Key facts for the Phoenix Open final round

By Jason SobelFebruary 5, 2012, 1:15 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Here’s what to watch for in Sunday’s final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open:

Like so many viewers at home, Spencer Levin turned off his television before Kyle Stanley finished the final hole at Torrey Pines last week, figuring the outcome was a given.

Not exactly.

Stanley coughed up what was once a six-shot lead, then wound up losing in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker. Coincidentally, Levin enters the final round with a six-shot lead and, like Stanley, is seeking his first career PGA Tour win.

If he learned anything from Stanley’s foibles, Levin wasn’t dropping clues.

“If you can focus on yourself and just try to do the best you can,” he said, “that’s all you can really do.”

How will Levin fare when playing with the lead through 54 holes? Tough to tell, since he’s never been in this position on the PGA Tour – or anywhere else, really, that he can recall.

“I think maybe back on the Canadian Tour or a mini-tour,” he said. “I’m not sure about Nationwide. I don’t think so. Maybe a 36-hole lead on the Nationwide, but not 54-hole.”

Sunday’s magic number: 78,541.

That’s how many spectators the WMPO needs in order to surpass the largest attendance total ever, which was set in 2008 – the same year the Super Bowl was in town during the same week.

Through six days (including three practice/pro-am rounds), attendance has totaled 459,815, including a record-setting mark of 173,210 on Saturday.

On four previous occasions the Sunday figure has been at least 78,541, but it hasn’t happened since 2007.

Driving distance is often an overrated statistic, but never more so than in one instance on Saturday.

Late in the day, the large scoreboard adjacent to the par-4 17th hole boasted that the day’s longest drive there was hit by Ken Duke, who banged one 354 yards. Only problem? The hole was playing just 341. His ball wound up in the water, which could serve as a daunting hazard for the leaders come Sunday afternoon.

Players will compete in threesomes off the first and 10th tees, with the first groups beginning at 10:45 a.m. ET/8:45 a.m. local and the final group of Spencer Levin, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson teeing off at 12:45 p.m. ET/10:45 a.m. local.

Tee times are moved up so the tournament may conclude prior to the Super Bowl.

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.”

Getty Images

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.


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.

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