Sunday, December 4, 2011

 TIGER WINS!!
 One shot behind with two holes to play, Tiger Woods finally looked like the player who dominated golf for so much of his career. He birdied his last two holes Sunday, making a 6-foot putt on the 18th, to win the Chevron World Challenge by one shot over former Masters champion Zach Johnson.
 
Woods closed with a 3-under 69, sweeping his arm when the final putt dropped, then slamming down his first in a celebration that was a long time coming. It had been 749 days and 26 official tournaments since he last won on Nov. 15, 2009 at the Australian Masters, back when he looked as though he would rule golf as long as he played.

The win moved him from No. 52 to No. 21 in the world ranking, and likely will send expectations soaring for 2012. Woods will not play again until starting his year in Abu Dhabi at the end of January.

He had a worthy adversary in Johnson, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round and trailed for only three holes. Johnson tied Woods with a birdie on the par-5 13th, made an unlikely par on the 14th by chipping from the bottom of the green, and appeared to seize control by holing a 12-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole.

Johnson thought his birdie putt on the 17th was good all the way until it burned the edge of the cup. Woods, running out of time, drained his birdie putt to force a tie and send the tournament to the 18th.

Woods also was tied on the 18th at Sherwood a year ago and stuffed his approach into 3 feet. Graeme McDowell holed a 20-foot putt to force a playoff, and beat Woods on the first extra hole.

Johnson, however, missed his birdie putt from 15 feet, leaving the stage to Woods. He hasn’t been in these situations much over the last two years, but this one, finally, had a familiar ending.

Johnson closed with a 71 and still took home $650,000 for the holidays. Paul Casey, who opened with a 79, had his third straight round in the 60s to finish alone in third at 5 under.



 MCILROY WINS IN HONG KONG 
Rory McIlroy rallied to win the Hong Kong Open, holing out from a greenside bunker on the final hole Sunday for a 5-under 65 and a two-stroke victory.

The 22-year-old U.S. Open winner from Northern Ireland, three strokes behind Alvaro Quiros entering the final round at Hong Kong Country Club, finished at 12-under 268 on the Fanling Course. He had five birdies in his bogey-free round.

France’s Gregory Havret also closed with a 65 to finish second.

Sweden’s Peter Hanson had a 70 to finish third at 9 under. England’s Ian Poulter, the 2010 winner, shot a 66 to tie for fourth at 8 under with Scotland’s Richie Ramsay (66) and Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul (70).

Quiros, from Spain, had a 73 to tie for seventh at 7 under.

John Daly closed with a 69 to tie for 21st at 2 under in the tournament sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.



WESTWOOD TAKES SUN CITY EVENT

Lee Westwood finished with two bogeys and a 1-over 73 but it was still enough to retain his title by two strokes at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday.

The No. 3-ranked Westwood ended with a 15-under 273 total to stay clear of Robert Karlsson in second, despite a final-round charge from the Swedish player that cut Westwood’s commanding seven-shot overnight lead in South Africa.

Westwood made just two birdies on the final day and dropped three strokes over the back nine, but his dominant performance on Saturday—when he shot a course-record 62—set up victory and only the second back-to-back win at Sun City over the last decade.

A smiling Westwood threw his ball into the galleries on No. 18 after beating out Karlsson (68), who made seven birdies but dropped shots at Nos. 1, 8 and 16 at the Gary Player Country Club and ultimately couldn’t overcome Westwood’s hefty advantage.

American Jason Dufner (69) tied for third with Graeme McDowell (70) on 11-under, while top-ranked Luke Donald was 10 shots off the pace in seventh, closing with a level-par 72 on his return from a five-week layoff after winning the U.S. PGA Tour money list.

South Korea’s Kyung-tae Kim was alone in fifth on 8 under, with Masters champion Charl Schwartzel two shots behind him in sixth.

Westwood was the only player in the top seven of the 12-man field to be over par on Sunday after bogeys at Nos. 12, 17 and 18, but none could take advantage of the Englishman’s subdued finish, where he was in control throughout.



KENNEDY WINS NEW ZEALAND OPEN

Brad Kennedy won the New Zealand Open on Sunday, holing a 30-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff with Australian compatriot Craig Parry to complete a wire-to-wire victory.

Kennedy closed with a 2-over 74 to match Parry at 7-under 281 at Clearwater Golf Club. Parry took a two-stroke lead to the final hole, but drove into the water and finished with a double bogey for a 69.

On the 18th in regulation, Parry hit his tee shot into the water to the left of the fairway, then hit into long rough before making a good recovery to reach the green. He missed a bogey putt that would have left him with a one-stroke lead.

Parry again found trouble off the tee on the 18th hole in the playoff, hitting into a bunker. He was facing a 5-foot par putt when Kennedy holed his birdie try.

New Zealand’s Josh Geary was 7 under going to the final hole, but dropped a stroke for a 72 to finish a shot out of the playoff.



 IN OTHER NEWS
 Luke Donald could have played the last round at Sun City as a history maker. Only Rory McIlroy didn’t let that happen.
Shortly before the top-ranked Donald teed off at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday, No. 2-ranked McIlroy holed a birdie from the bunker on No. 18 to seal a come-from-behind win at the Hong Kong Open and keep the race for Europe’s money title alive. Just barely.
With Donald still around  $1 million ahead, McIlroy has to win at next weekend’s season-ending Dubai World Championship and hope the world’s best player is outside the top nine to prevent Donald topping both lists either side of the Atlantic.




Thailand’s Junthima Gulyanamitta won the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament on Sunday, closing with 4-under 68 in windy and rainy conditions on LPGA International’s Champions Course for a two-stroke victory over Christine Song.

The 23-year-old Gulyanamitta, a member of Purdue’s 2010 NCAA championship team, had a 10-under 350 total in the five-round event.

Stephanie Kono and Argentina’s Victoria Tanco gave up their amateur status after earning top-20 LPGA membership. Kono is a senior All-American at UCLA and a 2010 member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team.

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