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Rickie Fowler survives three-way playoff

Rickie Fowler survives three-way playoff

Rickie Fowler survives three-way playoff for dramatic win at 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic

Rickie Fowler buried a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win a battle with Adam Hadwin and Collin Morikawa in Detroit and end a four-year victory drought at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

“I knew it was just a matter of time with the way I was playing,” said Fowler, who notched his sixth career PGA Tour title.

It had been 1,610 days, or 4 years, 4 months, 29 days since his last win at the 2019 WM Phoenix Open, the longest victory drought of his Tour career.

Ten months ago, he was ranked No. 185 in the Official World Golf Ranking and barely qualified for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Late last year, Fowler returned to working with his former instructor Butch Harmon and his game has made steady progress. He entered this week having finished in the top 20 in 12 of his 15 starts this year.

“It’s tough when you’re struggling for that long of a period of time,” said Fowler, noting that his play was building to this victory. “How I’ve played is some of the best if not the best I’ve felt about my game and on the course really ever.”

Source: USAToday 

New Englander Keegan Bradley wins Travelers Championship, breaks tourney record

New Englander Keegan Bradley wins Travelers Championship, breaks tourney record

With fans chanting his name, the 37-year-old walked up to his ball on the 18th green, sank a 2-foot par putt and threw his arms into the air and let out a yell. He finished three shots ahead of Zac Blair, who shot 62, and Brian Harman, who closed with a 64.

“This is for all the kids who grew up in New England and had to endure the winters and watch other people play golf,” said Bradley, who was born in Vermont and also lived in Massachusetts. “I am just so proud to win this tournament.”

Bradley had only made one bogey for the week before dropping three shots in his final six holes as the nerves seemed to get to him at the PGA Tour even he said he most wanted to win. This was his sixth Tour victory and second this season; he won the Zozo Championship in Japan in October.

Bradley birdied the par-4 12th hole to move for 5 under for the day and take a six-shot lead. But he sliced his tee shot into the water on the next hole, leading to bogey. He also bogeyed the 14th and 16th holes.

He settled down with a par on the 17th to all but guarantee himself a triumphant walk up the last hole.

“I played great until the last like five or six holes and luckily I had a big enough lead to coast home,” Bradley said.

He became the first New Englander to win the title since Connecticut’s J.J. Henry in 2006.

Blair had his best finish on Tour. The 32-year-old from Utah has been playing on a major medical exemption after missing almost two full years with a torn labrum.

“Basically, I went from playing 18 or 36 holes every day for the last seven, eight years to not touching a club for five, six, seven months,” he said. “It was cool, though. Got to hang out with my family and build a golf course and do a lot of other fun stuff. But, it’s obviously cooler to shoot 62 on Sunday.”

Blair had back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5, then went on a tear with six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 13th, where he hit his approach from 253 yards inside 5 feet.

Harman shot his second straight 64.

Patrick Cantlay, who shot 61 on Saturday to get within five strokes of the leaders, made a run at Bradley with three straight birdies from Nos. 13-15. But he overshot the 16th green, leading to bogey, and lipped out his birdie try on the 17th. He shot 67 to finish four shots back alongside Scottie Scheffler (65) and 2019 champion Chez Reavie (71), who began the day one shot behind Bradley but did not make a birdie until the 14th hole.

Rory McIlroy shot 64 and finished at 18 under after making an early charge. He birdied five of his first seven holes in front of galleries that were four or five fans deep.

But he gave a shot back on the ninth after his 352-yard drive settled next to a boundary fence in deep rough. He then missed an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 12.

TPC River Highlands gave up eight rounds of 62 or better this week.

“I don’t particularly like when a tournament is like this,” McIlroy said. “Unfortunately, technology has passed this course by, right? It sort of has made it obsolete, especially as soft as it has been with a little bit of rain that we had.”


Source: Golfchannel

Charlie Reiter is finaly playing on thye pro golf tour see what Jon Rahm says about this

Charlie Reiter is finaly playing on thye pro golf tour see what Jon Rahm says about this

As an 18-year-old playing on an exemption in a PGA Tour event, Charlie Reiter so impressed Jon Rahm with his clubhead speed that the Spaniard said he expected the lanky teen to hit it by him.

“He hits it far and when I mean far, I mean really far, like he can easily get it past me,” said Rahm, then the third-ranked player in the world, who was a member with Reiter at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, California. “He reminds me of Brandon Hagy (a Cal product and another TrackMan marvel); they’re both similar build, not the biggest guys, but they’re just fit and have a lot of power.”

During the second round of the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge (now the American Express) Reiter averaged 348.5 yards off the tee in the second round on PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament Course, where he pounded two of the three longest drives recorded during the event’s first 54 holes. In the third round, he averaged 332.5 yards on a windy day around PGA West’s Stadium Course.

Reiter started consistently hitting the ball more than 300 yards during his freshman year of high school, when he was just 14 years old. And the prodigy’s golf story begins in infancy. His father, Mike, a skilled golfer who played on the mini-tours, used to put plastic clubs in Charlie’s crib. By age 4, Reiter won his first tournament.

Trophies began to pile up. When Reiter was 10 he competed in the Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championship at PGA West.

And now, finally, Reiter has a professional golf tour to play – at least for the rest of the year.

Reiter, who turned pro last fall after a summer that saw him play in the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur, rallied from four shots back at the start of the day Friday to win a U.S. qualifier tournament for the PGA Tour Canada. With a final-round 3-under 69 at Soboba Springs Golf Club in San Jacinto, California. Reiter is now fully exempt for the Canada tour that begins its season in June.

“Now I have a full schedule over the summer,” Reiter said after gaining full status for the Canada circuit. “I know what the summer will be.”

Reiter finished at 15-under 283, including a sizzling 64 in the third round, to edge Kyle Karazissis of La Quinta, California, by a single shot. Karazissis, a mini-tour golfer who also caddies at The Quarry in La Quinta, will be exempt on the PGA Tour Canada for the first five events, through that tour’s first reshuffle of exemptions.

Reiter’s victory turned on a two-shot swing on the final hole Friday. On the par 5, Reiter hit a good drive and reached the green in two shots, while Karazissis was forced to lay up and reached the green in three. Reiter had a routine two-putt from 20 feet for his birdie, but Karazissis three-putted from 35 feet, including a hard lip-out of his par putt from about 10 feet.

