OWGR Week 11: McIlroy jumps back into the World top 10

March 19, 2018

PGA Tour - Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard

McIlroy ran off five birdies over his last six holes and closed with an 8-under 64 for a three-shot victory winning for the first time since the Tour Championship on Sept. 25, 2016, the day Palmer died.

"I wish I walked up that hill and got a handshake from him," McIlroy said. "But I'm so happy to put my name on that trophy."

Bay Hill was rocking all afternoon, mostly for that red shirt. Woods, who started the final round five shot behind, made three birdies in a four-hole stretch to start the back nine and was within shot of the lead as everyone behind him on the course appeared to stall.

One shot changed everything. Woods couldn't commit to a swing with his driver on the par-5 16th hole and sent it far and left — way left — over a fence and out-of-bounds, sending him to a bogey when he couldn't afford anything less than birdie.

He finished bogey-bogey-par for a 3-under 69 and tumbled down the leaderboard into a tie for fifth.

That's about when McIlroy pulled away.

Until then, five players were separated by one shot. Before long, McIlroy was leaving everyone in his wake.

He made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 13th to take the lead over hard-luck Henrik Stenson, and then rolled one in from 20 feet on the next hole. If that wasn't enough, McIlroy chipped in from 40 feet on the 15th hole, and then pounded a 375-yard drive on the 16th that set up a two-putt birdie.

Bryson DeChambeau made the last run at him, gouging a shot out of the rough, over the water and onto the green at No. 16 and pumping his fist when the eagle putt caught enough of the cup to drop in. That put him one shot behind.

McIlroy, however, wasn't finished. He left his putt about 25 feet above the hole on No. 18, roughly the same spot from where Woods made birdie putts to win in 2001, 2008 and 2009. Woods slammed his cap to the ground in 2008, not realizing he had done that.

McIlroy buried the putt, raised both arms in the air and turned to slam his fist as the grandstands erupted with cheers.

Sunshine Tour – Tour Championship

Darren Fichardt carded a three-under-par 69 to pull away for a win at the Tour Championship after a roller-coaster final round during which he had to fight off the attentions of two other players for the lead.

In the end, he finished the tournament at 17-under-par 271, one shot ahead of Oliver Bekker, with Dean Burmester and Justin Harding a further stroke back.

“I gave myself a lot of opportunities, and luckily I made them when they counted,” said Fichardt. “I made two really good birdies in a row on 15 and 16. I made two weak pars coming in, but at least it was one shot better than everyone else.”

He started solidly, but then an unexpected dropped shot on the fourth seemed to put him out of the race as Bekker and Burmester made a run at it.

Bekker, in particular, looked threatening as he kept a clean card all the way until the 17th, and, with five birdies to his credit, it seemed likely that he would win his fourth title of the season.

Burmester had the most topsy-turvy of the rounds of the chasers, with two eagles, four birdies and six bogeys.

But each of them dropped a shot on the 17th, and that ultimately gave Fichardt the breathing room he needed.

In fact, his par-save on 17 was probably as important as any other in setting up victory. “On 17, the wind was a little out the right,” said Fichardt. “It was actually a perfect wind. That fairway felt so wide for me and I almost hooked it. I caught the bunker and I thought, ‘Why do I do this to myself? I’m 42 years old and I don’t need this stress in my life with a 50-metre bunker shot!’ I played it out to the front and luckily I had an easy enough chip.”

PGA Tour Series-China – Chengdu Championship

USA’s Jeffrey Kang shot a sensational 8-under 64 – his second in three days – to secure a five-shot victory at the RMB 1. 5 million Chengdu Championship, the opening event on the PGA TOUR Series-China.

Bouncing back from an opening 74, Kang posted a stunning 20-under total of 268 at Luxehills International Country Club after shooting 22-under in his last 54 holes (64-66-64).

The Los Angeles-born 26-year-old, who speaks English and Korean, finished five clear of English duo Callum Tarren (69) and William Harrold (67), and Korea-born American Sejun Yoon (68).

Hong Kong’s Shunyat “Jason” Hak, leader for the first three rounds, carded a 73 to share fifth place with China’s Daxing Jin (69) and Japan’s Kenta Konishi (69) on 14-under.

Kang, who started the day three behind Hak, fired out of the blocks with birdies on the first and third and an eagle on the par-5 seventh, having chipped in to save par on the par-4 sixth.

The American pulled away on the back nine as he picked up further shots on 10, 12, 13 and 15 before bogeying 17. Finally, in front of huge galleries, he birdied the par-5 18th, where many of his American and Korean friends doused him in water.

Kang, who carded 25 birdies and two eagles in 72 holes, was then overwhelmed by the prize presentation where thousands of spectators, hundreds of caddies and volunteers, and even four giant panda mascots were among those cheering his name.

PGA Tour LatinoAmerica - Guatemala Stella Artois Open

Ben Polland cruises to a four-stroke victory in the Guatemala Stella Artois Open moving to World No.805.