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PHOENIX — Inbee Park felt as if she were in 2013 on the front nine Saturday at the Founders Cup. Laura Davies brought back memories of her dominant desert run more than 20 years ago.

The Hall of Famers shot matching 9-under 63s in sunny and breezy conditions at Desert Ridge. Park reached 14 under to take a one-stroke lead over Mariajo Uribe into the final round. Davies, 54, was tied for fourth at 11 under in the event honoring the 13 women who founded the LPGA Tour in 1950.

Park, 29, played the first five holes in 6 under, holing out from 90 yards for eagle on the par-4 third. She birdied the par-4 ninth for a front-nine 31, made another birdie on the par-5 11th and capped the bogey-free round with an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th.

“The front nine, everything felt great,” Park said. “Still, the back nine, I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty solid, but just the putts didn’t seem to drop like front nine. If it dropped like front nine, it would’ve been 59.”

In 2013, she won the first three majors and finished with six victories. Park took a break from the tour in August after the Women’s British Open, returning two weeks ago for her title defense in Singapore.

“I think I just love the breaks,” Park said. “Just really refreshes me. Obviously, I get nervous because I haven’t played tournament golf for a while. … I’m not burned out. I’m happy to play golf again.”

An 18-time tour winner, Park has seven major titles and won the gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

Davies had her best round on tour since 2005. She’s trying to win for the fifth time in Phoenix after taking the Standard Register PING at Moon Valley four straight years from 1994-97.

“I’ll certainly have a crack at it,” Davies said. “At least I’ve given myself a chance now.”

She birdied five of the final six holes on the front nine, made a 6-foot eagle putt on 11 and birdied 15 and 17 in the bogey-free round.

“Just solid golf,” Davies said. “Hit it close enough and hole some really good putts. On greens as beautiful as this, you have to be making your putts, and that’s what happened today.”

Davies is fighting Achilles tendon and calf problems in her left leg.

“I can swing as hard as I want with no feeling at all, but every step is just misery,” Davies said.

She won’t let the injury keep her out of the final round.

“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

Uribe birdied the 18th for a 67. Winless on the LPGA Tour, the 28-year-old Colombian won the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur.

“I’m just thinking of putting good rolls on my putts,” Uribe said. “That’s all that matters on this golf course.”

Ariya Jutanugarn was two strokes back at 12 under after her third 68. Chella Choi had a 66 to join Davies at 11 under.

Tiffany Joh aced the fourth hole in a 64 that left her 10 under with Brittany Lincicome (68) and Marina Alex (70). Joh used a 5-iron on the 166-yard hole the day after shanking a 7-iron and scrambling for par.

“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said about St. Patrick’s Day. “You’ll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

Jessica Korda had a 71 to get to 8 under. She won three weeks ago in Thailand in her return from surgery to correct a severe overbite. Second-round leader Cydney Clanton had five bogeys in a 74 that left her tied for 23rd at 7 under. Singapore winner Michelle Wie also was 7 under after a 71.

SOURCE:  ESPN

Sunday, March 11, 2018

First there was a draft. Then feedback. Then revisions.

Like Tiger Woods’s return to competitive form, updating the Rules of Golf has been a process.

But that process is now complete.

Having listened to input from golfers around the world, the game’s governing bodies Monday unveiled a final version of golf’s new rules, set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Among other changes, they include fresh directives for how to take a drop, and an alternate solution for dealing with a lost ball or a ball knocked out of bounds. Clearer and more concise, the new rules are also kinder and gentler, with penalties softened in the name of pace of play and common sense.

TOUR & NEWS
The 36 most significant proposed changes to the Rules of Golf
“It’s been a long process but a gratifying one,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status. “Now comes the fun part where we get to share with the world everything that has been done.”
The world had a chance to have its say starting in March 2017, when the governing bodies put forth proposed revisions and opened them up to a six-month period of public feedback. During that time, more than 30,000 comments and suggestions poured in. That input had some sway.

While the majority of the proposed rules remain unaltered in the final version, there are several notable changes.

