Tears of Joy & Frustration After Incredible Sunday of Golf
THERE were tears of joy and frustration on an astonishing final day at the Cazoo Open and Evian Championship.
The tears of joy were shed by Nacho Elvira, who won in a playoff at Celtic Manor after throwing away a six-shot lead. It was his first victory at his 195th attempt. And the frustration came at the Evian, where Jeongeun Lee6 lost in a playoff to Minjee Lee, who came from seven shots behind to win.
Elvira survived a tough final day. He reached the turn in level par, with Justin Harding, Mikko Korhonen and Callum Shinkwin all looking to deny him victory.
A bogey on the 12th saw him caught at the top and while Elvira made birdies on the 15th and 17th, he three-putted the last to sign for a 71 and finish at 16 under alongside Harding, who had carded a bogey free 65.
Both men hit the green in three at the first trip back up the par five 18th and after Elvira missed a birdie chance to win it from nine feet, Harding three-putted from 24 feet to hand the 34-year-old the title.
Finn Korhonen finished at 15 under after a 66, a shot clear of Englishman Shinkwin who closed with 67. Elvira finally got over the line after three second place finishes on the European Tour.
He arrived in South Wales having not recorded a top 10 for over two years and with nine missed cuts in his last 11 events.
Harding trimmed the lead with a birdie from 13 feet at the first and when Elvira failed to get up and down from the sand and then bogeyed the fifth after being fortunate to not find the water, the advantage was just two.
A 25 foot left to righter on the sixth seemed to calm Elvira's nerves and he holed from 12 feet at the next to be five ahead but, while he was standing still, the chasing pack was gathering.
Harding holed a ten footer at the eighth to cut the gap to four and Korhonen added a two putt birdie at the par five ninth to a 50 footer on the fourth to join him at 12 under.
Elvira three putted the eighth but got up and down at the ninth despite being forced to lay up after finding some very thick rough, with Harding making his own birdie with two putts.
Korhonen came up just short of the green at the par five 11th but got down in two from a long way out to get to 13 under, while Harding also birdied with two putts before Korhonen joined him two back thanks to a gain from six feet at the 12th.
A stunning approach left Korhonen with a tap-in at the 14th and when Elvira found a nasty lie off the tee at the 12th and sent his second a long way left, he had been caught.
Korhonen had the lead after he got up down from the bank at the side of the driveable par four 15th, with Harding keeping chase with a 25 footer on the 14th.
Harding got up and down from the sand at the next to join Korhonen at 16 under but Elvira then drove the green to 14 feet and got down in two to make it a three way tie.
A 20 footer on the 17th had Elvira back in front but after Korhonen three putted the 17th, Elvira repeated the trick on the last after laying up and we went to extra holes.
Shinkwin got up and down at the second and holed a 25 footer on the fifth before bogeying the seventh after finding sand off the tee.
He made a 12 foot putt on the eighth and while he gave the shot straight back, he put his tee shot to four feet at the tenth, made a two putt birdie on the next and put a stunning approach to six feet on the 16th.
Japan's Masahiro Kawamura finished at 12 under, a shot clear of American Chase Hanna and England's Sam Horsfield, and three ahead of South African Bryce Easton and another Englishman in Matt Wallace.
JEONGEUN LEE6 struggled to keep her emotions in check after throwing away a five-shot lead as Australia's Minjee Lee claimed her first major title in a playoff at the Evian Championship in France.
Lee6 found water with her approach at the first extra hole, the par-five 18th, allowing Lee to take victory. The 25-year-old started the final round seven shots adrift of Lee6 but carded a seven-under-par 64 to force her way into the playoff. It matches the biggest comeback to win a major in the women's game.
Australia's Karrie Webb overturned a seven-shot deficit to defeat Lorena Ochoa in a playoff at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship, while Patty Sheehan was seven back entering the final 18 holes at the 1983 Women's PGA Championship.
While Lee soaked up the applause on the 18th green after becoming the fourth Australian woman to win a major, Lee6 was left to reflect on an up-and-down final round at the Evian Resort Golf Club.
Helped by a stunning 61 on Friday, the South Korean looked set to add to her 2019 US Women's Open triumph after establishing a commanding five-shot lead after 54 holes.
However, having opened the final round with a birdie, the 25-year-old dropped five shots in her next seven holes to give hope to Lee and American teenager Yealimi Noh.
Lee birdied four of her last five holes to set the target at 18 under par, but Lee6 bounced back impressively with birdies at the 12th, 16th and 17th to give herself the opportunity to complete a remarkable turnaround.
With Lee in the clubhouse, Lee6 and Noh were both one shot adrift playing the final hole, but the American, who turns 20 on Monday, could only manage a par to miss out on the play-off.
Lee6 had an eagle putt to win but, after settling for birdie, her challenge was ended in heart-breaking fashion on the first extra hole.
"I never really thought about it [having a chance to win] while I was playing, I just tried to make as many birdies as I could," said Lee, whose brother Min Woo claimed his second European Tour title with a playoff victory at the Scottish Open earlier this month.
"I saw the leaderboard maybe once or twice. I just tried to play the best to my ability and it's really great to win a major, it's really amazing."
Having started the final round 15 shots off the lead, Ireland's Leona Maguire carded a record-equalling 61 to storm through the field and earn her best finish in a major.
