IRVING, Texas – There was no near-miss for Stacy Lewis this time. This was a runaway for the highest-ranked American after six runner-up finishes in her previous 16 tournaments. Lewis shot a 7-under 64 on Sunday in the North Texas LPGA Shootout, finishing at 16-under 268 and six strokes ahead of Meena Lee. It was the LPGA Tour’s largest margin of victory since Jiyai Shin won the 2012 Women’s British Open by nine. ”I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I kind of have these mini goals in the back of my mind,” Lewis said. ”One of them was kind of taking a tournament and running away with it. … So to be so close the last few weeks and then to come out and shoot 64, I mean I don’t even know what to say.” It was the ninth career LPGA Tour victory for Lewis, her first since August in the Women’s British Open, and will boost the Texan from third to second in the world ranking. Lewis made a putt from about 25 feet off the fringe at the 540-yard seventh for an eagle. She followed with consecutive birdies to make the turn at 14 under and up by three strokes. ”The eagle just really kind of got things going in the right direction, and then just I never let up,” said Lewis, who punctuated her round with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18. ”I never let the hammer down.” Lee, the South Korean who won the last her two LPGA Tour titles in 2006, shot 70 after going into the final round at Las Colinas Country Club tied with Lewis for the lead. Lee bogeyed the opening hole and needed a birdie at No. 18 to finish alone in second place. Michelle Wie, who closed within two before faltering late, had a 67 to finish third at 9 under. Na Yeon Choi (69) and Kim Kauffman (70) tied for fourth at 8 under. Kraft Nabisco winner Lexi Thompson (69), Cristie Kerr (71) and Suzann Pettersen (72) were among six players at 7 under. Lewis, from The Woodlands near Houston, has finished outside the top six only once in nine tournaments this year. She was third at the Kraft Nabisco and had another runner-up finish just last week in San Francisco. She had three runner-up finishes in her last eight tournaments in 2013 after her victory at St. Andrews. Lewis got a share of the lead in Texas after a frustrating 69 in the third round Saturday when she hit all 18 greens in regulation but missed several makeable birdie putts. ”Honestly, I didn’t change anything. I didn’t do anything different,” she said. ”They just didn’t go in (Saturday). … But once you see putts in, it’s kind of contagious.” Defending champion Inbee Park closed with a 72 to tie for 14th at finish at 5 under. That will be good enough when the new world ranking comes out to stay No. 1 for the 56th consecutive week since the South Korean replaced Lewis at the top. Lewis will supplant Lydia Ko in the second spot. Ko, who didn’t play in North Texas, moved to No. 2 after her win last week in San Francisco only days after her 17th birthday. Wie had her fourth consecutive top-10 finish, including her first win in nearly four wins at home in Hawaii after a runner-up finish in the season’s first major. Wie, playing five groups ahead of Lewis, was 6 under in a span of seven holes – Nos. 9-15. When she made a 4-foot birdie putt at No. 15, she was 11 under and only two strokes behind Lewis, who was finishing her only bogey of the day at the par-3 11th. Lewis’ tee shot at the 175-yard 11th half-buried in the sand just under the lip of the bunker. Lewis had sand in her face after hitting out, and couldn’t save par. But she got that lost stroke right back with a long birdie putt at the par-4 12th. While Wie was finishing with consecutive bogeys, Lewis had an incredible par-saver at the 390-yard 15th hole, where deciding against an iron she hit her drive into the water. After dropping from about 140 yards, she hit her approach to about 3 feet. Wie’s eagle at the 510-yard 10th hole was her third of the week there. But after missing the green at the 180-yard 17th for a bogey, she hooked her 8-iron approach at the closing par 5 into the trees and bogeyed. ”I thought I had it on 17, just nuked it over the green,” Wie said. ”I just hit a wall on the last hole, which is disappointing for me. At the same time, 4-under par on the last day, I’ll take it.”
