Walker cards 63, claims Sony Open title

By Doug FergusonJanuary 13, 2014, 3:08 am

HONOLULU – Jimmy Walker went seven years and 187 tournaments before he finally won on the PGA Tour. Now he seems to have it figured out.

Walker pulled away from the pack with three straight birdies on the back nine of Waialae on Sunday and closed with a 7-under 63 to win the Sony Open for his second tour victory in his last six starts.

''It took me a long time to do it,'' Walker said. ''I felt very calm and controlled. That's what you've got to feel and do when it's time to win. It's easy to say, hard to do. But today was awesome. Really cool golf.''


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This wasn't easy.

The final round was so tight there was a five-way tie for the lead with two hours remaining.

Walker's big run began with a 12-foot par on the 14th hole. One shot behind Harris English, Walker rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole, and took the outright lead when English – behind him in the final group – failed to save par from a bunker.

Walker made a 7-foot birdie putt on the 16th, and stuck his tee shot into 6 feet for birdie on the par-3 17th. A par on the last hole made him wait just a little bit longer.

Chris Kirk had a 30-foot eagle chip from just short of the green on the par-5 18th that would have forced a playoff. It stayed right of the hole, and Kirk made the birdie putt for a 66 to finish alone in second place.

Jerry Kelly (65) was alone in third. English never recovered from his bogey. He missed birdie putts on the last three holes for a 67.

Walker won the Frys.com Open in October, the first tournament of the new wraparound season. As the first multiple winner on the PGA Tour this season, he went to No. 1 in the Ryder Cup standings and is closing in on cracking the top 30 in the world.

Walker finished at 17-under 263 and earned $1.08 million. He already qualified for his first Masters by winning in October. Now he's piling up the wins.

With so many players in contention, the key was to keep bogeys off the card. Walker had made at least two bogeys in each of the three previous rounds, and it looked as if he was headed for one at the wrong time on the 14th hole when he chipped from an awkward stance near the bunker to about 12 feet. Kelly missed a 15-foot par putt from the same line, and Walker poured it in.

And then, he was off to the races.

Masters champion Adam Scott, in the first group on the back nine, went out in 30 and was one shot out of the lead just as the final group was starting play. Scott hit too many poor drives to keep it going, and the way the final two groups played the back nine, it wouldn't have mattered. Scott tied for eighth (seven shots behind), and after a tie for sixth last week at Kapalua, heads into a six-week hibernation before returning to golf in Florida.

The three players with the best shots at winning all won last fall in the early part of the wraparound season – Kirk at the McGladrey Classic, English in Mexico.

Kirk, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, made birdie on the 17th hole to stay within two shots of the lead and at least entertain the idea of eagle. His approach out of the rough needed about two more hops on the firm turf at Waialae to get on the green.

English ran off two birdies around the turn, took the outright lead with an 8-foot birdie on the 14th, and that was as close as he got.

''Just started hitting it better, but started putting a little worse,'' English said.

Will Wilcox, a rookie who played with a yellow golf ball, made only one birdie in a round of 71. He was in a large group at 10-under 270 that included Kapalua winner Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Charles Howell III, Retief Goosen and Pat Perez.

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Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.

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Gustafson shares stuttering success video

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 8:31 pm

Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.

Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.

She did so without stuttering.

And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.

“I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”

For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.

Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.

Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.

Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.

“If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.” 

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J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

Make way for Jin Young Ko.

The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.


Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

“I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

Ko finished at 14 under overall.

It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.


Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.