Diaz Beats Out Inkster for First LPGA Victory
Diaz, a fourth-year tour pro, earned her first professional title with a four-round total of 18-under 270. Inkster, who led after the second and third rounds, shot a 71 in the final round.
Diaz finished second four times and had eight other top-10 finishes last year -- good enough to win $751,466 and ninth on the money list -- all without a victory.
Grace Park matched the lowest round of the tournament with a 64 and tied Kelly Robbins, who shot 67, for third place at 273.
Karrie Webb, with a 67, and University of Arizona amateur Lorena Ochoa, who has won her last six college tournaments, shot 68s to finish four shots off the lead.
The five-player group at 275 included Annika Sorenstam, the two-time defending champion, and 1988 Tucson winner Laura Davies.
With the 41-year-old Inkster and the 26-year-old Diaz in the final twosome, the last six holes resembled match play. Diaz tied Inkster, who has won six majors and 20 other titles, at 16-under with a birdie on No. 12.
Diaz took the lead for good on the 490-yard, 15th hole. She hit a 9-iron to within 6 feet on her third shot and made the birdie putt.
Diaz never led by more than one shot down the stretch.
On No. 17, Inkster's birdie attempt rimmed the cup and she did a pratfall in astonishment. Then, Diaz nervelessly saved par with a 6-footer to set up the dramatic finish.
Inkster hit her second shot over the pond that fronts the green on the par-5 18th above the pin 20 feet from the hole. She two-putted, sinking an 18-inch putt for her fourth birdie -- and first in eight holes.
Meanwhile, Diaz mis-hit a 6-iron on her second shot. The ball missed a bunker, kicked off a slope and stopped 30 feet from the cup, on a shelf of the two-tiered green below the flagstick.
Diaz completed a two-putt birdie to clinch the win, avoiding a playoff for first place for the first time in three LPGA events this year.
There was a two-shot swing on the fourth hole. Dorothy Delasin, who carded a 73 and finished in the group at 275, birdied the hole, and Inkster bogeyed, reducing her lead to one shot.
Delasin, the tour's 2000 rookie of the year, also birdied the fifth hole to reach 16-under and move into a tie with Inkster. Delasin then bogeyed the sixth to give back her share of the lead and was never a factor again.
Diaz went five holes without a par, three-putting for bogeys on the first two before running off three birdies with putts of 9, 15 and 9 feet.
On the 12th hole, she lofted a wedge to within 3 feet for another birdie and moved into a tie with Inkster, who had just bogeyed No. 11, a 187-yard par-3, for the third time in four rounds.
After that, it was head-to-head competition between the upcoming star and the veteran.
Full-field scores from the Welch's/Circle K Championship
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.