Week 31: Thomas moves back to World No.2 & Ranking Roundup

August 06, 2018

WGC – Bridgestone Invitational

Justin Thomas cruised to his maiden World Golf Championship title with a commanding four-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

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As Firestone Country Club - playing host to this tournament for the final time before it moves to Memphis next year - made life difficult for the world's best players on day four, overnight leader Thomas kept out of trouble, carding two birdies and a single bogey to get to 15 under par and secure a comfortable victory.

Thomas, who will defend his US PGA Championship title at Bellerive Country Club next week, was the only man in the final two groups to break par on Sunday with a closing 69 - his fourth straight round in the sixties this week.

Fellow American Kyle Stanley finished alone in second place on 11 under after mixing five birdies with three bogeys, one stroke clear of Dane Thorbjørn Olesen and World Number One Dustin Johnson after they closed with matching 64s.

US Open Champion Brooks Koepka was another shot back in fifth, one ahead of Rory McIlroy and Anirban Lahiri in the large group on eight under.

Thomas began the day three strokes clear of nearest challenger McIlroy on 14 under par after producing a superb 67 on Saturday.

The 25-year-old started his round with a good par save at the first before firing his opening birdie of the day from 15 feet at the long second to get to 15 under.

After passing up a golden opportunity to pick up another stroke at the third, Thomas did well to drop just one shot at the sixth after getting into trouble off the tee.

Thomas kept his round going with six straight pars before holing his ten-foot birdie putt at the 13th to open up a four-shot lead.

And Thomas held his nerve, parring his way home to clinch the title and regain the World Number Two spot.

PGA Tour – Barracuda Championship

Andrew Putnam won the Barracuda Championship on Sunday for his first PGA TOUR title, holding off Chad Campbell by four points in the modified Stableford scoring event and moving to a career best of World No.90.

Putnam closed with a 22-foot birdie putt from off the front of the green on the par-5 18th when a bogey would have been enough for the breakthrough victory at Montreux Golf and Country Club.

"My only thought going up to that ball was: 'Knock this thing in. Just get it over with,'" Putnam said. "You never know how it's going to come out of the fringe. And it rolled perfectly."

He earned $612,000, a two-year tour exemption and spots next week in the PGA Championship at Bellerive and next year at Kapalua.

"One of the things I first thought about was getting to play in the Tournament of Champions in Maui because our family, we vacation there every year pretty much for my whole life," Putnam said.

The 29-year-old from Tacoma, Washington, won in his 49th tour start, scoring nine points Sunday and 47 overall under the format that awards eight points for albatross, five for eagle, two for birdie and zero for par, and subtracts a point for bogey and three for double bogey or worse.

"This was an incredible week," Putnam said. "We came here and we're staying at Incline Village. And it's such a beautiful spot. And so cool to have my wife and my parents here. One of my friends flew in last night. And, yeah, just a dream week for me."

He jumped from 55th to 31st in the FedExCup standings.

"The ultimate goal for the year is to get to the FedExCup championship," Putnam said. "And coming into this week I felt I had a good chance to possibly win. I've been playing really well. And I knew I needed some more points to jump up on that FedExCup leaderboard. And happy to get the win and get that much closer."

PGA Tour of Australasia and Asian Tour - Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways

India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar withstood the intense pressure by producing one of the best shots of the week on the 17th hole which would eventually seal his ninth Asian Tour win at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways on Sunday.

Staring at yet another bridesmaid finish this season, the Indian showed he would not be cowed under pressure as he holed a monstrous chip from outside the green for an eagle-three.

That eagle provided him with some relief as he would head into the last hole with a one-shot advantage over Australia’s Anthony Quayle, who had earlier broken the course record with his nine-under-par 63 at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.

Bhullar hit his approach shot straight onto the green on 18 and left his birdie putt just short of the hole. An easy tap-in for par for a winning total of 14-under-par 274 would soon confirm the 30-year-old as the newest winner of the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.

Australia’s Anthony Quayle, who started the day two shots back of Bhullar, surmounted a late challenge when he stormed home with three birdies and two eagles in his back-nine.

However, it was still not enough to catch Bhullar on a day when the Indian showed great composure and mental courage.

Asian Development Tour - Louis Philippe Cup

Rahil Gangjee continued his impressive form in 2018 after winning the Louis Philippe Cup with a stunning final round seven-under-par 63 on Friday jumping to World No.326.

The bubbly Indian equalled the low round of the week to seal the title by three shots with a winning total of 11-under-par 269 at the Asian Development Tour (ADT) event. It was his second win following his victory on the Asian Tour in April.

Overnight co-leader Rashid Khan and Om Prakash Chouhan settled for tied second place following rounds of 71 and 66 respectively at the Prestige Golfshire Club while Marcus Both (67) of Australia and Udayan Mane (72) finished a further shot back on 273.

Gangjee got off to a hot start with three straight birdies before marking his card with four more birdies. He dropped a single shot on 16 but enjoyed a grandstand finish when he birdied the last hole to romp to victory.

“It feels awesome. Today was a dream come true kind of round. I hit everything good and every putt fell. When I got to about nine or 10-under I started to get excited but I told myself to stay calm just like what I did when I won in Japan. The experience of winning earlier in the year did help,” said the Indian, who won US$13,125.

Gangjee, who turns 40 in October, is enjoying a superb season following a stressful 2017 where he had to fight tooth-and-nail to keep his Tour card. He eventually claimed the second last card on offer after finishing in 60th place on the 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit.

