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Matteo Manassero Becomes Youngest to Win PGA BMW Championship

It was the end of the day on Sunday at the Wentworth Club in Surrey, England. Simon Kahn, Marc Warren, and Matteo Manassero were all tied after England’s own Lee Westwood turned a two-hole lead into ninth place. The stakes were high, as the winner automatically wins qualification into the U.S. Open next month. And not only was Manassero trying to avenge the past, after suffering his own collapse during the same tournament two years ago; he was also trying to make history. In the end, he did.

Going into the playoff round all were tied at 10-under-278. But when Marc Warren of Scotland was out after the first playoff hole, it left just Kahn and Manassero still on the course. Neither was going to give in easily, and it took until the fourth playoff hole for Manassero to finally beat out Kahn, and win his fourth European Tour title. He also avoids playing the U.S. Open qualifying round at Walton Heath course on Monday.

Along with the win, Manassero also becomes the youngest player in history to win the PGA BMW Championship, but just by a matter of days. Manassero goes down in the record books as being 20 years and 37 days old; while Bernard Gallacher of Scotland, 20 years and 97 days old, once held the title of the youngest winner in the BMW Championship.

Experience Golf’s Ultimate Thrill at the Masters

Every April, the top golfers in the world convene at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, to play in the world’s most famous golf tournament and compete for the chance to walk away with a coveted green jacket. This year, the prestigious event will be held from April 11 through April 14, with practice rounds starting on April 8.

Since the event is always held at the same course, the history and tradition that surround the beautiful course can be mesmerizing for fans. This year could provide particularly special moments, as Tiger Woods heads to Augusta as the favorite after winning three events in the early part of the PGA season.

Woods is back to the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings and eyes his first major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open when he beat Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff with an extra hole of sudden death at Torrey Pines.

Since, Woods has been through quite the roller coaster ride including knee surgery, his highly publicized sex scandal and subsequent divorce and a slow, frustrating climb back to the top of the golf world.

Woods has won 14 majors so far in his career and hopes to top Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18, which has led to a lot of speculation over whether that feat was possible due to his struggles. A win at Augusta could put Woods back on track and also move him out of a tie with Arnold Palmer for the second-most Masters Tournament championships with five, one back of Nicklaus’s six.

Woods’ old rival Phil Mickelson could be in the mix as well, as his game tends to be well suited for the tricky greens of Augusta. Mickelson won the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year with an impressive performance that reminded the world he can still be a top performer.

While Rory McIlroy as struggled lately, he’s not to be ruled out. Last year’s winner, Bubba Watson, has to garner some consideration as well and there are often surprises.

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Weird Happenings at the Honda Classic

Spectators of golf aren’t typically treated to any particular weird or strange happenings while watching a tournament. One of the greats missing a relatively easy putt, perhaps. A sideline freak-out by one of the competitors in a game that’s supposed to be gentlemanly? Maybe. But what was seen at the Honda Classic on Sunday is something no fan — or PGA officials — are likely to forget any time soon. It began with Tiger Woods donning hip-huggers to get a ball out of gator-infested waters; and perhaps that may have been all. If that was, Rory McIlroy had been able to keep his head — or his body — in the game.

Unfortunately, he was not. By the seventh hole the great McIlroy, who was poised to see Tiger Woods like success, was eight over par. Then he put his ball in the water too. Not wanting to follow Woods’ footsteps from earlier in the tournament, McIlroy simply put his clubs away, and started off the course, clearly done. After the reporters got over their shock, they followed McIlroy out to his car. There he mumbled that he was “not in a good place mentally.”

That much was clear, but the devastating effects that can have on a golfer may not be to everybody. In fact, most of the game of golf is played mentally, which is why Tiger Woods’ game fell apart when his life was shaken by scandal. But the question is, even though Tiger’s been able to come back and save face, will McIlroy be able to do the same thing?

For the Irish golfer though, things may be different. People are already questioning the PR-laden “sore wisdom tooth” excuse he offered when a statement was later released about his early departure from the tournament. And some are wondering, not whether the $20 million US Nike gave him for a sponsorship is going to his head, but whether the new clubs he’s been forced to play with as part of that deal are.

Clearly, being No.1 isn’t easy, no matter how much Tiger seemed to prove the contrary. McIlroy will need to figure things out quickly, and not just to save whatever face he has left, but if he wants to remain at the top.

Tiger Woods Wins Memorial and Looks Towards the U.S. Open

“Greatness” is all about perspective when it comes to Tiger Woods and there’s no doubt that after establishing himself as the best golfer in the world, he’s definitely held to different standards. But he looks like he’s starting to get some of that true Tiger greatness back, and starting to match his records of years past; first by winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and this past Sunday, winning the Memorial Tournament.

Some of the old Tiger, indeed. At the last four holes Tiger pulled off some pretty fancy footwork to make a birdie on three of the holes and chipping one in perfectly on the 16th hole — a move that tied him for the lead. Sure his opponents Spencer Levin, Rickie Fowler, and Rory Sabbatini all had their own problems to contend with, problems that definitely helped Tiger in his win. But there’s also no denying that red shirt and all, Tiger was just starting to get back what once made him the best.

But truthfully, he still hasn’t won a major. And until he does, the headlines will always be asking if he’s back, rather than stating it as a fact. It won’t be long until Tiger has the chance to prove himself on the major grounds once again. The 2012 U.S. Open is set to begin on June 14, and while his two tournament wins of the year are definitely going to give him back some of his confidence, it’s only a couple of weeks until we find out if that’s enough.

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