Sunday, December 16, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 12-16-2012

 TOM WATSON NAMED RYDER CUP CAPTAIN
Tom Watson was announced as the U.S. Ryder Cup Captain for the 2014 matches in Scotland on Thursday during a segment on NBC's Today in New York. A formal press conference was later held in the Empire State Building.

The eight-time major champion played on four U.S. Ryder Cup teams that went 3-0-1 as he posted a 10-4-1 record. Watson also is the last captain to win on foreign soil, as his troops defeated Europe, 15-13, at the Belfry in England in 1993. The USA has just two wins since then — in 1999 under captain Ben Crenshaw and 2009 under captain Paul Azinger.

Europe has won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups, including a 14½-13½ defeat at Medinah Country Club near Chicago at the end of September, when the Americans blew a 10-6 lead on the final day.
"We're tired of losing," said Watson,  "I always said that early in my career, I learned to win by hating to lose. It's about time to start winning again for our team. That's the attitude that I hope that my players have, and it's time to stop losing."
Watson will be 65 when the 2014 Ryder Cup is played, making him the oldest captain in U.S. history, and has not played a full PGA Tour schedule in 14 years. He will be the first repeat captain since Jack Nicklaus in 1983 and 1987. The span between his two stints as captain is 21 years, the longest ever.

Watson said he expects some backlash for the PGA of America picking "the old guy." But Watson says he battles against the younger set on at least three occasions — the Masters, British Open and The Greenbrier Classic — and he might add a stop or two to his Tour schedule in the next two seasons. As a lifetime member of the PGA Tour, he can play in most any tournament he chooses on the schedule.

Europe is not expected to announce its captain until January at the earliest.

In naming Watson captain, the PGA of America broke the mold of the organization's approach to naming its past captains.

Dating to Watson's first captaincy, the PGA of American has chosen players who were moderately active on the PGA Tour and had at least one major championship victory under their belt. David Toms seemed to fit the criteria perfectly, as he won the 2001 PGA Championship and played on three Ryder Cup teams and seven Presidents Cup teams.

But new PGA of America President Ted Bishop said earlier this year that it was time to "think outside the box" when it came to selecting a captain and said earlier this week at a media luncheon in New York that "we've done something a little bit different this year."

Passed over were David Toms, who is still playing on the PGA Tour, and Larry Nelson. Toms, at 45, fits the more recent tradition in the selection process. 

Nelson, a two-time PGA Championship winner, was in line to be Ryder Cup captain until being passed over for Lanny Wadkins in 1995 and Tom Kite in 1997. Nelson was thought to be too far removed from the game to be considered, though there had been a recent push for the 64-year-old Nelson to finally get his chance.



SCHWARTZEL MAKES IT TWO IN A ROW
Charl Schwartzel won by a huge margin for the second week running as the South African coasted to a comprehensive 12 shot victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

A winner by 11 shots in Thailand last Sunday, the talk at the start of the day was not whether the 28 year old would win an eighth European Tour title, but if he could better Tiger Woods’ 15-shot winning margin at the 2000 US Open Championship in doing so. That remains the largest in European Tour history.

A third straight 64 would have seen last year’s Masters Tournament champion equal Ernie Els’ record 29 under par total, but as it was Schwartzel settled for a three under par 69 and 24 under total on a final day disrupted by thunderstorms.

It completed a fantastic finish to 2012 for Schwartzel, who birdied the last to register the third biggest winning margin in European Tour history.

He finished the Thailand Golf Championship 25 under, and for the past five weeks - they started with finishes of fifth, third and second - he is a staggering 84 under.

France's Grégory Bourdy, his closest challenger for virtually the entire weekend, took a double-bogey seven on the final hole and that elevated Swede Kristoffer Broberg, four times a winner on the Challenge Tour last season, into second place.


Bourdy shared third with Scotland's Scott Jamieson, who last Sunday captured The Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa in Durban, defending champion Garth Mulroy and England's Andy Sullivan a month after he came through The European Tour Qualifying School.

Schwartzel also continued a remarkable record at the course on the border of the Kruger National Park. He won his first European Tour title there in 2004 and has had four runner-up finishes.

Schwartzel's lead was down to seven when he three-putted the eighth, but he spun his approach to three feet on the next and after the weather hold-up he collected more birdies on the 12th, 13th and par five last.

Fellow countryman George Coetzee's best-of-the-day 65 lifted him into joint tenth place and came after results elsewhere had guaranteed he stayed in the Official World Golf Ranking's top 50 and earned himself a Masters Tournament debut next April.

Also qualifying by the same route for a first trip to Augusta National are Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Belgian Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts, South African Branden Grace and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen.

Geoff Ogilvy would have denied Olesen if he had had one less shot at the Australian PGA Championship, where he finished in a tie for fourth place.

