Jones tops Kuchar with playoff chip-in

By Associated PressApril 6, 2014, 9:06 pm

HUMBLE, Texas – Matt Jones told his caddie he was about to make a 42-yard chip-in on the first playoff hole at the Houston Open.

The Australian did just that on Sunday, earning his first PGA Tour win in spectacular fashion – and changing his immediate travel plans in the process.

Jones, who began the day six shots off the lead, shot a final-round 66 and ended the tournament 15 under to earn his first trip to the Masters with the dramatic win over Matt Kuchar.

He earned nearly $1.2 million for the win, also making amends for a disastrous missed putt last September that appeared destined to keep him from playing at Augusta National.

Destiny, however, had other plans for the 33-year-old who played collegiately at Arizona State.

''Going to Augusta is amazing,'' Jones said. ''The win means everything to me right now because that's what we play for is to win. To have Augusta as a reward for that win is amazing.''

In September, Jones lipped out an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole of the BMW Championship – a putt that would have earned him a trip to next week's Masters by sending him to the Tour Championship.

After briefly tying Kuchar in the middle of the round on Sunday, Jones' chances at redemption for last year appeared finished after he bogeyed the next-to-last hole in regulation. The setback left Jones at 14 under, two shots back of Kuchar.


Shell Houston Open: Articles, videos and photos


However, Jones – in the first of his two memorable moments on the 18th – rolled in a 46-foot putt for birdie. That pulled the Australian within one shot of Kuchar, who was watching his closest challenger from the tee.

''I was going to three-putt before I left it short,'' Jones said. ''I didn't care about finishing second or third or fourth; it didn't matter. I was only trying to get the win.''

Kuchar went on to bogey the final hole of regulation after sending his second shot into the water. That set the stage for the playoff in the soggy conditions at the Golf Club of Houston.

Jones sent his tee shot on the first hole of the playoff into the right fairway bunker. He then landed just short of the greenside bunker with his second shot, while Kuchar found the bunker from the fairway.

It was the second straight miss of the 18th green from the fairway for Kuchar, who sent his fairway metal on the 72nd hole into the water before recovering to make bogey and reach the playoff.

Jones didn't leave Kuchar any room for error in the playoff, sending his chip over the greenside bunker and watching as it rolled in – causing a roar from the gallery and leaving Jones standing with his arm raised in celebration.

''I walked up there and told my caddie I was going to chip it in,'' Jones said. ''... You don't know if it's going to lip out, low or high, but when I saw it disappear it's probably the happiest I've been on the golf course.''

Jones is the second straight Australian to win on the PGA Tour, following Steven Bowditch's win at the Texas Open last week.

It was in San Antonio that Kuchar struggled to a final-round 75 while playing in the final pairing with Bowditch. The American began Sunday with a four-shot lead over Sergio Garcia and Cameron Tringale, but he bogeyed the first hole on his way to a disappointing even-par 72 and bitter ending.

Kuchar had a chance to match Jones' chip-in, but his bunker shot came up short.

''Certainly fantastic stuff (by Jones) to birdie 18 twice,'' Kuchar said. ''That's probably the hardest hole on the golf course, and for him to put two 3s is pretty impressive stuff.''

Golfers were sent off in threesomes early Sunday morning for the second day in a row because of the threat of strong storms in the Houston area. The rain, heavy at times, began early during the final pairing's round, but the pros finished without any delays.

The playoff opening was all that was needed for Jones, whose previous best finish on the PGA Tour was a tie for second at last year's Greenbrier Classic.

It also resulted in an unexpected visit to next week's Masters, a tournament Jones said he wouldn't visit unless he earned his way there.

''I was going home to play with my 2-year-old and 3-week-old,'' Jones said. ''So, bit of a change now that I think they'll be on a plane to Augusta as well. We've got to find a house.''

Garcia finished in third at 13 under, while Tringale was fourth at 12 under.

Rory McIlroy matched the low round of the tournament with a 7-under 65 on Sunday, finishing tied for seventh at 8 under overall.

Phil Mickelson, who won the tournament in 2011, was 1 under on Sunday and finished 7 under overall in a tie for 12th – a week after he was forced to withdraw from the Texas Open because of a muscle pull in his right side.

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