Daly-Donofrio Defends First Career Victory
This is the seventh year of the event, and in that time the purse has doubled to this week's total of $1.2 million. Defending champion Heather Daly-Donofrio certainly has her work cut out for her to become only the second player to successfully defend their title this season. Annika Sorenstam defended her title at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March.
This week's event features not only Daly-Donofrio and tournament host and LPGA Tour Hall of Fame member Betsy King, but also Weetabix Women's British Open champion Karrie Webb and two-time 2002 champion Se Ri Pak.
U.S.-born players who are near or in the top-10 points standings in vying for valuable Solheim Cup points include Laura Diaz, Dorothy Delasin, Pat Hurst, Emilee Klein, Michele Redman and Nancy Scranton.
Rookie Beth Bauer and Natalie Gulbis will continue to battle it out for another week for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors.
Futures Tour player Lorena Ochoa is playing in the event on her final sponsor's exemption of the season. She has earned $52,382 on the Futures Tour this year, but more importantly has secured one of the three 2003 LPGA Tour exempt cards by finishing in the top three of the 2002 Futures Tour money list. Joining Ochoa as the tournament's other sponsor's exemption is amateur and University of Texas golfer Perry Swenson.
In last year's event, Daly-Donofrio held the lead after the first round with a 7-under-par 65, but Moira Dunn posted 66 and 68 in the second and third rounds to lead heading into the final round. Daly-Donofrio began the final round at 12-under-par, two-shots behind Dunn, and opened with a birdie on the first hole. A bogey on the second hole took her back to even-par for the day, but birdies on the fifth, sixth and eighth holes gave her a one-shot lead over the field.
At the turn, she was 15-under-par, and following a bogey-birdie combination on the 12th and 13th holes, Daly-Donofrio finished the final five holes with all pars. As Dunn posted an even-par round of 72 for the day, the only challenge came from Scotland's Mhairi McKay, who was looking for her first career LPGA Tour victory.
McKay also started the final round two shots behind Dunn at 12-under-par, and with birdies on the eighth, 12th and 13th holes, she also made her way to 15-under-par. A bogey on the 15th hole dropped her back to 14-under-par heading into the final three holes. McKay was looking to force a playoff with Daly-Donofrio and stuck her third shot on the par-5 18th hole to within two feet. McKay missed her putt just right and finished in second place with Dunn.
Catriona Matthew finished fourth at 13-under-par, while 1999 First Union Betsy King Classic champion Mi Hyun Kim finished fifth. Meg Mallon finished 11-under-par for a sixth-place finish, and Pat Hurst posted a final-round 69 to finish seventh.
U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup
The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.
Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.
"It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.
Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.
Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3
Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up
Match 3 — Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)
Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2
Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2
Match 6 — Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1
Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up
Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up
Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1
Match 10 — Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1
Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)
Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up
TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018
ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).
Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).
Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).
Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.
This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.
-NBC Sports Group-
Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf
Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.
He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.
The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.
He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.
“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.
It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.
For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.
Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.
In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.
Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.
For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.
“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”
But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.
“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”
In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.
His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.
As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.
“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.
“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.
It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.
Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.
“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”
If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.
Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.
Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.