Reiter, who played college golf at both USC and the University of San Diego, fired rounds of 70, 70, 64 and 69 to win the qualifier. Karazissis stumbled to a 74 in the final round.

Reiter started his final round quickly with three consecutive birdies on the fourth, fifth and sixth holes, but he followed that with three bogeys in a row starting on the eighth hole.

The comeback started with a birdie on the 13th hole, then continued with a birdie 2 on the 16th hole. Reiter then completed the comeback with his birdie on the 18th.

Qualifying for the PGA Tour Canada was always part of Reiter’s plan for 2023 after he missed signup dates for Korn Ferry Tour qualifying last fall and also struggled for the money to sign up since he was still an amateur.

“I wasn’t thinking about (Korn Ferry qualifying) that quickly. I was just sort of so jumbled up with the U.S. Am and stuff like that,” Reiter said. “I just kind of forgot about it.”

This year he has played in the Asher Tour, a mini tour mostly in California, while preparing for PGA Tour Canada qualifying.

“This is kind of the other first little way,” Reiter said of PGA Tour Canada qualifying.

Reiter, whose 2022 season also included a victory in the California State Amateur, has experience in professional events, having played in PGA Tour’s The American Express three times as an amateur, including when he was a senior at Palm Desert High School.

The PGA Tour Canada will play a 10-event schedule starting with the Royal Beach Victoria Open in Victoria, British Columbia, June 15-18. The tour will end its year with the Fortinet Cup Championship in September. The Order of Merit winner from the tour will earn status on the PGA Tour’s developmental Korn Ferry Tour in 2024.

“There are other opportunities,” Reiter added. “I’m playing in May up in Reno, the Reno Open, and if you win that, you get to play in the Barracuda (Championship on the PGA Tour in July). You never know.”

A win at the Barracuda Championship would put Reiter in more PGA Tour events in the following weeks.

“If I could play in three or four straight events, I would probably get conditional status,” Reiter said.

The PGA Tour remains the ultimate goal for the 23-year-old who is still living in San Diego for now. But his summer will also include U.S. Open qualifying, something he did last summer that allowed him to play his way into his first U.S. Open last June.

“It will be a busy summer,” Reiter said.

Source: Golfweek

Phil Mickelson takes over top spot on Masters money list

Phil Mickelson takes over top spot on Masters money list

The first Masters in 1934 was won by Horton Smith, who pocketed $1,500 for his historic win. In 2023, Jon Rahm earned a record $3.24 million for winning his first green jacket and second major championship.

The money has certainly changed over the years. Jack Nicklaus played in 45 Masters and made a record 37 cuts. His career earnings at the tournament are $772,359. Arnold Palmer, who played in 50 Masters and made 23 cuts, earned $204,013.


Tiger Woods, who made the cut for a record-tying 23rd time in 2023, held the top spot on the all-time money list for the Masters, but he didn’t collect a paycheck in 2023 after withdrawing just ahead of the final round. Couple that with Phil Mickelson’s surprising tie for second and there’s a new No. 1 on this list.


Also new in 2023: Brooks Koepka enters the top 20 as he is the 15th golfer to surpass the $3 million in Augusta earnings. That means Ernie Els drops out of the top 20.


There have been 87 Masters. Here are the top 20 money winners all-time at the event.


Sam Burns Wins Match Play with Ease

Sam Burns Wins Match Play with Ease

'What a week': Sam Burns storms through field, wins Match Play


AUSTIN, Texas -- The final hours of the last WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play turned into a dud for everyone but Sam Burns.

Burns went on a tear Sunday afternoon in the championship match with eight birdies on his final 10 holes and enough help from Cameron Young for a 6-and-5 victory. It was the second-largest margin in an 18-hole match in this tournament.

Burns won for the fifth time on the PGA Tour. Young, who had a late rally with clutch birdies to eliminate Rory McIlroy in the semifinals, had to settle for his sixth runner-up finish in the past 18 months.

"What a week," Burns said. "I'm so tired."

Burns made it to the championship match Sunday afternoon only when defending champion Scottie Scheffler missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 20th hole of their semifinal match. Given new life, Burns made birdie from a fairway bunker with a 15-foot putt to advance.

Young had an early lead. Burns squared the match on the fifth hole and took the lead with a chip-and-putt birdie on the par-5 sixth. And then on the next hole, Young missed a 6-foot par putt to fall 2-down. It was his first bogey since the seventh hole Thursday.

All the momentum Young had built up over the week seemed to vanish. And the silky putting stroke of Burns was never better.

He holed a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 8. He made a 12-footer on No. 10 to go 4-up. He birdied the 11th hole from 25 feet -- Young made his from 20 to halve the hole -- and then it ended so abruptly.

Young pulled his shot from rough into the water on the par-5 12th, and then he came up short of the green and into the water on the reachable par-4 13th.

Burns chipped to just inside 3 feet, and Young removed his cap without making him putt.

"It's easy to think you're so close," Young said. "There's one guy standing between you and winning the tournament. And that one guy is Sam Burns playing really well."

The highlight was his semifinal win over McIlroy, who was in full flight for so much of the week. McIlroy was 2-up with three holes to play when Young won the 16th with a birdie and then hit a nifty pitch-and-run up the slope and his purest putt of the week.

On the first extra hole at the par-5 12th, Young was in such a bad spot in the bunker next to the lip that he could blast out to only 169 yards, with McIlroy just over 200 yards for his second. Young hammered pitching wedge to 9 feet and made birdie. McIlroy played short and right of the green, chipped to just inside 9 feet and missed.

That was the kind of theater that graced Austin Country Club all week, particularly Sunday morning. Scheffler was trying to join Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners, and he had a 2-up lead over Burns through 10 holes.

Burns rallied back against his best friend on tour, and Scheffler had to get up-and-down from short of the 18th green for birdie to force overtime. He had it won on the second extra hole at No. 13 -- except he missed the putt -- and Burns escaped.

"That's the nature of this match play," Burns said. "It's one holed putt or missed putt away from winning or losing. He gave me a gift there on 13."

Burns in the championship match was close to unbeatable.

