Oh Maria Maria

By Martha BrendleFebruary 8, 2001, 5:00 pm
Amidst Humpback whales, rainbows, and some of the most spectacular yet distracting scenery one could imagine, one woman stood out ahead of the rest of the field.
 
Maria Hjorth tied the course record during the first round of the second annual LPGA Takefuji Classic by carding six birdies to finish the day at 5-under 67. Her first round, virtually error free, was subject to a lone bogey that came on the par-4 first.
 
Hjorth is no stranger to the winner's circle having captured two wins in 1999 - at the SAFECO Classic and the Mizuno Classic - yet today is only the third time in her last 11 rounds in which she has broken par.
 
Don't count defending champion Karrie Webb or Annika Sorenstam out of the race just yet.
 
Webb thinks she may be getting her timing back. That's good news for her, but not so good for the rest of the 132 competitors in the field left apoplectic by Bermuda grass greens on the Big Island this week.
 
Webb teed off the backside late in the day wasting no time before making birdie. The Florida resident made the turn at 3-under-par after completing a run of birdies on the 11th, 12th and 13th and finishing off with one the 457-yard 18th. She finished tied amongst 14 others at 2-under-par 70 after posting four birdies and two bogies - one of which came on the last, the par 4 ninth.
 
Annika Sorenstam unveiled her 2001 game this week while making her season debut. Sorenstam took some time off to relax and ready herself for the New Year. 'This is a good place to start the season,' Sorenstam said in a press conference earlier this week.
 
'My last tournament was last year, December 18. And after that, I was a little tired. I really needed a break. So I didn't touch a club for four weeks. Then I started practicing again three weeks ago and I'm ready to go. I really like this course. And I have a lot of good memories from last year.'
 
Sorenstam is currently tied with Webb and a host of others at 2-under after carding five birdies and three bogies.
 
Grace Park is home again. Park lived in Hawaii from 1991 to 1993 before moving to Arizona. Yet today was a struggle for the former resident. Park found herself tied for 58th position after shooting a disappointing 2-over-par 74.
 
Another Park, Gloria, found herself in the field after Amy Reid withdrew due to a knee injury. Park, native of Seoul, South Korea and citizen of Sidney, Australia, made the most of her opportunity by carding two-under-par. She is now tied for eight place with 14 others including Karrie Webb.

Kris Lindstrom took a ride on the bogey train Thursday. While ever-so-rare raindrops fell on Kona, a city distinguished as being the driest city in America, Lindstrom fell victim to the tricky 325 Bermuda grass greens.
 
A myriad of bogeys littered her round. This coupled with double-bogey on the par 5 sixth and triple on the par 4 ninth, left the four-year veteran and recent Q-School graduate gasping for mercy after carding 12-over-par 84 to finish dead last.
 
No matter who leads at the end of the day Friday, tomorrow is shaping up to be a great show.
 

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