Power Rankings: 2014 Shriners Open

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2014, 5:48 pm

The PGA Tour continues to kick off the 2014-15 season with the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. A field of 144 players will tee it up at TPC Summerlin, where the winning score often exceeds 20 under par.

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Webb Simpson won this event a year ago by six shots over Ryo Ishikawa and Jason Bohn. Here are 10 players to watch in Las Vegas:

1. Brooks Koepka: His T-8 finish at Silverado was his fourth consecutive top-11 finish overall, and signaled that the 24-year-old is prepared to contend in his first full season as a PGA Tour member. His length off the tee should come in handy at TPC Summerlin, and a shootout could be his best chance to notch that maiden win.

2. Billy Horschel: The FedEx Cup champ makes his season debut, but after a short offseason there's reason to expect that the form - and momentum - that carried him to two playoff wins will carry over. Horschel was T-16 in 2011 in his lone start in this event.

3. Jimmy Walker: His Ryder Cup fatigue was evident in his title defense in Napa, but TPC Summerlin has suited him well in years past. Walker was T-10 in 2011 and T-12 a year ago in Sin City, and he finished last season third on Tour in birdie average.

4. Martin Laird: While some high finishes yield nothing but positives, Laird admitted Sunday he was disappointed with his T-3 finish at Silverado after holding the 36-hole lead. He'll have a chance to make up for that disappointment on a course where he won in 2009 and lost in a playoff in 2010.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama began his season with a T-3 finish at the Frys.com Open, where he found 56/72 greens in regulation. Matsuyama is making his first start in Las Vegas, but with many of the game's top players still on the sidelines he remains a player to watch.

6. Webb Simpson: The defending champ torched the field last year en route to a six-shot victory, and now will tee it up for the first time since a disappointing appearance at the Ryder Cup. Simpson also tied for fourth at TPC Summerlin in 2009, so it appears the desert air might suit him.

7. Ryan Moore: The UNLV grad will have plenty of support from the galleries this week, and he'll play a course where he won in 2011 and was T-9 a year ago. Moore is making his first start since the BMW Championship, but finished last season in the top 25 in both birdie average and GIR percentage.

8. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker was slow getting out of the gates in wine country, where he tied for 57th last week, and now heads to Vegas for the first time since 2008 (T-24). Should his putter heat up, though, Sneds will be one to watch this weekend.

9. Nick Watney: Watney is coming off a disappointing season, but he did begin to show signs of life in July and August. TPC Summerlin is one of his preferred venues, having cracked the top 10 three straight years from 2009-2011, including a runner-up showing in 2010.

10. Kevin Na: Na claimed his lone PGA Tour win in Las Vegas in 2011, and a quietly solid season led to a Tour Championship berth last month after Na recorded 14 top-25 finishes in 27 starts. He finished last season 16th in scoring average and 18th in the all-around ranking.

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