US PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka wins

August 14, 2018

US PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka holds off Tiger Woods to win at Bellerive

Brooks Koepka is fifth man to win the US Open and US PGA in the same year after Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
100th US PGA Championship final leaderboard
-16 B Koepka (US); -14 T Woods (US); -13 A Scott (Aus); -11 S Cink (US), J Rahm (Spa); -10 T Pieters (Bel), F Molinari (Ita), J Thomas (US), G Woodland (US)
Selected others: -9 T Hatton (Eng); -8 R Fowler (US); -7 J Rose (Eng), M Wallace (Eng); -5 I Poulter (Eng); -4 T Fleetwood (Eng), R Knox (Sco); -2 R McIlroy (NI)

American Brooks Koepka won his second major of 2018 by seeing off a resurgent Tiger Woods to claim the US PGA Championship on a compelling final day.

The US Open champion, 28, who led by two shots overnight, shot a four-under 66 to win by two on 16 under par.

Excitement grew at Bellerive as Woods pushed for a first major since 2008, falling short despite a final-day 64.

Koepka holed birdies on the 14th and 15th to keep clear of Woods and Adam Scott (67), who finished on 13 under.

It was 14-time major winner Woods’ lowest final round at either the Masters, US Open, The Open or US PGA.However, his efforts were still not enough as Koepka became the first man since Woods in 2000 to win the US Open and US PGA in the same season.

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Koepka, watched by his mother and girlfriend from the side of the 18th green, fought back tears after tapping in a par to set a new 72-hole PGA Championship scoring record of 264.

Spain’s Jon Rahm finished as the leading European player on 11 under after a 68, a shot ahead of Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, who had a double-bogey on the par-five 17th in his 66, and Italy’s Open champion Francesco Molinari, who closed with a 67.

Their performances will have encouraged European captain Thomas Bjorn in the run-up to next month’s Ryder Cup in Paris, along with Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello’s final round of 64 as the Dane contemplates his four wildcard picks, with eight players qualifying automatically.

Tyrrell Hatton was the best-placed British golfer. He played with Cabrera Bello and also signed for a 64 as both players finished on nine under.

‘Patient’ Koepka reaps the rewards

Koepka came into the 100th PGA Championship on the back of a fine season which has seen him claim two other top-five finishes on the PGA Tour along with his US Open victory at Shinnecock Hills.

The world number four had feared his year would be ruined after partially tearing a tendon in his left wrist and then missing the Masters with another wrist injury. But he battled back to fitness and has been rewarded with his third major win in just over a year.

Again, his nerveless demeanour and powerful ball-striking, honed partly by his dedication to the gym, enabled him to hold off several challengers on a high-quality leaderboard.

Koepka remained calm and composed as he held off Englishman Tommy Fleetwood’s final-day charge to retain his US Open title in June – and did the same at Bellerive as Woods, Scott and defending champion Justin Thomas all made moves.

After rounds of 69, 63 and 66 earlier in the week, he moved to 14 under after four birdies and two bogeys in his first nine holes, and then maintained his composure to not drop a shot in a two-under 33 on the back nine.

“For some reason the majors get my attention more,” said Koepka. “Every shot is so important. You have to be patient and I always do that very well in the majors.”

Buoyant Bellerive unable to roar Tiger to victory

Tiger Woods playing a shot at Bellerive
Woods drew the biggest crowds of the day on Sunday as he chased that elusive 15th major victory.

Leading from fellow American Gary Woodland going into Sunday’s final round, Koepka started with a birdie on the first to extend his overnight advantage to three shots.

He had only made two bogeys and one double bogey all week but dropped shots at the fourth and fifth saw him move into a share of the lead with Thomas, who had three birdies in his opening seven holes.

A run of three birdies before the turn moved Koepka back into the outright lead but, as Thomas faltered, Woods roared to within a shot with successive birdies on the 12th and 13th.

Loud cheers accompanied every shot hit by 42-year-old former world number one Woods, who was looking to complete what would be regarded as one of sport’s greatest comebacks, 10 years after his last major victory at the 2008 US Open.

