Chopra Wins in Mercedes in Playoff

By Associated PressJanuary 7, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Daniel Chopra beat Steve Stricker with a birdie at the fourth playoff hole Sunday to win the Mercedes-Benz Championship, bringing a thrilling end to the PGA TOUR's 2008 season-opener.
 
Chopra saw a three-shot lead slip away over the last five holes of regulation as Stricker made a run down the stretch, finally catching the Swede with a birdie at the 18th hole.
 
They finished regulation tied at 18-under 274 and followed each other around during the first three playoff holes, hitting similar shots for the same results: three straight pars.
 
Stricker hit an errant drive into the rough at the fourth extra hole, the par- four ninth, a costly shot that was followed by Chopra's hybrid onto the green.
 
After Stricker chipped 15 feet past the hole, Chopra was left tortured by a 23-foot eagle putt that hung impossibly on the edge of the cup. But it didn't matter.
 
Chopra tapped -- tapped -- in for his birdie, while Stricker missed his mid- range try. The end came more than an hour after Chopra missed by inches on a birdie putt at the 18th hole that would have given him the win in regulation.
 
He also left a birdie putt on the edge of the cup at the second playoff hole, then missed a 19-footer with the sun in his eyes on the third extra hole.
 
All the drama ended in Chopra's second career PGA TOUR win -- his second victory in three starts, actually, after going more than 130 starts and nearly four seasons without one.
 
'All those putts in the playoff and regulation I hit exactly the way I wanted. It just felt like there was a goalie in the hole. I though maybe it wasn't meant to be,' said Chopra, who closed with a 7-under 66 in the final round.
 
He won $1.1 million and a Mercedes-Benz.
 
Stricker fired a nine-under 64 on Sunday, tied with Hunter Mahan for the low round of the tournament, and played his last 14 holes in regulation at 9- under par.
 
The two-time reigning Comeback Player of the Year, Stricker earned his spot in this field by winning last year's Barclays, the first event of the new playoffs.
 
His tournament this week began with a 38 on the front nine on Thursday.
 
'I didn't get off to a good start this week and was kind of behind the eight ball. But from then on I played really solid,' said Stricker. 'I just came up a little short.'
 
Stephen Ames shot a seven-under 66 and finished alone in third place at 17- under 275, one shot out of the playoff. Mike Weir, the leader after the second and third rounds, closed with a 70 Sunday and was another stroke further back at 276.
 
Mahan (64), Jim Furyk (68) and Nick Watney (71) finished at 278.
 
The drama for Chopra on Sunday wasn't limited to just the playoff. After beginning the round two shots off Weir's overnight lead, he was ahead by two strokes after making his fourth birdie at the seventh hole.
 
Stricker pulled even when he holed out for an eagle ahead at the par-four 12th, but Chopra responded with three consecutive birdies from the 11th hole to take a three-shot lead.
 
Yet Stricker wouldn't go away. He two-putted for a birdie at the par-five 15th to get within a couple shots again, and made another birdie at the 16th to close the gap to one.
 
He lipped out a birdie putt at the 17th, then turned a poor drive into his closing birdie at the 18th by rolling in a 19-foot putt, tying Chopra for the lead
 
'I was so impressed by how well he was chasing considering I was making birdies,' Chopra said.
 
Chopra finished regulation with five consecutive pars. The 15th hole produced a bizarre series when he duffed a chip into a sprinkler hole -- a fortunate break considering the ball would have rolled back down the fairway.
 
Chopra smashed his longest drive of the tournament at the 18th hole in regulation, sending it 366 yards into prime position on the fairway. But he flew the green with his approach, getting relief from the grandstand.
 
After a soft chip rolled to 13 feet, Chopra came up about an inch short on his birdie try to force the playoff. It was the first in a series of cruel misses.
 
Stricker also had a run-in with oddity. At the first playoff hole, the par- five 18th, after he missed the green short with his second shot, Stricker opted to putt the ball from more than 100 feet.
 
His ball hit Chopra's mark a few yards onto the green, skipping enough to leave his try 10 feet short of the cup. Both players eventually missed birdie putts, but Stricker regretted afterwards not at least asking Chopra to use a smaller mark.
 
'It was disappointing, but I'm happy with the way I played this week,' Sticker said. 'It's just building blocks for me. I'm going in the right direction.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Mercedes-Benz Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
     
    Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    OB tee shot, bunker trouble dooms Rahm to MC

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:24 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The key to surviving Carnoustie is avoiding the bunkers.

    Jon Rahm found three bunkers to close out the front nine Friday, the start of a triple bogey-double-bogey run that led to a second-round 78 and missed cut at The Open.

    “All of them were as bad a lie as they could have been,” he said. “Besides that, things didn’t happen. I can’t give an explanation, really. I don’t know.”

    Rahm’s troubles started on the seventh hole, a par 4 with a steady left-to-right wind. Out of bounds loomed left, and Rahm, who primarily plays a cut shot, hadn’t missed left all week. This time, his ball didn’t curve, and the OB tee shot led to a triple.

    “Whenever I start missing shots to the left,” he said, “it’s really hard for me to play.”  

    After a career-best fourth-place finish at the Masters, Rahm has now missed the cut in consecutive majors.

    “Right now I’m not in any mental state to think about what happened, to be honest,” he said.

    Getty Images

    Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.

    Bernhard Langer did not.

    The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.

    "You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."

    Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.

    "I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."

    Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.

    As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.

    "I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."

    Getty Images

    Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

    Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

    Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

    Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

    “To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

    Getty Images

    Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

    Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

    Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.