Asian Golf Set To Boom According To Vijay Singh

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Vijay Singh is singing the praises of Asian golf as he prepares for the $6.1-million CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia today.

Singh claims that golf in Asia is “all they talk about” on the US PGA Tour as more and more players tune into the huge potential the region has to offer.

Now 48, the three time major winner and favourite son of Fiji says the explosion in the sports popularity as well as ever increasing financial support provides a huge opportunity for the game.

“It’s been going on for a couple of years now. India, China and Malaysia now. Coming over here, you can see the development,” he said.

“There are so many courses and so many tournaments now (in Asia). When we played here (a few years ago), we were trying to look for tournaments to play in. Nowadays, we can pick and choose what we want to play.

“That’s the big change. Golf in Asia is so much bigger now. You have courses wherever you go. The opportunities are there for the game to grow further.”

The CIMB Classic is co-sanctioned by both the PGA Tour and the Asian Tour and the apparent success it has had in attracting big name players means there should be more like it according to Singh.

“They need more events like this. There are big businesses that support big events like this,” he said.

“We need million-dollar-plus tournaments to make children want to take up golf and make a living out of it. If you get that, you’ll get the players.”

Singh, who is battling to regain the form he showed before years of injury, says he’s not sure that should extend all the way to the creation of  a fifth major though.

“It’s a strange one as you can call any event a Major but there are only four Majors,” he said.

“You can have a major for the Asians in this part of the world and it’ll be a good thing, but I don’t think it’ll be a Major. It’ll be a huge event.”

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Fowler Claims Maiden Pro Title In Korea Open

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Rickie Fowler has won his first ever professional golf title after cruising to a six stroke victory in the Korea Open.

Fowler easily disposed of his nearest challenger Rory McIlroy at the Woo Jeong Hills Country Club finishing with a three under par 68, bringing his overall score to a 16 under.

“It was a lot of fun. I played well early on in the final round and then I was comfortable over the last few holes. Overall, I enjoyed the whole week,” he said.

Aged just 22 Fowler is touted as one of the hottest prospects in the golfing world thanks largely to his aggressive style and marketable appearance.

That being said he still needs to win tournaments and the Korea Open showed just what he can do.

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler finally breaks his duck with Korea Open win.

“It feels great to have the first win,” Fowler said.

“I played well all week, although I did have to hang in on Friday and post a score. But on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I had good control of my ball, I drove well and I made some putts.”

It was a post to post victory for the American who showed remarkable concentration across all four days.

“I’m happy with the way I have played on the PGA Tour, but I have never shot low enough to win,” he said.

“This week I played well for four rounds which I have not been able to do in the past.”

As he looks forward to next year he’s not making any bold predictions however he he’s pinpointed the PGA Tour and the Ryder Cup as his ultimate aims.

“I am looking forward to some time off and then I can look at everything and set some goals for next year. I will play mainly on the PGA Tour next year and I would like to get my first win there, and this win will definitely help me achieve that.

“I also haven’t made the Tour Championship in the last two years, so that is another goal for next year. But the biggest goal is to make sure I make the Ryder Cup team.”

For Rory McIlroy who has ambitions of claiming the world number one title next year it was another consistent performance, a few bad shots letting down an otherwise solid round.

“All the damage was done during the third round with a couple of bad holes in the middle of the round,” he said.

“Looking back on this week, I will rue my third round, which could have been a lot better.

“If I had played a little better and shot a few under I might have had a chance, but Rickie has played fantastic this week and he deserves the win.”

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Wayward Tiger Can’t Find His Short Game

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There were plenty of positive signs for Tiger Woods leading into this week’s Frys.com Open and to be fair a few of those signs were evident on the golf course.

In the end though it wasn’t replicated on the scoreboard as his hours of swing technique practice showed…through his horrible putting.

It was his first event for two months saying taking a break to sort out his niggling injuries as well as refocus his mind.

Woods lead up work was solid but at the end of the day his finished at a two over par 73.

