2014 - WEEK 11: Mar 10 - Mar 16
Following the WGC-Cadillac Championship, 23-year-old Patrick Reed answered a reporter’s question by affirming that he considers himself one of the five best golfers in the world – and while the confident Reed later re-framed those words to suggest that he’s working towards that goal, his impressive victory over a world-class field suggested that he is perhaps already on the cusp. Indeed, Reed triumphed wire-to-wire over the exceedingly rare non-Major championship field to include the entire top 50 in the Official World Ranking, and he did so without wilting under some serious final-nine pressure on Doral’s revamped – and dangerous – Blue Monster layout. Reed topped the leaderboard on Thursday following an opening 68, then maintained a share of the lead following a 75 on a windy Friday which saw scores skyrocket. A 69 on Saturday then saw him to a two-stroke 54-hole lead, and when he quickly extended that lead to four via three early Sunday birdies, his position seemed fairly secure. But as Bubba Watson and Wales’ Jamie Donaldson mounted late charges, an untimely Reed bogey at the 14th suddenly left the door slightly ajar – and it got wider when Donaldson birdied the 17th to close within one. Relying on a deft short game, however, Reed saved par from greenside bunkers at the 15th and 16th (having earlier done so at the 13th) and when Donaldson bogeyed the demanding 471-yard finisher from a greenside bunker, the lead was back to two. Smartly, Reed took the water out of play at the last by laying up with an iron, his “routine” bogey clinching the title……………… Ex-Georgia Tech All-American Chesson Hadley took only 13 PGA Tour starts to give some major support to those touting him as a future star, birdieing the final two holes to claim a two-stroke victory at the Puerto Rico Open, in Rio Grande. In an event played opposite the WGC-Cadillac Championship (and thus featuring a light field), Hadley played steady golf for the first 54 holes, his rounds of 68-65-67 staking him to a one-shot lead over 2008 U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee of New Zealnd. But after an admittedly nervous night, Hadley quickly extended his lead by birdieing three of his first five holes on Sunday, with a chip-in four at the par-5 5th proving a turning point. Lee would mount a late charge, however, carding birdies at the 13th, 15th and 16th to make things interesting, and even even adding a final birdie at the par-5 18th for good measure. But after reeling off seven straight pars from holes 10-16, Hadley kicked it into gear once more to post his final two birdies and clich the title.
WGC - WGC-Cadillac Championship - Patrick Reed (284)
PGA Tour - Puerto Rico Open - Chesson Hadley (267)
LET - Mission Hills World Championship - Inbee Park (268)
JLPGA Tour - Daikin Orchid Ladies - O. Sattaya (208)
Web.com Tour - Chile Classic - Adam Hadwin (272)
E Challenge Tour - Barclay's Kenya Open - Jake Roos (278)
In an event which ended up being former world number one Rory McIlroy’s to lose, Russell Henley claimed his second PGA Tour victory in 14 months by winning the Honda Classic in a four-man sudden death playoff. McIlroy looked in command after an opening round 63 and remained atop the leaderboard both Friday and Saturday with middle rounds of 66-69. But during a final round which saw stiffer winds and higher scores, McIlroy struggled to a 74, his hopes nearly buried by a double-bogey at the 16th and a bogey at the par-3 17th. Still, he ripped his second to within 12 feet at the par-5 18th and thus had an eagle putt to win – which he missed. Henley’s game, meanwhile, was a microcosm of Sunday’s wild final nine leaderboard, as he birdied the 13th and 14th (the latter by chipping in), then double-bogeyed the 15th to fall back to the magic number of eight under par. Already in the clubhouse at that figure was Ryan Palmer, who was the only player in the final six groups to break par (and then just barely, with a 69) – though Palmer might well have won it outright had he not missed a spate of shorter putts down the stretch. Also in the playoff was Scotland’s Russell Knox, who’d gotten it to 10 under par before recording a double-bogey of his own, at the par-4 14th. The playoff itself was brief, as Henley reached the 18th in two and, with two putts from 40 feet, recorded the only birdie and the victory. Also notable was the departure of Tiger Woods, who barely made the cut, shot a Saturday 65, the withdrew with back pain after 13 holes on Sunday, standing five over par for the day………………Former Ryder Cup player Ross Fisher enjoyed a hot week on the greens at the second playing of the Tshwane Open and parlayed it into his fifth career European Tour victory, but his first since 2010. Fisher’s early rounds of 66-65-67 staked him to an imposing five-stroke lead over the Copperleaf course which, at 7,964 altitude-ehanced yards, was the longest in E Tour history. But on a Sunday dotted with intermittent rain, he had trouble keeping his momentum up, playing the outward half in one-under-par 35. This allowed playing partner Michael Hoey to charge into the mix, and as Hoey stood five under par through his first 11 holes, he’d actually pulled to within one. But Hoey double-bogeyed the 12th, leaving Fisher’s primary late challengers to be homestanding Danie Van Tonder (who made his move with late birdies at the 16th and 17th en route to a closing 66) and 2013 Q School medalist Carlos Del Moral, who would have matched that number had he not bogeyed both the 14th and 17th. But as both men crept within two in the late going, Fisher responded by holing a 30-foot eagle putt at the par-5 15th, essentially salting away the title………………As a 22-year-old prospect, India’s Rashid Khan lost the 2013 SAIL-SBI Open in a playoff with Anirban Lahiri, coming within a whisker of claiming his maiden Asian Tour title over his home course, the Delhi Golf Club. One year later he returned to the same event and, in a storybook finish, emerged triumphant, beating Siddikur Rahman on the first hole of sudden death. Khan began his week in style with a dazzling first round 61 before rounds of 69-69 pushed him to a two-stroke 54-hole lead. But facing the stifling pressure of playing before a home crowd, Khan stood one over par through 16 holes of the Saturday finale, and thus trailed the charging Siddikur by one. He then got a potential career-altering break when his missed approach to the par-4 17th skipped over a frontal bunker to within tap-in birdie range, then matched Siddikur’s birdie at the par-5 18th before birdieing the 18th once more to claim the playoff.
