Sunday, February 24, 2013

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 2-24-2013

 KUCHAR TAKES MATCH PLAY EVENT
 Matt Kuchar defeated the defending champion  Hunter Mahan to win the Accenture Match Play Championship.  Last year Mahan eliminated Kuchar in the quarterfinals, this year was Kuchar's turn.
 

Four up after nine holes on a chilly afternoon of biting winds at Dove Mountain, Kuchar fended off a late Mahan fightback before sealing the win at the par-four 17th where his opponent took four shots to reach the green.
 

Kuchar has now won 15 of his last 17 matches in this global event and he has a 16-3 record overall. It was Mahan's first loss in 12 matches and his record overall is now 15-5.It was Kuchar's fifth triumph on the PGA Tour and his first success in one of the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) events which bring together the game's leading players.

In the consolation match, Jason Day rebounded after a  semifinal loss Sunday morning to defeat  one of the game's best at this format in Ian Poulter.
 

Day earned $615,000 for his third-place finish and improved to 8-3 in three appearances at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Poulter's record is 22-11 and he has one win and two fourth-place finishes in nine starts.



 PARK WINS LPGA THAILAND

Inbee Park of South Korea took advantage of overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn's triple bogey on the last hole Sunday to secure a one-stroke victory in the LPGA Thailand.

Jutanugarn blew a two-stroke lead on the 18th when she first had to take a drop and then missed a three-foot putt to force a playoff. The 17-year-old Thai golfer, who had a hole-in-one earlier in the round, was moved to tears as the putt lipped out, while a surprised Park started celebrating in the clubhouse with her caddie.


The fourth-ranked Park finished with a 67 for a 12-under 276 total, with Jutanugarn a shot back after a 72.


Top-ranked Yani Tseng of Taiwan shot a final-round 63 to finish another stroke back in joint third with Beatriz Recari of Spain (70) and So Yeon Ryu of South Korea (68).


Jutanugarn's troubles on the par-5 last hole started when she landed in a bunker and had had to take a drop for an unplayable lie. She then overshot the green before three-putting for an 8.


Jutanugarn had fought back from a stroke behind Park by hitting a hole-in-one on the par-3 12th to regain the lead at 14 under - and win a car from a sponsor. But she then paid the price for playing too aggressively on the last.

It was the fourth LPGA win for the 24-year-old Park after her most recent in the 2012 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia last October.




FOLEY TAKES THE FIRST
Kevin Foley carded a 3-under 67 Sunday to erase a two-shot deficit and win the Web.com Tour's season-opening Panama Claro Championship. It was Foley's first tour victory.

The 25-year-old former Penn State player finished at 8-under 272 at Panama Golf Club.
Australia's Matthew Goggin was second after a 70.

The tournament opened the tour's 24th season. The Colombia Championship is next week, followed by the Chile Classic. The U.S. schedule begins March 21-24 with the Louisiana Open.



NEWS & NOTES
 Happy Birthday  to Vijay Singh who turned 50 on Feb. 22 but don't expect him to head over to the Champions Tour just yet. The World Golf Hall of Famer hasn't won on TOUR since 2008, when he earned three titles, but with five top 10s last year, he knows he can still compete.

 


The PGA Tour has notified golf's governing bodies that it sees no reason to ban anchored putting strokes.
 
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday there has not been enough evidence to show a competitive advantage gained by using a long putter or belly putter that is anchored against the body. Three of the last five major champions used a belly putter.

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced the proposed rule Nov. 28. They offered a 90-day comment period. Finchem says the tour is merely offering its view, and that it would be a mistake for the game to outlaw such a stroke.

The next development is whether the USGA and R&A decide to adopt the new rule.


 

The International Olympic Committee has been officially notified about a legal dispute over the ownership of the site of the planned 2016 Olympic golf course.

A court official visited the hotel where IOC officials were staying Wednesday to have the president of the coordination commission for the 2016 Games, Nawal El Moutawakel, sign the order notifying her and the IOC of the dispute.


The IOC and 2016 Rio committee have downplayed the issue as golf prepares to make its return to the games for the first time in 110 years.


The IOC did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment. The IOC's coordination commission is making its first official visit of the year to Rio, and fourth since the city won the bid to host the games in 2009.


The court document named El Moutawakel and the IOC's coordination commission, along with the local Public Olympic Authority. El Moutawakel said she complied with the court official but could do nothing more than relay the document to the IOC's legal departments in Switzerland.