Take the dropping procedure. Last year’s proposal suggested that players be allowed to drop from as low as two inches off the ground, down from shoulder-height. Bad idea, the public said. Sure, a lower drop would help keep play moving by reducing the chance of a ball bounding out of the relief area and forcing a player to drop again. But two inches was too low. It was practically like placing the ball. If you were standing across the fairway from your playing partner, how could you be sure that they were dropping at all?

“A number of comments we received from all levels of the game wanted to see a certain amount of randomness maintained so that when you drop a ball, you’re not sure what kind of lie you’re going to get,” Pagel said. “But how do you ensure that randomness? Do you take it back to shoulder height? It was really about finding a balance of maintaining that randomness while also allowing the player to identify a relief area, drop there as quick as possible and play on.”
 The compromise? When taking relief, golfers will now drop from knee height.

The guidelines for measuring a relief area have also changed. Under the new rules, golfers will be allowed either one club-length or two-club lengths, depending on the situation (if you’re taking relief from a cart path, for instance, you’ll get one club length; if you’re dropping from a lateral hazard, you’ll get two). Last year’s proposed revisions suggested a 20-inch or 80-inch standard.

One of the underlying principles of the new rules is that golfers should not be penalized for unintentional acts that result in no benefit to them. To that end, the penalty for a double-hit (known to some fans as a “T.C. Chen,” in honor of the golfer whose chances at the 1985 U.S. Open came undone when he struck his ball twice with a single swing) has been eliminated, which was not the case under last year’s proposed revisions. Golfers will simply count the additional stroke they made while striking the ball.

That revision is in keeping with another change in the rules, which eliminates the penalty for a ball in motion striking a player.

“They really mirror each other in the thinking behind them,” Pagel said. “Say a ball bounces off a bunker face and comes back and hits you in the chest, it’s accidental. And it’s certainly not to your benefit.”

Another of the notable changes will resonate with any golfer who ever suffered the double-edged indignity of losing a ball and then having to walk back to hit the shot again. The new guidelines include a local rule giving committees leeway to do away with the stroke-plus-distance penalty. That would give golfers the simpler, less time-consuming option of dropping in the vicinity of where their ball went out-of-bounds or missing, under a two-stroke penalty. This rule won’t apply to professional tournaments or other elite-level competitions. It’s meant to keep things moving in everyday club and recreational play.

“The concern we kept hearing was, ‘I can’t go back because the golf course is already log-jammed and my going back is bad for pace of play,'” Pagel said. “This local rule essentially replicates what would have been a decent shot with stroke and distance while keeping the player moving forward, which as we know is critically important.”

“From all levels of the game, what we heard was that if you let people repair damage, they’ll either take forever to do it, or essentially build a trough between their ball and the hole,” Pagel said. “But if those are valid concerns, there are already rules in place to address them. If a player takes two minutes to clean up the line, then the pace of play rule takes effect. If the player improves more than what is reasonable, there is already a rule that says you can’t improve your line of play.”

All of these revisions will now go into a rulebook that incorporates a host of other proposals put forth last year, which include a range of relaxed rules on greens, bunkers and penalty areas as well as the elimination or reduction of penalties for accidentally moving a ball.

It’s a lot to digest. But with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, the governing bodies will now get busy getting the word out to golfers around the world.

Already, 30 “how-to-apply” videos and a summary of the principal changes are now available at usage.org/rules. Additional education tools will be released in September, in plenty of time for us all to get ready for Jan. 1.

SOURCE:  http://www.golf.com

 

13 hours ago

Phil Mickelson edged out Justin Thomas in sudden death at the WGC-Mexico Championship on Sunday, earning his first win in more than four-and-a-half years. That he won, however, is secondary. Victory or not, Mickelson’s display was theater of the highest degree.

Despite the Club de Golf Chapultepec demanding accuracy off the tee, Mickelson explored parts of Mexico that Coronado failed to discover. He hit fans, routinely short-sided himself and bogeyed one of the course’s easiest holes … you know, the general Mickelson repertoire. And yet his irons and wedges were magical, always managing to save him from tree limbs, patchy rough and galleries. Like Julius Erving with dunking, Mickelson has transformed scrambling from an act to an art form.

