Durant King of Magic Kingdom

By Sports NetworkOctober 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World ResortLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Joe Durant fired a 7-under 65 on Sunday to earn his first PGA TOUR win in five years by capturing the FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World Resort. He finished at 25-under-par 263, which was good for a four-shot victory.
 
The win was Durant's fourth on the PGA TOUR, but his first since he won back-to-back starts at the Bob Hope and at Doral in 2001. His first-place check of $828,000 vaulted him from 66th on the PGA Tour money list to 29th with a good chance of making it to the TOUR Championship in two weeks.
 
Joe Durant
Joe Durant won his first PGA TOUR title since the 2001 season.
Troy Matteson, who held the overnight lead, lost out on his chance to become the first player since David Duval in 1997 to collect his first two PGA TOUR wins in back-to-back weeks.
 
Matteson, who won the Frys.com Open in Las Vegas last week, only managed at 2-under 70 at the Magnolia course, but tied for second place with Frank Lickliter at minus-21.
 
Lickliter polished off a 10-under-par 62 hours before Durant's final putt found the bottom of the cup.
 
Justin Rose, who fired a 60 on Thursday at the Palm course, posted a 3-under 69 and took a solo fourth at 20-under-par 268.
 
Matteson wasted little time in building a two-shot lead with a 9-foot birdie putt at the first, but Durant would strike next. He birdied the third hole, then tapped in a short birdie putt at the par-5 fourth to tie for the lead.
 
It was Lickliter who assumed the top spot on the leaderboard thanks to an amazing, 10-birdie effort on Sunday. He knocked his approach to 3 feet to set up birdie at the 16th, then took the outright lead with a 22-foot birdie putt at the closing hole.
 
Lickliter was in the clubhouse at 21-under par, but Durant matched him there with a 6-foot birdie putt at the eighth. Matteson did not get anything going and parred his next eight holes after his opening birdie.
 
Durant was one ahead of Lickliter and Matteson, but both Durant and Matteson made birdie at the par-5 10th. Durant made a nice up-and-down from a bunker, while Matteson routinely two-putted for his birdie four.
 
At the par-3 12th, Durant kicked in a 3-footer for par. Matteson left himself with 44 feet for birdie, but missed that putt by almost 7 feet. He missed that putt and now found himself two behind.
 
At the driveable, par-4 13th, Durant laid up off the tee, but hit his approach inside 2 feet. Matteson blasted out of a greenside bunker to 8 feet and sank the birdie putt to stay two behind.
 
Durant birdied the par-5 14th and was three up on Matteson, but the dagger came in the form of a 15-foot birdie putt for Durant at 16. That put him four ahead, but Matteson moved out of the tie with Lickliter at 17 when his 4-footer fell into the cup.
 
There was little drama about the outcome as Durant reached the green safely in two. Matteson found a bunker with his second and could not save par, falling into a tie for second place.
 
Durant lagged his long birdie putt to tap-in range and did just that for the win.
 
Davis Love III, who won in Greensboro two weeks ago, threw away some cash on 18 Sunday. He double bogeyed the closing hole to shoot a 3-under 69 and fall into a tie for fifth place with Vijay Singh (64), Nick Watney (68) and Marco Dawson (67). The group finished at 19-under-par 269.
 
Jesper Parnevik (65), Jerry Kelly (68), Mark Calcavecchia (68), Heath Slocum (69) and Charles Howell III (70) tied for ninth place at 18-under-par 270.
 
Related Links:
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  • Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

    Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

    By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

    “I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

    Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

    According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

    Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

    Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

    “He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

    Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.