Austin Tops Herron in Playoff

By Sports NetworkAugust 29, 2004, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)CROMWELL, Conn. -- Woody Austin birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat Tim Herron and win the Buick Championship. The win was the first since the 1995 Buick Open for Austin.
'I don't like the nine-and-a-half, 10 years in between the two titles, but it's a quality win,' said Austin, who earned $756,000 for the victory. 'I've had three chances and all three having been playoffs. The first one I was fortunate enough to win, so I'm happy to be on the positive side again.'
Herron birdied the 18th in regulation to force a playoff with Austin, who bogeyed the 72nd hole. Both players closed with rounds of 4-under 66 to end the tournament tied at 10-under-par 260 at the TPC at River Highlands.
On the 72nd hole, Austin's tee shot found a deep divot in the left rough. He blasted his second shot over the green into the back chipping area, while Herron's second from the fairway landed 30 feet from the cup.
Austin ran his chip shot some nine feet by the hole. Herron then drained his birdie try to get to minus-10 and put the pressure on Austin. The 40-year-old Austin left his par putt on the right edge and kicked in the bogey putt.
After no one was able to catch Austin and Herron, the duo returned to the 18th tee for the first extra hole. Herron, teeing off first, pulled his drive into the thick rough left of the fairway.
Austin ripped a long drive down the middle of the fairway. Herron then knocked his second onto the green some 45 feet from the hole. Austin, meanwhile, stuck his second inside 5 feet.
Herron's birdie try came up short and after a measurement by a PGA Tour official, Herron was determined to be away. He drained his par putt.
'I guess I was kind of lucky that I wasn't real into it,' Herron said. 'I was having fun. First time in a long time where I had fun playing golf, and that chunk on 17, you know, somehow as a golfer you've got to get over those things.'
Austin, knowing he needed to make his putt for the win, poured in the birdie try for his second playoff win.
'I certainly wanted to feel vindicated after my victory, my rookie year and then winning Rookie of the Year and pretty much haven't done anything since,' Austin said. 'I feel like last year almost winning Harbour Town and now this year winning, I feel like I'm starting to be vindicated again. I feel like if I can get my confidence back.'
Fred Funk, looking for his first win since the 1998 Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic, managed an even-par 70 in the final round. He shared third place with Tom Pernice, Jr. and Zach Johnson at 9-under-par 271.
Corey Pavin, who was in the mix for his first win since the 1996 Colonial, also closed with a 70 to end at 8-under-par 272. He was joined there by Jason Bohn (65) and Matt Gogel (67).
Austin bogeyed the par-4 first to slip back to 5 under. He atoned for that mistake with a birdie at the seventh, before catching fire on the back nine.
'I did the same thing yesterday. I played quality golf the whole front nine yesterday and today, I just couldn't get the ball to go in the hole,' said Austin, who birdied 10-14 on Saturday. 'I hit a great shot into 10, and when that putt went in, I was like, okay, maybe I can do the same thing, and then I birdied 11. I just hit so many good quality shots and gave myself enough chances, and fortunately, I made all the putts I needed to make.'
The 1995 Buick Open winner dropped in a birdie at the 10th and came right back to birdie the 11th and move to 8 under. Austin was not done there. He birdied the 13th to get within one shot of the lead.
Austin drained a 10-foot birdie try at the 14th to forge a four-way tie atop the leaderboard. He converted a 7-footer for birdie at 15, for his third straight birdie, and a one-shot lead.
Austin parred the 16th and 17th setting up the dramatics at the last.
Herron, who battled a bad case of Lyme disease earlier this summer, played his first nine holes in 1 under as he birdied the par-4 fourth. He caught fire around the turn.
The 34-year-old dropped in back-to-back birdies from the 10th. Herron tripped to a bogey at the 12th, but sank a 10-foot eagle putt at the next to move into a tie for the lead.
Herron, a three-time winner on tour, got up-and-down for par at 14 and two-putted for his par at the 15th. Lumpy, as Herron is known on tour, nearly holed his tee shot at the 16th, bit it came to rest within an inch of the cup.
Herron kicked in that birdie, but trouble loomed. He found the fairway at the 17th, but hit a fat second shot and it came up short of the putting surface and in a water hazard. He later missed a 9-footer and walked away with a double bogey before his strong play at 18 forced an extra hole.
'You know I had a perfect yardage on 17,' said Herron. 'I don't know what I did there, but all I can say is I hung in there. I missed a little putt. I kept grinding. Once I hit the back nine, I was just kind of trying to get in. I wasn't feeling very good.'
Todd Fischer, Tom Byrum, Jeff Sluman and Kevin Sutherland shared ninth place at 7-under-par 273. Robert Damron, Brad Faxon, Hank Kuehne, Arjun Atwal, Jerry Kelly, Hidemichi Tanaka, Kirk Triplett and Omar Uresti were one stroke further back at minus-6.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Buick Championship
  • Full Coverage - Buick Championship
  • Getty Images

    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

    Getty Images

    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

    Getty Images

    Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

    The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

    Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

    McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

    McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

    Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

    “When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

    And that was an offseason event.

    “They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

    As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

    So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

    “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”

    Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

    Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

    His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

    It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

    There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

    There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

    While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

    There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.

    Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

    Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

    He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

    Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

    Getty Images

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

    The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

    Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

    Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

    Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.

    Notables in the field

    Phil Mickelson

    * This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

    * For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

    * He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

    * This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.

    Jon Rahm

    * Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    * In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

    * Last year he finished T-34 in this event.

    Adam Hadwin

    * Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

    * In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    Brian Harman

    * Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

    * Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

    * Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

    Brandt Snedeker

    * Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

    * This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

    * Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.

    Patrick Reed

    * Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

    * This is his first start of 2018.

    * Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

    (Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)