Notes: Donald's final putt historic?; Tiger's impact

By Doug FergusonSeptember 27, 2011, 11:46 pm

ATLANTA – That birdie putt by Luke Donald on the final hole of the Tour Championship might turn out to be bigger than anyone imagined.

It wasn’t enough for Donald to capture the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize. He wound up one shot away from joining the sudden-death playoff at East Lake. But it gave him a three-way tie for third, which was worth $418,667.

Had he missed the putt, Donald would have been in a four-way tie for fifth, which would have paid $284,000. That made it a putt worth $134,667, and it could make all the difference in Donald’s pursuit of trying to become the first player to win money titles on both sides of the Atlantic.

Donald left East Lake atop the PGA Tour money list - by $68,971 over Webb Simpson.

Donald is done playing the PGA Tour this year. Simpson, who was exhausted at East Lake from playing six times in seven weeks and winning twice, has not indicated whether he will play any of the Fall Series. His agent said a decision will come later.

If he were to play either the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island or the season-ender at Disney, Simpson likely would need to finish around 20th to pass Donald on the money list.

Donald, whose wife is expecting their second child, is playing the next two weeks on the European Tour, at the Dunhill Links Championship and a title defense at the Madrid Masters. He has a roughly $2.2 million lead over U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.

Depend on the birth of his child, Donald might play the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, but is more likely to play the season-ending Dubai World Championship.


TIGER’S IMPACT: A quiet Fall Series event in the foothills of northern California has become quite a bit louder. Tiger Woods announced a month ago he would play in the Frys.com Open, and tournament consultant Duke Butler said ticket sales are three times higher than a year ago.

The tournament is Oct. 6-9 at CordeValle. Along with getting Woods, the field includes Ernie Els, two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

Butler said some tickets are still available.

“We hope to have 15,000 people a day,” he said. “We have an agreement with the county of Santa Clara that we’d have a maximum paid crowd of 15,000 a day.”

With hotel rooms being snatched up, the tournament figures to have a much greater economic impact on San Martin, which is located just south of San Jose.

“Fry’s is popular in Santa Clara County right now,” Butler said.


GOING HOME: Charles Howell III made bogey on the final hole of the Tour Championship when a birdie would have put him into the playoff. In some respects, however, he already won just by being at East Lake.

The top 30 players who reach the Tour Championship get into the Masters, the most important tournament of the year for Howell because he grew up in Augusta.

It will be his first time back to the Masters since he missed the cut in 2008.

“It’s my favorite tournament,” Howell said. “It’s the one tournament I’ll watch if I’m not playing. And that tournament is not easy to get into.”

It hasn’t been easy for Howell the past few years, but he turned it around this year. He had three straight top 5s at the start of the summer, tied for fourth in Greensboro and was solid enough in the playoff events to be 26th out of the 30 players at the Tour Championship.

“If you’re not in the top 50 in the world golf ranking, this is the next best thing you can do,” Howell said.


FALL SERIES: The Fall Series gets under way this week at Las Vegas, the start of four straight tournaments that will give some players a chance to crack the top 125 on the money list and retain their cards.

D.A. Points, who played his first Masters this year after winning Pebble Beach, is No. 34 on the money list. He is followed by Spencer Levin, who has never played the Masters; Steve Marino, Ryan Moore, Tommy Gainey (No. 39) and Chris Kirk (No. 42).

Kirk won the Viking Classic, but PGA Tour winners only get to Augusta National if the tournament offers full FedEx Cup points. The Viking Classic was held opposite the British Open.

William McGirt, who got the last spot into the FedEx Cup playoffs and advanced to the second event, is at No. 137 on the money list with $427,960.

Others outside the top 125 include Louis Oosthuizen, Angel Cabrera, Paul Casey and Justin Leonard. Oosthuizen and Cabrera are still exempt from their major championships (2010 British Open for Oosthuizen, 2009 Masters for Cabrera), but they must be in the top 125 to qualify for The Players Championship.


DUSTIN AND DUNHILL: The possibility of playing in cold, wind and rain might not sound appealing to Dustin Johnson this time of the year. The chance to play with his brother? That’s appealing enough for him to play in the Dunhill Links Championship this week in Scotland.

