Levy secures China Open for first European title

By Associated PressApril 27, 2014, 12:15 pm

SHENZHEN, China - Alexander Levy was so relaxed on the course at the China Open on Sunday, not even a double bogey that erased his comfortable lead could wipe the grin from his face.

Rather than get down over what could have been a costly mistake, the 23-year-old Frenchman recovered with back-to-back birdies on his final two holes to capture his maiden European Tour title by four strokes over Tommy Fleetwood.

The smile, he said, was the key to victory.

''You need to take the pleasure on the golf course and keep the smile because if you are upset about a missed shot or not lucky because you make a lip out or something like that, it's not good to have this feeling on the golf course,'' he said. ''You need to enjoy and have the smile.''

Levy, playing in just his second year on the tour, vaulted into the lead with a career-best 10-under 62 in the second round and looked to be headed for a runaway victory after making a birdie on the 13th Sunday to extend his lead to five shots.

But then he ran into trouble on the par-4 15th. After hitting his approach shot well past the green, he putted from the fringe and sent the ball off the other side of the green. He chipped back to the green and two-putted for a double bogey, allowing Fleetwood back within two strokes.

Fleetwood, playing in the group ahead of Levy, then tightened the pressure further with a birdie on the par-5 17th to pull another shot back.

Levy responded, however, with a flawless 3-iron approach shot over a lake on the same hole to set up a three-foot birdie putt.

''I just closed my eyes and got one of the best shots of the week to the green,'' he said.

After Fleetwood bogeyed the 18th, Levy sealed the win by dropping another perfectly placed approach shot three feet from the pin for another birdie. He shot a final-round 69 for a 19-under 269 overall.

''We aim for wins, but today I didn't really have a chance. I had to play outstanding golf, but Alex has led from Friday, and that's one of the hardest things you can do,'' Fleetwood said. ''What a performance from him.''

Levy has faltered under pressure before. Last year, he was tied with Ernie Els entering the final round of the BMW International Open in Munich but let the title slip away with four bogeys on the back nine. He ended up in third, his previous best result on the tour.

Since then, however, he said he's been inspired by the success of his good friend and compatriot, Victor Dubuisson, who beat Tiger Woods to win his first European Tour title at the Turkish Airlines Open in November and then was runner-up to Jason Day at the Match Play Championship in February.

The other French players have given him plenty of encouragement as he chased his first tour victory this week, too.

Dubuisson has sent him text messages throughout the week, and the French contingent in Shenzhen doused him with celebratory champagne after he sank his final putt on the 18th.

''We have some great players in France, both young and old, and we all have a great relationship,'' Levy said. ''There are some very good players and have been some great wins for Victor, Julien Quesne, Greg Bourdy, Raphael Jacquelin over the past couple of years which is great for French golf and great with the Ryder Cup coming to France in 2018.''

Fleetwood was second at 15 under and Alvaro Quiros of Spain was third, another two strokes back.

No. 3-ranked Henrik Stenson, who was bedridden with the flu earlier this week, finally put together his first solid round of the tournament, with seven birdies and no bogeys for a 65. The Swede improved to joint fifth place but still fell short of the win he needed to overtake Tiger Woods at the top of the world rankings.

''It's really tight and I just need to play better if I want to get to that spot. And I should have to play better than I have done earlier on this year if I want to get to world No. 1, that's for sure,'' he said.

PGA champion Jason Dufner opened with a birdie-eagle on his first two holes before slipping back to joint 54th with two double bogeys and a triple bogey on the 17th.

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Watch: Tiger birdies 3 of 4, then goes OB

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 8:30 pm

Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off in his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which he walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at the par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

His momentum was slowed by his first bogey of the day at No. 9, the product of an errant drive and its ensuing complications. As a result, Woods made the turn 2 under on his round, 9 under for the week, and still five off the lead, like when he started the day.

But Woods wouldn't wait long to make up for his mistake, immediately responding with another flagged iron and another birdie at No. 10.

He continued his assault on Bay Hill's par-5s at the 12th, getting up and down from the sand for a birdie-4 that moved him to 11 under par, just two off the lead.

And with this roll at 13 giving him his third birdie in four holes, the charge was officially on, with Woods just one back.

Just when it looked like Woods was primed for a late run at his 80th PGA Tour victory, Woods stepped to the tee at the par-5 16th, where he had missed wide right three days in a row, and sniped his drive out of bounds into a backyard miles left.

He made 4 on his second ball for a bogey-6 to drop back to 11 under, three behind.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.