Bernd Wiesberger Successfully Defends Title in Denmark
AUSTRIA'S Bernd Wiesberger defended his Made in HimmerLand title in style as he cruised to a five shot win in Denmark.
The 35-year-old led from start to finish and, having started the day with a one-shot advantage, he dominated with eight birdies in a closing 64. It gave him a 21 under total as Wiesberger romped to his eighth European Tour title. Since 2011, Rory McIlroy is the only European to have won more.
Italy’s Guido Migliozzi shot a closing 63 to finish second on 16 under, with English pair Richard Bland and Jordan Smith sharing third with Australia’s Jason Scrivener on 15 under. It is the second successive event in which Migliozzi has finished second. He lost in a playoff to Bland at the British Masters two weeks ago.
After a birdie at the first, Wiesberger had his only bogey of the day at the short third but soon got the shot back from close range on the fifth.
His tee shot on the par three sixth cleared the water in front of the green with nothing to spare but a wonderful chip saw him rescue par and four birdies in five holes from the eighth turned the closing stretch into a procession.
“It’s unbelievable,” Wiesberger said. “I’ve had seven chances (to defend a title) – I wasn’t successful the first six.
“I’ve said it all week, I really like it here. Playing here is good for my confidence especially after a couple of tougher weeks, so it’s a special place for me.
“It brings out the best in me. I got it going when I needed to so really enjoyable.”
Victory also propels Wiesberger into contention for a place on Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup Team later this year.
Asked about a possible debut, he added: “There’s a lot of golf to be played. First of all I really wanted to have a good week and start playing better golf again.
“This week really clicked for me, had a couple of good breaks on the way as well.
“Got to keep playing good golf but I would like to put my name in the vicinity of one of those spots. First things first, I need to play some more tournaments like this week and it will sort itself out.”
Migliozzi said: "I have been playing very good the past few weeks. I just controlled my game better today because I have a few mistakes over the last few days, but today me and my caddie worked well and it has been a great day of golf.
"We said go straight at the pin and attack. I had a good feeling so it was the right moment to attack. It gives me a lot of confidence and I am happy with where my game is at, so keep pushing and keep grinding."
JASON KOKRAK had to wait more than 200 tournaments for his first PGA Tour title. His second came along a little quicker as he defeated Jordan Spieth by two shots to secure the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club for his second victory of the season. To rub salt into the wounds, Kokrak beat Spieth in front of his hometown crowd.
Playing alongside Spieth for the final 36 holes, Kokrak came out on top by virtue of the fact that he made fewer mistakes in the final round. He shot a level-par 70, while 54-hole leader Spieth, who was out of sorts all day, stumbled to a 73. His spoils for the victory at Colonial included a tartan jacket and a custom 1946 pickup truck.
“I'm a big guy with a big truck, with a big jacket and a big paycheque,” Kokrak said after the win.
In October, he shot a final-round 64 to win the CJ Cup. It was his 233rd start in a TOUR career that began in 2012. This time Kokrak finished at 14-under 266 (65-65-66-70) to hand Spieth his third runner-up in this event. He also won at Colonial in 2016.
Kokrak joins Bryson DeChambeau and Stewart Cink as the only players with multiple victories this season. He moves to fifth in the FedExCup standings. “All I try to do is to get better every single year,” he said. “It's not a flash in the pan.”
An improved putter has been the key. He is seventh in Strokes Gained: Putting after ranking 151st in that statistic last season. In his previous nine seasons on TOUR, his average ranking in that statistic was 124th.
Ball-striking has always been Kokrak’s strength and so it proved again at Colonial. He led the field in both Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (+6.2) and driving distance (321.8 yards) while also ranking fourth in fairways hit (41 of 56, 73.2%). He was second in greens in regulation, as well, hitting 54 of 72 (75%).
Kokrak trailed by two shots after bogeying the first hole, but he took his first lead of the day by holing a 23-foot birdie putt on the fifth hole. He maintained that lead by making a 10-footer for birdie on the next hole after Spieth had hit a wedge close. Spieth stiffed another wedge at the ninth to tie Kokrak entering the back nine. But Kokrak holed a 13-footer for birdie on 11 and made a 17-foot birdie putt from the fringe two holes later to give him a two-shot lead with five holes remaining.
Both players bogeyed the 15th hole before hitting their tee shots into greenside bunkers at the next hole. Spieth got up-and-down. Kokrak did not. Spieth drew within one with two holes remaining and had to calm the crowd after Kokrak missed his par putt.
Both players missed the 17th green, as well. Kokrak was left of the greenside bunker after his approach from behind a tree didn’t cut enough. He holed a 7-footer to save par and Spieth made his 6-footer to stay a shot back.
Spieth played an aggressive approach from the rough on the final hole, though, and his ball found the water left of the green. That took the pressure off Kokrak, who hit the green and two-putted for par and the victory.
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