Pressel loses in semis; Munoz, Kung to play for Sybase title

By Associated PressMay 20, 2012, 4:32 pm

GLADSTONE, N.J. – Azahara Munoz of Spain defeated Morgan Pressel, 2 and 1, in the semifinals of the Sybase Match Play Championship Sunday after a slow-play penalty against the American on the 12th hole turned the match, casting a shadow on the $1.5 million event.

Munoz will play veteran Candie Kung in the title match. Kung beat Vicky Hurst, 2 and 1, in the other semifinal of an event that now is shrouded with controversy.

Pressel had won the 12th hole at the Hamilton Farm Golf Club to go 3 up and seemingly was in command with six holes to play.

On the 13th tee, LPGA official and match timer Doug Brecht told the 23-year-old Pressel that she had violated the tour's pace of play by taking 2:09 to play her three shots at the par-3. That was 39 seconds over the allotted 90 seconds allowed; the penalty in match play is the loss of a hole. Munoz and Pressel had been warned about slow play after the ninth hole.

Pressel, seeking her first tour win since 2008, appealed to referee Marty Robinson before her next tee shot, but the penalty stood and her lead went from 3 up to 1 up.

Munoz evened the match with a 12 foot 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 saver at No. 17.

Pressel refused to be interviewed by an on-course television reporter after the match. An Associated Press photographer heard her tell the reporter ''Not a chance'' when he asked for an interview.

Munoz was in tears while being interviewed after the match against her friend.

''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 compared to five all last year. Pressel was the only one disciplined in this 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.

Munoz, a 24-year-old NCAA champion who is the 19th seed, is looking for her first LPGA win. She was 2 down after nine holes.

The 49th-seeded Kung, who hasn't won since 2008, was 3 up after 12 holes before securing the win with a birdie at No. 17. The Taiwan native ousted No. 1 ranked Yani Tseng in the third round.

The title match is Sunday afternoon, while Pressel has to face Hurst in an All-American match for third place.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.