Koepka handled the pressure to create a number of birdie opportunities at the start of the back nine, but was unable to take one as Scott moved level with successive birdies on the 12th and 13th.

“At the beginning of the back nine I could hear all the roars, when Tiger made his run and Scotty did,” said Koepka. “It was fun and enjoyable.”

Clearly thriving on the atmosphere, Koepka finally landed a birdie on the 15th to restore his lead and added another from six feet on the 16th to move two clear of Scott with two holes to play.

Woods was still three behind Koepka after wiping out a bogey on the 14th with a birdie on the 15th, but Koepka’s birdies put him into a lead which he never looked like relinquishing.

Pars on the final two holes illustrated Koepka’s steeliness as Scott sprayed his drive right on the 18th before carding a bogey which allowed Woods, who had birdied the last, to take outright second.

Woods ‘thankful’ to be in contention

Tiger Woods

The Woods fist-pump returned at Bellerive as he made a charge on the final day

Woods saw his career – and seemingly-inevitable march past Jack Nicklaus’ record mark of 18 major wins – stall following several years which were hampered by personal issues and a serious back injury.

He did not play a major in 2016 and 2017 and only returned to competitive golf in November last year following fusion surgery to repair his back.

After a brief surge to the top of the leaderboard at last month’s Open, Woods proved once again he can compete in golf’s greatest events with a scintillating final-round performance at Bellerive.

Opening rounds of 70, 66 and 66 meant he started four shots behind Koepka on Sunday, a deficit which the four-time US PGA champion said he knew would be difficult to overcome.

Unable to hit a single fairway on the front nine, Woods still turned in three under and finished the back nine in the same score to earn his highest-placed finish at a major since the 2009 PGA at Hazeltine

“I was in contention at the last two majors and would never have foreseen that a year ago. I’m just so thankful to be here,” said Woods.

“I played hard. It was a bit of a struggle with my game. I was just hanging in there, grinding it out and trying to make as many birdies as possible. I made a little bit of a run and am going to come up a couple of shots short.

“I was always chasing. When I was on the range I could see guys were three under through six holes so I knew I couldn’t sit still. I had to get birdies.

“I didn’t drive well all day – I was hitting it left and right on the driving range, even with my sand wedge – so I knew it was going to be a struggle to piece together a round but I did.”


The Passing of Australia’s Greatest Golfer Peter Thomson

July 23, 2018

The Passing of Australia’s Greatest Golfer Peter Thomson

Peter Thomson

TRIBUTES are flowing for Aussie golf legend Peter Thomson who died this morning, two months shy of his 89th birthday.The five time British Open champion is being remembered as a great of the game and a proud Victorian.

Brunswick-born Thomson was the first Australian to win the British Open and one of only two men to win it five times alongside Tom Watson of the US.

He won on the American senior tour nine times in 1985, setting a record that may never be broken.

His record includes:

— Five British Opens (1954, ‘55, ‘56, ‘58, ‘65)

— Six PGA Tour wins

— 33 PGA Tour of Australasia wins

— 11 PGA Tour Champions wins

— Fifth at US Masters (1957)

— Tied fourth US Open (1956)

— World Golf Hall of Fame (1988)

— Arnold Palmer Award (1986)

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Peter Thomson, Arnold Palmer and Bruce Devlin

He is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

GOLF: Italy’s Francesco Molinari is 2018 British Open Champion

July 23, 2018

GOLF: Italy’s Francesco Molinari is 2018 British Open Champion

by Jack Rosser

Italian Francesco Molinari has broken American dominance of golf‘s majors as he claimed his first at the Open Championship, capping a fine season ahead of the Ryder Cup.

The 35-year-old, whose best finish at the Open going into the weekend came at Muirfield in 2013 in a tie for ninth, beat defending champion Jordan Spieth, who collapsed on the final day, and was run close by Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and a host of American’s including the impressive Xander Schauffele.

Tiger Woods is back

Tiger Woods, making his first appearance at the Open since 2015, put in the most eye-catching performance since he returned from back fusion surgery, proving he remains a major contender.

