DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jaye Marie Green completed a runaway victory in the LPGA Tour final qualifying tournament Sunday, finishing with a record 29-under 331 total for a 10-stroke margin.
These 20 players earned their 2014 LPGA Tour cards.
The 19-year-old Green, from Boca Raton, closed with a 4-under 68 on LPGA International’s Jones Course. She broke the event 90-hole mark of 18-under 342 set by Stacy Lewis in 2008.
“This is going to be a week that I’ll always remember,” Green said. “I was the most nervous on that last green when I didn’t have to be, but I really was. But when that putt fell I was just speechless and I think I was just seeing stars really. It was a cool feeling. I just felt really relieved.”
The top 20 earned Category 12 status, the next 26 players received membership in Category 17, and the other 22 players who made the 72-hole cut got Symetra Tour status.
South Korea’s Mi Rim Lee was second after a 69. Tiffany Joh finished third at 15 under after a 71.
Amy Anderson, the 21-year-old former North Dakota State star who won a record 20 college titles, was fourth at 14 under after a 69.
“This is not what I expected at all,” Anderson said. “The week or so leading up I was actually struggling with my game quite a bit. So I was thinking I would sneak in by the skin of my teeth. To come out here and just play well all week was really exciting and took the stress out of it.”
Green bogeyed the par-3 third hole, ending a 59-hole run without a bogey. She rebounded with birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 to make the turn at 1 under. She birdied Nos. 10 and 11, dropped a stroke on the par-3 14th and closed with birdies on the final two holes.
“It’s been a dream come true really,” Green said. “Since I was a little girl it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Having my dad beside me, couldn’t have been a better feeling really. Having all my family here is just awesome. I’m so overwhelmed right now, I don’t how to react.”
Green, who lost to Lydia Ko in the final of the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur, played on the Symetra Tour this year. She had three top-10 finishes and finished the season 29th on the money list.
“It really is the stepping stone to getting into the LPGA Tour,” Green said. “Just the things that I’ve learned, like the key elements that you need to be out there was a huge help. For that to happen so fast, like me being here today after my first season, I wasn’t expecting it to come that fast.”
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) – Zach Johnson put together the storybook finish at Sherwood on Sunday that for the longest time belonged to Tiger Woods.
Johnson rallied from four shots behind with eight holes to play, holed out from a drop area for par on the last hole to force a playoff, and beat the No. 1 player in golf at the World Challenge when Woods missed a 5-foot par putt on the first extra hole.
“Pretty impressive what he did,” Woods said. “He got me.”
FINAL LEADERBOARD: Northwestern Mutual World Challenge
It was an extraordinary sendoff at Sherwood, which hosted the World Challenge for the 14th and final time before it moves to Florida next year.
The big surprise was the winner in so many ways.
“I feel very fortunate, and a bit lucky,” said Johnson, who moved into the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time in his career.
For Woods, it was only the fourth time in his career that he lost a lead of at least two shots going into the final round, the second time at Sherwood. Graeme McDowell overcame a four-shot deficit in 2010 and beat Woods in a playoff.
This was far more dramatic.
They were tied after Johnson hit his tee shot to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th hole. Playing from the left rough, Woods came up just short and watched his approach tumble down the elevated green and into the bunker. Johnson followed with his worst shot of the week, an 8-iron so weak that it came up well short and into the hazard.
Johnson knew Woods had a difficult bunker shot, and if he figured if he could stick his wedge close from about 65 yards away in the drop zone, a bogey might be enough to get into a playoff. The ball bounced three times and then spun back a few inches into the cup for an unlikely par and a 4-under 68.
“A little too dramatic for me,” Johnson said.
Woods’ hit a superb bunker shot to 2 feet and matched his par for a 70. They finished on 13-under 275.
Woods was between clubs from the 18th fairway in the playoff and tried a smooth 7-iron that he lost enough to the right that it again found the bunker. He hit an exquisite sand shot, this one sliding 5 feet by the hole, and the par putt spun out of the left side.
Johnson won $1 million and should go to No. 9 in the world.
Woods ended what he called a “damn good year” — five wins, the most of anyone in the world — with a shocking loss to Johnson. Two years ago, Woods ended the longest drought of his career when he went birdie-birdie at Sherwood to beat Johnson by one shot.
Matt Kuchar (67) and Bubba Watson (70) tied for third at 9-under 279.
The attendance Sunday was 24,922, a record for any round in 14 years at Sherwood. Traffic outside the tony club in the Santa Monica foothills looked like an LA freeway in what could be the last chance in the near future to see Woods in southern California.
Woods appeared to have his sixth title at Sherwood sewed up when Johnson missed a short par putt on the 10th hole to fall four shots behind with eight holes to play. Woods had said on Saturday that Johnson wasn’t the kind of player who went away easily, and he was right.
Johnson picked up birdies on the 11th and 12th holes, and then got back in the game on the 14th when Woods three-putted from long range on the 14th, and Johnson saved his par with an 8-foot putt to get within one shot.
The rest of the way looked like the final rounds of a heavyweight fight, even if only one of them looked the part.
