News for Wednesday, January 5, 2011

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Albrecht takes Harder Hall lead with record 63

Ashleigh Albrecht just wanted to break 80 last week at the Dixie Amateur. In Round 1 of the Harder Hall Invitational, she shot 63.

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Stone, 9, brings big dreams to Harder Hall

Generally speaking, I’m fairly well-versed in a player’s background before going out to watch her play. When it came to 9-year-old Latanna Stone, however, I didn’t do much research. How much history can a fourth-grader really have?

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Thorpe could be out of prison this month

Champions Tour player Jim Thorpe, who began a one-year prison sentence April 1 for failing to pay income taxes, is expected to be released early, the pastor of his church said.

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Aloha, 2011

With the end of the holidays, it's time to turn our attention back to golf. Some big names are missing in Kapalua, Hawaii, but the PGA Tour's season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions still offers a pretty good field. After all, only 2010 winners received invites to this event in paradise.

5 Things: Your chance to play Augusta National

87,600: That’s the approximate number of man-hours it took to create the virtual version of Augusta National for Tiger Woods 12: The Masters, an EA Sports spokesman told Golf360. It’s equivalent to 10 people working 24/7 for an entire year.

Golf’s growth accelerating among China’s youth

There is still a huge gulf divide between China’s leading players and the world’s best, as acknowledged by world No. 67 Wen-chong Liang. But grassroots developments in the world’s most populous country have convinced many good judges some that future world champions are already being groomed for global stardom.

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Royal Trophy could showcase Ishikawa-Manassero duel

Matteo Manassero and Ryo Ishikawa may live on different continents, but the teens already have formed a bond, on-and-off the course. The 17-year-old Italian and the 19-year-old Japanese met in September at the HSBC Champions.

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Oosthuizen skips Hawaii for Africa Open

Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen deserves a lot of credit for turning up this week at the €1 million Africa Open at East London Golf Club. He could have opted to follow compatriots Ernie Els and Tim Clark to Hawaii for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

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McDowell inks equipment deal with Cleveland/Srixon

Graeme McDowell, arguably, golf’s biggest free agent for 2011, made it official: He has parted ways with Callaway and signed an endorsement deal with Cleveland Golf/Srixon.

McDowell signs deal with footwear maker Ecco

When the 2011 PGA Tour season kicks off Thursday, Graeme McDowell will be lacing up a new pair of shoes.

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Ogilvy gets 12 stitches after swimming mishap

Geoff Ogilvy is facing longer odds of winning three straight years at the Tournament of Champions after a swimming accident left him with 12 stitches in his finger.

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Fans pick Poulter’s outfit via Facebook vote

Defending champion Ian Poulter is inviting fans to choose his apparel for the opening matches of the 2011 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play.

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Europe tempers expectations for 2010 encore

What does Europe do for an encore? That’s a pertinent question as the 2011 European year kicks off with the Africa Open in East London, South Africa, this week. Onwards and upwards then, but can 2011 come even close to the same success? Doubtful, according to Graeme McDowell.

Home-grown talent on display at Victorian Open

The 2011 PGA Tour of Australasia season gets underway this week at the Victorian Open, but for many players it doubles as a warm-up for the British Open International Final Qualifying event in Melbourne.

Tickets dwindling for '12 PGA Championship

Organizers for the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course say they have sold 94 percent of available tickets during a six-week sales window.

Asian Development Tour seeks expansion in 2011

The Asian Development Tour kicks off its sophomore year at the Grameenphone Bangladesh Masters, Feb. 3-6, but officials are still striving to expand its five-tournament schedule.

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Walker Cup preview: Who’s in, who’s out?

A practice session for potential Walker Cup team members begins today in Tampa, Fla. Sean Martin breaks down the field.

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McDowell begins 2011 season of encores

Graeme McDowell didn’t stop flying around the world until there were no tournaments left for him to play.

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Golf Channel changes look for 2011

Golf Channel has jazzed up its graphics package for the 2011 season.

Long-hitting Sadlowski puts away Tour bombers

If the dress rehearsal was any indication, Jamie Sadlowski is prepared to put on a show Wednesday afternoon at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions pro-am.

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Watson plays as virtual Bubba at Kapalua

Funny scene from Tuesday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Long-hitting Bubba Watson is standing inside a hospitality tent off the first fairway at Kapalua’s Plantation Course, there to help unveil a new game from EA Sports: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters.

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New grooves: Little effect on PGA Tour

The upheaval predicted because of new grooves on the 2010 PGA Tour simply didn’t happen. It was the first year in which smaller, less aggressive grooves were required, but most Tour players adapted quickly and skillfully. In fact, wedge statistics from the Tour were remarkably similar from 2009 to 2010.

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LPGA’s U.S. opener: Will they play for free?

The LPGA released its 2011 schedule last week, and at one domestic event, in Arizona, players will play for free. Beth Ann Baldry reports.