2014 - WEEK 36: Sep 4 - Sep 7
Thirty-three-year-old Kevin Stadler claimed his first PGA Tour victory in 239 starts at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, his 268 aggregate proving good enough to edge 54-hole leader Bubba Watson by one. Stadler, the son of 1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler, initially moved into the final round lead with a birdie at the par-4 9th but fell behind again with a double bogey at the 11th. He remained one back through the par-5 15th (where both he and Watson scrambled for par after hitting it in the water), then drew even when Watson bogeyed the short 16th from a front-left bunker. The pair each carded two-putt birdies at the driveable par-4 17th before Watson handed Stadler the victory by bogeying the 438-yard 18th after driving in the rough. The bogey dropped Watson into a tie for second with Canada’s Graham Delaet (who closed with a pair of weekend 65s), while Hunter Mahan and 21-year-old Japanese rookie Hideki Matsuyama shared fourth. Though he is a four-time winner on the Web.com Tour, this was Stadler’s first major circuit triumph since taking the European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Classic (played in Australia) in 2006. The victory made the Stadlers the ninth father-son pair to win on the PGA Tour and, with Kevin’s resulting ticket to Augusta, sets them up to be the first father-son team ever to appear in the same Masters...................Thirty-nine-year-old Stephen Gallacher became the first man to successfully defend his title at the Dubai Desert Classic, winning the event's 25th anniversary playing in a hotly contested shootout which at one point late in the final round saw 18 players within two shots of the lead. Indeed, the crowded nature of Sunday's competition created much late drama as one man after another posted ever-lower finishing scores, beginning with Finland's Mikko Ilonen, who continued his strong form by closing with 64 to post a 13-under-par clubhouse total. Next came France's Romain Wattel, whose birdie-birdie finish (for a 66) lifted him to 14-under-par - a number soon eclipsed by 21-year-old Argentinean Emiliano Grillo, who reached 15 under via a closing eagle that included an approach ricocheted off the spectator pavilion, followed by a 60-foot putt. But the resolute Gallacher, who began the week with a rock-solid 66 in the company of superstars Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, authored the biggest stories on both Saturday and Sunday. In many ways, Gallacher's Saturday work was the most impressive, for after seemingly drifting out of contention through 45 holes, he tied the all-time European Tour record by playing the back nine in nine-under-par 28, a stunning run that included seven birdies and an eagle. Thus vaulting himself into a two-stroke 54-hole lead, Gallacher then staggered out of the gate with two bogeys Sunday and ultimately turned in four-over-par 39. But birdies at the 11th and 13th got the ship righted, and when he added clutch birdies at both the 16th and the driveable 17th, he had climbed back to 16 under, allowing him a routine par 5 at the last to clinch the title. Less happy, certainly, was a recently rejuvinated Rory McIlroy, who played spectacular golf en route to an opening 63 but stumbled thereafter, ultimately closing with a very disappointing 74 to tie for ninth.
On a Sunday which, for the first time in two decades, included neither Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods, 28-year-old Scott Stallings charged from a three-stroke 54-hole deficit to claim his third PGA Tour win at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. Stallings made up much of his ground with a run of three birdies from the 11th through the 14th before nearly being derailed by a bogey at the par-3 16th. But under the gun, he logged the critical birdie he needed at the par-5 18th by reaching the pond-fronted green with a 4 iron, then two-putting from 40 feet. This last birdie then held up as the margin of victory when a long list of erstwhile contenders – at one point nine players were tied for the lead - eventually fell by the wayside. This list was headed by Gary Woodland, who stood eight-under-par before a crushing double-bogey at the 17th left him unable to utilize his length to tie at the last. Australian Marc Leishman then came up one shy when he could only birdie the last – a circumstance matched earlier by Jason Day, Graham Delaet and area native Pat Perez. Also sharing second was K.J. Choi, who finished well before the leaders with a 66, the week’s low South Course round. Less happy with their weeks were Mickelson (who withdraw Friday night with a back injury) and Woods, who failed to make the 54-hole cut after crashing to an ugly Saturday 79...................Sergio Garcia spent the first three days of the Qatar Masters flying almost completely under the radar, his opening rounds of 71-67-69 leaving him seven, seven and three shots off the lead respectively. But in a Saturday finale played under ideal conditions, the 34-year-old Garcia raced home with six birdies over his final 12 holes to card the day's co-low round (a seven-under-par 65) and charge into the clubhouse lead. Unfortunately, Garcia missed an eight-footer for birdie at the 72nd, and thus left the door ajar for Finland's Mikko Ilonen, who promptly holed a clutch 18-footer for birdie at the par-5 finisher to join Garcia on 272 and force a playoff. The pair were nearly joined by Denmark's 24-year-old Thorbjørn Olesen, who arrived at the last trailing by two but, after reaching the 589-yarder in two, he narrowly missed a 15-foot eagle putt to tie. Returning to the 18th for sudden death, Garcia too missed a makeable eagle putt on the first playoff hole, and both he and Ilonen birdied the hole on its second playing. But Ilonen was unable to match Garcia's birdie on the third go-round, and with a total of 10 birdies in 21 Saturday holes, the Spaniard clinched his 11th career European Tour victory. Olesen would share third place with third round leader Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain, who closed with a more-than-respectable 69.
Twenty-three-year-old Patrick Reed labeled himself one of American golf’s up-and-coming stars by winning for the second time in his first 46 PGA Tour starts, cruising to a two-shot victory at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, California. Though Reed’s closing round of 71 left the door ajar enough for a few moments of semi-interest down the stretch, the victory margin was misleadingly close, for he had begun Sunday’s final round with an imposing seven-shot lead, and runner-up Ryan Palmer eagled the 72nd hole to pull within two. Reed’s first three days, however, were epic, as he became the first man ever to better 64 for three straight PGA Tour rounds by carding a trio of 63s over the events three course rota. His 189 total not only built what proved to be an insurmountable lead but also set a Tour record for the lowest 54-hole score relative to par at an eye-popping 27 under. Playing conditions in the Southern California desert were ideal throughout the week, thus when Reed barely bettered par on Sunday, both Zach Johnson (the Tour’s hottest player, who closed with a scorching 62) and veteran Justin Leonard (65) were able to at least creep within shouting distance. But only when Palmer scored his final eagle (for a 63 of his own) did Reed’s lead ever lip to less than three strokes………………Battling down to the wire against the two highest ranked players in the field, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal claimed his third career European Tour victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, edging Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy by one. Though Larrazabal played solid, steady golf en route to a closing 67, he had a bit of help down the stretch, especially from Mickelson who double-hit a recovery shot on the 13th hole and posted a triple-bogey seven, dropping him rather abruptly from the tournament lead to three shots in arrears. The world number five nearly managed a spectacular comeback, however, recording three birdies over the final five holes before ultimately coming up one shy. McIlroy too had chances to win, failing to hole a number of makeable birdie putts on the final nine, then finally carding a birdie at the par-5 finisher when it was an eagle that was required. McIlroy’s prospects had already been dimmed on Saturday evening when a two-stroke penalty assessed after the round for an illegal drop at the 2nd hole moved him from one to three shots off the lead, a deficit he was ultimately unble to recover from. Larrazabal, for his part, proved himself quite capable under pressure, logging birdies at the 11th and 13th to move into the lead, then recording a clutch two-putt birdie to close the door on his pursuers at the 567-yard par-5 18th………………Local Hua Hin native Prayad Marksaeng scored a popular hometown victory by rallying from a three-shot 54 hole deficit to win the King’s Cup behind Sunday’s low round (a six-under-par 66) in a January event that closed out the Asian Tour’s official 2013 schedule. Also a winner of his nation’s Queen’s Cup earlier in the 2013 season, Marksaeng’s completion of the Thai royalty double also represented his eighth career victory on the Asian circuit. After making the Sunday turn in two-under-par 34 but still trailing Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg by two, Marksaeng birdied the par-4 10th and chipped in for eagle at the par-5 13th, the latter combining with a Karlberg bogey to finally move the 47-year-old Marksaeng into the lead. He would later add an insurance birdie at the 17th, a gained stroke that would prove important when Karlberg finished birdie-birdie to pull within one.
