Bjorn captures European Masters win over Kaymer, McIlroy, Westwood

By Associated PressSeptember 4, 2011, 2:14 pm

CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland – Thomas Bjorn secured back-to-back titles for the first time in his career, shooting a 9-under 62 Sunday to win the European Masters.

Bjorn made nine birdies and an eagle in a blistering final round to finish with a 20-under total of 264, four shots clear of Germany’s Martin Kaymer, to earn the 333,333 ($473,000) winner’s prize.

The victory comes a week after the 40-year-old Dane won a five-man playoff at Gleneagles, Scotland, and is his third title of the year. Prior to 2011, he had not won two titles in one year on the European Tour since 1998.

“It’s been a remarkable week. Golf feels pretty easy at the moment but that’s not always the case,” Bjorn said. “Any time you go out and shoot 62 on Sunday you have got to be delighted.”

The fifth-ranked Kaymer began his round at an even more furious pace, with two eagles on his first five holes followed by birdies on Nos. 7 and 8. But he finished his round with 10 straight pars for a 65.

“If you are 6 under after eight holes you are always expecting more,” said Kaymer, who was fighting a cold. “I was feeling sick and it was difficult but after that start I was fired up and wanted to win.”

Rory McIlroy shot 68 to finish tied for third at 15 under with Jaco van Zyl of South Africa and overnight leader Jamie Donaldson of Wales.

Kaymer and No. 6 McIlroy hoped for victory here to help them climb in the rankings over two Americans immediately above them, Steve Stricker andDustin Johnson, who were playing in Boston this weekend.

Bjorn, a non-playing vice captain for Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team last year, also took the early lead in the qualification race to defend the trophy in the United States next year.

“There’s remarkable talent on display in European golf. We will take it one step at a time but if I can keep playing well and stay healthy, there’s always a chance,” said Bjorn, who played on winning teams in 1997 and 2002.

McIlroy, the U.S. Open winner, had said Saturday that it was possible to shoot 62 and win the tournament – and Bjorn proved him right.

The Danish veteran, who was 2 over early in Thursday’s opening round, could even afford bogeys at the fourth and 12th holes Sunday. He followed up the first one by making four straight birdies, and added another at the 11th.

After his second bogey he looked in trouble again when his second shot at the par-5 14th landed in deep rough beyond the green-side lake.

“Fourteen was a big break,” said Bjorn, who found a decent lie and got down in two for a birdie. He then sank a 12-footer for eagle at the par-5 15th.

Already clear of the field, Bjorn buried two more eight-feet putts at the closing par-4s to shoot the lowest score of the week in the thin Alpine air.

Kaymer was four off the lead overnight and started his charge early. He eagled the par-5 first and added another at the fifth, finally taming a par-4 he had described as “easy” all week.

The 2010 U.S. PGA champion then birdied the seventh and par-3 eighth to take the outright lead.

However, Kaymer’s challenge stalled as the former top-ranked player failed to make a birdie after the turn.

McIlroy birdied the first two holes to share the lead at 14 under, sinking a 25-footer at the second before his putter went cold.

The Northern Irishman three-putted at the 339-yard (310-meter) fifth after driving beyond the pin and let mid-range chances slip at the seventh, ninth and 11th.

McIlroy threatened to contend with birdies at the back-to-back par-5s but Bjorn soon raced clear.

Second-ranked Lee Westwood began the day trailing Donaldson by one stroke and birdied the first, but could not sustain his challenge. Westwood carded a 70 to finish 14 under, tied for sixth place.

Before being presented with the trophy on the 18th green, Bjorn and a packed grandstand of spectators watched a giant screen tribute to the late Severiano Ballesteros after whom the course is named.

“For my generation, he was everything to the game of golf,” Bjorn said of Ballesteros, a three-time winner here and his captain at the ’97 Ryder Cup. “He was a true inspiration to everybody and a wonderful friend. I take a lot of pride in having known the man.”

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Wise wins first Tour title at AT&T Byron Nelson

By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 1:22 am

On the strength of a final-round 65, 21-year-old Aaron Wise broke through for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, taking the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. Here's how Wise beat the field and darkness following a lengthy rain delay:

Leaderboard: Wise (-23), Leishman (-20), Branden Grace (-19), J.J. Spaun (-19), Keith Mitchell (-19)

What it means: This is Wise’s first PGA Tour win in just his 18th start as a member. Tied with Leishman to start the final round, Wise raced ahead with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 4-10 and never looked back. He'd make eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse and the winner's circle. The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion just locked up Tour status through 2019-20 season and guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship.

Best of the rest: Leishman reached 20 under par but just couldn’t keep pace with Wise. This is his second runner-up of the season, following a solo second in the CJ Cup in October.

Round of the day: Grace carded a 62 – where have I heard that before? – with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end up tied for third, his best finish of the season on Tour.

Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott looked as though he had done enough to qualify for the U.S. Open via the Official World Golf Ranking when he walked off the golf course. Unfortunately, minutes later, he’d drop from a four-way tie for sixth into a three-way tie for ninth, narrowly missing out on this week's OWGR cutoff.

