American Express – Monday Scramble: Main season ends with a fiery end on a chilly, December day
A Lim Kim posts a legendary end, Amy Olson almost writes a storybook ending, Lee Westwood turns again the clock, Matt Fitzpatrick wins in Dubai and extra on this week’s version of Monday Scramble:
1. A Lim Kim turned the newest main winner from South Korea, rallying from 5 photographs behind with a frenetic end to seize the U.S. Ladies’s Open.
TAKEAWAY: The photographs Kim hit into the ultimate three holes at Champions Golf Membership – 2 ft on 16, a foot on 17, 10 ft on 18 – will go down in event lore, as her three birdies in a row thrust her forward of Amy Olson and into the file books as a serious champion.
Making her main debut, Kim, 25, is yet one more unlikely champion, ranked 94th on the planet – the bottom place of any U.S. Ladies’s Open winner for the reason that rankings have been established in 2006. She was making simply her third profession LPGA begin and first within the U.S.; she’d failed to complete inside the highest 50 beforehand. Her solely two skilled wins had come on the KLPGA. She did not also have a Wikipedia web page!
Carrying a masks on the course, as she had all week, Kim’s closing 67 was the bottom final-round rating on a day when the wind chill dropped feels-like temperatures into the mid-30s. Starting the day in ninth place, she authored the most important final-round comeback, by place, in event historical past. She received at 3-under 281.
2. Taking part in via grief after the lack of a member of the family over the weekend, Amy Olson misplaced a late lead on the again 9 and tied for second on the U.S. Ladies’s Open.
TAKEAWAY: It was an emotional finish to the week for Olson, who discovered Saturday evening that her father-in-law had handed away out of the blue and unexpectedly. She seemingly benefitted from the storm that blew via the Houston space and postponed the ultimate spherical Sunday, when the feelings of the loss have been nonetheless so uncooked. In consequence she may get extra relaxation and had a full day to attempt to course of the unthinkable tragedy – to make no point out of attempting to regroup for the final day as she tried to win her first main title.
On Monday morning, Olson got here out and performed a number of the greatest major-championship golf of her profession. Shaking off three early bogeys in a row to take a two-shot lead on the again 9, she glanced on the leaderboard for the primary time on the 13th inexperienced and noticed that Kim was making a cost. At the least she appeared – that’s one of many the reason why she misplaced the 2018 Evian, after not understanding the place she stood till the 72nd gap. That day she requested her caddie her place, was instructed one forward, and proceeded to make double bogey to lose.
This time, Olson did little unsuitable over the closing stretch – in truth, she striped her 4-hybrid on the par-3 16th. However her tee shot landed previous the flag and bounded over the inexperienced, into a difficult lie within the tough. She caught an excessive amount of ball together with her pitch and left her 15-foot par save brief, falling two photographs behind Kim. Needing to gap out her strategy on the ultimate gap, she settled for a closing birdie and a share of second place.
Afterward, the emotion started to pour out, as she wiped away tears on the 18th inexperienced.
“I had no idea what to expect,” she stated later. “I felt very weak and helpless the last couple of days. I believe the Lord just carried me through. It just makes you realize how much bigger life is than golf.”
3. Lee Westwood turned the oldest winner of the Race to Dubai, ending second on the DP World Tour Championship to say the season-long prize.
TAKEAWAY: At 47 years, seven months and 20 days, Westwood is the oldest participant to turn out to be European No. 1 – a exceptional 20 years after he first earned what was then the Order of Advantage title. That is the longest span in tour historical past.
Although he entered the week at No. Four within the standings, assured to take the Race to Dubai if he received the event, Westwood’s health was doubtful due to a lingering again damage. That ailment knocked him out of the primary leg of the Dubai doubleheader, and he solely obtained in restricted follow whereas being labored on by the tour physiotherapists.
Westwood closed with three consecutive rounds of 68, however he nonetheless appeared poised to complete third within the standings as he watched the ultimate few holes from the gamers’ lounge. That’s when Laurie Canter, operating in a tie for second with Westwood, made a large number of the par-3 17th – carding a double bogey after twice failing to search out the placing floor from brief and left of the inexperienced. That miscue put Westwood in line for the $Three million prize.
Closing in on 50, Westwood thought his Ryder Cup enjoying days have been over, particularly after serving as a vice captain in 2018. His Dubai conquest received’t rely towards qualification, however after changing into European No. 1 he ought to determine closely in captain Padraig Harrington’s plans if he stays in high type by subsequent fall. Westwood vowed to be prepared.
