Lawrie Cruises To Wales Open Victory
He also picked up a little momentum heading into the PGA Championship this coming week, where he'll be looking for his second career major to go along with his 1999 British Open title.
Having to play 36 holes Sunday due to Friday's rain delays, Lawrie was up to the challenge and actually distanced himself from the rest of the pack.
It was nice to come back and win this time, said Lawrie, runner-up in last year's event. I played well last year and didnt win as I didnt putt well. This time I putted a lot better. The 65 in the second round was the key. When you are coming on and off the course because of the weather it is difficult to keep your focus and concentration but I did that very well. My ball striking was fantastic that day.'
More from Lawrie on his win.
After completing the third round early in the morning, Lawrie found himself five clear of the field by shooting a 2-under-par 70, as his closest rivals, Bickerton and Australia's Richard Green, both stumbled in with 1-over-par 73s.
The afternoon 18 saw more of the same, with Lawrie coming out strong and recording birdies on holes two, three and four to extend the lead and dash any hopes his challengers may have had in mounting a charge.
He closed with his second 2-under-par 70 of the day, and a four-day total of 16-under 272.
The victory was his first since last year's Dunhill Links Championship and vaulted him from 28th on the Order of Merit (money title) to 13th. It was his second top-10 of the season, following a second-place finish at the Smurfit European Open in July.
I will now go to the U.S. PGA and try my best. Im looking forward to going there with my game in good shape, he said.
Bickerton backed up his disappointing morning round of 73 with a solid 2-under-par 70 that put him alone in second place. It matched his best finish ever on the European Tour, along with his second place at the 2001 Madeira Open.
I was never going to catch Paul, said Bickerton. He was hot today and played lovely golf but it was nice to hang on at the end for second spot. Im delighted.
Finland's Mikko Ilonen came in a distant third, six shots back at 10-under 278. The third-place showing was his highest finish on tour.
That is certainly my best finish, he said. I really needed this and I pulled it off when I needed to. I was a couple under the last nine holes and 3-under the last 11. Didnt make any putts this week so I was pleased with the rest of my game and hopefully I can go on from here and secure my European Tour card.
Darren Clarke (-3), Ian Woosnam (+1), and Lee Westwood (-2) never threatened.
Last year's winner, Paul McGinley, tied for sixth at 6-under.
Full-field scores from The Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open
TT postscript: This 65 better than Aronimink 62
ATLANTA – The start wasn’t much to look at, but that finish was something else. Tiger Woods eagled the final hole on Thursday and shares the 18-hole lead at the Tour Championship. Here are the things you know you want to know:
• First of all, let’s give a pat on the back to the man who most deserves it today: Me. Early this morning, I sent this tweet:
Less than an hour until tee time. Gotta good feeling about this week. Let’s set the O/U today at 66.5 on the par 70. And then take the under.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) September 20, 2018
Never doubt my good feelings. Ben Crenshaw doesn’t have my good feelings. We may have 54 holes to play, but I gotta good feeling we’re going to be changing that Tiger Tracker avatar Sunday night.
• Now onto Tiger. After all, he did hit 10 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and took 28 putts. It wasn’t looking good early when he had nine putts through four holes and was 1 over par. But he birdied Nos. 5 and 6, turned in 1 under, and really turned it on down the stretch with two birdies and an eagle over his final seven holes. And if you take a good look at the scorecard below you’ll notice he didn’t make a bogey after the first hole.
• How good is a 65 at East Lake? Better than his opening 62 at Aronimink, according to Woods: “This was by far better than the 62 at Aronimink. Conditions were soft there. This is – it's hard to get the ball closer. There's so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can't get the ball close.”
Woods added that you had to play “conservatively” and be patient – take what the course allowed. Tiger missed five putts – four of them for birdie – inside 15 feet. But in the 93-degree heat, he kept his composure and made putts of 26 and 28 feet for birdie, and 28 feet for eagle.
• This week feels different. It feels like Tiger is really ready to win again. He seems very serious, very focused. He talked about “getting the W” on Wednesday and said on Thursday, “[T]he objective is to always win.”
After shooting 65, Woods signed a few autographs and eventually made his way to the putting green. If he gets those 15-footer to fall, we’re going to be two wins away from tying Sammy.
• So, what about that eagle on 18, you ask? Tiger said he “hammered” a driver – which was listed at 320 yards – and then hit a 5-wood from 256 yards to 28 feet. As for the putt: “It took forever for that putt to start breaking, grain coming down off the left. But once it snagged it, it was going straight right.”
Right into the cup. Right into the lead. Our man is making history this week.
Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake
Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.
Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.
Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.
Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.
Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.
Woods finished his round with a vintage eagle on the par-5 18th hole, finding the green with a 5-wood from 256 yards out and then sinking the 28-foot putt.
Co-leader. pic.twitter.com/MMUZ8zptQ9— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 20, 2018
The eagle at the last gave Woods a share of the early first-round lead with Rickie Fowler at 5-under 65.
Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship
Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.
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Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?
Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.
It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.
A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.
Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.