Johnson’s brother, Austin, played basketball for Charleston Southern.

“He hits it far, just like me,” Johnson said. “But he three-putts a lot. The only reason I’m going over is to play with my brother. He’s jacked up. He’s more jacked up than I am.”

Johnson said his brother plays off a 5 handicap, and is capable of shooting anything.

“If he’s got it going, it can shoot around par,” Johnson said. “If he doesn’t, he shoots 90. He’s a little wild off the tee. At St. Andrews he’ll be all right. I’ll tell him to hit it left all day.”


DIVOTS: Bill Haas joined Bart Bryant in 2005 and Chad Campbell in 2003 as the only players to win the Tour Championship in their first try. Haas was the first player since Adam Scott in 2006 to make the Tour Championship his first win of the year. … Sunday’s playoff was the 16th of the year on the PGA Tour, tying the record for most in a season with 1988 and 1991. Four tournaments are still on the schedule. … Dustin Johnson has extended his deal with TaylorMade-adidas Golf through 2015. … The third Asian Amateur Championship starts Thursday at The Singapore Island Country Club. The winner gets an invitation to the Masters.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Bill Haas earned $14,088,637 this year in 26 starts, including his FedEx Cup bonus. His father, Jay Haas, earned $14,440,317 in 798 starts in his entire career.


FINAL WORD: “He won’t have to play any better than he did before to do any dominating. Twelve under at Pebble Beach wins by 15 next week. And it wins by 15 in 100 years.” - Geoff Ogilvy on Tiger Woods.

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Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

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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New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

“You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


“To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

Who’s the best at their best?

In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took him a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good, to be overlooked any longer.

And he’s far from done.

“For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”

Watch: Koepka holes out from off the green at 16

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 5:36 am

Brooks Koepka faced a stiff challenge from Gary Woodland on Sunday in South Korea, but eventually it came time to end the suspense.

Having clung to a slim lead for much of the back nine, Koepka looked as though he was going to have to scramble just to save par when he missed the green at 16. 

Instead, caddie Ricky Elliott was able to leave Koepka's putter in the bag.

That holeout combined with a bogey from Woodland at 17 put Koepka ahead by three, allowing him to walk to victory and to the top of the world rankings.

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Koepka wins CJ Cup, ascends to world No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 5:07 am

Brooks Koepka eagled the 72nd hole Sunday to cap off a final-round 64, win the CJ Cup and supplant Dustin Johnson as the new No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here's how Koepka took over the golf world Sunday in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-21), Gary Woodland (-17), Ryan Palmer (-15), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-15), Jason Day (-12), Scott Piercy (-12)

What it means: This is Koepka's fifth career PGA Tour victory but only his second in a non-major, following his maiden win back at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Up four to start the day, Koepka saw his lead evaporate as Woodland rocketed up the leaderboard and kept pace with him for much of the back nine. But every time Sunday's result appeared in doubt, Koepka reclaimed his lead in dramatic fashion. He nearly aced the par-3 13th to go ahead by two and later holed out for birdie at the par-4 16th to go up three with two to play. He finished par-eagle at 17 and 18 to shoot a back-nine 29 and close out his third victory in the last five months. With the win, Koepka ascends to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

Round of the day: Ryan Palmer set a Nine Bridges course record when he birdied his final seven holes in a row en route to a bogey-free round of 10-under 62 and a solo third-place finish.

Best of the rest: Woodland played his first 16 holes in 9 under par to storm from five back and catch Koepka atop the leaderboard. But his furious Sunday charge finally came to an end when he failed to get up and down for par from the back bunker at 17. He carded his 11th birdie of the round at the 18th hole to sign for 63 and finish solo second.

Biggest disappointment: In retrospect, Woodland called it correctly on Saturday when he said: "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can. 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." Woodland put as much pressure on Koepka as he could. He went out and posted that number. Koepka never blinked.

Shot of the day: Koepka's holeout at the par-3 16th, which put him ahead by three, unofficially ending the proceedings:

Quote of the day: "To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid. I don't think this one is going to sink in." - Koepka