Irwin co-leads Senior PGA Championship

By Associated PressMay 29, 2011, 2:20 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It was a day of dramatic reversals at Valhalla Golf Club.

Hale Irwin overcame a four-shot deficit to grab the lead, then frittered it away with a double bogey on the last hole to drop into a tie with Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota on Saturday in the Senior PGA Championship.

Seeking a victory that would make him the oldest winner of a senior major, Irwin – who will be 66 next week – shot a 2-under 70 that could have been better if not for the finish.

Irwin and Murota, who battled back pain to shoot a 74, were at 9-under 207.

Hall of Famer Tom Watson, the 2007 Senior PGA champion, shot a 68 and was just one shot back, with Trevor Dodds (67) at 7 under and Nick Price (73) at 6 under.

Irwin and Murota slugged it out on the back nine head-to-head in the same group.

Murota, a 55-year-old Japanese touring pro and golf teacher who has seldom played in the United States, grabbed his back after hitting his tee shot on the 15th hole. But he was able to par in the rest of the way while wincing during shots and stretching in between them.

Irwin, who grabbed a two-stroke lead when Murota double-bogeyed the 12th hole, had a seemingly comfortable two-stroke lead in hand on the last hole. But from the middle of the fairway he spun his approach shot on the par-5 hole back into the gaping bunker in front. From there he blasted out to 15 feet and rolled his par putt 3 feet past. Then he missed the bogey putt to give away the lead.

Defending champion Tom Lehman, riding a string of six straight birdies, shot a 68 that got him into a tie for sixth place at 5 under with Loren Roberts (73) and David Eger (69).

Former British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia (71) and Mark O’Meara (72), a past winner of both the British Open and Masters, were among those at 4 under.

The late collapse dimmed what had been a dramatic turnaround for Irwin. A win would make Irwin – who turns 66 next Friday – the oldest Senior PGA champion ever, surpassing Jock Hutchinson, who was 62 when he won in 1947.

Before the tournament began, Irwin had talked about the end of his career. He spoke wistfully about whether his playing days would taper off or fall off a “cliff.” He said it was a “transition time” for him.

Then he went out and shot rounds of 69 and 68 in the first two rounds.

Murota, who led after rounds of 66 and 67 in the first two rounds, began the day with a four-shot lead on Irwin and Price.

But everything unraveled for Murota at the dogleg 12th. He pulled his drive into the right rough and then dubbed a wedge shot when he tried to chip to the fairway, barely advancing the ball 10 feet. From there he hit an iron short of the green, chipped 15 feet by and missed the bogey putt.

The 2005 winner of the Japan PGA Senior Championship, had just two bogeys in the first two rounds but along with a bogey at the 11th gave back three shots to par in a 15-minute span.

The shocking part of Irwin’s closing hole is he has proven he knows how to hold onto a lead. After all, he’s won 20 times on the PGA Tour, including victories in the 1974, ’79 and ’90 U.S. Opens. Since turning 50, he’s racked up more Champions Tour wins than anyone, with 45 including four in the Senior PGA Championship – including one in 2004 when it was last played at Valhalla.

Watson, winner of five British Opens, two Masters and a U.S. Open, played solid if unspectacular golf, making the most of his chances. He was 4 under through 15 before making bogey at the next hole. But he closed with a birdie – from that same deep bunker fronting the green – and is lurking just a shot back.

Dodds, in second after the opening round, has sandwiched 67s around a 75.

Price birdied the first two holes but couldn’t get anything going after that, playing the last 16 holes in 3 over.

That was typical. On a warm and sunny day with little wind, consistency was hard to find.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.