Better yet, his putting, historically uneven but solid thus far in 2018, continued to be stellar. He was in total control on the greens, dropping his share of bombs, yes, but more importantly taking care of the testy ones from six feet and in. If you’re wondering how one ranked 131st in strokes gained/off-the-tee has been one of this season’s most consistent players, look no further than his flat stick.

Of course, the mention of his play fails to encapsulate Mickelson’s performance, in every sense of the word. On Saturday, Mickelson inadvertently blew off 36-hole leader Shubhankar Sharma thinking he was a reporter. Cameras caught him telling fans he signs autographs after rounds … in fluent Spanish. Before play on Sunday, he asked Tyrrell Hatton, far from a stranger to golf’s biggest stages, how he pronounces his name. And during the final round, he aided Sharma on a ruling involving a drop, and gave more thumbs-up than a mother liking her children’s Facebook posts.

It was a stage for Mickelson’s goofiness, daring, vulnerability, talent, hubris and engagement. If one was forced to explain the Phil Mickelson Experience to the uninitiated, this weekend would serve as a proper “Best Of” montage.

The problem is that part of that experience often involves falling just short. Perhaps it’s an unfair sentiment; after all, the man has five majors and 43 PGA Tour wins to his credit. But—save for a future miracle at Shinnecock Hills, Pebble Beach or Winged Foot—his U.S. Open shortcomings are a central theme to his narrative, to say nothing of playing in the shadow of Tiger Woods. That he’s never led the PGA Tour money list or earned Player of the Year honors is remarkable. It’s a complicated tapestry, and a backdrop that adds to his aura.

Runner-up appeared to be Mickelson’s fate yet again on Sunday after Thomas dunked his approach on the 72nd hole for eagle, capping a marvelous weekend that saw the reigning PGA Championship winner post a 62 and 64. But Mickelson answered with vigor in consecutive birdies on the 15th and 16th holes, the latter thanks to a drained 20-footer, to gain entry into overtime with Thomas. On the first hole of sudden death—the par-3 17th— Mickelson lipped out a 20-footer for birdie, and it appeared fans would be treated to another playoff marathon. But following a so-so chip, Thomas failed to convert a six-footer, giving Mickelson his long-awaited W.

“It’s been a tough go the past four years, not playing my best, but to have the belief that I was going to get there and do it and eventually breakthrough is incredible,” Mickelson said. “I believe more is to come, and feel I’m starting to play my best golf.”

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A concept inconceivable as late as last fall. There was a palpable sense at Liberty National that the proceedings could be Mickelson’s last for Team USA. He hadn’t played particularly well in 2017; following a flat performance at Quail Hollow, some speculated if off-the-course affairs—such as the parting with friend and long-time caddie Jim (Bones) Mackay and his involvement in an insider-trading case—had taken their toll on Mickelson’s vitality. Moreover, last we checked, golf’s top ranks have become inundated, and dominated by, youth. Turning 48 this June, Mickelson was nearing that purgatory where golfers aren’t old enough for the PGA Tour Champions circuit and disappear from weekend leader boards.

But the calendar turned, and here’s a rejuvenated Mickelson with a win and four additional top-six finishes in the early campaign. He added a newfound physicality in the offseason, and putting his brother on the bag full time has paid dividends. Efforts, Mickelson said, invested into making the American squad in Paris. Spring and summer will bring their share of surprises and nominations, but damned if Mickelson hasn’t already cobbled together a viable case to make his 12th consecutive Ryder Cup team.

Of course, that’s on the horizon, along with Augusta National in April and Shinnecock Hills in June, the site of one of his U.S. Open silver medals. Sunday was about Mickelson climbing back to the top, overcoming the bombers and young guns with a creativity and mettle rarely seen from today’s stars.

“I enjoy the challenge, to have something like this today makes it all worthwhile,” Mickelson said.

It’s fitting that Mickelson won on Oscars night, where 2,000 miles away in Los Angeles a film inspired by the creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus was up for Best Original Song. Its title? “This is Me.” A tune tailored for golf’s greatest showman.

Source:  https://www.golfdigest.com