"There might not have been anybody beating him today the way he played," Young said.

McIlroy and Scheffler wound up in the consolation match, which McIlroy won 2 and 1. That gave the thin crowd something to watch when Burns ended the title match early. Scheffler played four years for the Longhorns. McIlroy is popular everywhere.

And while that was going on, the Longhorns were on TV trying to get to the Final Four in a game they ultimately lost to Miami.

It was a flat ending to what has been 23 dynamic events of Match Play since the World Golf Championships began in 1999. Match Play was the first one, a 38-hole final won by Jeff Maggert at La Costa. That was a nail-biter. This was a rout.

Match Play will not be on the schedule in 2024 as the PGA Tour moves toward elevated events for the top 70 or so players, a response to the threat from Saudi-funded LIV Golf.

Burns, who made 40 birdies for the week, moved to No. 10 in the world and collected $3.5 million from the $20 million purse. Young got $2.2 million for finishing second, though a trophy after so many close calls would seem to be invaluable.

Taylor Moore gets his first career Tour win!

Taylor Moore gets his first career Tour win!

Taylor Moore outlasts Jordan Spieth, Adam Schenk at Valspar for first Tour win

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Taylor Moore was never really the star attraction Sunday at the Valspar Championship until he had finished hitting all the right shots and posed with the trophy for his first PGA Tour title that sends him to the Masters.

Adam Schenk and Jordan Spieth provided enough compelling theater for so much of the day, locked in a battle on the back nine of the Copperhead course at Innisbrook.

When it was over, all they shared was misfortune.

Moore surged into the mix with a 9-iron to 5 feet for birdie on the 15th hole and a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, followed by two tough pars for a 4-under 67.

That turned out to be a winner when Spieth hit his tee shot into the water on the 16th and Schenk, going for his first PGA Tour victory, hit a drive on the final hole that settled next to a large pine tree. He made bogey and finished one shot behind.

Moore, who grew up outside Oklahoma City, was on the practice range anticipating a playoff when he realized he had won at 10-under 274.

“I might have been under the radar to some people watching, but I felt like I was in the golf tournament from the time I teed off today and was just excited to control what I could control and get it done,” Moore said.

The victory sends him to the Masters in three weeks, a welcome addition to his schedule.

Spieth was tied for the lead when he sent his tee shot into the water on the 16th and managed to stay in the game by getting up-and-down from 163 yards to salvage bogey. On the par-3 17th, which yielded only two birdies all day, Spieth hit 4-iron to 6 feet — only to miss the birdie putt.

Tommy Fleetwood was part of a three-way tie early on the back nine until he took bogey on the par-5 14th. Spieth didn’t realize anyone else was in the mix.

“I thought it was me and Adam. I thought it was down to us two,” Spieth said. “I was thinking it was Tommy one back of us with a few holes to go and so I thought we could still kind of control it from the last group. Then I saw 10 (under) was posted walking off 16 green.”

The real heartbreak belonged to Schenk, whose wife flew down to Florida for the final round a month before she is due with their first child. Schenk holed a 70-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole. He made tough par saves on the 16th and 17th holes to stay tied.

On the 18th, however, he pulled his tee shot to the left. It was roughly the same line as Moore had hit his tee shot earlier, only Schenk’s ball rolled through the gallery and stopped next to a pine tree.

“Wish I could have lightly hit somebody and stayed where I had a chance to get to the green, but it did not, and I didn’t deserve it,” Schenk said.

His only shot was hitting an inverted gap wedge left-handed, and it was a dandy, shooting across the fairway into the rough. His third shot came up just short of a ridge and rolled onto the fringe 40 feet away. The par putt to force a playoff hit the hole, but had too much pace and hopped out.

Schenk, playing for the 10th consecutive week so he can take time off when his son is born, closed with a 70.

“It stinks to get so close,” he said.

Spieth missed a par putt on the 18th that was worth FedEx Cup points and money, signed for a 70 and tied for third with Fleetwood.

No one was paying all that much attention to Moore until the 29-year-old who played at Arkansas started hitting one quality shot after another. He stuffed his approach to 2 feet on No. 12 for a birdie. He effectively won the tournament with a great swing with a 9-iron on the 15th and his big putt on the next hole.

Moore got up-and-down for par with a long bunker shot on the 17th, and he two-putted from about 70 feet just off the green at the 18th.

The victory for Moore was worth $1,458,000 and moved him to No. 9 in the FedEx Cup standings. Along with the Masters, he gets in the PGA Championship. He moved from No. 103 to just inside the top 50 in the world.

SOURCE [golfchannel.com]

Scottie Scheffler shows why he's #2 in the WORLD!

Scottie Scheffler shows why he's #2 in the WORLD!

Scottie Scheffler on top of golf world after dominant Players Championship win

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Scottie Scheffler was going to win the golf tournament. 

No drama remained in this 49th Players Championship. Scheffler, like a surgeon, had drained every ounce of drama out of the final round before he made the turn. The thing was all over but the trophy ceremony and the $4.5 million winner’s check being handed to him. 

Yet there Scheffler was standing in the middle of the 18th fairway alongside his caddie Ted Scott holding a five-shot lead and he was still as stone-faced as he’d been all day around TPC Sawgrass. 

It wasn’t until Scheffler, who had to punch out from the pine straw to the fairway after an errant drive on the last, hit his third shot onto the 18th green that he exhaled. He took his hat off, crouched over and had some words with Scott, smiling for the first time all day. 

“Let’s win this thing by five,’’ Scheffler told Scott.

So, he did. 

Scheffler calmly got up-and-down from the fairway for par and finished 17-under par, five shots clear of runner-up Tyrrell Hatton and seven-shots better than Viktor Hovland and Tom Hoge. His 3-under-par 69 bettered his final-round playing partner, Min Woo Lee, by seven shots. 

It’s been 392 days since Scheffler broke through for his first PGA Tour victory, at the 2022 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Sunday marked his sixth win in that dizzying span, last April’s Masters being one of them. 

Not only did the win elevate Scheffler back to No. 1 in the world rankings, but he now owns the impressive distinction as only one of three players to hold a Masters green jacket and a Players Championship title at the same time. 

The other two? 

Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. 

