Siem chips in to win BMW Masters playoff

By Doug FergusonNovember 2, 2014, 9:09 am

SHANGHAI – Marcel Siem took the lead for the first time on the 16th hole Sunday and figured two pars would be enough for him to win the BMW Masters.

A relentless wind at Lake Malaren turned the final round into a wild ride for just about everybody, and not even Siem was immune. The German finished the final round with two bogeys instead of two pars. And then he won a three-man playoff over Alexander Levy of France and Ross Fisher of England by chipping in for birdie from the collar of the 18th green.

''The course was a real monster, and I'm super pleased,'' Siem said. ''Still can't believe it. I'm over the moon.''

Siem felt more pressure over an 8-foot par putt on the 18th to win in regulation. Facing the tougher situation - his shot with a 5-iron came up just short and hung in the collar - he felt he had nothing to lose and wound up winning.

''I thought just to stay in the playoff, I have to hole it,'' said Siem, who closed with a 1-over 73. ''I was expecting one of the guys to hole the putt. It's just fantastic. A chip-in is always cool, but to have it in a playoff is even cooler.''

Levy had a four-shot lead to start the final round. He had to scramble for bogey on the 18th hole for a 78 to join the playoff. Fisher had a chance for the biggest comeback in European Tour history. He was 11 shots behind going into the last round, closed with a 67 and was the first to post at 16-under 272.

Levy and Fisher both had birdie putts in the playoff on No. 18, the toughest hole at Lake Malaren. After watching Siem chip in for birdie, both missed their putts.

The fourth victory of Siem's career sends him across town to the World Golf Championship next week. The timing could have been better. Siem was expecting a week off, so his wife flew to Thailand to join him for a holiday. Trophy in hand, he was trying to arrange a visa to get her to Shanghai for the next tournament.

''Would have been the first time in five years on a holiday on our own,'' he said. ''But I think she will be still happy not to do that.''

What had been an easy week for scoring on a soft, benign golf course turned into a test of survival in the 25 mph wind.

Levy stopped hitting short irons at the flag, and when he closed out the front nine with back-to-back bogeys, his four-shot lead was gone. He built it back to two shots when Siem made a pair of sloppy bogeys, but then the Frenchman drove into the water on the par-5 13th and made double bogey. Levy then missed two short putts - for par on the 14th and birdie on the 15th - that would have allowed him to regain the lead.

He was fortunate just to get into the playoff. Levy's approach on the 18th in regulation went left toward the water, crossed the hazard line and stopped a foot short from a splash. He chipped over the green and had to make a 5-foot bogey putt to keep playing.

''He deserved to win today because he played fantastic in the wind,'' Levy said. ''It's nice for him. And I'm not very disappointed because I played three days of amazing golf and I think I need to keep that in my mind.''

Fisher had the low score Sunday, making six birdies against only one bogey for his 67. Only three other players broke 70, while eight players were in the 80s. That included Miguel Angel Jimenez, who hit four shots into the water on No. 9 and took a 13. He shot an 88.

''You never expect to have a chance,'' Fisher said, referring to his 11-shot deficit. ''I'm thinking, 'Just go out there and shoot a good score. If it gets me a top 10, that would be great.'''

It almost was better that that. Paul Lawrie (1999 British Open) and Jamie Spence (1992 European Masters) share the European Tour record by rallying from 10 shots behind in the final round.

Jamie Donaldson of Wales, who won the clinching match for Europe in the Ryder Cup, put two balls into the water in the round and closed with a 75. Donaldson had a chance to get into the playoff with an 18-foot birdie putt on the last hole. He left it short.

''Concentrated so hard on the line and don't hit the putt. But there you go - that's golf,'' Donaldson said.

Justin Rose also could have made the playoff, except that he put his approach into the bunker left of the 18th green, blasted out to 18 feet and narrowly missed his par putt. Rose closed with a 72.

''Playing from 13 onwards, it was hang on for dear life,'' Rose said.

The BMW Masters is the first of four tournaments in ''The Final Series'' that wrap up the European Tour season. Siem moves all the way up to No. 4 in the Race to Dubai.

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Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

“I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

“I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

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Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

“It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

“I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

Let it go.

Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

“I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

“It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

“I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

The only thing left to do?

Let it go.