Winners on Tour: California dreaming for TaylorFebruary, 2016
Home comforts for Schwartzel and Ko
PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am – Vaughn Taylor
Whatever happens this year this will go down as one of the wins of 2016. Last week Taylor was playing on the Web.com Tour in Colombia when he picked up a stomach virus which was so bad that he needed an IV and pulled out after a few holes.
He then only flew to California instead of home to Georgia because the flight was cheaper and he had a stand bag with him to avoid the additional baggage fees. And then he only got into the tournament when Carl Pettersson withdrew.
And then he won, closing with a 65 which included four birdies on the trot from the 13th in a back nine of 31. His final birdie, at 16, came from 30 feet and he was almost at the hole before the putt dropped.
There were good chances at the last two holes but the putts either came up an inch shy or slid by but the good work had been done.
Phil Mickelson needed two birdies to tie, he made the first from around 15 feet at the 17th but then lipped out from a third of that distance at the iconic 18th.
Taylor, who last won 11 years ago, had his PGA Tour card back along with a cheque for $1.26m. In April he will play in his local area tournament, the Masters.
Sweden’s Jonas Blixt took third while Justin Rose tied sixth with the in-form Patrick Reed.
What Taylor said: “I just kept working, kept grinding. And I can’t believe it actually happened.You get out here, and you have success, and you expect to have it all the time. And that’s not really the way it works.
“The best players in the game don’t play good every week and in my case, I didn’t play well for quite a few years. And looking back on it, I wish I could have done it a little differently and appreciated it a little bit more and enjoyed the ride. … I’ll enjoy this, though.”
European Tour: Tshwane Open – Charl Schwartzel
The 2011 Masters champion continued his incredible run in his home country as he carded a 63 for an eight-shot win. This was his 11th victory on the European Tour and his eighth on home soil.
The 31-year-old led by one overnight and he made that four after an eagle at the 9th after an adjacent approach. Lengthy putts at 14 and 16, his first birdies of the week at the par 3s, put the result beyond doubt and he signed off in style with a seventh birdie of the day.
It is Schwartzel’s second win of the season having also taken the Alfred Dunhill Championship in November. On his only other start he was tied for 9th at the Nedbank. He might now move into the world’s top 30.
Denmark’s Jeff Winther finished second on eight under, with Anthony Michael, another South African, a further two shots further back in third.
What Schwartzel said:“It’s just frustrating when you don’t putt very well and you don’t convert, and to make the putts when it counts, that’s even more satisfying.
“Everything is sort of falling into place. I’ve worked really hard leading up to this and it’s just been feeling good, so everything has got some really good signs, so I’m excited.”
Ladies European Tour: New Zealand Women’s Open – Lydia Ko
The World No 1 claimed her third victory in four years at this tournament after holding off a fast-finishing Felicity Johnson, Nanna Koerstz Madsen and the Korean amateur Hye Jin Choi.
Ko led by one at the start of the day and, just before teeing off, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck just 10 kilometres from the course in Christchurch and lasted for 30 seconds. Over the next five hours there would be a total of 52 further aftershocks.
American Amelia Lewis, playing an hour ahead of Ko, was six under after 11 holes and one clear of the Evian champion but Lewis would finish with three bogeys.
Another Dane, Emily Kristine Pedersen, was also level with Ko after a birdie at the 10th but she would also drop shots late on.
Ko made her move with birdies at 10 and 11, got up and down from sand at the next, and parred the tricky finish to win by two.
Afterwards the teenager shed a few tears and dedicated her win to her good friend and mentor former New Zealand Golf President Patsy Hankin who passed away suddenly last year. She then revealed that she would be donating her entire tournament prize money to help New Zealand in some way.
What Ko said: “I have discussed this with my family and my team and this is something that we all want to do. We will seriously think about the best way that we can use this money to help New Zealand.”