Big Finish Lifts Gustafson Into Lead
Gustafson was 1-under for her round when she knocked a 200-yard 4-iron to three feet to set up an eagle at the par-5 16th. After a 9-iron approach to the par-4 17th left her with a short putt for birdie, Gustafson managed to cap her round with a 20-foot eagle putt at the closing par-5.
'It was really nice. That's probably my best ever finish to a tournament,' said Gustafson, who carded the day's best round of 6- under 66 in windy conditions for a three-day total of 11-under-par 205. 'The putts were just short ones on 16 and 17, but it was nice to finish so strong on 18.'
The 27-year-old Gustafson was three shots back at the start of the day and made it to 8-under par with three birdies before the turn. Although she stumbled a bit with bogeys at the 11th and 15th, Gustafson quickly leaped to the top of the leaderboard with her sensational finish.
When Gustafson is paired with Webb on Sunday, it will mark the second time this season that the two have gone head-to-head in a final round. Gustafson got the better of the Aussie back in January, posting a three-shot victory over the top-ranked Webb at the LPGA's Memorial of Naples event.
'It's nice to have a four-shot lead over [Webb],' Gustafson said. 'That means she's going to have to play very good to beat me tomorrow.'
Gustafson, who broke through on the LPGA Tour last year with a triumph at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship, was the No. 1 player on the 2000 Evian Ladies European Tour with wins in the Italian and Irish Opens. She went on to capture the Women's British Open, an event that is co-sanctioned by the European and LPGA tours.
The Swede also posted a 2-1-1 record to help Europe defeat the U.S. in the 2000 Solheim Cup.
Webb opened with a bogey on Saturday but made four birdies over a seven-hole stretch midround to grab a share of the lead with Gustafson at 7-under. Webb then had the lead to herself when Gustafson bogeyed 15, only to watch Gustafson pull away at the end with two eagles and a birdie.
'I felt like I hit the ball pretty well for the conditions,' said Webb, who finished with a 3-under 69 to get to 7-under 209. 'It was tough out there and you really had to grind it out. The conditions got a little easier for us in the last few holes, but before that it was really tough to try and judge which way the wind came.'
The 26-year-old Webb won her fourth consecutive Australian Ladies Masters title at the Royal Pines Resort last week.
Crafter, the winner of this event in 1997, turned in a 2-under 70 for a share of second place with Webb, while Munt followed up rounds of 65-71 with a 78 on Saturday that featured four bogeys and two double-bogeys.
Tied for fourth with Munt at 2-under 214 are Becky Morgan (72) and Corinne Dibnah (76).
England's Laura Davies, five strokes back at the start of the day, struggled to a 78 and slipped 14 shots off the pace to 3-over par.
Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change
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.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
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:
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.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
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.
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).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18