Johnson laid up on the par-5 16 and nearly holed a sand wedge from 88 yards, setting up a tap-in birdie. Woods, with a tough chip left of the green, rehearsed the shot over and over and it came out perfectly for a matching birdie. Johnson finally caught him with a tee shot to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th, leading to the big finish.
Johnson looked almost apologetic when Woods missed his par putt in the playoff, and it was shocking to see. No one from his generation as made more clutch putts than Woods, who spoke about the topic earlier in the week.
But not this time. It was not the way he wanted to leave Sherwood, where Woods has five wins and now five runner-up finishes. The only consolation was $400,000 for finishing second, bringing to just over $14 million the earnings he has donated to his foundation from the three tournaments (ATT National, Deutsche Bank, World Challenge) that support his education programs.
DURBAN, South Africa – The Nelson Mandela Championship will begin and end one day early next week to recognize the state funeral for the late president.
This is the second year the tournament is part of the official European Tour schedule. It was scheduled for Dec. 12-15 at Mount Edgecombe Country Club. The European Tour and Sunshine Tour say it will now start on Wednesday and end on Saturday.
An official memorial service for Mandela is scheduled for Tuesday at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, where Mandela made his last public appearance at the closing ceremony of the 2010 World Cup. His body will lie in state from Wednesday through Friday in Pretoria. The state funeral and burial at Qunu will be on Sunday.
The tournament honors Mandela’s charity work through the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
TAIPEI, Taiwan – Lydia Ko rallied to win her first title as a professional.
The 16-year-old from New Zealand won the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters on Sunday, closing with a 4-under 68 for a three-stroke victory over South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu.
Ko had an 11-under 205 total at Linkou Miramar and earned $150,000 in the event sanctioned by the Taiwan and Korean tours that draws a number of top LPGA Tour players. Ryu finished with a 73. Top-ranked Inbee Park was third at 7 under after a 70.
Ko tied for 21st last month in the LPGA Tour’s season-opening CME Group Titleholders in her only other start as a professional. She won four pro events as an amateur, taking the CN Canadian Women’s Open the last two years, and will play the LPGA Tour in 2014.
HONG KONG – Miguel Angel Jimenez clinched the UBS Hong Kong Open on the first hole of a three-way playoff Sunday, extending his record as the oldest player to win on the European Tour.
The 49-year-old Jimenez defended the title after sinking an 18-foot birdie to beat Prom Meesawat of Thailand and Stuart Manley of Wales.
“It just gets better and better. I love Hong Kong and this course,” said Jimenez, who improved his record as the oldest player to win on the European Tour to 49 years and 337 days.
“This is my fourth and it was my hardest. When you need to play a playoff, you need to play one more hole, and against two guys also trying to win is hard. But my experience paid off,” said Jimenez, who also won here in 2004, `07 and `12.
It was also his 20th career win on the European Tour, bringing the Spaniard within one of Scotland’s Sam Torrance.
“I just love this course. It is an old-fashioned course where accuracy off the tee counts. You have to control the ball here,” said Jimenez who began the day two shots behind overnight-leader Manley.
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After the final round, all three players finished at 12-under 268. Jimenez had a 4-under 66.
“I turn 50 next month, but I’m still fit,” he said. “I stretch every morning, you have to do this to keep up with the younger lot.”
The 29-year-old Meesawat produced a nerveless display of putting for a 65 that included two eagles on the third and 13th holes. That pushed him into the lead for most of the day.
The Thai golfer played ahead of Jimenez and Manley, and watched from the clubhouse as the pair caught him.
“I was very pleased with my round,” Meesawat said. “But I had a few chances to collect a couple more birdies. Unfortunately, they fell short and in the playoff I had a bad approach shot.”
NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE: Thomas Bjorn wins after two back-nine eagles
Jimenez knocked in a birdie on the 17th and Manley chipped in from the edge of the green to hole a birdie on the 18th to force the three-way playoff.
Jimenez hit his approach shot on the green at the tricky par-4, 410-yard 18th. Manley sliced his shot onto a corporate box roof, while Meesawat’s approach fell just short of the green.
Both missed their birdie putts, and Jimenez made no mistake as he coolly knocked in the winning shot.
Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands finished fourth after a 65.
Jimenez’s fourth Hong Kong Open title matched the record held by Taiwan’s Hsieh Yong Yo, who won the tournament in 1963, `64, `75 and `78.
SUN CITY, South Africa – Thomas Bjorn had two eagles in his last nine holes, one brilliant and one a bit lucky, to finish with a 7-under 65 and win the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday.
Overnight leader Jamie Donaldson of Wales lost his three-shot advantage in a final-round 70 and tied for second with Sergio Garcia (65).
Bjorn’s victory was hailed by fans in the galleries on No. 18, waving streams of South African flags in late afternoon sunshine on a day dedicated in the country to prayer and reflection following the death of former President Nelson Mandela.
Bjorn’s 5-iron into No. 10 set up the first eagle to move past Donaldson. The Dane had his second on No. 14 after his approach hit a bunker and rolled up onto the green.
“They were two big moments,” Bjorn said. “Obviously, having two eagles on the back nine on a Sunday doesn’t happen very often. The shot into 14 was a bit fortunate, but that’s what happens when you win golf tournaments, I guess.”
