Bradford Vaughan Cruises to Eight-Shot Victory
In fact, her act was over the minute Vaughan recorded back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes to begin a final-round charge that would end with him at 25-under par 263. The Vanderbijlpark professional played the aggressive golf he was determined to do on the final day, securing his first major victory with a round of eight-under par 64.
Vaughan has won on the winter section of the Sunshine Tour, the last of which was victory in the 1999 Royal Swazi Sun Classic at this same Royal Swazi Sun course. But this is his maiden victory on the more lucrative summer leg of the Tour, and the biggest winning margin recorded this summer.
Trevor Immelman and England's Mark Hilton shared second place on 17-under par 271, with respective rounds of 65 and 69. And then there was the irony of Vaughan's younger brother, Jason, propping up the field at 11-over par 299, making for the unique occurrence of one brother winning the tournament and the other finishing last.
'I never thought of it that way,' said the victorious Vaughan, who kept all his thoughts focused solely on winning the tournament.
'I generally try not to think too much, because it can be bad for me. But the one thing I had in my mind at the start of the day was to go out there and attack.' Vaughan started the final round three strokes clear at 17-under par.
After seven holes, he was four-under for the day and in exactly the position he wanted to be, lying at 21-under par for the tournament. 'I knew that if I could get to 20-under for the tournament with nine holes to play, then I would have at least a three-shot lead or more.'
Hilton closed to within four shots of Vaughan at one stage on the front nine. But it was playing partner Hennie Otto, five adrift after eight holes, whom Vaughan was most concerned about. 'Hennie was going along well and he was the only one I thought could catch me,' Vaughan said.
But at the par-four ninth, Otto dunked his approach into the water guarding the green and went on to make a triple-bogey seven. 'After that he lost it a bit and I knew I just had to focus on hitting the ball well and I would be okay.'
Vaughan's ball striking was the most pleasing aspect of his victory. 'It's nice to see what I can do when I hit the ball well for four straight rounds. In the past, I've always had one round where I don't hit it well, and that usually costs me,' he said after finishing the week with rounds of 67, 67, 65 and 64.
The win also enabled Vaughan to break into the top three on the Sunshine Tour's Order of Merit, overtaking Trevor Immelman. Vaughan is roughly R3,000 adrift of second-placed Roger Wessels, while Mark McNulty is the runaway leader and a certainty to claim a record eighth Order of Merit title.
Next week's Tour Championship is the final event on the 2000/2001 season, offering a first prize of over R300,000. The incentive for a top two finish on the Order of Merit is a place in the field for this year's Open Championship at Royal Lytham, while the top three are also guaranteed an invite to the lucrative American Express World Golf Championship.
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Hahn jabs USGA over possible ball rollback
As debate continues to heat up over possible sweeping changes to the golf ball amid distance concerns, PGA Tour pro James Hahn chimed in to question the merits of a potential rollback.
The ball and distance debate gained traction earlier this week when Jack Nicklaus offered that the ball should be rolled back to the approximate distances achieved in 1995, and he put blame for the current situation squarely at the feet of Titleist. That drew a response from former Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who put the onus back on the governing bodies.
It's an issue that will likely be discussed for months to come, but Hahn took to Twitter to throw a jab toward the USGA and play devil's advocate on some key arguments related to a possible rollback:
Breaking news. In addition to limited flight balls, the USGA plans to ban working out, proper diet and swinging faster than 105mph. They are also planning on removing the 3 point shot in the NBA.— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) February 23, 2018
If we were playing a match, would you rather hit 7 iron to my 9 iron OR hit hybrid to my 5 iron? Oh and by the way, I can still hit par 5s in two with 3 wood. You can't.— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) February 25, 2018
Hahn, who has two career PGA Tour wins and lost in a playoff last month at the Sony Open, ranks 55th on Tour this season in driving distance with an average of 301.2 yards off the tee.
Na fires back over slow play criticism from cricketer
Kevin Na fired back over recent criticism he received about his purported slow play at last week's Genesis Open.
Kevin Pietersen is a retired English cricketer with more than 3.6 million followers on Twitter. He tweeted a video of Na, known as one of the slower players on the PGA Tour, taking more than a minute to line up and hit what he described as a "Tap In" during the final round at Riviera:
SERIOUSLY, Kevin Na?!?!— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) February 18, 2018
That Is A Tap In, MATE! pic.twitter.com/YMmNT6m5H7
He then added another video of himself on a green in Dubai, where he again called out Na and showed how long he believed it should take for a player to brush in a short putt:
Na has faced his fair share of slow play criticism, but this time he decided to defend himself. Na isn't on Twitter, but he took to Instagram to tell Pietersen to "stick to your own sport," pointing out both the length of the putt in question and the stakes that were involved during the final round, when Na went on to tie for second behind Bubba Watson:
@kp24 lets get some facts straight. Shot tracker shows what u call “tap in” 3ft 4in. Since when is 3’4’’ on green speed 12 a “tap in.” FYI 1 shot for me on Sunday was 300k. Difference between T2 and T4. Yes, I did back off because the line didn’t feel right. So what! BTW that was the only putt I backed off all day. Also our group was on pace all day! We waited if anything. @pgatour @golfdigest @golf_com @golfchannel #getyourfactstraight #sticktoyourownsport #everyshotcounts
Pepperell wins his first European Tour title in Qatar
DOHA, Qatar - Eddie Pepperell survived a tense finish to win the Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club on Sunday for his maiden European Tour title.
The 27-year-old Englishman held off a spirited challenge from compatriot Oliver Fisher, who needed a third successive birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff, but had his putt from six feet slip past the hole for a par.
Pepperell shot a 2-under-par 70 for a four-day tally of 18 under 270, while Fisher, who started the day tied for the lead, could only manage a 71.
Sweden's Marcus Kinhult (68) finished third at 16-under.
The No. 154-ranked Pepperell made things difficult for himself with a bogey on the 15th hole, but hit a superb wedge to three feet on the next to get back to 18 under again.
Fisher, who appeared to have fallen out of contention with three bogeys starting on the third hole, stormed back with birdies on the 14th, 16th and 17th holes.
On the last, Pepperell laid up with his second into the thick rough, made wet and unwieldy by rain in the Qatar capital, but found the green in three and two-putted for the win when Fisher missed his birdie putt.
''I did the things I needed to do, I didn't play fantastic but I won ugly and for the first win to be ugly is good. Hopefully, I'll have some prettier ones in the future,'' said Pepperell.
''I knew I was playing well, especially tee to green, so I expected a lot of myself this week and I guess to pull it off is amazing. When Oli birdied the 17th, that was when it really caught up with me that I was only one ahead. I was in my own zone, I knew I had a couple of shots of lead but Oli did great. It was a tough front nine for him and I had to stay right in my own way and out of the two guys' way because they were struggling a bit and it's sometimes easy to get dragged into that.''
Fisher was disappointed, but saw the silver lining in the way he fought back.
''It went all the way to the last hole which, after my front nine, was what I was hoping for on the back nine,'' said Fisher, who won the 2011 Czech Open, but recorded his first top-three finish since the 2014 Africa Open.
''I hit a lot of good shots coming down the back nine and gave myself a lot of good chances, but there were just too many bogeys today, four in total, so you're never going to win a tournament making that many mistakes on a Sunday. But at least I pressed him all the way.''
Italian Renato Paratore (66) had the low round of the day and finished tied for fourth place at 15 under par, where he was joined by the Spanish pair of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Pablo Larrazabal along with Gregory Havret of France.