2014 - WEEK 36: Sep 4 - Sep 7
Conventional wisdom has long held that there are two keys to playing the Augusta National Golf Club successfully; a golfer must possess great length and, perhaps more importantly in an era when everyone is long, the ability to reliably move the ball right-to-left. Toss in a sense of shotmaking imagination to counter Augusta’s unique undulations and green contouring and you have…Bubba Watson. Indeed, of all the events in professional golf’s rich international spectrum, The Masters would seem the one most ideally suited to Watson’s distinctive brand of power/finesse golf - and for the second time in three years, he proved this point emphatically by cruising uneventfully home on Sunday to claim his second career Green Jacket. On a Sunday which offered the prospect of seeing a youngest-ever Masters champion (20-year-old Jordan Spieth) or an oldest-ever Major champion (50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez – or even 54-year-old Fred Couples), the usual slew of Masters contenders first had to be worked out of the mix. The first to fall by the wayside was Rickie Fowler, who began the day two back, roared out of the gate with an opening birdie, then promptly three-putted from eight feet for a bogey at the 2nd to lose all his momentum. He would later bogey the 10th and 11th, birdie the 14th and post a 73, good enough to tie for fifth. Also starting fast was Matt Kuchar, who trailed by only one through 54 holes and, after birdies at both the 2nd and 3rd to look like a very serious contender. But a four-putt double-bogey at the par-3 4th scuttled his charge, and while Kuchar would linger on the edge of contention for much of the afternoon, bogeys at the 17th and 18th dropped him to a 74, and a tie with Fowler. While Couples electrified the crowd with early birdies and the 1st and 2nd before eventually falling back to a 75, Jimenez struggled early (three bogeys in his first five holes) but came home in 33, his 71 good enough to claim solo fourth. And then there was Sweden’s Jonas Blixt, who twice got it to six-under-par, most meaningfully with a birdie at the 16th. But a crucial bogey at the 17th dropped him back to minus five and a tie for second – his second straight Major top five dating to the 2013 PGA Championship. So in the end, as for much of the day, it came to Watson and the phenom Spieth, who began Sunday tied for the lead at five-under-par. And indeed, Spieth got the better of the action in the early going, making birdie at the 2nd to move one in front, extending the lead to two when Watson bogeyed the 3rd, and keeping it there by spectacularly holing a long bunker shot for birdie after Watson had stiffed his approach at the par-3 4th. A Spieth bogey at the 5th was quickly offset by fine birdies at the 6th and the demanding 7th, but the young man from Dallas then lost the lead with a three-putt bogey at the 8th and another bogey at the 9th, all while Watson birdied both to suddenly grab a two-shot lead. Spieth briefly closed the gap with a par at 10 (to Watson’s bogey) but aside from a scrambling bogey after hitting his tee shot into the water at the 12th, the rest of his day was a story of missed putts, with meaningful opportunities squandered at the 11th, 13th and 15th. By this time, Watson had logged a two-putt birdie at the 13th to extend his margin to three and, save for a brief nervous moment when Spieth nearly holed a difficult chip at the 17th, it was smooth sailing for Bubba from Bagdad (Florida) thereafter.
The Masters - Bubba Watson (280)
Sunshine Tour - Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open - Jbe' Kruger (270)
JLPGA Tour - Studio Alice Open - Esther Lee (207)
Web.com Tour - El Bosque Mexico Championship - Carlos Ortiz (275)
For the second straight week, an Australian scored their maiden win on the PGA Tour as 33-year-old Matt Jones holed a 42-yard chip on the first hole of sudden death to defeat Matt Kuchar at the Shell Houston Open. A former collegiate star at Arizona State, Jones opened his week with rounds of 68-68-71 at the rain-softened Golf Club of Houston, which left him six shots behind 54-hole leader Kuchar. Jones then fell further behind by bogeying the 1st hole on Sunday before reeling off a run of six birdies over his next 10 holes, briefly tying for the lead near the turn. By the time he birdied the 16th he stood one behind Kuchar, then appeared to squander his chance with an untimely bogey at the par-4 17th. But with little to lose, Jones then rolled in a 46-foot birdie putt at the last, then looked on as Kuchar hit his approach into the water at the difficult par-4 18th, ultimately scrambling to make bogey and force the playoff. After Jones drove it in a fairway bunker as they played the 18th again, then hit his second shy of the green, Kuchar proceded to bunker his approach from the fairway, leaving the door open just enough for Jones to hole the chip and claim the title. The victory meant a change in travel plans for Jones who was initially planning on taking the following week off but instead earned the final spot in The Masters………………Battling against a particularly light field on the eve of The Masters, Italy’s Marco Crespi claimed his first European Tour victory at the inaugural playing of the NH Collection Open, edging homestanding Jordi Garcia Pinto and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay in Cadiz, Spain. After opening with rounds of 70-73, Crespi logged six back nine birdies en route to a Saturday 66 that pulled him within one of the 54-hole leader, England’s Matthew Nixon. But as Nixon made his way around Sunday’s front nine in 37, Crespi birdied the 1st, 5th, 8th and 9th to turn in 32 and vault into the lead. As the pressure mounted, back-to-back bogeys at the 12th and 13th provided a few moments of doubt, but a clutch bounce-back birdie at the 14th righted the ship and, in the end, would prove enough for a two-shot triumph. Garcia Pinto was a late arrival to the party, birdieing four of his last five holes for a closing 66. Ramsay, on the other hand, might well have found the winners circle as he stood at eight under par through 10 holes on Sunday, but could do no better than eight straight pars coming home………………Frequent contender Titch Moore ended a six-year Sunshine Tour victory drought in Johannesburg, being the only player to break 70 all four days en route to a marathon playoff victory over Ulrich van den Berg at the Telkom PGA Championship. The long-hitting Moore began Sunday’s final round four strokes behind third-round leader Oliver Bekker and had only cut one stroke off that margin by the time he turned in 34. But Moore carded birdies at the 12th, 14th and 18th to post his 15-under-par total, then watched as Bekker faded (with distastrous bogeys at the 16th and 17th) and van den Berg charged, birdieing the par-5 18th to join him for extra holes. And the playoff would indeed be something, taking place solely on the 18th and seeming initially to favor van den Berg, who missed makeable birdie putts on the second and third playings that would have ended it. But as fatigue was clearly setting in, Moore holed a four-foot birdie putt on the fifth go-round to clinch his eighth career Sunshine Tour title.
