Harrington pushing hard for fourth major title

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2010, 12:10 am

Open ChampionshipST. ANDREWS, Scotland – A few years ago, Padraig Harrington would’ve gladly settled for three major championships.

Now, it’s not enough.

The two-time British Open champion said the outlook changes once you’ve got a few major titles in the trophy case. In addition to winning back-to-back at Carnoustie and Birkdale (2007-08), he captured the 2008 PGA Championship.

“I’m sure when I had zero, if somebody told me I was to win three, I would have said, ‘Thank you very much. I’ll take that,”’ Harrington said. “Now, of course, I’ve won three. It’s all about just one more. That’s human nature.”

He might be pushing too hard.

The Irishman hasn’t won a sanctioned tournament since his PGA triumph at Oakland Hills nearly two years ago, and his best finish in the last six majors is 10th.

“I want to go out and win more majors and, if anything, I’m too pushy, too hard, and trying too hard,” Harrington said. “It’s not about sitting back and doing your normal thing and relaxing a little bit and enjoying it. I would be of the other camp of overdoing things.”

Given his results, he’s starting to wonder if that’s the right attitude.

“When you’ve won them, you can ease off a little bit,” Harrington said. “That’s certainly something I’ll be focusing on this week, is maybe trying to take a more balanced attitude out to the golf course, relaxing, enjoying it, all those cliches that you hear said about golf. If I take a better attitude out there, I’ll just let it happen.”

He sure seemed relaxed on Monday. After wrapping up a practice round and heading back toward the clubhouse in a cart, he stopped along the way to sign autographs for a few fortunate fans.

“I actually don’t need my sports psychologist with me anymore this week,” Harrington joked. “I’m going to work with the journalists.”


HIGH STAKES, HIGH ENTERTAINMENT: When he reached the end of his practice round, Phil Mickelson could only chuckle.

“You think anyone has ever grinded this hard on a Monday?” he said.

It was only a practice round at the British Open, and a high-stakes game with Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney. But it was high entertainment at the end, even for Mickelson.

The threesome had a side bet on stroke play, with the loser paying the winner (whoever finished second was off the hook). Johnson roared out to a big lead, turning in 3 under, until the back nine tripped him up. Mickelson surged to a big lead until back-to-back bogeys, then a tee shot so far left on the 17th he thought he wouldn’t find it.

Watney also was in the rough, searching for his ball. That led Mickelson to wonder aloud, “Has anyone ever gone back to the tee for losing a ball in a practice round?”

Lefty found his ball and salvaged a bogey, sending him to the 18th at 1 under – two shots ahead of Johnson and Watney.

“I could make a 1 here. That would help,” Johnson said, and it wasn’t clear if he was kidding. After all, he does hit it a long way.

Mickelson, again disproving the theory that his course management is lacking, hammered a driver toward the first tee and was safe. It came down to Johnson and Watney to see who had to pay. Watney holed a 10-foot birdie putt, and Johnson matched him from 8 feet.

They tied at 72. The question was whether they split the tab or had a chip-off.

“You should have figured that out on No. 2,” Mickelson said, making it clear he never expected to lose this game. They headed toward the Valley of Sin with their putters, even as a single behind them, Paul Streeter, was coming up the 18th.

“He’s getting in the way of our game,” one of the caddies said.

Watney and Johnson both got up-and-down with 8-foot putts when Watney suggested they split the cost of losing.

“I don’t split,” Johnson replied.

On the second putt-off, Watney came up short and Johnson made his 4-footer. Pay up, Nick.

Then it was off to the range, not nearly as much fun.
STRUCK DOWN:
Steve Stricker is at St. Andrews for the first time in 10 years. Don’t get the idea he didn’t try to get here more often.

In his second year on the PGA Tour, Stricker flew over to Scotland in 1995 with hopes of getting to St. Andrews. He tried to get a spot as low finisher in the Scottish Open at Carnoustie, but didn’t make it. The tournament ended Saturday back then, to give players a chance at local qualifying on the Sunday and Monday of the British Open.

Stricker had his wife, Nikki, on the bag. They went to a local links, and he opened with a 73.

“I knew I needed a low one the next day,” Stricker said Monday after arriving at St. Andrews.

Without a practice range, Stricker was swinging a club outside the clubhouse to get loose. He birdied the first hole and thought he was on his way. Then he looked in his bag.

“I had one extra club,” he said. “I’m not sure what hole I was on, but I got four strokes (as a penalty).”

And so went his hopes for St. Andrews – that year, anyway.
WAITING GAME:
Brian Davis flew a long way with no guarantee of a tee time.

The PGA Tour regular hopped on one of the charter flights that brought more than two dozen players directly from the John Deere Classic to St. Andrews.

There’s a catch, however: Davis is only the first alternate for the Open, so his hopes of playing depend on someone else dropping out.

Still, Davis figured it was worth a shot, doling out a $1,250 donation to the John Deere charity fund for a seat on the flight. He arrived in Scotland on Monday and will be ready to go if the call comes that a spot in the 156-player field has opened up.

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