Ko captures LPGA season-ender, $1 million bonus

By Doug FergusonNovember 23, 2014, 10:42 pm

NAPLES, Fla. - New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko ended her LPGA rookie year with the biggest payoff in women's golf.

Ko won the $1 million bonus from the inaugural "Race to CME Globe" on Sunday by getting into a three-way playoff. Then, the 17-year-old added an extra $500,000 when she defeated Carlota Ciganda of Spain on the fourth extra hole at Tiburon Golf Club to win the CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko made par all five times she played the 18th hole on Sunday, and the last one paid handsomely.

"It's been an awesome week, and a week that I'll never forget," Ko said. "When I saw that $1 million in the box, I was like, `Wow, I wonder who the winner of that will be?' It's amazing. I've never seen that much cash in one place before."

Only the tournament earnings counted toward the money list. The $500,000 from her third victory of the year made Ko the first LPGA rookie to surpass $2 million in one season.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, videos and photos


Ciganda and Julieta Granada of Paraguay certainly helped Ko's cause.

Granada, who closed with a 1-under 71, was the first to exit the playoff when she three-putted from just off the 18th green. Her 5-foot par putt spun in and out of the cup.

Ciganda, who shot a 70, had two good chances to win. She missed a 3-foot birdie on the 17th hole in regulation that would have given her the lead. She also missed a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 18 in the third playoff hole for the victory.

On the fourth time at No. 18 in the playoff, Ciganda pulled her approach from the fairway and watched it bounce down a slope and into the hazard.

"What the ..." Ciganda said, without finishing the sentence as her shot sailed toward trouble.

She took a penalty drop and chipped to 3 feet. Ko needed only two putts for the win, and her first putt stopped an inch from going in. No matter. The kid was a winner again, her fifth LPGA title before her 18th birthday. She was an amateur when she won her first two LPGA titles.

Ko wasn't the only big winner in the LPGA finale.

Stacy Lewis never had a chance to win the tournament or the $1 million bonus, though she walked away with her own slice of history. Lewis became the first American in 21 years to sweep the three most significant LPGA awards - player of the year, the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average and the money title.

"The $1 million would have been nice," Lewis said after a 71 to tie for ninth place. "But those three, that's what I came here for."

Ko had a 68-68 weekend, and she established herself quickly on another blustery day with three birdies in eight holes to take the lead. She hit her approach to 3 feet on the 13th and looked as though she might pull away.

Ciganda made back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes to join Ko at 10-under par, and Granada chipped in on the 15th for birdie to make it a threesome. They finished at 10-under 278 to force the third straight LPGA playoff.

The LPGA decided to use one hole for the playoff - the 18th hole, which yielded only four birdies all week. True to form, victory went to the player who didn't make a mistake. Then again, Ko didn't do much wrong in a rookie season like no other.

"She's a great player," Lewis said. "She got that innocence about her that she doesn't even realize what's going on. She probably has no idea how the scenarios and points work out. Maybe it's to her advantage."

Going into the LPGA finale, the top three in the Race to CME Globe only had to win the tournament to capture the $1 million bonus. Lewis wound up six shots out of the playoff. Inbee Park, who was at No. 2 in the standings, never got on track and tied for 24th at even-par 288.

Ko wrapped up the race by getting into the playoff, win or lose, which she said helped to alleviate the pressure.

Morgan Pressel had a 72 and finished alone in fourth, while Michelle Wie (70) tied for fifth.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.