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Jennifer Johnson matched the course record with a 9-under 62 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the ShopRite LPGA Classic. The 22-year-old Johnson, the winner last year in Mobile, Alabama, had 10 birdies – five straight on Nos. 9-13 – and a bogey on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. ”I’ve been playing well the past few weeks, so I felt pretty good about my game,” Johnson said. ”If you just let it happen and just let a good round come together, normally it does.” Haru Nomura had a bogey-free 63, and Christina Kim opened with a 64. Top-ranked Inbee Park and Na Yeon Choi shot 66 in the morning session. But they’re all chasing Johnson, who matched the record set by Laura Davies and Jimin Kang in 2005. Johnson had a shot a 63 on the course two years ago. ”On 17, that’s when I was 8 under and I was trying to beat my 63,” Johnson said. ”So then I started getting a little nervous because my goal was to get to 10 under, but I only got to 9. But when you shoot something that you’ve never shot before, nerves are going to happen.” Nomura had eight birdies in her career-low round. ”All in all, my putting was on, my shot was really good and the conditions were great,” Nomura said. ”So everything was perfect today.” Kim finished with seven birdies, including a 35-foot putt on 11 that she called ”one of the longest putts I’ve made since the 90s.” Park, winless this season, had five birdies a week after missing the cut in Alabama to end her streak at 22 events. Focusing on not letting her shoulder dip down too much, which she said caused her putts to veer to the left last week, Park drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the first hole. For Park, ranked No. 1 for 59 straight weeks, that was all she needed to get back on track. ”I was a little bit worried before I teed off today because of last week’s finish,” Park said. ”But after I birdied the first hole, that really gave me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the 17 holes.” Choi closed her round with an eagle on the par-5 ninth. She said she felt ”good vibes” all day after watching Rory McIlroy shoot a 9-under 63 at the Memorial Tournament on Thursday. Choi’s swing coach, Robin Symes, and caddie, David Jones, are both friendly with McIlroy, which has turned Choi into a big fan of the PGA Tour star. ”I’ve heard a lot of good stories about him,” Choi said. ”I’ve never met him but it feels like we are good friends with each other. And hopefully one day I will see him and meet him.” Second-ranked Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie shot 67, and 17-year-old Lydia Ko was another stroke back. Wie, who has seven top-10 finishes in 10 events this year, finished with five birdies but was disappointed that only one of them came on a par 5. ”Going into this golf course, I always want to take advantage of the par-5s on the front nine, but I didn’t quite do that today,” Wie said. ”I think I did well on the par-4s and par-3s today. And tomorrow I’ve just got to keep doing the same and try to take advantage of the par-5s.” Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, the winner last year, opened with a 69.
NORTON, Mass – Not that the powers at the PGA of America would ever admit to it, but the race for the final three spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team is down to a 72-hole qualifier, known in these parts as the Deutsche Bank Championship. While it is patently unfair to designate the previous 46 events used in the qualifying process afterthoughts, that logic really doesn’t matter to the half-dozen or so hopefuls who will set out on Friday at TPC Boston looking to make one last impression on U.S. captain Tom Watson before he announces his three picks on Tuesday evening in New York City. Captains used to make their picks following the PGA Championship when automatic qualifying ended. But thanks to Paul Azinger’s nip/tuck of the U.S. Ryder Cup selection process in 2008, the additional time to make selections is more for the players than it is for any captain. In short, these last two weeks are professional golf’s version of a working interview and Watson has made it clear the pressure, at least right now, is squarely on the players. “I’ve laid down the gauntlet for those who want to be on the team; play well and I will give you a look. Don’t play well and I won’t,” Watson wrote in a recent captain’s blog. Of course, following Monday’s final round the pressure will land squarely on Watson’s shoulders. Before then it’s up to the would-be heroes to make a statement, and last week Hunter Mahan spoke the loudest. The window Watson will use to make his picks likely stretches back a few weeks, giving the captain a competitive snapshot in his search for the hottest hand, and before his victory at The Barclays, Mahan – who finished 25th on the U.S. point list but according to current projections would have moved to 15th after last week’s win – had been trending in all the right ways. Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, videos and photos After missing the cut at the RBC Canadian Open, Mahan finished tied for 15th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and seventh at the PGA Championship. Proving the adage that you can only want something so much, Mahan long ago embraced the long view when it came to his Ryder Cup chances, telling your scribe at the PGA, “I can’t do any more. You have to want it the right amount. You can’t over try. You have to keep working and trusting in what you are doing each day.” Keegan Bradley, who was 13th on the point list, would also appear to be high on Watson’s radar, but his play in recent weeks (missed cut at the PGA and T-53 at The Barclays) may hurt his chances. Working in Bradley’s favor, however, is his undefeated record in team play paired with Phil Mickelson in 2012 at Medinah and a fiery demeanor. Brandt Snedeker, 20th on the point list, also seems to have preferred player status, and a long relationship with Watson, and has played consistently during this audition period, finishing tied for 12th at the Bridgestone, 13th at the PGA and fifth at the Wyndham Championship before missing the cut at The Barclays. After a scorching summer, Brendon Todd (No. 12 in points) has faded in the run up to the final cut. He’s not posted a finish better than 45th (Bridgestone Invitational) in his last four starts, and likely needs a big week in Boston to have any chance. “My goal is to have a good FedEx Cup and if I were to have a win or a top-3 (finish) maybe I would be looked at as a captain’s pick. I don’t think he’s going to pick very many rookies,” Todd said. The same could be said for Ryan Moore, who finished 11th on the U.S. point list and has one top-10 finish (Bridgestone Invitational) in his last four starts, Chris Kirk (No. 14), Ryan Palmer (No. 18) and Harris English (No. 16), who would all be rookies on this year’s team. Jason Dufner (No. 10) hasn’t played since the PGA Championship when he withdrew with a neck injury and isn’t in the field this week at TPC Boston. The two wild cards heading into the final 72 holes would be Webb Simpson and Kevin Na, Nos. 15 and 17 on the final points list, respectively. Simpson played on the 2012 Ryder Cup team and sandwiched a tie for fifth place at the Wyndham Championship between two missed cuts, but has history at the Deutsche Bank Championship (he won the event in 2011) and the added bonus of having paired well with Bubba Watson in both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. While Na, who made a late-season push in an attempt to earn a spot at this year’s matches in Scotland, is finally healthy and he tied for ninth place last week at The Barclays. A good week at TPC Boston could make Na the surprise selection on Tuesday night. Or at least give Captain America something to think about. Until then it will be the collection of potential picks that will be doing all the thinking.
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Jordan Spieth needs a nap. Returning to Innisbrook, the site of his first victory of 2015 that helped catapult him to a historic year, Spieth hoped Copperhead’s friendly confines would wrest him out of what has been a pedestrian few weeks, at least by his own lofty standards. Instead, swirling winds and a swing that was just a fraction off led to an unsightly first round of 5-over 76 at the Valspar Championship and another uphill climb on Friday if he’s going to play the weekend. “It was tough. Wasn’t a very good round. I got off to a poor start and I was behind the 8-ball with gusty winds, you know, on a tough golf course,” said Spieth, who was tied for 113th when he finished his round. Things went sideways for the world No. 1 from the outset on Thursday, starting with a wayward drive at his first hole (No. 10) into a fairway bunker and a misplayed chip into a greenside bunker for an opening bogey. Spieth didn’t make his first par of the day until his sixth hole, and even then he needed to scramble to do so. He then appeared completely unsettled on the 16th hole, when he backed off his approach shot three times. “Stop gusting every time I’m over the ball,” he mumbled as the winds whipped to 30 mph on Day 1. Valspar Championship: Articles, photos and videos Spieth hit just 6 of 18 greens in regulation and 7 of 13 greens. Had it not been for some clutch play on the greens – he took 11 putts on his outward loop – things could have been much worse. Even after going out in 39, Spieth figured he could bounce back on his second nine. “Get even for the tournament,” Spieth thought. “I think I was 4 [over] at the time. I knew I’d have, you know, iron into No. 1 on a par 5 and wedge into 2 and couple other wedge opportunities. I knew it would be very challenging.” Although he was better on his second nine, it wasn’t enough. After a bogey at the third hole, Spieth played his final six holes in even par, but he still found himself nine shots off the lead and, for the second time in his last three tournaments, on the wrong side of the cut after 18 holes. Last month at the Northern Trust Open, Spieth opened with a 79. He bounced back on Friday with a 68 but still missed the cut for the first time since last September. He will need something similar on Friday if he has any chance to play 72 holes this week and continue his quest to defend the title that got everything started last year. Spieth explained the difference the last few weeks has been his inability to mitigate the damaged caused on days when his game isn’t quite right. “Unfortunately, right now on my off days – typically my history, I’m able to hold that around even par, and I’m just shooting too high a number,” he said. “Hopefully less wind tomorrow and I can work hard to play on the weekend.” Spieth will have nearly 24 hours before he tees off for Round 2 to think about what he needs to do on Friday, and he planned to spend that time wisely. “I’m going to go rest. I’m going to go probably take a nap,” said Spieth, who tees off for Round 2 at 12:57 p.m. ET.