“He’s had an amazing 15-month stretch of golf,’’ Hatton said. “He’s very impressive, incredibly consistent. [I] played with him last Sunday [at Bay Hill] and it was clear like he didn’t have his best that day, but he still hung around and had a chance there right at the end (Scheffler finished tied for fourth). It’s a pretty tough thing to do to be up there when you don’t have your best golf and still give yourself a chance to win.’’ 

Scheffler on Sunday made his move on Lee and the rest of the field, separating himself when he chipped in for birdie on No. 8 to move to 14-under par, good for a four-shot lead at the moment. 

He has a running bet with Scott for an undisclosed sum of cash on how many chip-ins he’ll have this year. The agreed-upon number was 10. Scheffler’s chip-in on No. 8 on Sunday was his 11th already. 

And it’s only March. 

“I think he chipped in three times this week and when he got his 11th, he was like, ‘Do I get a bonus for this?’ ’’ Scott said. “I’m like, ‘No, you are. You met your quota.’ ’’ 

It was a chip-in on the third hole at Augusta last April that propelled Scheffler to win his first career major championship. 

“It definitely got me going,’’ Scheffler said. “I played great after that. It definitely kick-started me a little bit. I mean, this chip-in was a little bit easier than the one at Augusta.’’ 

Jordan Spieth, one of the game’s best short-game wizards, said, “He’s got great hands. He’s got every shot. I think that Teddy made a very bad bet. I think Teddy will probably reevaluate considering we’re not even midway through March.’’ 

Scheffler, who’s remarkably unaffected by any and all chaos around him, has the perfect disposition to handle what he went through Sunday and to handle the No. 1 ranking. As the decibels rise, he’ll carry on as he always does — unaffected. 

“He’s obviously used to being in this position now, he’s done it so many times already,’’ Aussie Cam Davis, who finished tied for sixth, said. “I think he’s just got the attitude for it. It just looks like he’s calm, just doing his business, not really worrying what everyone else is doing and churning out birdies, which is what you need to do out here. 

“Obviously, he’s got his system down and figured out and I think the closer everyone else can get to finding theirs and sticking to it regardless of what’s going on the better chance we’ll have of keeping up with him.’’ 

Perhaps the only thing that was more impressive than what Scheffler did on the golf course Sunday was the fact that his 87-year-old grandmother, Mary DeLorenzo, kept up with him walking the golf course with a walker. 

“I mean, it’s pretty impressive she’s walking so many holes out here,’’ Scheffler said. “She’s a trooper. I really don’t know what to say. She’s had a rough last year with Grandpa passing away, and we have an uncle that’s pretty sick. I’m just happy that we’re able to kind of enjoy all this together.’’


Kitayama Surges to victory!

Kitayama Surges to victory!

Wild finish as 30-year-old underdog stuns McIlroy in maiden PGA win

30-year-old Kurt Kitayama has claimed his first-ever PGA Tour win with a stunning victory at the $20m USD Arnold Palmer Invitational, beating Rory McIlroy by one shot in a stunning boilover.

Kitayama turned professional in 2015, but in his 50th tournament the American finally claimed his maiden victory in sensational fashion, with a host of the world’s top players breathing down his neck throughout the final round.

A clutch 14-foot birdie putt on 17 gave him a one-shot lead entering the final hole at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando Florida.

From 191 yards in the rough, Kitayama landed a sensational approach shot onto the green.

He only needed to two-putt for victory, but his 47-foot attempt was almost perfectly struck – ending up teetering on the edge of the cup.

Even McIlroy was left in disbelief as he watched on, shaking his head that the ball didn’t fall.

Remarkably, Kitayama had suffered a triple bogey on the ninth hole while leading, before fighting back to win, making him the first player since 1983 to win despite a triple bogey or worse in the final round.

His even-par final round saw him finish nine-under overall.

The victory earns him $3.6m USD, nearly as much as his previous career earnings of $4,194,548 USD. It also rockets him up 33 spots on the FedExCup hunt into sixth place ahead of the Players Championship this week.

Harris English was tied with McIlroy one shot back on eight under, with world number two and defending champion Scottie Scheffler, 2020 champion Tyrrell Hatton, Jordan Spieth, and Patrick Cantlay all one shot further back. Australia’s Jason Day was equal tenth on five under overall.

“It was really hard. I’m going to sleep really well tonight. It’s everything I kind of mentally prepared myself for,” said Kitayama.

“I’ve always dreamed of winning on the Tour and to finally do it, it’s pretty amazing.”

McIlroy said: “Disappointment, obviously. I feel like I gave myself a great chance … It was a battle all day, I felt like I hung in there really well but just came up one short.”



Chris Kirk returns to Glory at the Honda Classic

Chris Kirk returns to Glory at the Honda Classic

Chris Kirk wins Honda Classic in playoff; 1st title since 2015

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Chris Kirk waited nearly eight years to win a PGA Tour event again. Waiting one more hole on Sunday was no problem.

Kirk stuck his approach to the par-5 18th to tap-in range, and his birdie on the first hole of a playoff lifted him past Eric Cole for the victory at the Honda Classic on Sunday.

Cole had a chance, playing his third shot from the sand to just outside of 10 feet for a birdie that would have extended the playoff. But it lipped out, and Kirk nudged his ball in for his fifth career win -- his first since prevailing at Colonial in 2015.

"I was obviously very, very nervous today having not won in so long," Kirk said. "Coming down the stretch, I felt good."

And he'll be the last Honda winner. The car company is ending its title sponsorship of the event after 42 years, with a new sponsor set to be in place -- the PGA Tour hopes, anyway -- in the coming weeks.

They finished 72 holes tied at 14-under 266, Kirk shooting 69 on Sunday, Cole shooting 67.

Kirk earned $1,512,000 for the win, and is now eligible to play the Masters again for the first time since 2016. Cole earned $915,600 for the runner-up finish, a check that more than doubles what the 34-year-old has earned in 14 previous tour starts.

"I loved it. It was a lot of fun," Cole said. "I can't wait to get back and do it again. I didn't have my best stuff today, and I was proud of how hard I fought."

Kirk went to the par-5 18th with a one-shot lead. His tee shot found the fairway. His second shot found the water, leading to bogey. Cole made par, giving Kirk new life in the playoff.

