First-time winners abound after this past weekend. The PGA, LPGA and European Tour welcomed new members among the ranks…and all were in thrilling fashion. Perhaps the “easiest” route taken was that of Marc Leishman.
PGA TOUR: Leishamn Outlasts Field
IN all probability, Aussie Marc Leishman didn’t figure he had a huge shot in capturing his first ever PGA title. He did his work for the day, went out at shot an 8-under-par 62, kicked back and waited for a line of his fellow competitors. Each stumbled on their way to the clubhouse.
Masters champ Bubba Watson had a shot. He had no bogeys during his final round, but couldn’t find the means to conjure another birdie after his birdie on the par-5 13th. Of course, shooting a bogey-free 65 is nothing to sneeze at, but what’s perculiar is that Watson only carded one eagle for the tournament. Okay, there’s only a pair of par-5′s, but…
And there was Charley Hoffman. Hoffman ties with Bubba, one shot back of Leishman at -13. But is was the last two holes that bit Hoffman. Coming to the 17th, Hoffman held a lead at -16. Hoffman put his tee shot in the water at the 17th and proceeded to double-bogey the hole. No problem as he could, with a birdie, at least be tied with Leishman. That didn’t work out either. Still tied for the lead with Leishman, Hoffman hit another errant tee shot to the right rough followed by an approach that landed in a bunker in front of the 18th green took even more wind was taken out of his sails. He wouldn’t recover and bogeyed his final hole. Going +3 over the last two holes will always leave a bad taste.
Tim Clark made a run. He was tailing Leishman by one stroke as he played the 17th. His approach shot to the green rolled off the front, but still left a shot of about six yards from the pin. Clark chipped to inside three feet. He could go to the 18th still only one shot down. Except Clark missed that less than three footer for his par and dropped another shot back and his chances of a win evaporated.
Third round co-leaders Brian Davis and Roland Thatcher could not get on track and both shot even par 70′s.
LPGA: Lang Wins Inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic
It was no easy task for Brittany Lang to snag her first LPGA title. She would have to play three playoff holes against three competitors in order to grasp the trophy. Lang, Hee Kyung Seo, Inbee Park and Chella Choi all finished the four round event at -16. And one by one, the trio of Koreans would be eliminated from the playoff by Lang. Choi was the first to be eliminated after the first playoff hole. Park was next followed by Seo on the third time playing the par-4 18th.
Lang parred the playoff hole all three times while her opponents would take themselves out with bogeys.
Lang is also the first ladies player from Duke to grab an LPGA title. What is actually more incredible is that Lang carded only two bogeys for all four rounds; one during the first round and one on the second.
Calc Takes Montreal in a Runaway
After the first two rounds of the Montreal Championship, Mark Calcavecchia was one stroke behind leader Bob Tway. Calc had opening rounds of 69-67 while Tway posted 70-65. The final round would be an explosion for Calcavecchia. Shooting a final round 8-under-par 64, he finished four shots ahead of Brad Bryant who posted an impressive 65.
Calcavecchia’s score cards would show no bogeys over his final two rounds.
Tway and Russ Cochran would tie for third.
Wittenberg Takes Wichita
If you’ve followed golf for an extended amount of time, you remember the name Casey Wittenberg. At one time, he was one of a number of younger players deemed “the next big thing” only to not have the success many thought he should have. He finished T10 at the U.S. Open.
Well, Wittenberg grabbed his second Nationwide title in winning the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. Heading into the final round, Wittenberg started in second place and had a two stroke deficit to make up on leader Jim Herman. Entering the back nine, Herman had even added a shot to his lead. Wittenberg got that one shot back with a birdie on the par-4 11th.
The wheels started to wobble for Herman at the 12th as he bogeyed the par-3. He made that shot back the following hole, but Wittenberg also responded with a birdie at the 13th. Wittenberg closed to within one shot after a birdie on the 14th. Herman would like 15 and 16 back. A double-bogey 6 on the 15th and a bogey 5 on the 16th zapped any momentum Herman may have had.
It was Wittenberg’s 2nd Nationwide title overall and his second in 2012 adding to his title at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open.
Willett Land First Win on European Tour
He held all the accolades from his days as a young golfer like Casey Witenberg, maybe even more (including attaining the #1 slot atop the amateur rankings in 2008), but Englishman Danny Willett had yet to own a win on the European Tour. Until yesterday. And he would need a long playoff in order to take the top spot at the BMW International Open in Cologne, Germany.
Australia’s Marcus Fraser would provide a more than adequate adversary over the four holes of the playoff with each having opportunities to claim the title even sooner. A Fraser bogey on the final playoff hole, a putt from within within feet to award Willett the tournament title.
Reid Overcomes in Prague
About four weeks ago, England’s Melissa Reid was dealt a severe blow and it had nothing to do with her golf game, which is darn solid. No, her mother was travelling in Germany and was the unfortunate victim in a car accident. Needing no worse than a par on the final hole of the Raiffeisenbank Prague Golf Masters to win her fourth LET tournament hardly seemed like a nervous moment especially considering the recent events. To Reid, it truly wasn’t.
“To be honest I wasn’t that nervous. I think with something like what’s happened to my family and me the last four weeks nothing really seems that difficult anymore.
– Melissa Reid (via Ladies European Tour website)”
Considering the par putt was from six feet hardly mattered either. After sinking the winning putt, only then did the tears flow from the champ. She defeated Italy’s Diana Luna who was the one stroke behind Reid. It was also Reid’s first competition since the untimely accident that claimed her mother’s life.
And I’m sure it will be one she cherishes for a long time.