PGA Tour - Shell Houston Open - Matt Jones (273)
European Tour - NH Collection Open - Marco Crespi (278)
Sunshine Tour - Telkom PGA Championship - Titch Moore (273)
LatinoAmerica - Mundo Maya Open - Daniel Mazziotta (278)
LPGA Tour - Kraft Nabisco Championship - Lexi Thompson (274)
JLPGA Tour - Yamaha Ladies Open - Sun-Ju Ahn (283)
E Challenge Tour - See European Tour (Above)
Thirty-year-old Australian Steven Bowditch had only logged two top-10 finishes in eight seasons on the PGA Tour, but in windy, demanding Sunday conditions at the Texas Open, he broke through for career-altering first victory. On a day which saw as many players (two) fail to break 80 as break 70, Bowditch struggled throughout his round, carding four bogeys and one double-bogey en route to a closing 76 – the highest final round by a winner since Vijay Singh’s 76 at the 2004 PGA, and the highest in a non-major since Fred Couples shot 77 in winning the 1983 Kemper Open. The halfway and 54-hole leader, Bowditch – a two-time Web.com Tour winner – also recorded two birdies on Sunday, with the second (at the par-5 14th) giving him a two-shot lead which he nursed right up until missing a three-footer for par at the last. Second place was shared by a hot Will MacKenzie (who bogeyed the 1st hole on Sunday before going three-under-par the rest of the way) and Daniel Summerhays, whose closing 71 helped him make up significant ground on the pack………………In one of the more dramatic finishes in recent Japan Tour history, Michio Matsumura fired a closing 68 to claim the season-opening Indonesia PGA Championship by a single shot over Australian Rhein Gibson and Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines. The initial drama was provided by the 28-year-old Gibson, who gained fame by shooting a non-competitive 16-under-par 55 during a 2012 round, and seemed on his way to more fireworks when standing 11-under-par through 15 holes on Sunday. A three-putt bogey at the par-4 16th then slowed his momentum, but his 10-under-par 62 was good enough to take the clubhouse lead. Enter Matsumura, who began Sunday one shot behind 54-hole leader Sang-Hyun Park before falling well off the pace after going out in 38. The three-time Japan Tour winner righted the ship coming home, however, making three birdies through the 14th to pull back within two, then reeling off clutch birdies at the 16th, 17th and 18th to steal the title.
PGA Tour - Valero Texas Open - Steven Bowditch (280)
Japan Tour - Indonesia PGA Championship - Michio Matsumura (267)
LatinoAmerica - Stella Artois Open - Armando Favela (274)
LPGA Tour - Kia Classic - Anna Nordqvist (275)
JLPGA Tour - AXA Ladies - Ayaka Watanabe (203)
Web.com Tour - Chitimacha Louisiana Open - Kris Blanks (270)
Symetra Tour - IOA Golf Classic - Weather Delayed
In his 92nd career start, native Floridian Matt Every stood nine shots off the pace after 36 holes of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, before finishing with rounds of 66-70 to claim his first PGA Tour victory, edging Keegan Bradley by one. For the first three days, the stage belonged squarely to world number two Adam Scott, who could have reached number one with a victory and opened with a dazzling Thursday 62. Middle rounds of 68-71 were less spectacular but still staked him to a three-stroke 54 hole lead - an advantage dissipated early on Sunday with two bogeys in his first three holes and an outgoing 38. Scott could do little better on the inward half, and as he staggered home to a 76 (and solo third), both Every and Keegan Bradley were able to move ahead of him for the stretch run. Every, for his part, ran off four birdies from holes 9-13 and, at 15-under-par, might well have cruised home had he not posted late bogeys at the 16th and, after missing a four-footer to clinch victory, the 18th. This allowed Bradley – who’d ably recovered from a double-bogey at the second and a bogey at the third – to move within one via clutch birdies at the par-5 16th and the tough par-3 17th. But when his 30-foot birdie putt at the last slid by, Bradley was second and Every was hoisting the trophy………………Trevor Fisher Jr. survived a last-minute charge from Jacques Blauuw to claim his eight career Sunshine Tour win – and the R3.5 million bonus pool payday – at the second playing of the select-field Investec Classic, in Sun City. Fisher began the final round one stroke behind 54-hole leader George Coetzee and proceeded to play nearly flawless golf, making eagle at the par-5 4th en route to turning in 33, then adding birdies at 11, 12 and 15 to build what seemed an insurmountable lead. Things got exciting, however, after Blauuw eagled the short par-5 18th to suddenly close the gap from three to one – but Fisher, unaware of the narrowed margin, logged a routine par at the last to close out the victory.
