Gomez tops Snedeker in playoff for Sony title

By Doug FergusonJanuary 18, 2016, 4:21 am

HONOLULU - Fabian Gomez of Argentina closed with two birdies for an 8-under 62, and then made his 11th birdie of the day on the second playoff hole to beat Brandt Snedeker on Sunday in the Sony Open.

Gomez won for the second time on the PGA Tour, and this one was much tougher.

Starting the final round four shots behind, the 37-year-old Gomez ran off seven straight birdies in the middle of his round, let Snedeker back in the game with a pair of bogeys, and then holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and a 20-foot birdie from just off the 18th green to finish at 20-under 260.

Snedeker made a 4-foot birdie on the 18th for a 66 to force the playoff.

Zac Blair, who shared the 54-hole lead with Snedeker, had a 10-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole to join them, but it missed on the high side. He had a 67.

On the first playoff hole at the par-5 18th, Snedeker's 12-foot birdie for the win narrowly missed. Returning to the 18th a second time in the playoff - the hardest fairway to hit at Waialae on Sunday - Gomez went with a hybrid off the tee to stay in the short grass. His 3-iron reached the front of the green and set up a long two-putt birdie.


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Snedeker hit driver into a bunker, laid up and hit wedge 10 feet behind the hole. His birdie attempt to extend the playoff slid by to the right.

"It's frustrating because I couldn't make putts to win the golf tournament," Snedeker said. He said leaving his 12-foot putt to win on the first playoff hole "is going to sting today and tomorrow."

Gomez won the St. Jude Classic last year by four shots and already was in the Masters. This victory will move him just outside the top 50 in the world ranking, greatly improving his chances of playing in the Olympics this summer.

His 62 was the lowest closing round by a Sony Open champion.

Blair saved par from 8 feet on the 16th hole to keep alive his chance, and he almost cashed in with what he called the best 3-wood of his life from 280 yards. "Oh my gosh, that's so good," Blair said as he watched it bound forward onto the green to 10 feet. He needed the eagle to join the playoff. It stayed just above the hole.

"One of the best putts I've probably ever hit right there on 18," he said. "Unfortunately, it didn't go in."

Si Woo Kim, the 20-year-old from South Korea, was part of a five-way tie for the lead briefly. He closed with one bogey and five pars for a 68 to finish fourth.

Kevin Kisner, playing in the final group for the third time in his last four tournaments, ended his streak of 15 consecutive rounds under par at the worst time. His best putts were to save par until a wild tee shot on the eighth led to double bogey, dropping him five shots behind. Kisner still was in the mix until a bunker-to-bunker double bogey on the 17th ended his day. He closed with a 70 and tied for fifth.

Gomez surged into contention, and then the lead, with seven straight birdies starting with a 12-foot putt on the sixth hole. The Argentine was so dialed in that the next six birdies were all inside 8 feet. But he followed that streak with two straight bogeys, and only the great finish got him into the playoff.

Snedeker and Blair were the only players who stayed with him.

Blair had a share of the 54-hole lead for the first time, playing alongside two of the best putters, and even with that little wiggle in his stance to get comfortable, he rolled it beautifully. He holed a 12-foot par putt on the opening hole and made birdie putts of 35 feet on No. 7, 20 feet on No. 8 and 25 feet on No. 12, the last one giving him a share of the lead when Gomez finally made bogey.

Snedeker came out flat with seven pars and a bogey and twice fell three shots behind. But with birdies around the turn, an 8-foot birdie on the 14th and Gomez making those two bogeys, he was right back in the mix.

He took the lead for the first time all day with a gap wedge he stuffed to 3 feet for birdie on the 16th, but moments later, Gomez made his birdie on the 17th.

In the second tournament since the ban on anchored strokes typically used for long putters, Blair was asked to review his stroke on the 17th before signing his card. He used a fairway metal to putt out of light rough, and a television replay made it look as though the end of the club might have been touching his body.

After a brief review, it was determined the club did not touch his body.

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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 fired 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.

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).


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Local favorite Yu Liu was in sole possession of seventh place 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.


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"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.


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"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.