There has been a long legal dispute over the land that is claimed by two different companies. Local organizers say they have enough guarantees from the businessman who says he is the current owner, but a judge has already said that any contracts made over the land will eventually be deemed illegal and nullified in case a court ruling goes against him.


 


This week marked the launching of a new book called "Beyond the Fairways and Greens: A Look Inside The Lives of PGA TOUR Families” and the proceeds of the coffee table book will go to support the charities the PTWA supports. The TOUR wives also are celebrating there 25th anniversary.


 CALENDAR
PGA TOUR - THE HONDA CLASSIC - RORY MCILROY

EUROPEAN TOUR - TSHWANE OPEN

LPGA TOUR - HSBC WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS 2013 - ANGELA STANFORD

WEB.COM TOUR - COLOMBIA CHAMPIONSHIP - SKIP KENDALL


For the full recap listen to my podcast weekly 
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 2-17-2013

 MERRICK GETS FIRST TOUR WIN
John Merrick  won his first PGA TOUR event in a playoff with Charlie Beljan with a par on the second extra hole.

The win came in Merrick's 169th start on the PGA TOUR and moved him to fourth in the FedExCup. Merrick has never missed the Playoffs with his best finish 40th in 2008.
Merrick held at least a share of thee lead throughout most of the pressure-packed back nine. But Beljan was the first to post 11 under when he rolled in an 18-footer for birdie and a 67 at the 72nd hole.

Merrick was playing in the penultimate group with Fredrik Jacobson, and both came to Rivieria's 18th at 11 under as Beljan was signing his scorecard. Jacobson missed a 4-footer for par there but Merrick made his from 3 to get into what was the second straight playoff at the Northern Trust Open.

Neither Beljan nor Merrick found the green the second time the two played the 18th hole on Sunday. Merrick chipped to tap-in distance while Beljan had to convert from 6 fee to extend the playoff.

The 10th hole is a driveable par 4 but Merrick chose to lay up with a 3-iron for the second time on Sunday. He had 87 yards and chipped to 18 feet while Beljan's drive left him well left in the rough.

Beljan's second shot found the collar of the green and he putted from 71 feet to 5. Merrick's birdie attempt came up 21 inches shy and he took no chances, tapping in for par. When Beljan's putt passed the cut, Merrick was a PGA TOUR champion and he wrapped his caddy in a bear hug.


 LANGER WINS ACE GROUP CLASSIC 
Bernhard Langer shot even-par 72 on Sunday and wrapped up a wire-to-wire victory at the ACE Group Classic.

Langer finished at 12-under 204, one stroke ahead of Jay Don Blake, who fired a final-round 68 at the Club at TwinEagles' Talon Course.


It was the 17th Champions Tour victory for Langer and his second at this tournament. The German won here in 2011 and finished runner-up to Kenny Perry a year ago.


John Cook shot 68 to end tied for third with Tom Pernice Jr. (72) at 9-under, while Rocco Mediate (69) and David Frost (68) tied for fifth at minus-8. Mediate was a winner last week in his Champions Tour debut at the Allianz Championship.



 FICHARDT TAKES AFRICA OPEN
Darren Fichardt overcame a bout of final-round jitters to win the Africa Open by two strokes on Sunday.


Fichardt's closing one-under-par 71 handed him victory over France's Gregory Bourdy  and another South African, Jaco Van Zyl,  who finished tied-second on 14-under.


Fichardt had started the day tied at the top of the leaderboard with Van Zyl before the 37-year-old pulled four shots clear on the front nine.


However three bogies on the 14th, 16th and 17th made for a nervy finish in windy conditions before he claimed a fourth title on the European Tour.


Fichardt, who will move into the world's top 100 from his current position of 146, became the second successive South African winner on the tour following Richard Sterne's victory at the Joburg Open last weekend.


Compatriot Garth Mulroy  fired the joint-best round of the day to finish alone in fourth place on 13-under.



SHIN WINS LPGA OPENER
South Korea's Jiyai Shin won the Australian Women's Golf Open by two shots Sunday, finishing with a 1-under 72 to beat world No. 1 Yani Tseng after being tied for the overnight lead with teenage star Lydia Ko.


Shin mixed three birdies with two bogeys in a final-round showdown with Ko and Tseng of Taiwan, and added the Australian title to her two British Opens among 37 professional victories.


