Sunday, June 24, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 6-24-2012


LEISHMAN WAITS FOR TRAVELERS VICTORY
Marc Leishman shot an 8-under 62 on Sunday in the Travelers Championship, then went back to the clubhouse to eat, watch some soccer and wait to see where he would finish.

More than two hours later, after Charley Hoffman blew a two-stroke lead on the final two holes, Leishman was hoisting his first championship trophy on the PGA Tour.

The 28-year-old Australian began the day six strokes behind the leaders, but made eight birdies in a bogey-free round. He finished at 14-under 266.

Hoffman was 16 under heading to the 17th hole, but pushed his tee shot right and into the water. He made a double bogey, and bogeyed the 18th after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.

Hoffman closed with a 66 to tie for second with Masters champion Bubba Watson, who shot a 65.

Leishman became the fifth player in seven years to break through with their first tour win at River Highlands, joining Fredrik Jacobson last year, Watson in 2010, Hunter Mahan in 2007 and J.J. Henry in 2006.

Leishman's 62 was the lowest score in a final round by a champion on tour this season.

Hoffman seemed to be in command standing on the 17th tee, and still had a chance to win on 18. He put his tee shot onto a hill to the right and he put his second shot into the bunker. He ran that shot long and missed a 17-foot par putt.

Watson made a run at the lead on the front nine, with four birdies. But he had to scramble on the back nine, saving par on the 15th after putting his tee shot in the water. He also made par on 17 after hitting his second shot over the water and onto the green from the rough.

Leishman's win gave him just his second top-10 finish this season. He didn't play in Memphis or at the U.S. Open and said he came back after two weeks off refreshed.

Roland Thatcher, who was tied for the lead after three rounds, began his day with three bogeys on the first six holes. He seemed like an afterthought, until Hoffman's collapse. But he made an eagle on the par-5 13th after hitting his second shot within 15 feet of the pin.

He came up 18 with a chance to force a playoff, but put his second shot into a greenside bunker and bogeyed the hole.

He and fellow co-leader Brian Davis both shot 70, putting them in a group at 12 under with Tim Clark and John Rollins.



LANG GETS FIRST LPGA WIN
Brittany Lang won the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title, birdieing the par-5 18th three straight times in a playoff.

Lang missed a birdie try on the hole in regulation, leaving her tied with Hee Kyung Seo, Inbee Park and Chella Choi at 16-under 286. Choi was eliminated on the first extra hole, and Park dropped out on the second.

Lang closed with her second straight 67, Choi had a 63, Seo a 67, and Park a 69.

Lang, Seo and Park, playing together in the final threesome at Grey Silo, all had a chance to win in regulation, but settled for pars on the finishing hole to set up the playoff.

Stacy Lewis, a two-time winner this year, and U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu shot 64 to tie for fifth at 15 under. Lewis opened with a 72, then shot 64-69-64.

China's Shanshan Feng, coming off a major victory two weeks ago in the LPGA Championship, was another stroke back along with Anna Nordqvist. Feng had a 66, and Nordqvist a 67.

Michelle Wie tied for 68th at 3 over. She shot a 74.

 
CALCAVECCHIA TOPS LIST IN MONTREAL
Mark Calcavecchia won the Montreal Championship on Sunday for his second Champions Tour title, matching the course record with an 8-under 64 for a four-stroke victory.

The 52-year-old Calcavecchia had six birdies and chipped in for eagle on the par-5 16th hole on Richelieu Valley's Vercheres Course. He finished at 16-under 200.

The 1989 British Open champion, Calcavecchia won for the third time in Canada, following victories in the PGA Tour's 1997 Greater Vancouver Open and 2005 Canadian Open. He also set a PGA Tour record with nine straight birdies in the 2009 Canadian Open.Brad Bryant shot a 65 to finish second.

Second-round leader Bob Tway and first-round leader Russ Cochran tied for third at 11 under. Cochran closed with a 68, and Tway had a 70.


WILLETT WINS IN PLAYOFF
England’s Danny Willett beat Australia’s Marcus Fraser in a playoff at the BMW International Open to secure his first title on golf’s European Tour.

The 24-year-old sealed the victory on the fourth extra hole after both players had finished tied on 11-under-par 277 following the final round in Cologne, Germany.

Willett, threw away a three-stroke lead. But the former world No1 in the amateur ranks was given a reprieve when Fraser bogeyed the 456-yard final hole.

That meant a tie on the 11 under par mark of 277 after Willett's superb three-iron escape from close to the trees and the pair had to play the 18th four more times to settle the issue. On the fourth try Willett flew his approach over the green , while Fraser had a long birdie putt.

