Fergon Gets Windy Victory in Texas
But it made sense. She had lost confidence in her game and needed a boost. She had lost her exempt status on the LPGA Tour and needed a place to play. She had earned less than $45,000 in her last two LPGA seasons, in which for the first time, she had to enter tournaments as a non-exempt player. Fergon felt she had no choice but to toss away her pride and join the fresh-faced LPGA Tour hopefuls if she wanted to continue playing competitive golf.
And by Sunday afternoon at the $70,000 IOS Futures Golf Classic, the 47-year-old tour veteran had kept her patience playing in the kind of wind that puts grit in your teeth. She won the war of attrition in steady 30 mph winds with gusts of up to 40 mph, recording a 2-over-par final-round score of 74 to finish at even-par 216, one stroke better than Nadine Ash of Richards Bay, South Africa, who was the days best wind cheater. Ash was the only player in the field to post a sub-par round at 1-under 71 at the 6,364-yard, wind-battered Underwood Golf Complex, Sunrise Course. She used only 24 putts for the round with 10 on the back nine holes.
'Maybe my experience helped keep me focused and calm in adverse conditions,' said Fergon, who hasnt played in an LPGA tournament in six months. 'I knew these conditions would eventually bring the good players to the top.'
Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla., led all day Sunday, building as much as a three-shot lead after eight holes. And she maintained her lead, if only by a single shot, as the field fell victim to winds that had players backing off their putts and second-guessing club selections all week. The former University of Tulsa player, who had earned her first professional win the previous week in windy Wichita, Kan., had shown a prowess in blustery conditions. She seemed in control and poised to win her second consecutive Futures Tour tournament coming down the stretch.
But at the par-3 17th hole, Prammanasudh pured a 5-iron that landed 20 yards short. Her chip blew beyond the hole and the Oklahoman couldnt get up and down for par from eight feet, dropping to even par for the tournament with a hole to play. Bad got worse and Prammanasudhs drive on 18 found a right fairway bunker. She chunked her bunker shot, which found a water hazard in front of the green. After a drop, Prammanasudh tried to hole a 93-yard gap wedge approach for a chance to tie Fergon and force a playoff. But it took two putts to get home and Prammanasudh doubled the last for a final-round 78 to finish third at 3-over 218.
'I cant be disappointed,' said Prammanasudh, who remains at the top of the Futures Tour Money List with earnings of $20,141 in four events. 'Even if you hit good shots, you dont always know how the ball is going to react in the wind. It was an endurance test.'
Attrition took a toll on Candy Hannemann of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who was in second place after 36 holes, as well as on Allie Blomquist of Afton, Minn., who was tied for third with Fergon after two rounds. Hannemann carded an 80 on Sunday to drop into a tie for sixth with Isabelle Beisiegel of Norman, Okla., and Jan Dowling of Bradford, Ontario. Blomquist posted a 78 to finish tied for fourth with Kristen Bloomer of Moberly Mo.
And Fergon, who becomes the only woman to win on the LPGA Tour, Futures Tour and Womens Senior Golf Tour, was the last one standing. At the 18th hole, her 30-foot putt stopped a foot and a half short of the hole. Fergon marked her ball and looked at the leader board beside the 18th green. It was then that she saw that Prammanasudh had bogeyed the 17th and that they were tied for the lead at even par.
'I told myself to keep my head still, keep my grip loose and to make that putt,' said Fergon, who has three LPGA Tour wins and one win on the Womens Senior Golf Tour. The par putt found the bottom of the cup.
And she notched another milestone when Prammanasudh suffered a double-bogey at 18. Fergon was the winner at an event she had forced herself to enter ' on a tour designed to develop the games of up-and-coming professionals and help them get to the LPGA Tour.
'I knew there were some good players on this Tour and even with all my years on the LPGA Tour, I didnt come out here expecting to win,' said Fergon, who pocketed a $9,800 winners check and a $500 check for a hole-in-one in the first round from the Donald T. Ostop Weekly Player Hole-in-One Challenge. 'This tells me that even though Im not a youngster, I can still play. Golf knows no age and no humility.'
And the future still looks bright for tour veteran Vicki Fergon.
Full coverage of the IOS Futures Golf Classic
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.