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Langer eagles 18th to win first playoff event

By Associated PressOctober 22, 2017, 9:40 pm

RICHMOND, Va. - Bernhard Langer didn't find his putting stroke until it mattered most.

The 60-year-old made an 18-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole Sunday to shoot a 2-under 70 and win the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, the first of three event in the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs. He beat Scott Verplank by one shot.

Langer was even par for the day before getting to the easiest hole on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I was missing so many putts today and finally I made one,'' Langer said after his sixth victory of the season and 35th on the tour for players 50 and older. ''The confidence wasn't that high, to tell you the truth. I had a very similar putt just on 17 that was about 7 or 8 inches left to right and I made a really good stroke but I left it an inch short, or two inches. I was going to make sure I got this one to the hole.''

The victory clinched the top seed in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix for Langer, and the eagle winner was a career first.

''I think it's only happened one other time in my career when I holed a bunker shot for eagle'' on the final hole to win, he said.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Charity Classic


The final putt broke from left to right, and Langer said he aimed about 8 inches left of the hole, but didn't know it was in until it dropped.

''You never know until it goes in,'' he said. "It's just as simple as that because it wasn't a straight putt.''

Verplank, playing two groups ahead of Langer, shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 to erase a five-shot deficit, but missed birdie putts on the 17th and 18th holes. The putt on 17 was from about 30 feet and was online but stopped about an inch short. On 18, his effort from about 5 feet slid by the hole.

''I had a chance to be better than I was so I've got no one to blame but myself,'' Verplank said. ''I just hit kind of a bad putt.''

Langer's six victories are a career high, and his 35 victories are second on the tour, trailing only Hale Irwin's 45.

''He obviously plays with supreme confidence and he's won so many times,'' Verplank said. ''He's a great champion.''

Billy Mayfair (65), Kenny Perry (65) and Vijay Singh (71) tied for third at 12 under. Singh made three birdies on his first six holes to briefly grab a share of the lead at 14 under, but he gave all three back with a trio of bogeys and didn't make another birdie until the finishing hole.

Langer became the second player on the tour for players 50 and older to make eagle on the final hole to win by a shot this season. Scott McCarron, who won this event last year, did it at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Florida, leap-frogging Carlos Franco and Kenny Perry.

The playoff field was cut from 72 to 54 for the PowerShares QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California. The top 36 will advance to Phoenix.

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Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

“Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


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Thomas was asked about that.

“I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

“I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

“It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

“I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

“That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

“Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.