Scott overcomes doubles, shank to win at Doral

By Rex HoggardMarch 7, 2016, 1:05 am

DORAL, Fla. – He doesn’t have the firepower to hang with Rory McIlroy, the touch to survive the ban on anchored putting or the moxie to overcome not one but two balls in the water on Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

That would normally be the line on Adam Scott, but on a day when Donald Trump threatened to steal the spotlight at Doral, the Australian showed the Teflon tenacity of a politician on his way to his second win in as many weeks.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Adam Scott.

The reimagined 35-year-old version didn’t succumb to a pair of early double bogeys on Sunday that included two water balls – hit, rinse, repeat – a cold shank from a bunker on 16 and even a cameo by the Republican presidential candidate. Scott became the first player since Billy Horschel in 2014 to win back-to-back events on the PGA Tour.

“I don't think I've processed what's happened, especially today's round," Scott said. "It was ugly and good, all in 18 holes."

Scott started the final round three strokes behind Rory McIlroy, but he held on for a one-stroke victory over Bubba Watson.


WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, photos and videos


A player that once was considered too nice to win this type of slugfest showed a grit that hadn’t been seen since he survived extra holes to win the 2013 Masters.

This time there was no, “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie,” exclamation on the final green, just a grinding performance on the kind of gusty day in south Florida that makes his closing 3-under 69 something more than the sum of its parts.

A week after winning the Honda Classic with a quadruple bogey-7 on his card (on Saturday), Scott faded quickly on Sunday with double bogeys at the third and fifth holes, both the product of errant shots that found the water.

Walking off the fifth green, Scott was six strokes back and largely an afterthought to the larger narrative.

“I told him, ‘We gave four [strokes] to them last week and still won.’ I said, ‘Come on we can still do this,’” said Scott’s caddie David Clark as the two headed to the sixth tee. “We knew how tough the back nine could be.”

Slowly, Scott climbed back with birdies at Nos. 6 and 8, before adding three consecutive birdies starting at the 10th hole.

With his 5-footer for birdie at the 12th hole Scott moved to 11 under and tied for lead with McIlroy and Danny Willett. From six shots back to a share of the lead in just seven holes – only at Doral.

As Clark predicted, the Blue Monster’s closing loop proved to be particularly destructive for the world-class field assembled for the year’s first World Golf Championship.

McIlroy, who failed to convert a 54-hole outright lead for just the third time in his Tour career, bogeyed the 13th hole to drop two shots back and managed his first, and only, birdie of the day at the 16th hole.

It was far too little, far too late.

“I didn't make enough birdies,” said McIlroy, who was vying to become just the third player since World War II to win a dozen times on Tour before his 27th birthday. “I felt like my game was OK for the most part. I didn't take advantage of the holes I should have. I couldn't birdie any of the par 5s and that's really what killed me today.”

Phil Mickelson, whose reworked swing has led to one of the most productive springs in years for a player who some consider to be in the twilight of his career, bogeyed the par-5 10th hole after finding the water with his tee shot and made a mess of the 18th hole for a closing 70 and his third top-5 finish this year.

Danny Willett, an Englishman who has all the makings of a breakout Ryder Cup star, failed to convert a 10 footer for birdie at the 17th and bogeyed the last to finish tied for third with McIlroy.

But it was Watson who had the best chance to catch Scott.

The self-described “head case” birdied No. 17 to pull within one stroke of Scott, but at the demanding closing frame the voices in his head won.

“I had to back away and get the right thought patterns [on No. 18], and it worked out on that tee shot,” said Watson, who found the fairway at the last but couldn’t manage a birdie and finished alone in second place at 11 under par.

No one would call Scott’s victory pretty. In fact, equal parts “ugly and good” just about sum up his 13th Tour victory.

Scott was in contention for the third consecutive week, and he admitted to being fatigued on the weekend at Doral, where he shot rounds of 73-69. Even after charging back into the hunt there were still moments of uncertainty, like at the 16th hole where he tried to be too creative with a bunker shot from behind the green and shanked his next shot.

“I was so embarrassed to do that playing with Phil Mickelson,” Scott said. “I mean, he would be lipping it out or holing it, and I'm shanking it nearly into the next bunker. It shocked me a bit.”

Scott recovered, however, holing a 5 footer for par to maintain his advantage. But he needed even more magic at the demanding closing hole after his drive sailed into the right rough, about 4 feet behind a palm tree.

From 186 yards, Scott attempted to cut a 6-iron onto the green, but his approach caught the bank and rolled to within 4 feet of another water hazard.

“When you win after something like that, that's winner's luck, really,” said Scott, who chipped to 7 feet and converted the winning putt. “Those things even out over a long period of time where at some point, I would have hit that shot and it would bounce back in and you don't win, and other times it stays up and you do. To take advantage of it feels really good.”

There is certainly a degree of luck involved in any win, but there was nothing lucky about Scott’s victory at Doral.

After three impressive weeks that included two wins and a runner-up showing in Los Angeles, consider this Scott’s mandate for toughness.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”

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Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

"Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

"I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

"I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

"Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

"I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."