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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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.