Molinari holds steady beats Westwood by one

By Doug FergusonNovember 7, 2010, 4:30 pm

WGC-HSBC Champions

SHANGHAI – Francesco Molinari outlasted Lee Westwood in a spirited duel Sunday in the HSBC Champions for a one-shot victory to capture his first World Golf Championship and continue a memorable year for Italy.

Molinari closed with a 5-under 67 at Sheshan International for his first win this season, and only the second of his career. He spoiled the debut of Westwood as the world’s No. 1 player, although the Englishman put up a fight worthy of his ranking.

Two shots behind on the par-5 18th, Westwood hit a powerful drive that left him only an iron into the green. He had a 25-foot eagle putt to force a playoff, but the ball stayed left of the hole the entire way, and Westwood had to settle for a 67.

It was only his second stroke-play tournament in three months, and Westwood played the final 43 holes without a bogey.

Molinari finished at 19-under 269.

“It wasn’t easy,” the Italian said. “I’m just really proud of the way I played and the way I handled myself. Lee is No. 1 in the world, and he was playing some fantastic golf. It was a great finish at the end.”

Tiger Woods closed with a 68 and tied for sixth, 13 shots behind. It was only his third top 10 of the year, and his best finish since a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open. For the first time in his career, Woods failed to win on the PGA Tour, ending a streak of 14 years.

“That’s just the way it goes,” Woods said. “It’s not like I didn’t try. It just didn’t happen this year. But I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made of late. Things are building and heading in the right direction, which is good.”

Molinari had not won since the Italian Open four years ago. He became the third Italian to win on the European Tour this year, joining brother Edoardo Molinari and Matteo Manassero. No doubt, the other wins inspired him.

“It makes me work a little harder,” Molinari said. “Because I wanted to contribute to this golden moment of Italian golf.”

Molinari, who earned $1.2 million, moved to No. 14 in the world ranking, three spots ahead of his brother.

Molinari built a two-shot cushion with a birdie on the second, and Westwood twice made clutch putts on the front nine after Molinari had already made birdie. When they reached the back nine, they were well clear of the rest of the pack.

Richie Ramsay of Scotland closed with a 71 and tied for third with Luke Donald, who faltered to a 73. For Ramsay, it was enough to secure a spot in the Race to Dubai finale at the end of the month.

Rory McIlroy had a 67 for a European sweep of the top five spots.

Molinari only had to tap in for par on the final hole for his 67 – it was the third time this week he had the low round of the day – and walked off the course as fireworks lit up the hazy sky over Sheshan International. The tournament was delayed 1 hour, 15 minutes at the start of the final round because of fog.

Westwood found little to complain about. He had a few bad breaks down the stretch, made big putts and whipped everyone in this field except for one player.

“I mean, 18-under par and nine shots clear of third is never too bad,” he said. “Just needed the breaks to win and it didn’t happen.”

The final round turned on the 16th.

Westwood’s tee shot on the 288-yard hole was just left of the green, with a pot bunker between him and the front flag. Molinari drove into the left rough, but hit a wedge to about 4 feet. Westwood had to play a delicate flop shot, and he caught it heavy. It didn’t clear the bunker, staying in the thick collar of grass, and he had to settle for par.

Molinari made his putt to go two shots up with two holes to play, and it looked as if he was a lock when Westwood pulled his tee shot on the par-3 17th into a bunker, then blasted out 15 feet by the hole. But as he had done all day, Westwood made yet another big putt to save par, then gave himself a chance on the 18th.

His runner-up finish gives Westwood a larger cushion in the battle for No. 1, although he’s still not safe.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who shot 73 and tied for 41st, and PGA champion Martin Kaymer, who shot 71 and tied for 30th, are playing next week in the Singapore Open. Woods remains at No. 2 and heads Down Under to defend at the Australian Masters.

“It wasn’t really about the rankings,” Westwood said. “It was about trying to win this week. The rankings come as a consequence of playing well, and I’m playing well. I know I am. Today is just very typical of how I’ve played for the last two years.”

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”