McIlroy tops Woodland to win WGC-Match Play

By Nick MentaMay 3, 2015, 8:50 pm

Despite playing this week with less than his best, Rory McIlroy fought his way to the final and then topped Gary Woodland, 4 and 2, to win the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship. Here’s how the final two matches finished up Sunday in San Francisco:

Championship match

The victory is McIlroy's first in the United States since last year's PGA Championship and his second worldwide in 2015, after his win at the Omega Dubai Classic on the European Tour in February.

After taking the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last summer, the world No. 1 is now the ninth man to win multiple World Golf Championships, joining Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Darren Clarke, Geoff Ogilivy (three), and Tiger Woods (18). He is only the second world No. 1 to win the Match Play, joining Woods, who did it in 2002, 2003 and 2008. The almost-birthday boy, who turns 26 tomorrow, also gets in just under the wire, joining Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win 10 Tour events before the age of 26.

McIlroy, who lost in the final to Mahan in 2012, advanced to the championship match after playing his final three holes in the semifinals 4 under and rolling in a 44-foot eagle putt on the 18th green to put away Jim Furyk.

Woodland, No. 50 in the world, entered the final a combined 11 under on his previous 35 holes at TPC Harding Park, but stumbled out the gates against McIlroy before falling far behind. Woodland and McIlroy halved the first three holes with birdie-bogey-bogey before McIlroy took the fourth hole with a par and extended his lead to 4 up at the turn with the help of three straight birdies.

Woodland cut his deficit in half with wins on Nos. 11 and 12 but let a struggling McIlroy off the hook with back-to-back three-putts on 13 and 14. Rather than finding himself just 1 down through 13, when he missed a 4-footer for par and halved the hole with a bogey, Woodland one hole later fell back to 3 down with four to play.

The match finally reached its end when Woodland conceded on the 16th green.

In his last six majors and World Golf Championships, McIlroy’s record looks like this: 1, 1, 1, 9, 4, 1.

Consolation match

Playing ahead of McIlroy and Woodland, Danny Willett bounced back from his semifinals loss to beat Jim Furyk, 3 and 2, and earn special temporary status on the PGA Tour for the remainder of the season.

Willett, 48th in the world, earns the exemption by virtue of earning an amount of points greater than or equal to the amount won last season by the 150th finisher on the FedExCup points list (Johnson Wagner - 323). The third-place finish is the 27-year-old Englishman’s best result in the United States in 13 career starts and follows up a T-12 at another WGC earlier this year at Doral.

All square through 11 holes, Willett seized control with birdies on 12 and 13 to go 2 up in the match and take a lead he’d never relinquish.

Still 2 down three holes later, Furyk conceded the match on the 16th hole after losing his ball in a tree.

In addition to his newly acquired status, Willett earned an extra $126,000 for winning the consolation match.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.