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THE WEEK IN REVIEW (2/4 - 2/10)

In a week which saw the world’s number two player (Phil Mickelson) card an 11, and its number four man (Ernie Els) log a nine, a cadre of unlikely winners emerged, led by a newly healthy veteran in America, a local underdog/hero in India, a 25-year-old non-winner in South Africa, and a 40-year-old late bloomer in Australia.  All told, some interesting stuff accomplished by some less-heralded players…

PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – Pebble Beach, CA

Forty-seven-year-old Steve Lowery, hampered by a wrist injury in 2007 and winless on the PGA Tour since 2000, began his final round with an outgoing 31, finished with a 68, then birdied the first hole of sudden death to defeat Vijay Singh at the 68th AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.  Singh will inevitably look back on this as one that got away as he held a three-stroke back-nine lead before bogeying the 14th, 15th and 16th to fall one behind Lowery.  A clutch birdie at the 72nd brought the pair level at 278 and set up the brief playoff, during which Singh scrambled to make par at Pebble Beach’s legendary 18th, only to watch Lowery coolly roll home a seven-foot birdie putt to close out his third career Tour victory.  For Lowery the win was enormous, for he began 2008 playing on a semi-complicated Minor Medical Extension, the distilled version of which is that he had eight weeks to win $282,558 in order to retain his exempt status (mission accomplished).  The triumph also lifted him nearly 200 spots in the World Ranking (to 116th) and some 86 places (to 3rd) on the PGA Tour money list.  Tying for 3rd was the intriguing trio of 48-year-old Corey Pavin (who closed with a bogey-free 66), John Mallinger (who carded the day’s low round of 65) and Dudley Hart who, after missing much of 2007 caring for his ill wife, is also on a Minor Medical Extension – though his $312,000 payday did not quite reach the $485,931 that he needs to bank over his first 15 events.  Much-touted Australian 20-year-old Jason Day took 6th place by himself at 280.

                   FINAL RESULTS          MONEY LIST          PGA TOUR STATS

                                    INTERVIEWS:     LOWERY     SINGH

European PGA Tour: Emaar-MGF Indian Masters – Delhi, India *

Tournament previews trumpeted the prospects of a native winning this, the E Tour’s maiden voyage onto Indian soil, with men like Jyoti Randhawa, Jeev Milka Singh and Arjun Atwal – the nation’s top golfing guns – held up as the most likely candidates.  But in the end, it was the sublimely named S.S.P. Chowrasia (Shiv Shankar Prasad, for the curious) who emerged victorious, and with a very impressive performance indeed.  The former caddie and acknowledged short game ace entered the final round tied for 5th, two behind overnight leader Raphael Jacquelin, then became the only man among the top 27 to break 70 – with a bogey-free 67, no less – en route to a nine-under-par 279 total and a two-shot triumph over Damien McGrane.  McGrane, whose own closing 70 represented a game effort, continues the fine form he showed over the first two rounds in Dubai, logging only his second top-10 E Tour finish since 2006.  World number four Ernie Els, who was behind the eight ball all week after making a nine on the par-5 18th on Thursday, battled back into contention with a strong Saturday 69, but could do no better than 71 on Sunday, leaving him among five players tied for 6th.  Chowrasia, who began the week ranked 388th in the world, gets a solid bump, climbing to 161st, while also jumping all the way to 1st place in the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

                   FINAL RESULTS          ORDER OF MERIT          E TOUR STATS

                                            INTERVIEW:    CHOWRASIA

* Co-sponsored by the Asian Tour

Sunshine Tour: African Open – Port Alfred, South Africa

Long-hitting Shaun Norris, a 25-year-old little known beyond his homeland, tamed a strong Sunday wind to post the best round of the day – a four-under-par 68 – and claim both the inaugural Africa Open and his first Sunshine Tour victory.  A third-round 70 staked Norris to a one-shot lead over last week’s winner, Zimbabwe’s Marc Cayeux, but Norris began his final round birdie-eagle and, despite two subsequent front-nine bogeys, never looked back.  Birdies at 14, 16 and 17 put things on ice, allowing the Pretoria professional to cruise home at 275, six in front of Nic Henning (whose hopes were derailed by a third-round 75) and seven ahead of Cayeux, Grant Muller and Jean Hugo.  The victory lifts Norris from unranked oblivion (he’d previously accumulated no official points during the current two-year window) to 448th in the world, while also jumping him to 16th in the Sunshine Order of Merit.

                    FINAL RESULTS          ORDER OF MERIT          SUNSHINE STATS

Ladies European Tour: ANZ Ladies Masters – Gold Coast, Australia

Tied for the 36-hole lead of the rain-shortened ANZ Ladies Masters, Karrie Webb looked a good bet not only to defend her Masters title but also to manage the rare feat of sweeping the Australian leg of the LET schedule (having won the Ladies’ Open last week in Melbourne) for the second year running.  Though a shade inconsistent, Webb hardly played poorly on Sunday, carding a two-under-par 70, yet she was easily overtaken by several players including the winner, England’s Lisa Hall, who closed with a six-birdie, no-bogey 66 for a 203 total.  Korea’s Hyun Ju Shin, Webb’s co-leader after the second round, came to the 411-yard 18th tied with Hall but never touched the hole on a four-foot par putt to lose by one.  For the 40-year-old Hall, this is LET win number four, but with three coming during the last nine months, she has definitely placed her career into the “late bloomer” category.  Shin, a 27-year-old Korean (and no relation to Ji-Yai) is generally found plying her trade on the Japan LPGA Tour.

                    FINAL RESULTS          ORDER OF MERIT          LET STATS

Champions Tour: Allianz Championship – Boca Raton, FL

After spending the first part of Sunday afternoon trying to hit low shots to cheat a strong South Florida breeze, Scott Hoch reverted back to his normal ball flight, reeled off five birdies over the final eight holes and claimed his second career Champions Tour title at the Allianz Championship.  In such windy conditions, Hoch’s 14-under-par total might seem an impressive score, but it ultimately proved only just good enough to edge Brad Bryant and Bruce Lietzke by one, and Eduardo Romero and Bobby Wadkins by two.  Second-round leader Jerry Pate went out in 37 en route to a Sunday 73, leaving him in a 9th–place tie with Tom Kite.

                    FINAL RESULTS          MONEY LIST          CHAMPIONS STATS

Posted on Monday, February 11, 2008 at 02:05AM by Registered CommenterDaniel in | Comments Off