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Week 38: Schauffele breaks into World's Top 50

September 25, 2017

PGA Tour – Tour Championship

Xander Schauffele ended his rookie season by winning the TOUR Championship. Justin Thomas ended the best season with the FedExCup.

Schauffele, a 23-year-old from San Diego who was worried about keeping his PGA TOUR card just over three months ago, swirled in a 3-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday for a 2-under 68 and a one-shot victory over Thomas.

He became the first PGA TOUR rookie to win the TOUR Championship since it began in 1987.

Thomas never had more reason to celebrate finishing second. He capped off a season of five victories, including his first major at the PGA Championship, by claiming the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus.

It was the first time in eight years that two players celebrated at East Lake. Tiger Woods won the FedExCup and Phil Mickelson won the TOUR Championship in 2009.

The surprise guest to the party was Schauffele.

"It's been a wild ride," he said.

It began with a tie for fifth in his U.S. Open debut, and he followed that a month later by winning the Greenbrier Classic. He wouldn't even have been at the TOUR Championship until he played his final six holes in 6-under par last week at Conway Farms to get into the top 30 in the FedExCup.

Japan / Asian Tour - Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup Golf

Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka birdied three of his last five holes for a closing one-under-par 70 to win his first Asian Tour title by two shots at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup on Sunday.

Kataoka, who started the round one shot back, held his nerve to defeat his playing partners and overnight leaders Poom Sakansin of Thailand and countryman Tadahiro Takayama with a winning total of 12-under-par 272 at the Caledonian Golf Club.

Poom moved four clear after sinking two birdies in his opening eight holes but a costly triple-bogey seven on the ninth saw his lead reduced to one. The 24-year-old Thai slipped further with bogeys on 12 and 15 but he gained a shot back on 17 to sign for an eventual 73.

Poom settled for a share of second place with Takayama, who also returned with a 73 after marking his card with three birdies against five bogeys, at the ¥‎150 million (approximately US$1.37 million) event.

Korean duo K.T. Kim, Younghan Song and Japan’s Shugo Imahira shared fourth place on 275 following respective rounds of 66, 68 and 70 at the event joint sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).

European Tour – Portugal Masters

Lucas Bjerregaard produced one of the best performances of his career at the perfect moment to claim his maiden European Tour title at the Portugal Masters.

The Dane, who came into the week battling to save his card, fired eight birdies in a closing 65 to finish 20 under par in Vilamoura, four clear of Scotland’s Marc Warren.

The 26 year old was never caught during the final round, and afterwards admitted he had been keen to take control of his own destiny.

“Today is up there with one of my best rounds,” said Bjerregaard. “Not so much the six under around here, I’ve done that before, but under the pressure some of the shots I hit – the two shots I hit on 17 are some of the best I’ve hit in a long time.

“I felt like it was my time to go out and grab it and not wait for someone to hand it to me.”

Challenge Tour - Kazakhstan Open

Tapio Pulkkanen fought hard to claim his maiden European Challenge Tour title by overcoming Chase Koepka in a three-hole play-off at the Kazakhstan Open.

The Finn started the day one shot behind overnight leader Erik van Rooyen but managed to overtake his playing partner after three birdies over the front nine at Nurtau Golf Club.

The big-hitting 27 year old continued to make light work of the par fives at the Almaty course, adding three further gains over the par-five 10th, 13th and 17th to sign for a closing round of 68 and a 17 under par total.

Already safe in the clubhouse on 17 under par was American Koepka after his own superb score of 66, leading to a play-off in Kazakhstan – just the second in the event’s 12-year history.

Both players teed it up again on the 18th and both had birdie chances after finding the green on the par-four hole. Koepka shaved the cup with his effort from 25 feet, while Pulkkanen saw his effort slide by from 12 feet.

KPGA Korean Tour – Genesis Championship

Seunghyuk Kim became the first champion of the 'Genesis championship which is the biggest prize size in Korea.

