From 16 to 8 - for a Chance at $1 Million

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Christina Kim watched her pro-am partners do football-style body bumps, and they told her to do the same celebration on the 18th hole during the ADT Championship. She couldn't think of a better occasion than Saturday afternoon.
 
Kim hit a 7-iron that stopped 2 feet behind the hole for a birdie to claim the eighth and final spot in the final round, giving her just as much of a chance as anyone to win the $1 million prize.
 
With a bleacher full of sun-baked fans still cheering, Kim charged over to caddie Donna Southam and leaped with a twist, slightly higher than when Phil Mickelson won his first Masters, and they bumped each other to celebrate the clutch moment.
 
It got even better when Nicole Castrale hit her approach into the water, just as she did in regulation, to fall into the playoff.
 
So concluded another nerve-racking afternoon at Trump International, where eight of the 16 players who qualified for the 18-hole shootout on Sunday had every reason to dream of the biggest payoff in women's golf.

Lorena Ochoa was solid as ever, playing bogey-free for a 6-under 66 to tie for the low round Saturday with Paula Creamer, who was helped by a wedge she holed out for eagle on the par-5 15th.
 
Karrie Webb, whose 50-foot birdie putt Friday enabled her to avoid a playoff, had no stress in her round of 68. The other qualifiers were U.S. Women's Open champion Cristie Kerr, Natalie Gulbis, Sarah Lee and Mi Hyun Kim, who had the best turnaround of all.
 
Mi Hyun Kim was at 5 under with five holes to play and still in good shape after bogeys at the 14th and 16th. But she caught a plugged lie in the bunker on the 18th that led to double bogey, and minutes later, she was in a 4-for-2 playoff starting on the 17th tee.
 
One swing changed everything.
 
Kim hit a hybrid 5-iron to 7 feet for birdie to earn a spot in the final round.
 
'I feel so sad after that,' she said of her double bogey. 'Anyway, I made it. Scores are zero tomorrow.'
 
Just like the third round, the scores will be wiped out for the final 18 holes, where the winner gets $1 million and second place gets $100,000, the biggest disparity of prize money in golf.
 
'It's all-or-nothing,' Creamer said.
 
But there were plenty of players who felt like nothing when they left Trump International.
 
Sophie Gustafson endured a roller-coaster round in which she followed two bogeys by driving the par-4 sixth green and chipping in for eagle, running off four straight birdies to get safe, they finishing double bogey-bogey to fall into the playoff at 1-under 71.
 
Her tee shot went through the green and into the stream to the left, and she was out.
 
Juli Inkster never even got that chance. She was on top of her game for the front nine, when she went out in 32. But a three-putt bogey on the 13th started her fall. She took bogey on the 16th, then hit into the water with a 7-iron and made double bogey and finished one shot out of the playoff.
 
Morgan Pressel made three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine and also missed out.
 
The emotions started to wear on the players as the $1 million prize got closer.
 
Castrale was at 2 under until she hit into the water on the 18th and did well to get up-and-down for bogey. As she fought back tears, she learned that Gustafson had made bogey on the 18th with a fat bunker shot, meaning there would be a playoff.
 
'I've still got a chance,' she said.
 
But it lasted only two holes, with Christina Kim hitting a clutch shot and delivering a celebration rarely seen in golf.
 
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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.