Arnaus Secures First Win & Seventh For Rahm on PGA Tour
Sports Journlist Derek Clements provides his weekly wrap-up from the professional tours around the world, focusing on a Spanish double on the DP World Tour and PGA Tour and a second tour win on the LPGA Tour.
Arnaus Secures His First Tour Win on DP World Tour
ADRI ARNAUS thrilled the home fans with a flawless final round of 65 and then defeated Oliver Bekker in a six-hole play-off to win the Catalunya Championship, his first DP World Tour title.
He moves up to sixth on the DP World Tour Rankings and into the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time.
"It’s a dream come true," he said. "I’ve been looking for this one for a while. To be able to come through here, where I practise in the summers, they take care of me so well. I know the course quite well. I’ve been able to play some really good golf and to do it here is special.
"Sometimes I cheer them on (the spectators), sometimes they cheer me on. It’s a win that we all share together because I’m sure I would not be standing here without them, without my team.
"That’s a target of mine [getting inside the top 50]. This year we had a target set. I feel like I belong there."
Arnaus has been in good form this year but started the day seven shots off the lead and turned in 34. At that point it looked like a battle between Bekker and Laurie Canter at PGA Catalunya.
But the Spaniard moved into a different gear on the back nine, coming home in 31 with the help of an eagle on the 12th to set the target at 11 under. He then had to wait and see if he had done enough.
Bekker was still one in front but when he three-putted the 16th they were level. He signed for a 72 and Arnaus was heading to a third DP World Tour play-off in seven months after defeats at the Spanish Open last year and MyGolfLife Open last month.
They made five trips up the 18th, producing a series of pars. But when they moved to the 17th for the sixth extra hole, Bekker missed the green and could not get up and down, allowing Arnaus to take the title with a par after putting his approach to six feet.
Canter finished two shots out of the playoff alongside fellow Englishman Richard McEvoy and Pole Adrian Meronk, with South African Hennie du Plessis and Italy's Edoardo Molinari at eight under.
Arnaus came into the week with five runner-up finishes on Tour - two of them on home soil - but now has a win in his 84th start and makes it back-to-back Spanish victories for the first time since 2017 after Pablo Larrazabal’s victory at the ISPS Handa Championship.
Canter birdied the first from ten feet and then the second from 12 but Bekker kept his nose in front with a 15-footer of his own.
It looked like the lead might be extended when Canter found some trouble off the tee on the third but he holed out from 196 yards with his third for an eagle and a one-shot advantage.
He three-putted the fourth but kept the lead as Bekker also needed three blows from just off the green, although there was a tie when the 32-year-old could not get up and down from a tough position on the next.
Bekker then holed a 15-footer on the sixth and got up and down from the sand on the next to lead by two, although a bogey on the ninth meant his advantage was just one shot at the turn.
Canter missed the green with his second on the next and found a horrible lie, coming up short of the putting surface again, chipping on and needing two putts for a double-bogey which put Bekker three shots ahead.
Arnaus had made birdies on the first, seventh and tenth but was still a long way back before he holed from around 35 feet to eagle the 12th.
A two-putt birdie on the par-five 15th put him within two and when he put his tee-shot to 15 feet at the par-three 16th, the lead was back down to one.
A par-par finish saw the home favourite set the target and Canter joined him at 11 under with a birdie from 12 feet on the 14th and a two-putt gain on the next.
Bekker three-putted the 16th to make it a three-way tie but held his nerve to take it to the play-off, while a poor tee-shot led to a Canter double-bogey on the 17th as he carded a 72.
McEvoy picked up four shots in as many holes from the 12th in a 69, while Meronk was blemish free in a 70.
Du Plessis carded a 64 that was the lowest round of the week and Molinari signed for a level-par 72.
Rahm Clinches PGA Tour Mexico Open
JON RAHM made it a Spanish double when he won the Mexico Open at Vidanta Vallarta to finish one clear of Tony Finau, Brandon Wu and Kurt Kitayama.
It was his seventh PGA Tour success but his first since claiming the US Open at Torrey Pines in June last year. He moved to sixth in the FedExCup standings and draws closer to Scottie Scheffler in his quest to return to the top spot in the world rankings.
He had pulled out of a four-way tie with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole and then held on with pars for a 2-under 69 and a one-shot victory.
