JT JUMPS TO WORLD NO.77
PGA Tour - Wyndham Championship
JT Poston shot an 8-under 62 on Sunday for a one-stroke victory at the tour's regular-season finale.
He tied Henrik Stenson's 2-year-old tournament record at 22-under 258, and became the first player since Lee Trevino in 1974 to win a 72-hole stroke-play event on TOUR without any bogeys or worse.
"I probably haven't had that many bogey-free rounds this year," Poston said. "To be able to do four in a row is pretty special, and finish it off with a 62 on Sunday is pretty awesome."
The native North Carolinian began his round three strokes back, took the lead for good with -- what else? -- a birdie on the par-5 15th hole, then finished with three straight pars to earn $1,116,000 and 500 FedExCup points.
Webb Simpson was at 21 under after a 65. Byeong Hun An, who held or shared the lead after each of the first three rounds, three-putted the 18th for a bogey and a 67 to finish two shots back. Trying to force a playoff with a birdie, he nearly holed a 60-footer but had it run well past.
"Nothing was really working at the end," An said. "I just ran out of juice."
Poston, a former Western Carolina golfer playing a 100-mile drive from his hometown of Hickory, became the third player in 11 years with strong local ties to win at Sedgefield Country Club. He joined 2008 winner Carl Petterson -- a Swede who grew up in Greensboro -- and Simpson, the 2011 champion who's from Raleigh and played college golf at Wake Forest.
"To be able to do it here in North Carolina, with a lot of friends and family, I don't think I could have drawn it up any better," Poston said.
Poston closed the gap with An with three birdies and an eagle on the front nine.
Then came the key hole: No. 15. Poston took sole possession of the lead with a birdie on that hole after placing a bunker chip 6 feet from the flagstick.
An, playing two groups behind Poston, sent his tee shot on that hole into the weeds. He took a penalty stroke, then landed his third shot left of the green, left his chip 35 feet short and dropped to 20 under after two-putting for his first bogey of the tournament.
"The bogey was definitely the killer, I think, because I knew I needed to make a birdie there," An said.
After a birdie on the next hole and a par on 17, An needed to finish with a birdie to force a playoff. He sent his tee shot into the trees and recovered by landing his second shot 60 feet from the pin.
Challenge Tour – Vierumäki Finnish Challenge
José-Filipe Lima carded a spectacular final round of six under par 66 to secure his first win of the season at the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge.
The Portuguese player, who has not won on the European Challenge Tour in over three years, started the day five strokes back of leader Rikard Karlberg, but covered his opening nine holes in 31 shots to put himself in the mix for his fifth European Challenge Tour title.
Amongst a packed leaderboard, Lima played steady golf down the stretch and birdied his 72nd hole to take the lead for the first time all week—setting the clubhouse target on 14 under par.
The 37-year-old ultimately finished one shot clear of South African Bryce Easton, who narrowly missed a 40-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force a play-off.
‘’I was not expecting that,’’ Lima said. ‘’I knew I was playing well, but I didn’t think too much about the lead until the final hole.
“To shoot 66 on a course like this is always a good score, and I thought that if I could make a birdie on the final hole then perhaps, I had a chance to have a good week.
‘’I hit two big shots down 18. To be honest I didn’t know it was possible to reach that green in two.
“This win is going to give me some confidence heading into the rest of the year after what has been quite a difficult start to the season. First though, I’m going to enjoy the moment.’’
The win continues a return to form for Lima, who kick-started his season with a tied-second place finish at the Euram Bank Open in Austria two weeks ago.
Victory in Finland also moves the former European Tour winner to eighth on the Challenge Tour Rankings, as he now puts one of the fifteen European Tour cards available at the end of the season in his sights.
Asian Development Tour – Gunung Guelis Golf Invitational supported by Nomura
Japan’s Naoki Sekito completed a convincing 11-shot victory at the inaugural Gunung Guelis Golf Invitational supported by Nomura to claim his second Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory on Friday.
