Sunday, July 15, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 7-15-2012

 JOHNSON WINS THRILLER AT JOHN DEERE
Zach Johnson beat Troy Matteson with a birdie on the second playoff hole, after both players botched the first playoff hole - to win the John Deere Classic. Johnson closed with a 6-under 65 and won the event in his 11th start there. It marks his second victory of the season (Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial) and his ninth career PGA TOUR win.

Johnson carded a final-round, 6-under 65, withstood some late heroics from Troy Matteson , and then defeated Matteson with a spectacular shot that resulted in a winning birdie on the second playoff hole at TPC Deere Run.

Johnson, who trailed by as many as five shots on the front nine, rallied with birdies on Nos. 7, 8, 10, 13 and 14. He took the lead when Matteson double-bogeyed the 15th hole.

Johnson added a birdie on the par-5 17th to get to 20 under, seemingly clear of the field. But Matteson canned a 60-footer for eagle on the 17th to tie Johnson. After making par from the trees on the 18th, Matteson joined Johnson on the 18th tee for the playoff.

Both players struggled on the first playoff hole, matching double bogeys after hitting their second shots in the hazard left of the green.

On the second playoff hole), Johnson hit his 190-yard second shot 6-iron from the fairway bunker to within inches of the hole. He would tap in for birdie and the win.

It was Johnson’s ninth career victory and second of the season. It moved him up to second in the FedExCup standings, trailing only Tiger Woods.

Steve Stricker, who was attempting to become just the fifth player in history to win the same event four times in succession, carded a final-round 70 and finished four shots back in a tie for fifth place.

Stricker’s run became undone with bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15. He had got within one shot of the lead three times.

Scott Piercy finished third and John Senden was fourth.

Despite the playoff defeat, Matteson qualified for next week’s British Open, as the highest top-five finisher not already exempt.

 
CHAPMAN TAKES ANOTHER MAJOR
Roger Chapman came from four strokes back to win his second major of 2012 - the U.S. Seniors Open Championship.

Chapman, who won this year’s Senior PGA Championship, shot 4-under 66 for an aggregate 10-under 270. He became the first British-born player to win a U.S. Senior Open. He’s two for two in majors thus far.

With a birdie on the par-4 14th hole, he built a three-stroke lead over Fred Funk and Tom Lehman. However, Lehman closed the gap to two strokes when he birdied the par-5 15th hole. Chapman’s lead fell to one stroke through 16 holes.

 Lehman, Fred Funk and Corey Pavin were in pursuit at eight under. But Chapman hit his tee shot stiff on No. 17, knocking the ball to within 1 foot, before carding his 18th birdie of the week to get back to 10 under.

As much as the story was about Chapman erasing a four-stroke deficit, equally compelling was the way third-round leader Bernhard Langer lost his cushion. Langer carried a four-stroke lead over five players entering the fourth round. But he had an errant drive on No. 2 that led to a double bogey. He shot two over and got back to eight under for the championship with a birdie on No. 18.


SINGH TAKES SCOTTISH OPEN
Jeev Milkha Singh birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to beat Francesco Molinari and win the Scottish Open.

Singh shot a bogey-free, 5-under 67 to finish at 17-under-par 271. He then waited 90 minutes for the final groups to complete their rounds.

Molinari bogeyed the 15th to drop to minus-17. He parred the last three holes to close out an even-par round of 72 at Castle Stuart Golf Links.

In the playoff, the duo headed back to the 18th hole and both found the short grass off the tee. They both laid up in the fairway with their second shots.

Molinari's third landed 25 feet behind the hole before Singh placed his 15 feet right of the cup. Molinari left his birdie effort well short.

Singh stepped up and dropped his in the middle of the cup for the win.

As an added bonus, Singh claimed one of the final spots in the field for next week's British Open thanks to his fourth European Tour title.

Soren Kjeldsen birdied the sixth and seventh to grab a piece of the lead, but had two bogeys and nine pars over the final 11 holes. He finished at 15-under- par 273 and ended alongside Thomas Levet (70) and Matthew Baldwin (67).

World No. 1 Luke Donald, Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington were among eight players that shared 16th place at 12-under-par 276. Donald, last year's winner, closed with a 73, while Mickelson struggled to a 2-over 74. Harrington posted a 1-under 71 on Sunday.


LaBelle II WINS IN UTAH
Doug LaBelle II won the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship Sunday, shooting a 68 on the final day to come from five strokes back to win it

LaBelle II had a great first day of the four-day tournament, shooting a 64 to tie him for the lead and put him in contention right from the outset.

But after shooting a 68 and a 69 the next two days, LaBelle II fell from the top of the board slightly and appeared to be perhaps settling for something slightly less than the top prize.

Instead, LaBelle shrugged off the five-shot deficit and played an outstanding back nine to overtake the competition and go into the clubhouse at 15-under par.

LaBelle II had two bogies and two birdies on the front nine, but then tallied three birdies and no bogies on the back nine to complete his Sunday at 3-under.

For the tournament, LaBelle recorded a total of 19 birdies and one eagle to only six bogies.

The last golfer on the course capable of dethroning LaBelle II was Michael Putnam, but Putnam bogied the 17th hole before finishing with a birdie on 18 to end one shot back.

The foursome of James Hahn, Scott Gutschewski, Sam Saunders, and Putnam all finished at 14-under. Craig Bowden completed the tournament at 13-under.

It is LaBelle’s second career win on the Web.com Tour, which was formerly known as the Nationwide Tour.


NEWS AND NOTES
U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson withdrew from the British Open on Friday as he awaits the birth of his second child.

It will be the second time in the last five years that the British Open is missing the U.S. Open champion. Tiger Woods did not play in 2008 because of season-ending knee surgery the day after he won the U.S. Open.

Simpson has said all along it was doubtful he would travel to Royal Lytham & St. Annes because his wife, Dowd, was expecting their second child. The British Open starts next Thursday.


The Madrid Open has been removed from the European Tour's calendar due to a lack of funding.

Tournament spokeswoman Maria Acacia Lopez-Bachiller tells The Associated Press that no sponsors for the Sept. 20-23 event were found to replace Bankia, the bailed-out Spanish bank that previously sponsored the tournament.

Acacia Lopez-Bachiller says ''organizers are hoping to find new sponsorship to bring the tournament back next year. It's a shame, but the situation in Spain has left it this way.''

Acacia Lopez-Bachiller adds ''at the moment the Andalucia Masters is on.'' That European Tour event, with a prize fund of $3.7 million, is scheduled for Oct. 18-21 at a yet-to-be-determined location.

The Castellon Masters is another Spanish tournament that has been removed from this year's schedule.


T.J. Vogel  won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. He made six birdies over a seven-hole stretch and coasted to a 12-and-10 win over Kevin Aylwin, earning him a spot in the 2013 Masters field.

Vogel seized control during the first 18 holes in the morning, with birdies on the second and fourth to go 3 up. Aylwin bogeyed the first, sixth and eighth to drop back even further and never quite settled into a groove after those three holes.

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