Woods, playing alongside Molinari, assumed the outright lead when he produced a fine sand save to turn in 34 and Schauffele struggled down the seventh, taking two to get out of the rough, hitting his approach up against an out-of-bounds fence for a double-bogey.

The 42-year-old then produced a shot reminiscent of his pomp, thrashing a high, 150-yard wedge out of a steep-faced bunker to the front of the 10th green from where he made par.

Woods made a huge error at the 11th after finding the rough off the tee with an iron and it ultimately not only cost him the outright lead but a share of it.

He duffed his chip out of the rough from the back of the green and then three-putted for a double bogey to drop to five under, one back of a four-way tie for the lead.

A second successive double bogey totally killed Woods’ momentum – and potentially ended the fairytale. But the mantle was taken up by McIlroy who, having fought his way back to four under, holed a 35ft eagle putt on 14 to tie the lead.

Justin Rose set the new clubhouse lead on six under after his fourth birdie of the week at 18 having knocked to tap-in range, before McIlroy joined joined him in a share of the clubhouse lead having left his birdie attempt short.

Molinari missed a 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th which would have taken him clear at eight under, while Woods had to settle for par – leaving him needing a birdie at the last to keep his Open chances alive.

But a fantastic approach on the 18th left him with a look at birdie to assume the clubhouse lead, which he took before letting his emotions slip with a fierce fist-pump.


He watched on anxiously from the clubhouse as Schauffele took his time over on the 17th, leaving himself with work to do to make par and stay within touching distance, work he could not manage.

The 24-year-old’s bogey eased Molinari a little, and left him needing a two down the last, something which was first achieved in an Open at Carnousite on Saturday buy Zander Lombard.

It was a long shot, and one he was understandably not capable of.

Image result for francesco molinari and the Claret Jug

Molinari was professional and patient, making 13 straight pars before picking up a first birdie on the 14th, and a more than deserving winner.

Brooks Koepka first to win back-to-back U.S. Golf Opens in 29 years

June 18, 2018

Brooks Koepka first to win back-to-back U.S. Golf Opens in 29 years

Kyle Porter  & Chip Patterson

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Brooks Koepka battled through two tough afternoons at Shinnecock Hills over the weekend to become the first repeat winner at the U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in 1988-89 and just the second since Ben Hogan in 1950-51.

Everything about 2018’s event from the scoring perspective was the inverse of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills. By winning on both courses, which forced golfers to play quite differently, Koepka has cemented his status as one of the best golfers in the world when he’s healthy.

Koepka not only had to battle 54-hole co-leader and playing partner Dustin Johnson, he had to keep his eye on a leaderboard that saw Masters champion Patrick Reed make a run and Tommy Fleetwood shoot the sixth 63 in U.S. Open history earlier in the day. Fleetwood entered the clubhouse at 2-over par, and after both Koepka and Johnson bogeyed the 11th hole, Fleetwood’s score looked strong enough to put him in contention for a playoff.

Image result for brooks koepka 2018 Open Golf Champion with Trophy

Brooks Koepka–US Open Golf Champion 2018 and 2017

But when Koepka knocked his approach shot snug on 16 to push the lead to even par with two holes to play, there was no question that he was going clear every hurdle Shinnecock Hills provided this week.

The initial challenge was his own doing, a 75 on Thursday with two bogeys and two double-bogeys. He rallied to a 66 on Friday, and as the course and conditions took hold of this tournament on Saturday afternoon, Koepka was impacted just like the rest of the field. He carded three bogeys in his final seven holes of the day to finish with a 72, but those four pars he had to grind out in the same stretch left him in tie for first place and in the mix to win on Sunday.

Round 4 was all about execution. Koepka was all over the pins early in the round, with birdies on three of the first five holes. When the wind picked up in the afternoon, he did as good a job scrambling as anyone on the course. He was lights out on the greens, burying tough putts from 5-10 feet when his playing partner couldn’t buy a birdie putt.

