Park, Ko, Feng finish gold, silver, bronze at Olympics

By Nick MentaAugust 20, 2016, 5:00 pm

With a round of 5-under 66, Inbee Park ran away from the field to win the first gold medal ever awarded for women’s golf. Here’s how things wrapped up in Rio, where Lydia Ko birdied the 18th hole to edge Shanshan Feng for silver:

Leaderboard: Park (-16), Ko (-11), Feng (-10), Haru Nomura (-9), Stacy Lewis (-9)

Gold: This is Park’s 23rd worldwide win and her first since the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last November. Just three months ago, Park was struggling her way through injury to reach the LPGA Hall of Fame. Heading into Rio, she had played just one event in two months – she missed the cut – and attention was turning toward a potential retirement. But for 72 holes at the Olympics, the seven-time major winner looked as sharp as she ever has. Up two to start the day, she played her first nine holes a bogey-free 4 under to pull away quickly and for good. She mixed three birdies with two bogeys on the back to walk to the finish. The former world No. 1 said earlier this week that winning a gold medal would probably be “the highlight” of her career. As for what she does now, next month’s Evian Championship is the only one of the LPGA’s five current majors she hasn’t won. A victory in France would make Park one of only two players (Karrie Webb) in golf history to claim five different major titles. She’s already the first to own multiple majors and a gold.

Silver: Ko quickly slipped out of contention for the gold and was just even par through 15 holes before playing her final three holes in 2 under par, including a clutch birdie at 18 to claim the silver medal. Had she missed the final putt, Ko would’ve been headed to a playoff with Feng.

Bronze: Feng, a 15-time worldwide winner and one-time major champion, turned in four straight under-par rounds including Saturday’s 69. But while much of the field closed with birdies, Feng played her final six holes in 1 over, good enough to hang on for third and a coveted spot on the Olympic podium.

Biggest disappointments: Lewis and Nomura came up one shot and a few inches short of a playoff with Feng for bronze. Lewis fired a closing 66 and birdied 16 and 17 before leaving a final birdie try hanging on the lip at the 18th hole:

Nomura, separately, posted a bogey-free 65 but was done in by this missed backhanded tap-in attempt during her first round on Wednesday:

Rest of the U.S.: Playing in the final group with Park and Ko, Piller made two birdies and two bogeys in her first five holes before fading for good with dropped shots at 9, 13 and 14. She went from a tie for second to a tie for 11th at 6 under. Thompson went out in the first group off the back nine and posted 5-under 66 to finish minus-3, tied for 19th. 

Round of the day/Shot of the day: Russia’s Maria Verchenova set a new Olympic record with her 9-under 62 Sunday, besting Marcus Fraser, Matt Kuchar and Stacy Lewis who shared the previous mark of 63. Verchenova made eight birdies, two bogeys and this hole-in-one at the par-3 fourth:

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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
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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.