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick received the DP World Tour Championship for the second time, pulling away with a final-round 68 to win by one over Westwood.
TAKEAWAY: It was Fitzpatrick’s first title in 27 months, for the reason that 2018 Omega Masters. He additionally received the European Tour’s season-ender in 2016. Since 2015, he’s 71 beneath par on this occasion – 14 photographs higher than some other participant in that span. He additionally rose to a career-best 16th within the Official World Golf Rating.
Tied for the lead heading into the ultimate spherical, Fitzpatrick birdied the primary 4 holes, and 5 of his first seven, to storm out entrance. He performed his final 11 holes in 1 over par, the lone blemish approaching the par-3 17th, when he wanted a 6-foot save for bogey after lacking the inexperienced and racing his first putt effectively previous.
After starting the week at No. 16 within the standings, Fitzpatrick vaulted all the best way to second, simply behind Westwood. Ending third was Patrick Reed, whose bid to turn out to be the primary American to win the Race to Dubai was slowed by a 71-70 weekend after holding the 36-hole lead.
Viktor Hovland, who traveled about 8,500 miles after profitable the Mayakoba Traditional, tied for third in Dubai, two photographs behind.
5. Harris English and Matt Kuchar received the QBE Shark Shootout for the third time, shattering scoring data within the course of.
TAKEAWAY: Who knew that Georgia and Georgia Tech alums may coexist so properly? For the third time, English and Kuchar hoisted the trophy in Naples, this time after ending at a whopping 37 beneath par and profitable by 9 strokes.
“That’s laughable,” Kuchar stated afterward. “It’s hard to fathom just how good of golf that was.”
The 37-under whole broke their very own file (34 beneath) and so they now have turn out to be the primary workforce to win 3 times, claiming titles in 2013, 2017 and ’20.
The best way English is flushing it, it might be an enormous shock if he did not win at the very least as soon as in 2021. His ball-striking enchancment over the previous 12 months has been exceptional.
THIS WEEK’S AWARD WINNERS …
Nonetheless Smiling?: Hinako Shibuno. Main by 4 at one level Saturday, the 2019 Ladies’s British Open winner – nicknamed the “Smiling Cinderella” – carded closing rounds of 74 to tumble out of the lead and into solo fourth. Her closing spherical was an almighty wrestle however she was in a position to salvage her rating with two late birdies.
Robust Protection: Jeongeun Lee6. The 2019 winner tied for sixth, one of the best end result by a defending champion since Karrie Webb went again to again within the early 2000s.
A lot Ado About Nothing: Two-course main setup. Although there was a lot fanfare about the truth that, due to restricted daylight, each programs at Champions Golf Membership wanted for use for the U.S. Ladies’s Open, it didn’t make an excessive amount of of a distinction, at the very least not statistically. Gamers at Jackrabbit averaged a 36-hole whole of 147.13; Cypress was solely barely more durable, at 147.19. Mud balls have been a serious problem over the weekend, however effectively achieved to the USGA on presenting a good 36-hole check amid troublesome circumstances.
Proper on Target: Matt Wallace. In keeping with the end-of-year world rating projection, it’ll be Matt Wallace who grabs the coveted and closing 50th spot, securing an invite to the 2021 Masters. Simply lacking out: Erik van Rooyen, which suggests he’ll should crack the highest 50 by late March.
Extra of the Similar, For Now: Restricted followers on the PGA Tour. The Tour despatched a memo to gamers outlining its plans for the primary few months of the brand new 12 months. Kapalua can have restricted company hospitality however the Sony Open, American Express, Farmers Insurance coverage Open, AT&T Pebble Seaside Nationwide Professional-Am and Genesis Invitational all will have restricted or no spectators. The lone exception on the West Coast swing would be the Phoenix Open, which as of this writing is capping attendance at 8,000 per day – a far cry from the same old 500,000 followers every week that normally pack TPC Scottsdale. Issues will most likely open up extra in Florida, due to course.
Video of the Week: European Tour. Kudos to the European Tour video crew – and the gamers and, most significantly, Dr. Ellie – for this glorious tribute to the front-line staff who’ve been risking their lives to sort out the coronavirus pandemic for almost a 12 months.
Finest Needs: Tom Weiskopf. The previous Open Championship winner and famous golf-course designer reportedly has begun therapy for pancreatic most cancers. Right here’s hoping for a speedy restoration.
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