Munoz wins Sybase title; Pressel takes consolation match

By Associated PressMay 20, 2012, 9:59 pm

GLADSTONE, N.J. – Azahara Munoz is never going to forget her first LPGA win. It was as emotional as it was controversial and possibly tainted.

Munoz beat Candie Kung, 2 and 1, on Sunday to win the Sybase Match Play Championship, a title that was set up when Morgan Pressel was penalized for slow play while in control of their semifinal match.

Pressel was one of the first to hug and congratulate Munoz, her good friend, but she also had to be feeling this could have been her first win since 2008 just as easily.

It all reverted to the morning semifinal in which Munoz and Pressel were both slow, although Munoz was admittedly a little slower. They were warned about slow play after nine holes and put on the clock after No. 11.

The 12th hole changed everything. Pressel won it with a par to seemingly take a 3-up lead.

However, before she could tee off on No. 13, tour official Doug Brecht informed her that she was being penalized for slow play. She had taken 2:09 to play her three shots, 39 seconds over the 30-second limit per shot.


Video: Pressel on the controversies

Discussion: Penalty fair or unreasonable?


In match play, a time penalty is the loss of the previous hole and that handed the admittedly slow-playing Munoz the hole. She was 1 down and back in the match.

''It was tough timing because it was a really big, I think, turning point in the match, going from 2 up to 3 up, and then all of a sudden back to 1 up,'' said Pressel, who was on the verge of tears several times in a post-match news conference after she beat Vicky Hurst, 2 and 1, in the consolation match. ''You know, it was – I mean, it was really unfortunate.''

The time penalty was the first for Pressel in seven years on the tour and it left a very bad taste in her mouth, knowing Munoz was the slower player.

''I think that slow play is one of our biggest problems on tour,'' Pressel said. ''You know, I think that what bothers me the most is that we were given sufficient warning and she really didn't do anything to speed up and then I was penalized for it.''

Munoz was apologetic, adding she was surprised Pressel was penalized.

''I know I was slow and I really apologized for that and I told her, but I do feel both of us were slow and she was the only one getting penalized, and that was not fair and I know that,'' Munoz said. ''I would never make her lose a hole.''

The penalty didn't end the controversy.

Munoz evened the match with a birdie at No. 15, a stroke that was delayed when Pressel contended the Spaniard touched the line of her putt before striking the ball.

Robinson had two committee officials away from the 15th review the videotape of the one camera angle they had of the hole. Robinson said they could not see any evidence of a rule being broken. Munoz then made her putt.

Pressel lost the match when she bogeyed the next two holes, missing a 3-foot par putt at No. 17.

''It's an unfortunate situation,'' said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the senior vice president of tour operations. ''This is one of those days where it is very tough to be an LPGA official. It's not an easy thing to deliver a pace of play penalty to a player in a situation like this.''

Daly-Donofrio said two other players have been penalized for slow play this year and five were penalized last year. Pressel was the only one disciplined in the tournament, although two others face fines for slow play.

When asked about officials deciding events instead of the players, Daly-Donofrio said that USGA rules have to be upheld. Rule 6-7 says players must play without such delays and it's up to the tour to apply its policy.

Daly-Donofrio said slow play is a concern throughout golf, which was evident on the PGA Tour last week when Kevin Na was very slow at The Players Championship. However the PGA Tour has not handed out a slow play stroke penalty in more than a decade.

The afternoon matches were almost anticlimactic.

Munoz, an NCAA champion at Arizona State, took a 2-up lead at Nos. 11 and 12 when Kung ran into problems and never lost it.

Munoz was defensive when asked about the win being controversial and tainted.

''I don't care what – you guys are the ones that are going to say that, not people,'' said Munoz, who earned $375,000. ''You guys can say whatever you want to. You know, I didn't do anything wrong. She lost the hole because she was slow, I wasn't. I was slow before, but not when the clock was on and that's when you can't be slow.''

Kung, who beat top-ranked Yani Tseng in the third round and topped Hurst, 2 and 1, in the semifinals earned $225,000 in just missing her chance to win for the first time since 2008.

Pressel played a bogey-free 5 under for 17 holes in beating Hurst in the third-place match.

''It was extremely difficult,' said Pressel, who made $150,000. ''It's certainly, the last place I wanted to be was on the golf course.''

Hurst, who was looking for her first tour win, earned $112,500.

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 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.


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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.