OCTOBER PRO GOLF WRAP-UP
Presented by Global Golf Management
Brooks Koepka won again and rose to world No. 1 in men’s golf. Korea won the UL International Crown. Kevin Tway won his first PGA TOUR event in the first event of the new season. Nelly Korda joined her sister as a winner on the LPGA. In Gee Chun snapped out of a mini slump.
Those were the main stories in golf in the month of October, which was a busy one on both the PGA TOUR and the LPGA – mainly at venues abroad.
Let’s start at the top with Koepka, the reigning U.S. Open and PGA champion who recently was named PGA TOUR Player of the Year. He began his season at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges Resort in Jeju Island, South Korea, in style, winning by four strokes over Gary Woodland for his fifth career title on the American circuit. His 8-under 64 gave him a 21-under 267 total at Nine Bridges Golf Club, and with the victory Koepka overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“To be No. 1 is something I’ve dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said. “I don’t think this one is going to sink in.”
The week before, in Malaysia, Marc Leishman won the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur. The Australian was even more dominant than Koepka, beating the field by five strokes with a 26-under 262 total thanks to a closing 7-under 65.
The season started with a feel-good win by Kevin Tway, whose father Bob won eight times, including a PGA Championship, on the PGA TOUR. The Tways are now the ninth father-son tandem in TOUR history to win a tournament after Kevin captured the Safeway Open in a playoff over Brandt Snedeker and Ryan Moore.
Tway birdied his final two holes of regulation to close with a 1-under 71 at windy Silverado Country Club in Napa, Calif., to tie Snedeker and Moore at 14-under 274. Moore shot a 67 and Snedeker, the third-round leader, a 74. Tway won when he sank a 10-footer for birdie on the third extra hole. He birdied all three holes in the playoff for a streak of five straight.
The TOUR saw double duty to close the month with former Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele winning the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and rookie Cameron Champ taking his first career win at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
At Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, Schauffele, 25, birdied the first extra hole to defeat 54-hole leader Tony Finau. Both men finished at 14-under 274 with Schauffele shooting 68 to Finau’s 71. It was the third win of Schauffele’s young career, and it wrapped up an American sweep of the World Golf Championship events in 2018.
Even younger is Champ, 23, who powered his way to victory at Country Club of Jackson, in Mississippi, beating Corey Conners by four shots with a 21-under 267 aggregate total. Champ blew a four-shot lead, but got it back thanks to five birdies in his last six holes for a closing 4-under 68.
The first event of October on the LPGA was the UL International Crown, played in Korea the week after the Ryder Cup. And just like the Ryder Cup, the home team won.
Top-seeded South Korea held off the United States and England to win the eight-nation team event, delighting the home crowd at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, Korea. The hosts began the final day two points ahead and then won two of the four singles matches, by In Gee Chun and I.K. Kim, to end up with 15 points. Defending champion USA was four points behind in second with England.
Chun rode the good feelings from the UL International Crown to capture the KEB Hana Bank Championship, beating Charley Hull by three strokes, also in Incheon. Chun’s 66-66 weekend performance was good for a 16-under 272 total at Sky 72 Golf Club. The victory was the third of her LPGA career, but her first since she won the 2016 Evian Championship.
At the Buick LPGA Shanghai, in China, Danielle Kang of the United States held off a large group of challengers to capture a two-stroke victory. A final-round 3-under 69 at Qizhong Garden Golf Club, propelled her to a 13-under 275 total. The second-place logjam included Lydia Ko, who rallied with a 66, the best round of the day, while six others joined the T-2 group at 11-under 277.
Another cool family story rounds out the October slate. Nelly Korda joined her older sister Jessica as a winner on the LPGA Tour when she came out on top at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship presented by CTBC. Korda’s 4-under 68 lifted her to a two-stroke victory over surging Minjee Lee with a 13-under 275 effort at Ta Shee Golf and Country Club. Lee closed with a bogey-free 66 and 277 total.
The Kordas are the third sister tandem to win on the LPGA Tour along with the Jutanugarns (Ariya and Moriya) and the Sorenstams (Annika and Charlotta).