Jacobson leads Oosthuizen, Scott, Bradley in China

By Doug FergusonNovember 4, 2011, 9:09 am

SHANGHAI – Adam Scott can join rare company with a second World Golf Championship. Keegan Bradley still has hopes of winning PGA Tour Player of the Year. Paul Casey thought his PGA Tour card was gone, and has a shot at getting it back.

The HSBC Champions, the semi-official end of the PGA Tour and the start of a big finish on the European Tour, offers a little bit of everything to so many players.

Scott, Bradley and Casey put themselves in contention Friday on a humid, overcast day at Sheshan International. They were chasing Fredrik Jacobson, who rattled off six birdies and kept mistakes off his card for a 6-under 66. Jacobson tied the tournament record at 11-under 133 and led by one shot over Scott and Louis Oosthuizen going into the weekend.

Jacobson, a Swede who lives and plays primarily in America, won his first PGA Tour title this year at the Travelers Championship and believes his game has improved to the point that he can think about getting on his first Ryder Cup team.

That’s still 10 months away.

There are more immediate goals for others in Shanghai, and not just of the PGA Tour variety.

U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy still has the best chance of running down Luke Donald on the European Tour money list, though he might need to win the HSBC Champions and fare well in Hong Kong in three weeks to make a real game of it. McIlroy sputtered along Friday on a day of supreme scoring, trading birdies with too many bogeys for a 69 that left him six shots behind.

“I was just always trying to play catch up,” McIlroy said. “I feel like over the past two days, I’ve left quite a few shots out there. It’s one of those things. I just have to try and make them up over the weekend.

“I’ll need to do something pretty good over the weekend if I want to try and win this tournament.”

Scott was in much better shape after making nine birdies in his 18 holes and missing only one green in his round of 65.

As always, Scott feels as though he could have done more this year, though he wouldn’t trade that one win at the Bridgestone Invitational. A win this week would allow him to join Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as the only players to win multiple World Golf Championships in the same year. Woods did it five times, while Mickelson won at Doral and the HSBC in 2009.

“That would be a really good year,” Scott said. “I feel like overall I played really well this year, and I wouldn’t say I would be disappointed to only win one tournament for the year. But I feel like I’ve played well enough, and been in a position a few other times, and haven’t taken advantage of it. So I would like to be in a position late on Sunday and see if I can edge out the field here.

“And then to win two World Golf Championships … these are the tournaments that you want to add up by the end of your career.”

He certainly looked up to the task while playing alongside Bradley and Lee Westwood, a threesome that combined to make 16 birdies and an eagle that kept their gallery thoroughly entertained. Westwood wound up with a 68 and was four shots out of the lead.

Scott led the way by running off four straight birdies early in his round, capped off by a 7-iron from 190 yards to 3 feet on the par-3 sixth. It looked as though he might make it five in a row until he tried to ram in a 12-foot birdie putt, only to run it some 5 feet by the hole and three-putted for bogey. He bounced back with two more birdies to close out his front nine and get into the hunt.

Bradley might have the most at stake this week. A win at Sheshan International would be his PGA Tour-leading third win of the year, and with two of those being the PGA Championship and a WGC, it might be enough to be voted Player of the Year.

For now, Bradley was pleased to still be in the game.

He was even par on the back, and thankful for it. On two holes, Bradley left himself 10 feet and 12 feet away for par, and both times he holed the putt. He missed his last four tee shots, yet hit a sand wedge to 5 feet for birdie on the last hole to salvage a 70 and stay only two shots behind at the halfway point.

“The birdie on 18 was big,” Bradley said. “Today could have easily been even par, and I was 2 under. I’m only two shots back. I’m in a really good spot. I know I could shoot a really good number on this course again.”

Malaysia winner Bo Van Pelt had a 69 – he’s 31 under in his six rounds of this Asian adventure – and was three shots behind. Joining him was Casey, who suddenly has a chance for a happy ending to an otherwise dour year.

Casey dealt most of the year with a foot injury that got his swing out of sync. His domestic PGA Tour season ended at Sea Island a few weeks ago when he missed the cut, and he wound up at No. 136 on the money list to lose his tour card.

However, just as it does for Bradley, a win at the HSBC Champions would count as official for PGA Tour members. That means Casey, who had limited status when he left for Shanghai, could return home with an official win and a three-year exemption.

“The season is not over yet, although I kind of feel like I’m working toward next year already,” Casey said. “And the golf I played today is the golf I remember playing.”

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