Willett hit a beautiful chip shot from behind the green to within six inches. Fraser barely missed his 30 foot birdie  putt then missed his 4 foot return putt . Willett tapped in giving him the title

Willett collects a check for 333,330 euros ($419,000). He had previously recorded 19 top-10 finishes on the European Tour without taking a title.

He was 1-over today, with Fraser shooting a 1-under round. Three players finished a shot back, Ireland’s Paul McGinley, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain and England’s Chris Wood.


IT'S WITTENBERG IN WICHITA
Casey Wittenberg won the Wichita Open on Sunday for his second Nationwide Tour victory of the season, closing with a 5-under 66 for a two-stroke victory over Justin Hicks and Jim Herman.

Wittenberg, also the Louisiana Open winner, finished at 18-under 266 at Crestview Country Club. He tied for 10th last week in the U.S. Open.

Wittenberg earned $108,000 to jump from 10th to second on the money list with $240,019. The final top 25 will earn 2013 PGA Tour cards. He also could earn an immediate promotion with a third victory.

Hicks shot a 67, and Herman had a 70.


KIM WINS U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR PUBLIC LINKS
Kyung Kim won the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links on Saturday, beating Ashlan Ramsey 4 and 2 in the 36-hole final at Neshanic Valley.

The 18-year-old Kim, from Chandler, Ariz., took a 2-up lead with a birdie on the 32nd hole, won the 33rd with another birdie and took the 34th with a par to close out the match.

''I just can't believe it,'' said Kim, who will be a freshman at Southern California this fall. ''It was a long week, but to be finally done and to win, it's pretty amazing.''

Fighting 20 mph wind, Kim had 10 birdies in 34 holes.

The 16-year-old Ramsey, from Milledgeville, Ga., had eight birdies.

The tournament is limited to players who don't hold privileges at any course that doesn't extend playing privileges to the general public.


KENNEDY IS ON TOP AT MIZUNO OPEN
Australian Brad Kennedy shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win his first tournament in Japan at the Mizuno Open while earning a place at next month's British Open.

The 38-year-old Kennedy carded four birdies on the front nine and added three more after the turn against a lone bogey on the par-4 No. 12. He finished at 17-under 271, three strokes ahead of Japanese golfers Toshinori Muto and Toru Taniguchi.

Kennedy's previous best finish on the Japanese tour was a tie for second at last year's Canon Open.


IN OTHER NEWS
The U.S. Open's return to prime time boosted its television ratings.

Sunday's final round earned a 6.6 overnight rating and 13 share on NBC. The network said viewing was up 29 percent from last year, when the coverage started and ended earlier with the tournament on the East Coast.

But it was down from the previous two West Coast Opens when play also took place in prime time.

In 2008, the fourth round drew an 8.5/18, and in 2010, a 6.9/15.


The Principal Financial Group will remain the title sponsor of the Champions Tour event in Iowa through 2015, even though it needs to find a new golf course to host the tournament.

Principal announced Tuesday that is has signed a three-year deal to stay on as the main sponsor, but Glen Oaks general manager Bill Kirkendall said the club won't host the event in 2013. Tournament organizers said they are exploring other courses in greater Des Moines, home of Principal's headquarters.

Principal senior vice president and tournament board chairman Mary O'Keefe said the company was in discussions to remain as sponsor even before it found out Glen Oaks was out, citing the event's popularity and its success raising money for children's charities.

Glen Oaks general manager Bill Kirkendall told The Associated Press that the club simply felt it was time to walk away after hosting the event 11 times.


Royal Troon will host the 2016 Open Championship, the R&A announced today.

Royal Troon is playing host this week to the world’s top amateurs, and will challenge the game’s top professionals four years from now when the Open Championship returns to the Ayrshire course for the first time since 2004.

The championship was expected to come back to Royal Troon in 2014, but the R&A delayed its return because of a busy sports schedule in Scotland that year.


Beau Hossler's  impressive play at the U.S. Open made an impression on AT&T National tournament director Greg McLaughlin. Instead of getting one shot to tee it up with the best golfers in the world, Hossler will get another shot at Congressional next week, after McLaughlin confirmed, via Twitter, that the teen would be the AT&T National field.

According to GolfTalkCentral's Ryan Ballengee, Hossler, who already committed to the Texas Longhorns, was hoping for a pairing with future teammate Jordan Spieth and former alum Justin Leonard, but Tour officials confirmed the threesome wouldn't happen.
 
That's not a bad way to kickoff the summer.

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