Stuart Appleby closed with a 59 to win.

It will be the third time in the last nine months that Woods plays a tournament for the first time as a pro. He played the Frys.com Open in October in San Martin, Calif., and the Honda Classic in March. Woods last played the Honda Classic as a teenager.

Phil Mickelson already has said he is returning to The Greenbrier, giving the 3-year-old event two of the biggest names in golf.

The Memorial Tournament also announced Monday that Woods would play there May 31-June 3.



The LPGA
will make following players on social media even easier.

Caddies will be sporting bibs with Twitter handles on their backs starting with the LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club in June.

Kraig Kann, chief communications officer of the LPGA Tour, says 113 LPGA players have Twitter accounts. Tseng was at Locust Hill for a news conference as the defending champion.

The LPGA Championship has been sponsored by Wegmans Food Markets the past three years. The contract is up after this year, but both sides plan to sit down in late June or early July to work on a new deal.

 
Michelle Wie, has earned a undergraduate degree in communications from Stanford University.  Wie finished up while participating in 20 LPGA events in 2011, a year that saw her finish 18th on the money list. Somehow Wie handled a 20-credit slate during the year.

On June 17, Wie will walk at Stanford's commencement. By the way, it took her only five years to earn her degree. The teen prodigy turned young woman admits she's got some work to do when it comes to her golf career.


Defending champion Tom Watson has withdrawn from next week's Senior PGA Championship.

Watson has been recovering from a pinched nerve in his wrist. He is still expected to be at Harbor Shores before the tournament, and will host the champions' dinner Tuesday night.

Watson beat David Eger in a playoff to win last year's event.

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