Seunghyuk entered the final round with 8th place difference with the 2nd place group, showed a sharp shot feeling on the last day of the tournament. In the first hole (par 4), Kim Seung-hyeok made a birdie on the pin 1m with a high-precision iron shot, and the tee shot fell right into the hole at the fourth hole and hit the third shot on the teeing ground. However, in a situation where Kim was able to lose more pitches, Kim Seung - hyuk put a fourth shot inside the pin 1m and blocked it to look calm. Tour – DAP Championship

Nicholas Lindheim described the 35-footer that rammed into the back of the hole and dropped as “destiny,” but it was also his redemption. After falling in a playoff a year ago at the DAP Championship, he poured in that lengthy birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat Rob Oppenheim and Chesson Hadley for his second career victory.

“I think last year I was just content being in the playoff,” Lindheim said. “I played it like six inches outside the right edge. I didn’t say firm it, but I ended up firming it and it was destiny. That’s all I can say.”

The victory was particularly satisfying considering he nearly gave it away. After a birdie on the 16th hole to take a two-shot lead, he finished bogey-bogey and had to hole a 4-foot putt on the 72nd hole to pencil in his spot in the playoff. When that putt went in, he went into the playoff feeling like he had nothing to lose.

“Golf is so hard, just controlling your emotions is one thing and then swinging a club with all those thoughts in your head. It’s tough,” Lindheim said. “In the playoff, it was kind of a free wheel. I focused hard on the putt. I focused hard on the drive and on my iron shot and it paid off. The putt went in going pretty quick, but it went right in the middle. When it’s your time, it’s your time.”

It’s also Lindheim’s time to return to the PGA TOUR, where he finished No. 197 in the FedExCup standings a year ago. With the victory, he has secured his card for next season, and he returns having proven to himself something that he wasn’t able to during his rookie year on TOUR.

“Winning on this golf course proves to me that I have what it takes to play some very good golf courses. I didn’t really prove that this year,” Lindheim said. “I got my butt beat in pretty hard, but I hope that I can feed off of this and know that I can play championship-venue golf.”

Nordic Golf League - The 12 Twelve Championship - by Thisted Forsikring

Axel Boasson from Iceland won The 12 Twelve Championship by Thisted Forsikring after a crazy ending where he and Jesper Billing changed positions.

In the last hole of the dramatic 6-hole final round, Axel Boasson and Nicolai Tinning were both a blow to the strong Swede, Jesper Billing. Tinning quickly broke out after a bad drive, while Billing and Boasson found fairway.

Both players struck modest blows into green, and when Axel Boasson had a putt of approx. 15 meters for his birdie, it seemed that Jesper Billing could double-win for the world's first 12 Twelve Championship.

Billing's putt became far too short and the return was missed, while Boasson sensibly held his 15-meter putt to a great jubilee for the many attendants. Thus , Axel Boasson won his first ECCO Tour victory in a total of 15 under par .

The 12 Twelve Championship by The 12 Twelve Championship by Thisted Forsikring was OWGR’s first professional 12-hole golf tournament over 54 holes, and the format with the many cuts brought exactly the excitement it had hoped.

Sunshine Tour - Vodacom Origins of Golf - St Francis Links

Doug McGuigan may have to rethink the order he placed for a new putter after he fired a final round six-under-par 66 on Saturday to win the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at St Francis Links.

Even with a bogey and a double-bogey on his card, his 13-under-par total for the 54-hole event was enough to give him a two-stroke edge over Hennie du Plessis, with England’s Scott Campbell and Steve Surry sharing third with Neil Schietekat who finished at nine-under-par.

“I ordered a new putter this week and I never used it,” said McGuigan. “I used my old putter, an old Odyssey I’ve had for about 15 years. It just seemed to line up nicely and I was stroking the ball beautifully.”

In fact, two eagles, rather than putts, were the shots that catapulted him to the win, his second in the season after he won the Vodacom Origins of Golf opener at Highland Gate at the end of July.

He made the first from the fairway on the first hole, and then, after he had dropped three shots on the seventh and eighth, he made his second on the 13th after two birdies on succession on the preceding two holes.

“It started off very nicely for me when I eagled the first, and made two birdies in a row after that,” he said. “I gave it all back on seven and eight, and then on the next 10 holes, I played unbelievable golf. I was very fortunate.