Tiger Woods at Doral

Tiger Woods can't get his putting right in his comeback tournament.

Highlighting his green troubles were two main misses, one form six feet and the other from four feet both costing him birdies.

As it stand he’s six off the leader but he knows it could have been so much better.

“That’s probably one of the worst putting rounds I’ve ever had,” he said.

“I just had a hard time hitting my (putting) stroke, and then I started altering it. I started losing confidence in it because I wasn’t hitting my line, so it was just a downward spiral.

“I think I’m going to go put some lead tape on it (the putter) and see if maybe I can get a little bit more mass. It’s always worked in the past.”

His round consisted of two bogeys, two birdies and a double bogey at the par five 12th hole.

All up he had 27 putts for the round and made just half of the greens in regulation.

His only putt greater than six feet came on the 10th when he dropped a 12 footer to save par.

“I’m just playing to get competitive and win a golf tournament,” Woods said.

“It’s about going out there and playing, and right now I’m six (shots) back. I need to put together a good round tomorrow and gradually piece my way back into the tournament.”

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FedEx Cup Champ Makes Inroads At Cog Hill

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As the reigning FedEx Cup champion you’d assume there’d be plenty of pressure on the shoulders of Jim Furyk as he embarked on second last leg of the season ending championship this weekend.

Furyk was well that he needed to make improvement to secure his spot at the Tour Championship in Atlanta but he insists he’s not keeping track of just what improvements are required.

He says it’s far better for his golf that he remain blissfully unaware of the maths and purely focus on finishing off as well as he can in the BMW Championship.

“I’m not sure what that spot is; and I won’t check,” Furyk

Jim Furyk on the right path to gaining a start in the Tour Championship.

” I want to go out and play as well as I can. As the week goes on, they start giving you projections… But if I knew I had to finish 18th to advance, it’s the wrong process to go out there and think about finishing 18th.

“”The idea is we tee it up every week and try to play the best with what you’ve got. We’re ultimately trying to win golf tournaments and jockey for position.”

Whether that’s the whole truth or maybe the half truth doesn’t really matter given Furyk opened his round in fine style finishing three under and in a tie for fifth position.

That’s rocketed him up to 35th in the overall standings and should he hold his spot he’ll find himself on a  plane to Atlanta.

In fact any result in the top 11 will likely see Furyk with a chance to defend his FedEx Cup title.

The opening day was led by Justin Rose, the Englishman who’s starting somewhat of a late season revival after petering out during the middle period.

He actually entered the BMW Championship only one place in front of Furyk meaning anything as good as 12th will see him through.

Like his rival though, he maintains he’s focussed purely on doing as well as he can at Cog Hill.

“I didn’t know what I needed to do,” he said.

“The mindset I’ve got is I’ve got nothing to lose this week. That’s my strategy. That’s my attitude. Right now I’m not going to Atlanta. I’ve got everything to gain this week. That’s really the way I’m seeing it. Guys who are 26, 27, 28, 29 who have played well all year, they might be pretty tense this week because they feel they deserve to be in Atlanta, et cetera, et cetera. For me, I still feel like I can make it a great year.”

Anyone in the top 21 on the current standings is assured of a place in Atlanta leaving just nine positions up for grabs for the remaining 49 players.

Conditions won’t be making things easier for them either with temperatures into the 40 degree area.

“It’s very, very tough to play,” Rose said.

“There’s no faking it out there. You’ve got to go out and play good golf. You can’t really get away with too much on this golf course.

“My mindset was to respect the golf course and to go out there and just fairways-and-greens it. That sounds simple. I didn’t expect to do that and make nine birdies for sure. I felt like if you could keep it around par today, it would have been a pretty solid start to the golf tournament.”

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Donald Attacks Uk Paper Over Claims Tiger’s Toasted

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Luke Donald has refuted a front page headline in the UK which quotes him as declaring Tiger Woods a spent force in world golf.

