For starters, how about a round of applause for Sandra Gal, the 25-yr-old LPGA Tour player who became only the second German player ever to win an LPGA Tour event on Sunday at the Kia Classic. Gal and fellow competitor Jiyai Shin were in the final pairing and going head-to-head in the final round, thanks to their sizable lead ahead of everyone else in the field. The tournament came down to the final hole, and essentially their final approach shots to the par5 finishing hole.
Shin elected to lay up well short of the green with her second shot, giving her a full wedge approach to the elevated green. She hit a beautiful shot that hit a few feet in front of the pin before biting and stopping 5 feet beyond. Gal likewise opted to lay up with her second, but played a much longer shot that got her to within 80 yards of the green. Gal played her 3/4 wedge shot brilliantly, hitting her ball only a few inches beyond the hole and almost going in before spinning back a mere 18 inches for a tap-in birdie. Advantage Gal. Shin admitted afterward that she felt the pressure, knowing that her opponent had basically left herself a tap-in. As a result, Shin would miss and Gal would brush in the short tap-in, collecting the first win of her LPGA career. “I had the belief coming out this morning that I could win,” Gal said. “I thought I could do it. I just tried to play the course instead of Jiyai.”
I might also add that she looks just a tad different in a swimsuit versus typical LPGA Tour garb….
And some not-so-good news for another German golfer: Last week it was revealed that Bernhard Langer will be out of action for 2 months because of an injury he sustained to his thumb during a biking accident. Langer needed surgery, and as a result the 2-time Masters Champion will not be in the field at Augusta for the first time since 1983. Langer has already won once this season on the Champions Tour, and his absence will certainly shakeup the season-ending Charles Schwab Points Cup race.
Beam me up, Scotties: It was indeed a banner week for Scotland, as two of their countrymen took top honors in the world of golf. Martin Laird was somehow able to overcome a disastrous start on Sunday to pick up 2 timely birdies coming down the stretch, miraculously eking out a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, and a name from the Van de Veldean lore of Open Championship history – Paul Lawrie – became the oldest winner ever to win the Andalucian Open in Spain on the European Tour on Sunday as well.
Metal Spike Spat: When the conditions get as firm and difficult as the greens got Sunday at Bay Hill, it doesn’t take a whole lot to initiate some sparks. According to Stephanie Wei over at her blog, there was plenty of bickering going on about the condition of the greens, not necessarily about the firmness or the speed, but rather the overwhelming presence of heavy feet and metal spikes. “What upsets a lot of players isn’t that guys wear metal spikes, it’s that guys don’t pick their feet up and don’t pat their spikes down when they make them,” he (D.J. Trahan) said. “I think guys need to be a little more courteous about fixing their spike marks when they make them. I don’t care if they wear metal spikes, just be courteous to the guys coming behind you.”
Trying to Rebound: Alex Miceli over at GolfWeek.Com points out that Doug Barron (the PGA Tour Player who was suspended from the tour for the 2010 season for testing positive for a banned substance) has just cashed his first Tour check in several years. On Sunday, Barron finished tied for 33rd in the Nationwide Tour’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open, pocketing $2900. “I didn’t play perfect, by any means,” Barron said from his home in Memphis, Tenn., “but did make 20 birdies and an eagle.”