South Africa Earns World Cup Title in Playoff
'I played with Ernie once before in a World Cup and it's nice to win it with him,' said Goosen, who teamed up with Els to tie for sixth place at the 1993 event in Florida. 'It's been a great week.'
Denmark's Soren Hansen, who watched with mouth agape as teammate Thomas Bjorn rolled in a clutch birdie from 12 feet at the 18th in regulation, had a chance to extend the playoff but missed an eight-foot putt to save par.
The United States and New Zealand also qualified for sudden death but were eliminated when they failed to birdie the first extra hole.
Els knocked a wedge to 15 feet at the second extra hole, the par-4 14th, setting up a two-putt par that won the playoff, only the second in the history of the World Cup.
Els and Goosen, a duo with three U.S. Open titles between them, will split $1 million from the $3 million purse.
The South Africans managed to stake a claim to the playoff when Goosen, the winner of the U.S. Open in June, hit his approach to six feet at the 72nd hole and Els sank the putt for his second closing eagle in as many days.
They posted a 66 after the Danes had already made their way in with the day's best round of 7-under 65.
'We saw that Denmark made birdie on No. 18 and knew we needed an eagle,' said Els. 'Retief hit a beautiful 5-iron and I was able to make the putt to get us into the playoff.'
South Africa joined Australia and Spain as four-time winners of this event. Els also helped his country to its last World Cup victory when he partnered with Wayne Westner to win the title in 1996.
Defending champions Tiger Woods and David Duval, seeking a third straight Cup and the 24th overall for the U.S., played uninspired golf for the first half of the day but made a late surge to jump into contention during regulation.
Just when it seemed the American comeback would fall short, Woods chipped in for eagle at the 18th hole to make it a four-team logjam at 24-under-par 264.
But as quickly as the Americans entered the mix they found themselves fighting to stay in the playoff.
Woods drove way left off the tee at the par-5 18th, leaving Duval with no choice but to play his team's second shot from the trees out into the fairway. After Woods hit the third shot 30 feet left of the pin, Duval came up short with the putt for birdie.
It was a disappointing finish for the two top-ranked players in this week's 24-team field.
World No. 1 Woods helped start the U.S. rally by hitting his approach to three feet at the 15th to set up an easy Duval birdie. Duval, the reigning British Open champ and No. 3 in the world, responded with a shot to 12 feet at the next hole that Woods converted for birdie.
At the par-3 17th, Duval knocked his tee shot to 20 feet and Woods rolled in another putt to give the U.S. its third straight birdie.
Woods gave his partner a perfect drive at the 18th but Duval missed the green right with his 3-iron approach. With the pressure placed squarely on Woods' short game, the six-time major winner bumped his chip onto the edge of the green and the ball fed down to the hole then split the cup for a sensational eagle.
Woods' last minute heroics lifted the U.S. to a final-round 67.
New Zealand's Michael Campbell and David Smail, leaders by three shots heading into the final round, were tied for the lead on the final hole of regulation but couldn't take advantage of the 517-yard par-5.
Campbell pulled his second shot with a fairway wood left of the green then Smail's chip from a difficult lie stopped 20 short of the hole. The Kiwis needed the birdie putt to win but Campbell's attempt didn't reach the cup. Smail tapped in for par to give New Zealand a 2-under 70.
Like Woods, Smail drove poorly in the playoff and his tee shot came to rest in the right fairway bunker. Campbell then roped an iron out of the sand and watched his ball take a lucky bounce off the concrete lining of the water hazard in front of the green.
With the ball just off the putting surface, Smail hit his chip third shot fat and Campbell wound up missing the 12-foot birdie bid that remained, knocking New Zealand out of the playoff.
England's Paul Casey and Ian Poulter shot 67 to finish alone in fifth place at 21-under 267, three shots out of the playoff.
The Canadian tandem of Ian Leggatt and Tour Championship winner Mike Weir carded a 67 to tie for sixth at 20-under with Spain's Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who combined for a three-under 69.
Fiji, Argentina and France were together at 19-under, while Shigeki Maruyama and Toshi Izawa of host Japan finished alongside Scotland and Wales at minus-18.
Sunday's victory capped an incredible year for Goosen, who survived an 18-hole playoff to win his first major championship at the U.S. Open then added two European Tour titles to finish first on that circuit's Order of Merit.
The victory may also do wonders for Els, who is coming off a season in which he failed to win on the PGA Tour for the first time since 1993.
'Retief's had an unbelievable year and I think some of his good play has rubbed off on me finally,' said Els, who captured the first of his two U.S. Opens in a playoff in 1994. 'It's great to win.'
Click Here for Full-Field Scores From the WGC-EMC World Cup
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.