Donald wins Match Play in record fashion

By Associated PressFebruary 28, 2011, 8:22 am

MARANA, Arizona (AP)—The Match Play Championship ended with what must havefelt like a strange sensation for England’s Luke Donald . He was posing Sundaywith a trophy on American soil.

Donald spoiled Germany’s Martin Kaymer ’s rise to No. 1 in the world bywinning with a performance so dominant he never played the 18th hole all week.

On a bizarre final day in the high desert, which began with snow coveringthe fairways, Donald pulled ahead for good with a birdie on the par-5 11th and apar on the next hole, eventually closing out Kaymer on No. 16 for a 3-and-2victory.

More on Match Play
  • Golf world needs focus
  • Defending champ out
Luke Donald of England tips hi…
AP - Feb 27, 7:03 pm EST

The consolation prize for Kaymer is going to No. 1 in the career, which heassured by reaching the championship match.

Donald was in more dire need of this trophy, however.

It was his first win in America in five years, and it was only his secondwin worldwide since he captured the 2006 Honda Classic. The 33-year-oldEnglishman had done just about everything right except win.

“I solely focus on trying to win tournaments,” Donald said. “I felt likeI hadn’t won my fair share for as good a player as I felt I was and could be. Itwas disappointing. It was frustrating to me. To come here and compete againstthe best players in the world and win the trophy is very gratifying.”

In what was a week like no other in the 13-year history of the AccentureMatch Play Championship. Donald played only 89 holes in six matches and nevertrailed in any of them. In fact, he led after 81 of those holes.

“It feels amazing,” Donald said. “I had a bit of a monkey on my back. Ihadn’t won in the U.S. in five years.”

Donald won his first World Golf Championship, and became the second playerfrom England to capture the Match Play Championship. He goes to a career-bestNo. 3 in the world to continue a European resurgence in the ranking.

The next world ranking will be Kaymer, Lee Westwood , Donald and GraemeMcDowell . It’s the first time since March 15, 1992, that the top four spots havebeen occupied by Europeans.

Matt Kuchar defeated Bubba Watson in the consolation match and will go toNo. 10 in the world.

This Match Play Championship will stand out for reasons beyond golf.

A late winter storm dusted Dove Mountain with nearly an inch of snow, andthe fairways were blankets of white in the morning. Donald looked out his hotelroom and suggested on Twitter that a snowball fight determine who had honors onthe first tee.

The snow had melted when they teed off, although dark clouds on the horizonloomed. Sleet began falling when the championship match reached the third green,and play was stopped when sleet covered the fourth fairway.

“Do we have to keep playing?” Kaymer asked chief referee Mark Russell.

Kaymer, who purchased a snood to wear around his neck, pulled it up over hismouth and looked like a real Western gunslinger (except for the pattern of flieson fish hooks). Donald took out his blue-and-white umbrella and crouched beneathit.

“It was kind of bizarre crouching under my umbrella like that,” Donaldsaid. “We had to pause for 10 or 15 minutes just for the green to dry out. Itwas testing conditions.”

When the fairways turned from white back to green, play resumed.

Donald seized on the moment. Already 1 up from his 18-foot birdie on thepar-5 second, he watched Kaymer hit a fade over the bunker to about 7 feet, thenanswered with a shot into 2 feet for a conceded birdie. Kaymer missed, andDonald was 2 up.

On the next hole, Kaymer pulled his drive into the desert and fell anotherhole down.

Donald three-putted for bogey from below the ridge to lose his first hole,and Kaymer squared the match at the turn with a birdie on the eighth and a bogeyon No. 9, where Donald hit his approach into a desert bush and had to return tohis original spot in the fairway.

The turning point might have been No. 10.

Kaymer had all the momentum and blistered a tee shot down the middle, whileDonald went from a scrubby lie in the desert to a waste area short of the green.Donald, however, blasted out to 3 feet for a conceded par.

He took the lead on the 11th by making an 8-foot birdie putt as Kaymermissed his birdie from just inside 6 feet, and Donald regained all the moment onthe next hole when Kaymer came up short into the sand and took bogey.

Donald went 3 up on the 15th when Kaymer missed a birdie putt from inside 4feet, and the “Germanator” conceded the match on the 16th when he failed tohole a 30-foot birdie putt.

It was the first time the championship match was decided over 18 holesinstead of 36.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.''

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.”