Donald Wins Target World Challenge

By Sports NetworkDecember 11, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Target World ChallengeTHOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Luke Donald fired an 8-under 64 on Sunday and overcame a six-shot deficit to win the Target World Challenge. He finished at 16-under-par 272 and won by two strokes over Darren Clarke at Sherwood Country Club.
'It's nice to do it that way,' said Donald, referring to his comeback. 'Fortunately for me, the guys in the first two groups didn't play their best and let me have this one a little bit.'
Luke Donald
Luke Donald overcame a six-stroke deficit to win the Target World Challenge.
Clarke collected five eagles through the first three rounds, but played the par-5s horribly on Sunday, especially on the back nine. He walked off with pars at 11 and 13, then bogeyed the 16th to fall out of a tie for the lead. Clarke finished with an even-par 72 for a four-round total of 14-under-par 274.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell faced an 8-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to take third place by himself. He missed it, and it cost him $75,000 as Campbell tied for third with 2002 winner Padraig Harrington. The Irishman double-bogeyed the last to post a 73 and join Campbell at minus-12.
Tournament host and defending champion Tiger Woods never got on track this week. On Sunday, he struggled to a 1-over 73 and tied for 14th place in a 16-man field at minus-2.
Donald was 3-under par on his round through the first nine holes, and after back-to-back birdies from the 10th, found himself in the hunt. Clarke and Harrington were still the top-two, but Donald snuck to within three shots.
At the 13th, Donald, ranked 13th in the world, drained a 6-foot birdie putt to reach 14-under par and trail by two. Donald split the fairway at 14 and knocked his approach to 10 feet. He converted that birdie putt and inched one shot from the lead as Clarke parred every hole from the fifth.
Clarke almost fell from the top spot when his tee ball at the par-3 12th landed in the left bunker. His blast ran 35 feet past the stick, but the European Ryder Cupper rolled in the par save to stay in first.
He received company atop the leaderboard when Donald got to the par-5 16th. His second skidded through the green, but the man who celebrated his 28th birthday on Wednesday chipped to 10 feet and sank the birdie putt.
Clarke still had five holes to play with a chance to make birdie and go one ahead. He made routine pars at the 14th and 15th holes, and had a great look at the par-5 16th green with his second shot. Unfortunately, Clarke pulled his approach badly to the left and could not even reach the green with his third shot.
Clarke pitched 7 feet past the hole, but missed the par save to drop one behind Donald, who was on the range preparing for a possible playoff.
At the par-3 17th, Clarke's tee ball rolled 15 feet past the cup. He faced a delicate downhill, left-to-right birdie putt, but never gave it a chance. The ball came up almost 4 feet short and Clarke muttered aloud why he would leave it that short. He made the par-saver and still had a chance to force a playoff with a birdie at the last.
If Clarke was to birdie the closing hole at Sherwood, he would have been the first on Sunday. He got the first part down with a strong drive in the fairway, but pulled his approach 40 feet left of the pin. Clarke once again came up short with a birdie try, this time almost 15 feet, giving Donald the title. Clarke missed the par putt to lose by two, but Donald deserved the credit for his 64.
'This is the kind of course you can make a string of birdies,' admitted Donald, who posted two runner-up finishes this year on the PGA Tour. 'I played really solidly. I missed a few putts on the front side, so it could have been better.'
Donald collected his second win in the United States as he captured the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic. He owns two European Tour victories and a title at the 2004 World Cup with Paul Casey.
This is not an official win on the PGA Tour for Donald, but the $1,300,000 first-place check is very official. A win like this can bring confidence to a player who should have more victories.
'This year has been a year of 'nearlys' up until now,' acknowledged Donald. 'Luckily I managed to win the last tournament of the year. I have always believed in myself.'
Kenny Perry shot a 72 and finished alone in fifth at minus-11. Tim Clark (69) and David Toms (66) shared sixth place at 9-under-par 279. Thomas Bjorn carded a 3-under 69 for eighth place at minus-8.
Fred Couples (73) and Jim Furyk (68) shared ninth at 6-under-par 282. Chris DiMarco (73) and David Howell (70) tied for 11th place at 5-under-par 283.
Fred Funk shot a 70 and came in 13th at minus-4. Woods shared 14th with Colin Montgomerie, who posted a 71 on Sunday. Davis Love III, a two-time winner of this event, only managed a 2-over 74 in the final round and came in 16th at plus-2.
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    Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

    By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

    There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

    Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

    She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

    It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

    Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

    "It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

    Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

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    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

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    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.

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    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”