Ko's share of the lead evaporated quickly when she began the final day with a double bogey and bogey. However, the 15-year-old who was born in South Korea and is based in New Zealand fought back to reclaim the joint lead after 13 holes before Shin dismissed the challenge.


Shin effectively clinched her victory on the 14th hole when, tied with Ko at 16-under, she holed an incredible pitch from deep rough behind an advertising billboard to make birdie.


Ko finished 3-over for the day and 14-under for the tournament, in outright third place. She was trying for back-to-back wins in professional tournaments after winning last week's New Zealand Women's Open.


Ko has won three professional tournaments in the last 13 months, taking the New South Wales Open to become the youngest winner of a professional event, then winning the Canadian Open, to become the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour. She struggled to overcome her poor start Sunday and was never able to comfortably settle into her final round.


Meanwhile, Tseng shot the best round of the last day - a 7-under 66 - to dash past Ko into second place, two shots behind Shin.

 

NEWS & NOTES
Brandt Snedeker withdrew from the Match Play Championship on Tuesday because of sore ribs that have been causing him discomfort despite his torrid stretch of golf.


Snedeker said he began feeling soreness in his left rib cage a month ago at the Humana Challenge. He then finished runner-up in consecutive weeks to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and won the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for his second win in his last seven starts.


Already this year, Snedeker has earned nearly $3 million and has risen to a career-best No. 4 in the world.

Snedeker also sustained a rib injury last summer, causing him to miss the U.S. Open. He returned a month later and had the 36-hole lead at the British Open before he tied for third at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.According to a statement from Crown Sports Management, he will return to Nashville and see his personal doctor, James Elrod, who has suggested rest to cope with the injury. It is not believed to be a long-term problem, and Snedeker is scheduled to play March 7-10 in the Cadillac Championship at Doral.

 

Tiger Woods committed to the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, The Honda Classic and the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship .

Last year, Woods was eliminated in the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play, losing to Nick Watney. He has however won the event three times, the last being in 2008.


The WGC-Accenture Match Play begins Feb. 20. Hunter Mahan is the defending champion.

At last year's Honda Classic, Woods charged into contention at PGA National, carding a 10-under 62 on Sunday that included an eagle on the final hole. He finished two strokes back of winner Rory McIlroy.


McIlroy will also be back to defend his title at The Honda Classic, Feb. 28-March 3. Last year's victory  catapulted McIlroy to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time, a position he's maintained for the last 26 weeks.

Woods has won the WGC-Cadillac Championship six times -- in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007.


Last year, however, Woods withdrew after 11 holes in the final round due to an injury to his left Achilles.


Woods went on to win two weeks later at Bay Hill before adding victories at Muirfield Village and Congressional.


The WGC-Cadillac begins March 7 at TPC Blue Monster at Doral. Justin Rose is the defending champion.


The U.S. Golf Association is adding its first championship in more than 25 years, getting rid of the U.S. Amateur Public Links in favor of a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship to meet what it says is a trend at the state and regional level.


The Four-Ball Championship - one tournament for men, one for women - will start in 2015.
Adding these two tournaments means the end of two others, however. That includes the U.S. Amateur Public Links, which dates to 1922 and has a list of winners that includes Trevor Immelman, Tim Clark and Brandt Snedeker. Also being abandoned is the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links, where Michelle Wie made history in 2003 at age 13 as the youngest winner of a USGA championship for adults.


USGA vice president Thomas O'Toole Jr. said the better-ball format for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship should lend to more exciting golf. He also said it was gaining in popularity, with more than 150 tournaments using the format in state and regional competitions last year.



Swedish golfer Daniela Holmqvist says she was bitten by a spider and used a tee to extract what she thought was potentially fatal venom before finishing her round during qualifying for the LPGA Tour's season-opening Women's Australian Open.


The Swedish Golf Federation reported on its website that Holmqvist was hitting out of the rough on the fourth hole at Royal Canberra Golf Club when she felt a sharp pain on her ankle.


Holmqvist swatted the spider away and was told by people nearby that it could have been a black widow, so she used a golf tee to pierce the swelling and squeeze out the venom.


Holmqvist continued her round, under the supervision of medical staff, but finished with a 74 on Tuesday and missed out on qualifying for the tournament.

Fueled by his win at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, Brian Gay has been named PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis based on PGATOUR.COM fan voting.