CARLSBAD, Calif. – Lydia Ko won the Kia Classic on Sunday at Aviara, reaffirming her position as the top player in the world heading into the first major championship of the season. Ko birdied the final three holes for her third straight 5-under 67 and a four-stroke victory over second-ranked Inbee Park. A week after finishing second in Phoenix at the Founders Cup, Ko heads to Rancho Mirage for the ANA Inspiration with her first LPGA victory of the year and 11th overall. The 18-year-old New Zealander also won the Ladies European Tour’s New Zealand Women’s Open in February. Ko finished at 19-under 269. Park closed with a 67. The 2013 winner at Rancho Mirage, Park appears to be over the back problem that forced her to withdraw from the first event of the season. The South Korean player tied for 30th in Thailand and Singapore in her first events back and missed the cut in Phoenix. Playing two groups ahead of Ko, Park pulled within two shots with birdies on the par-4 16th and par-5 17th. Ko pushed the lead back to two with a birdie on the short par-4 16th, holing a 10-foot putt after driving the green and racing her first putt past the hole. Ko made an 8-foot birdie putt on 17, and finished with a 15-footer on 18. She bogeyed the par-5 10th after double-hitting a putt from the fringe. The ball popped out of a divot and caught her club in the follow-through, costing her a one-stroke penalty. Japan’s Ai Miyazato was third at 12 under after a 66. South Koreans Sung Hyun Park and Jenny Shin each shot 72 to tie for fourth at 11 under. Sung Hyun Park received a sponsor exemption. Brittany Lang closed with a bogey on 17 and a double bogey on 18 – hitting into the water twice – for a 74 that dropped her into a tie for 10th at 9 under.
THE WOODLANDS, Texas – Uh, oh. Here we go. As soon as John Daly hit his approach shot into the water on the par-4 seventh hole Friday at the Insperity Invitational, that was the first thought. Daly, making his much anticipated debut on the PGA Tour Champions, had been piddling along for his first six holes. He was hitting fairways, finding greens, but nothing was dropping. Until his second at No. 7 dropped into the drink. The ball cleared land so Daly was able to get a drop behind the green. He chipped up to 3 feet and made the bogey putt. That’s when Daly’s round really began. The day officially started at 11:25 a.m., local time. Daly arrived on site one hour and five minutes before his tee time. He finally made it to the range at 11:55, signing hats and flags and bobblehead dolls (of his likeness – a giveaway on Day 1 of the event) en route. Four minutes later – and 31 minutes until show time – he finally hit his first practice ball. Daly took six one-handed swings with his wedge to start, only five with his driver near the close, and 38 total. After 36 putts on the practice green, it was finally go time. Almost. Daly posed for photos with the Insperity staff – all clad in Loudmouth pants and shorts – and with the members of his threesome, Fuzzy Zoeller and Peter Jacobsen. Zoeller showed up in green pants, large Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka logos adorning both thighs. He then presented Daly with a bottle as a form of payment for a bet he made years ago with Daly that he would never reach 50 years of age. Daly, for the record, had on a light blue shirt and red pants that looked like they were covered in amoebas. He was pretty tame compared to others in the gallery, many of which were wearing their loudest Loudmouth apparel. After the festivities settled, Daly hit his first official shot as a senior at 12:35 p.m. – five minutes after the scheduled start, but, as they would soon find out, there was no rush. The crowd was seven deep and few remained for the following group. Daly used driver on the par-5 first, something he would do only five times on Friday. Daly had previously stated that his game plan was to primarily use 1-iron off the tee, and he abided. Speaking of abiding, The Dude was in attendance. Or, at least, a reasonable facsimile of “The Big Lebowski” protagonist. A guy walking around in a purple robe, cargo shorts, sandals, long hair and a goatee asked Daly for a pack of cigarettes at the practice green. Daly didn’t abide this time, but he joked with the guy. The crowd, on the whole, was fairly tame, never raucous. Even with a couple of hundred fans in tow, there weren’t any