Ko captures second major title with closing birdie

By Associated PressApril 4, 2016, 3:10 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lydia Ko took advantage of Ariya Jutanugarn's late collapse to win the ANA Inspiration on Sunday for her second straight major victory and second LPGA Tour win a row.

The top-ranked Ko hit an 88-yard wedge shot to a foot on the par-5 18th to set up her winning birdie - and an unlikely victory leap into Poppie's Pond. She closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 12 under.

''This is an unbelievable moment,'' Ko said before jumping into the pond.

Jutanugarn had a two-stroke lead at 13 under with three holes to play. The 20-year-old Thai player bogeyed all three holes, three-putting the par-4 16th, failing to get up-and-down from a bunker on the par-3 17th and hooking her drive into the water on 18.

''I really get nervous, especially being my first time leading,'' Jutanugarn said. ''Next time, it's going to be so much fun to be there.''


ANA Inspiration: Articles, photos and videos


Charley Hull and In Gee Chun finished a stroke behind Ko, and Jutanugarn ended up fourth at 10 under.

Ko won the final major last season, the Evian Championship in September in France, and took the LPGA Tour event last week in Carlsbad. The 18-year-old New Zealander has 12 LPGA Tour victories, five last year when she was the tour's player of the year.

''It has always been my dream to play on the LPGA Tour,'' Ko said. ''For these amazing things to be happening it is unbelievable, but it also motivates me to work harder.''

Ko had a bogey-free round, also holing a 22-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fifth and a 40-footer on the par-3 eighth. She made three key par saves on the back nine, the first with a 15-foot putt after crisscrossing the par-5 11th. She ran in an 18-footer on the par-4 13th, and a 10-footer on 17.

''Obviously, making those putts on 11 and 13 was crucial, too, but just not knowing anything, I wanted to focus on my game and just what I could control,'' Ko said. ''But on 17, I knew what I needed to do. Something like a miracle needed to happen, so I think 17 was probably the most crucial putt.''

Until Sunday, best known for blowing a two-stroke lead with a closing triple bogey at age 17 in the 2013 LPGA Thailand, Jutanugarn made four birdies in a five-hole stretch in the middle of the round to move into position for a breakthrough victory that slipped away. She finished with a 71.

''I got a lot of experience from this week,'' Jutanugarn said.

Hull birdied the 18th for a 69 and her best finish in a major.

''I know I can play well under pressure now when I have to get it going,'' the 20-year-old English player said. ''I'm happy I holed that putt on the last, and I'm proud of myself. It feels great. Lydia hit a great shot into the last, and she should be proud of herself.''

Chun also closed with a birdie in a 70. The U.S. Women's Open champion was making her first start after sitting out a month because of a back injury. She was hurt when she was struck by a hard-case suitcase that rival South Korean player Ha Na Jang's father dropped down an escalator at the Singapore airport.

Lexi Thompson, the third-round leader, eagled the last hole for a 73 to finish fifth at 9 under. The 2014 winner had three front-nine bogeys and failed to make a birdie.

''Just overall tough day,'' Thompson said. ''I struggled today, ball-striking, and the bad ball-striking didn't give me many birdie chances, so I struggled a bit with the putter as well.''

Michelle Wie, tied for seventh entering the round, shot a 77 to drop into a tie for 36th at 5 over. She's winless since the 2014 U.S. Women's Open and hasn't had a top-10 finish in 31 events.

Brooke Henderson shot a 67 for the best round of the day. The 18-year-old Canadian tied for 10th at 7 under and to run her top-10 streak to six events.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

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.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


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

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


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

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

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

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

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.