Bjorn Wins Playoff Back in Winners Circle

By Sports NetworkMay 15, 2005, 4:00 pm
European TourWARWICKSHIRE, England -- Thomas Bjorn parred the second playoff hole Sunday to win the Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters. Bjorn closed with a 4-under 68 to finish at 6-under-par 282. He was joined there by David Howell and Brian Davis, who each carded final-round 69s.
Bjorn two-putted for par on the first extra hole, No. 18, while Howell got up and down for par from left of the green. Davis fell out of the extra session after just one hole as he was unable to save par.
Bjorn and Howell returned to the 18th tee for the second playoff hole. Howell missed the green right in a bunker. Bjorn, meanwhile, dropped his tee ball within 20 feet of the cup.
Howell, who also lost in a playoff here to Thomas Levet in 2001, blasted out of the bunker to 12 feet. Bjorn left his birdie putt short, left of the cup and kicked in his short par putt. Howell then missed his par putt giving Bjorn his eighth victory on the European Tour.
'It's been a long time coming,' said Bjorn, whose last win came at the 2002 BMW International Open. 'I kept perfectly cool over the whole weekend and in the end it paid off. I don't think I've been as relaxed as I was over those two playoff holes.
'I actually try to come out and have a laugh and enjoy myself and try to take the good with the bad. I am just happy playing the game the way I am.'
Overnight leader Michael Campbell was unable to recover from a double-bogey on the 13th. He posted a 1-over 73 to end at 5-under-par 283. Soren Hansen and Simon Khan each shot rounds of 5-under 67 to share fifth place. They were joined at minus-4 by Steve Webster, who carded a 71 on Sunday.
Bjorn trailed the leaders nearly the entire round. He opened with a birdie on the fourth to get to 3 under. However, the Dane tripped to a bogey on the par-4 sixth on the Arden Course at the Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel & Country Club.
The 34-year-old caught fire from there. Bjorn drained a birdie try on the eighth. He made it two straight as his birdie attempt at the ninth found the bottom of the cup.
Bjorn moved to 5 under as he birdied the 10th to make it three in a row. He slid back to minus-4 with a bogey on the 13th. Bjorn jumped into the lead with an eagle on the par-5 17th, a hole he played at minus-5 for the week. He then parred the last to end at 6 under.
Coming to the 18th tee in regulation, the tournament was in Howell's hands. He played the first 14 holes at even-par with one birdie and one bogey. The Englishman birdied the 15th and 16th to get within one stroke of Bjorn.
Howell, like Bjorn, eagled the 17th to jump into the lead at minus-7. However, Howell missed the green right in a sand trap at the last and was unable to save par.
'All the stuff I have been working on with my swing just didn't stand up to the pressure there at the end,' said Howell. 'Simple as that. I got lucky there at the 17th. I made a poor swing with my second shot, but managed to chip it in. I just needed one good swing on the last and just couldn't do it.'
Davis parred the first six holes before an eagle on No. 7 got him within one stroke of Campbell. Davis tied Campbell in the lead at minus-6 with a birdie on the ninth.
However, the Englishman stumbled to back-to-back bogeys from the 10th to fall back to minus-4. Davis recovered those lost strokes with birdies on Nos. 13 and 14. He slid back to minus-5 with a bogey on the 15th.
Davis, playing alongside Howell, birdied the 17th to get to 6 under and got into the playoff thanks to Howell's bogey at the last.
'It was a real struggle today,' said Davis. 'The swing was all over the place. I didn't have the speed on my putter all day and it was a real battle. I hung in there. But I had my chances today and just didn't get the job done.'
Darren Clarke fired a 5-under 67 Sunday that included a double-eagle on the par-5 third. He ended the tournament at 3-under-par 285 and was joined in a tie for eighth by Maarten Lafeber and Robert-Jan Derksen.
Barry Lane, the 2004 champion, finished in a tie for 11th at minus-1 after a closing 68.
Related Links:
  • TGC Airtimes
  • Leaderboard - The Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters
  • Full Coverage - The Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters
  • Getty Images

    Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

    By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

    She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

    Her confidence is high.

    “Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

    Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

    Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

    “One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

    “I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

    Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

    “I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

    That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

    Getty Images

    Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

    PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

    While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

    But then . . .

    “Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

    In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

    She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

    With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

    At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

    Park’s back with a hot putter.

    That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

    “The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

    Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

    “But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

    Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

    Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

    They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

    Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

    “I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

    “She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

    Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

    “I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

    Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

    “When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

    Getty Images

    Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

    PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

    It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

    “This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

    Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

    “First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

    Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

    Getty Images

    Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

    She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

    That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

    With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

    Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

    Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

    Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

    “I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

    Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

    Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

    “I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

    About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

    “I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

    Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

    While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

    “You never know,” she said.