The 21-year-old Sekito, who led from start to finish, entered the final round with a comfortable eight-shot lead and ran away with his second title of the season after closing with a five-under-par 65 and a winning total of 22-under-par 258 at the Gunung Geulis Golf and Country Club.
Thailand’s Kwanchai Tannin posted a 68 to take second place while his compatriots Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (64) and Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (65) came in third and fourth place on 270 and 272 respectively at the US$75,000 event.
Sekito cemented his lead atop the ADT Order of Merit with his runaway victory, which saw him take home a winner’s prize purse of US$13,125 and receive six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.
“I can’t explain how happy I am right now. I didn’t expect myself to win twice at the start of the season. I know I just need one more win on the ADT to gain playing rights on the Asian Tour for the remainder of the season so that is my next goal now.
“The ADT has been a great training ground for me. I don’t get to play a lot of four-day events back home so it’s good to be able to hone my skills on the ADT. The standard of play here is high-level too so I definitely learned and benefit a lot from playing on the ADT,” said Sekito.
Sekito set a new course record at the east course when he opened his campaign with a 62. He pulled away from the field by carding rounds of 67 and 64 before firing six birdies against a bogey for a closing 65.
Korn Ferry Tour - Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae
Entering the day one stroke off the lead, Zac Blair posted a final-round 3-under 67 to win his first Korn Ferry Tour title at 17-under at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae. The win catapulted Blair to 10th in the season-long points standings and secures his return to the PGA TOUR for the 2019-20 season
“I’ve been playing really well these last few weeks, so I felt like I was close,” Blair said. “It was nice to get it done and lock up my card. It’ll be great to get back out there.”
Blair tallied five top-10s and 15 top-25s on the PGA TOUR from 2015-18 before returning to the Korn Ferry Tour for the 2019 season. He entered the week on a hot streak, posting top-10s in three out of his last four events, but was still outside The 25 with two weeks remaining in the Regular Season.
“I knew after last week that if I had a top-five finish over the next five weeks that it was going to be close, and this week I obviously came through,” Blair said. “I definitely got my game back on track over the last couple of months. I tried to keep things really simple and clean up my attitude a little bit. I was getting down on myself and a little negative, which isn’t when I’m at my best. I just got back to how I like to play.”
While players ebbed and flowed around him during the final round, Blair held steady with a bogey-free round, his second of the week. Though he claimed birdies at Nos. 3, 5 and 14, he credited several par saves with keeping his momentum during the round.
Sunshine Tour – Royal Swazi Sun Challenge
Ruan Conradie cruised to his maiden Sunshine Tour victory in the Royal Swazi Sun Challenge at the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club.
Even with the dropped shot, he still carded a six-under-par 66 to finish 18-under for the tournament and one stroke clear of Paul Boshoff, Anthony Michael and Jaco van Zyl – all of whom put a lot of pressure on Conradie with rounds of 63, 64 and 65 respectively.
“It’s awesome,” laughed Conradie afterwards. “This is what dreams are made of. When I get up in the morning and I think about it – it’s definitely been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I’m just happy to be chasing the dream.”
With the chasing pack all going so low, it was a busy day for Conradie. “It was a rollercoaster,” he said. “I started off feeling some nerves, got through that and then started making some putts. From there, it was smooth sailing up until the last couple of holes when I realised I was ahead and I needed to know what I was doing. I just felt that playing defensive golf was a lot harder than attacking.”
In truth, Conradie had grabbed this tournament by the scruff of its neck from the very first round, during which he carded a superlative 11-under-par 61. That meant he was able to ride out the inevitable come-down after that with a scrappy second-round 71, and then close things out with his closing 66.
He’d already shown his affinity with the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club layout, with a share of 16th in the Investec Royal Swazi Open and a solo fourth in the Lombard Insurance Classic in May. In seven rounds there until this week, his worst score was his closing 73 in the Investec Royal Swazi Open, and all the rest were in the 60s.