Fernandez-Castano wins BMW Masters

By Doug FergusonOctober 27, 2013, 8:58 am

SHANGHAI – Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano called it the perfect win, even though his final hole Sunday to win the BMW Masters was anything but perfect.

Fernandez-Castano chipped in from across the green for birdie on the tough 17th hole at Lake Malaren to build a three-shot lead. Then, he let memories of Jean Van de Velde's collapse creep into his head, and only when the 33-year-old Spaniard holed a 2-foot putt for double bogey did he exhale.

''I made it a little more complicated,'' Fernandez-Castano said.

He still closed with a 4-under 68 for a one-shot win over Francesco Molinari (64) and Thongchai Jaidee (66). Luke Guthrie, the 23-year-old American playing in Asia for the first time, didn't make a birdie until the 13th hole and closed with a 71 to finish alone in fourth, two shots behind.

Fernandez-Castano gave Spain its first European Tour win this year, extending the streak to 20 years of at least one Spanish victory.

But this was more for him than country.

The victory gets Fernandez-Castano into the HSBC Champions next week in Shanghai, critical for him to stay in the hunt for the Race to Dubai. He moved up from No. 35 to No. 4 in the standings, and the World Golf Championship offers $8.5 million in prize money.

He won 851,346 euros at the BMW Masters, putting him well ahead on the European Points portion of the Ryder Cup standings.

It also puts him into the top 50 in the world, which is critical for the Spaniard as he embarks on his first full season on the PGA Tour. He will get in at least two WGCs, and staying in the top 50 would get him into the majors. Fernandez-Castano is moving his family to Miami in December.

''Just at the perfect time,'' he said. ''There's never a bad time for a victory, let's put it that way. But this has been just the perfect one.''

Lake Malaren was set up for low scoring, with only a mild wind and several tees moved forward. Defending champion Peter Hanson had the low round of the tournament, making bogey on the last hole and still posting a 63.

Molinari played the final six holes in 6 under, including an eagle on the 13th hole, and he was tied for the lead at one point.

Everyone seemed to take advantage except the last two groups, setting up endless possibilities. Fernandez-Castano started to seize control with a wedge into 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 seventh, and another wedge to short range for birdie on the next hole.

That gave him a two-shot lead, and he kept his distance from Guthrie by matching the American's birdies on the two par 5s on the back. The chip-in for birdie on the 17th, a hole that Hanson described as the toughest in the final round, sealed the victory.

At least that's how it looked.

Fernandez-Castano felt a little too comfortable, deciding to play it so conservatively down the 18th hole that it nearly cost him. His tee shot cleared the water and went into a bunker, and he blasted out some 30 yards to avoid a bad shot that might hit the lip. That left him 168 yards for his third shot, and he aimed so far away from water and the flag that he wound up in another bunker.

''The only thing I was thinking about on the 18th was Jean Van de Velde,'' he said, referring to the Frenchman who made triple bogey on the final hole of the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie and lost in a playoff. ''There's so many things that go through your mind. Jean is a good friend of mind. I don't know, I just didn't want to mess up, and I almost did. It's a weird feeling. I'm not used to have a three-shot advantage when I'm playing such a big tournament like this.''

His bunker shot by the green was his best on the final hole, leaving him two putts from 8 feet for the win. He looked tentative on the first putt, and it rolled 2 feet away, just enough to make him nervous.

That was more drama than he needed, though Fernandez-Castano still managed to win for the seventh time in his career.

Peter Uihlein made four birdies on the back nine for a 67 that gave him a share of fifth place with Thomas Bjorn, keeping both of them in the top 10 on the European Tour money list with three more events before the World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Henrik Stenson, who went into The Final Series with a healthy lead over Graeme McDowell, made five straight birdies on the back nine and shot 65, which extended his lead over McDowell, who shot 74. The prize money in these last four events is the largest on the European Tour, except for majors and WGCs.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry