Lydia Ko Gets Back to Winning Ways
Following Hideki Matsuyama's victory at the Masters, the spotlight was back on the various tours around the world, and they delivered memorable stories of their own, including a long-awaited triumph for Lydia Ko and Stewart Cink's continued rolling back the years.
Ko Gets Back to Winning Ways
Lydia Ko won her first LPGA Tour title for three years with a seven-shot victory at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii.The New Zealander, 23, carded a seven-under-par 65 to finish on 28 under.
It was the two-time major winner's 16th LPGA title and her first since the 2018 Mediheal Championship - 1,084 days ago.
South Koreans Inbee Park and Kim Sei-young, Ireland's Leona Maguire and American Nelly Korda were tied for second place on 21 under.
England's Georgia Hall finished on 17 under in 12th place, while Northern Ireland's Stephanie Meadow was eight under at Kapolei Golf Club.
Ko said she had doubted herself but had been inspired by recent victories for Jordan Spieth, who won his first title for four years in Texas, and Hideki Matsuyama, winner of The Masters.
"Hand on my heart, there were times when I wondered, 'Hey, I don't know if I'm ever going to be back in the winner's circle,'" said Ko, who finished second at the recent ANA Inspiration.
"To be back in this kind of position is obviously super cool. You know, with Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama winning the last couple of weeks - and I know it's been a while since they won, as well - that kind of gave me a little bit of hope that maybe I could follow that trend."
Maguire, in her second year on the LGPA Tour, had four birdies and an eagle three on the 17th on her way to a final round 67 that saw her finish in a four-way tie for second.
Cink Wins at Harbour Town
STEWART CINK became the most unpopular golfer on the planet when he won The Open at Turnberry in 2009. His crime? He denied 59-year-old Tom Watson the opportunity to become the oldest ever winner of a major.
Cink is one of life’s good guys and he didn’t enjoy the manner of his victory. It is difficult to know what impact on him. Suffice to say that he didn’t win another tournament until the Safeway Open in September last year. It was a win that came from nowhere.
And lo and behold, he only went and did it again, claiming the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in sensational fashion. At the age of 47, when he should be getting ready for the challenge that lies ahead on the Champions Tour, he is a man reborn and is now focusing on such riches as the FedEx Cup and perhaps even the Ryder Cup.
He shot a final round of 70 for a 72-hole total of 265 and a four-shot victory ahead of Emiliano Grillo and Harold Varner III.
"I don't have words," Cink said. "To have my family with me means so much. It's been a total blast. I came here today ready for a dog fight but it never really happened."
Cink, with his son Regan on the bag, bent a magnificent second shot around the trees at the opening hole to settle any nerves with a comfortable par four but playing partner Collin Morikawa holed a 20-footer to reduce the gap to four. Cink, who is 47, had played 14 times on the PGA Tour before Morikawa was even born and won for the first time in 1997. Furthermore, he had already won this tournament twice.
Harbour Town is a shotmaker's course, which is precisely why these two guys were out in front. It rewards accurate driving and approach play. And when Morikawa missed the par-five second and took four more to get down, Cink's five-shot advantage was restored. Morikawa had been joined on 13 under by Emiliano Grillo, Corey Conners and Maverick McNealy, who picked up four shots in the first seven holes.
By the time he had reached the turn, McNealy had picked up another birdied and trailed Cink by four. But Morikawa was now six adrift after another bogey. This was not turning out to be the day he was looking for, and would tumble down the leaderboard.
Cink restored his five-shot lead with a routine birdie at the par-five fifth. It was all going to plan for the American. Grillo, playing with England's Matt Wallace, birdied the seventh to move to 15 under and remind Cink that the job wasn't done just yet. Grillo had a golden chance to pick up another shot at the ninth but missed a five-footer.
Cink reached the turn in 35. It hadn't been spectacular but nobody was making any inroads. And he had played 63 holes with just two bogeys on his card. If he was expecting somebody to make a charge then he was pleasantly surprised as Grillo bogeyed the 12th. The lead was back to five but then he dropped his third shot of the week, also at the 12th.
A late run by Harold Varner III saw him draw level with Grillo, but he was fast running out of holes. There was also an encouraging late run from Sheffield's Matt Fitzpatrick, birdies at the 11th, 13th and 17th taking him to 13 under. This is a course that is made for his game.
