Kuchar settles for $3 million consolation prize

By Associated PressSeptember 27, 2010, 3:39 am
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA – Matt Kuchar earned a $3 million consolation prize to go some way toward making him feel better after struggling at East Lake.

Kuchar came into the Tour Championship as the top seed, knowing he was assured of claiming the FedEx Cup and a $10 million prize if he won the season-ending event.

He was never a factor, however, tying for 25th in a 30-player field after failing to break par in any round.

“I didn’t have it this week, but I played as well as I could for 72 holes,” said Kuchar, who closed with a 1-over 71 Sunday for a 5-over 285 total.

Jim Furyk won the tournament to claim the richest payoff in golf. Because no one else in the top five finished high enough, Kuchar held on for second in the point standings to take the runner-up prize of $3 million.

Not that he had any idea what was going on, given the complex nature of the points system.

“It’s impossible to be aware of it,” Kuchar said. “Who really was aware of it? Maybe some kid in front of a computer. But certainly I was not.”

Kuchar was preparing to tee off at the final hole when thunderstorms swept into the area, leading to a two-hour break. Even then, he didn’t bother looking at the possible FedEx Cup scenarios.

“I watched football,” he said. “I had no real idea and was completely unconcerned with it today. It was not even on my radar screen. I was out there trying to hit good shots and really didn’t give the FedEx Cup one ounce of thought today.”

Kuchar conceded that he’s a little beat after playing his fourth playoff event in five weeks, but there’s no rest on the horizon.

He was off to the airport, heading to Wales to play in his first Ryder Cup, and he’s scheduled return to Georgia to play in the inaugural fall event at Sea Island the following week.

“I could use a couple down days, but I don’t get a couple of down days for a couple weeks,” Kuchar said. “I understood that. I’ve played a lot since the British Open, and I knew it was on my plate.”


WATNEY’S CHARGE: Nick Watney shot a 58 – over two days.

Watney put up a 28 on the back nine Saturday for a 7-under 63, then kept it going with a 30 on the front side Sunday – capped by a chip-in eagle at No. 9. Actually, he was an astonishing 14 under for a 20-hole stretch, going back to third-round birdies on the eighth and ninth holes.

Just when Watney seemed poised to make an unprecedented run from 28th place to claim the $10 million FedEx Cup, rain and lightning caused a two-hour delay. That seemed to sap Watney’s momentum, and he played the final nine holes at 2 over for a closing 67.

“It was the same for everyone, so no complaints,” Watney said. “I definitely lost a bit of my mojo there sitting in the clubhouse. I definitely would’ve liked to finish it off there. All in all, from where I was through seven holes (Saturday), I’ll take the finish.”

Watney kept believing he could win the big prize until right at the end.

“With a good round, you never know,” he said. “It’s a very difficult golf course. You can make up ground in a hurry, and it’s tough to play with the lead. I thought I had an outside chance, but I would’ve had to shoot something around the same score as I did” in the third round.


 

NA’S OUTBURST: Kevin Na let his temper get the best of him as he struggled to the finish.

Coming off a double bogey at the 17th hole, Na yanked his tee shot at No. 18 toward the grandstand left of the flag. That caused him to unleash another swing, this one in anger, that took out a huge chunk of grass in the tee box.

Na was able to take a drop, but he still wound up with a bogey for a 6-over 76, hardly the way he wanted to close after three straight rounds in the 60s.

Even though it was easy to understand Na’s frustration, his outburst drew a scolding from playing partner Paul Casey.

“He was visibly upset, wasn’t he?” Casey said. “The behavior on 18 was not good. It’s not good for the game.”


 

DONALD’S LAMENT: Luke Donald couldn’t help but think back to Saturday after coming up one stroke short of having a shot at $10 million.

During the third round, Donald took a double-bogey 7 at No. 15 – the easiest hole of the week at East Lake. It cost him big time when he wound up one stroke behind winner Jim Furyk.

“You can always look back to yesterday maybe, the double-bogey made on 15,” Donald said. “That was obviously disappointing, kind of got me out of the lead.”

And how did Donald make 7 on such an easy hole? An errant drive into the rough forced him to lay up in the middle of the fairway, then he pushed his third shot into a bunker alongside the green.

Donald blasted out of the sand to about 18 feet, then three-putted.


FURYK’S RECOMMENDATION: Jim Furyk made his $10 million putt with a used club he bought for $39.

After knocking in a little 2 1/2-footer to clinch the Tour Championship, Furyk gave a plug to Joe & Leigh’s Discount Golf Pro Shop in South Easton, Mass.

Furyk has been using a heel-shafted putter he bought at the shop after the third round of the playoff event at TPC Boston. He put it in the bag for the final round of that tournament, and it’s been with him ever since.

“I guess we were meant to be,” Furyk said.

The putter retailed for $65, but he got it at a discount because it was used. There’s a nick here and a ding there, but nothing he can’t live with.

“I didn’t think it was all that pretty, to be honest with you,” Furyk said, “but it’s getting a lot better looking every day.”


DIVOTS: Tiger Woods didn’t qualify for East Lake, but he held on to his ranking as the world’s No. 1 player. Phil Mickelson, who needed to finish at least in a three-way tie for second to overtake Woods, struggled to a 74 that left him tied for 22nd. … The FedEx Cup has been settled, but the Vardon Trophy for best scoring average is still up for grabs. Matt Kuchar leads at 69.57, but he’s scheduled to play at least one of the fall events. Steve Stricker, who’s done of the year, is right on Kuchar’s heels at 69.58 and could possibly steal away the trophy from the sideline.

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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.

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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."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.