PGA Tour - Humana Challenge - Patrick Reed (260)
European Tour - Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship - Pablo Larrazabal (274)
Asian Tour - King's Cup Golf Hua Hin - Prayad Marksaeng (276)
Champions Tour - Mitsubishi Electric Classic - Bernhard Langer (194)
Despite still feeling the effects of a back/neck injury dating to the summer of 2013, Louis Oosthuizen managed the rare feat of winning his first event of the new year four the fourth consecutive season, successfully defending his title at the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban, South Africa. Following a disappointing third round 71 that was marred by a triple-bogey at the 417-yard 16th, Oosthuizen began Sunday two behind 54-hole leader Tommy Fleetwood and initially made little headway before an eagle at the par-5 8th moved him briefly into the lead. The 2010 British Open champion played uneven golf thereafter, however, bogeying the par-5 10th, birdieing both the 13th and 14th, then making a crucial bogey at the 16th to fall one behind countryman Branden Grace, who’d birdied both the 16th and the 273-yard par-4 18th en route to a closing 68, and the lead. But rather then wait for the driveable 18th and a chance to tie, Oosthuizen proceeded to stick his approach to two feet at the tumbling 401-yard 17th to draw even, then clinched the title by chipping to a similar distance to birdie the last. Grace, who was looking for his first win since 2012, took solo second, while England’s Fleetwood (who closed with a disappointing 72) and Joost Luiten of The Netherlands (71) shared third, two shots off the pace. Oosthuizen’s triumph represented the eighth time in the E Tour’s last 11 events on South African soil that a homestanding player won, and the seventh straight E Tour visit to Durban to produce a native winner…………………It took Jimmy Walker seven years to land his first PGA Tour victory at the 2013 Frys.com Open but only three months to claim his second, as he tore through the field with a closing 63 to win the Sony Open in Hawaii, in Honolulu. Walker began the day two strokes behind 54-hole leader Chris Kirk and on a day when scoring was predictably low at the Waialae Country Club, did little more than stay in the mix after carding three birdies in his first 10 holes. But following another birdie at the par-4 13th and a clutch up-and-down for par at the 14th, Walker then poured in three straight birdies to seemingly take command, gaining the lead when Harris English made bogey at the 15th, then stretching it to three with additional birdies at the 16th (from seven feet) and the seaside par-3 17th (from six feet). A birdie at the par-5 finisher would have salted away the victory but when Walker could do no better than five, he had to look on nervously as Kirk made a late charge, birdieing the 17th and leaving himself a makeable 30-foot eagle chip at the last that would have forced a playoff. But Kirk missed, leaving him alone in second place and Walker as the champion.
The PGA Tour’s hottest player at the close of 2013 didn’t miss a beat in opening the new year, as Zach Johnson recovered from a disappointing third-round 74 by firing a closing 66 to win the season-opening Hyundai Tournment of Champions in Hawaii. After taking a strong three-shot lead at the halfway mark, Johnson struggled to get anything going in the third round, posting two late bogeys en route to the 74 which left him two in arrears of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Webb Simpson. But in the scheduled Monday finale, the 37-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa methodically took apart the par-73 Plantation Course, eventually pulling away from a crowded list of pursuers first by birdieing the 12th, then by adding three straight birdies at holes 14-16. Among the overnight leaders, only Spieth remained in serious contention, holding the lead prior to Johnson’s back nine explosion, then carding late birdies at the 17th and 18th to make the final margin of victory only one. Third place was shared by Kevin Streelman (who closed with 67) and the 2012 U.S. Open champion Simpson, who carded early Monday bogeys at the 3rd and 4th to blow himself from contention before adding five subsequent birdies to close with 70. Defending champion Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, opened with bogeys at the 1st and 2nd, then largely buried his hopes with one more bogey at the par-4 6th before ultimately tying for sixth with a closing 73.