Nicklaus Watson lead Champions Skins Game

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2010, 6:09 am

Champions TourKAANAPALI, Hawaii – Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson took the first seven skins worth $220,000 on Saturday to build a big lead after nine holes of the Champions Skins Game.

The 2007 champions and Hall of Fame duo set the pace early with birdies on five of the first seven holes.

With the first four skins carrying over to the par-4 fifth, Nicklaus hit an aggressive wedge from 115 yards to 3 feet. Watson dropped the birdie putt to capture five skins and $150,000.

Two holes later, Watson drained a 10-foot downhill birdie putt for two more skins worth $70,000. Just as impressive was how he persuaded Nicklaus to switch from a 6-iron to a 5-iron on the approach.

Fred Couples, making his Champions Tour debut, and Nick Price were in second place with one skin worth $40,000. Defending champions Fuzzy Zoeller and Ben Crenshaw, who earned a record $530,000 last year, were shut out on the first day of the alternate-shot event, as were 74-year-old Gary Player and Loren Roberts.

Couples, who turned 50 in October, and Price clearly outhit the competition, but had trouble finding the generous fairways on this scenic resort course located at the base of the West Maui Mountains.

From the right rough, Price almost took out a banyan tree on the third hole and Couples’ drive two holes later sailed over spectators and into the shrubs of one of mansions that line the course.

The newcomers did earn a skin on No. 8 with Price sinking a 12-foot birdie. Price shook his fist and gave Couples a fist bump.

It was an uncharacteristic performance for Couples. He played 14 original Skins Games, winning five times and earning a record $4.1 million.

“Freddie Couples is the King of Skins,” Nicklaus said. “He plays more skins, wins more money in November than anybody else. The only difference is, it’s not November.”

Nicklaus hasn’t done so bad himself. The 73-time PGA Tour winner is making his 20th appearance in the Champions Skins Game, where he entered this weekend as the career leader in skins (104) and money ($2.4 million).

But Nicklaus and Watson were shutout last year, after coming in second in 2008 ($270,000), winning in 2007 ($320,000) and second in 2006 ($260,000).

Sun-splashed fans were treated to a rare Golden Bear sighting. The six-time Masters champion, who is one week shy of his 70th birthday, isn’t expected to play any other events this year.

After Zoeller chipped in for birdie on No. 3, Nicklaus made a 10-foot birdie putt from the fringe, halving the hole. Zoeller was following up Crenshaw’s ugly chip that rolled way past the cup.

With 10 skins worth $510,000 available on Sunday, including the $100,000 “Super Skin” on 18, the title is still up for grabs. Zoeller and Crenshaw are trying to become the team to repeat. It would be a third straight title for Zoeller, who won with Jacobsen in 2008.

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