With every par he made, Cink tightened his grip on the title and when he made another at the 15th he was four clear and cruising. But Grillo caught his attention when he holed a chip for a birdie at the 16th, just as Varner was holing a birdie putt on the last for a 66 to goin Gillo on 15 under. The lead was three.
And it became four when he holed out for a birdie two at the 17th. he could now enjoy his walk down the 18th with a four-shot lead.
Catlin Wins Austrian Open
JOHN CATLIN won his third European Tour title in eight months as he overcame Maximilian Kieffer in a play-off after a dramatic final day battle at the 2021 Austrian Golf Open.
The American started the day two shots off the lead and was four adrift after Kieffer picked up six shots in seven holes to take control at Diamond Country Club.
But as Kieffer' began to stutter, Catlin took his birdie tally for the day to seven as he carded a bogey-free 65 to set the target at 14 under.
In the group behind, Kieffer found sand off the 18th tee but showed real grit to get up and down for par and the contest went to extra holes.
Both men had good chances as the first four trips back up the last were halved but Kieffer found the water three times at the fifth time of asking and Catlin took the title with a bogey.
German Martin Kaymer, who began the day tied for the lead as he looked for his first victory since the 2014 US Open, was three shots out of the play-off at 11 under, three clear of England's Marcus Armitage, Dutchman Wil Besseling and South African Garrick Higgo.
"I'd love to crack that top 50 in the world," he said. "Just get a chance to play in some Major Championships - I've actually never played in a Major. I'm thinking this gives me a very good chance to play in the US PGA Championship, that was kind of my goal. Hopefully it's good enough and to get into those events and to have the chance to win a Major, that's been my goal since I was a kid.
"Winning is never easy, it doesn't matter what tour you're playing on and to have gotten this one is definitely something special.
As overnight leaders Alejandro Cañizares and Kaymer quickly fell back, Kieffer two putted the par five first for a birdie, with Catlin holing a 15 footer from the fringe at the third to sit just one back.
Kieffer got a nice bounce at the third to hole from four feet but Catlin made a birdie at the par five next before Kieffer put his second to 12 feet and rolled in an eagle to lead by three.
Catlin made an 18 footer at the sixth to trim the gap once again before Kieffer holed from 15 feet at the fifth and, when the leader got another fortunate bounce to set up a four foot birdie at the seventh, he was four ahead. Catlin then put an approach to five feet at the eighth and with the group in third six shots back, it was firmly a two horse race.
Kieffer made his first bogey of the day on the ninth, with Catlin trimming the gap to one with a brilliant 25 foot putt on the 11th. Another Kieffer bogey on the 11th meant we were tied and Catlin then made a 30 footer on the 14th to lead on his own for the first time.
Kieffer recovered from his stumble with an approach to ten feet on the 13th and he had the lead on his own once again as got up and down on the par five 15th to get back to 14 under. Catlin then made an up-and-down of his own on the following par five to tie things up and the duo parred their way home to set up the play-off drama.
They had a a birdie chance each on the first two play-off holes and Kieffer holed a 30 footer on the third to pile on the pressure but Catlin also made his birdie from a third of the distance.
A stunning bunker shot helped Catlin save par on the fourth trip up the 18th before Kieffer found water once from the tee and twice from the drop zone to make the result a formality despite Catlin finding sand again.
"It's always tough to watch that happen," Catlin added. "We're out here giving it our all, he's obviously a very, very accomplished player and to come out on top is something I will always cherish."
Kieffer said: "Standing here I feel like I’m only going to get better. Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way, you never know in golf, but I’m confident about the game and I felt good.
"Every shot on the play-off felt good too but the last shot was a bit stupid, I got a bit too aggressive."
Kaymer recovered brilliantly after dropping three shots in his opening three holes, with the two-time major champion making six birdies to sign for a closing 70. It meant he finished third and is still looking for his first victory since the US Open in 2014.
Besseling signed for a 67 with Armitage and Higgo recording rounds of 68 to finish a shot ahead of Spaniard Cañizares, Australia's Austin Bautista, Dane Nicolai Højgaard, South African Jacques Kruyswijk and local favourite Matthias Schwab.
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