Sunday, August 26, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 8-26-2012

WATNEY TAKES BARCLAYS
Nick Watney salvaged a dismal season with a victory Sunday at The Barclays that was timely in so many ways.

Watney turned a two-shot deficit against Sergio Garcia into a three-shot lead in four holes around the turn at Bethpage Black, and then hung on to close with a 2-under 69 and capture the opening playoff event for the FedEx Cup. Watney won by three over Brandt Snedeker.

Watney is assured a shot at the $10 million prize at the Tour Championship next month. Winning against one of the strongest fields of the year also puts him in the conversation as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup. Davis Love III will select four players after next week's tournament outside Boston. Watney's performance puts him in the picture for a pick along with Snedeker, Johnson, Furyk, Stricker and Fowler.

Garcia shot 75 and tied for third. 

And the playoffs continue next week outside Boston.

Only the top 100 players advance to the Deutsche Bank for the second of four playoff events. The biggest move belonged to Graham DeLaet of Canada, who started the week at No. 106 and was right on the bubble going into the final round. DeLaet moved up 62 spots to No. 44 and should be safe for the next two tournaments.

It was a good day for another Canadian - David Hearn. Playing with Woods, he closed with a 71 and moved from No. 108 to No. 67. The other four from outside the top 100 who moved in were Jonas Blixt, Tommy Gainey and Jason Day, who closed with a 66.

The odd man out was John Mallinger, who started the week at No. 88 and missed the cut.


BLAKE TAKES BOEING CLASSIC IN PLAYOFF
Jay Don Blake defeated Mark O'Meara in a playoff for the Boeing Classic title. Blake birdied the second hole to earn his third Champions Tour win.
Playing the par-5 18th hole for the third time in less than an hour, Blake tapped in for birdie after O'Meara's 15-foot birdie attempt missed on the low side of the hole. Blake and O'Meara also birdied the hole in regulation for matching 4-under 68s that left them tied at 10-under 206. They missed short birdie putts on the first extra hole.

O'Meara pulled his second shot on the 498-yard, uphill hole, into the rough left of the green and his pitch checked up short. Blake went into the rough behind the green with his second shot, but his pitch nearly went in.

Blake won twice last year on the 50-and-over tour.

The playoff marked the fourth time in eight years that the event has gone to extra holes.
Willie Wood, coming off his first tour victory last week in New York in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, had a 70 finish a stroke back.



KO EARNS LPGA WIN AS AMATEUR
Lydia Ko entered golf's record book Sunday.
Firing a 5-under 67, she took the title at the Canadian Women's Open to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and the first amateur to earn a victory in more than 40 years.

It wasn't particularly close, either.

Ko began the round with a 1-stroke lead but finished three ahead of the field. She won with a score of 13-under 275, while Evian Masters winner Inbee Park took second at minus-10.


 LAWRIE SCORES AT JOHNNIE WALKER
Paul Lawrie marked his return to the European Ryder Cup team after 13 years with a resounding four-shot victory in the Johnnie Walker Championship.

The 43-year-old Lawrie, who entered the final round leading by a stroke, shot a final-round 68 to finish with a 16-under 272 total on the rain-softened PGA National Course at Gleneagles that will host the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Brett Rumford of Australia was second for his best finish in two years at 12 under.


STILES FENDS OFF OPPONENTS TO WIN IN KNOXVILLE
Darron Stiles overcame big rounds by several opponents to win Sunday at the News Sentinel Open, shooting a 4-under 67 to take the title by a single stroke.

Scott Gardiner had put pressure on Stiles, the third-round leader, by firing a course-record, 9-under 62 to reach minus-17 at Fox Den Country Club. D.J. Brigman and Nicholas Thompson had rounds of 63 and 64, respectively, to reach the same number.

 NEWS & NOTES
Fred Couples withdrew from the Champion's Tour Boeing Classic on Friday because of back problems on the first hole.

Couples, from Seattle, has a long history of back issues and took three weeks off before the tournament.

After his drive on No. 1 at the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, Couples lagged behind partners Mark O'Meara and John Cook and rubbed his lower back. When Couples reached his ball, he had a conversation with O'Meara and the two fist pumped. O'Meara and Cook hit their second shots and walked ahead. Couples told his caddie to pick up his ball and the two waited for a cart to return to the clubhouse

Martin Kaymer of Germany has clinched the 10th and final automatic place in Europe's team to defend the Ryder Cup against the United States.Nicolas Colsaerts needed a top-two finish on Sunday at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles to oust Kaymer from the No. 10 spot. The Belgian ended tied for 19th, but could still be selected Monday as one of Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal's two wild picks.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy heads the qualifying list, followed by Justin Rose, England; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland; Paul Lawrie, Scotland; Francesco Molinari, Italy; Luke Donald, England; Lee Westwood, England; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Peter Hanson, Sweden; and Kaymer.


European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal has chosen fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez as his fourth and final vice-captain.

Jimenez joins Paul McGinley, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn for Europe's defense of its Ryder Cup title against the United States at the Medinah Country Club in Chicago from Sept. 28-30.

Jimenez was vice captain to Seve Ballesteros in 1997 and has competed in four Ryder Cups, including wins for Europe in 2004 and '10.


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