Goosen leads Mickelson closing in on No 1

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2010, 10:53 pm

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AKRON, Ohio – Phil Mickelson is closing in on No. 1.

The first step is to make up a one-shot deficit against Retief Goosen, the 36-hole leader Friday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Looking more inevitable is Mickelson finally supplanting Tiger Woods atop the world ranking.

Goosen turned bogey into birdie by chipping in from 25 yards off the green at No. 4, sending him on his way to a 4-under 66 that gave him a one-shot lead over Mickelson and Justin Leonard (66) going into the weekend at Firestone.

Even as Goosen led another assault on par in soft conditions, Woods continued to look as ordinary as ever. The seven-time champion at Firestone hit only three fairways and stumbled to a 2-over 72 – the first time he has ever had consecutive rounds over par at this tournament – that put him 13 shots out of the lead, and five players removed from last place.

Woods had no intention of speaking to reporters, instead walking to his car and driving away.

He has been No. 1 in the world since the week before the 2005 U.S. Open, but would lose his top ranking if Mickelson were to finish in fourth place alone and Woods – who is tied for 72nd – finishes out of the top 44.

“Obviously, it would be cool,” Mickelson said. “It would be something I would love to do, being regarded as No. 1 according to the ranking. And I know that I’ve got a great opportunity this week. I know that I’m playing well, and this is my best opportunity.”

But he still has 36 holes in front of him on a course that has rewarded good shots with low scores.

Despite a bogey on the final hole, Goosen was at 7-under 133 as he tries to win his first World Golf Championship. It doesn’t figure to be easy, not so much because of Firestone, rather the number of players chasing him.

Sixteen players were separated by four shots going into the weekend.

That includes Bubba Watson (71) in the group at 5-under 135, Adam Scott (70), Lucas Glover (66) and Paul Casey (68) at 136, and Rory McIlroy (69) and Dustin Johnson (65) in the group at 137.

“Every part of your game needs to be good here, driving especially,” Goosen said. “You need to hit it on the fairway, otherwise you’re struggling.”

As Woods and Mickelson showed, that depends.

Woods, who started on the back nine, didn’t hit a fairway until the 17th hole, and it got so bad on the 14th hole that his drive landed in a bunker on the 13th hole. He still scrambled for par and was even on the front nine, but too many errant shots caught up with him.

Mickelson wasn’t much better – he hit only six fairways – but he made the most of his chances.

“I didn’t play great today. I was a little off,” Mickelson said. “I hit some bad shots, and I was able to salvage a lot of pars today.”

But he had a three-hole stretch of not making any pars, which is what makes Lefty so entertaining. His tee shot on the 14th went into the same bunker on the wrong hole that Woods visited earlier, only Mickelson tried to take it over the trees and clipped some branches. When he finally got around the green, he missed a 5-footer and took double bogey.

Mickelson followed with a 4-iron into 20 feet for birdie, and a 12-foot birdie on the 16th.

Even his last two pars were not typical. He drove it so far right on the 17th that before leaving the tee, Mickelson reached into his bag for a glove and signed his name with a frown and the words, “Sorry.” He figured he had hit a fan, and he was right.

“The hazards of following me,” Mickelson told him.

He got up and down for par with a deft chip over the bunker, then saved par on the 18th with a long bunker shot by the green that caught the top of the hill perfectly and rolled to within tap-in range.

Mickelson won at Firestone in 1996 when it was the old World Series of Golf, and he had an excellent chance in 2008 when Woods had the year off with knee surgery.

Woods has never finished worse than fourth at Firestone, which is certain to change.

He was hitting smother-hooks on the range and took that to the golf course, where only his short game kept the score from getting out of hand. Even so, Woods will be finished with his third round Saturday some two hours before the leaders tee off.

That means the world’s No. 1 player – for the next two days, anyway – will go to the PGA Championship needing to play his best of the year to make the Ryder Cup team. And he might not last very long in the four-tournament playoff system on the PGA Tour after that.

At least he’ll be back on Saturday.

That won’t be the case for Lee Westwood, the world’s No. 3 player who was paired with Woods for two days. Westwood has been battling soreness in his left ankle for the last month, and it finally reached a point where he withdrew Friday from the Bridgestone Invitational, and from the PGA Championship next week.

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.

LPGA:

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