Here’s how the leaderboard looked at the end of the 2018 U.S. Open:

1. Brooks Koepka (+1): A two-putt bogey on No. 18 was not going to sour a coronation moment for the two-time major winner. While he occupies a crowded room of under-30 American superstars, no one else has two U.S. Open titles. In winning his second before turning 30, Koepka becomes just the fourth golfer since World War II to accomplish that feat, joining Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Jack Nicklaus.

2. Tommy Fleetwood (+2): It’s hard to nitpick a historic round (and new course record at Shinnecock Hills), but Fleetwood’s 63 could have been a 60 or 61. We will remember the putt on 18, but Fleetwood also had three or four really good birdie looks that didn’t fall during his charge up the leaderboard. The next step for Fleetwood is putting together four consistent rounds of this elite golf in a major championship.

3. Dustin Johnson (+3): The stats after two rounds hinted at potential unsustainable success on the greens and somewhat average, at least by D.J.’s standard, work off the tee and on his approach shots. The confidence he had been showing on the greens looked lost on Saturday and Sunday, as his putting will be the talking point of why the World No. 1 was not able to convert on his lead in 2018.

4. Patrick Reed (+4): The reality inside Reed’s mind — where he is the greatest golfer of all time and we just don’t get it — and the reality shared by the rest of the golf world moved a little bit closer together this week, where Reed burned hot on a 31 going out only to flame out with a 37 coming in for a fourth-place finish.

5. Tony Finau (+5): It was an electric afternoon with Finau on the course with moments of title contention and big jumps and slides on a very crowded leaderboard. Playing in the final group with Daniel Berger, Finau had five birdies, five bogeys and a double-bogey on No. 18 to notch his first top-five finish and third top-10 finish in a major championship.

Congratulations: Patrick Reed is the 2018 Masters Champion at August National

April 9, 2018

Congratulations: Patrick Reed is the 2018 Masters Champion at August National

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What Patrick Reed lacks in widespread support should now be offset by widespread respect. The scale of Reed’s achievement here, in winning his first major championship, is illustrated by who and what he had to withstand.

There were occasional, understandable wobbles but Reed ultimately held firm to prevail by a shot; 69, 66, 67, 71 and 15 under par sealed Green Jacket delivery by one from Rickie Fowler.

It seemed remarkable in context that Reed’s previous Masters record included two missed cuts, a share of 49th and a tie for 22nd. Now, an individual once kicked out of a Georgia college has been afforded the last laugh. Others scoffed when Reed proclaimed himself a top-five player. He won’t achieve that ranking position with this win but such details are unlikely to bother Reed now. He is deservedly the Masters champion.

Image result for Patrick Read Masters champion

The identities of Reed’s biggest threats was the main fourth-round surprise. The Texan started Sunday believing he would have to see off a former Ryder Cup rival. Instead, US team-mates threw the strongest punches.

Jordan Spieth began the final day nine shots adrift of the lead. What subsequently transpired came within the realms of the finest closing round in Augusta history. Spieth briefly tied Reed’s lead; the cracking of a tree branch at the last halted the 2015 champion’s charge. Spieth’s 64 and minus 13 total proved in vain.

“All in all it was a great day,” said a magnanimous Spieth. “I was nine back, going out I knew I needed significant help no matter how well I played.”

Fowler was next to emerge from the pack, with a birdie at the last meaning Reed had no margin for error. Reed feared he had pulled a drive which found the left side of the fairway. A mid iron into two-putt range followed, as did typical celebration. Given what expectancy had come before, the denouement felt like an anticlimax; which is credit to Reed’s steeliness under the most intense of pressure. Fowler is worthy of credit for making sure he was outside the scoring hut to congratulate the champion. “I left it all out there, I made him earn it,” said Fowler.

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Rory McIlroy’s bid to complete a grand slam will have to wait for at least another 51 weeks. Just when he needed it most, McIlroy’s putter was to prove colder than a December morning in Siberia. His Sunday shortcomings can be linked only to that scenario, with confidence visibly draining from a player who was so in control of his emotions for 54 holes.