The win in April was a huge confidence booster for Gangjee as he ended a 14-year title drought on the Asian Tour while the latest win at the Louis Philippe Cup will give him an extra spring in his step heading into business-end of the year.

PGA Tour Canada - Syncrude Oil Country Championship presented by AECON

Tyler McCumber shoots 63 to win on McCumber-designed course moving to World No. 432.

The victory vaults McCumber to No. 1 on the Order of Merit ($86,100), a $19,040 advantage over Zach Wright with four tournaments left in the season. He also becomes the first player in Mackenzie Tour history to win back-to-back tournaments, taking this title two weeks after winning the Osprey Valley Open for his first win in Canada.

“It’s an honor. It was such a fun week. Just being here was fun playing on a course and seeing all the things he talks about in course design being in play,” McCumber said of his dad and the course he designed 25 years ago. “The more I kept playing this course, the more it grew on me.

“And my mom said to win this for her, so I have to say I won this for her and not my dad. Thanks, Mom,” Tyler McCumber joked.

Sunshine Tour – Royal Swazi Spa Challenge

It took Andre de Decker five extra holes before he was able to lift his first Sunshine Tour trophy as he won the Royal Swazi Spa Challenge.

He downed Michael Palmer on the fifth play-off hole after they both finished on 16-under-par 200 after 54 holes of regulation play in the R800,000 tournament – but a bogey on 17 nearly cost him the title.

“I hit a great drive down the left of the 17th fairway,” said De Decker, “and it just caught a tree, and came back about 60 metres, so I had about 120-metre difference for my normal approach. I had to lay up.”

In the end, he three-putted on 17 and let Palmer, a winner two weeks ago in Kenya who had eagled 17 on his way to a brilliant 64, in to the play-off.

They went to the par-three 18th three more times, and were unable to find a winner. On to the 10th, and Palmer’s approach to the short par-four through a deep valley hit the flag and dropped three feet from the pin. But he was unable to convert the chance.

Instead, it gave De Decker a chance to hit his tee shot on 18 (again!) to 10 feet, and, when Palmer was in trouble in the greenside bunker from which he was unable to extricate himself, De Decker coolly rammed home the winning putt.

“It’s very tough going through five extra holes,” said De Decker. “I felt it got a little easier as it went on, and it helped that I was playing with Michael, who is a good friend. I was thinking of the previous play-off I was in in Zambia when I lost to JJ Senekal and how I didn’t want a repeat of that.”

The victory meant the world to him. “This is huge,” he said. “I’ve just got back from the United States. I came back with the intention of getting at least one trophy. It means so much to finally get that win and I’m excited for what the future holds because this year has been trending in the right direction. To see hard work paying off is awesome.” Tour - KC Golf Classic

University of Georgia alum Sepp Straka wins KC Golf Classic moves to a career best of World No.510.

The 25-year-old from Vienna, Austria had missed eight cuts in 19 starts and signed up for the Tour Qualifying Tournament in anticipation of the inevitable. Players that finish outside the top 100 on the money list have no status on Tour the following season.

“It was definitely a reality that I had a good chance of going back there,” said Straka. “I just had to keep sticking with it. You never know what can happen on this Tour. One tournament can change your whole year.”

With his future in question, Straka never strayed from the plan. The former University of Georgia Bulldog trusted the process and won the KC Golf Classic by one stroke over Kyle Jones.

Challenge Tour - Swedish Challenge hosted by Robert Karlsson

Oliver Wilson overcame Joachim B. Hansen in a dramatic two-hole play-off to win the Swedish Challenge hosted by Robert Karlsson after the pair were tied on 13 under par after 72 holes at Katrineholms Golfklubb. Wilson jumps from 2017 to World No.554.

Hansen looked to have secured his third win of the European Challenge Tour season as he approached the final green but three-putted for a bogey while Wilson safely converted a par to ensure the destination of the Swedish Challenge trophy would be decided by extra holes.

Playing the final round in the same group, the duo tussled throughout as they both posted closing rounds of 68. Overnight leader Max Orrin agonisingly missed out on making it a three-man play-off as his 25-foot birdie putt lipped out and he was forced to settle for par and a level par 72.

With both Wilson and Hansen recording pars on the first extra hole, Wilson held his nerve on the second as he played an intelligent approach shot from the rough to the edge of the green before successfully two-putting for par.

Wilson, part of the 2008 European Ryder Cup team, was visibly delighted to secure a first victory in four years after what he describes as a ‘hard few years’.

EuroPro Tour - IFX and Winged Boots Championship

Dave Coupland carded rounds of 62, 71, and 70 to win the PGA EuroPro Tour’s IFX and Winged Boots Championship at Foxhills Golf Club & Resort, his second title of the season.

Coupland (Woodhall Spa Golf Club) started the day three shots clear, and maintained at least a two-shot cushion throughout the final round as the likes of Billy Hemstock (Teignmouth Golf Club), Richard Mansell (Beau Desert Golf Club), and Billy Spooner (Boston West Golf Club) all tried to reel the Lincolnshire lad in.

Mansell, Spooner and Hemstock all came close, until a superb eagle for Coupland on the 14thput some daylight between himself and the chasing pack. And a further three pars and just one bogey over the last four holes was enough to confirm Coupland’s title.

The win is the third EuroPro Tour title of his career, and second this season, and he now joins Mark Young on two wins, neck and neck in the hunt for the coveted £250,000 four-win bonus on offer.

Nordic Golf League - Made in Denmark - by EnergiMetropol Esbjerg

Nicolai Tinning from Denmark won the Made in Denmark - by EnergiMetropol Esbjerg moving to World No. 786.