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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