Sunday, August 5, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 8-5-2012

 BRADLEY WINS AS FURYK FALTERS
Keegan Bradley only wanted a chance to get into a playoff Sunday at Firestone. All it took was a clutch par, along with a stunning collapse by Jim Furyk, for Bradley to win the Bridgestone Invitational and wrap up a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

Bradley closed with a 6-under 64, and the final stroke was the most important - a 15-foot putt to save par from a plugged lie in the bunker.

Furyk, who led for 71 holes and looked solid throughout the final round, chopped up the 18th hole for a double bogey to throw away a chance at his first win since the 2010 Tour Championship. He missed the green from the fairway. His chip with one foot in the sand barely cleared the bunker and stayed in the thick collar. He hit a weak chip to 5 feet, and his bogey putt never had a chance.

Furyk dropped his putter when the ball left his blade. He went from what appeared to be a certain win to a 69 and a tie for second with Steve Stricker, who made four birdies on his last five holes for a 64.

Bradley won for the first time since last year in PGA Championship, and now goes to Kiawah Island to defend his title with a lot more confidence.

Bradley was four shots behind going into the final round, and was six shots back when Furyk opened with three straight birdies. Bradley kept pecking away at the lead, holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the seventh, scrambling for par on the 12th, and starting the back nine with a pair of birdies.

Furyk finally answered with an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th, only for Bradley to follow him in for birdie from 12 feet. Furyk had a one-shot lead playing the 18th, and got one big break when he pulled his tee shot into the trees and it ricocheted out into the fairway.

That's where it all started to go wrong.

He went long of the green and the ball hopped out of the bunker and into the thick collar, forcing him to put his left foot into the sand. He flubbed the chip, just over the bunker into more thick grass, and his chip was a clunker, rolling out to just over 5 feet.

Bradley also went long and plugged into the sand, and he blasted out to 15 feet behind the hole. The dynamics changed so suddenly. There was a chance for a four-way playoff if Bradley and Furyk missed, and Louis Oosthuizen made his birdie putt form just outside 12 feet.

Bradley, whose putting carried him to a comeback in the PGA Championship, hit a pure stroke for the par to finish on 13-under 267. Then, it was up to Furyk to force the playoff.
Bradley has three wins in two years on the PGA Tour, including a major and a World Golf Championship. He is only the 11th player to have won a major and a WGC.

Stricker found his putting stroke at Firestone - not that it was ever deep in hiding - and showed that down the stretch with his closing stretch of birdies. It was an important performance for Stricker, who moved up three spots to No. 10 in the Ryder Cup standings. Furyk is No. 11, followed by Rickie Fowler at No. 12.

Bradley moved to No. 4, and bumped out Hunter Mahan from the top eight for automatic spots after the PGA Championship next week.

Oosthuizen closed with a 69 to finish alone in fourth. Justin Rose (67) and Rory McIlroy (68) were another shot behind.



HENRY GETS RENO-TAHOE OPEN
J.J. Henry won the Reno-Tahoe Open on Sunday for his second PGA Tour title, beating Brazil's Alexandre Rocha by a point in the modified Stableford event.

Henry finished with 43 points. Players received eight points for double eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie and zero for par. They were docked a point for bogey and three points for anything worse.

Henry had three birdies on the front nine, then mostly stayed out of trouble on the mountain course's more difficult back nine. He had four birdies and a bogey for seven points in the round on the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf & Country Club course.

Argentina's Andres Romero was third with 37 points, followed by John Mallinger with 34.
John Daly and Justin Leonard tied for fifth at 33. It was Daly's best finish since 2005.

Rocha needed to eagle the par-5 18th to have a chance to become the first Brazilian winner on the PGA Tour, but had to scramble for birdie after his approach bounced into the gallery left of the green.

Henry two-putted for par from 12 feet to secure the victory. He earned a spot next week in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, and the $540,000 winner's check pushed his season earnings past $1.2 million and career total to $12.7 million. He also won the 2006 Buick Championship.



LANGER RALLIES TO WIN 3M
Bernhard Langer rallied to win the 3M Championship for the second time in four years, shooting a 10-under 62 on Sunday to overcome a six-stroke deficit.

The 54-year-old German finished at 18-under 198 at the TPC Twin Cities for his 15th Champions Tour title. He ended a 24-event victory drought, his longest on the 50-and-over tour.

David Peoples, three strokes ahead entering the final round, shot a 70 to finish second – two shots behind. The runner-up finish is his best in 51 starts on the tour.

Kenny Perry and Olin Browne tied for third at 15 under. Perry had a 64, and Browne shot 66.
Langer, also the 2009 event champion, was 5 under on the front nine, added birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 to get within two shots of the lead, and birdied Nos. 14 and 15 to tie Peoples at 17 under.

Moments after Peoples bogeyed No. 16, Langer put his approach within 7 feet on the par-5 18th to set up a clinching birdie. It was the largest final-round comeback in the history of the tournament.



KOHLES WINS AGAIN

Ben Kohles won his second straight Web.com Tour title since turning professional, closing with a 8-under 62 on Sunday for a three-stroke victory in the Cox Classic.

The 22-year-old former University of Virginia player won the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational last week in a playoff, in his first professional start. He was the first player to win a Web.com title in his pro debut, and is the first to win in his first two tour starts.

Kohles also wrapped up a 2013 PGA Tour card from the Web.com money list, and moved within a victory of an immediate PGA Tour promotion. He earned $117,000 to move into second place on the money list with $261,000, more than enough to finish in the final top 25 and earn a PGA Tour card.

Kohles finished at 24-under 260 at Champions Run.
Dawie van der Walt had a 60 to finish second.



NEWS & NOTES
Gil Morgan was happy to shoot his age Friday, yet slightly disappointed his score wasn't even lower.He had a bogey-free round, but missed four putts in the 6- to 10-foot range, while making a handful of long ones, including a 40-footer for birdie on the par-3 13th.

 
Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn successfully defended her title Friday in the Junior PGA Championship, and Robby Shelton of Wilmer, Ala., won the boys' division.

The 16-year-old Jutanugarn, a 10-stroke winner last year, birdied the last four holes at Sycamore Hills for a 5-under 67 and 14-under 274 total, three strokes better than 15-year-old Samantha Wagner of Windermere, Fla.

PGA Championships groupings are out and defending PGA Champion Keegan Bradley, 2010 winner Martin Kaymer, and four-time PGA champion Tiger Woods, who will go off on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. EST.

There's also the 2012 major winners grouping of Bubba Watson (Masters), Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) and Ernie Els (British Open) teeing off at 1:20 p.m, and a salty Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk threesome that's schedule to go off the 10th tee at 8:10 a.m.

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