Mahan storms into lead at Doral

By Doug FergusonMarch 11, 2011, 4:38 am

WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – Television towers toppled and the monster scoreboard at Doral came crashing down when 50 mph gusts blew through the Blue Monster. Hunter Mahan then delivered some excitement of his own.

Mahan birdied his opening four holes Thursday and kept right on rolling until the storm-delayed opening round was suspended by darkness. He didn’t miss a green or come close to a bogey in 11 holes and was 7 under par.

Mahan, the only American winner in the last five World Golf Championships, didn’t get much attention in a tournament that tried to drum up some drama by grouping players by their world ranking.

The biggest crowd belonged to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in a rare weekday pairing, with Graeme McDowell along for the ride. They scrapped their way around Doral without challenging the leaders – Mickelson at 2 under, with Woods and McDowell another shot back through 15 holes.

The top three players did a better job living up to their billing.

Martin Kaymer, in his second week as the new No. 1, opened with three straight birdies and was at 5 under through 10 holes. Match Play winner Luke Donald (No. 3) joined him with a birdie on the 10th hole, while Lee Westwood (No. 2) was another shot behind.

Mahan went out in 30 on the back nine, which included birdie putts of 35 and 40 feet.

At 7 under, he was two shots clear of Charley Hoffman, who had a 5-under 67 and was among nine players in the 66-man field who were able to finish the round.

Among those at 5 under with still more golf to play in the first round were 19-year-old Ryo Ishikawa of Japan and 48-year-old Vijay Singh, who only got into this tournament last week. Nick Watney and Matt Kuchar also were at 5 under.

“I guess with that storm, it brought tranquility to the golf course,” Mahan said.

It was chaotic for an hour.

Woods and Mickelson were on their way to the 10th tee to start the round when dark clouds gathered and the siren sounded to stop play. Players on the course were brought into the clubhouse, and that’s when the action began.

Gusts that reached 52 mph knocked down the large, manual scoreboard – a traditional fixture at Doral beyond the lake to the left of the 18th green – and left it in pieces. A stationary camera in a TV tower behind the ninth green captured video of another TV tower behind the eighth green crashing down into a bunker.

Moments later, the camera went from showing green grass to a gray sky and then went blank. The tower where it was stationed was blown over backward into a pond, with the camera going to the bottom. Divers had to retrieve it.

No one was injured, and while 17 newly planted palm trees were uprooted, the course was fine.

For Mahan and so many others, it was better than that.

“The course is in perfect shape,” Mahan said. “Good players and a good golf course and benign conditions, you’re going to have some good scores.”

But the largest gallery sure didn’t see great golf.

Woods missed five birdie putts inside 15 feet on his front nine as he made the turn in 37, and he sure didn’t look as if he was making much progress. On the par-5 12th, he snap-hooked a tee shot so badly it nearly went into a water hazard that not many people even knew existed. Even so, he kept himself out of big trouble, and finally got into the game with a pair of birdies before play was suspended.

Mickelson started out sharply, with a massive tee shot on the 12th that led to his second birdie. He struggled to maintain the momentum, however, and had to make a late birdie to stay one shot clear of Woods.

“We didn’t play our best, but we didn’t play terrible,” Mickelson said. “We’re in good position tomorrow to come back out, finish the round strong and play our second round.”

D.A. Points shot a 68. Thomas Bjorn, who beat Woods in the first round of Match Play, finished off a 71.

Rory Sabbatini was in the mood to celebrate despite opening with a 74. He was so desperate to finish his round that he ran up to the eighth green to putt out while his playing partners remained in the fairway. Then he raced to the ninth tee, and as the group ahead was walking to the par-3 green, Sabbatini hit his tee shot.

The horn sounded to stop play a few minutes later. When play is suspended by darkness, players have the option to finish the hole. Because Sabbatini already had teed off on the ninth, the rest of the group was able to finish the round.

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