“After those drops, I thought back to the seven I made in the final round at Highland Gate. I thought that I’d got it back from there, and I could try and do the same thing here.”

Although the weather started off in the final round with some drizzle, heavy rain held off, and the wind which makes St Francis Links such a good test began to come up. And after his eagle on 13, he needed to consolidate the lead he had grasped.

Asian Development Tour - PGM EurAsia Sabah Championship

John Michael O’Toole of the United States completed a convincing 12-shot victory at the PGM EurAsia Sabah Championship after closing with a two-under-par 70 on Saturday.

With a winning total of 15-under-par 273, O’Toole equalled the biggest winning margin on the ADT but it will not be a formal record as the preferred lies ruling was in play.

Natthapong Niyomchon of Thailand settled for second place following a 69 while Amir Nazrin of Malaysia, Panuwat Muenlek of Thailand, Nattawat Suvajanakorn and John Catlin of the United States shared third place.

The 24-year-old O’Toole, who led from start to finish, was surprised with his runaway victory. “It feels good to beat all the players this week by a large win. I didn’t really expect to win by so many shots.

“But the pressure was on them really. If I went out to play a solid round, someone had to shoot an extraordinary round to beat me. It helps to have a good lead. I felt like I didn’t have to make anything happen,” said O’Toole, who held a six-shot overnight lead.

He entered the RM200,000 (approximately US$44,600) ADT event with a different mind-set and was rewarded for his patience.

“My game plan showed this week there were a couple of times where I wanted to go back with a driver but laid back with an iron off the tee. I was confident with how I stuck to my game plan,” said O’Toole.

Mena Tour - The GOLF CITIZEN Classic

MG Keyser kept his cool when it mattered most on a steamy afternoon to win the Golf Citizen Classic, beating Spain’s Victor Bertran in a sudden-death playoff at the Els Club, Dubai, on Wednesday.

Bertran, playing in the seventh last group, carded a final round of 66 to set the clubhouse target of nine under that the South African ace, who started the day two in front, matched with a birdie on the 18th to force a playoff.

Keyser, who closed with a 73, hit the green in two on the first extra hole, the –par-5, 18th, and two-putted for birdie to seal a tense victory, becoming only the second player after England’s Zane Scotland to make it two in a row on the MENA Tour.

“It was a pretty long day out there, but luckily I managed to get the job done,” said Keyser after receiving the winner’s cup from Mark Chapleski, president, Troon International Division. Karl Whitehead, general manager of the Els Club, and Thomas Nicholson, the tournament coordinator, were also present.

“I didn’t play very good golf all day, but I know the course pretty well and that knowledge came in handy,” said Keyser, who double-bogeyed the par-5, fifth to surrender the overnight lead.

“I knew the16th and 18th are birdiable holes and I did birdie them to stay in the hunt. I have been playing on this course for the last three years or so and can say from experience that it’s the best in the Middle East, always in great condition,” said the 30-year-old South African.

“I would have loved to give it a go for a hat-trick of wins on the MENA Tour, but unfortunately I have to travel to Malaysia for an Asian Development Tour event next week. I really enjoyed playing on the MENA Tour and thank the organisers for their invitation,” said the Cape Province native.

Alps Tour Golf – Abruzo Open

Guido Migliozzi defeated two Frenchmen, Alex Daydou and Julien Foret in a play-off after thrilling day. The 20 year old player and his two opponents were -14 after 72 holes and had to play extra time. Migliozzi eventually lifted his maiden trophy in front of his public.

This last round of Abbruzzo Open was a tragedy. No less than 6 different leaders were in contention. Overnight leader, Gregory Molteni, turned first nine over par and then lost his chance to win ; meanwhile a pack of players did well leaving the club house and the swing of leaders started when coming back home. One of the first to reach -14 was Niccolo Quintarelli, then they were 5 ties for the lead then Antoine Rozner took command but dropped a shot on his last hole.

Julien Foret shared his last round with Daydou. The latter holed for birdie on the last to join his playing partner and Migliozzi at -14.



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