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Source: GOLF.com
By Josh Berhow

Justin Thomas led heading into the final day of the Genesis Open, but J.B. Holmes, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and others were lurking in what was a long and cold day at Riviera Country Club. Here’s what you missed.

Who won: J.B. Holmes (one-under 70, 14 under overall)

How it happened: Lots of golf was played on Sunday. Thursday’s rain delay pushed the entire tournament back and players returned to the course early on Sunday to finish their third rounds before teeing off for their final round. Thomas was two holes into his third round and led by one when play was called on Saturday, and when the third round was complete he was at 17 under and leading by four. But a lot changed Sunday afternoon. Thomas bogeyed three of the first five and Holmes took his first solo lead with a birdie on 10 when Thomas made bogey. Thomas birdied 11 to Holmes’s bogey to retake a one-shot lead, but Thomas needed seven putts on the 13th and 14th and made double bogey and bogey to fall two behind Holmes. Thomas birdied 16 to cut the lead to one, but couldn’t make a final birdie to catch Holmes. Thomas signed for a 75.

Key hole: Holmes and Thomas alternated two-shot swings on the 10th and 11th holes, but Thomas four-putted for double bogey on the 13th. That costly error gave Holmes a lead he never lost.

Why it matters: It’s the 36-year-old Holmes’s fifth win of his PGA Tour career and first since the 2015 Shell Houston Open. Holmes’s first two victories came in 2006 and 2008, and he later overcame brain surgery in 2011 before rejoining the PGA Tour in early 2012. The 2014 Wells Fargo Championship was his first victory after returning from surgery.

Best shot when it mattered: Holmes, leading by two with three to play, hit his tee shot on the par-3 16th into the bunker, but he made a key par save from 11 feet. Thomas followed by knocking in his short birdie putt, but Holmes’s clutch par kept him out in front and prevented the two-shot swing.

Notables: Woods closed with a 72 and finished T15, McIlroy shot 69 to finish T4 and Jordan Spieth made quad on the par-4 10th and shot a 10-over 81, his highest score in relation to par in his pro career.

Best secondary storyline: J.B. Holmes’s sluggish pace was noticed by the broadcast team — and social media.

Up next: Phil Mickelson defends his title south of the border as we gear up for the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. Woods is also in the field.

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2019 Pebble Beach Pro-Am leaderboard, grades: Phil Mickelson takes home record fifth title

Source: CBS Sports
By 

Phil Mickelson touched off the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Monday, a record-tying fifth of his career, the same way he sewed it up late on Sunday. Lefty hit a nasty knockdown shot from 175 yards on the iconic par-5 18th at Pebble to 6 feet and poured that home for birdie — a final round 65 and the 44th win of his incredible PGA Tour career.

The bogey-free 65 was the round of the day, and it came at the perfect time for Mickelson, who trailed playing partner Paul Casey by three strokes heading into Round 4. Casey played nicely in the final round, which spanned two days because of a hail storm on Sunday, but his 71 couldn’t keep pace with the way Mickelson commanded his short irons and wedges over the final 18 holes. Lefty easily cleared him by three at 19-under 268.

“It’s been a very special week,” Mickelson told Peter Kostis of CBS Sports. “This is a special place for me. … To have my pro career start here and to have this victory means a lot.”

Mickelson finished first in the field on his approach shots and T2 in proximity to the hole. If you saw the way he struck the ball in Round 4, it’s easy to see why.

Mickelson and Casey were the only ones on the course on Monday as everyone else finished up on Sunday in the dark. Mickelson also wanted to try and get home on Sunday, but Casey called it on the 16th green, and Lefty said he was grateful for that even if he seemed perturbed in the moment. It’s very on brand for Mickelson to thank his opponent for setting up a win for him.

“He really protected both of us,” Mickelson said. “The greens were beat up. We had a chance today to come out on fresher greens, better weather, and I was really appreciative of that.”

With the 44th win of his career, Mickelson becomes just the fourth player to win PGA Tour events 28 or more years apart. He also inches closer to Walter Hagen’s mark of 45 PGA Tour wins and a potential tie for eighth all time. Billy Casper is seventh at 51. The fifth Pebble victory ties Mark O’Meara for the all-time record at that event.

