Choi tops Toms in Players playoff

By Doug FergusonMay 16, 2011, 3:40 am
The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – K.J. Choi did everything demanded of the winner at The Players Championship.

Not only did he hit the island green on the 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass, he did it three times in one day. With the tournament on the line, he got up-and-down for par from 80 feet on the final hole Sunday.

Despite everything Choi did to win, this Players Championship might be remembered as much for how it was lost.

David Toms, who hit 6-iron out of a divot and made an 18-foot birdie putt on the hardest hole to force a playoff, missed a 3 1/2 -foot par putt on the 17th to hand Choi the biggest win of his career.

“No excuses, no spike marks, no ball marks, no nothing,” Toms said of his three-putt bogey on the first sudden-death playoff hole. “Maybe a lot of pressure. But other than that, there was no excuse.”

On a hole designed to provide great theater – the island-green 17th – the finish fell flat.

Both players hit the green in the playoff, and the advantage went to Toms with a shot that settled about 18 feet away. Choi lagged his long birdie putt about 3 feet by the hole, and Toms thought he had a winner with his 18-foot putt until it slid by the cup and rolled 3 1/2 feet by the cup. Into the grain, slightly uphill, he didn’t strike it solidly and missed.

Choi tapped in his putt and pumped his fist, yet his heart felt for the 44-year-old Toms.

“As a fellow player, I felt very sorry for him,” Choi said. “Because I know how that feels. And I felt bad for him.”

Choi had reason to celebrate for his own feats. Winless on the PGA Tour for three years, he took the outright lead with a 10-foot birdie on the 17th in regulation, saved par on the 18th with a putt from just in side 5 feet to close with a 2-under 70 and kept his nerves steady.

The South Korean lived in Jacksonville briefly when he first came to America and once practiced at the TPC Sawgrass, although he said his game wasn’t good enough then to break par.

Now, Choi is The Players champion, a winner of the biggest event on the PGA Tour.

“For me to shoot under par every day on this course this week, it’s like a miracle, to be honest with you,” Choi said.

Choi won for the eighth time in his PGA Tour career, picked up $1.71 million from the biggest purse in tournament golf, moved to No. 15 in the world and all but assured himself a spot on the Presidents Cup team.

Toms, winless in five years, had an easy time taking away positives. He was the 36-hole leader, finished the rain-delayed third round Sunday morning only one shot behind and spent some five hours with his name atop the leaderboard in the final round.

And his birdie on the 18th – one of only four birdies on the hardest hole at Sawgrass in the final round – he hit 6-iron out of a divot to 18 feet and forced a playoff.

“It was the best putt I’ve had in an awful long time,” Toms said.

Even so, it’s hard to get past a pair of mistakes.

The first one came on the par-5 16th, when he had a one-shot lead over Choi and tried to reach the green in two. His approach found the water, and Toms wound up making bogey. This is the guy famous for laying up on the par-4 18th at Atlanta Athletic Club when he won his lone major 10 years ago at the PGA Championships.

Toms was trying to put pressure on Choi.

“I thought I could hit the shot,” he said.

And then came the putt, when part of him already was thinking about going to the second playoff hole that decided the tournament. One consolation for Toms, along with knowing his game is close, is that he moved to No. 46 in the world and can avoid U.S. Open qualifying if he can stay there one more week.

Toms also finished with a 70, joining Choi in the playoff at 13-under 275.

So many other players felt they also squandered chances, none more than U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Nick Watney.

McDowell, who had a one-shot lead when the third round concluded Sunday morning because of rain delays, lost his way after an errant tee shot into the trees on the sixth hole. He hit four shots into the water the rest of the way and closed with a 79.

Watney was in control late in the third round until playing a three-hole stretch in 4-over par, then fell behind with consecutive bogeys at the turn in the final round and could never catch up.

Paul Goydos, who lost a playoff to Sergio Garcia in 2008 when the tour decided to make the 17th the first playoff hole, closed with a 69 to finish alone in third. 

Luke Donald never got on track, but still managed a 71 for his seventh consecutive top 10. He tied for fourth with Watney (71) and moved to No. 2 in the world, giving England the top two spots in the world ranking.

Donald and McDowell wore an all-navy blue outfit in honor of Seve Ballesteros  – his famous Sunday colors – who died last week.

Toms took a share of the lead on the second hole and never trailed until the finish.

It was a long day for both of them – 32 holes for Toms, 27 holes for Choi, because of the rain-delayed third round that had to be completed Sunday morning.

One shot by McDowell, along with one wicked bounce, set the tone for the final round – for him and those chasing him.

With consecutive birdies amid several collapses, McDowell suddenly had a three-shot lead as he closed out the third round. From the right rough on the 18th, his ball took a hard hop short of the green, caught the slope with some speed and didn’t stop rolling until it tumbled over the edge and into the water. After a drop, he three-putted for double bogey to fall back to 12-under 204.

That one-shot lead didn’t last long, and neither did McDowell.

He drilled a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 5 to catch Toms, then crumbled with a tee shot into the trees on No. 6, a tee shot into the water on No. 7 and a peculiar decision to try to blast out from squarely behind a plant on the ninth. He made bogey on all of them, then dropped another shot into the water on the 13th, 17th and 18th.

What makes the final three holes so dramatic is that anything can happen. No one could have expected it would end the way it did.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.