Donald wins Disney, Tour money title

By Doug FergusonOctober 22, 2011, 8:17 pm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Already No. 1 in the world, Luke Donald left little doubt who was No. 1 on the PGA Tour.

Believing his only chance to capture the PGA Tour money title was to win at Disney, Donald ran off six straight birdies on the back nine Sunday and closed with an 8-under 64 to come from five shots off the lead and win the Children's Miracle Network Classic.

'This is one of the most satisfying wins of my career,' Donald said.

Donald, who trailed Webb Simpson by $363,029 coming into the final tournament of the year, was two behind Simpson when they made the turn. Then came a performance that ranks among Donald's best, even in his greatest season of golf.

He holed four straight birdie putts inside 8 feet, took the lead with an 18-foot birdie on the par-5 14th hole, then sealed his stunning rally with a 45-foot birdie on the 15th hole.

'Everything was on the line,' Donald said. 'I'm thrilled and over the moon.'

It was his second PGA Tour win of the year. Donald also won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. With no one else winning more than twice this year, Donald established himself as a heavy favorite to be PGA Tour player of the year.

The award is a vote of the players, and ballots go out on next week.

'We gave ourselves a chance,' Simpson said. 'The fact is, playing against the best player in the world, he's going to do something great like that most of the time, and he did. Made six birdies in a row. Tough to compete against.'

As for player of the year?

'I don't know yet,' said Simpson, who won twice and was No. 2 on the money list and the FedEx Cup. 'I think I've played great. Luke has played great. Couple other guys have played well. Still probably up in the air a little bit. But I'm sure I'll vote for myself.'

Donald also kept alive his bid to become the first player to win the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season. His lead in Europe is just over $1.8 million over Rory McIlroy with five tournaments remaining.

He wound up with a two-shot win over Justin Leonard, who finished with eight pars for a 71. Leonard already is exempt for next year, but kept alive his streak of never finishing out of the top 125 on the money list since joining the tour in 1994.

Donald finished at 17-under 271 and earned $846,000, giving him just over $6.6 million for the year. Simpson was runner-up on the money list, just as he was in the FedEx Cup.

Tom Pernice Jr., a 52-year-old who refuses to give up on playing with guys half his age, closed with a 69 for a three-way tie for third, earning enough money to finish at No. 121 and earn back his PGA Tour card.

There were plenty of twists and turns at the bottom of the money list, as players were grinding to finish in the top 125 to have full status on tour next year.

Bobby Gates missed a 6-foot putt on the final hole but still appeared safe. Pernice only moved into the top 125 when Nick O'Hern bogeyed his last hole and fell out of the logjam at third place. On the other side of the Magnolia Course, D.J. Trahan knocked in a 22-foot birdie putt on his last hole at No. 9 – the second-toughest hole.

That ultimately enabled Trahan to finish at No. 125 on the money list by $1,431 over Gates.

'I don't know what par would have done,' Trahan said. 'I really, honestly don't know what difference that would have made, but birdie certainly didn't hurt me. So I'm thrilled that I made that putt.'

Donald, however, stole the show.

He only entered Disney after Simpson decided to play at Sea Island last week, and when Simpson was the runner-up to take the lead on the money list, Donald knew his best chance was to win.

Never mind that he was five shots behind to start the final round. Or that it has been five years since he last won a stroke-play event on the PGA Tour. Over the next hour, Donald showed why he is No. 1 in the world.

He matched birdies with Simpson on the easy par-5 10th, and from there, Donald was in his own world. A wedge to 8 feet on the 11th. An 8-iron to 6 feet on the 12th. A lob wedge to 5 feet on the 13th.

The most meaningful shot came at the par-5 14th, where Donald had gone bogey and double bogey the previous two rounds, then pledged to reporters he would make birdie Sunday. He rolled in an 18-foot putt to get his revenge and take the lead. 'The putt on 15 was a bonus,' Donald said.

So was the reaction. For a man with so little emotion, Donald crouched, let out a yell, then slammed his fist toward the ground when the ball dropped into the center of the cup. Donald suddenly had a two-shot lead, and no one behind him was making a move.

His wife, Diane, is expecting their second child in just over a week. She was watching from home, and posted on Twitter, 'I don't think this much jumping up and down is good for the baby!!!'

Kevin Chappell, the PGA Tour rookie who shared the 54-hole lead with Leonard, was tied for the lead when he missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the 10th and dropped a shot on the 11th with an approach into the bunker. Chappell closed with a 72 and was in the group at 274 that included Pernice and Sunghoon Kang, who birdied the last hole and moved into the top 125.

'I'm just dreaming right now,' Kang said.

It felt that way for Donald, too, who has done nothing but prove skeptics wrong all year.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."