disruptions or over-the-top outbursts. A guy offered an attractive woman $100 if she’d yell, “Take your shirt off!” after Daly teed off on the 11th hole. She gave it some thought, but kept silent. The crowd, you could tell, was waiting for something to happen, a reason to get a little nuts. But there wasn’t much going on early. Daly made par after par, displaying steady play for someone with only four competitive rounds under his belt this year. And then came the seventh. “It was a 178-yard 8-iron, and I had the 7 (iron) out and I said, ‘Well, I’ll just hit the 8, see if I can get it right up there in the chute,’ and I just flushed it right over the flag and it ended up going about 191 (yards) into the water. But I think that’s just from being pumped up,” Daly said. Maybe it was because he was playing with Fuzzy and Jake. Maybe it was because he got up and down for bogey. Maybe he knew the water ball was a bad break, not poor play. Whatever the reason, Daly remained calm, joking with his guys on the next tee box. There was a lot of that, because there was a lot of downtime. The group routinely had 10-minute spans between holing out on the green and hitting tee shots on the next hole. As Jacobsen said during the round, “I’m playing with two of the fastest players out here.” He’s no slouch, himself. On the par-4 17th, for example, the green cleared and Daly hit first. Eight seconds later, Zoeller hit. Ten seconds later, Jacobsen hit. It was like that all day. The round took four hours and 23 minutes, but would have been cut in half had it just been the three of them out there. There was a very casual feel to the round. There was the camaraderie; lots of fan interaction, particularly during the walks to the tee boxes and the subsequent waits; Daly was drinking Diet Coke from his Dallas Cowboys tumbler and placing it a foot from his ball when he’d hit; Fuzzy was riding around in a cart. While Zoeller rode, Jacobsen walked with Daly. “God bless Jake for walking,” Daly said. “He’s got that bad hip. But he said, ‘I just wanted to walk with you today.’” Jacobsen could have used a ride from Zoeller to get from his ball to Daly’s, when the driver came out. Daly destroyed a drive on the par-5 13th and had to be 90 yards in front of the others. He pounded another one on the par-5 15th and was at least 50 yards clear. Daly averaged 317.5 yards off the tee, which led the field on Day 1. Jacobsen averaged 246.5 yards, Zoeller 242.5 yards. Surprisingly, Daly only made only one birdie on the four par 5s. The nerves were present for Daly, and he said he never managed to fully shake them. But he outwardly appeared comfortable and, when that first birdie putt fell on the par-3 eighth, confidence came with it. He lashed a beautiful 1-iron off the ninth tee and made his second consecutive birdie. He continued to hit fairways and greens, 13 of the former and 16 of the latter, but couldn’t covert several birdie opportunities inside of 15 feet. He managed to make a couple, as well as a bogey at the par-3 14th, and finished with a 2-under 70. “Hopefully, I just feed off some of the good things I was doing and, you know, just thinking about some of the things that weren’t so good,” Daly said. “My three-quarter shot wasn’t very sharp today, but other than that, it was really solid. “I mean, it’s something I really didn’t expect.”
RABAT, Morocco – Gregory Havret took the outright lead at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco as he moved to 6 under par after the second round on Friday. The Frenchman made four birdies and an eagle at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam for his second straight 3-under 70, opening a one-shot lead over Lucas Bjerregaard and Trevor Fisher Jr. Denmark’s Bjerregaard carded a 2-under 71 and South Africa’s Fisher Jr. a 3-under 70. Havret was part of a four-way tie for the lead overnight but pushed clear and could have had more of an advantage heading to the weekend if he hadn’t bogeyed his last two holes. His last victory on the European Tour was nine years ago. Bjerregaard, who also had a share of the first-round lead, had four birdies and two bogeys. Fisher Jr. put himself in contention with six birdies, although he also made double bogey on No. 16, his seventh hole. Paul Dunne, Gregory Bourdy, and James Morrison, another of the overnight leaders, are all another shot back in a tie for fourth at 4 under.
