Cink tops Watson in Open playoff

By Doug FergusonJuly 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' Watson stood over an 8-foot par putt Sunday evening on the final hole of a mystical British Open, one stroke away from becoming the oldest major champion in history. For the first time all week, he showed his 59-year-old nerves.
The putt never had a chance.
A little more than an hour later, neither did Watson.
Stewart Cink, who made a 12-foot birdie on the final hole of regulation, took advantage of Watsons missed opportunity and overwhelmed him in the four-hole playoff to win by six shots.
Stewart Cink
In his 12th try, Stewart Cink finally won the British Open. (Getty Images)
Watson stood on the 18th tee one last time, blinking away tears. He wasnt alone in his sadness. Thousands of fans who filled the grandstands for the first time all week sat in stunned silence.
Cink, who was never atop the leaderboard all week until Watson missed the winning putt, was flawless in the playoff and finished with two birdies. As he gazed at the fabled Claret Jug, he paid his due to Watson, the modern-day King of the Links.
I dont even know what to say, Cink said. My hats off to him. He turned back the clock. Just did a great job. I speak for all the rest of the people here, too.
Indeed, he did. The loudest cheer was for the player who won the silver medal.
Cinks birdie gave him 69, and at 2-under 278, it looked as though he would be the runner-up.
It was almost, Watson said. The dream almost came true.
Tied with three other players along the back nine on a breezy afternoon, Watson two-putted for par on the tough 16th hole, where his challengers all made bogey to fall back. Then he made an easy birdie on the par-5 17th, giving him a one-shot lead as this unforgettable British Open reached a crescendo.
From the middle of the 18th fairway, Watson hit 8-iron and followed its flight, right at the flag. It bounded through the green, and his putt back up the slope ran 8 feet past the hole.
Watson steadied himself over the par putt, and thousands of fans braced themselves.
All week long, as Watson kept his name atop the leaderboard, there was a feeling that he couldnt hold up over four days and 72 holes. Now, he was 8 feet away from the unthinkable.
The drama ended as the ball wobbled off the blade, obvious that it wasnt struck hard enough. Watsons shoulders slumped.
I made a lousy putt, he said. Then in the playoff, it was bad shot after another.
For the first time all week, Watson looked tired. His approach to the first playoff hole, No. 5, tumbled into a pot bunker and led to bogey to fall one shot behind. After a remarkable par save on the par-3 sixth, Watson came undone.
He hooked his tee shot on the 17th into grass so deep it took him two hacks to get back to the fairway. He three-putted for a double bogey, while Cink played safe and smart for a two-putt birdie and a four-shot lead.
Cink, born two years before Watson won his first Claret Jug at Carnoustie in 1973, captured his first major and sixth career victory. He will move to No. 9 in the world.
Its been a surreal experience for me, Cink said. Not only playing one of my favorite courses and a wonderful tournament, but playing against Tom Watson. This stuff doesnt happen. I grew up watching him on TV, hoping to follow in his footsteps, not playing against him.
Rarely does a major championship end like this one ' to polite applause from a gallery of long faces.
Some of these fans were at Turnberry in 1977 when Watson beat Jack Nicklaus in the famous Duel in the Sun, the signature victory among Watsons eight majors.
He just couldnt beat Father Time.
It was fun to be in the mix again, having kids who are my kids age saying, What are you doing out here? It was nice showing them you can still play, Watson said. Im sure Ill take some good things from it. But its still a disappointment.
Watson wasnt alone in that disappointment. Three other players had at least a share of the lead in a final round where fortunes shifted with the sea breeze off the Firth of Clyde.
Lee Westwood of England had a one-shot lead with four holes to play until making back-to-back bogeys. He battled to the end, however, and made a bold swing from a pot bunker in the 18th fairway. The ball cleared the sodden wall by an inch and somehow reached the front of the green. One shot behind, with Watson in the fairway behind him, he felt his only hope was to make the 70-foot putt.
He ran it about 8 feet by the hole, then missed the next one and took bogey. Westwood was saddened to see Watson miss the putt for other reasons ' he shot 71 and finished one shot out of the playoff.
Gone from frustration to sickness now, he said.
Chris Wood, missing only an s in his name to give the weekend some normalcy after Tiger Woods missed the cut, shot 67 despite a bogey on the last hole. He tied for third with Westwood, finishing nearly two hours before Watson missed the decisive putt.
Mathew Goggin, who played in the final pairing with Watson, also was tied for the lead and had a chance to seize control until badly missing an 8-foot birdie putt on the 13th. He followed with three straight bogeys and shot 73, two shots behind.
Then there was Ross Fisher, not even sure he would play Sunday if his wife had gone into labor. He birdied the first two holes and was two shots ahead until he chopped away in high grass on both sides of the fifth fairway and took a quadruple-bogey 8. Fisher didnt make another birdie the rest of the day and shot 75.
It was the highest winning score in the four Opens held at Turnberry.
The closest Cink had ever come to winning a major was the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, when he missed an 18-inch bogey putt on the last hole while trying to clear the stage for Retief Goosen, never suspecting Goosen would three-putt from 12 feet. Cink wound up missing the playoff by one shot.
Now, his name is on the oldest trophy in golf, joining the likes of Woods, Nicklaus and Watson, the man he beat.
The same Tom Watson that won this tournament in 77, the same guy showed up here this week, Cink said. And he just about did it. He beat everybody but one guy. And it was really special.
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

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    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.