Others to book their Masters places through the end-of-year top 50 are Scot Paul Lawrie, Italians Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Denmark's Thomas Björn, American Bill Haas, Australian Jason Day and Japanese player Hiroyuki Fujita.

South African Keith Horne could not manage a third successive hole-in-one on the 12th - the second won him a car - but Swede Magnus A Carlsson did ace the same hole on the final day.




 LOVE AND SON WIN CHALLENGE
 Davis Love III had a nice pitch shot on No. 18 and son Dru finished off the birdie to capture the Father-Son Challenge title Sunday.

With Larry and Josh Nelson already in at 22-under for the two-day scramble format, both Loves misfired in trying to reach the green in two at the par-5 finishing hole. Dru, an Alabama freshman who won five Georgia state titles in high school, went long and right near the grandstand at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes. Davis watched his ball roll onto the bank of a greenside pond.

But the elder Love found the right touch on his pitch from Dru's position and his son made the winning putt.
The Loves teamed for an 11-under 61 in the final round.



 ROOKIE TAKES AUSTRALIAN PGA
Tour rookie Daniel Popovic held his nerve to record a wire-to-wire Australian PGA Championship victory by four strokes on Sunday.


The 26-year-old Australian, who led or shared top spot after every round of the $1.3 million tournament at the Palmer Coolum Resort, began the final day two shots clear and carded a final-round three-under 69 for a 16-under par 272 total.


The victory was made even more emotional for the Victorian after his father was diagnosed with bone cancer earlier this year.

Popovic nearly quit golf to look after his father but decided to play on at his insistence.


Popovic, ranked 1,251st in the world, pocketed the winner's purse of $225,000 and his outlook towards golf has changed.


Fellow Australians Anthony Brown and Rod Pampling, who saw his title chances vanish with a stunning late collapse, finished tied for second on 12-under.

Popovic, who won the 2012 Australasian PGA qualifying school, started brightly with three birdies in his first five holes but a double-bogey on the eighth saw him fall behind a surging Pampling.


The 43-year-old began his final round with six consecutive birdies and took the outright lead by the turn but bogeys on the 16th and 17th and a double-bogey on the last hole allowed Popovic to cruise to victory.


Former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and Brad Kennedy finished on 11-under for the share of the fourth spot.






GARCIA ON TOP ON ASIAN TOUR
 Sergio Garcia won the rain-shortened Johor Open on Sunday, closing with an 11-under 61 for a three-stroke victory in the Asian Tour's season-ending event.

The 32-year-old Spanish star finished at 18-under 198 at Horizon Hills for his second victory of the year and 24th international title. He also won the PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship in August.

Garcia had the lowest final round by a winner in Asian Tour history. He birdied seven of the first nine holes to make the turn in 7-under 29, added birdies on 13 and 14 before a long rain delay, then returned to make it four in a row with birdies on 15 and 16.

American Jonathan Moore also shot a 61 to finish second.

Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee was third at 14 under after a 65.


 

NEWS & NOTES
The PGA Tour's event in Mexico will anchor a six-tournament schedule next fall that will not include Disney for the first time in more than 40 years.

The tour next year goes to a wraparound season and will offer FedEx Cup points for the six tournaments that will kick off the 2013-14 season. That season will start with the Frys.com Open at CordeValle Golf Club in northern California on Oct. 10-13 and conclude with the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico on Nov. 14-17.


After about a two-month break, the 2013-14 schedule will resume at Kapalua with the Tournamsent of Champions.


Disney has been part of the PGA Tour landscape since Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural event in 1971. That it was dropped from the new schedule was not a surprise. Disney lost its title sponsor when the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals did not renew, and Disney did not aggressively pursue a replacement.


Mexico had been played opposite the Match Play Championship in February. It now moves to the end of the calendar year, hopeful of drawing a stronger field.


The fall portion of the schedule includes two tournaments in Asia. After the new season starts in California with the Frys.com Open, it goes to Las Vegas the following week and then heads across the Pacific to the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championship event in Shanghai. For the first time, both Asia events will count as official tournaments.


Without taking a week off, the tour returns to America for the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, hosted by Davis Love III, on Nov. 7-10, followed by the Mexico tournament.
All tournaments will be broadcast by Golf Channel. The amount of prize money for each tournament was not announced.



 

Rory McIlroy has won the Golf Writers Trophy for winning five times around the world and finishing the season as the undisputed No. 1 player in golf.

The award from the British-based Association of Golf Writers was closer than some of his other honors. McIlroy received just under half of all first-place votes on a ballot that included Europe's winning Ryder Cup team, the Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup team and Roger Chapman for winning two senior majors this year.


The AGW's award dates to 1951 and awards the best performance by a golfer who was born or resides in Europe, including teams. It was the second straight time that it was given to an individual in a year when Europe won the Ryder Cup. Graeme McDowell won in 2010.



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