Finau and Wu each closed with a 63, while Kurt Kitayama birdied the final hole from a back bunker for a 68. They tied for second.
Rahm started the week as favourite and he played that way from his opening 64.
“I like to think every time I tee it up I'm a favourite. I play to win,” Rahm said. “Fortunately, I got my seventh PGA Tour win. It was a pretty stressful weekend, all the way to the end.”
Starting the final round with a two-shot lead, he wasn’t quite at his best as he tried to close out the win.
Rahm had a one-shot lead after a bogey on the tough par-4 10th.
Ahead of him, Wu holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to join him at 16 under. Kitayama, playing with Rahm, got up-and-down from right of the green on the par-5 12th to tie. And then Finau went birdie-eagle-birdie to get in the mix and capped off his 63 with a birdie to make it a four-way tie.
Rahm, who is not known for his patience, kept his cool.His chip left of the green on the par-5 14th raced 12 feet by the hole, but he hit his best putt of the round and made it for birdie and a one-shot lead.
His wedge to the 15th came up short and his chip ran five feet past the hole. He made that to stay in front, and then had to two-putt from 50 feet on the 16th for his par. Rahm missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th that would have given him room for error.
The closing par five at Vidanta Vallarta is easy reachable, and Rahm birdied it the three previous times. This time, his fade stayed straight and instead of dropping into the bunker, it nestled in deep rough on a steep slope just above the sand. He punched it out into the fairway.
His approach to a back pin just trickled off the green, and he navigated the slick putt perfectly to a few inches.
“I didn't think a par five that requires a fade that I'd be stressing this much,” Rahm said. “It wasn't my best putting weekend, but I stayed aggressive. I was confident in what I was doing. I have faith in every part of my game and it showed.”
Champ, who like Kitayama started the final round two shots behind, took himself out of the mix with a triple bogey on the par-4 eighth hole. He never recovered, shot 70 and finished three shots behind in a tie for sixth.
Rahm has 14 victories worldwide. He had gone 17 starts without winning, matching the longest such in his career.
The Spaniard has managed at least one victory every season in six full years as a professional.
Alex Claims Second LPGA Title
MARINA ALEX claimed her second LPGA Tour title, winning the Palos Verdes Championship by a stroke from world number one Jin Young Ko.
Three strokes behind Hannah Green entering the round, Alex closed with a five-under 66 to finish at 10-under 274 at Palos Verdes Golf Club thanks to a birdie at the par-five 16th.
"The hard work has paid off,'' said Alex, who has recently recovered from a herniated disc in her lower back. "I wasn't sure if this would ever happen again if I'm being perfectly honest. It's been tough. We're all getting older. I'm getting older. There are so many amazing players out here. The competition is really, really difficult.
"So, I just didn't know if my mind and body were going to put me back in a position that I was going to be able to do it again. Today was the day."
Ko also shot a 66. "My swing was really better than first three days,'' Ko said. "I got something -- I found something, so hit really well today.''
Alex bogeyed the par-4 third, then birdied the par-4 fifth, par-5 seventh and par-4 eighth. She added birdies on the par-3 11th and par-12th and two-putted from 40 feet on 16 to take the outright lead.
"Today was amazing,'' Alex said. "I'm kind of not really there with processing what went down today, but it's been a really tough couple years. I mean, since the COVID -- that slowed all of us down.
"And then I was injured really quick after that. Had seven months off, and it's just been a really tough rebuilding back. Coming into this year I finally have felt good physically, like really good.''
Alex also won the 2018 Portland Classic. She tied for 10th last week at Wilshire Country Club in the LA Open.
"My goals for the year were just to like get through the year, silly as that sounds,'' Alex said. "No, I really did feel like this year was going to be different than years past. I struggled last year just getting back in things competitively and also physically.''
Third-ranked Lydia Ko (70) and Megan Khang (68) tied for third at 8 under. Green shot her second straight 72 to drop into a tie for fifth at 7 under with Ryann O'Toole (68), Andrea Lee (69) and Annie Park (69).
Anna Davis, the 16-year-old Augusta National Women's Amateur winner, closed with a 76 to finish 70th in her first LPGA Tour start. "It's been a really fun experience,'' Davis said. "Overall, it's been really fun. Super good experience, and it's something I look forward to doing in my future. So, glad that I got to see a little sneak peek this week.''
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