Nordqvist tops major champs to win Founders Cup

By Associated PressMarch 20, 2017, 1:27 am

PHOENIX – Anna Nordqvist caught up with some college friends - and left everyone else behind Sunday on another hot afternoon at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

The 29-year-old former Arizona State player shot a 4-under 68 to hold off fellow major champions Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis and In Gee Chun by two strokes in record 96-degree heat at Desert Ridge.

''I have so many friends and family here. They feel like family, my U.S. family,'' the 6-foot Swede said. ''Couldn't think of a better place to be. I'm just so happy to be back. I wasn't even going to play a couple weeks ago and just ended up adding it last minute. Maybe it was meant to be.''

Nordqvist won her seventh LPGA title and first since successfully defending the ShopRite LPGA Classic title last June. In the U.S. Women's Open in July, she lost a three-hole playoff to Brittany Lang after being penalized two strokes for touching the sand with her club in a fairway bunker on the second extra hole.

''Of all the wins probably this is the one that's going to be more special,'' Nordqvist said. ''If it wasn't for me getting an opportunity to come to Arizona State University about 10 years ago, I wouldn't be here today. This truly still feels like home, even though I'm based in Florida.''



She finished at 25-under 263, two shots off the LPGA Tour record that Sei Young Kim matched last year at Desert Ridge. The Swede had a tournament-record 61 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round.

Jutanugarn matched Nordqvist with a 68 in the final pairing, playing the back nine in 5 under. The second-ranked Thai star had a bogey-free week. She won five LPGA titles last year and topped the player of the year points race and money list.

Lewis also shot 68, and Chun had a 66.

Lewis is winless in 67 events since June 2014. The 32-year-old Texan finished second for the 25th time in her career and the 12th since her last victory. She won at Desert Ridge in 2013 to reach No. 1, was second in 2014 and 2015 and tied for fourth last year.

Nordqvist made a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th to take a one-stroke lead, and pushed the margin to two with an 18-footer in the par-4 13th.

She made a 25-footer on the par-3 17th and closed with a bogey after failing to get up-and-down from the left greenside bunker on the par-4 18th.

''Saw the leaderboard on 15, but I just tried to keep my head down and do my thing,'' Nordqvist said. ''Felt like I played pretty solid on the front and made two good putts on 13 and 17. A little interesting at the end, but I'm so happy and proud of myself this week.''

She earned $225,000 and is projected to jump from 13th to 11th in the world ranking.

Ha Na Jang (63), Inbee Park (67) and So Yeon Ryu (69) tied for fifth at 21 under.

Top-ranked Lydia Ko also had a bogey-free week, closing with a 68 to tie for eighth at 20 under. Moria Jutanugarn, Ariya's older sister, also was 20 under after a career-best 63.

Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.