Couples rallies to win in Wisconsin

By Associated PressJune 25, 2017, 11:28 pm

MADISON, Wis. - Fred Couples rallied to win the American Family Insurance Open on Sunday for his second PGA Tour Champions title of the year and 13th overall.

The 57-year-old Couples closed with a 6-under 66 in cool and windy conditions at University Ridge for a two-stroke victory over Scott Verplank. Couples birdied six of the first 11 holes and finished at 15-under 201.

''I am thrilled that I hit the ball very, very well today,'' said Couples, coming off a seven-week break. ''When you're off, you kind of get excited to play.''

Couples also won the 50-and-over tour's Chubb Classic in February in Florida. The Hall of Famer, long hampered by back problems, won 15 times on the PGA Tour - his lone major coming in the 1992 Masters.

''I can take time off and hit the ball, that's not really the problem,'' Couples said. ''It's the scoring part.''

Couples played alongside Steve Stricker, the tournament host who tied for third.

''I made a putt at 18 yesterday, which put me in a pairing with Steve,'' Couples said. ''That was a big deal because everyone (knew there would be) 15,000 people all following Steve and I wanted to be in that group. It gets your heart rate going, it gets a lot of things going. And I did do that and I played well on the front nine.''

Paul Broadhurst, two strokes ahead after each of the first two rounds, had a 73 to finish fifth at 11 under.

''If Paul shot a decent score, no one was really going to catch him,'' Couples said. ''And it played hard. With that wind and the way the course played and you're leading, it's not easy to shoot 68 or 69, and I was lucky enough to make a lot of birdies through the first 11 holes.''



Broadhurst had four bogeys in an eight-hole stretch in the middle of the round.

''Just lost my way a little bit,'' Broadhurst said. ''The swing wasn't quite in synch. It was a little bit quick and it's sometimes difficult to just sort of switch it on. I lost my lead and I just didn't play well enough today, simple as that.''

Verplank shot a 69.

''I just didn't give myself very good chances on the back nine,'' Verplank said.

He stayed at Stricker's house.

''He and I are such good buds, and his family,'' Verplank said. ''It's awesome. I look forward to coming back.''

Stricker had a 69 to match Joe Durant (67) at 12 under.

''It was a great week and we had a great field,'' Stricker said. ''The people came out and supported this event big-time again.''

Stricker made his first start in his hometown event after turning 50 in February. He tied for 16th last week in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

''We had a blast,'' Couples said. ''I can't say enough about Steve Stricker. He's been one of my favorite people forever. So knowing his name's on this tournament, he's from here, I wanted to play last year and this year is my first tournament back after a long layover. The people are great, the golf course is really for me, fits my eye.''

Fellow Madison player Jerry Kelly had a 70 to tie for 13th at 8 under.

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.