Yesterday morning the headline across the Daily Express read, “Luke Donald: The Tiger Woods Era is ‘Over’”.

Luke Donald

Luke Donald insists he didn't make the comments quoted in a British tabloid.

Today though Donald has taken a stance against the tabloid insisting he said no such thing.

“I don’t recall ever saying the Tiger era is over,” Donald said.

“I’ve certainly said in the past I think it’s tough to come back from physical injuries. I’ve had some, and obviously being away from the game for so long, it’s certainly not going to be easy for him to get back to where he was.

“I wouldn’t doubt that Tiger will come back and win again.”

It’s an interesting battle between the tabloid and Donald given his words weren’t paraphrased however directly quoted according to the author.

An extract from the article reads as follows:

“When you get that combination of injury plus the scandal that went on, mentally that’s quite scarring. It’s a lot to take, even for someone with one of the strongest minds in golf. It’s a confidence sport. Even though Tiger’s only 35, there are a lot of young guys coming up Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley and a bunch of others. I would assume a new era is upon us.”

If Donald had admitted to the story few could argue with him anyway, Woods hasn’t won a single event on the PGA tour for nearly 24 months.

His last triumph came in November of 2009 when Woods was treated like royalty during his stint down under for the Australian Masters.

It was after that win though that he was involved in the now infamous car accident and one of the biggest scandals in sport unravelled.

There’s also no refuting the fact there are a lot of young players coming through, in fact of the last eight major champions, five of them are yet to turn 30.

Still though, Donald is eager to clear the air and have his true feelings put forward.

“Whether the Tiger era is over, I don’t know,” Donald said.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of great young players coming up and showing a lot of talent. But certainly, I would never be naive enough to write Tiger off.

“He has a tremendous amount of talent, and I’m sure when he starts playing a little bit more, that will start showing again.”

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Rory Fever Grips Dutch KLM Open

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All eyes are on Rory McIlroy today as he looks to take over the Netherlands on his way towards top spot on the world golf rankings.

The KLM Open is the launching pad he’s chosen to end his short absence from the game and the world number four has a great opportunity to score a couple of body blows early in the piece.

World number two and three Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer are both competing in the same event meaning McIlroy can assert his dominance on them directly.

Kaymer is in fact the defending champion of the event and will also have plenty of support from the crowd with plenty of Germans pouring across the border.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy's charge to top spot starts in the KLM Open.

That being said there’s no doubt who the real poster boy of the tournament is with McIlroy billed as the ‘new Tiger’ following the former world number 1′s performance slump.

He boasts a similar level of confidence as well saying knocking Luke Donald off the number one ranking is something he hopes to accomplish within the next 12 months.

“I’m not desperate, but it’s definitely a goal that I’ve set for myself,” he said.

“I feel as if it’s very attainable.

“It might not be this year, but definitely into next year, I can give myself a very good platform to kick off the season next year if I end the season well.

“So all I want to do is try and get closer to Lee, obviously at Number Two and then to look at Number One, Luke’s got a little bit of a lead at the minute and it would be nice to get closer to him.

“But at the end of the day, winning golf tournaments takes care of that. So I want to just concentrate on trying to play well and give myself chances to win every week that I play.”

There will be no shortage of people able to tell him how he’s going either with a flurry of media attention following his every move across the country.

His US Open win was what really set him as popular figure as he busted the mold of the usual golfing stereotype, much like Woods did before him.

He says he’s not feeling any extra pressure from the attention though and daily life remains more or less unchanged.

“I’m still trying to keep my feet on the ground, I have the same friends, and I’m still very close to my Mum and Dad,” he said.

“So I try to live as normal a life as possible. But sometimes that’s not always easy.”

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After missing the cut, where will Tiger show his stripes next…?

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Tiger misses cut

Tiger misses cut

Bears go into hibernation and now a Tiger will, too. Only this time it won’t be by choice.