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Sunday, February 10, 2013

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 2-10-2013

 SNEDEKER GETS HIS FIRST - WINS AT PEBBLE BEACH
Brendt Snedeker holed a 10-foot birdie on the 17th hole, and then tapped in for par to finish at 19-under 267. That broke the tournament record by one shot held by Mickelson (2007) and Mark O'Meara (1997), who each had a 20-under 268 when Poppy Hills was still in the rotation.

The hottest player in golf, Snedeker finally has a trophy to show for it.


In five starts this year, he already had a win, two second-place finishes and a third. He never had much of a chance against Woods at Torrey Pines or Mickelson at the Phoenix Open, who each had big leads going into the final round.


Snedeker was tied with James Hahn, a 31-year-old rookie from the Bay Area, and seized control with an eagle and three birdies on the opening seven holes. Snedeker responded to his only bogey, a three-putt at No. 9, by rolling in birdie putts on the next two holes.


He took a long gaze out at the Pacific while waiting on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach, perhaps reflecting on an amazing ride over the last six months -- winning the Tour Championship to capture the FedExCup and its $10 million prize, his first Ryder Cup team, and a blazing start to the new season.


Snedeker goes to No. 4 in the world, the highest ranking of his career and second only to Woods among Americans.


He now heads off to a vacation on Maui before returning for the stretch run leading to the Masters. Winning a major is the next step for Snedeker, a 32-year-old from Nashville who has emerged as a veritable threat wherever he plays with a confident putting stroke and a dramatic increase in hitting fairways off the tee.


Hahn wound up with a 2-under 70 and tied for third with Jimmy Walker (66) and Kevin Stadler (65). The day wasn't a total loss for Hahn. He previously tied for fourth at the Humana Challenge, and his tie for third gets him into Riviera next week. He hasn't missed a cut this year and is already 11th in the FedExCup standings.


 

ROCCO TAKES ALLIANZ
In his first outing on the Champions Tour Rocco Mediate took home the trophy with a two shot victory over Bernhard Langer and Tom Pernice Jr. at the Allianz Championship.
 

He finished the tournament at 17-under 199 and became the 16th player to have a winning debut on the Champions Tour.
 

Mediate's 4-foot birdie putt came after Tom Pernice Jr. missed a 5-footer at No. 18 that could have forced a playoff.

Mediate started the day with a three-shot lead, lost it by the 14th hole, but regained it when Pernice bogeyed the par-4 17th from a greenside bunker. Mediate protected that lead with a birdie on the par-5 closing hole.


Pernice, who had a final-round 70, finished tied with Bernhard Langer  for second place. It was Langer's fourth top-three finish in this event in the past five years. Langer won here in 2010.
Mediate won six PGA Tour titles and also lost a memorable playoff to Tiger Woods in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. 


Mediate shot a course-record 61 in the second round on Saturday.
Mark O'Meara  and defending champion Corey Pavin were both six shots off the lead.



STERNE WINS JOBURG OPEN
Richard Sterne cruised to his first European Tour title in more than four years, winning the Joburg Open by seven shots.


Sterne shot a bogey-free 64 to finish with a tournament record total of 27 under at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington golf course and win by the largest margin in tournament history.


Fellow overnight leader Trevor Fisher Jr. faltered on the final day, allowing Sterne to finish well clear of Charl Schwartzel  in second. Fisher eagled the first but sank to a 1-over 73 that dropped him to joint sixth, despite sitting five shots clear of the field with Sterne at the start of the final round.


Fisher eagled the first but sank to a 1-over 73 that dropped him to a tie for sixth, despite sitting five shots clear of the field with Sterne at the start of the final round.


The victory was Sterne's first since the 2008 South African Championship, and represented a major milestone for the 31-year-old player, who led at the halfway stage of last week's Omega Dubai Desert Classic before finishing second to Stephen Gallacher.


Ricardo Santos of Portugal matched Sterne's final-day score of 64 to earn a share of third place alongside Chilean Felipe Aguilar (67) and South African George Coetzee (67).



TEENAGER MAKES HISTORY
Teenager Lydia Ko became the youngest winner of a women's European Tour golf event when she took victory at the New Zealand Women's Open in Christchurch on Sunday.

The New Zealander cried with joy after winning her third professional title from 12 events at the age of 15 years, eight months and 17 days.

Ko, who made a three-foot putt on the final hole to finish on 206, one ahead of American Amelia Lewis, beat the record set by South Korean Amy Yang, who was aged 16 years, six months and eight days when she won the Ladies Masters in Australia as an amateur in 2006.

