Lafeber Captures Dutch Open

By Sports NetworkOctober 12, 2003, 4:00 pm
HILVERSUM, Netherlands -- Maarten Lafeber earned his first European Tour victory Sunday when he captured the Dutch Open. Lafeber posted a 3-under 67 and finished at 13-under-par 267, which was good for a one-shot victory over Mathias Gronberg and overnight leader Soren Hansen.
Jamie Donaldson (69) and Steen Tinning (68) shared fourth place at 10-under- par 270.
Lafeber became the third Dutch player to win on the European Tour and the first home player to capture the Dutch Open since Joop Ruhl in 1947.
'It feels incredible,' said Lafeber. 'I wanted to win so badly the last few months and to win this tournament means so much to me. To be playing here is great and even winning is just incredible. The support I had was unbelievable for four days.'
Hansen, who played with Lafeber in Sunday's final pairing, held a one-shot lead heading into Sunday's final round but extended his lead with a 10-foot birdie putt at the second and a tap-in birdie at No. 3.
Lafeber knocked a 4-iron 20 feet left of the hole at the sixth and made the birdie putt to cut the deficit to two shots. Hansen dropped a shot at the par-4 eighth to hold a one-shot lead but the par-4 ninth proved to be a critical hole.
Hansen drove into the left rough and had to hook his second shot around a tree to try and hit the green. His ball never came around and his approach landed 30 yards right of the green behind a tree. Hansen's third never reached the green and he pitched his par chip ran home nine feet past the hole.
Lafeber knocked his second less than three feet from the hole and Hansen missed his bogey-saving putt. Lafeber sank his short birdie putt and the three-shot swing gave Lafeber a one-shot lead over Gronberg and a two-shot edge over Hansen.
Gronberg, playing several groups ahead of the final pairing, squandered opportunities at the par-5 12th when he three-putted for par and at 16 when he landed in a bunker and failed to get up and down for par.
The battle was down to Lafeber and Hansen with Gronberg in the clubhouse. Hansen left a 30-foot eagle try at the 12th on the lip but tapped in for par cutting the margin to one. Lafeber made birdie on the hole to go up by two and the lead became three when Hansen missed a short par save at the 13th.
Hansen birdied the 14th to get within two and rolled in a six-footer for birdie at the 16th to creep within one of the lead. Both players had good looks at birdie at the 17th but neither converted so it was on to the closing hole, a par-5, at Hilversumsche Golf Club.
Hansen hit a long drive down the fairway at 18 and Lafeber drove into the first cut of the left rough. Lafeber came up just short of the green with his second while Hansen sprayed his second right of the green.
Lafeber chipped up to four feet and Hansen took a run at the bottom of the cup. Hansen played his shot far too left of the hole and had nine feet for birdie. He missed that putt and opened the door for a two-putt victory for Lafeber.
Lafeber took that many putts but still earned his first title on tour.
'I was so glad not to have to make that putt on the last,' admitted Lafeber. 'Tension was building up. Soren played really well. It was a rough day but I played really solid.'
Hansen finished with a 1-under-par 69 while Gronberg made the biggest move of the day with a 5-under 65 to tie at 12-under-par 268.
'I was hoping to play 5- or 6-under and see what could come with it,' said Gronberg. 'Top-5- I would taken that before the day started. I wasn't really happy with my swing today and I had some really good breaks.'
Alastair Forsyth (67), Gary Evans (68) and Gary Murphy (70) shared sixth place at minus-9, followed by Miguel Angel Jimenez, Fredrik Andersson, Stephen Dodd, Gary Emerson, Kenneth Ferrie and Adam Mednick, who tied for ninth at 8-under-par 272.
Related Links:
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.