Tiger Woods missed the cut in a major championship for just the third time as a professional and fourth time overall Friday, shooting a 3-over-par 73 to finish his week 10 over.

His next stop will be Jupiter (Florida, that is) after he hit some otherworldly shots at Atlanta Athletic Club, where he arrived 129th in the FedExCup standings and left out of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup following five double bogeys over two days.

That, by the way, was the first time the two-time FedExCup champion has put up such ghastly numbers.

It also means it will be the last time we will see him until Novemeber when he is scheduled to play in the JBWere Masters in Australia and possibly The Presidents Cup — should captain Fred Couples select him.

Woods needs the tournament reps, but he needs first to go back to the range to do the work he’s been unable to do because of his health or lack thereof after a knee and Achilles injury sidelined the 14-time major champion for three months.

“I showed signs that I can hit the ball exactly how I know I can,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I just didn’t do it enough times.”

Time is exactly what Woods needs now, maybe now more than ever, to do the things Sean Foley has tried to impart but has been unable to because of Woods’ battered body and mind.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but Foley has his work cut out with a soon-to-be 36-year-old Tiger.

“Now I have nothing to do but work on my game,” said Woods, a four-time winner of the PGA Championship who missed the cut in the event for the first time in his career. “That’s going to be good.”

Woods was anything but good this week, except for maybe his distance off the tee.

“I’m hitting the ball farther,” he said.

Farther into the woods maybe. That’s what Woods did on the par-5 12th Friday, for example, when he hit a low snap hook with a fairway wood on his way to one of those five double bogeys.

Woods said the week was a step backwards in that he didn’t make the cut and therefore didn’t contend in the tournament.

Well, it wasn’t a step forward, either, so it could only be backwards. If you’re not doing one, you’re doing the other.

Earlier this year, Woods returned too soon from the injuries he sustained at the Masters only to pull out of THE PLAYERS Championship following just nine holes.

Nothing was right then and not much is better now. But maybe all this in a weird way will do Woods some good.

He can go back to spending all his waking hours working on his game — driving, ball-striking, chipping, putting — and get away from the spotlight, scrutiny and everything else that goes with being him out here.

Besides, half the reason he put his face on golf’s Mount Rushmore was because he outworked everybody else.

Woods is ultracompetitive, like all the great ones always are, and he came to the PGA Championship with the same expectations he’s always had.

“A ‘W’,” Woods said. “A nice ‘W.’”

Instead, he left with another set of letters next to his name: MC.

And in the long term, it might just do him some good.

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Nick Watney wins second of the year with AT&T National title

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Nick Watney wins AT&T National

Nick Watney wins AT&T National

Never mind that Nick Watney was the highest-ranked player at the AT&T National, or that he won a World Golf Championship in March. Stepping to the first tee Sunday in a tie for the lead at the AT&T National, he had reason to feel overlooked.

After being announced, one fan called out, “Go, Rickie!” Several other fans in the large gallery wore bright orange shirts and flat-brimmed caps to show their support for Rickie Fowler, a 22-year-old who was tied for the lead and going after that first PGA Tour win.

“He’s obviously a very popular player. I think his time is definitely coming,” Watney said. “I would say there were probably a few more Fowler fans out there. But it is what it is. Sometimes you play away games or whatever.”

Watney doesn’t have the panache of Fowler, but his game is starting to get plenty of attention.

Playing the weekend at Aronimink in a staggering 12 under, and going the final 27 holes without a bogey, Watney closed with a 4-under 66 for a two-shot victory over K.J. Choi (67) to win for the second time this year and move to No. 10 in the world.

Watney, whose other win this year was a World Golf Championship against an elite field at Doral, also put himself atop the FedExCup standings and the PGA Tour money list for the first time.

“It’s a very addictive feeling to be out there and under the gun,” said Watney, who had rounds of 62-66 on the weekend. “To be able to hit good shots and putts is why I play, really.”

And to think that with only 27 holes left in the tournament, Watney was trying to keep from getting left behind. Ten birdies, an eagle and no bogeys later, he was posing with the silver trophy of a Liberty Bell and wondering how much better he could get.