Break of the day: Wise could very well have found the hazard off the tee at No. 9 if not for a well-placed sprinkler head. Rather than drop a shot, he took advantage of his good fortune and poured in another birdie putt to extend his lead.

Quote of the day: "It's a dream come true to win this one." - Wise

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Otaegui wins Belgian Knockout by two

By Associated PressMay 21, 2018, 1:20 am

ANTWERP, Belgium – Adrian Otaegui beat Benjamin Hebert by two shots in the final of the Belgian Knockout to win his second European Tour title.

The hybrid format opened with two rounds of stroke play on Thursday and Friday, before the leading 64 players competed in nine-hole knockout stroke play matches.

Otaegui and Hebert both finished three shots off the lead at 5 under after the first two days and worked their way through five matches on the weekend to set up Sunday's final at the Rinkven International Golf Club.


Full-field scores from the Belgian Knockout


''I'm very happy, very relaxed now after the last nine holes against Ben that were very tight,'' Otaegui said. ''I'm just very proud about my week.

''I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I just tried to focus on my game.''

Scotland's David Drysdale beat James Heath of England by one shot in the playoff for third spot.

Herbet said he was ''just a little short this week.''

''Adrian is a very good player, especially in this kind of format,'' he said. ''He's already won one tournament in match play last year. This format is fun, it puts you under pressure almost every hole because everything can happen. I think it's a great idea.''

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Spieth looking forward to Colonial after T-21

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:10 am

DALLAS – Jordan Spieth finally got a few putts to drop at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but after a frustrating week he’s looking forward to heading across town.

Spieth shot a 4-under 67 amid soggy conditions at Trinity Forest Golf Club, his lowest score of the week but one that still left him in a tie for 21st at 11 under par. His frustrations had a common theme throughout the week, as he ranked seventh among the field in strokes gained: tee to green but 72nd in strokes gained: putting.

“Felt like I played better than I scored,” Spieth said. “Just burned the edges or barely missed, and I misread a lot of putts, too. Overall just struggled a little bit matching line and speed and kind of getting it all together out here.”


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


Spieth remains in search of his first win since The Open in July, but his results in the interim haven’t exactly been a struggle. This marks his seventh top-25 finish in his last nine starts as an individual.

Spieth is in the midst of a busy part of his schedule, and will play his third of four events in a row next week at the Fort Worth Invitational. With runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017 sandwiched around a victory there two years ago, Spieth did little to contain his excitement for a return to venerable Colonial Country Club.

“It’s one of those courses where whether I have my A game or not, I seem to find my way into contention, which is really cool,” Spieth said. “It’s one of four or five places I go into, no matter where the game is at, I’m excited to get started and feel like I have a chance to win.”

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Razorbacks, Fassi scrambling to recover in NCAAs

By Ryan LavnerMay 21, 2018, 12:56 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – We’re not even halfway through this NCAA Championship, and the top women’s player in the country is already worn out.

Indeed, it’s been three rounds of hard work for Maria Fassi as she tries to claw herself and second-ranked Arkansas back into contention at Karsten Creek.

“I haven’t been able to create momentum of any kind,” she said after a third-round 73 left her at 16-over 232, 23 shots off the individual lead and outside the top 90. “I’ve been fighting every single hole. It’s just been exhausting.”

It’s been that way for her teammates, too.

Arkansas entered nationals as one of the pre-tournament favorites. The Razorbacks won the SEC Championship for the first time. They won seven events, including a regional title in which they shot 26 under par on the University of Texas’ home course. They were comfortable knowing that they not only had Fassi, the top-ranked player and a six-time winner this season, but also a strong supporting cast that includes Baylor transfer Dylan Kim and Alana Uriell.

And then the first two rounds happened. The Razorbacks had shot a team score in the 300s just once all season, but they posted two in a row here at Karsten Creek (308-300).

Fassi’s play has been even more of a mystery. In the opening round she shot 81 – with two birdies. She followed it up with a second-round 78, then birdied her last two holes just to shoot 73 on Sunday. She thought she had a smart game plan – taking fewer drivers, putting the ball in play on arguably the most difficult college course in the country – and it just hasn’t worked out.

“I just need to stay really patient, be true to myself and keep fighting,” she said. “I know what I’m capable of doing, and if I play my game it’s going to be plenty good.”

So what’s been the conversation among teammates the past two nights?

“It involved a lot of cuss words,” Fassi said. “We know this is not Arkansas golf. We know this is not the game that we play.”

The top-15 cut line should have been an afterthought for a team as talented as the Razorbacks, and yet they needed a 1-over 289 just to play Monday’s fourth round of stroke-play qualifying.

“Backs against the wall, they had to go get it done and they did an awesome job,” said Arkansas coach Shauna Taylor. “In our locker room we call it ‘Do the Possible.’ It’s doing what you’re capable of doing.”

And now the Razorbacks sit in 11th place, just six shots off the top-8 cut after their two worst rounds all season. They still have a chance to advance.

“You can’t panic,” Taylor said. “We’ve played great golf all year. We’ve put ourselves in a hole and it was time to go to work and dig yourselves out of it.”