AKRON, Ohio – Perhaps the best shot of the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was also the unluckiest.
Jim Furyk came to Firestone’s 16th hole, the famed 667-yard “Monster,” challenging for the lead.
“I had some momentum going and was pretty much thinking birdie,” Furyk said. “I’m trying to birdie every hole on the way in, trying to make it interesting.”
So he followed a 350-yard drive by laying up in front of the large lake fronting the green. Then he pulled out a lob wedge that zeroed in on the hole from the moment of contact.
“I hit it well. One thing, I was hoping it wasn’t going to spin too much that I knew it was going to be on the green and I was going to have a good look, I thought, for birdie,” he said. “It really had a chance to be close, and of course I flew it in.”
Only one problem: The ball hit the pin and ricocheted back toward him, trickling into the lake.
“(It was) just disappointing. I knew that if I could get it to 9 under early, maybe I could put some heat on,” Furyk said. “It kind of took any hope of that happening away.”
After taking a drop, he hit a shot to 7 feet and made the putt for bogey.
He handled the devastating turn of events far better than most would.
“It happens,” he said. “It’s disappointing, but there’s nothing you can do about it. I’ve always been able to accept things when I’ve hit good shots. When I’ve done all I could, when I hit a good putt and it didn’t go in, or I hit a good shot and it turned out bad, I can kind of accept that.”
He birdied the final hole for a 6-under 64 that left him at 7-under 273 and tied for sixth.
“The things I’ve beat myself up over in my career are when I’ve hit poor shots or haven’t done the right things or haven’t made a good stroke,” he said. “When you lose tournaments that way, it lingers with you. But I did all I could today.”
TOGETHER AGAIN: Two of the biggest names near the top of the leaderboard after three rounds of the Bridgestone were Ernie Els and Justin Leonard. They were tied for fourth.
Things didn’t turn out well in the final round for either.
Els had a triple-bogey on the ninth hole and shot a 76. Leonard mustered just one birdie and also shot a 76. They ended up tied, again, for 22nd.
BOUNCE BACK: One well-known player who did not have a final-round meltdown was Retief Goosen. The South African’s closing 65 left him tied for third at 271.
It was his eighth top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this year, best along with Matt Kuchar (who tied for ninth).
Goosen led through 36 holes before struggling to a 73 on Saturday.
“That’s why I have a top-10 and not a win, because I had one bad round in four,” he said. “If I could put four rounds together, I’d have a chance.”
Goosen said he was traveling to Wisconsin on Sunday night and would be at Whistling Straits early Monday morning to begin preparations for next week’s PGA Championship. He was injured and did not play in 2004, the only previous time the course hosted the PGA.
FAST FINISH: Bo Van Pelt closed with a rush at the Bridgestone.
After double-bogeying the ninth hole in third round, he was just 2 under for the tournament. Over the final nine holes on Saturday and the final round, he was 7 under, with nine birdies and two bogeys.
“I fought pretty hard the last 27 to give myself a chance,” he said after finishing off a 67 that left him tied for third. “I’ll try to concentrate on the positives. I’ll be a little ticked off for about 30 minutes and then go kiss my kids and forget all about it.”
PLAYING THE ODDS: Padraig Harrington will be keeping an eye on who the oddsmakers select as the player to beat at this week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
“Since the bookies normally get it right, I’d like to see who’s favored,” he said. “Players know nothing. Those bookies know everything. They have to draw that line absolutely perfect, so I’ll be interested to see where they draw that line next week because they get it right all the time.”
DIVOTS: Ryan Palmer hit a 402-yard drive on the par-5 16th hole. … Adam Scott holed out for eagle from 166 yards on the fourth hole, rated the hardest hole on the course. … Winner Hunter Mahan received a free drop from flowers near the 16th green, and was able to save par. … J.B. Holmes averaged 332 yards on his eight measured drives during the tournament. … The only previous time before Sunday that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson each shot 77 or higher in the same round as pros was the third round of the 1998 British Open. Woods had a 77 and Mickelson an 85.
Notes Furyks best shot proves unlucky
AKRON, Ohio – Perhaps the best shot of the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was also the unluckiest.
Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick
Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.
Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.
Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.
Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six
CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs
Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.
''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''
The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.
''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''
Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.
''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''
The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.
''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''
Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.
''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.
Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.
Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.
The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.
Pepperell captures British Masters, eyes Augusta
WALTON HEATH, England -- Eddie Pepperell won his second European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the British Masters on Sunday and likely secured the even bigger prize of a place in next year's Masters at Augusta National.
The Englishman shot an even-par 72 and held off his playing partner, Sweden's Alexander Bjork (71), as the pair went to the 72nd hole at a wet and windy Walton Heath with Pepperell just a stroke in front.
Pepperell finished on 9-under 279.
Herbert Lucas (69) and Jordan Smith (73) were tied for third, another two shots behind Bjork.
English pair Sam Horsfield (69) and Tom Lewis (70) along with American Julian Suri (74) tied for fifth, one shot in front of tournament host Justin Rose (70).
The victory takes Pepperell into the world's top 35 and almost certainly secures a first appearance at Augusta in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year in April.
Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished 2 under in a seven-way tie for ninth.
A top-two finish on Sunday would have seen Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September
Pepperell was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May last year, but won the Qatar Masters in February and followed a runner-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite saying he had a hangover.
His three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke on Sunday when Bjork covered the front nine in 34 and Pepperell three-putted the ninth, the same hole where he enjoyed a spectacular hole-in-one on Thursday.
However, the 27-year-old Pepperell promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and a par save from off the green on the 14th looked to have sealed the win.
There was still time for some late drama, though, as Pepperell dropped shots on Nos. 15 and 16 to see his lead cut to a single shot, but Bjork bogeyed the 18th after driving into the heather and Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker.
Disappointed Sharma fades to T-10 at CIMB
For the second time this year, India's Shubankhar Sharma watched an opportunity for a breakthrough win turn into a learning experience.
Sharma burst onto the scene in March, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship only to fade to a tie for ninth. It was a similar story Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Sharma started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead but struggled to an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for 10th.
"Disappointing, not really happy with the way I finished," Sharma told reporters.
The 22-year-old was 1 over for his first six holes, but he battled back with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to get within three shots of eventual winner Marc Leishman. But his tee shot at the par-3 11th found the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys that ended any hopes of victory.
"That was probably one of the worst swings of the day," Sharma said. "That 11th hole I think killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way, and I probably could have made more birdies after that."
Sharma remained optimistic this spring following his final-round fade in Mexico, and he retained a positive mindset despite a rough afternoon as he eyes upcoming starts at both the CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.
"Great experience. Very, very good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour, so that's a good way of looking at it," he said. "Also, it pushes me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour, and I've given myself two opportunities. Game is in a decent place now."