Watney finished on 13-under 267, tying the tournament record by Tiger Woods in 2009 when it was played at Congressional. The tournament is scheduled to return to Congressional next year.

Charles Howell III earned quite a consolation prize. He played bogey-free in the final round for a 6-under 66 to tie for third with Adam Scott (68) and Jeff Overton (67). That made him eligible for the British Open in two weeks as the top finisher from the top five who wasn’t already exempt.

Fowler had another learning experience.

He fell out of the hunt early with a double bogey on the second hole when he hit three straight shots without losing his turn. From a tough spot in the bunker, he came up well short of the green, barely got his putt up the slope, then ran his bogey attempt a nervy 3 feet beyond the hole. That became a three-shot swing when Watney made birdie, and Fowler never caught up. He finished with a 74 to tie for 13th.

“I just couldn’t get anything going today,” he said.

Watney didn’t give anyone much of a chance. He took the outright lead with a wedge into 10 feet for birdie on No. 2, and holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 fifth. Despite leaving himself in a tough spot in the bunker on the par-5 ninth, he blasted out to 2 feet for another birdie.

Even so, his biggest putts were for par.

Watney saved par from bunkers on No. 4 with a 20-foot putt, and from No. 7 with a putt from about 12 feet. His biggest par save might have been the par-3 eighth, which yielded only two birdies in the final round.

Overton had reached 9 under and was making a move, and Choi had birdied the previous to also reach 9 under. Watney’s shot went over the green, and he putted up the slope to 18 feet. He made the par putt to keep his cushion.

“That was big not to drop a shot after hitting a good shot, and keep momentum heading to the back nine,” Watney said.

The final challenge came from Choi, who trailed by four shots at one point. He slowly made up ground, then closed in on Watney after the turn with a bending, downhill birdie putt on the 11th and a pair of long birdie putts on the 12th and 14th holes, the last one tying for the lead.

Momentum was with Choi, only the South Korean knew better. The par-4 15th played at 503 yards into a slight breeze, following by the par-5 16th that was reachable in two.

“When I tied him on the 14th hole, I knew that there was still a lot of holes to go, and I knew the remaining holes were more favorable to Nick Watney,” Choi said. “I knew the 15th hole would be a turning point. That was a key hole, and I missed it. So I think that was the turning point of the match.”

Choi pulled his shot into the left rough, then tried to hit 5-wood toward the green. The thick grass shut his club and sent the shot into a bunker, some 60 yards from the pin, and so close to the side that his legs were pressed against the edge of the bunker. Choi hit a solid shot, but it took one more hop into the rough, he chipped out to 12 feet and missed the putt.

Watney was just short of the green and lagged his putt from 75 feet to 5 feet, converting yet another important par.

On the next hole, Watney used his power to smash a drive that left him only a 7-iron to the green, and he again hit a good lag for a two-putt birdie. His seventh and final par save came from just behind the 17th green, and his chip stopped 2 feet from the cup.

Watney earned $1.116 million and became the first player this year to top $4 million on tour.

“I’m overjoyed to be in here as the winner,” Watney said. “It was a very difficult, long day. K.J. played great golf and he kept coming and coming. And that makes it even more rewarding.”

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Woods passes on US Open Golf due to injuries

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Tiger Woods passes on US Open

Tiger Woods passes on US Open

Tiger Woods pulled out of the U.S. Open on Tuesday because of lingering issues with his left leg, leaving him uncertain how soon he can resume his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record for major titles.

 

It will be the first time Woods has missed the U.S. Open since 1994, when he had just graduated high school.

“I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be playing in the U.S. Open, but it’s time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future,” Woods said on his website. “I was hopeful that I could play, but if I did, I risk further damage to my left leg. My knee and Achilles tendon are not fully healed.”