"Bad swing at the wrong time. ... Thank God it worked out," Kirk said.

Kirk hadn't held a trophy since 2015. That's not to say he hasn't done any winning in that span.

He walked away from the game in May 2019 because of alcoholism and depression. He dealt with anxiety and struggled with handling pressure, even though he had a penchant for making it seem like no big deal on the golf course -- he was a four-time winner, plus made a big putt to help the U.S. win the Presidents Cup at South Korea in 2015.

The tour gave him a major medical extension for the time he missed, meaning he had a set number of tournaments to do well enough to regain his full status. He got it back by the slimmest of margins at the Sony Open in 2021.

And now he's a champion again.

"I just have so much to be thankful for," Kirk said. "I'm so grateful for my sobriety, I'm so grateful for my family, I'm so grateful for everyone that has supported throughout the past three or four years."

Tyler Duncan, ranked No. 360 in the world coming into the week, shot 66 on Sunday and was third at 12 under. Monday qualifier Ryan Gerard, playing the weekend for the first time on the PGA Tour, shot 67 and finished fourth at 10 under.

Gerard's career earnings on tour went from $0 to $411,600. His plans for the next few weeks might be changing based on this finish.

"I've got to go book some flights and hotel rooms, swipe the credit card," said Gerard, who came into the week ranked 472nd in the world. "We'll see what happens."

Defending champion Sepp Straka (68) was in a group tied for ninth at 9 under, with all four of his rounds in the 60's. Also in that group: Shane Lowry, who had a chance to win the Honda last year and finished with an even-par 70.

"I played lovely, and I just couldn't get it going," Lowry said.


Argentine amateur star makes it to 2023 Masters

Argentine amateur star makes it to 2023 Masters

Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira earns bid into 2023 Masters field with Latin American Amateur Championship win

Messi's World Cup victory in December (understandably) scored all the headlines, and Argentina's incredible run of sporting achievements got an addition on Sunday when Argentine Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira won the Latin America Amateur Championship to secure his place in the 2023 Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship.

Fernandez de Oliveira, the No. 34-ranked amateur in the world, shot a 67 in the final round on Sunday at Grand Preserve Golf Club in Puerto Rico to claim his first ever title at this event. A year ago, Fernandez de Oliveira narrowly missed a playoff that could have propelled him into the 2022 Masters. This year, he left no doubt, defeating Luis Carrera by four strokes and the rest of the field by at least six.

"I'm still very shocked. I think my life has changed," said Fernandez de Oliveira. "I'm looking forward to a great year.  I'm going to take advantage of the three opportunities that I've been given for winning this event.  So I'm very happy and I just want to enjoy every second of it."

Fernandez de Oliveira, who is finishing up his senior year at Arkansas, had a tremendous summer in 2022 following that close call at the previous Latin America Amateur Championship. He finished ninth at the NCAAs then second at the Western to Austin Greaser, who, coincidentally, played in the 2022 Masters himself after finishing second at the 2021 U.S. Amateur.

For Fernandez de Oliveira, heading to the three majors will be a point of pride not only for himself but also his nation, which has produced one Masters winner (Angel Cabrera) and could have produced another. In 1968, Argentine Roberto de Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard that kept him from an 18-hole Monday playoff at that year's Masters.

De Vicenzo did not come up empty in majors, though. He actually won an Open Championship at the same course -- Royal Liverpool -- that this year's event will be played. Fernandez de Oliveira can't wait to get over there after his appearances at Augusta and Los Angeles Country Club.

"Going back where Roberto [De Vicenzo] won in 1967, it's very special. I went there in 2016, and the minute I walked into the clubhouse, they asked me where I was from and I said 'Argentina', and they told me, 'okay, come with me'. They took me to the lunch room where they have portraits and everything about where when he won. I felt very proud."

Fernandez de Oliveira completely dominated the week in Puerto Rico. After opening 68-67, he completely lit the golf course on fire with a 63 on Saturday before sealing the event with his tidy 67 on Sunday. In all, he made 25 birdies and an eagle to get to 23 under for the week.

He is actually not the first Argentine to win this event. Abel Gallegos beat Aaron Terrazas back in 2020 by four strokes before the Masters that year was postponed until November. Other Latin America Amateur Championship winners include Aaron Jarvis (Cayman Islands), Toto Gana (Chile) and -- perhaps most famously, Joaquin Niemann (Chile), who nearly won the event twice.

Fernandez de Oliveira bumps the 2023 Masters field to 81 with his victory in Puerto Rico and will try to become the first player since Alvaro Ortiz did it in 2019 to make the cut at Augusta National in April.


Source: cbssports.com 

Jon Rahm took the win!

Jon Rahm took the win!

Outdueled by Cam Smith last year, the Spaniard returned to Kapalua and fired a Sunday 63 to win and further lay claim to perhaps being the game's best player right now.

KAPALUA, Hawaii — 60 under!

That is Jon Rahm’s total over the last two years in the Sentry Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course and it’s only been good enough for one victory, but that victory was a stunner.

In the final round, Rahm was coming from nine shots back after a bogey on the first hole could have derailed his chances. It turned out to just be a brief interlude to a scoring onslaught that saw Rahm record nine birdies and an eagle on the 15th hole that tied him for the lead with overnight leader Collin Morikawa.

The last of the nine birdies on the par-5 18th, sealed a three-shot lead for Rahm while Morikawa was self-destructing midway through the back nine with three consecutive bogeys from Nos. 14-16.

“I'm like 'we're going to need a small miracle,'” Rahm said about his mindset at the start of the day. “After bogeying 1, I was going to need somewhat of a larger miracle. It goes to say, you just got to do the little things properly.”

This was nothing short of epic, and Rahm was looking for redemption after losing to Cam Smith last year when the Australian shot 34 under and Rahm 33 under.

Finding redemption was not easy and surely Rahm would not want to make a living coming back from nine-shot leads on Sundays, but he also was very aware that if someone was going to shoot a number, why not him?

“No matter the lead, if in a regular course you have to expect somebody's going to come and shoot 64 or 65, out here you have to expect the same thing,” Rahm said. “Somebody's going to shoot a very low number.“

With the win, Rahm is on a different mission.

