Fernandez-Castano wins BMW Masters

By Doug FergusonOctober 27, 2013, 8:58 am

SHANGHAI – Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano called it the perfect win, even though his final hole Sunday to win the BMW Masters was anything but perfect.

Fernandez-Castano chipped in from across the green for birdie on the tough 17th hole at Lake Malaren to build a three-shot lead. Then, he let memories of Jean Van de Velde's collapse creep into his head, and only when the 33-year-old Spaniard holed a 2-foot putt for double bogey did he exhale.

''I made it a little more complicated,'' Fernandez-Castano said.

He still closed with a 4-under 68 for a one-shot win over Francesco Molinari (64) and Thongchai Jaidee (66). Luke Guthrie, the 23-year-old American playing in Asia for the first time, didn't make a birdie until the 13th hole and closed with a 71 to finish alone in fourth, two shots behind.

Fernandez-Castano gave Spain its first European Tour win this year, extending the streak to 20 years of at least one Spanish victory.

But this was more for him than country.

The victory gets Fernandez-Castano into the HSBC Champions next week in Shanghai, critical for him to stay in the hunt for the Race to Dubai. He moved up from No. 35 to No. 4 in the standings, and the World Golf Championship offers $8.5 million in prize money.

He won 851,346 euros at the BMW Masters, putting him well ahead on the European Points portion of the Ryder Cup standings.

It also puts him into the top 50 in the world, which is critical for the Spaniard as he embarks on his first full season on the PGA Tour. He will get in at least two WGCs, and staying in the top 50 would get him into the majors. Fernandez-Castano is moving his family to Miami in December.

''Just at the perfect time,'' he said. ''There's never a bad time for a victory, let's put it that way. But this has been just the perfect one.''

Lake Malaren was set up for low scoring, with only a mild wind and several tees moved forward. Defending champion Peter Hanson had the low round of the tournament, making bogey on the last hole and still posting a 63.

Molinari played the final six holes in 6 under, including an eagle on the 13th hole, and he was tied for the lead at one point.

Everyone seemed to take advantage except the last two groups, setting up endless possibilities. Fernandez-Castano started to seize control with a wedge into 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 seventh, and another wedge to short range for birdie on the next hole.

That gave him a two-shot lead, and he kept his distance from Guthrie by matching the American's birdies on the two par 5s on the back. The chip-in for birdie on the 17th, a hole that Hanson described as the toughest in the final round, sealed the victory.

At least that's how it looked.

Fernandez-Castano felt a little too comfortable, deciding to play it so conservatively down the 18th hole that it nearly cost him. His tee shot cleared the water and went into a bunker, and he blasted out some 30 yards to avoid a bad shot that might hit the lip. That left him 168 yards for his third shot, and he aimed so far away from water and the flag that he wound up in another bunker.

''The only thing I was thinking about on the 18th was Jean Van de Velde,'' he said, referring to the Frenchman who made triple bogey on the final hole of the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie and lost in a playoff. ''There's so many things that go through your mind. Jean is a good friend of mind. I don't know, I just didn't want to mess up, and I almost did. It's a weird feeling. I'm not used to have a three-shot advantage when I'm playing such a big tournament like this.''

His bunker shot by the green was his best on the final hole, leaving him two putts from 8 feet for the win. He looked tentative on the first putt, and it rolled 2 feet away, just enough to make him nervous.

That was more drama than he needed, though Fernandez-Castano still managed to win for the seventh time in his career.

Peter Uihlein made four birdies on the back nine for a 67 that gave him a share of fifth place with Thomas Bjorn, keeping both of them in the top 10 on the European Tour money list with three more events before the World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Henrik Stenson, who went into The Final Series with a healthy lead over Graeme McDowell, made five straight birdies on the back nine and shot 65, which extended his lead over McDowell, who shot 74. The prize money in these last four events is the largest on the European Tour, except for majors and WGCs.

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.