Watson Yellow Submarined

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2009, 4:00 pm

 
PRAYER ANSWERED: Stewart Cink claimed his first major title, defeating Tom Watson in a four-hole aggregate playoff to win the 138th Open Championship. Both men finished regulation at 2-under 278. Cink beat Watson in the extra session, 14 (2 under) to 20 (4 over).
 
Backspin Up until the 72nd hole, it was questionable as to whether Cink really had it in him to win a major championship. But he proved his mettle by making birdie on 18 when no one else who mattered could even save par. More than eight years after his U.S. Open meltdown at Southern Hills, Cink finally has his major. And it is well deserved. Unfortunatley, this win only adds life to the Twitter craze.
 

 
NOT OLD TOM, VINTAGE TOM: Tom Watson missed an 8-foot par putt on the final hole of regulation which would have won him a record-tying sixth Open Championship. Instead, he lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink, running out of gas in the four-hole extra frame.
 
Backspin Cink got his named etched on the Claret Jug, but this will forever be remembered as Watson's Open. The 59-year-old defied all odds ' literally, since he was a 1,000-to-1 longshot at the start of the tournament ' and nearly became the protagonist of golf's greatest major championship victory. It might take Watson a while to get over his finish, but this is one story whose ending won't define the overall composition.
 

 
HOW THE WEST WAS LOST: Lee Westwood bogeyed his final hole to miss the Open Championship playoff by one shot. The Englishman led by two strokes after an eagle at the par-5 seventh, but couldn't maintain his advantage. Trailing Watson by one on the par-4 18th, and thinking he needed a 3 to stay alive, Westwood ran his lengthy birdie effort 10 feet past the hole. He then missed the comebacker.
 
Backspin Westwood can ask Cink for advice in how to deal with this defeat. Similarly, Cink believed he needed to make a long birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the 2001 U.S. Open to have any chance of winning. He ended up three-putting, pushing a 2-foot par effort after a lapse in concentration, and missing the playoff by that single stroke. It took Cink years to recover mentally. Westwood should bounce back faster, as he's already visited golf's doldrums.
 

 
SWING AND A MISS: Lee Westwood may leave Turnberry the most chagrined, but there are several others who, too, will hang there heads for not taking advantage of a winning opportunity. From players like Ross Fisher (above), who actually led by two at one point early in his final round, to those who floudered from the start Sunday ' like Jim Furyk ' this will be a major that got away.
 
Backspin Seventy-three players made the cut and all were either tied for the 36-hole lead or within nine shots, which meant everyone who survived the first two rounds had a realistic shot to win. We don't have room to list everyone who deserves to be punished by driving Scottish roadways for the next month, so we'll just call out two notable offenders: Furyk and Retief Goosen. Goosen was 2 under to start the final round, but even with an eagle at 17 shot 2-over 72 to finish two removed from the playoff. Furyk was at 1 under after three rounds, but closed in 76 to tie for 34th. The Claret Jug was on a tee, and both of these major champs ' and plenty of others ' whiffed.
 

 
GIVE ME SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN: Tiger Woods missed the cut in a major for just the second time in his professional career. Woods shot 71-74 at Turnberry for a 5-over total to miss weekend play by one stroke.
 
Backspin Tiger Woods didn't look like Tiger Woods. He looked shaky. He looked unnerved. He looked like the Friedrich Nietzsche of golf ' a man with no faith in his swing. So what are we supposed to believe in? The man who wins ever major tune-up? Or the man who can't beat Mark O'Meara at the British Open? All seems wrong with the golf world.
 

 
EVERYTHING COMES TO AN END: Padraig Harrington's two-year Open Championship reign came to a conclusion Sunday when he shot 73 to tie for 65th at 12 over par. The Irishman still has one more major title to defend this year in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
 
Backspin Unless Harrington is actually a warlock and can cast a magic spell that will give him back his swing and confidence from a year ago, he can kiss the Wanamaker Trophy goodbye as well. Harrington is a great guy and a future Hall of Fame player. Let's just hope this is a small stumble and not an Ian-Baker-Finch-like decent into golfing Hades.
 

 
YOU SILLY BOYS: Colin Montgomerie and Sandy Lyle gave the British tabloids plenty of fodder for the back pages. Lyle started the tiff by bringing up a 4-year-old incident in which Monty was accused of cheating in Indonesia. He then fueled the fire by calling Monty a 'drama queen' later in the week. Montgomerie waited until after he completed his second round to fully respond, admitting the drama distracted him. Both men missed the cut.
 
Backspin Lyle said he hopes all this silliness doesn't affect his chance to be Monty's vice captain at the 2010 Ryder Cup. Unless Monty turns Amish, he's probably not going to forgive his countryman anytime soon. There's nothing worse in golf than being called a cheater. Two other things you don't want to be labeled: a quitter and a whiner. Lyle is doing his best to be remembered more for these two characteristics (he dropped out midway through a brutal first round at the '08 British) than for his two major titles.
 

 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Bo Van Pelt defeated John Mallinger in a playoff to earn his first PGA Tour win at the U.S. Bank Championship. ... Inspired by Tom Watson's run at Turnberry, three-time Open champion Seve Ballesteros hopes to return to competition at St. Andrews in 2010. ... Rick Rhoden edged Tony Romo to win the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. ... Brad Benjamin won the U.S. Public Links.
 
