Austin prevails in three-man playoff

By Associated PressJuly 21, 2013, 10:01 pm

MADISON, Miss. – Woody Austin has spent the past few years living the life of a golf nomad, not knowing when his next opportunity to play on the PGA Tour would come.

Those days are over for a while.

The 49-year-old Austin won the Sanderson Farms Championship on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory since 2007, beating Cameron Beckman and Daniel Summerhays with an 8-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff.

''It's been a long road and a long time,'' Austin said. ''Now I've got a job again.''

Austin is the eighth-oldest winner in PGA Tour history and the oldest since Fred Funk won at 50 in 2007. The victory gave him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and a spot in the PGA Championship – not to mention a $540,000 paycheck.

Not bad for a guy who hadn't even made a cut on the tour this year.

Austin came into the final round two shots behind Summerhays and Nicholas Thompson, but made up ground with a 5-under 67 to finish at 20-under 268. His final round didn't start particularly well – he bogeyed No. 2 – but he recovered with an eagle on No. 5 and birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 to vault back into contention.

''My iron play is my strength and it was there this week,'' said Austin, who has four career victories. ''I was able to maneuver the ball around, get the ball close to the flag. The most important part of the game is putting and I putted good this week, plain and simple.''

Beckman and Summerhays both birdied No. 18 to match Austin, and Beckman missed a 5-foot putt that would have forced a second playoff hole.

Beckman shot 67, and Summerhays had a 69.

Summerhays and Thompson started the day tied for the lead, two shots ahead the pack.

But Thompson fell out of contention quickly with a double bogey on No. 5 and a bogey on No. 8. He finished fourth at 18 under, two shots back after a 71. Summerhays moved into the lead with a birdie on No. 9, but made bogey on 14 and fell behind until making birdies on both Nos. 17 and 18.

It was the second straight week Summerhays failed to close a tournament after having at least a share of the lead on the final day. His drive on the playoff hole – the 532-yard, par-5 18th – found the bunker on the right side of the fairway and he hit into the water on his second shot.

He tied for fourth the week before at the John Deere, a stroke out of a playoff after bogeying the final hole.

''It's tough to swallow for sure, but again, it's my first playoff and there are all these new 'firsts,''' Summerhays said. ''Hopefully I can continue to learn and grow.''

Summerhays praised Austin for making clutch putts in the final round.

''You've got to be kidding me – he's 49 years old and kicking all our butts,'' Summerhays said. ''Hats off to him.''

Austin wasn't the only veteran making a move on the final day.

Beckman, a 43-year-old, recovered from a 72 in the opening round to post a 64, 65 and 67 in the final three rounds. He was tied for the lead at various times Sunday. He drilled an impressive 15-foot birdie putt to force the playoff, but his 5-foot putt on the playoff hole missed to the right.

Billy Andrade charged up the leaderboard with a 65 to tie for fifth at 17 under. The 49-year-old started the day seven shots off the lead but climbed quickly by shooting 7 under through his first 11 holes. He finished with seven straight pars.

It was the first day of the tournament that didn't involve a weather delay. But there was plenty of heat and humidity – as well as some wind for the first time all week – as players dealt with a soft course that received more than an inch of rain overnight.

Austin managed it all and now has some decisions to make. He will turn 50 in six months, making him eligible for the Champions Tour. But Austin didn't sound like a guy ready to give up life on the PGA Tour.

''I've always told everybody I want to play out here,'' Austin said. ''I'm one of those people who doesn't like a number. I don't like the idea that people say, 'Oh, you're 50 years old, you're not good enough to play anymore and need to go play with the old guys ... For the past five years, I've still felt that I have the ability to compete.''

He proved it on Sunday.


Getty Images

Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.

Getty Images

Sergio leads by 4 entering final round at Valderrama

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 9:26 pm

Sergio Garcia closed with three straight birdies to shoot a 7-under 64 on Saturday, taking a four-shot lead into the third and final round of the Andalusia Valderrama Masters.

The tournament, which Garcia has won  twice (2017, 2011), was reduced to 54 holes because of numerous weather-related delays.

With his bogey-free round, Garcia moved to 10 under, four shots clear of Englishman Ashley Chesters, who shot a 1-under 70.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


"Hopefully we'll be able to play well tomorrow and get another win at Valderrama," Garcia said. "Hopefully I can finish it in style."

Chesters, however, is conceding nothing. "There's always a chance," he said. "There's not a lot of pressure on me."

Getty Images

Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Getty Images

Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."