The 30 players in the elite field stood for a rendition of the South African anthem at the end of the event.
“I think to the whole world, he was just an inspiration to human beings. He was a great man,” Bjorn said of Mandela at the trophy presentation. “To see what one man can do, it’s an inspiration to all of us. If we all just did a bit more, this world would be a better place.”
Donaldson was attempting to become the first debut winner at Sun City since Zimbabwe’s Mark McNulty in 1986. But he bogeyed No. 9 and couldn’t make any more birdies until No. 17.
Garcia dropped a shot on No. 16 after a run of four straight birdies at the end of his front nine, allowing Bjorn to bogey the last at Gary Player Country Club and still win.
UBS HONG KONG OPEN: Jimenez, at age 49, wins for record-tying fourth time
FedExCup and European money list winner Henrik Stenson was fourth after his 67 in the No. 3-ranked Swede’s first tournament back since ending last season as the world’s best player.
Brendon de Jonge (66) was fifth and Charl Schwartzel (66) finished sixth, the highest placed South African. Ryan Moore of the United States, another Sun City rookie, was in contention through three rounds before a 73 on Sunday led to a tie for seventh with U.S. Open champion Justin Rose.
Home favorite and three-time champion Ernie Els had to deal with news of Mandela’s passing on Thursday and the death of his former psychological coach on Saturday. He finished with a second straight 77 and second from last in the expanded 30-man field.
This is the first year the Nedbank has been part of the European Tour’s official schedule.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – After a day of so much uncertainty about where the ball was going, Tiger Woods landed in a place where the outcome is rarely in doubt.
He was in the lead.
Woods survived a rough round of swirling swing at Sherwood on Saturday with two birdies on his last three holes. That enabled him to salvage an even-par 72 and maintain his two-shot lead over Zach Johnson going into the final round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.
Woods’ round featured a tee shot into the water, a three-putt from 6 feet and a long delay on the 18th fairway as he tried to figure out which way the wind was blowing. He took a little off an 8-iron when he felt the wind switch yet again and holed a 12-foot birdie putt.
“I’m pleased at having the lead – not real pleased with the way I putted today,” Woods said. “I left a few out there today.”
But he wasn’t alone.
The average score was just under 73, and everyone ran into problems somewhere along the way, particularly on the 15th, a par 3 that played to an average score of 4.17. Johnson made two double bogeys on par 3s on the back nine, and didn’t feel as though he hit a poor shot on either hole. It was simply a matter of getting the wind to cooperate.
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“I didn’t take myself out of it,” said Johnson, who also birdied two of the last three holes for a 72.
Woods was at 11-under 205, two shots ahead of Johnson, just like he started the day.
There are 18 holes to go, and Woods has a 48-5 lead worldwide when he has the outright lead going into Sunday. He has won all four times with the lead this year, and the last time he gave up a lead on Sunday was at Sherwood in 2010, when Graeme McDowell came from four shots behind and won in a playoff.
It can be done, and two shots can be erased in one hole in conditions like this.
Woods is trying to end his year with a sixth title, which would be the ninth time he’s done that in his career. What began as an elite field of 18 players – all of them from the top 30 in the world ranking – has effectively been whittled to three barring a late charge from deep in the pack.
Bubba Watson was within one shot of the lead briefly until a three-putt bogey on the 18th, and two late birdies by Woods. Watson had a 69 and was four shots behind. No one else was within six shots of Woods.
“This golf course is very difficult,” Watson said. “Right now, there’s a pretty good player leading. He’s won here before. He knows this golf course pretty well. But I’m just going to come out there and play. I’ve shot under par my last few rounds. I want to keep doing that. If I can shoot in the 60s, give myself a chance, we’ll see what happens.”
Rory McIlroy had the low round Saturday of 68, and that included a double bogey on the par-3 15th, which was playing 193 yards from an elevated tee. Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker each took a 7 on the par 3.
Johnson was one shot out of the lead when his 5-iron went into the creek, and it wasn’t particularly close. He made double bogey. Woods hit 6-iron well to the left, and while he three-putted from long range for bogey, that was about par for the day.
“I thought Zach hit it perfect,” Woods said. “He hit a little cut 5 and it was right on the flag. I mean, I thought it was the perfect flight to get there. I had a 6, and I knew that if my ball kicked up at all, it wasn’t going to get there after seeing his ball get smoked at the end. So I went ahead and flipped it over to the left and bailed out.”
Johnson briefly took the lead with a birdie on No. 9, though Woods caught him with a birdie on the 10th. Johnson lost momentum with one bad shot, a fairway metal for his second shot on the par-5 11th that went right into a bed of leaves under a small cluster of trees. He tried to punch under the trees and onto the green, but his shot hit one branch and led to bogey.
Johnson made a double bogey on the par-3 12th and just like that was three shots behind. He got back to within one shot on the next hole when Woods three-putted from 6 feet for bogey and Johnson made bogey.
Ultimately, they ended up where they started the day, putting Woods one round away from his sixth win at Sherwood. The tournament is moving to Florida next year.