Stellar rookie class graduates from LPGA Q-School

By Randall MellDecember 8, 2014, 12:08 am

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The LPGA will welcome a formidable cast of rookies next year.

Cheyenne Woods, Charley Hull, Ariya Jutanugarn, Minjee Lee, Alison Lee, Ha Na Jang and Sakura Yokomine will all join the LPGA as rookies next year after claiming some level of tour membership Sunday at LPGA Q-School. 

Amateur Alison Lee, a sophomore at UCLA, closed with an even-par 72 to share medalist honors with Australia’s Minjee Lee (73), the top women’s amateur in the world until turning pro in September. They finished at 10-under 350. 

Alison Lee, 19, confirmed she will shed her amateur status to turn pro and join the LPGA full time next year, though she said she plans to continue her studies at UCLA. She was one of a record four amateurs who made it through Q-School this year and will play the tour as professionals next year. South Korean amateur SooBin Kim earned full status while fellow amateurs Julie Yang of South Korea and Jing Yan of China earned conditional status.

Q-School ended with a suspension of play due to darkness Sunday after seven players went into a playoff for the final three cards for full status. The top 20 earn full LPGA membership with the next 25 and ties earning conditional status.

Israel’s Laetitia Beck and American Garrett Phillips advanced from the playoff before darkness fell to claim two tour cards granting full status. Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow and Americans Karlin Beck and Casey Grice will return Monday at 7:30 a.m. to vie for the final card granting full status.

Woods rebounded from a second-round 79 to claim full status, tying for 11th with a final-round 70.

Jutanugarn, 19, who ranked as high as No. 15 in the world before tearing the labrum in her right shoulder a year ago, will join her sister, Moriya, in the LPGA next year. Ariya (71) finished tied for third. Moriya was co-champion at LPGA Q School two years ago and was the tour’s Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Hull, 18, closed with a 68, the round of the day, but it wasn’t good enough to gain her full status. She tied for 28th, earning conditional status. She is flying to the Dubai Ladies Masters this next week to try to become the youngest Order of Merit winner in Ladies European Tour history.

Jang, 22, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 25 in the world, led going into Sunday but shot 80. Still, she tied for sixth. She was the Korean LPGA Tour’s Player of the Year and leading money winner last year.

Yokomine, 28, who has won 23 LPGA of Japan Tour events, shot 75 and tied for 11th.

Ryann O'Toole (70), a member of the 2011 American Solheim Cup team, finished fifth.

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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.