PGA Tour - Arnold Palmer Invitational - Matt Every (275)
Sunshine Tour - Investec Cup - Trevor Fisher Jr. (272)
LatinoAmerica - TransAmerica Power Products CRV Open - Marcelo Rozo (267)
LPGA Tour - JTBC Founders Cup - Karrie Webb (269)
JLPGA Tour - T-Point Ladies - Rikako Morita (208)
Champions Tour - Mississippi Gulf Coast Resort Classic - Jeff Maggert (205)
Web.com Tour - Panama Claro Championship - Carlos Ortiz (268)
Symetra Tour - Florida's Natural Charity Classic - Yueer Cindy Feng (207)
Forty-two-year-old Australian John Senden claimed his first victory anywhere in the world since 2006, logging clutch birdies at the 70th and 71st holes on a tough Innisbrook Copperhead course to win the Valspar Championship by one. One of the PGA Tour’s purset ball-strikers, Senden stood far off the lead after opening rounds of 71-72 but began Saturday with four birdies in his first five holes, then later added three more to card the week’s low round of 64 and move within two of 54-hole leader Robert Garrigus. Garrigus, for his part, fell apart early on Sunday, logging two double-bogeys and a bogey over a four-hole front nine stretch, leaving him to close with 75 and an eventual tie for fourth. Senden, on the other hand, made two early birdies before struggling in the middle of his round, then eventually scoring decisive blows by holing a 70-foot chip for birdie at the 16th hole, then a 20-footer for his clinching birdie at the par-3 17th. Second place was taken by Kevin Na, who recovered from a double-bogey at the 8th (and an outward 39) to move into contention with late birdies at the 14th and 17th, only to miss a 40-foot tying birdie putt at the last. Scott Langley, the only player to break par in all four rounds, took solo third, two shots off the pace………………Spain’s 31-year-old Alejandro Canizares ended an eight-year victory drought in impressive style, running away to a five-shot wire-to-wire triumph at the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco. The son of former five-time European Tour winner Jose Maria Canizares, Alejandro opened with rounds of 62-68 over the 6,951-yard Golf du Palais Royal course, comfortably separating himself from all but England’s Seve Benson, who trailed him by one after both the first and second rounds. Benson, for his part, fell back to the field on Saturday via a disappointing 74, allowing Canizares to build a commanding six-stroke 54-hole lead after posting a relatively uneventful third round 69. A Canizares bogey at the 203-yard 2nd on Sunday may have extended a ray of hope to his pursuers, but when he reeled of five birdies over his next 11 holes, everyone else was left far in arrears and playing for second; indeed, Canizares at one point led by eight, and only an irrelevant double-bogey at the 18th kept the winning margin below seven. Though his form had been better of late (notably posting a T5 in Qatar in January), the title was Canizares’s first since the 2006 Russian Open………………Canadian Richard T. Lee claimed his first career Asian Tour victory by coming from behind to take the Solaire Open with a final round 69 at The Country Club, in Manila. Lee began the day four shots behind Angelo Que, and his chances looked even dimmer after double bogeying the 4th hole. But three straight birdies at holes 8-10 righted the ship, and on a day when most of the top contenders failed to gather much momentum, two more birdies at the 12th and 15th ultimately proved enough for Lee to edge Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol by one. The homestanding Que endured an epic early meltdown on Sunday when he hit three balls out-of-bounds en route to a 12 at the par-5 2nd, and he would ultimately shoot an 82, tumbling to a tie for 21st.
PGA Tour - Valspar Championship - John Senden (277)
European Tour - Trophee Hassan II - Alejandro Canizares (269)
Asian Tour - Solaire Open - Richart T. Lee (277)
LET - Lalla Meryem Cup - Charley Hull (269)
JLPGA Tour - Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies - Yuki Ichinose (209)
Champions Tour - Toshiba Classic - Fred Couples (198)
Web.com Tour - Brasil Champions - Jon Curran (259)