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Two-stroke penalty to Justin Rose rescinded by PGA Tour

  • 11:07 am Sunday, May 11th, 2014 by Brian Biggane

(Update: PGA Tour rules chief Mark Russell announced today that the two-stroke penalty to Rose has been rescinded. He said the Rules Committee discussed the subject at length after its initial ruling Saturday night and that it was determined this was a case where the only way movement was detected was through advanced technology, thus triggering the rule that was passed five months ago. Rose was informed of the change prior to his tee time and after starting at 7-under has birdied two of his first six holes to get to 9-under, good for a share of third place and three shots off the lead.)

Justin Rose still had an outside chance at winning The Players Championship as he stood over a chip at the 18th hole early Saturday evening. By the time he had completed the hole, that had become all but impossible.

Detecting that the ball might have moved after he had addressed it, Rose backed off and called over playing partner Sergio Garcia to ask what he had seen. After a few moments of deliberation, he returned to address, getting up-and-down from just off the green for what appeared to be a par.

Soon afterward, he was assessed a two-stroke penalty after it was determined the ball had moved, turning the 4 into a double-bogey 6 that dropped him to 5-under, seven shots behind co-leaders Jordan Spieth and Martin Kaymer.

“It’s disappointing,” Rose said. “I’ve gone from trying to chip in to make 3 to walking off with 6.” Had he chipped in he’d be tied for fifth at 8-under and still in the championship hunt.

“That was a bitter pill to swallow at the end of a battling day.” It also turned a 1-under 71 into a 1-over 73. [More]

Struggles of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy bad timing for PGA Tour

  • 11:36 am Saturday, May 10th, 2014 by Brian Biggane

With Tiger Woods likely out at least another two months while he recuperates from surgery for a herniated disk, the PGA Tour has been hoping fellow superstars Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy could pick up the slack.

It hasn’t happened.

Mickelson missed the cut at the Masters and once again failed to get to the weekend at this week’s Players Championship, posting rounds of 75 and 70 to miss the 36-hole cut by one shot.

McIlroy, meanwhile, who needed to make a lengthy putt on the final hole to make the cut at the Masters, repeated the feat, sinking a 13-footer to cap a 32 on the back nine as he made the cut on the number. Whatever hopes McIlroy had had of winning disappeared after he shot 42 on the front nine that included four bogeys and a double-bogey in a five-hole stretch.

McIlroy was in the second twosome to go off Saturday and continued his struggles with a 2-over 38 on the front nine before a birdie-birdie-birdie finish gave him a 31 on the back and 69 overall. His round was over by the time Golf Channel commenced its live coverage at 12:30 p.m. [More]

Sergio Garcia puts Tiger Woods TPC flap in the past

  • 8:11 pm Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by Brian Biggane

Returning to The Players Championship has meant rekindling some bad memories for Sergio Garcia.

They’re not all bad. Garcia scored arguably the biggest victory of his 15-year PGA Tour career when he won the Players in 2008 and he has three other top-10 finishes, including last year when he placed eighth.

But last year is also where so many things went wrong for the 34-year-old Spaniard, where he followed a very public back-and-forth with Tiger Woods with a late meltdown after he held a share of the lead with two holes to play on Sunday.

Garcia demonstrated an ability to put those storylines behind him Thursday, posting a 32-35-67 at TPC-Sawgrass to tie for third, four shots behind 2010 PGA champion Martin Kaymer, who set a course record with a 7-under 29 on the back nine in finishing off a course record-tying 63.

“It was a nice day, no doubt,” Garcia said. “I can’t be disappointed with 5-under.” [More]

Golfweek names Craig Dolch Father of the Year

  • 11:31 am Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by Brian Biggane

Former Palm Beach Post golf writer Craig Dolch has been named 2014 Father of the Year by Golfweek Magazine, the highest honor annually bestowed by the publication.

Dolch, whose relationship with son Eric has been well-chronicled in The Post, will be honored at a luncheon June 14 during Golfweek’s annual Father-Son Tournament at Streamsong Resort near Lakeland.

Golfweek has annually named a Father of the Year dating back to 1983, with other recipients with South Florida ties including Jack Nicklaus; L.B. Floyd, the father of Old Palm resident Raymond Floyd; Peter Compton, father of PGA Tour player and heart transplant recipient Eric [More]

Tiger Woods is missed as Tour gathers for Players

  • 5:56 pm Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 by Brian Biggane

This week marks two months since Tiger Woods last played on the PGA Tour, and after Woods wrote on his latest blog posted Monday that his recovery is going slowly, it figures to be at least that long before he returns. Just how much he’s missed is a matter of perspective.