Rahm has won at least once every year since 2017 and his eighth win comes when his game is as good as anyone’s worldwide.

Since the Tour Championship at the end of August, where Rahm finished T16, the Spaniard has been on a tear with a T2 at the BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour, followed by a win at the Spanish Open, a T4 at The CJ Cup, a win at the DP World Tour Championship and a T8 at Tiger’s event, the Hero World Challenge.

Rahm’s only question is why he isn’t ranked higher in the world rankings.

Currently sitting at fourth in the world, Rahm has only moved up one spot since going on this run. He believes he should be further up.

“In my mind, I feel like since August I've been the best player in the world, I feel like, and I think a lot of us should feel like a lot of times we're the best,” Rahm said. “Earlier in the year clearly Scottie (Scheffler) was that player, then Rory (McIlroy) was that player, and I feel like right now it's been me.”

Rahm may have a point, just by watching how he strategically took apart the Plantation Course, making only one mistake with the bogey on the first and then running the table against Morikawa, who could do no wrong through 67 holes.

Rahm was quick to point out that the Plantation Course is a scoring paradise, but it can get you at times.

“On this golf course you just always have to go out for birdies,” Rahm said. “This is what it is. When you go off to make those birdies, sometimes mistakes happen. Not only for him (Morikawa), for everybody.”

Giving credit where credit is due, Rahm believes his hard work is starting to pay off and the numbers don’t lie when you look at the accuracy of his approach shots over the last year making the difference.

That difference has allowed his putter to become more effective and he believes over the last four or five month it has been as good as it gets with the flatstick.

Things can turn in mysterious ways; for Rahm it turned with a birdie on the difficult hole, when even his caddie Adam Hayes had a larger-than-usual smile as Rahm drained his first birdie of the day.

A thinned bunker shot by Morikawa on the 14th hole produced his first bogey and put immediate doubt in his mind.

It’s a combination of things that put Rahm on the top of the leaderboard when it was all said and done.

“I'm not going to lie,” Rahm said. “Had I shot 60 under par in two starts here and not won either one of them, that would have been a hard pill to swallow. Something just doesn't register to say that, right, to do that well and lose both times.”
Source: si.com
Watch out for Rory McIlroy

Watch out for Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy enters 2023 as the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, the third time the Northern Irishman begins a calendar year in the top spot having done it previously in 2013 and 2015. But his decision not to play in this week’s PGA Tour 2023 opener, the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, means his hold of the top spot in the new year could be very short lived.

According to early projections from OWGR Twitter guru Nosferatu, Scottie Scheffler, who is in the 39-player field at Kapalua, can overtake McIlroy with at least a top-three finish this week.

Scheffler had the opportunity to take back the World No. 1 label two times since McIlroy took it from him in October after Rory's win at the CJ Cup. Scheffler needed a second-place finish at the Houston Open in November, but posted a T-9 result. A month later, he needed a win at the Hero World Challenge in December, but came in second by two shots to Viktor Hovland.

Seventeen of the top 20 ranked players in the world will compete this week as the PGA Tour resumes its 2022-23 season. McIlroy, along with Shane Lowry, will be playing in DP World Tour events later this month and thus delayed their return to the PGA Tour. The other missing top player is Cam Smith, the defending champion at the Sentry TOC who is ineligible to play in the event after leaving the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf in September.

A shuffle in the top of the World Ranking after Week 1 could be a precursor of some interesting movement in 2023. Last year, the World No. 1 traded hands just three times, Jon Rahm holding it from the start of the year until Scheffler took it after his win at the WGC-Dell Match Play in March, then McIlroy seizing it in October. But if it changes hands this early in 2023, it could mean that the year will give 2018 a run for its money as the most times the label was swapped around.

In 2018, Dustin Johnson started the year at No. 1, but Justin Thomas took the title in May. Four weeks later, DJ wrestled it back, only to have Justin Rose claim it for the first time in his career that September. DJ got it back two weeks later, but then dropped it to Brooks Koepka in late October. Rose and Keopka subsequently traded it four more times, Koepka claiming it on Nov. 25 to be able to boast of being No. 1 at the end of the calendar year.

Source: golfdigest.com

Underrated Golfers to check out for 2023

Underrated Golfers to check out for 2023

The 2023 golf year is just around the corner, and it's time to evaluate where the best players in the world stand going as the new season unfolds. Depending on where you look, most players are properly rated, but there are always those who are either a bit overrated because of recent conquests or a bit underrated because it's been a while since they raised a trophy (or perhaps for other reasons).

I put together a list of players underrated by the golf community heading into 2023. It includes some serial candidates (Keith Mitchell and Sungjae Im) but also some surprises (Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm). This is not meant to be a list of players who have an equal chance of doing something great in 2023 but rather a list of players I believe will, over the next 12 months, perform at a level beyond the current expectations folks have for them.

Here's a look at seven golfers I pinpointed with evidence for why they are currently being underrated and have a chance to thrive in 2023.

1. Sungjae Im

Arguably the best player in the world who didn't win anywhere in 2022. Im put together three runner-up finishes, six other top-12 finishes and had the best strokes gained number (1.6) of any golfer who did not have a victory in 2022. At just 24, he still has room to grow, too. He's improved statistically in six of his last seven seasons, and I think he wins one-to-three times in 2023 and contends for at least one major championship.

2. Aaron Wise

He's been a sexy "this guy could be on the U.S. Ryder Cup team next year" pick over the last few months, but there is plenty of evidence to back that up. Wise is a tremendous ball-striker, who seemingly solved his putting woes in 2022. It resulted in five top-15 finishes, including at big boy events like the CJ Cup and the Memorial. Similar to Im, he's improved statistically in three of his last five seasons, and a 2023 in which he wins a few times and gets himself to Rome is not out of the question.

3. Keith Mitchell

You can count the number of drivers that are better than Mitchell on one hand. It's Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Cameron Young, Im and that's about it. Obviously driving doesn't lead to victories, but with all the focus on distance in the modern PGA Tour game, it's a skill that, if you're better than nearly everyone in the world at, you're going to contend for some golf tournaments. Mitchell put up six top 12s in 2022 and improved his tee-to-green game overall. If that happens again in 2023, he's going to snag a victory.

