Molder takes Frys.com Open for first Tour win

By Doug FergusonOctober 9, 2011, 11:24 pm

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Bryce Molder knows better than most that there's no sure thing in golf.

That wasn't the case when he left Georgia Tech nearly a decade ago after being an All-American all four years. And it certainly wasn't the case Sunday at the Frys.com Open in the longest playoff of the year on the PGA Tour.

Molder captured his first Tour victory by making a 6-foot birdie putt on the sixth playoff hole to outlast Briny Baird.

'It's a little surreal right now,' Molder said.

Molder and Baird were stuck in time, going from the 17th hole to the 18th hole in three cycles, matching birdies and pars, both players feeling at various points that they were going to win.

Three times, Molder hit driver on the 284-yard 17th hole over the water and had eagle putts for the win, each one a little closer to the hole than the previous one, all of them sliding by the side of the cup.

On the fourth extra hole, Baird felt like a winner when Molder drove into the hazard. Molder was able to get to the front of the green from the junk, while Baird's wedge hit the top of the flag and spun back some 12 feet. He missed.

After nearly two hours, Baird blinked and Molder finally made a putt to win.

'You practice and work, and you just hope there's some validating behind it,' said Molder, who won in his 132nd start on Tour. 'I don't feel I deserved to win. But I happened to settle myself down to play.'

The playoff was packed with plenty of drama, and so was the rest of the sunny day at CordeValle.

Tiger Woods managed to make news when a fan ran toward the seventh green as he was putting and tossed a hot dog in his direction. The 31-year-old man was arrested and never came close to Woods.

'I guess he wanted to be in the news,' Woods said. 'And I'm sure he will be.'

It was the 17th playoff this year on the PGA Tour, setting a record dating to the modern era that began in 1970.

Baird looked like a winner when he chipped in from short of the 17th green for eagle in regulation to take a one-shot lead. In the group ahead of him, Molder rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th to close with a 7-under 64, which got him into the playoff.

Baird, 0 for 348 in his 12 years trying to win on Tour, shot a 4-under 67. He twice had birdie putts on the 18th in the playoff to win, missing from 8 feet and 12 feet.

They finished at 17-under 267, and then looked as though they would never finish.

'Obviously, it's more than disappointing right now,' Baird said. 'I thought I'd be standing where Bryce is. I had my chances. Given a chance, you've got to make putts.'

If there was a consolation for Baird, he earned $540,000. Baird, who started his year with conditional status on Tour, was at No. 148 on the money list and now is assured of getting his card back for next year.

Bud Cauley, the 21-year-old who turned pro this summer, shot 66 and finished third to earn $340,000, which looks as if it will be enough for him to earn a card next year without having to go through the qualifying tournament.

Cauley left Alabama this year to turn pro, and it appeared to be a smart decision. He is projected to be the equivalent of 114th on the money list with two tournaments remaining. He at least gets into the McGladrey Classic next week. Cauley would be only the sixth player since 1980 - and the first since Ryan Moore in 2005 - to earn a full PGA Tour card without ever going to Q-school.

Cauley was among five players tied for the lead at some point in the final round. As usual at CordeValle, this tournament was always going to be decided over the final four holes, which offer two eagle possibilities with the par 5 at No. 15 and the tees moved forward on the 17th, making it play 284 yards over the water.

Shane Bertsch surged into the lead alone with an eagle at No. 15 to reach 15 under, only to miss a short putt on the next hole. He failed to make another birdie and tied for fourth with a 64. Ernie Els also tied for fourth. He went bunker to bunker on the 15th and had to settle for par and closed with a 68.

Ultimately, the duel came down to Baird and Molder, two players looking for their first PGA Tour win on a course that tests the nerves because of so many possible swings in momentum.

Molder birdied three of the first four holes on the back nine to take over the lead, and appeared to be playing safe by laying up on the 15th and making par. His 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th spun 270 degrees around the cup.

In the group behind him, Baird reached the 15th green for a two-putt birdie to get within one stroke, then put himself in position for the win with a drive that narrowly cleared the water on the 17th and stayed on the bank.

Trying to get up-and-down to tie for the lead, he chipped in for an eagle - the second straight day he made eagle on that hole - for a one-shot lead. Up ahead, however, Molder recovered by rolling in a 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole to catch him.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Bernhard Langer on Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and season points leader, birdied the final hole for a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star closed the front nine with consecutive birdies, but had several birdie putts slide on the back.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie on the par-4 15th and also birdied the par-5 closing hole.

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”