Sign up for a free Courant newsletter for a chance to win $100 P.C. Richard gift card

Kaufman Wins Shriners Hospitals for Children Open In His Fifth PGA Tour Start

LAS VEGAS — Smylie Kaufman won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Sunday in his fifth PGA Tour start, shooting a 10-under 61 and waiting more than two hours while rival after rival fell short.

Kaufman played the final 11 holes in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies. The 23-year-old former LSU player set up the eagle with a 3-wood drive to 15 feet on the par-4 15th and closed with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to post 16-under 268 at TPC Summerlin.

"I was just hitting it so good the last few days and just wanted to give myself a chance and post a number, and that's what it came down to," said Kaufman, seven strokes back entering the round. "I dodged a lot of bullets coming down the stretch with guys coming in. … So much more stressful than on the course. So much worse. I felt like I was watching an LSU football game."

Kevin Na, third-round leader Brett Stegmaier, Patton Kizzire, Cameron Tringale, Jason Bohn and Alex Cejka tied for second, a stroke back.

Na, coming off playoff loss last week to Emiliano Grillo in the season-opening event in Napa, California, made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th to tie for the lead, but bogeyed the par-3 17th after flubbing a chip, and missed a 15-foot birdie try on 18.

"The lie was actually sitting up too high, like it was on a tee, and I just went under it," Na said about the chip. "And with the Bermuda into the grain, I don't know what happened."

Stegmaier had the last chance to force a playoff, but hit his approach on 18 into the left fringe and came up short on a 20-foot birdie try.

"It was pretty significantly downhill, so it was all speed," said Stegmaier, also making his fifth PGA Tour start. "I mean, if the speed was off, the line was going to be off. I was probably a foot in the fringe, so I probably just held up that extra foot. I like to die my putts in the hole, and sometimes you run the risk of leaving it short."

Kaufman became the second straight rookie winner on the tour, earning $1,152,000 and a spot in the Masters.

"It's unbelievable," Kaufman said. "If you would have told me I had a round at the Masters, if somebody was going to take me out and not completely with the Masters, just to play Augusta National, I would have freaked out. But now that I'm playing the Masters, it's a joke. It's unbelievable."

A former high school basketball point guard in Birmingham, Ala., Kaufman began the year with no tour status, won a Web.com Tour event in May and earned a PGA Tour card with a high finish on the money list.

He visited the TV tower, relaxed with fellow Alabaman Kizzire and hit some balls on the range while the other leaders finished.

"He was keeping me calm, kind of cracking some jokes here and there," Kaufman said about Kizzire. "He actually made it a lot easier on me watching the finale."

Na, the 2011 Las Vegas winner for his lone PGA Tour title, finished with a 67. Stegmaier shot 69, Kizzire 63, and Tringale, Bohn and Cejka 66.

William McGirt and Chad Campbell tied for eighth at 14 under. McGirt had a 62, going 9 under in a nine-hole stretch that ended with an eagle on the par-5 16th.

"I started off kind of sluggish," McGirt said, "but I kind of found something there with the putter on eight. … Starting where I started the day, to end up where I did, I'm tickled to death."

Campbell had a 68.

Rickie Fowler finished with a 68 to tie for 25th at 9 under. Jimmy Walker, playing alongside Na in the second-to-last group, had a 78 to fall into a tie for 50th at 4 under.

"It's been a fun week," Fowler said. "It was nice being back. A lot of positives coming out of the golf side. Got some stuff to clean up, but definitely enjoyed it."

Taiwan Championship

Lydia Ko ran away with the LPGA Taiwan Championship in Taipei, Tawain, to regain the No. 1 spot in the world ranking.

The 18-year-old New Zealander holed a 30-yard pitch for eagle on the par-5 12th and finished with a 7-under 65 in sunny, breezy conditions at Miramar for a nine-stroke victory.

Ko took the top spot in the world from South Korea's Inbee Park with her fifth LPGA Tour victory of the season and the 10th of her career. Park skipped her title defense at Miramar to play in a Korea LPGA event, where she tied for second Sunday.

At 18 years, 6 months, 1 day, Ko is the youngest player to win 10 events on any major tour. Horton Smith set the PGA Tour mark of 21 years, 7 months in 1929, and Nancy Lopez set the previous LPGA Tour record in 1979 at 22 years, 2 months, 5 days.

Ko broke ties with Park for the tour victory lead and the No. 1 spot in the player of the year points race, and earned $300,000 to increase her tour-leading total to $2,716,753.

The South Korean-born Ko finished at 20-under 268 after opening with rounds of 69, 67 and 67 to take a four-stroke lead into the final day. South Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Ji Eun-hee tied for second.

Ko has three victories in her last five starts. She won in Canada and France — where she became the youngest major champion — in consecutive starts, tied for second two weeks ago in Malaysia and tied for fourth last week in South Korea.

Hong Kong Open

England's Justin Rose won the Hong Kong Open, closing with a 2-under 68 for a one-stroke victory over Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard.

Rose finished at 17-under 263 for his eighth European Tour title. The 2013 U.S. Open champion opened with round of 65, 66 and 64. Bjerregaard closed with a 69.

Copyright © 2017, CT Now
36°