The 26-year-old fired 10 birdies in a flawless closing round to match Kim Hyo-joo's lowest round at a major set in 2014, a score also achieved by Lee6 on Friday.
Maguire, who will represent Ireland at the Olympics alongside Stephanie Meadow, birdied her first three holes and added further gains at the seventh and eighth to go out in 30.
The world number 60 began her back nine with another birdie and finished in style by picking up shots on each of her last four holes for a 10-under-par round to match Lee6's 61 on Friday.
England's Georgia Hall also took advantage of the benign conditions at the Evian Resort Golf Club as the 25-year-old carded six birdies and a closing eagle in a seven-under-par 64.
That was enough for Hall to earn a share of sixth place with Maguire, South Korea's Chun In-gee and 2015 winner Lydia Ko, and secure her highest finish in a major since winning the Women's Open in 2018.
Senior Open Championship
STEPHEN DODD won the Senior Open Championship at Sunningdale, holding off Miguel Angel Jimenez and Darren Clarke.
Dodd birdied the final hole to win by one stroke and secure his first major title. The 55-year-old Welshman closed with a 2-under 68 at Sunningdale for a four-day total of 13-under 267.
Clarke carded four birdies on the front nine to lead but bogeys at the 10th and 16th scuppered his hopes as he ended on 11 under. He was aiming to become the first European to add a Senior Open title to an Open Championship triumph.
Clarke started Sunday's final round three strokes behind Dodd but moved a shot clear after posting birdies at one, two, seven and nine.
The 52-year-old also picked up a shot at the 13th but he fell out of a tie for the lead with a bogey-five at the 16th. The five-time Ryder Cup player has enjoyed a successful transition to the PGA Tour Champions circuit having picked up two victories in the last eight months.
Gary Player, Bob Charles and Tom Watson are the only players to complete the Senior Open-Open Championship double.
Jimenez, the 2018 winner, shot 65 to finish at 12 under, while Clarke (67) was another shot behind. Dodd equaled the low round in the history of the tournament on Saturday with an 8-under 62 that gave him a two-shot lead heading into the final round of the last senior major championship of the year.
Defending champion Bernhard Langer (68) was fourth, another two shots back. The 63-year-old Langer won in 2019 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes for his fourth victory in the event. Last year's tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two-time Open champion Ernie Els (72) tied for eighth.
A three-time European Tour winner, Dodd made his senior debut at the Senior Open in 2016, when he had his previously best finish at the event — a share of 14th place.
CAMERON CHAMP bounced back to form to win the 3M Open. It came in a season when he has missed 11 cuts and struggled horribly.
The 26-year-old pulled out his driver at the par-five 18th and hit his drive miles left. He was unable to hack out of the rough with his second, had to lay up and then struck a spectacular approach to three feet.
A bogey-free, five-under 66 left Champ at 15-under 269, two shots clear of South Africans Louis Oosthuizen (66) and Charl Schwartzel (68) and Jhonnattan Vegas (68) of Venezuala. Keith Mitchell (67) finished alone in fifth.
Champ said: “After the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where I played pretty horribly and didn’t react too well, I just took a step back and said, ‘You know what? This is enough, I can't keep going on this way, I'm not enjoying the game, it's not fun, and in order for me to enjoy the game and for it to be fun, I have to be true to myself and who I truly am as a person.’ That's kind of how I've been on the course.”
But this time Champ took everything in his stride, shooting all four rounds in the 60s.
Champ, whose tie for eighth at October's Zozo Championship was his lone top-10 in 22 previous starts this season, took the solo lead for good when he birdied the par-4 11th after a 368-yard tee shot and made a birdie at the short par-4 16th to give himself a cushion going into TPC Twin Cities’ intimidating two finishing holes. At 16, before he rolled in a 14-footer, he crouched down, trying to gather himself. He felt shaky, dehydrated. And then he stepped up and delivered a birdie putt that stole all hope away from all his chasers.
Oosthuizen, on the heels of a close call at The Open Championship, was glad he played here. The last thing he needed to do was sit on his farm for a week and brood about what could have been at Royal St. George’s, where Collin Morikawa claimed the Claret Jug. He got to 12 under, and very nearly holed his lob wedge approach from 95 yards at the last, his ball spinning back and gently hitting the flagstick. A tap-in birdie gave him the clubhouse lead at 13 under. Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, still is seeking his first victory on U.S. soil. But he left Minneapolis pretty proud of his effort.
“Great track,” Oosthuizen said of TPC Twin Cities. “We had a good time here this week, and I'm just trying to see if I can go one better than all these seconds and thirds."
Vegas three-putted both par-3 holes on the back nine on Sunday, and the putter cost Schwartzel direly on the back nine as well. He was just off the front of the green at the friendly par-5 12th in two, but used putter three times and walked off with par. He then three-putted at the par-3 13th, missing for par from 3 feet. The good news: 3M marked Schwartzel’s third finish of T3 or better this season.
Champ moved from outside the top 125 all the way to No. 49 in the FedExCup standings. He only owns seven career top-10 finishes, but three times he walked away with a trophy. He is a closer.
“I feel like whenever I get in those moments, I'm super-comfortable and super ‘in the zone,’ and it feels like it's mine to take,” Champ said. “It's not so much mine to lose, I feel like it's mine to take. I feel that's how it was today.”
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