Fowler wins Abu Dhabi in thrilling fashion

By Associated PressJanuary 24, 2016, 2:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Rickie Fowler won the Abu Dhabi Championship for his fourth worldwide victory in nine months, shooting a 3-under 69 in his final round Sunday to win by one stroke from playing partner Thomas Pieters.

Fast-finishing Rory McIlroy (68) and Henrik Stenson (67) tied for third.

Fowler's victory was tighter than expected, with the American holding a four-shot lead after six holes at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

That was trimmed to one on No. 7 after thinning a shot through the green out of sandy wasteland and making double-bogey, but he chipped in for eagle from 30 yards from a greenside bunker on No. 8 to move clear again.

Pieters emerged from a congested pack to chase Fowler all the way. Fowler holed from just off the 17th green for a birdie to take a two-shot cushion down the last, but Pieters made a birdie - he missed his eagle putt by an inch - to leave Fowler two putts to win from 12 feet. He needed both of them.

''I had a lot of fun going toe to toe with Thomas Pieters,'' Fowler said as he held the Falcon Trophy near the 18th green. ''This was my first full field in 2016 and is a great way to start.''

Abu Dhabi HSBC: Articles, photos and videos

The win is likely to lift Fowler's ranking from No. 6 to No. 4, which will spark talk about whether he should be included in the conversation with the so-called ''Big Three'' of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and McIlroy as golf looks ahead to a hectic, exciting 2016.

Spieth also played in Abu Dhabi this week - as part of his grueling global tour - and was tied for fifth, five shots behind Fowler. Stenson is currently ranked No. 5.

''We had a very strong field here,'' Fowler said. ''A lot of the guys were playing well. This is a step in the right direction.''

Fowler had three wins in 2015 - at The Players Championship, the Scottish Open, and the Deutsche Bank Championship. This is the first time he has won during the first four months of a year.

It was another near miss for McIlroy, who adds a third place to his four runner-up finishes in Abu Dhabi at what is always his first event of each year.

The No. 3-ranked McIlroy started the final round three shots behind Fowler and only came on strong down the stretch, chipping in for birdie on No. 16 and rolling in a 35-foot eagle putt on No. 18.

Pieters, a big-hitting Belgian, went even closer. He moved to within one shot of Fowler with a birdie on No. 13 but only parred his way to the 18th.

Spieth shot a third 68 of the week and acknowledged after his round that he was ''beat up, mentally and physically,'' having played in South Korea, China, Australia, Bahamas, Hawaii and now Abu Dhabi since October.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm