Billy Horschel and Jason Day both came into the AT&T Byron Nelson playing some of the worst golf of their careers. Horschel had missed four straight cuts, while Day was coming off a final-round eight-over 80 at the Players Championship. Yet after 72 holes at TPC Las Colinas in Dallas, they were tied at 12 under and headed to a playoff to determine the more unlikely winner. It took just one hole for Horschel to take the crown, giving him the fourth victory of his PGA Tour career and his first since the 2014 Tour Championship.
The final grouping of Day, Horschel and James Hahn took a while to get going on Sunday, when bad weather forced a delay in the start of the final round. But it was well worth the wait when they did. All three players were tied at 11 under par after nine holes, and Hahn took charge, making two straight birdies on the 10th and 11th holes to get to 13 under. Three consecutive bogeys after that derailed him, though, setting the stage for Day and Horschel.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 21, 2017
On the 14th hole, Horschel rolled in a 59-foot birdie putt, the longest of his career, that got him to 11 under. A hole later, Day produced a roar from the crowd with a chip-in birdie from an awkward lie, getting him to 12 under. Horschel made one more birdie on the par-5 16th to tie the lead, and both players made pars the rest of the way.
Hahn, 35, made sure to throw one final punch at the leaders. From 121 yards out in the 18th fairway, he struck his second shot perfectly, spun it back toward the hole and hit the lip of the cup, nearly holing out for an unbelievable eagle that would have earned him a spot in the playoff as well. He cleaned up his birdie for a final-round 71, finishing at 11 under in solo third. It was his best finish of the season and second in the top-10 showing.
Making birdie from THERE? Ridiculous!
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 21, 2017
In the playoff, Horschel and Day each found the 18th green in two, setting up putts to potentially win. From 48 feet, Day gave it a great roll, but it trickled a few feet past, leaving a nervy par putt. Horschel’s 20-foot putt came up just short, and he finished up for par, not expecting it to be the last shot of his week. Fortunately for him it was, as Day pulled his short putt left, giving Horschel the victory.
Day, the No. 4 player in the world, won’t be thrilled with how his week ended, but the second-place finish is his best of the season.
Jason Kokrak, the 36-hole leader, finished alone in fourth after carding an even-par 70. He got back into contention on Sunday despite playing his first four holes in three over par. Five birdies and two bogeys the rest of the way ultimately would not be enough, but it’s his best finish of the season, and his first in the top-10. – Christopher Powers
Papadatos takes home WA PGA Championship
New South Welshman Dimitrios Papadatos won the TX Civil and Logistics WA PGA Championship in his first trip to the Kalgoorlie Golf Course.
Firing rounds of 70, 68, 70, 68 for a tournament total 12-under 276, Papadatos won by a stroke from Victorian Rory Bourke, who had an eagle putt on 18 to force a playoff.
It was a tough day for everyone in the field with wind gusts of up to 42km/h but Papadatos managed to keep his composure as the red dirt swirled.
“It was way tougher in that wind. You have to account for so many more things on every shot. On every putt I was allowing for more break and I was trying to work out where the wind was coming from because it was swirling. It was pretty difficult and very draining playing in those conditions,” said Papadatos, who saw his lead diminish to just one shot after he doubled the 15th hole.
“I thought I was still leading by a shot, I was still in a good position to win the tournament so there was no reason to throw the toys out of the cot.
“I had to stay patient and finish it off well which thankfully I did.”
The TX Civil & Logistics WA PGA Championship becomes Papadatos’ second win of the 2017 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia season.
“It’s always hard to get over the line and I was pretty lucky to do that today,” said Papadatos, who loved the Kalgoorlie Golf Course; the major attraction to his playing this week.
“The course is the reason I came here, it was a bit of hike to get here, but the boys were all saying what a great course it is.
“I was going to go straight the UK and miss this week but I spoke to my coach, Richard Woodhouse and he said it was worth playing another event before I go.
“It worked out well. It was a good idea, and Richard is right again.”
Celebrating his victory by road tripping back to Perth, the 25-year-old is heading back to Europe next week a more experienced player.
“Even though last year I had a terrible time, I am going to go over there more ready for what is to come,” added Papadatos, who will tee it up in US Open qualifying at Walton Heath.
“I am definitely a better player than what I was when I went to Europe last year. I learnt a lot from that and I have done a lot of work. It’s a matter of getting the opportunities, I am playing well enough.” – Olivia McMillan
Bernhard Langer wins Regions Tradition,
ties Jack Nicklaus for most all-time senior major titles
When Bernhard Langer starts to do Bernhard Langer things, it doesn’t really matter how his PGA Tour Champions rivals as playing. Sure, Fred Funk’s sloppy play on the 12th hole at the Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham made life a lot easier for the 59-year-old German. But with Langer making nine birdies and just one bogey en route to a Sunday 64, it meant the inevitable at the Regions Tradition: another impressive victory.