4. Collin Morikawa

This a strange name to have on this list considering he's a two-time major champion and one of the most prolific early-career winners on the PGA Tour in its history. Still, there was some angst during the back half of 2022 about Morikawa's lack of wins. This happens often when top players come into a given year off an incredible run and fail to win a tournament. Still, there should not be panic for Morikawa. Consider that he ranked sixth in the world in ball-striking in 2022, and the two players below him and five above him combined for 18 wins. The adulation for Morikawa probably went a bit too far in 2021, but now it has completely swung the other way to the point that he's one of the more underrated players in the world going into 2023.

5. Will Zalatoris

Again, I'm not sure the No. 7 player in the world can be considered underrated, but Zalatoris' ball-striking has been so good (No. 1 in the world in 2022) and he's had so many near-misses (nine top fives in 2021-2022 but just one victory) that he has to be on this list. He could win three times in 2023, and nobody would be surprised.

6. Matt Fitzpatrick

Perhaps my favorite stat in golf is that Fitzpatrick has improved his strokes gained in each of his last 11 seasons. That is remarkable and not something I imagine has happened very often. The result is that he has turned into -- along with Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele -- one of the most complete players in the world. He gained at least 0.38 strokes per round in each of the four major categories last season and is the caliber of ball-striker now that results in becoming the No. 1 player in the world.

7. Jon Rahm

Another strange name to have on this list, but I'm not positive everyone understands just how elite Rahm is. He basically wins three times a year every year without fail, and his strokes gained numbers are astonishingly consistent (between 2.0-2.4 in five of the last six seasons). One of these years, the luck will fall his way a bit, and he'll win five times including a major or two. I don't know if that will happen in 2023, but his statistical profile suggests that it will at some point, and whenever it does it's almost certain that Rahm is going to have one of the great seasons in the modern era.


source: cbssports.com

Tiger Wood's explanation

Tiger Wood's explanation

‘Big difference between pain, injury’: Tiger Woods explains why Charlie is playing

Tiger Woods says there’s a difference between pain and injury.

And that’s why, he said on Saturday night, his 13-year-old son, Charlie, is playing at this weekend’s PNC Championship, despite a noticeable left-leg limp, and at least one time where he tumbled over after a tee shot.

The explanation came during an interview with SiriusXM Radio’s Brian Katrek after Tiger and Charlie shot a 13-under 59 during the first round of the major champion-family member event. Here is the complete exchange:

“Charlie, it’s a learning process for you; you’re being asked questions,” Katrek began. “How much are you learning not just about golf but about what your dad goes through on a day-in, day-out basis?”

“I mean, I found a new respect for him now after getting a minor — very minor — injury,” the younger Woods said. “I wouldn’t really call it an injury — I’m just hurt. But just to see what he’s going through and how I have just like a fraction of it and how much it hurts, and it’s just cool how he’s gotten to where he is now after all he’s been through.”

“Well, there’s a big difference, BK, between pain and injury,” the elder Woods said. “And so, this is just pain.”

“Yeah,” Charlie said.

“If you’re injured, you’re not playing,” Tiger said. “This is just a little bit of pain, and it’s game time, so we just go out there and we suck it up together. As I said over here, we’re perfect yin and yang — he’s got a left foot, I got a right foot, so we got two good feet. We’re good.”

“It’s all you need,” Katrek said. “Spoken like a true football coach.”

According to NBC/Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay on Friday, a Woods family friend, Charlie rolled his left ankle while hitting balls on a range ahead of the tournament; Tiger, meanwhile, told Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis that the limp was due to “growing pains.” Whatever the case, Charlie joins his dad with leg issues — the elder Woods is battling plantar fasciitis in his right foot, an extension of injuries to his right leg suffered during a car crash early last year, and he’s also battled various ailments throughout his career.

In Team Woods’ press conference after Saturday’s first round, Charlie was also asked about his left leg. Here is that exchange:

“How much does your ankle hurt today, and how much do you have to adjust your swing to compensate for it?” a reporter asked.

“On some shots, it hurt a lot,” Charlie said. “Walking was tough. But it was — it was all right. It wasn’t that bad.”


Source: Golf.com

Ockie Strydom claims Championship

Ockie Strydom claims Championship

Ockie Strydom claims DP World Tour's Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek
South Africa's Ockie Strydom carded a final-round 69 to claim a maiden title on the DP World Tour with a two-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Sunday.

South African Strydom started the final round level on 15-under par with Scott Jamieson (76) but suffered a setback on the ninth with a double-bogey at the unique Leopard Creek course which borders the Kruger National Park.

He rallied, however, to secure four birdies in the next five holes and ease to victory on 18-under par, ahead of Spaniard Adrian Otaegui (68) and England's Laurie Canter (64).

"My wife and parents are probably crying at home," Strydom said.

"This is my favourite place, the course is looking phenomenal, the best I have ever seen it. Its in the bush and I'm calm in the bush."

Strydom has now earned his card to play on the DP World Cup in the 2023 season.


Source: Skysports.com

PGA and LPGA Mixed-Team Event in 2023

PGA and LPGA Mixed-Team Event in 2023

PGA Tour and LPGA Tour To Create Mixed-Team Event in 2023

For the first time since 1999, the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour will feature a mixed-team event on their schedules. The QBE Shootout, which will be staged this week in Naples, Fla., will become a joint tournament in 2023, according to the Associated Press.
Two LPGA superstars—Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson—were added to this year's tournament. The No. 2 and No. 7 players in the world will be paired with Denny McCarthy and Maverick McNealy, respectively. Although details have not been confirmed about the format or qualification guidelines for next year's edition, fans can expect to see approximately 12 male-female teams instead of just two. The PGA Tour declined to provide further details to Sports Illustrated.

The PGA Tour and LPGA Tours last featured a mixed-event on their schedules in 1999 with the JC Penney Classic. The event ran from 1960 to 1999, but was canceled due to a lack of interest from top players. Past winners include John Daly and Laura Davies. In 1996, Tiger Woods competed alongside fellow U.S. Amateur champion Kelli Kuehne.

"I think it’s something that needed to be done for quite a while,” Billy Horschel told the Associated Press. “When you look at the game of golf, the fans want to see more team events, see something different. It’s going to benefit the PGA Tour, but I think it’s going to benefit the LPGA Tour even more in terms of getting more exposure.”

