Estes Holds On Wins FedEx Title
Bob Estes, perennial PGA Tour good guy, played the roll of heavy in the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Going head-to-head with John Daly, who used to own a house on the TPC at Southwind course, Estes snapped a seven-year winless streak by shooting an even-par 71 to earn his second career tour title.
Bob Estes talks about his win
Both of Estes victories have come in wire-to-wire fashion. He opened in 62 en route to winning the 1994 Texas Open and shot 61 Thursday at the FedEx.
'I guess that's the only way I can do it now,' joked Estes, who won $630,000. 'Now I know I have to get off to a good start every week if I hope to win more tournaments.'
In the end, Estes biggest opponents proved to be his nerves and Bernhard Langer. Langer, who hasnt won on the PGA Tour since the 1993 Masters, carded a 6-under-par 66 to finish one shot off the winning total of 17-under-par 267.
Estes started the day with a one-shot lead over Daly, who was coming off a record-tying round of 63.
A Daly bogey at the par-4 1st gave Estes an early two-shot advantage. However, Daly eagled the par-5 5th to pull even at 18-under.
Thats when things began to fall apart for the 35-year-old.
Dalys tee shot on the par-4 7th nestled against a pinecone in the right rough. Rather than risk taking a two-stroke penalty ' which would be enforced if the ball moved while moving the obstruction ' Daly blasted his second shot into the left rough some 60 yards short of the green. He eventually carded a bogey.
Down one, Daly endured a two-shot swing at the par-4 9th when he recorded a bogey while Estes racked up a birdie.
Another bogey ensued at the par-3 11th as Dalys tee shot bounced over the green and into the water hazard.
Once he bogeyed the 12th ' his fourth bogey in six holes ' Daly fell five shots back of Estes and out of contention.
Estes was cruising along on the back nine until he recorded just his second bogey of the tournament at the par-4 14th.
What was a four-shot lead was down to three. It quickly dwindled to just one.
Estes carded his second straight bogey at the 15th while Langer birdied the par-5 16th to pull within one of the lead at 16-under-par.
Langer then parred his way into the clubhouse to post a score of 16-under 268.
'He did extremely well,' Langer said of Estes. 'It's tough to lead all four days with the stuff that's going on. He had a brilliant round on Thursday and was in the lead the whole week.'
After a shaky par at the 16th, Estes steadied himself by sinking a six-foot par putt at the par-4 17th.
Up one with one to play, Estes stiffed his approach shot on the par-4 finishing hole to five feet. He missed the birdie putt but tapped in for par.
'I made it a little tougher than I meant to. I wanted a four- to five-stroke cushion coming down the stretch,' Estes said. 'You only got to win by one, don't you?'
News, Notes and Numbers
*Estes joins Jesper Parnevik (Honda Classic) as the only wire-to-wire winners on tour this season.
*2001 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange shot a 2-under-par 69 in the final round to tie for 5th place. Its the 46-year-olds first top-10 finish on tour since 1997.
*John Dalys tie for fifth is his best finish since a tie for fourth in the 1998 Nissan Open.
*Nick Price shot 67 on Sunday to tie for 8th with Parnevik. Price will now head to the U.S. Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. Price was the last man to win a major at Southern Hills, doing so in the 1994 PGA Championship.
Full-field scores from the FedEx St. Jude Classic
McCarthy wins Web.com Tour Championship by 4
ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.
McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals.
''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''
McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.
Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.
Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.
''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''
The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.
LaCava pushed Woods to work on bunker game
ATLANTA – Last week as Tiger Woods prepared to play the season finale at East Lake he sent a text message to his caddie Joey LaCava that simply asked, what do I need to do to get better?
Although when it comes to Woods his proficiency is always relative, but LaCava didn’t pull any punches, and as the duo completed the final round on Sunday at the Tour Championship with a bunker shot to 7 feet at the last the two traded knowing smiles.
“We had a talk last week about his bunker game and I said, ‘I’m glad you kept that bunker game stuff in mind,’” LaCava said. “I told him he was an average bunker player and he worked at it last week. There were only two bunker shots he didn’t get up-and-down, I don’t count the last one on 18. He recognized that after two days. He was like, ‘What do you know, I’m 100 percent from the bunkers and I’m in the lead after two days.”
For the week, Woods got up-and-down from East Lake’s bunkers seven out of nine times and cruised to a two-stroke victory for his first PGA Tour title since 2013. That’s a dramatic improvement over his season average of 49 percent (100th on Tour).
“His bunker game was very average coming into this week,” LaCava said. “I said you’ve got to work on your bunker game. If you had a decent bunker game like the Tiger of old you would have won [the BMW Championship].”
For Woods, is this only the beginning?
If this is Tiger Woods nine months into a comeback, wait until he actually shakes the rust off.
This was supposed to be the year he kicked the tires, to see how his body held up after all those knives digging into his back.
To see if a short game could truly be rescued from chunks and skulls.
To see if a 42-year-old living legend could outfox the kids.
On the final breath of the PGA Tour season, it was Tiger Woods who took ours away.
Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club – and one group behind the current World No. 1 and eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose – Woods bludgeoned the field and kneecapped Father Time.
It was Dean Smith and the Four Corners offense. Emmitt Smith moving the chains. Nolan Ryan mowing them down.
And all of a sudden you wonder if Phil Mickelson wishes he’d made alternate Thanksgiving plans.
Even if everybody saw a win coming, it was something else to actually see it happen, to see the man in the red shirt reach another gear just one more time.
Win No. 80 reminded us, as Roger Maltbie once said of Woods when he came back from knee surgery in 2009: “A lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”
It wasn’t long ago that Tiger Woods seemed headed toward a disheartening final chapter as a broken man with a broken body.
He would host a couple of tournaments, do some great charity work, shout instructions into a walkie talkie at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and call it a career.
There would be no Nicklaus 1986 Masters moment, no Hogan Mystique at Merion.
He would leave competitive golf as perhaps both the greatest to ever play the game and its greatest cautionary tale.
Willie Mays with the New York Mets. Muhammad Ali taking punishment from Larry Holmes.
But then Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler started whispering at the end of 2017 that Tiger was healthy and hitting the ball hard.
There was that hold-your-breath opening tee shot at the Hero World Challenge, a bullet that flew the left bunker and bounded into the fairway.
Rollercoaster rides at Tampa and Bay Hill, backward steps at Augusta and Shinnecock, forward leaps at The Open and the PGA.
He switched putters and driver shafts (and shirts, oh my!) and seemed at times tantalizingly close and maddeningly far.
That he even decided to try to put his body and game back together was one of the all-time Hail Marys in golf.
Why go through all of that rehab again?
Why go through the scrutiny of having your current game measured against your untouchable prime?
Because you’re Tiger Woods, is why, because you’ve had way more wonderful days on the golf course than poor ones, despite five winless years on the PGA Tour.
Suddenly, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins is in jeopardy and Jack Nicklaus, holder of a record of 18 major championships, is at the very least paying attention.
Woods has put the golf world on notice.
It won’t be long until everyone starts thinking about the 2019 major schedule (and you’d better believe that Tiger already is).
The Masters, where he has four green jackets and seven other Top 5 finishes. The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he won in 2002 by 3. The United States Open at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2000 by 15.
The Open at Royal Portrush, where his savvy and guile will be a strong 15th club.
But that’s a talk for a later date.
Tiger is clearly still getting his sea legs back.
Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74
ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.
McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.
McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.
In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.
McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.
The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”
“I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”
It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.