No. 1 With a Bullet

By Associated PressMay 29, 2011, 9:26 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Luke Donald secured the world No. 1 ranking by winning the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday, beating Lee Westwood in a playoff in what was a duel for the top spot between the two Englishmen.

On the first playoff hole, Donald landed his approach onto the No. 18 green to within a few feet, while Westwood sent his shot into the adjacent water hazard to decide the tournament at Wentworth.

It is only the second stroke-play title in the past five years for Donald, who joins Westwood and Nick Faldo as the only Englishmen to hold the top spot since the rankings were introduced in 1986.

Donald will replace Westwood when the new rankings are released on Monday.

“Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it,” said Donald, last year’s runner-up. “It’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s something I will be very proud of when I look back. I will savor this moment, it’s very special. I think I will stay the same person, I hope I do. I’m looking forward to the challenge of staying No. 1. I know Lee and Martin (Kaymer) will be chasing me very hard.”

Having trailed co-leaders Matteo Manassero and Donald by two strokes entering the round, Westwood shot a 3-under 68 and Donald hit a 70 for both to total 6-under 278.

Simon Dyson of England (69) finished third at 280 after hitting a 69. Marcus Fraser of Australia (67), France’s Raphael Jacquelin (71) and Shane Lowry of Ireland (67) were a further stroke back.

Donald had missed two previous chances to become No. 1, losing to Ian Poulter in the World Match Play final last week in Spain and going down to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff at The Heritage in April.

But his consistency in finishing in the top 10 for the past nine tournaments – including winning the Accenture Match Play event in Arizona in February – ensured his first playoff victory on either the European or PGA Tour will give him the No. 1 ranking.

Donald said Westwood’s water-bound approach in the playoff was more down to poor fortune than execution.

“It wasn’t a bad shot, just had a litte bit too much spin on it. It was just unfortunate, you don’t like to see that,” Donald said. “Lee is a champion and has been a great No. 1 for European golf.”

A tournament of mostly unimpressive scoring – down to a redesign from Ernie Els that has made the West Course almost unplayable, or to fiendishly difficult pin placements, depending upon whom you believe – continued at the start of the final round.

After rounds of 72 and 72, Donald began the final day by going bogey-bogey, visibly blanching after duffing his chip at the par-3 No. 2 from just off the green.

Manassaero double-bogeyed No. 3 after needing two shots to reach the green from an adjacent bunker. Donald birdied the next hole to draw level with the Italian in front again.

Westwood, however, made four birdies in nine holes after a bogey on No. 3 to sit on top of the leaderboard.

Another birdie for Westwood on the difficult No. 15 green was made possible by one of the shots of the tournament. Having missed the fairway with his driver and receiving a free drop, he carved a 7-iron with draw that rolled within 4 feet of the hole, the putt taking him two strokes ahead of Donald.

That lead evaporated at No. 16.

Westwood three-putted after having dropped his club in his follow-through from the tee. Donald, in the next group, landed his approach within a foot of the hole – and the top two players in the world were level again.

Down the home straight, Donald and Westwood mixed the sub-standard with the sublime.

Donald’s birdie putt lipped out on No. 17 after a brilliant rescue shot from an approach that hit a tree. He landed his tee shot into the bunker at No. 18, not long after Westwood had sent his 5-wood into the gallery at the last.

Both players made par to head back to the No. 18 tee, but Westwood’s reign as No. 1 was to end on the first playoff hole.

“If you’re going to miss your chances, you’ll go into a playoff – and they are volatile, aren’t they?” Westwood said later.

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.