Past winners of the JC Penney also praised the return of the mixed-format event.

"This is long overdue. It will be a massive boost," said Dottie Pepper, who took home the 1992 title with partner Dan Forsman. "It was a fun week. And if you were in contention, it was a grind."

The 2022 QBE Shootout boasts a $3.8 million purse, where teams share equal portions of the payout. The first round will commence on Friday, Dec. 1 with coverage beginning on Golf Channel at 1:00 p.m. ET.


Source: si.com

Lydia Ko Returns to World No. 1 Ranking

Lydia Ko Returns to World No. 1 Ranking

Lydia Ko is dominating women’s professional golf once again.

The New Zealand native reached the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s Golf Rankings for the third time in her 10-year LPGA career, passing Nelly Korda.

Ko’s latest ascendance in the ranking follows her win at the CME Group Tour Championship, where she received the largest winner’s check in women’s golf history. The victory also helped Ko secure both the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Vare Trophy for low season-long scoring average. The 25-year-old already is just steps away from an induction into the LPGA Hall of Fame.

Ko climbed to the world No. 1 spot for the first time in 2015, when she held the position for 19 weeks, until mid-June of that year. In October of the same year, she regained the top spot and held it until June 2017. Five years, five months and 17 days have passed between Ko’s No. 1 ranking periods—the longest stretch on the LPGA Tour.

Previously, Inbee Park held the record, with two years, five months and 29 days separating her stints as world No. 1.

“I’m very grateful to be World No. 1 again,” Ko said. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be back here again.”

The 19-time tour winner recorded three victories in the 2022 season—including the Gainbridge LPGA and the BMW Ladies Championship—and nine top-five finishes.


Source: si.com

Augusta National lengthens iconic No. 13 hole

Augusta National lengthens iconic No. 13 hole

LOOK: Augusta National lengthens iconic No. 13 hole with big change ahead for golfers at 2023 Masters


Source: cbssports.com

Tiger and Rory vs. Spieth and JT

Tiger and Rory vs. Spieth and JT

The foursome, with 25 majors between them, will play under the lights in Florida on Saturday, Dec. 10, with proceeds going to Hurricane Ian relief.

The latest edition of “The Match" is now official, with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy set to take on Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth under the lights on the west coast of Florida next month.

Officially named “Capital One’s The Match," this will be the seventh such exhibition under that banner, the first of which occurred in 2018 when Woods took on Phil Mickelson in an 18-hole “winner-take-all" match in Las Vegas, won by Mickelson.

This is the third time that Woods will participate, and proceeds are going to Hurricane Ian relief efforts. It is the first appearance for McIlroy, Thomas and Spieth. The group has combined to win 25 major championships.

The date for the 12-hole exhibition is Saturday, Dec. 10, at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida, which is hosting this week’s Pelican Championship on the LPGA Tour. Lights are being set up to televise the match, which will be broadcast on TNT starting at 6 p.m. ET.

Golf Digest and The Fried Egg websites first reported The Match last week.

The event will also be simulcast on TBS, TruTv and HLN. The broadcast team has yet to be announced.

The format, expected to be better-ball match play, is also to be announced.

Pelican Golf Club is a 1925 Donald Ross design that underwent a major restoration in 2019 by Beau Welling—who happens to work on Woods’ golf course design team as well.

Thomas and Spieth are longtime friends and rivals dating to their junior golf days.

Woods and McIlroy recently spearheaded a player effort to move the PGA Tour toward a series of big-money required events known as elevated or “designated" events.

McIlroy, who is the No. 1 player in the world, won the FedEx Cup in August. Thomas captured the PGA Championship in May.

It is setting up to be a busy month for Woods. Although he has not yet announced if he is playing, Woods’ Hero World Challenge is Dec. 1-4 at Albany in the Bahamas. If he competes there, it will be his first time doing so since missing the cut at the British Open in July. He is also likely to play the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie, Dec. 17-18 in Orlando.

Source: si.com

Steven Alker's Birdie Win

Steven Alker's Birdie Win

Steven Alker uses late birdie streak to win Schwab Cup opener

Alker, who started the tournament as the Schwab Cup leader in the three-event finish to the season, made birdies at Nos. 15, 16 and 17 and beat K.J. Choi by one shot for his fourth victory of the season. That ties Steve Stricker for the most on the tour this season.

It was a birdie at the par-4 10th hole, Alker said, that actually put him in a frame of mind to win. Kelly, playing in the same group, made bogey on the hole, dropping into a tie.

"So that kind of changed my mindset a little bit, and then, you know, there's a couple of tough holes before we start on the shorter holes," Alker said. "So just get through those and then, you know, try and sprint to the finish."

Drawing even helped him put going 1 over on the last three holes on the front nine behind him.

"Maybe just kind of freed me up a little bit, you know, just kind of relaxed a little bit because I just had the struggles on kind of seven, eight, nine," Alker said. "It just didn't wasn't happening and then hit a quality shot on 10 and to be tied, I wasn't chasing anymore."

Kelly, who led after each of the first two rounds on the James River Course at the Country Club of Virginia, had the lead until the par-4 15th hole, when a slight drizzle and temperatures around 60 changed the conditions and his birdie try stopped on the edge of the cup. Playing partners Alker and Padraig Harrington made their putts to pull even at 12 under, and moments later, in the grouping ahead, Choi also got to 12 under.

"I'm not very strong in those conditions right now," Kelly said. "And, you know, he played pretty well in those conditions. Could have played better. But, you know, if the weather would have stayed the same, who knows what would have happened?"

Alker said it reminded him of home, which was just fine.

"It was kind of like New Zealand weather. Overcast, a little bit of drizzle, and we're just waiting for the fog to come, and I would have felt right at home," he said.

Alker added birdies on the par-5 16th and the par-3 17th, then closed with a tap-in par on the par-5 18th, raising his arms in triumph as it fell, making Choi's closing birdie good enough only for a runner-up finish.

Kelly, who closed with an even-par 72, Harrington (69) and Doug Barron (69) shared third, two shots behind, with Ernie Els (67) and Brian Gay (69) sharing sixth. Els was one shot back after a birdie at the par-4 11th, but finished with seven consecutive pars.