Pampling Wins Bizarre Bay Hill

By Sports NetworkMarch 19, 2006, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Rod Pampling captured the Bay Hill Invitational on Sunday thanks in large part to a costly mistake by Greg Owen on the 17th green.
Pampling was one behind Owen as they reached the par-3 17th. Pampling missed the green left while Owen went right at the flagstick, but came up short. His ball rolled back into the rough, but was dry and with a decent lie, Owen should have had no problem getting up and down for par.
Rod Pampling
Rod Pampling celebrates after hanging on to win the Bay Hill Invitational.
Pampling's chip came up 10 feet short and Owen pitched to 5 feet. Pampling missed his par putt and if Owen could convert his par save, he would own a two-shot lead with one to play.
What happened next was almost too amazing to believe.
Owen pushed the par putt right and the ball ran about 3 feet past the hole. He did not mark his ball or line up the putt. He took less than 10 seconds for his 3-footer and his bogey putt lipped out. Instead of heading to Bay Hill's difficult closing hole with a two-shot lead, Owen was now tied for the lead with Pampling at minus-14.
'I felt very calm,' admitted Owen about his gaffe on the 17th. 'Obviously, I pushed the first one and thought I'd knock it in. It came right around the hole. Stupid. A lapse of concentration.'
Pampling found the fairway off the tee at 18, while Owen's ball stopped in the first cut of rough on the left side. Owen's approach landed in a bunker left of the green and Pampling played his second 50 feet left of the hole. Owen blasted 13 feet past the cup, while Pampling lagged his birdie try inside two feet.
Owen hit a beautiful putt that headed toward the center of the hole. It moved right at the last second and once again, Owen saw a putt lip out completely around the hole.
Pampling tapped in and earned his second PGA Tour victory after winning The International in 2004.
'It's sad to see, but that's golf,' said Pampling, who pocketed $990,000 for the win. 'I thought my chances were gone. I wasn't expecting what happened. Thankfully, we got to the 18th tee and par was good enough.'
Owen, an Englishman who has won on the European Tour and in his second year on the PGA Tour, was philosophical about what happened on the 17th green.
'When I won the British Masters, things happened and putts went in,' said Owen. 'Whatever happens with the golfing gods, that's what happens. It wasn't my day today. I'll have to wait for another day.'
Pampling, who nearly squandered an overnight, four-shot lead, only managed an even-par 72 on Sunday. He finished at 14-under-par 274, which was good for a one-stroke victory over Owen, who posted a final-round 69.
Darren Clarke had a remote chance to force a playoff. If he birdied the 18th hole and both Pampling and Owen made bogey, there would have been sudden death.
Clarke missed his 15-foot birdie putt on 18, and Pampling saved par. Clarke carded a 2-under 70 on Sunday and finished alone in third place at 12-under-par 276.
Robert Allenby shot a 69 and took fourth at minus-11.
Tiger Woods, a four-time champion, never got anything going all week. On Sunday, he posted an even-par 72 and tied for 20th place at 4-under-par 284.
Owen played strong golf with three front-nine birdies to two for Pampling. When Owen rolled in a 22-foot birdie putt at the 10th, he was only two behind the Australian.
Pampling coughed up his lead at the 13th. He drove out of bounds, then failed to sink a 15-footer for bogey. The double bogey dropped Pampling into a tie with Owen for the lead.
Owen ran home a 30-foot birdie putt from the back fringe at the 14th to move one ahead. Pampling knotted things at 15 with a 12-footer for birdie, but Owen moved in front when he got up and down for birdie from a bunker at the par-5 16th.
Then came the insanity at 17 and Pampling ultimately hoisted the trophy.
'All of sudden, you're tied again,' said Pampling. 'I figured I had to make a putt because Greg hadn't missed a shot virtually all day. I don't know what happened.'
Lee Westwood and Ted Purdy shot matching rounds of 5-under 67 on Sunday to tie for fifth place at minus-10. Vijay Singh carded a 3-under 69 and finished alone in seventh at 9-under-par 279.
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    Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

    That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

    Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

    From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

    Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

    She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

    She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

    Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

    With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

    The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

    She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

    The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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    One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

    Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

    Log on to to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

    Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

    Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

    Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

    Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

    Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

    David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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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.