Stat attack!: CIMB Classic preview

By John AntoniniOctober 28, 2014, 2:52 pm

The CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur G&CC’s West course is unique among PGA Tour events. Co-sanctioned by the Asian Golf Tour, the field for this week is comprised of three distinct groups: top-echelon players looking to prepare for next week’s WGC event in China (Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner); rank-and-file players taking the opportunity to go overseas (Brice Garnett, Luke Guthrie, Morgan Hoffmann); and the top players on the Asian Tour (Anirban Lahiri, David Lipsky).

ShotLink didn’t record measured data from this event a year ago and it was the first time the tournament was held at KLGCC West so we’re flying somewhat blind from a statistical analysis. Still a look at winner Ryan Moore (pictured) and playoff loser Gary Woodland gives us an idea of what it would take to succeed this week.

Moore finished in the top 12 in fairways hit, greens in regulation and putts per GIR a year ago. Woodland was T-21, T-4 and T-6 in the three stats. Woodland, in fact, didn’t miss a green coming down the stretch in any round last year, going 20-for-20 in GIR on holes 14 to 18.

Tournament stats for CIMB Classic leaders in 2013

 Player Fairways hit Greens in regulation Putts per GIR
 Ryan Moore 39 (T-12) 54 (T-8) Second
 Gary Woodland 38 (T-21) 56 (T-4) T-6

Back for Moore

Moore, Woodland and third-place finisher Chris Stroud have returned to Southeast Asia for another crack at the CIMB Classic. None of them have made a cut in the three Fall Series events played so far in the 2014-15 season. In fact none of the returning players who finished in the top 12 at last year’s CIMB Classic have finished as high as 30th in any event in the fall. 

Given the location of the tournament and the small field –many players are making their season debut - maybe it doesn’t’ matter. However, Moore was coming off a T-9 finish in Las Vegas before heading overseas a year ago. If player well in previous events matters, look no further than Hideki Matsuyama, who had top-10s at the and in Las Vegas before heading back to Asia.

How the CIMB Classic’s top returning players have fared in this fall

 Player 2013 CIMB Shriners McGladrey
 Ryan Moore Won DNP MC DNP
 Gary Woodland 2 DNP DNP DNP
 Chris Stroud T-3 MC DNP DNP
 Graham DeLaet T-7 T-39 DNP DNP
 Billy Horschel T-11 DNP MC DNP
 Sergio Garcia T-11 DNP DNP DNP
 Stewart Cink T-11 DNP T-33 T-32

Players with top finishes in the 2014-15 season who are in the CIMB field

 Player 2015 FedEx rank Shriners McGladrey 
 Sang-Moon Bae 3 Won MC DNP
 Brendon de Jonge 4 T-31 T-42 T-2
 Kevin Streelman 5 MC 2 DNP
 Steven Bowditch 6 2 MC DNP
 Will Mackenzie 7 DNP DMP T-2
 Hideki Matsuyama 11 T-3 T-10 DNP

De Jonge’s delight

Eleven players have made the cut in the first three events of the season on the PGA Tour, but of that group, only Brendon de Jonge is playing this week. The co-runner-up at last week’s McGladrey Classic, de Jonge is one of the PGA Tour’s most ubiquitous performers, having played 30 or more events in each of the last five seasons. He’s on his way to reaching that total again in 2014-15.

Brendon de Jonge: 2010-2014

 Year Starts Top-10 finishes Best FedEx rank
 2014 31 2 T-6 Wells Fargo 91
 2013 30 4 T-6 WM Phoenix 26
 2012 31 4 2, Las Vegas 57
 2011 20 3 T-4 Greenbrier 60
 2010 32 7 3, three times 51

De Jonge was tied for third in tournaments played in 2013-14, one back of leaders Brian Harman and Morgan Hoffmann, who made 32 starts each. But de Jonge is truly the PGA Tour’s ironman. Not only has he played 30 or more events for five straight years, he’s the only player to have done it two straight years. (And, by the way, de Jonge has played well at the CIMB Classic, with a T-4 in 2012 when the tournament was held at The Mines.

Malayan double dip

Lee Westwood is looking to do something unique at the CIMB Classic. The Englishman won the Maybank Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur G&CC on the European Tour in April and is looking to hoist the trophy at two different tournaments on two different tours on the same course in the same calendar year.

Westwood blistered the Maybank field, winning by seven strokes at 18-under 270. He hit 55 greens and 36 fairways (similar to Moore’s numbers of 54 and 39). Several Asian Tour players also had top finishes in the April tournament and are returning to Kuala Lumpur this week.

Top finishers in the Maybank Malaysian Open in the CIMB Classic field

 Player Finish Scores
 Lee Westwood Won 65-66-71-68—270
 Rikard Karlberg T-5 72-69-67-70—278
 Anirban Lahiri  T-10 72-72-66-70—280
 Jason Knutzon T-13 75-67-69-70—281

Asian stars

Speaking of Asian Tour players, here’s a look at the 10 players from that Tour’s money list who qualified for the CIMB Classic. As a whole, the group has played very little in the United States, but they should not be discounted this week. One of them might match Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who finished T-3 in last year’s CIMB Classic.

Top Asian Tour players in the CIMB Classic field

 Player Asian


 David Lipsky 1 139 Beat Graham Storm in a playoff at the Omega European Masters
 Anirban Lahiri 2 69 Winner of the Indonesian Masters and last week’s Macau Open
 Prom Meesawat 4 166 T-2 at the Macau Open a week ago, he won earlier in 2014 for
the first time in eight years
 Antonio Lascuna 5 144 Former Philippine Amateur champ was third, second,
second in consecutive starts this fall
 Angelo Que 6 251 Lost a playoff to Scott Hend at the Hong Kong Open
 Jason Knutzon 7 481 An Iowa-bred friend of Zach Johnson has played
in Asia since 2003
 Rikard Karlberg 8 233 The Swede was 125th on the Euro money list and didn’t
qualify for their finals series
 Steve Lewton 9 301 Englishman won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters
earlier in October
 Seuk Hyun Baek 10 280 South Korean who lives in Thailand. He was T-77 a year ago
 Cameron Smith 13 289 A top amateur in Australia before turning pro in 2013

One final thought: Sergio Garcia was T-11 in 2013, but his success in Southeast Asia might make him someone to consider this week. He won the Iskandor Johor Open in Malaysia in 2012, the HSBC Champions in China in 2008 and the Thailand Golf Championship last December.

If you haven't already done so, please follow me on Twitter at @johnantoninigc

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Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.

Full-field scores from the American Century Championship

''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

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Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.