Leonard keeps share of Disney lead

By Associated PressOctober 22, 2011, 8:17 pm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Justin Leonard chipped in three times in a span of five holes Saturday to salvage a scrappy day at Disney with a 2-under 70 that gave him a share of the lead with PGA Tour rookie Kevin Chappell at the Children's Miracle Network Classic.

Chappell was much more consistent in a round of 66, overcoming a bogey on the opening hole and giving himself a steady diet of 10- to 15-foot birdie putts throughout the day on the Magnolia Course.

They were at 14-under 202, one shot ahead of 21-year-old Bio Kim, who needs at least a two-way tie for second to secure his tour card for next year.

The race for the PGA Tour money title had some possibilities, but only briefly.

Luke Donald, who trails Webb Simpson by $363,029, was tied for fourth when he reached the par-5 14th hole. Donald was only three shots out of the lead and three shots ahead of Simpson. When he walked off the green, Donald was in a tie for 14th, tied with Simpson and six shots behind.

Donald hit another shot into the hazard, and three-putted for double bogey, ending his PGA Tour streak of 483 holes without a three-putt. Donald wound up with a 70, while Simpson shot 69 to move one shot ahead.

Simpson is likely to win the money title at this stage, as Donald would need no worse than a two-way tie for second. He was tied for 14th, five shots behind.  

'I'm a little more confident than I was two hours ago,' Simpson said, not making it clear if he was talking about his 32 on the back nine or his chances of capturing the money list.

Leonard, who is No. 144 on the money list, is moderately surprised to be atop the leaderboard in the final tournament of his worst season on tour. Even though he already is exempt for next season, he has never finished out of the top 125 on the money list. And he hasn't been playing much golf late in the afternoon on the weekend.

This was the kind of round that could have easily gotten away from him. He opened with a sloppy bogey on the opening hole, and then some exquisite play with his short game.

The par-5 fourth hole won't get as much attention, but it might have been his best shot. From the back of a bunker, facing a shot in which the green ran away from him, it came out clean and stopped 2 feet away for birdie. On the fifth, he chipped in from 70 feet when he was hopeful of getting par.

He used the belly of his wedge to roll in a shot from just off the eighth green, and he hit a flop shot from 35 yards that dropped in for the most unlikely birdie on the ninth.

At the time, Leonard was swapping spots atop the leaderboard with Henrik Stenson, who even traded some short-game magic by holing out from a bunker on No. 6, right after Leonard's long chip-in for birdie. When Leonard rolled in the shot from off the eighth green, Stenson poked him in the behind with his putter and said, 'That's two, now.'

'The strength of my round was definitely from off the green,' Leonard said, smiling. 'I certainly didn't play great today, and to be able to hole ... really the two shots, 5 and 9, from off the green certainly is a huge boost. There are days when those things don't go our way, and the round can get away from me.

'Today, I scored. And it's something I have not been doing at all this entire year.'

There is plenty of work ahead. Leonard is atop the leaderboard going into the final round for the first time since Disney two years ago, when he lost in a playoff to Stephen Ames. Sunday will be only the third time he has been at least tied for the lead going into the last round in the last six years. He didn't win the other two.

Eleven players were within four shots of the lead, a group that includes Simpson and five players who are trying to get inside the top 125 on the money list to secure their tour cards for next year.

Kim is at No. 168 and appeared to fall from the pack when he drove into the woods on No. 5 and wound up with a double bogey to fall three shots behind. That was the last mistake he made, however, and with three birdies on the back nine, he is only one shot behind going into Sunday.

Nick O'Hern had a 70, while Stenson dropped two shots over the last five holes for a 72. They were at 12-under 204.

Chappell gives himself a C-plus for his rookie season. He played well down the stretch at the Texas Open only to finish second behind Brendan Steele, and a solid weekend at Congressional gave him a tie for third in the U.S. Open. That puts him in The Masters for next year, so Chappell has few complaints.

He is No. 83 on the money list and is only playing Disney to try to end the year on a good note. Winning would be ideal, and he looked comfortable throughout the day as he worked his way into a share of the lead.

Rahm, Koepka both jump in OWGR after wins

By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.

Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.

Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.

After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.

With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.

Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

“I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

“Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

Parity reigned.

Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.


Vare Trophy
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.


CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.


LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.


Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.


Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

How did she evaluate her season?

“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”