We should ignore the “What if I’d told you ‘Phil Mickelson wins at Pebble after a long wait’ would be a headline at the start of the calendar year” storyline for now and obvious U.S. Open implications. Mickelson said after the round that this win has no bearing on what happens at the U.S. Open in June, likely because this will not be the same Pebble Beach after the USGA gets its hands on it.

Still, a victory for Mickelson at age 48 — and nearly two victories in his first three starts of 2019! — is remarkable. As the PGA Tour skews younger and Mickelson nears 50, it becomes more improbable for him to keep up. And yet not only is he keeping up, he’s thriving, he’s winning. He’s dropping filthy 65s in all manner of weather with a Ryder Cup participant leading him and young bucks like Si Woo Kim and Jason Day making runs at him. Mickelson, unlike Pebble Beach, is not timeless, but you may have been fooled if you watched him play golf on Sunday and Monday. Grade: A+

Here are the rest of our grades for the 2019 Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Jason Day (T4): Ignore the Sunday bank robber look and instead focus on another successful trip to Pebble Beach for the former major winner. He did the lion’s share of his damage on Thursday with a 65 at Monterey Peninsula, but he backed it up with an even-par 72 on the toughest scoring day (Saturday) and a tasty 68 during the final round (he finished on Sunday). Day pretty quietly hasn’t finished outside the top 25 anywhere since the Dell Technologies Championship during the FedEx Cup Playoffs last fall and should definitely be considered one of the early favorites for the Masters in April. Grade: A

Jordan Spieth (T45): After playing beautifully for the first two days, Spieth ejected hard on Saturday. He made just three bogeys over his first 48 holes, but then finished Saturday’s third round with two doubles and a bogey in the last six holes. He never recovered from that, made five more bogeys on Sunday and tumbled down the leaderboard with a 74-75 weekend on the Pebble Beach course. The issue for Spieth this week actually wasn’t the putter. He finished 60th (!) in strokes gained off the tee and could muster just three birdies in his final 31 holes of play on the week. Grade: C+

Dustin Johnson (T45): It may have been even uglier for Spieth’s playing partner, Dustin Johnson. After winning last week in Saudi Arabia, D.J. struggled late at a place where he’s won twice and been arguably the most consistent player over the last decade. Johnson’s week was less volatile than Spieth’s, but a 73-73 showing at Spyglass and Pebble on Friday and Saturday respectively left him way out of the mix for a third title here. It didn’t help that he played the non-par 5s in 3 over for the week. Grade: C+

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On Jan. 1, more than 30 changes to the Rules of Golf — some small, others significant — will take effect. To get you ready, this holiday season GOLF.com is rolling out a series, “The 12 Days of Rules Changes,” to ensure you always play by the rules, starting with your opening round of the year.

The Topic:

What you can (and can’t) do in the bunker

The Old Rule:

Most golfers know to be careful once entering a bunker. No grounding the club. No touching the sand. No removing leaves or any kind of debris. Is there a rock resting against your ball? Tough break. Play it as it lies, and hope you don’t scratch your new $200 wedge in the process. Otherwise it’s penalties, penalties penalties.

The New Rule:

Under Rules 12.2a and 12.2b, the player will be allowed to touch or move loose impediments in a bunker and will be generally allowed to touch the sand with a hand or club. You still can’t intentionally touch the sand to “test” it. And you can’t clip the sand during a practice swing. But the rules haven’t loosened up considerably to allow you to play a sand shot without any outside materials affecting the shot.

Why It Was Changed:

The USGA says the point of playing out of a bunker is to play out of sand – not battle stray rocks, leaves or other debris.

Will It Be Controversial?

Not really. This is a rule that was designed to wipe out a few controversial scenarios, and it says here the new revision has succeeded. Now, there are still no practice swings allowed in a bunker for both pace-of-play reasons and to prevent players from splashing extra sand out of a trap. Accidentally grounding a club in a bunker still has some potential to stir up problems, but the simple act of moving debris around a ball should be welcomed by golfers of all abilities.

How It Can Help You:

Now you don’t have to scuff a new club again a stone while blasting from a bunker. Also, a stray leaf no longer has the potential to screw up your shot and derail your round. Sounds good to us.

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