Hend Carries Lead Into Final Round at SCC
The 26-year-old Hend, coming off of Friday's 74, carded a 5-under-par 67 for a three-day total of 205 and a two-shot edge over Rob McMillan of Winnipeg, MB. McMillan could only manage 1-over-par 73 Saturday after carrying a three-shot cushion into the round. Steve Woods of Pleasanton, CA is 8-under, three shots back of Hend entering Sunday, while Danny Norton (Richmond, BC) sits at 6-under through 54 holes.
'I was fairly upset with yesterday's finish (4-over on the final four holes), I felt I let myself down,' admitted Hend, whose best Canadian Tour finish is a tie for seventh at last year's Ontario Open Heritage Classic. 'As today's round went on, I just kept telling myself not to lose concentration.'
Asked if he will take a different approach into Sunday's final round, Hend, who is 11-under on the par-5 holes this week, conceded he wanted to stay aggessive yet cautious.
'You have to play to your strengths in this game, so I'll continue to do that. I'll try to make the birdies where I can. If I can keep playing the way I have been, I should be okay. I've won golf tournaments before-I know what it takes; now I just have to do it.'
After a late-round collapse, Norton knows he will have to pick up his putting game if he is to contend Sunday. The 1997 B.C. amateur champion was tied with McMillan and Hend in top spot Saturday before the wheels fell off with a double-bogey on 15 and back-to-back bogeys on the final two holes.
'I hit the wall after missing that three-foot putt on the 14th hole,' he reasoned. 'I three-putted twice after that. I'll have to solve that by tomorrow or I won't have a chance.'
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Full Field scores for the South Carolina Challenge
After starting with 62, Na finishes with 61
After Kevin Na opened the Fort Worth Invitational with an 8-under 62, he was disappointed with his next two rounds of 73 and 70. But on Sunday, the magic returned. Na tied the course record of 61 for a four-round total of 14-under 266.
Na came within inches of breaking the course record, hitting his final approach shot, a 9-iron from 146 yards, to inside a foot and tapping in for 61.
"Yeah, I knew it was for the course record," Na said. "I knew I had to birdie the last to tie it. I had a beautiful 9-iron. Drew it in there, turned to the left flag. It's a little dangerous. Obviously anything left goes in the water.
"So, pitched it two yards right. With that hook spin coming in, nearly went in to about 10 inches."
Na, who is seeking his first win since 2011, finished T-6 at last week's AT&T Byron Nelson.
Na was informed that he had made 381 feet of putts in four rounds, including 130 feet on Sunday alone.
"I putted great first round and final round," he said. "Second round I putted awful. I went back to my putter I played with last week in Round 3 and then I putted great today. That putter only lasted one round, a good round.
"But I'm very pleased. My putting has been kind of up and down this year, but I had a great putting day today."
Runner-up McIlroy: 'I should have closed it out'
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.
"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."
Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA
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.
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.''
Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open
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.