More significantly than grabbing his 31 career senior title, Langer claimed his eighth senior major, tying Jack Nicklaus for the most in PGA Tour Champions history as he also defended his Tradition title from 2016.
“It’s a great honour,” Langer said. “Not many people can say they match Jack Nicklaus in anything. To have won as many majors on this tour as he has is outstanding obviously and a thrill for me.”
There was, however, something unique with Langer’s latest triumph, a five-stroke romp over Scott McCarron and Scott Parel after shooting a 20-under 268. In his previous seven senior major wins, Langer either held the outright lead or a share of lead entering the final round all seven times. While coming from behind to win 12 of his career titles, this was the first time he had done it in a major.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) May 21, 2017
Amazingly, after a 69-69 start, Langer was T-10, six strokes off Funk’s lead entering the weekend. But his weekend 66-64 broke the Regions Traditions record for lowest 36-hole weekend score while winning the $384,000 first-place cheque.
Indeed, in the two years since the event has moved to Greystone, Langer has broken 70 in every round. He had 67.86 average in his seven rounds before the Sunday 64. Suffice it to say, Langer looks like a favorite to win this event in 2018 as well.
That said, Langer’s next chance to pass Nicklaus and earn a ninth senior major happens this week as the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling. It is the only senior major of the five played that Langer has never won, giving him a chance to also become the first player to win all five current majors
“It is the one that has eluded me, for whatever reason,” Langer said. “I’ll give it my best shot.”
– Ryan Hetherington
Yuan, Brown secure China cards
Kevin Yuan of the Australian Golf Club, and former NSW Amateur Champion Mitchell Brown have finished tied 6th after the final round of the China Golf Tour Qualifying school.
The tournament was held at the OCT Kunming Wind Valley Club at Kunming, Yunnan Province.
Yuan, who lead the four round event by three shots with just one round remaining, had the wind taken out of his sails after an early double bogey. He got the round back on track with a brace of birdies on the back nine. Two late bogeys however on the 16th and 17th holes however did little to diminish his effort.
Mitchell Brown shot a fine five under 67 to secure his card for the 2017 Tour. His homeward nine was brilliant, and featured four birdies and an eagle.
The trio of Peter Martin, Maverick Antcliff and Jichul Chung finished in a tie for 13 to grab cards for this year. The Top 15 and ties secured cards for the 2017 season.
The group will be joined Victorian Deyen Lawson, who qualified for this years tour last week at the same venue. – Dave Tease
Despite an ugly finish in Italy, Alvaro Quiros walks away happy
—and with a tour card back in his hands
When Alvaro Quiros made his fourth birdie of the day, on the sixth hole in the final round of the Rocco Forte Open, he was 20-under par for the week and seven shots clear of his nearest challenger, Zander Lombard of South Africa. Game over? Not quite. Nine holes later, the 34-year old Spaniard’s seemingly insurmountable advantage was gone and three holes after that he stood over a 12-foot putt for par on the final green at Verdure Golf Club on the Mediterranean island of Sicily that had to go in if he was to join Lombard in a sudden-death playoff.
To his eternal credit, Quiros made what might just be the most important putt of his once promising but recently hapless career. Then, two holes into the playoff, another par on the same hole was enough for the big-hitting Spanish native to claim the €166,660 first prize and, far more importantly, regain his lost playing rights on the European Tour. Last year, the now seven-time tour winner plummeted to 134th on the Race to Dubai and was forced to return to qualifying school, where he failed to earn back his card.
In truth, Quiros’ recent numbers have been shockingly bad for one who, when he won the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in 2011, seemed on the verge of stardom. In 2015, Quiros managed only four top-20 finishes and finished 128th on the European money list. Only that far off victory and its five-year exemption kept him on tour. En route to finishing even lower on the Race to Dubai in 2016, Quiros missed 15 cuts and had only one top-20 finish. Little wonder then that he began his week in Sicily ranked 703rd in the world.
This year, demoted to the Challenge Tour and the occasional start in European Tour events, Quiros showed little sign of recovery, although a final-round 65 in Portugal one week ago hinted at past glories. Only once in five Euro Tour events had he qualified for the weekend. He was seemingly going nowhere, and such poor form was certainly the dominant feature of his stumbling play over the closing 12 holes of this latest victory. The birdie on the sixth hole was Quiros’ last of the final day, his only deviations from par thereafter four bogeys and a double-bogey on the 16th. It was ugly stuff marked by a seemingly endless run of missed fairways and, it must be said, painful to watch.
Still, somehow he got it done.
“I’m very happy,” Quiros said. “Obviously it shouldn’t be like that, but at the end it’s a victory and that’s the most important thing. It’s been a little bit of a mess. The game wasn’t that bad. Just the last few holes I started to struggle with the wind left-to-right. I didn’t have an idea how many shots I was leading by. What I knew on 18 is I had to make a putt to halve with Zander.”
– John Huggan