Haas wins playoff over Mickelson, Bradley

By Doug FergusonFebruary 20, 2012, 12:32 am

LOS ANGELES - Bill Haas wound up making the biggest putt of them all at Riviera.

On the second extra hole of a three-way playoff Sunday - made possible by long birdie putts from Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley on the final hole - Haas rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt across the 10th green to win the Northern Trust Open.

Haas closed with a 2-under 69 and won a PGA Tour event for the third straight year.

He was on the practice range at 7-under 277, warming up for a playoff that didn’t look likely. Mickelson and Bradley, the co-leaders going into the final round, were one shot behind on the 18th hole, which had given up only six birdies all day.

With tournament executive director Jerry West looking on, Mickelson rammed in a birdie putt from just outside 25 feet, pointing his putter and slamming his fist as the gallery packed into the hill below the stately clubhouse let out a cheer that could be heard down Sunset Boulevard.

Mickelson bumped fists with Bradley and told his protege, “Join me.”

That he did. Bradley’s birdie putt from just outside 12 feet took one last, slow turn at the cup and disappeared, setting off another enormous cheer. No one had to tell Haas what was happening.

They started the playoff on the 18th, and Bradley had the best look at birdie with a 15-footer from just off the back of the green that touched the right side of the cup.

It was decided on the 312-yard 10th hole, regarded as the best short par 4 in America, certainly among the most interesting holes in all of golf. It can be reached with a drive, but it’s all about position - and none were in a particularly good spot.

Haas went long into thick rough, with enough of the back bunker in his way that he smartly played out to the right and left himself a long birdie putt that at least would assure him par.

Mickelson and Bradley each came up short, a horrible angle. Mickelson’s flop shot landed near the hole and rolled into the back bunker. Bradley was in the bunker, and did well to blast out to 15 feet, just through the green.

Haas ended the suspense with his putt.

Bradley, who closed with a 71, missed his birdie putt after Mickelson, who also had a 71, failed to hole his bunker shot.

“I didn’t think he was going to make that one,” Bradley said. “I should have known, though, because he’s a great putter and a great player.”

Haas, the FedEx Cup champion, captured his fourth career PGA Tour title and moved to No. 12 in the world.

Mickelson, who rallied from six shots behind with a 64 to win last week at Pebble Beach, was trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods in August 2009 to win back-to-back on the PGA Tour.

Mickelson missed three straight putts from just inside 10 feet on the back nine - two for par, one for birdie - but atoned for it with his birdie on the 18th, the longest putt he made all day.

Bradley also missed a pair of putts from inside 10 feet down the stretch until coming up big on the 18th.

Mickelson seized control early with the best shot he hit all week. With pin tucked in the back right corner on a new green at the fifth hole - a deep swale behind it and to the right - Mickelson hooked a 9-iron that started out toward the gallery and wound up 4 feet away for birdie.

That put him at 9 under, two shots clear of Haas, who had birdied the par-3 sixth two groups ahead. Jonathan Byrd, who had been tied for the lead, made double bogey on No. 5 with a hooked tee shot into the hay.

All it took was a pair of mistakes by Mickelson to turn the back nine into a shootout, with a half-dozen players in the mix.

He missed the dual fairway on the eighth and couldn’t reach the green, chipped 6 feet by the hole and missed the par putt. Then, he failed to clear the fairway bunker on No. 9 and had no chance of getting home. His wedge was 20 feet short, leading to another bogey.

The game was on.

Haas started the back nine with a birdie to take the lead, only to give it back with consecutive bogeys when he came up short on the 12th and missed the fairway left on the 13th. Bradley and Mickelson each made birdie on the 11th to reclaim a share of the lead, then took turns falling out of the lead—Bradley missed the green to the left on No. 13 for bogey, Mickelson with a three-putt from 50 feet on No. 14.

Mickelson three-putted again from 70 feet on the 15th, but Bradley also missed a 7-foot par putt on the same hole.

Four players had at least a share of the lead throughout the final round. Dustin Johnson was not among them, though he stayed in the hunt until the end. Needing a birdie to match Haas, he leaked his approach to the 18th and then bladed his chip across the green. He had to scramble for bogey and a 71, putting him in a tie for fourth.

Garcia never had a chance to win, though the Spaniard sure made it interesting.

He hit 3-wood to 10 feet for eagle on No. 11, holed a 4-iron from 207 for eagle on No. 15 and birdied the 18th for a 30 on his opening nine. When he holed a birdie putt across the third green, he was 8 under for the day through 11 holes, and only three shots behind.

His momentum ended with a bogey on the par-3 fourth, and he had to settle for a 64, the best round of the tournament.

Winning never entered his mind.

“Everything had to be absolutely perfect for me,” Garcia said. “I obviously couldn’t make any bogeys. It’s not that easy.”

Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, struggled after the opening round and closed with a 78.

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