MADISON, Wis. – Scott McCarron won the American Family Insurance Championship on Sunday, closing with an 8-under 64 for a one-stroke victory over hometown player Jerry Kelly. The 52-year-old McCarron birdied Nos. 14-16 and parred the final two to hold on for his first victory of the season and seventh in three years on the PGA Tour Champions. He finished at 15-under 201 at University Ridge. ”All week, I drove the ball really well and I was hitting a lot of good iron shots,” McCarron said. ”I hit a lot of greens. I think I made one bogey all week and that was early on Friday. Just missed a short putt, one of the par 3s and made bogey. Other than that, I really didn’t have any other opportunities to make bogeys. I just kept putting myself in play.” McCarron looked forward to the stretch of three straight major tournaments that begins Thursday with the U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado. ”Obviously, my game’s pretty good, just won this week, so I’m pretty happy the way I’m hitting it.” McCarron said. ”I started putting better this week. I’ve got to work on my wedge game. I’ve got to wedge it closer. I have a lot of wedges out here.” Full-field scores from the American Family Insurance Championship Kelly shot 65, also parring the final two holes. ”I’m disappointed, there’s no doubt,” Kelly said. ”I want those putts back. I want to just go ahead and hit them hard.” Kelly joked about friend McCarron paying him back for a friendly match with McCarron’s wife. ”My caddie, Eric and I, beat Jenny and Scott over at Maple Bluff Country Club earlier this week, beat them out of five bucks,” Kelly said. ”I should have thrown that match.” Fellow Madison player Steve Stricker, the tournament host and first-round leader, had a 65 to tie for third with 2017 champion Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie. ”The way it ended up, couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Stricker said. ”Great turnout of people, the players loved it, and we got a great field and some exciting golf down the stretch.” Couples had a 67, playing alongside McCarron. ”We all said it yesterday, with all those guys there, somebody shoots 7, 8 under will win – and I watched it today,” Couples said. ”He was phenomenal. He played a stress-free, easy round of golf and I think I lost to him by two, but I was never going to beat him.” Montgomerie followed a second-round 72 with a 64. ”I didn’t play well at all yesterday, at all,” Montgomerie said. ”So disappointing yesterday … out here, 72, get trampled on.” Paul Goydos (67) was 12 under, John Daly (67) topped the group at 11 under, and Bernhard Langer (69) was another stroke back. University of Illinois coach Mike Small, Stricker’s teammate with the Illini, birdied the final hole for a 68 to also tie for 10th at 10 under. Steve and I have been best friends for 30 years,” Small said. ”It’s great to have him get me in the tournament and validate him helping me get in and getting an exemption. That’s huge. I finished top 10 in Iowa at Des Moines two weeks ago. It was my first top 10 in a Champions event. So, to back up with this, and this was a strong field, it feels good to compete.” Second-round leader Esteban Toledo had a 73 to tie for 24th at 8 under.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Around the Vanderbilt golf team John Augenstein’s nickname is “Flash,” and it’s easy to see why. The swing loaded with speed. The on-course charisma. The big shot in the big moment. The Commodores junior added another highlight to his growing collection Wednesday, when he defeated world No. 3 Collin Morikawa in 19 holes during a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur. Out of sorts early at Pebble Beach, Augenstein was 2 down to Morikawa after butchering the short seventh and then misplaying a shot around the green on 8. Standing on the ninth tee, he turned to Vanderbilt assistant coach/caddie Gator Todd: “I need to play the best 10 holes of my life to beat Collin.” And did he? “I don’t know,” he said later, smirking, “but I did enough.” Augenstein won the ninth hole after Morikawa dumped his approach shot into the hazard, drained a 30-footer on 10 to square the match and then took his first lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on 14. One down with three holes to go, Morikawa stuffed his approach into 16 while Augenstein, trying to play a perfect shot, misjudged the wind and left himself in a difficult position, short and right of the green. Augenstein appeared visibly frustrated once he found his ball, buried in the thick ryegrass short of the green. He told Todd that he didn’t think he’d be able