Woods said he hoped to be ready for the AT&T National, which starts June 30 at Aronomink, and the next two majors. Then again, he said two weeks ago he would do everything possible to be ready for the U.S. Open, which is far more significant.

“We’re very disappointed that he won be playing in the National Open,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said, whom Woods called Tuesday morning. “He certainly brings excitement to the event. He’ll be missed, but the U.S. Open will go on. The event is bigger than one player, but he certainly will be missed.”

The U.S. Open starts June 16 at Congressional, where Woods won the AT&T National two years ago and tied for 19th when the U.S. Open was last played there in 1997.

He hasn’t won since the 2009 Australian Masters, a stretch of 22 tournaments. He not only lost his No. 1 ranking late last year, he has plunged to No. 15 in the world, his lowest spot in the ranking since the spring of 1997.

Woods announced his decision on Twitter: “Not playing in US Open. Very disappointed. Short-term frustration for long-term gain.”

The Masters is now the only major Woods has played every year since turning pro. He was recovering from knee surgery in 2008 and did not play the British Open and PGA Championship.

“It’s been a frustrating and difficult year, but I’m committed to my longterm health,” Woods said. “I want to thank the fans for their encouragement and support. I am truly grateful and will be back playing when I can.”

The question is when he returns.

Woods is recovering from injuries to his left knee ligaments and left Achilles’, and his Achilles’ is believed to be giving him more trouble.

“My man is hurting,” Arjun Atwal, a close friend and frequent practice partner, said last week at the Memorial. “He’s in a boot, he’s on crutches. Not doing good.”

The most recent of four surgeries on Woods’ left knee came a week after the 2008 U.S. Open, which Woods won in a playoff for his 14th major. He had reconstructive surgery and was out for eight months, then returned and won seven times the following year before his personal life imploded on Thanksgiving night in 2009.

Woods was tied for the lead at the turn in the final round of the Masters this year and wound up in a tie for fourth. But he said he hurt his knee and Achilles’ hitting from an awkward stance in the pine straw on the 17th hole of the third round at Augusta National, and he was limping toward the finish on Sunday. He described it as a “minor injury” in April.

Woods sat out the Wells Fargo Championship, then tried to play in The Players Championship, only to withdraw at 6-over par after nine holes because of what he called a chain reaction of pain in his knee, Achilles’ and eventually his calf.

He later said he tried to come back too early.

The U.S. Open will be the 12th straight major without Woods winning, the longest drought of his career. He remains four majors short of the 18 professional majors that Nicklaus won, the ultimate benchmark in golf.

“I still have plenty of time, and I feel that going forward, I’m excited about playing major championships and playing golf again,” Woods said two weeks ago while promoting the AT&T National. “I just want to be healthy and solid, and I feel like I can give it a go.”

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Rookie Keegan Bradley wins first PGA event

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Walking down the 18th fairway during a playoff and realizing he was about to get his first PGA Tour victory, Keegan Bradley got emotional thinking about a cowbell.

The one that is in the World Golf Hall of Fame. The one his grandmother rang after every win by his famous aunt, LPGA Tour great Pat Bradley, whose 31 victories included six majors.

“It was like pull it together, don’t start thinking about the cowbell,” Keegan Bradley said. “The cowbell in my family is an iconic thing.”

Bradley settled himself and won the HP Byron Nelson Championship, parring the first hole of a playoff with Ryan Palmer on Sunday. Bradley sank a 2-foot par putt at the 419-yard 18th hole in the playoff, while Palmer’s approach went into the water before a 13-foot bogey putt.

Bradley, a PGA Tour rookie who never won on the Nationwide Tour, got his first professional victory nine days before his 25th birthday. He looked forward to talking to his aunt.

“She is a lot calmer on the golf course than she is watching me. I’m sure she was by the TV going crazy,” Bradley said. “I talk to her regularly through text messages and phone calls about tournaments and what it’s like to come down near the end. … This is the closest thing we ever had in common in terms of playing.”