The Northern Irishman missed from 4ft for an eagle at the 2nd in what was a jarring indicator of woes to come. McIlroy didn’t recover confidence or touch on the greens thereafter; his 74 meant nine under plus a share of fifth with Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Cameron Smith. The 28-year-old McIlroy cut a disconsolate figure when walking from the 72nd green. This one will sting.

Jon Rahm earned fourth at 11 under, with the Spaniard’s visible annoyance at that scenario telling in respect of competitive instinct. A major win appears close for Rahm.

Paul Casey, who started day four in the nether regions of the scoring table, briefly flirted with history. The Englishman was nine under par through 15 holes; raising the prospect of equalling the Masters record score of 63. As often transpires in these scenarios, a jab was delivered by reality. Casey bogeyed each of his last two holes for a 65 and aggregate of five under.

“That was fun, wasn’t it?” said Casey. “Birdie, birdie, eagle on Amen Corner, I’m going to remember that for a long time.

“I’m obviously disappointed. I got out of position horribly on 17 and 18 which was kind of reminiscent of how I played this week. I haven’t been very good until that streak today. But to shoot 65 today, it would have been hard to turn that down. And it was fun; I know 63 is the course record, 62 is the lowest ever in a major. So I was aware. Not particularly nervous, just kind of having a good time and obviously didn’t do it, but it was fun.”

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As this major hurtled towards its end, the fevered anticipation attached to Tiger Woods’s involvement felt like an eternity ago. Woods had set a Sunday target of returning to even par on aggregate having started at plus four. He did precisely that before an untimely bogey at the last, with a 69 most notable for a stunning Woods eagle at the 15th. In recognition of that, Woods will take home some crystal goblets as opposed to the Green Jacket, which was never really a viable target. The 42-year-old, typically, was vague on where and when he will next appear in a tournament environment.

“Generally after this tournament I put away the clubs for a while,” Woods said. “I usually take three to four weeks off – throughout my entire career – and usually the clubs are put in the closet and I just kind of get away for a while. The run-up to this event is pretty hard and pretty gruelling. I pushed myself pretty hard to get ready.

“So I’ll take a little time off, get back in the gym and start working on my body again. I’ll get it in good shape and get back at it again.

“It’s disappointing that I didn’t hit the ball well enough this week. But to be able to just be out here competing again, if you had said that last year at this particular time I would have said you’re crazy. I had a hard time just sitting or walking back then. So now to be able to play and compete and hit the ball the way I did, that’s quite a big change from last year.”

Twelve months ago, Reed didn’t even feature on Masters weekend having signed for rounds of 76 and 77. What’s the opposite of horses for courses?

Golf: The United States retains the Presidents Cup in Style

October 2, 2017

Golf: The United States retains the Presidents Cup in Style: Congrats to Captain Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and his colleagues

October 2, 2017 2:16am EDT October 1, 2017 7:40pm EDT The U.S. extends its streak with a 19-11 victory. Daniel Berger clinches the victory in singles competition.


The Finest US Presidents Cup Team ever assembled with  Captain Steve Stricker

The Americans continued their dominance at the  Presidents Cup in 2017 at Liberty National, capturing their seventh straight trophy with a 19-11 victory. This is the 10th time the U.S. has won the event in the 12 times it has been contested.

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Phil Mickelson of the Victorious 2017 US Presidents Cup Team

The U.S. team had world-ranked golfers with Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, but it was Presidents Cup rookie Daniel Berger who secured the final half-point to clinch the victory for the Americans. The talented U.S. team went into the weekend with an 8-2 lead and the Internationals didn’t have enough going for them to give the Americans a challenge. From the start it was clear the U.S. was the better team, even with Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama on the International side.

MORE: Trump presents Presidents Cup to U.S. team

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President Donald Trump with Captain Steve Stricker of the  victorious 2017 US Presidents Cup Team

Over the four days of play, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler emerged as a solid team while Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman gave the U.S. the spark it needed to keep an uncompetitive event interesting. With many of these fearless players on the U.S. roster likely to compete in the 2018 Ryder Cup, the American team will be dominant for years to come in these team events.