Ko became the third amateur to win on the women's European Tour, after Gillian Stewart, at the 1984 European Open, and Y

Ko, already number 38 on the world professional rankings, now heads for the Australian Open in Canberra, which starts on Thursday.



NEWS & NOTES
Triple major champion Padraig Harrington and 2011 U.S. Masters winner Charl Schwartzel will join world number three Luke Donald in the field for next month's Malaysian Open, organisers said on Monday.


Harrington, up to 47th in the rankings after finishing tied-ninth at the Phoenix Open on Sunday, last appeared in Malaysia in 2006 and ended a two-year victory drought in October at the elite four-man Grand Slam of Golf event in Bermuda.


Matteo Manassero of Italy has also confirmed his participation in the March 21-24 tournament he won in 2011.


Rory McIlroy has formally committed to play in the Houston Open, which takes place two weeks before The Masters.


The two-time major champion and current No. 1 player will make his third start in the event and his first since 2010. This year, as part of his ''6 Bags'' charity drive, McIlroy will use a bag emblazoned with the logo of Chinquapin Prep, a Houston-area school for disadvantaged youth. The bag will be auctioned off through McIlroy's foundation and all proceeds will go to the school.

Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood are among the other top international players committed to play in Houston.


Nike, the Beaverton, Ore.-based company announced on Monday that David Duval, who became the first to win a major championship using Nike clubs when he captured the 2001 British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, had re-signed with “the Swoosh” for 2013.

Duval, who split from Nike in 2010, spent 29 weeks as world No. 1 in 1999 and won 13 PGA TOUR titles between 1997 and 2001. But following the 2001 season, Duval's game hit a rough patch due in large part to a number of nagging injuries.
 

Over the past 10 seasons, Duval's finished inside the top 125 on the money list only once; he also made just 12 cuts in 41 PGA TOUR starts over the last two seasons.


 

The U.S. Open at Merion will be the shortest course for a major championship in eight years.
 

USGA executive director Mike Davis said Merion, which has not hosted a major since 1981, will be 6,992 yards on the scorecard. The last major course that was under 7,000 yards was Shinnecock Hills for the 2004 U.S. Open, which played 6,996 yard. Merion will be the shortest since Southern Hills, which was 6,973 in 2001.

Retief Goosen won both those U.S. Opens.

The USGA decided to cut down on tickets because Merion, located near Philadelphia, is not a big piece of property like Bethpage Black or Pinehurst. The USGA will take a financial hit compared with other venues, but it felt it was worth it.


The Canadian Women's Open will be looking for a new title sponsor after CN announced a change in its golf involvement. CN instead will expand its sponsorship of Canada's national junior golf program. .



The Scottish Open will be the first regular European Tour event to be shown live on an American network. NBC Sports plans to show 2 1/2 hours of live coverage from the final two rounds at Castle Stuart to complement Golf Channel coverage. A Golf Channel spokesman says the European Tour has agreed to push back starting times on the weekend because of the five-hour time difference.



 Phil Mickelson has chosen to opt out of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

 Mickelson confirmed this week that he will not be in the field of 64 for the season's first World Golf Championship later this month.

Mickelson will instead take a trip with his family, as his three children are out of school during the event week.

 Mickelson skipped the event both last year and in 2010, and next week's Northern Trust Open will  mark the fifth straight event in which he has participated.

 


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Sunday, February 3, 2013

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 2-3-2013

 MICKELSON WINS IN ARIZONA….AGAIN

Phil Mickelson held off a last-day charge by fellow American and playing partner Brandt Snedeker  to end a week of scintillating golf with a four-shot triumph at the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona on Sunday.


Left-hander Mickelson birdied three of the last six holes to close with a four-under-par 67 at the TPC Scottsdale, completing a wire-to-wire victory with a record-tying 28-under total of 256 to clinch his 41st PGA Tour title.


The 42-year-old Californian, who never relinquished his grip after taking control of the tournament with a stunning first-round 60, joined Arnold Palmer, Gene Littler and Mark Calcavecchia  as triple winners of the Phoenix Open.


Mickelson sank a 14-footer at the 17th for his fifth birdie of the day, then safely two-putted for par at the last before removing his cap and giving a thumbs-up to the fans crammed around the 18th green.


