Langer on verge of 10th senior major

By Al TaysJuly 29, 2017, 9:44 pm

Weather, controversy, the rare off day – none of it seems to bother Bernhard Langer. Like Old Man River, he just keeps rolling along.

On Saturday in moderate wind and rain in Bridgend, Wales, the 59-year-old German shot a 6-under 65 to take a four-shot lead going into the final round of The Senior Open.

Langer is chasing his 10th senior major title – his nine wins are already a record – and given that he has won four of the last nine majors, it would be a shocker if he fails to seal the deal.

He's already won two majors this year, and the last time this championship was played at Royal Porthcawl, in 2014, he won by 13 – thirteen! – strokes.

In his 10th year on PGA Tour Champions, Langer has won the money title eight times. He's been the tour's player of the year six times and the scoring average leader five times.

Earlier this year it appeared that Langer might be stoppable. A longtime user of the long putter, Langer continued to use it even after the ban on anchored strokes went into effect. In July, Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee called enforcement of the ban "appalling." Across social media, many others agreed.

The Senior Open: Articles, photos and videos

Langer didn't. Nor did Scott McCarron, another accused anchorer. In conjunction with the USGA, they issued a joint statement claiming their innocence. Langer wrote: "I believe in honesty and integrity, and I could not live with myself if I broke a rule and did not incur the penalty. I’m certain that I am not anchoring the putter and that my putting stroke is not violating the Rules of Golf." He continued: "On several occasions, I have been in contact with the USGA and rules officials on the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, and each time I have been assured that my putting stroke is within the Rules of Golf."

The USGA backed up the players, writing: "We are confident that Rule has been applied fairly and consistently and have seen no evidence of a player breaching the Rule, which does not prohibit a hand or club to touch a player’s clothing in making a stroke. Integrity is at the heart of the Rules and how the game is played worldwide, and this essential value has made the game enjoyable for all golfers."

The USGA's position was criticized by many – including Chamblee, who wrote that it provided players a loophole. Regardless, the fact is that Langer has been found innocent and is free to continue to bludgeon opponents with his broomstick stroke.

If the controversy bothered Langer – and he later said it was "hurtful" – he didn't let it affect his game. As he has proven so far at Royal Porthcawl, he's still head and shoulders above the rest of the senior tour. "I've still got to be aggressive,'' he said after Saturday's bogey-free round. ''There's a lot of guys waiting for me to fall apart or whatever."

Langer fall apart? Don't hold your breath.

Getty Images

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).

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

Rules changes include no more viewer call-ins

By Rex HoggardDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

Although the Rules of Golf modernization is still a year away, officials continue to refine parts of the rulebook including an overhaul of the video review protocols.

A “working group” led by the USGA and R&A announced on Monday the new protocols, which include assigning a rule official to a tournament broadcast to resolve rules issues.

The group – which includes the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA tour and PGA of America – also voted to stop considering viewer call-ins when processing potential rule violations.

In addition, a new local rule was announced that will discontinue the penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard when the player was unaware of the violation.

In April, Lexi Thompson was penalized four strokes during the final round when officials at the ANA Inspiration learned via e-mail from a viewer of an infraction that occurred during the third round. Thompson was penalized two strokes for incorrectly marking her golf ball and two for signing an incorrect scorecard.

“The message is, as a fan, enjoy watching the game and the best players in the world, but also have the confidence that the committee in charge of the competition have the rules handled,” Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of the Rules of Golf, said on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" on Monday. “Let’s leave the rules and the administration of the event to the players and to those responsible for running the tournament.”

The working group was created in April to review the use of video in applying the rules and the role of viewer call-ins, and initially issued a decision to limit the use of video through the introduction of the “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standard.

According to that decision, which was not a rule, “so long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player’s reasonable judgment will be accepted, even if later shown to be inaccurate by the use of video evidence.”

The new protocols will be implemented starting on Jan. 1.

A comprehensive overhaul of the Rules of Golf is currently underway by the USGA and R&A that will begin on Jan. 1, 2019.