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SHORT GAME
Jim Gorant
April 04, 2011
The LPGA Has Guts
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April 04, 2011

Short Game

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Stuart Appleby Greenbrier
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Gary Woodland Transitions

The LPGA Has Guts

It figures that Shasta Averyhardt (above) would be noticed at the LPGA's Kia Classic, won by Sandra Gal in City of Industry, Calif. Averyhardt, 25, is the first African-American on tour since LaRee Sugg, who earned a card in 1995. But Averyhardt, who has partial status, was singled out for being hit with a two-stroke penalty for slow play during the opening round. Averyhardt, who shot 82--86 and missed the cut, was not happy. "Obviously I disagreed, but I can't do anything about that," she said. But the penalty proves a larger point: Something can be done about turtles on tour. The PGA Tour, where slow play is rampant, hasn't assessed a stroke penalty since 1992. In a delicious touch of irony, that penalty went to Dillard Pruitt, who's now a Tour rules official.

Bernhard's Banged Up

Two-time Masters champion (1985 and '93) Bernhard Langer will not make the trip to Augusta after surgery on his left thumb that will keep him out of action for two months. Langer had made 27 straight starts, though he missed the cut in the last five. He injured the thumb in a cycling accident and will spend five weeks in a splint before beginning rehab. It's uncertain if Langer, who has 15 Champions tour wins since 2008, will be able to defend his Senior PGA title at Valhalla in late May.

Hot Scots

Martin Laird's victory extended a remarkable run by Scottish golfers. A week after Sandy Lyle won on the European senior tour, 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie (left) took the regular Euro tour's Andalucian Open hours before Laird won at Bay Hill.

Laird said he heard about Lawrie's win before teeing off in the final round. "That's three wins in the last two weeks," said Laird, who attended Colorado State and lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. "It's no secret that Scottish golf has been down for a few years after Monty's dominance. For some reason, [Scottish players] trying to make the transition from amateur to professional golf has not been working."

Poults Goes Soft

Ian Poulter (left), a former devotee of metal spikes, says it's time they were banned. "I would, personally," Poulter says. "I wore them for a long time and have fairly active feet, but once I gave soft spikes a decent go, there is no real difference, to be honest with you." After the second round at Bay Hill, Poulter made his case on Twitter: "The greens got crusty out there this afternoon baked in the heat and wind & plenty of spike marks. Why do people still use spikes #noneed." Mike Christensen, Kevin Streelman's caddie, tweeted back, "@IanJamesPoulter is dead on about metal spikes. Can't believe players haven't taken it upon themselves to ban them. S-marks were brutal."

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