FedExCup champion Snedeker, who birdied four of the first nine holes to pile early pressure on the pacesetting Mickelson, had to settle for second place after signing off with a 65.


Another American, Scott Piercy, was alone in third at 23 under after shooting the second-best score of the tournament, five birdies in his last six holes giving him a sizzling 61.


Mickelson, with his sixth PGA Tour victory in Arizona, he tied fellow American Johnny Miller for the most wins in the state.


Mickelson, six strokes in front when he teed off in the final round on a cool and overcast morning at Scottsdale, narrowly missed a birdie opportunity from 10 feet at the par-four first.


He then recorded his first bogey of the week after finding a greenside bunker with his approach at the par-four second, slipping to 23 under and five ahead.


Snedeker sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-five third to trim Mickelson's advantage to four but the tournament leader immediately responded by draining a 30-footer for birdie at the par-three fourth.


Though Snedeker again countered by chipping in from 30 feet to birdie the par-four sixth, Mickelson rebounded with an outrageous birdie putt from 56 feet at the par-three seventh.


The gifted shot-maker, aiming well right of the hole, rolled his ball uphill and watched as it skirted the fringe of the green while breaking left before disappearing into the bottom of the cup.


Mickelson surprisingly lipped out with a five-foot birdie putt at the eighth and one hole later Snedeker cut the lead to three when he coaxed in a 22-footer for birdie to get to 22 under.
A two-putt birdie at the par-five 13th gave Mickelson welcome breathing space, and he also birdied the 15th after getting up and down from a greenside bunker to remain four strokes clear.


Snedeker finished strong with a run of three consecutive birdies from the 15th before he bogeyed the last but Mickelson was always able to stay at least three strokes ahead.


GALLACHER TAKES DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC
Stephen Gallacher holed an eagle on No. 16 and won the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, overcoming early jitters to beat playing partner Richard Sterne by three shots.

Gallacher finished with a 22-under total of 266 to take his second European Tour win and the first since 2004. The 111th-ranked Scotsman had a three-shot lead over Sterne at the start of the final round but three-putted to bogey the first, and then hit his drive far right and missed a six-footer to drop a shot on the next hole. Sterne chipped to two feet on the second for a birdie and a share of the lead.


The two traded places several times after that as each struggled in windy conditions. Sterne took the lead on the eighth hole when Gallacher missed an 8-foot par putt and found more trouble on No. 9 when his tee shot landed on sandy rough behind a tree. But Gallacher hit a blind approach 185 yards- perhaps the shot of the tournament - that cleared the trees and landed to within two feet for an easy birdie to draw level with the South African.


Sterne sank a six-foot birdie on the 10th to go back into the lead but then fell apart with four bogeys in his final eight holes. Gallacher took the lead on No. 12 after Sterne's second consecutive bogey and clinched the win with his fifth eagle of the week. He holed a sand wedge from 115 yards that landed a foot from the hole and rolled in to give him a four-shot lead when Sterne had his third bogey.

With the win, Gallacher moved into the top 60 of the world rankings and in a strong position to qualify for the World Golf Championships for the first time. He will also get a chance to play the Masters, the one major he has never played. The 38-year-old Gallacher said he was helped by right knee surgery at the end of last year and inspired by fellow Scotsman and former British Open champion Paul Lawrie who won twice in 2012 at age 43.

Sterne led the first two rounds and appeared poised to overtake Gallacher for his first win since 2009 but the 165th-ranked South African's short game let him down when it mattered.

Felipe Aguilar of Chile  and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark finished five shots back in a tie for third. Eighth-ranked Lee Westwood  and Marcus Fraser of Australia were a further shot back in fifth.
Englishman Steve Webster) finished tied for seventh. He had four birdies on his first six holes to move within three shots of the leaders but then chipped over the green and into the water on No. 7 for a triple-bogey to end his chances.


 Fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood double-bogeyed the ninth hole when he went into the water. He never recovered and finished tied for 10th.

Fourteenth-ranked Sergio Garcia, hampered by a left shoulder injury all week, finished in a tie for 17th after shooting 71.

 

KARRIE WEBB WINS 8TH LADIES MASTERS
Karrie Webb won her eighth Australian Ladies Masters title on Sunday, coming from two strokes behind in the final round with birdies on three of her last five holes for a 5-under-par 67 and a two-stroke victory.


The 38-year-old Webb birdied the 14th hole at Royal Pines to take the lead for the first time during the final round, and then tapped in for birdie after her eagle putt just missed on 15.


