Kaymer rallies for HSBC win with 63

By Doug FergusonNovember 5, 2011, 11:53 pm

SHANGHAI — Martin Kaymer was five shots behind and going nowhere Sunday, making nothing but pars when he needed much more to give himself a chance in the HSBC Champions.

From a deep bunker in front of the seventh green, he holed the sand shot for a birdie, and suddenly the game felt easy.

Very easy.

That was the start of an amazing finish for Kaymer, who ran off nine birdies over the last 12 holes to blow past Fredrik Jacobson and a host of stars on his way to a 9-under 63 and a three-shot victory at Sheshan International.

“I didn’t miss a lot of golf shots,” Kaymer said.

It’s a wonder he didn’t birdie them all. He missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the ninth, and failed to birdie the par-5 14th and the 16th hole that plays about 288 yards and can be reached with a 3-wood.

No matter.

Kaymer wound up setting two World Golf Championship records that showed just how well the “Germanator” played on a cool, overcast day in Shanghai. It was the largest comeback (five shots) in the final round, and his 63 was the lowest final round by a winner since this series began in 1999.

“I just played really good golf, and I’m glad that it came together,” Kaymer said. “Because the last few weeks, I played good golf but it has not happened yet. And this week, it was nice that it happened here, the World Golf Championship event.”

Kaymer, the PGA champion at Whistling Straits last year, became the 10th player to have won a major and a WGC event.

His standard of golf was so high that it nearly shifted attention away from caddie Steve Williams and the racial comment he made about Tiger Woods earlier in the week at a caddies award party.

That still lingered, however. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European Tour chief executive George O’Grady issued a statement on behalf of the six major tours that there was “no place for any form of racism is ours or any other sport” and that Williams’ comment was “unacceptable in whatever context.”

Even so, the tours said Williams’ apology for his racial slur against Woods that they considered the matter closed and declined further comment.

Adam Scott, who has employed Williams since Woods fired the caddie, closed with a 73 and tied for 11th. Scott said he was comfortable with the tours’ statement, which matched his own feelings, and that he “absolutely” would keep Williams on the bag.

Kaymer, who finished at 20-under 268 and earned $1.2 million, moved to second on the European Tour money list and to No. 4 in the world ranking. He still has golf left this year, although it sure gave him a different outlook.

He opened his season with an eight-shot win over a strong field at Abu Dhabi, and five weeks later went to No. 1 in the world. But he struggled with his sudden popularity and the demands that came along with it, and Kaymer hasn’t looked the same.

That’s what made this win so important.

“It was an OK year,” he said. “But now it’s a good year.”

Jacobson was steady until a three-putt bogey from across the green on the par-5 eighth. But after Kaymer ran off four straight birdies on the back nine to catch him and pull ahead, Jacobson answered with a pair of birdies to stay with him.

The Swede just couldn’t hold on. He realized Kaymer had made a birdie on the 17th to go one ahead, and not only did Jacobson fail to match him, he pulled his tee shot into the left rough on the 17th and took bogey. That put him three shots behind when Kaymer made one last birdie on the 18th, and Jacobson at that point was content to lay up on the par-5 18th and keep second place to himself.

“I felt I was very much in it,” said Jacobson, who closed with a 71. “Obviously, 17 was a bit of a swing after I hit my tee shot. I knew if I was going to have a shot at it, I probably had to get up-and-down to have a realistic chance.”

Graeme McDowell finished with two birdies for a 67 to finish alone in third, quite a turnaround from last week in the Andalucia Masters when he failed to break 80 in the last two rounds at Valderrama.

Rory McIlroy made a short birdie on the par-5 18th that gave him a 69 and proved significant. It put him in a three-way tie for fourth, allowing him to move past Lee Westwood to No. 2 in the world.

Westwood, playing in the same group as McIlroy, shot 40 on the front nine and closed with a 74 to tie for 13th with Ian Poulter and Xin-Jun Zhang of China, who inspired the gallery by holing a pitch for eagle on the 16th hole to salvage a 72.

Kaymer has experience going low. Sunday in Shanghai reminded him of his first year as a pro when he played a mini-tour in Germany. After a par-bogey start, he played his last 16 holes in 14 under to shoot a 59.

Europe now occupies the first four positions in the world ranking, starting with Luke Donald at No. 1.

Even though he wasn’t at Sheshan International — his wife is expecting their second child — Donald came out a big winner.

PGA champion Keegan Bradley had a 72-72 weekend, keeping him from a third win this year that could have changed players’ minds about their vote for PGA Tour player of the year. And with McIlroy failing to win, it kept Donald with a $1.4 million lead in Europe as he tries to become the first player to win money titles on the PGA and European tours.

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

And that’s a magic word in golf.

There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

Parity was the story this year.

Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

“I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

“He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.