Not Purdy But Cink Wins MCI Heritage

By Sports NetworkApril 18, 2004, 4:00 pm
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Stewart Cink birdied the fifth playoff hole on Sunday to defeat overnight leader Ted Purdy and win the Heritage.
Cink overcame a nine-shot deficit in the final round to win for the third time on the PGA Tour. The tour record for largest final-round comeback is Paul Lawrie's 10-shot turnaround at the 1999 British Open, but Cink's is the biggest on American soil.
'I'm playing well. I've been consistent this year,' said Cink, who pocketed $864,000 for his first win on tour since this event in 2000. 'I've waited a few years for it and it feels great.'
At the par-4 16th at Harbour Town Golf Links, Cink drove into a collection area on the left side. Purdy found the first cut on the right and knocked his approach through the green. Cink hit a spectacular iron shot from 75 yards to 6 feet.
Purdy, who squandered a four-stroke lead on Sunday, chipped 8 feet past the cup, then drained the par save to apply the pressure to Cink. Cink responded and holed the putt for his second Heritage title.
After the putt, it seemed that Cink would don the plaid blazer for the victor. However, rules officials needed a moment of his time. Fans called in and thought that Cink improved his lie on the final hole.
Cink drove into a waste area and was allowed to move loose impediments and ground his club, unlike if he were in a regular bunker. The video showed that Cink might have moved some of the sand, which he could not do, but officials ultimately ruled that he did nothing wrong.
Now Cink was the champion.
'I just moved rocks out of the way,' said Cink. 'We determined that I did everything within the rules. I did what I was told I could do.'
Cink fired a final-round, 7-under 64 while Purdy, still in search of his first win on the PGA Tour, struggled to a 2-over 73. The duo finished regulation knotted at 10-under-par 274.
Both players had to work in order to reach minus-10. Cink, who played two hours ahead of Purdy, drained an 8-footer for birdie at the 18th to get to 10 under par. Purdy missed the green at the par-3 17th and chipped 16 feet past the hole. He rolled home the par save but missed a 10-foot birdie chance on the 72nd hole that would have won the tournament.
The first extra hole was 18 and both players two-putted for par. The 16th was the second playoff hole and the duo had problems off the tee. Cink was in the short grass but had a tree in front of him and Purdy fortunately hit a cart that kept his ball in bounds on the right. Purdy came up short of the green with his second and Cink's ball spun back to 20 feet. Purdy chipped to 5 feet and Cink missed his birdie try, meaning Purdy had to make his par putt to extend the playoff, which he did.
At the 17th, Cink had 10 feet for birdie and Purdy had almost double that length. Neither made their putts but Cink would have a tremendous opportunity on the fourth sudden-death hole.
The pair was at the 18th tee for the third time on Sunday and both found the fairway. Purdy, who was 30 yards behind Cink, could not get a 7-iron to the green, instead landing near the front bunker. Cink hit a pitching-wedge from 146 yards to 6 feet. Purdy chipped two feet below the hole but was granted new life when Cink's putt never grazed the cup. Both tapped in for pars to set up the win for Cink at 16.
'It was a long day,' said Cink. 'I played great today. It was a roller-coaster ride. I feel very fortunate.'
Purdy, who won the Nationwide Tour's First Tee Arkansas Classic this week last year, failed to get into the winner's circle for the first time on the PGA Tour but the second-place money will probably seal up his card for 2005.
'I wanted to win,' said Purdy. 'I don't play for the money. I'm out here trying to win golf tournaments. I was close.'
Ernie Els, who came in second to Phil Mickelson last week at the Masters, posted a 2-under 69 on Sunday and shared third place. Carl Pettersson (67) and Patrick Sheehan (70) joined the three-time major winner at 8-under-par 276.
At the start of the round it looked like everyone would be chasing Purdy but Cink stole the show on Sunday.
He birdied two of his first three holes, then ran home an 18-footer for eagle at the fifth. Cink closed out his front nine with a 21-foot birdie to get back in the hunt.
Cink traded a birdie for a bogey at 10 and 11, but sank an 8-footer for birdie at 15. He played one of the best shots to 18 all week as he made another 8-footer for birdie. Cink was in the clubhouse at 10 under par and Purdy was on the 10th hole.
Purdy hit a 4-iron over the hole but through the green at No. 10. His chip came up short of the green and he missed the par putt, giving him a one-shot lead.
He dropped a shot at the par-5 15th but still came close to his first win.
Davis Love III, the 2003 champion and five-time winner of this event, posted a 1-over 72 and tied for 32nd at 1-under-par 283.
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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.)