About an hour before the playoff, Bradley finished his closing round of 2-under 68 with a par at No. 18, dropping into a squat and hopping a few times in frustration when his 10-foot birdie chance slid by the hole.

Palmer (72) and Bradley finished at 3-under 277, the highest winning score on the PGA Tour this year — and the highest in relation to par in a non-major since 1999. It was the fifth playoff in six weeks and 10th overall.

Palmer forced the extra hole with a 6-foot putt at No. 18 for only the second birdie there all day. When that putt dropped, Palmer punched his right fist in the air and then raised both arms over his head.

Bradley and Palmer then played No. 18 again, both going way right with their tee shots to start the playoff.

Tournament volunteers quickly dismantled and moved a temporary lemonade stand to give Bradley, a Vermont native who played at St. John’s, a line of sight to the green and avoid the necessity for a drop.

Bradley’s approach was dangerously close to sliding off the side of the green into the water, but stayed up. Palmer went in the same direction but his ball didn’t stay dry.

“I had a clear punch shot but it’s so easy to hit it left when I’m trying to hit a punch like that, and it squared left a little bit,” he said. “Then my putt, just wanted to tease myself a little more, I guess. But I got into the position to win the golf tournament and that’s all I can ask for.”

On the 172-yard 17th hole, Bradley sank a 12-foot par-saving putt and responded with an emphatic fist pump. After Bradley tapped in his par putt at No. 18, third-round leader Palmer was in one of the five groups still playing.

Bradley then sat for a few minutes before going to the practice range to prepare for a playoff that almost wasn’t necessary for him to become the PGA Tour’s sixth first-time winner this season.

“It was funny. I was really, really nervous and then when (Palmer) made the birdie I calmed way down,” Bradley said. “I felt my heartbeat slow down. I calmed down.”

Ryuji Imada (71) and Joe Ogilvie (70) finished a stroke back at 2 under. Imada bogeyed three of his last four holes after getting to 5 under.

Defending Nelson champion Jason Day (67) was fifth at 1 under, the last player under par this week at TPC Four Seasons. There were brutal scoring conditions, particularly for both weekend rounds when the wind was sustained at 25 mph with gusts howling near 40.

After Palmer blasted from a greenside bunker to 3 feet for a birdie at the 523-yard 16th hole to get back to 3 under, he gave that stroke right back when he missed a 7-foot par putt at No. 17.

Imada was 5 under after his 11-foot birdie putt trickled in at the 170-yard 13th, then blasted out of a greenside bunker to inside a foot at 14th to save par. He missed a 3-foot par chance at No. 17 and then was unable to save par again out of a bunker on the closing hole.

“Obviously I was a little nervous out there. I haven’t been in that position in a while,” said Imada, whose only victory was three years ago. “I didn’t finish off like I wanted to, so it definitely leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But overall I played well.”

Sergio Garcia, the 2004 Nelson champion who hasn’t won since 2008 and hasn’t locked up spots this year in the U.S. Open and British Open, began the day one stroke off the lead and in the final group.

Garcia missed a 4-foot par putt on the opening hole, then slammed his putter down on his bag walking off after his bogey putt. Things only got worse from there on way to a closing 77. He had a double bogey at the par-4 fourth hole after needing four shots to go the final 12 feet — his first chip rolled back to his feet and he ended with a double bogey.

Day, the runner-up at this year’s Masters, had his fourth top-10 finish in his last five tournaments.

After a bogey-free front nine with three birdies to get to 1 under for the tournament, Day was even par over a seven-hole stretch without a par on any of the holes. His birdie at No. 10 got him to 2 under before consecutive bogeys, a birdie, a double bogey and then consecutive birdies.

Bradley’s playing partner was local teenage amateur Jordan Spieth, who had a rough finish. The 17-year-old player closed with two double bogeys and two bogeys for a 7-over 77 to finish at 6 over and tie for 32nd. That was 10 strokes higher than he shot last year at TPC Four Seasons, when he tied for 16th.

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