Fasth Holds Off Garcia in Spain

By Sports NetworkOctober 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Mallorca ClassicMALLORCA, Spain -- Niclas Fasth cruised to a 2-under 68 Sunday to earn a three-stroke win at the Mallorca Classic.
 
Fasth completed the event at 5-under-par 275. It was his fifth career win on tour and second of the season. He was also victorious at the Andalucia Open, which was also played in Spain.
 
'I've had a somewhat average summer, but I felt the last few weeks that the game was starting to come together again,' stated Fasth. 'I'm having a bit more fun and relaxing a bit more. I played good this week. It was fantastic to win again.'
 
This was the first time a Spaniard did not win the crown. The former champions here included Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
 
Garcia, the 2004 champion, finished second for the second straight year. Garcia closed with a 68 of his own to end at 2-under-par 278.
 
Spain's Jose Manuel Lara posted a Sunday 67 to end in a share of third at minus-1. He was joined there by Marc Warren (70). Peter O'Malley took fifth at even-par 280 after struggling to a 2-over 72 in the final round.
 
Gary Murphy, who entered the week holding onto the last spot to keep his tour card for next year, struggled badly on Sunday. Murphy, who shared the third-round lead with Fasth, closed with a 6-over 76 that dropped him into a tie for 13th. However, he easily retained his tour card for next season, moving to 104th on the Order of Merit.
 
Fasth opened with five straight pars before two-putting for birdie on the par-5 sixth. That got him to minus-4, where he shared the lead with Murphy. but it would be the last time there was a tie for the lead.
 
Murphy bogeyed the seventh and eighth at Pula Golf Club to fall two behind Fasth.
 
Fasth missed the green long at the ninth and was unable to get up and down to save his par. That bogey dropped him to minus-3, where his lead was one.
 
The Swede bounced right back with a 10-foot birdie putt on 10 to regain his two-stroke cushion. After three routine pars, Fasth pushed his drive into the right rough off the 14th tee.
 
He hit a solid shot that, after just clearing the water fronting the green, rolled to 14 feet. Fasth drained the birdie putt to get to minus-5, three shots clear of Garcia.
 
'Sometimes you feel really good about a shot and I did with that. I hit the same shot earlier in the round on seven and it ended up really well,' admitted Fasth. 'So that was the same shot again, it felt great and I'm really proud of that one. To follow up with the birdie there, that felt really good.'
 
Fasth didn't make it easy on himself down the stretch, but he closed with four straight pars to secure the win. He needed to get up and down for par on each of the last two holes and did just that.
 
'To be able to relax and enjoy the last hole, it's not often you get a chance to do that,' Fasth said. 'I was three shots clear and I shouldn't really mess that up.'
 
Garcia never threatened the lead, but was able to take second thanks to three birdies and a bogey.
 
Paul McGinley closed with a 3-under 67 to join Soren Kjeldsen (70) in a share of sixth place at 1-over-par 281. Ricardo Gonzalez, Gregory Havret, Robert Karlsson, Benn Barham and Robert-Jan Derksen finished one stroke further back at minus-2.
 
The other big battle at this event was for those trying to keep their tour card for next year. Ian Garbutt ended in a tie for 64th this week, but it was enough for him to move from 121st to 118th on the Order of Merit, meaning he was the last player to secure his card for next season.
 
That move meant David Drysdale was the last man out as he finished 119th for the second straight year. He does have a chance to secure his tour card for next year through the Challenge Tour. If Drysdale cannot do it there, he will need to go through Qualifying School to try for his 2007 tour card.
 
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  • Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

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    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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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?’

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    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.

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

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    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.

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