Webb finished with a 13-under-par total of 203 in the 54-hole tournament, the season-opening event on the European Ladies Tour. Her eighth win in the same tournament matched the U.S. PGA Tour record of Sam Snead, who won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times.


South Korea's Chella Choi finished tied for second after a 69, with second-round co-leaders Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, and Australian amateur Oh Su-hyun, who both shot final-round 71s.
Last year's Australian Open winner at Royal Melbourne, American Jessica Korda, was fifth after a 71, three shots behind.


Webb played her first Ladies Masters as an amateur in 1993 and won the first of her titles in 1998 by five shots against a field that included then world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam.

Webb's later victories came in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2010.

 

NEWS & NOTES
Lee Westwood
is making some changes.
After missing the cut at the PGA Championship last year, Westwood split from coach Pete Cowen and temporary caddie Mike Waite. Mike Kerr, normally on the bag for Alvaro Quiros, took over. 


Westwood also moved to Florida with his family in December after rejoining the PGA Tour in 2012.
The move to Florida, Westwood said, has allowed him to play much more golf in the offseason than he's done in the past when England has been frigid.


Westwood, who turns 40 this year, said it seemed ''like the right time'' to move to the United States. He said his two children, who were 8 and 11, were young enough to make the adjustment to a new school, and the new location allows him to play more on the U.S. tour without being away from his family for long periods.


Westwood won twice in 2012, once on the European Tour and once on the OneAsia Tour. But for a man who has 22 victories on the European Tour, it was a less than stellar season. He struggled at times with his putter and saw his ranking slip from third to eighth. He ended the year tied for a disappointing 48th in the season-ending Dubai World Championship.

 

Padraig Harrington is the inverterate tinker.
The most recent offseason saw him consult a team of eye specialists because he lost confidence in his ability to read greens. Harrington started second-guess himself and become tentative, as a result.


The stats show perception was reality. He ranked 107th in strokes-gained putting on TOUR last year down from 46th in 2011, 47th in '10 and 25th in 2009.


So Harrington, who has had four laser surgeries, came to Arizona to make his 2013 PGA TOUR debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open sporting glasses that he says have given him better than 20-20 vision. The tournament is the first of four straight for him.


He has, two different pairs, which he says also help reduce eye fatigue. Harrington likely won't wear them in competition, although one pair did make it through his practice round on Tuesday at TPC Scottsdale.

Then Harrington, who says his eyes are likely too dry for contact lenses, went to the range and started hitting wedges Harrington has also been doing various eye exercises. He's changed his putting routine, as well. How this pans out for Paddy is anyone's guess.



Blake Adams underwent surgery in Vail, Colo., on Tuesday morning to repair a torn labrum in his hip, while also removing bone spurs and a cyst.


Depending on whether surgery reveals a microfracture or not, Adams will be on crutches anywhere from two-to-eight weeks.
 

While the exact amount of time he’ll miss remains unknown, Adams’ representative, Alan Bullington of 1 Degree Sports Management, said it could be a significant portion of time and he may not return until the 2013-14 season begins in October.

 

Lee Trevino is this year's recipient of the PGA Distinguished Service Award. He will receive the highest honor from the PGA of America at the PGA Championship on Aug. 7 at Oak Hill, where Trevino won the 1968 U.S. Open

 

Michael Phelps is getting serious about his golf game.
The winner of a record 18 gold medals in Olympic swimming, Phelps signed on with Ping to provide his clubs.


Phelps got a tour of Ping's Arizona facilities, where he was fitted for a set of clubs that accommodate his 6-foot-4 height, long arms and large hands. He's already noticed a big improvement in the flight of his ball.


Ping added a few special touches to Phelps' clubs, including accents in both gold and red, white and blue.


Phelps has been working with renowned coach Hank Haney for an eight-episode series on the Golf Channel that begins Feb. 25.


The South African golf tournament claiming to be among the richest anywhere outside the United States and a challenger to some of the world's top events has been indefinitely postponed.

Organizers said Friday that the Tournament of Hope, which was to have prize money of $8.5 million, won't take place in November as planned and has been ''put on hold for the foreseeable future'' after failing to secure sponsorship.


South Africa's Sunshine Tour says that it has been ''unable to fulfill the expectations of potential sponsors for various reasons beyond its control'' and the weakening of the South African currency ''added more pressure to the budget.''

 

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