Rain delays, early start don't deter Garcia (67) at Aussie PGA

By Associated PressNovember 30, 2017, 12:54 pm

GOLD COAST, Australia – Sergio Garcia withstood two rain delays and his earliest career starting time for a 5-under 67 and was a stroke behind the leaders at the Australian PGA Championship.

Adam Bland, who bogeyed his final hole, and fellow Australian Jordan Zunic, who chipped in for eagle on his last, shared the first-round lead Thursday after afternoon starts.

''I think we definitely had the better side of the draw today,'' Bland said after his 66. ''The conditions were perfect. The greens were soft so we could attack.''

Garcia was in a five-way tie for third with Australians Marc Leishman, Peter Senior, Daniel Nisbet and Michael Wright.

Masters champion Garcia, starting on the 10th hole at 6:10 a.m. at Royal Pines and in a group with Adam Scott, had three birdies over his final seven holes.


Full-field scores from the Australian PGA Championship


''Other than a couple of times where it poured down on us, it was a fun day,'' the Spanish star said. ''In a tournament I think probably the earliest I've teed off ... I want to say it was the closest I've had a dinner and a breakfast, ever.''

Scott, playing with a long-handled putter, was 1 over through 16 holes before birdieing his final two for a 71. Scott used a broomstick putter when he won the Masters in 2013, but switched to a short putter after a ban on anchoring the putter against the body began in 2016.

''A good start and a good finish, mixed bag in the middle,'' said Scott, who was 2 under after three holes. ''Some positive signs toward the end ... didn't let Sergio get too far ahead. I had a couple of putts that I would have liked to make from 15 feet or so that just slipped by.''

Garcia said he wasn't aware that Scott had returned to the longer putter until just before the round began.

''I looked at him throughout the whole day and you could see that he was making sure that he had it away from his chest,'' Garcia said. ''But we know Scotty's a great gentleman, he's a great boy and he's never going to do anything that shouldn't be done.''

Defending champion Harold Varner III of the United States shot 71, while Mike Weir of Canada, the 2003 Masters champion, had a 73.

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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

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.