Tataurangi Comes Home a Big Winner
Tataurangi, winner of the U.S. PGA Tour's Invensys Classic in Las Vegas in October, where he picked up $900,000, begins play Thursday in the New Zealand Open at Auckland Golf Club.
``I really wanted to come home with a win under my belt,'' he said Tuesday before a practice round. ``To win on the PGA Tour has been a goal of mine since I started playing professionally and that's been a long time coming.''
Tataurangi also had three other top-10 finishes for earnings of $1.6 million during his best season on the U.S. Tour. His success in Las Vegas has qualified him for the U.S. Masters, the U.S. PGA and two World Golf Championship events.
For that reason, he's looking forward to the new season.
``As soon as New Year's Day rolled around, although 2002 was very good to me, I was happy for it to finish,'' he said.
``There a lot of very exciting things that happened to me last year but I was happy to put that aside and start afresh.''
Tataurangi said his Las Vegas win gave him confidence that his career was sound.
``When I started out my career I had hoped last year would have arrived earlier than it did,'' he said.
``But the experience I've gained over the years has put me in good stead to carry on and keep on advancing at that level. There hasn't been a lot of time to daydream.''
Tataurangi has had some lean years since joining the U.S. Tour in 1997, losing his card after the first year, battling injuries and trying to overcome complications of a heart condition.
In 2001, he collapsed and had to be put on a stretcher and given oxygen on the 17th hole of the Air Canada Championship. He suffered from superventricular tachycardia, a condition that causes rapid beating of the heart and mimics the symptoms of a heart attack.
He had surgery last July to fix the condition, and his golf game has improved.
Now that he has a Tour victory, he doesn't care if 2003 includes one.
``I don't think you have to win every year to consider it a successful season,'' he said. ``Golf's one of those games where you get better by losing, not by winning every single week.''
Tataurangi said he took no pleasure that his first Tour win may have silenced critics who doubted he could compete in the United States.
``I've never really taken too much notice of the people who have doubted me, I don't even know who they are,'' he said. ``I just got satisfaction out of meeting the goals I set for myself and repaying the people who have helped me along the way.''
Tataurangi, who opened his 2003 season with a tie for 17th place at the Mercedes Championships in Hawaii, said he would use the New Zealand Open to prepare for tournaments in the United States.
But he'd like to do well in Auckland, where the total purse money this week is about $350,000 less than his first-place check in Las Vegas.
``It's our national open, irrespective of the purse or what it can do for your career,'' said Tataurangi. ``If I don't do it this week I'll try to do it next year or the year after, sometime before I hang up my spikes.''
Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change
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.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
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:
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.
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.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
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.
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).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18