Backspin The win gets Van Pelt into the PGA Championship which is good, because there is no opposite-field event that week. ... Just seeing Ballesteros on a golf course would be a victory. ... Rhoden has now won eight of these championships. ... Benjamin will get a ticket to next year's Masters, which is more than Van Pelt can say.
 
Related Links:
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  • Full Coverage ' U.S. Bank Championship
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    Runner-up McIlroy: 'I should have closed it out'

    By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 5:18 pm

    After taking the 36-hole lead by three and taking a share of the 54-hole lead into the final round, Rory McIlroy failed to keep pace with Francesco Molinari on Sunday at the BMW PGA Championship.

    Struggling with a two-way miss throughout the weekend, McIlroy fell four down to Molinari through 10 holes.

    The Ulsterman attempted to mount a late charge, with birdies at 12 and 17, but when his eagle putt at the 72nd hole came up inches short, and when Molinari's ball opted not to spin back into the water, the comeback bid came to an end.

    His final round of 2-under 70 left him in solo second, two shots behind the champion.


    Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


    "I’m just disappointed I didn’t play better over the weekend," McIlroy said. "I was in a great position after two days and struggled yesterday and sort struggled today again, as well. I just couldn’t get it going. I let Francesco get a few shots ahead of me, and I couldn’t claw that back.

    “I played some good golf coming down the back nine, hit some better shots, but I need to work on a few things going forward."

    McIlroy ended an 18-month worldwide winless drought earlier this year with his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but hasn't claimed victory on the European Tour in two years, since the Irish Open in May of 2016.

    "I get a bit down on myself because my expectations are high, and with a 36-hole lead, I should have closed it out this week," McIlroy said. "But that’s not taking anything away from Francesco. He played a great weekend and bogey-free around here is some playing. He deserved the win, I need to do a little more work, and I’m looking to forward to getting right back at it at Memorial next week."

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    Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

    VIRGINIA WATER, England - Francesco Molinari's path to the biggest win of his career at the BMW PGA Championship was drama-free until he sized up his approach to the 72nd hole.

    Rory McIlroy, his closest rival three strokes back, had just hit to 20 feet to set up an eagle chance. Molinari was between clubs for his third shot and faced a delicate wedge over the water protecting Wentworth's pretty 18th green.

    His ball landed short of the pin and span back toward the water. The spectators held their collective breath - so did Molinari - but it came to rest on the fringe, just short of trouble.

    ''Just a bit of luck at the right time,'' Molinari said, with a smile.

    After McIlroy came up inches short with his eagle putt, Molinari rolled in for par from 6 feet for a 4-under 68 that secured a two-stroke victory at Wentworth on Sunday. It was the fifth win of his career, and his most satisfying.

    ''If I could pick one tournament to win in my career, it would be this one,'' the Italian said at the prizegiving ceremony.

    A Sunday shootout between Molinari and McIlroy at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

    They entered the final round tied for the lead on 13 under but while McIlroy sprayed his drives left and right, Molinari was the model of consistency and established a three-shot cushion by the turn after birdies at Nos. 3, 4 and 8.

    From there on, it was a clinic in front-running from Molinari, who laid up when he needed to and picked up his only shot on the back nine with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 12th.

    McIlroy birdied the par 5s at Nos. 17 and 18 but mounted his victory charge too late.

    ''I didn't feel intimidated at all,'' Molinari said of his head-to-head with the former world No. 1. ''It's just the last couple of holes, he's basically thinking eagle, eagle. I'm thinking par, par, and that makes the whole difference.

    ''Sometimes I just get too drawn on what the other guy is doing, and I was really good today, hitting good shots and focusing on my process and not worrying about anything else.''

    Molinari played his final 44 holes bogey-free. He only dropped two shots all week, one of them coming on his first hole.


    Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


    He will likely climb into the world's top 20 on Monday and has moved into the automatic qualifying places for the European team for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

    ''I'm playing well enough that I shouldn't really worry too much about that,'' Molinari said. ''I should just keep doing my own thing and hopefully things will take care of themselves.''

    Molinari previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Alex Noren last year.

    On that occasion, Noren closed with a 10-under 62 and the Swede embarked on another last-day charge 12 months later, a fifth birdie of the day at No. 12 briefly drawing him to within two shots of Molinari.

    It was the closest he came, with a bogey at the next virtually ending his bid for victory.

    With a 67, Noren was tied for third with Lucas Bjerregaard (65), a stroke back from McIlroy.

    McIlroy, the 2014 winner at Wentworth, played what he described as one of his best rounds of 2018 on Friday, a bogey-free 65 that left him with a three-shot lead.

    He struggled off the tee in shooting 71 on Saturday and started the final round with errant drives on Nos. 1 and 3 (both right, into spectators) and No. 4 (left). After a bogey at No. 10, he was the only player in the top 10 over par but he birdied the three par 5s coming home to salvage what was otherwise a disappointing Sunday.

    ''With a 36-hole lead,'' McIlroy said, ''I should have closed it out this week.''

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    Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

    IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

    Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

    Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

    Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

    Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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    Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

    By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

    Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

    Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

    And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    “The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

    Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

    Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

    Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

    “I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

    Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

    A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

    It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

    There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

    Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

    The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

    Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

    “I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”