Ko wins Evian, becomes youngest LPGA major victor

By Associated PressSeptember 13, 2015, 2:56 pm

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France - With two holes left to play in her bid to become the youngest LPGA major champion at the Evian Championship, Lydia Ko stayed as relaxed and composed as a seasoned veteran. The South Korean-born New Zealander birdied both on the shores of Lake Geneva to reach a new landmark in her short but already storied career.

A flawless final-round display - featuring spectacular approaches and clinical putts among her eight birdies - made Ko the youngest major champion in LPGA history on Sunday. She closed with an 8-under 63 for a six-stroke victory over Lexi Thompson at the final major of the season.

It was the best round of this year's tournament, a score that helped her to a ninth career victory with a 16-under total of 268.

''To say that I'm the youngest in history for now, it's so cool,'' Ko said. ''To finish with two birdies, finish on the last 72nd hole, with a birdie, it doesn't happen often, so it's definitely one of the top rounds of my whole entire life, and I'm sure it will be in my career.''

Ko is 18 years, 4 months and 20 days old. She eclipsed the previous record set by American Morgan Pressel, who was 18 years, 10 months and nine days old when she won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship.


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While Ko thrived under pressure, Mi Hyang Lee crumbled. The South Korean had an overnight lead of one stroke over Thompson but finished tied for fourth place, nine back. Chinese Shanshan Feng was third with an 8-under total of 276.

Tipped as a future great of the game, she was already the youngest winner on the tour after her win at the Canadian Women's Open in 2012, and the youngest player of either gender to reach the No. 1 spot when she did it earlier this year.

''Everyone won't be asking me when I'll win my first major because it's done,'' said Ko, who was two shots off the pace heading into the final round.

On a damp but dry morning, she kept her cool when Thompson got off to a flying start.

Ko, Thompson and Lee were grouped together after organizers decided players would tee off on the first and 10th tees in threesomes, fearing expected bad weather would play havoc with the schedule. The elite trio started with a par on the first hole before Thompson set a tremendous early pace with four birdies in her first seven holes. The American converted a long putt for birdie on the par-3 second then played a three-hole stretch in 3 under from Nos. 5-7. She couldn't stay bogey-free on the front nine, though, missing a putt from close range on the par-3 eighth.

''It's kind of hard to beat somebody that shoots 63,'' said Thompson. ''She played amazing. She deserves it. She ball-struck the heck out of this golf course and putted it really well. You can't get much better than that.''

Ko was one shot behind Thompson at the turn, with three birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 9.

The Kiwi golfer hit a wonderful second shot on the par-4 11th that landed on the edge of the green and rolled to within 10 feet of the cup, bringing out a big smile on her face. Her next shot - a downhill birdie putt - found the hole to draw level with Thompson at 12 under.

That shot signaled a swing in the momentum.

Ko came close to an eagle on No. 12 but her ball hit the flagstick and bounced, stopping within five feet of the hole. Ko made no mistake with her next putt and moved one shot clear at the top. She capped her day in style with consecutive birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 before celebrations started with some of her opponents spraying her with water on the course.

''I said before that my goal coming into today was to make par on 18, and that's still not accomplished yet,'' joked Ko, who had bogeyed the last hole on her three first rounds. ''I'll be back next year to do that.''

For Thompson, things took a turn for the worse on the par-3 14th. She landed her tee shot on a rough patch behind the green and a poor recovery shot left her fuming as she hit the grass twice with her club and settled for a double bogey that sealed her fate.

Lee had a big slip-up on the par-4 third, where she had her first double bogey of the week after misjudging her second shot into water behind the green. Back-to-back bogeys on the par-3 eighth and par-5 ninth continued to undo the good work put in during her three previous rounds.

Tied for third place two shots off the pace after the third round, Pressel had two birdies and six bogeys for a 4-under total of 280 that saw her drop to a tie for 11th place.

Ko had a chance to reclaim the top spot but top-ranked Inbee Park stayed out front after finishing tied for eighth with a 3-under 68 and 5-under total of 279.

Michelle Wie was tied for 16th after shooting a 1-under 70 for an overall 3-under 281.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


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“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”