SEPTEMBER PRO GOLF WRAP-UP
Presented by Global Golf Management
Tiger Woods found the winner’s circle again – the first time in five long years – but his celebration was short-lived as he struggled in his return to the Ryder Cup and his USA squad was battered by Europe in Paris on the final day of the month.
That was the big golf news from September, which ended with Europe winning the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National 17 ½ to 10 ½, the second largest setback for the Americans in the biennial competition. Europe set a record when it won eight straight matches in one stretch, and it triumphed for the ninth time in the last 12 meetings between the two golf powers.
Europe avenged a 17-11 loss to the United States in 2016 at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn. Francesco Molinari of Italy, winner of the Open Championship in July at Carnoustie, was the man of the match for Europe, going a perfect 5-0, the first player to do that since Larry Nelson of USA in 1979. He won his four team matches with Tommy Fleetwood of England.
Woods, 42, went 0-4 in the Ryder Cup in his first appearance since 2012. It was not the return he was hoping for, especially after winning The Tour Championship presented by Coca Cola in the PGA TOUR’s season finale at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The 14-time major champion, who close with a 1-over 71 and finished at 12-under 268, won by two strokes over Justin Rose, who won the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus that goes with being the season-long champion. Woods had to settle for his 80th PGA TOUR title and first since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He is two wins shy of Sam Snead for the most victories in TOUR history.
“I had a hard time not crying coming up the last hole,” said Woods, who finished second in the FedExCup in his remarkable return from spinal fusion surgery after sitting out the previous two seasons. “The people who are close to me saw the struggles and what I was going through, and some of the players that I’m pretty close to, they’ve really helped throughout this process the last few years. I’ve explained throughout the year that I just didn’t know whether this would ever happen again.”
September was consumed with the FedEx Cup playoffs. Before Woods’ epic victory, Keegan Bradley ended his own drought of six years by taking the BMW Championship. And Bryson DeChambeu got the month started the way he ended August, with a “W.” On the heels of taking THE NORTHERN TRUST, DeChambeau followed up with another victory at the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston.
Bradley defeated Rose on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia after both players competed 72 holes in 20-under 260, one stroke ahead of Billy Horschel. Both men bogeyed the 72ndhole, the tough par-4 18th, and Rose bogeyed it again in the playoff, which was completed Monday afternoon after heavy rains delayed the completion of the third playoff event.
DeChambeau, in just his second season, won for the third time and for the second week in a row and dealt Rose more disappointment when he fired a 4-under-par 67 at TPC Boston and beat the Englishman by two strokes. The Californian completed 72 holes in 16-under 268 and emerged from a tight and packed leaderboard for his third win of the season.
In women’s golf, there was only one event, but it was a big one and it was a big story, too. Angela Stanford, shut out in her first 76 tries in major championships, finally broke through by capturing the Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, France.
Stanford’s closing 68 and 12-under 272 total was one stroke better than four others: Korea’s Sei Young Kim and fellow Americans, Austin Ernst, Mo Martin and Amy Olson.
Stanford, 40, was yet another player who ended a lengthy victory drought. The win was her sixth career title and her first since 2012. “Deep down,” she said, “I’m a fighter and a grinder.”