CASEY CLIMBS TO WORLD NO. 11
PGA Tour – Valspar Championship
Paul Casey became the first back-to-back winner in the 19 years of the Valspar Championship and climbs from 15th to 11th in the World.
Casey held his nerve down the tough closing stretch on the Copperhead course for a 1-over 72, blasting out of a fairway bunker safely to 20 feet for a two-putt par and a one-shot victory over Jason Kokrak and Louis Oosthuizen.
It was the first time since this event joined the PGA TOUR schedule in 2000 that the winner was over par in the final round. The course was so dry and fast that no one shot better than 68, and the average score of 72.143 was the second-toughest final round his year behind rainy, windy Riviera.
"Today wasn't easy," Casey said. "Last year's win was so big. It felt like my first victory as a pro. I'm getting older, but I feel like I'm getting better."
Kokrak (71) and Oosthuizen (69) each had a share of the lead on the back nine until one mistake cost them.
Oosthuizen, who hit only six greens in regulation, opted for a fairway metal from just behind the green and hit it too firmly. He missed the 8-foot par putt and never caught up.
Asian and European Tour – Maybank Championship
Australia’s Scott Hend returned to winning ways by clinching his first Asian Tour title since 2016 with his dramatic play-off victory over Spain’s Nacho Elvira at the Maybank Championship on Sunday.
Hend held a slender one-shot lead heading into the final hole but late drama ensued when a clap of thunder disrupted Elvira’s approach into the 18th green. The skies opened soon after leaving officials with no choice but to suspend the play at 2.49pm (local time)
When play resumed at 4.30pm, Elvira drained a monstrous 30-feet birdie putt to force a play-off with Hend, who had no answer to the Spaniard’s remarkable birdie effort.
After more than 90 minutes of delay, Hend and Elvira were back at the tee box on 18.
Hend got a lucky break when his tee shot at the first extra-hole hit the base of a tree and ended up on the fairway, while Elvira's ball went into the fairway bunker.
The Australian hit another tree with his second shot and went into the greenside bunker. Hend splashed his shot out from the bunker to within three feet of the hole which he coolly rolled in to clinch the Maybank Championship and banish memories of his previous play-off defeats in Switzerland in 2016 and 2017.
Sunshine Tour – Tour Championship
A 40-foot birdie putt on the ninth ignited a charge from Jean-Paul Strydom on Sunday as he pulled off his maiden Sunshine Tour victory in the season-ending Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates.
He had just bogeyed the eighth for his second dropped shot of the day and was falling off the pace, but three consecutive birdies around the two and another two on his way home saw him finish the round six-under and the tournament at 14-under for a one-stroke edge over the quartet of Jean Hugo, Jake Roos, Ockie Strydom and Thriston Lawrence.
“My putt on nine was about a 40-footer from across the green and that kind of got me going,” he said. “Then I hit a horrible tee-shot on 10, and had probably one of the best shots of the tournament to about five feet and made the birdie putt. I missed a five-footer for eagle on 11, but made birdie there.”
That brought the lead back within his grasp, and birdies on 13 and 17 helped him seal the deal. “It was such an easy chip. I was a bit nervous – shaking a bit – so I didn’t hit it hard enough and left myself an uphill six-footer. I just closed my eyes and it went in,” he laughed.
It looked for a long while as if the tournament might go to a play-off, but Hugo bogeyed the 18th when he putted a 45-footer from the back fringe about eight feet past the hole and missed the return putt to slip to 13-under. Roos narrowly missed a 40-footer for birdie on 18, while Ockie Strydom and Lawrence each missed slippery downhill putts on the final hole and they all finished just off the pace.
For Strydom, having to make the pace during the final round was useful. “Chasing helped,” he said. “I was leading at Cape Town Open and I didn’t feel myself – I was kind of edgy. Today I told my caddie if we could get it to six-under for the round, we’d be in with a shout. It wasn’t playing easy. The flags were quite tucked. But we shot six-under and it was good enough.”
It was vindication of a rebuilding process that he undertook last year after coming close in the Dimension Data Pro-Am. The process was on track as he was runner-up in Cape Town in February, and it all came together in the final event of the season.
Web.com Tour - Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS
After two late bogeys seemingly pushed him out of contention, Vince Covello birdied the final hole in regulation and the third playoff hole to earn his first Web.com Tour title at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS. Covello topped 54-hole leader Justin Lower in the playoff with a birdie after both players made pars on the first two holes. The playoff was contested on the 18th hole (repeating) at Le Triomphe Golf & Country Club after both players ended regulation at 19-under 265.
“It’s unbelievable,” said an emotional Covello. “I wasn’t sure this day would ever come. I feel blessed to be here and lucky that I got it done. It was certainly a crazy finish there at the end. I pulled everything out that I could and it ended up being enough.”
Entering the final hole needing a birdie to tie Lower at 19-under, Covello stuck his ball to one foot away for an easy birdie and entry into a playoff. He then promptly pulled his drive into the water to start the playoff but got up and down from 113 yards for par to match Lower.
“When I was down there [by the water], I knew I wasn’t done yet,” said Covello. “I still had a chance. I still ended up with a clean lie and a good angle into the pin, so somehow I talked myself into believing that I still had a chance. I made that 10-12 footer to extend it, and that was huge.”
All week long Covello relied on his iron play at the par-71 course. He led the field in greens in regulation through three rounds before hitting only 11/18 during the final round. The University of North Florida alum began the day with a bogey at the first before rattling off birdies at Nos. 4, 5 and 7 to make the turn at 2-under. After another birdie at the par-5 12th, Covello bogeyed Nos. 13 and 14, falling three back of Lower. But Lower bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15 to open the door and Covello responded with birdies on 16 and 18 to reach the playoff.
“I always felt like I was good enough to win, but you don’t know until you actually do it, until you prove it,” said Covello. “Today I proved it and I’m really proud of that. I’ve had a couple of wins on the mini-tour level, came close in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour, but this is definitely my biggest win to date.”