to get inside of Morikawa’s shot about 6 feet away, but he dumped his pitch shot onto the front edge, rode the slope and trickled it into the cup for an unlikely birdie. “Come on!” he yelled, high-fiving Todd and tossing his wedge at his bag. “It was beautiful,” Todd said. “I’m not sure how he did that, but pretty cool that it went in.” U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos Morikawa answered by making birdie, then won the 17th with a par before both players halved the home hole with birdies. On the first extra hole, Augenstein hit his approach to 15 feet while Morikawa left it short. Morikawa raced his first putt by 6 feet and then missed the comebacker to lose the match. It may not have been the best 10-hole stretch of Augenstein’s career, but after that pep talk on 9 tee, he went 4 under to the house. “He’s a fiery little dude,” Morikawa said of his 5-foot-8-inch opponent. “You don’t want to get him on the wrong side because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s not going to give shots away.” The first-round match was a rematch of the Western Amateur quarterfinals two weeks ago, where Augenstein also won, that time by a 4-and-2 margin. “It’s the most fun format and where I can be my true self – emotional and aggressive and beat people,” Augenstein said. That’s what he did at the 2017 SECs, where he won the deciding points in both the semifinals and the finals. He starred again a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, last season went 3-0 in SEC match play, and now has earned a reputation among his teammates as a primetime player. “I’ve hit a lot of big shots and putts in my career,” said Augenstein, ranked 26th in the world after recently winning the Players Amateur. “I get locked in and focused, and there’s not a shot that I don’t think I can pull off. I’m not scared to fail.” The comeback victory against Morikawa – a three-time winner last season at Cal and one of the best amateurs in the world – didn’t surprise Todd. He’s seen firsthand how explosive Augenstein can be on the course. “He’s just fiery,” Todd said. “He does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to do. He’s just a special kid.”
SUN CITY, South Africa – Lee Westwood came from behind to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday, overturning a three-shot deficit at the start of the final round to deny Sergio Garcia a wire-to-wire victory and Louis Oosthuizen success at his home tournament. Westwood saved his best for last to finish with an 8-under 64 at Gary Player Country Club to take him to 15 under and a three-shot win over Garcia (70). Oosthuizen (69) was third on 11 under. It was Westwood’s third Nedbank title following back-to-back wins in 2010-11, before the event was part of the European Tour. He held back tears after sealing his 24th European Tour title and first in more than four years. ”I’m a bit emotional, to be honest,” Westwood said. ”You’re never sure whether you’re going to be able to do it again. Until now my emotions have felt really under control all day, which is what I’ve been working hard on.” Westwood made birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to settle what was a fascinating final-round battle between him, Garcia and Oosthuizen. Full-field scores from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Garcia had led from the start and had a two-shot advantage over Oosthuizen and was three ahead of Westwood after three rounds. But Westwood’s fabulous finish proved irresistible. He made an eagle on No. 2 and six birdies in all, five of them on the back nine, as he charged to the title in the penultimate event of the European Tour season. ”I was just trying to hit fairways and stick to my game-plan and hit it in the right places, he said. ”I’ve got a bit of a process that I’m going through with my golf swing and I’m starting to see better shots. The 7-iron into 17 is probably one of the best shots I’ve ever hit.” The Nedbank Challenge also had repercussions for the Race to Dubai, with Rory McIlroy, Li Haotong and Lucas Bjerregaard now all officially out of the running to be crowned European No. 1 next weekend at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. That will now be a shootout between Race to Dubai standings leader Francesco Molinari and his Ryder Cup buddy Tommy Fleetwood after McIlroy finished in a tie for 21st in Sun City with a final-round 71, Li finished tied for fifth with a 65, and Bjerregaard tied for 11th after also closing with a 65. McIlroy needed to finish in the top two to stay in contention for the season title while Li and Bjerregaard both needed to win in Sun City.