PGA Tour - Honda Classic - Russell Henley (272)
European Tour - Tshwane Open - Ross Fisher (268)
Asian Tour - SAIL-SBI Open - Rashid Khan (270)
Sunshine Tour - See European Tour (Above)
Australasian Tour - New Zealand Open - Dimitrios Papadatos (270)
LPGA Tour - HSBC Women's Champions - Paula Creamer (278)
Symetra Tour - Volvik Championship - Monday Finish
In a nail biting finale that took 23 holes to decide, Jason Day logged his first PGA Tour victory since the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship by defeating France’s Victor Dubuisson to capture the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Making his first career start in a WGC event, the 23-year-old Dubuisson did well to extend the playoff the full five holes, a feat he managed by recording spectacular back-to-back up-and-downs from some rocky desert terrain at both the 19th and 20th. He then very nearly won it at the 22nd when a 21-foot birdie putt narrowly missed, but was relegated to second place when Day birdied the driveable par-4 15th from just off the fringe, while Dubuisson could do no better than a four. Dubuisson had shown considerable resilience just reaching extra holes as he stood three down after 12 before winning the 13th and 17th with birdies, then the 18th with a clutch greenside sand save combined with Day’s three-putting from 70 feet. Making only his fourth start on American soil, Dubuisson reached the final by edging 44-year-old match play stalwart Ernie Els one up in the semi-finals, after previously vanquishing Kevin Streelman (5&4), Peter Hanson (3&1), Bubba Waton (1 up) and Graeme McDowell (1 up). Day, who raised his career record in the event to 14-3, dispatched Rickie Fowler 3&2 in the Sunday morning semis after beating Thorbjorn Olesen (2 up), Billy Horschel (22 holes), George Coetzee (3&1)and an injured Louis Oosthuizen (3&1) in earlier rounds...................With the European Tour taking the week off (in deference to the WGC-Accenture Match Play) between its final two South African stops of 2014, numerous E Tour regulars entered the Sunshine Tour's Dimension Data Pro-Am, with one of them - 25-year-old Argentinean Estanislao "Tano" Goya - emerging as champion. Formerly a winner (at age 20) of the E Tour's light-field 2008 Madeira Islands Open, Goya struggled with his game in 2013 (only regaining E Tour status via Q School) but rediscovered his form this week in Fancourt, opening slowly with a 73 before a pair of 67s left him four behind 54-hole leader Adilson da Silva. The field moved from a three-course rotation onto the Montagu course for Sunday's finale where Goya initially struggled, going out in one-over-par 37. But he heated up on the inward half, logging five birdies - including the critical coup de grâce at the par-5 18th - to win by one.