Golf fans clearly miss him. TV ratings are down across the board and the Masters number was the lowest ever on a non-Easter Sunday. With Woods unable to defend his title at this week’s Players Championship, NBC will no doubt hope Phil Mickelson and/or one of its up-and-comers (Jordan Spieth, [More]

Gator coaching legend Buddy Alexander retiring

  • 11:12 am Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 by Brian Biggane

The Florida Gators will lose a coaching legend when golf coach Buddy Alexander, who won two national championships and had 57 All-Americans in his 27 years on the job, retires at the end of the spring season.

Alexander, 61, who had a superb playing career in his own right that included two Masters appearances and a U.S. Amateur championship in 1986, is the longest-tenured UF coach, having arrived in Gainesville in January 1988.

Among the 38 players who have gone on to success on the PGA Tour who have starred under Alexander at UF are recent Bay Hill winner Matt Every, Camilo [More]

Five takeaways from covering the last two Masters

  • 12:36 pm Thursday, April 17th, 2014 by Brian Biggane

Been home two days now from my second trip to the Masters. Aside from being an exceedingly long trip — I spread the drive over two days both coming and going, though my stay on the way up in Statesboro left me less than 100 miles from Augusta — it’s as interesting and pleasurable a week as I spend all year.

At this time last year, my head was still swimming from the experience. With my second one behind me, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the positives and negatives:

1. The best of golf, the worst of golf. I certainly haven’t been everywhere, but I keep hearing it over and over from everyone who attends the Masters in any capacity: There’s nothing like Augusta National. From the drive up Magnolia Lane _ which, by the way, the average person absolutely cannot do during Masters Week _ to the flowers, to the acres and acres of perfectly mowed grass and even the architecture of the buildings around the grounds, everything is done perfectly. The volunteers, many if not most of the them local, are extremely proud of what they have (as they should be) and do their best to take care of it and make everyone’s experience memorable.

Of course, there’s also a downside to that staid old Southern charm. Rules are rules, and if you aren’t willing to go along, you’ll be saying goodbye quickly. A sign in the press room warns the media that no cellphones are permitted on the course, and I have yet to see anyone disobey it. I was even chastised last week for using a digital recorder to interview a player as he was coming off the ninth green, subsequently learning that all such interviews _ and all use of electronic equipment _ are to be done in the designated area. [More]

Phil Mickelson’s U.S. Open quest is next big golf story

  • 2:14 pm Monday, April 14th, 2014 by Brian Biggane

Congratulations to Bubba Watson, who continued the uncanny success rate of lefthanded golfers at the Masters last week, recording a three-shot victory over Jordan Spieth and Swede Jonas Blixt.

Watson’s win, which made him only the 17th player to capture more than one green jacket, elevated him out of the huge group of 20- and 30-something golfers with one major victory and stamped him _ at least for now _ as one of the top players on the PGA Tour.

With that over with, the focus of the golf world moves to The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra in early May, but [More]

Five Masters contenders who could don green jacket

  • 11:44 am Sunday, April 13th, 2014 by Brian Biggane

The early birds _ such as it is considering the first tee time was 10:10 a.m. _ are on the course and Masters Sunday is underway. As for the contenders, it’s unlikely any are even at the course considering they’re hours away from getting started.

Even so, there’s an air of anticipation, as Sunday at the Masters just might be the best day in golf.

Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson are the co-leaders at 5-under, and there are certainly arguments both could win. But let’s take a look at five other contenders who could rise up:

Matt Kuchar _ You had to wonder [More]

Fred Couples leads six 50-plus players into third round

  • 10:55 am Saturday, April 12th, 2014 by Brian Biggane

The big names are out. The old guys are in.

That’s one way to look at what’s left of this week’s Masters field. Tiger Woods never made it and Phil Mickelson made an early exit, but Fred Couples is in and a healthy contingent of the 50-and-over set is in with him.

Couples, who is in contention heading into Saturday for the third straight year, is joined by Boca Raton’s Bernhard Langer, Scotland’s Sandy Lyle, Augusta native Larry Mize, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and Fijian Vijay Singh. All six survived the cut from 97 to 51 Friday, a cut that sent (supposedly) much more talented young guns such as Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell home.

Now the challenge _ particularly for Couples, who has shot 75 and 77 on Saturday the past two years _ is building on that success and not fading as the weekend moves along. [More]

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