Stadler Survives Playoff in Florida

By Sports NetworkFebruary 15, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Ace Group ClassicNAPLES, Fla. -- Craig Stadler birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat Tom Watson and Gary Koch and win the ACE Group Classic at The Club at TwinEagles.
 
The trio finished regulation at 10-under-par 206 and they made their way to the 18th hole to begin the sudden-death playoff.
 
All three players landed in the fairway at 18 and Koch knocked his approach 30 feet from the hole on the fringe. Stadler played his approach to the same distance and Watson hit his second to eight feet.
 
Koch putted first and his putt died left of the hole. Stadler's birdie try disappeared in the bottom of the cup and left Watson as the only player who could extend the playoff. Watson's birdie putt was never on line and Stadler earned his first win of the year.
 
'I didn't even hang in. I was fortunate,' admitted Stadler, who pocketed $240,000 for his fourth win since joining the Champions Tour in the middle of last year. 'I was trying to make sure I got it to the hole. It hung its line and went right in the middle.'
 
Stadler, the overnight leader, carded an even-par 72 on Sunday. Watson fired a 67 and Koch, who held a three-shot lead on the back nine, posted a 1-under 71.
 
Larry Nelson missed a five-footer for par on the 18th that would have put him in the playoff. He shot a 67 and tied for fourth place with Gil Morgan, who had a 30-footer for birdie at the last to join the extra session. Morgan shot a 3-under 69 to join Nelson at 9-under-par 207.
 
Stadler made the turn at 1-under par but seemed to be in trouble on his back nine. He missed a 20-foot par save at the 10th but got the stroke back with a 25-footer for birdie at the par-3 12th.
 
Stadler, the 1982 Masters champion, made a mess of the par-5 13th, starting with a drive out of bounds and ended up with eight feet for bogey. He missed that putt right and left with a double-bogey and a three-stroke deficit.
 
Things changed when Koch bogeyed No. 14 and Stadler kicked in a three-foot birdie putt at the 15th. Stadler was down one shot but Koch erased the margin for him.
 
At the 17th, Koch laid up with his second shot, then flew the green with a 9-iron. He pitched to six feet and missed the putt to fall into a tie with Stadler and Watson, who moved up the leaderboard with five birdies in a row on the front and back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17.
 
Stadler almost missed the playoff with his play on 18 in regulation. He drove into the right rough and had 182 yards to the flag but pulled his approach left into the gallery. Stadler hit a spectacular pitch to a foot and tapped in to make the playoff.
 
'It's very surprising,' said Stadler. 'A couple of putts go in and you see what happens and this is what happened. Not in my wildest dreams I would have thought about winning this tournament. It happens.'
 
Watson had two looks at 18. In regulation, Watson could have wrapped up the title but missed from 10 feet. In the playoff, Watson's putt never threatened the hole and so it's a runner-up finish for last year's Champions Tour Player of the Year.
 
'I didn't realize Gary bogeyed 17,' said Watson. 'He tied it up for us. I thought if I made it, I was one shot in the lead.'
 
Koch, an NBC commentator, posted his best finish since joining the elder circuit last year.
 
Wayne Levi shot a final-round 69 and finished alone in sixth place at minus-eight. Don Pooley (68), D.A. Weibring (69) and Morris Hatalsky (70) tied for seventh at 7-under-par 209.
 
Jack Nicklaus, the course architect of TwinEagles, shot a 1-under-par 71 and tied for 15th at minus-three.
 
Related Links:
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  • Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

    Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

    Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    "I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

    But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


    With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

    Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

    The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

    "I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

    Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

    A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

    In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

    “I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

    Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    “I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

    Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

    “We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

    How does she feel?

    “I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

    Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

    New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

    Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

    She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

    “I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

    Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

    “Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

    Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

    You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

    Race to the CME Globe

    Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

    Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

    The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

    Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

    Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

    So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

    Rolex Player of the Year

    The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

    Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

    Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

    Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

    It’s simple math.

    The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

    1st - 30 points

    2nd – 12 points

    3rd – 9 points

    4th – 7 points

    5th – 6 points

    6th – 5 points

    7rd – 4 points

    8th – 3 points

    9th – 2 points

    10th – 1 point

    Vare Trophy

    Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

    Money-winning title

    Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking

    World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

    Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

    At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.