PGA Tour - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship - Jason Day (23 holes)
Sunshine Tour - Dimension Data Pro-Am - Estanislao Goya (275)
Australasian Tour - Oates Victorian Open - Matthew Griffin (281)
LatinoAmerica - Arturo Calle Colombian Open - David Vanegas (263)
LPGA Tour - Honda LPGA Thailand - Anna Nordqvist (273)
Symetra Tour - Gateway Classic at Longbow - Alena Sharp (204)
It took nearly two years, some 41 PGA Tour starts and a disappointing meltdown loss two weeks earlier in Phoenix, but Bubba Watson finally broke through for his first victory since the 2012 Masters, riding some spectacular weekend golf to victory at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles. Watson reached the 36-hole mark well back in the pack following opening rounds of 70-71 - somewhat mediocre stuff in a week marked by perfect weather and firm, fast fairways. But his was a very different game thereafter, as Watson became the first man in three decades to play the entire weekend at Riviera without a bogey, his flawless back-to-back rounds of 64 vaulting him over the field and, ultimately, to a two-shot victory. Even after his Saturday effort, Watson began Sunday's final round five behind 54-hole leader William McGirt, but that ground was quickly covered via five birdies in his first eight holes en route to an outgoing 30. One more birdie at the par-5 11th moved Watson to 14 under par, a number which none of his long list of pursuers was ever able to reach. A closing birdie at the famed 475-yard 18th would ultimately clinch a two-shot triumph over Dustin Johnson, who shot a closing 66 and finished second for the second straight week..................Thirty-year-old South African Thomas Aiken claimed his 10th career victory and his third on the European Tour, coming from behind with a closing 67, then defeating England's Oliver Fisher on the first hole of sudden death in the Africa Open at the short but venerable East London Golf Club. Behind opening rounds of 66-65-66, Aiken began Sunday four shots behind Argentina's young Emiliano Grillo, who'd launched himself to the top of the leaderboard with middle rounds of 63-62 over one of the E Tour's easiest scoring courses. Having recently finished second in Dubai, Grillo seemed poised for a breakthrough victory, but those hopes were quickly dashed on Sunday when he stunningly took a nine on the 446-yard 1st hole before limping to the turn in an inglorious 43 strokes. To his great credit, Grillo would ultimately rally to birdie the last five holes en route to tying for fifth, but by this time Aiken had notched key birdies at the 15th and 16th to draw even with the 25-year-old Fisher, who'd carded a second round 63 but on Sunday could manage no better than a 69, which left both players tied on 264. Contested over the downhill 410-yard 18th, the playoff was a brief one as Aiken quickly rolled in a 30-footer for birdie to secure the title. His victory continued a long trend of South African dominance of European Tour events played on home soil, as Aiken was the 10th home-grown winner in the last 13 such tournaments, the 36th overall in 58 all-time E Tour events, and the fifth straight in the five-year history of the African Open.
PGA Tour - Northern Trust Open - Bubba Watson (269)
European Tour - Africa Open - Thomas Aiken (264)
Sunshine Tour - See European Tour (Above)
Australasian Tour - Queensland PGA Championship - Anthony Summers (256)
LPGA Tour - ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open - Karrie Webb (276)
LET - See LPGA Tour (Above)
Champions Tour - ACE Group Classic - Kirk Triplett (200)
Web.com Tour - Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship - Alex Cejka (199)
It took PGA Tour veteran Jimmy Walker 187 PGA Tour starts to claim his first victory, but once he got the hang of it, winning has become a remarkably regular thing. Indeed, Walker claimed his third title in eight starts on the 2013-14 wraparound schedule at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, charging out to a six-stroke 54 hole lead behind rounds of 66-69-67 before barely hanging on over a bumpy final nine at Pebble Beach. Walker seemed in firm command over his first 11 holes on Sunday, coming to the 12th tee with his entire six-shot margin intact. But while Dustin Johnson and Tour rookie Jim Renner charged home ahead of him with rounds of 66 and 67 respecively, Walker stumbled, first bogeying both the par-3 12th (after missing the green) and the par-4 13th (by three-putting). But even as Johnson and Renner charged, Walker still reached the 17th tee two ahead before again three-putting. Then, with two putts to win from 25 feet at the last, he ran his first effort five feet past the hole before coolly holing the comebacker to avoid a playoff. While Johnson and Renner shared second, Jordan Spieth tied Kevin Na for fourth after sharing the 36-hole lead with Walker, then struggling to a windblown third round 78 at Pebble Beach which, due to inclement weather, was actually completed on Sunday morning………………A frequent European Tour contender over the previous two seasons, South Africa’s George Coetzee finally landed his first career victory on the circuit, closing with a six-under-par 66 to claim a three-shot win at the eighth playing of the Joburg Open, in Johannnesburg. The 27-year-old Coetzee began Sunday’s final round four shots behind 54-hole co-leaders Thomas Aiken and Justin Walters but quickly launched himself into the fray via a four-under-par 33 on the outward nine. Two inward birdies (including at the par-4 15th, where his tee shot richeted off a tree and back into the fairway) allowed him to set the bar at 19 under par, and in the end only Walters – who needed an eagle at the last but instead bogeyed – had any chance to catch him. In addition to claiming the title, Coetzee was one of three men to land births in the 2014 Open championship, as he joined Walters and Korean Jin Jeong as the three low finishers among the top 10 not already qualified.
PGA Tour - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - Jimmy Walker (276)
European Tour - Joburg Open - George Coetzee (268)
Sunshine Tour - See European Tour (Above)
Australasian Tour - Victorian PGA Championship - Gareth Paddison (272)
LET - Volvik RACV Australian Masters - Cheyenne Woods (276)
Champions Tour - Allianz Championship - Michael Allen (198)