|Rose overcomes late mistake at Congressional|
|Sunday, June 29, 2014 7:59 PM|
BETHESDA, Md. — Justin Rose has won enough times on the strongest golf courses to appreciate how one mistake can make a difference.
He got away with one Sunday at Congressional to win the Quicken Loans National.
Shawn Stefani did not.
With the poise and the putting touch of a U.S. Open champion, Rose atoned for a 4-iron he hit into the water on the 18th hole to make a 15-foot bogey putt that got him into a playoff and gave him new life. On the 18th hole in the playoff, Stefani hit the same type of shot that rolled into the same pond left of the green.
There are no second chances in a sudden-death playoff.
Rose won with a par on the first extra hole for his first victory since the U.S. Open last summer at Merion. This one required about as much work, with Congressional far more difficult and unrelenting than when it hosted a soggy U.S. Open three years ago.
"Congressional got its reputation back after the U.S. Open," Rose said. "I really enjoy this type of golf and this type of test. I think it tested all of us. I'm delighted."
The Englishman was far from delighted after thinking he had thrown this one away.
Tied for the lead as he played the 18th, Rose tried to squeeze a 4-iron through a tiny gap in the trees from 209 yards away, playing toward the right side of the green for a chance at par. Instead, he turned it over and realized when he jogged toward the fairway that it was headed for the water.
His caddie, Mark Fulcher, told Rose that Stefani had just made bogey behind them on the 17th.
"Everything else was forgotten at that point," Rose said. "I wiped the slate clean and just focused on my putt on 18. An amazing feeling in any sort of championship when you make a putt like that. That means something. That's special.
"And then the playoff, it was just up to me to not do what I did the first time around."
He left that to Stefani, who had drilled his tee shot in regulation and narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie putt for his first PGA Tour victory. In the playoff, Stefani pulled his tee shot in the trees and got relief from grandstands blocking his view of the green. He chose a 6-iron to punch it around the trees.
"The grass closed the club down," Stefani said, "and it went left into the water. I was trying to play it down the right side and have a chance at a putt, two putts for a par. That's the way it goes. It was great to have a chance to win."
Both closed with a 1-under 70 and finished at 4-under 280 on a course that looked like a U.S. Open and played like one the way so many contenders — seven players had at least a share of the lead at one point — tumbled down the leaderboard.
Only six players broke par in the final round. And it was only the second time this year that the winning score was higher than the 36-hole lead (6 under). That also happened at Torrey Pines, which like Congressional, previously hosted a U.S. Open.
No one crashed harder than Patrick Reed, who had a 2-shot lead to start the final round, still had a 2-shot lead at the turn and didn't even finish in the top 10. He made back-to-back double bogeys, shot 41 on the back and closed with a 77 to tie for 11th.
"This definitely burns and definitely gets me more fired up for more events coming up," Reed said.
Even though he got a reprieve with the clutch bogey putt, Rose looked like a U.S. Open champion the way he put himself into position. He hit 5-iron to 5 feet for one of only four birdies on the 11th hole Sunday. Staring at potential bogey from deep rough on the 14th, he boldly hit 3-wood up the hill and between the deep bunkers to the middle of the green. It was a par, but Rose called the 3-wood his "shot of the day."
And before his blunder on the 18th, he holed an 8-foot sliding par putt on the 17th.
Stefani, whose only major experience was at Merion last year, plodded along like a U.S. Open veteran with one par after another. He joined Rose in the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th.
So many others fell back.
Brendon Todd was tied for the lead until a double bogey in the water on the 10th. Marc Leishman 3-putted for bogey on No. 7 and made bogey on the easiest par 4 at Congressional. Brendan Steele made a late rally, only to take on too much from the rough on the 18th and find the water for double bogey.
This was the first British Open qualifier on the PGA Tour — the leading four players not already exempt from the top 12 at Congressional get into Royal Liverpool next month.
Stefani earned one spot as the runner-up. Charley Hoffman (69) and Ben Martin (71) each birdied two of the last three holes to tie for third. Steele got the last spot with a 71 that put him in a 3-way tie for third with Andres Romero and Todd, who already is exempt. Steele earned the spot over Romero because he has a higher world ranking. Romero closed with a 68, the low score in a final round when the scoring average was 73.7.
NW ARKANSAS CHAMPIONSHIP
ROGERS, Ark. — Stacy Lewis made a 7-foot birdie putt on the final hole in the NW Arkansas Championship to finally win an official event in her adopted state.
The top-ranked Lewis, the Texan who played at the nearby University of Arkansas, had an unofficial win in the rain-shortened 2007 event as an amateur. On Sunday, she closed with a 6-under 65 for a 1-stroke victory.
Lewis birdied three of her final holes for her third LPGA Tour victory of the year and 11th overall. She finished at 12-under 201 at Pinnacle Country Club.
Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford tied for second. Ko finished with a 65, and Kerr and Stanford shot 67. Second-round leader Michelle Wie had a 73 to tie for eighth at 8 under.
SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
PITTSBURGH — Bernhard Langer made a short birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Jeff Sluman to win the Senior Players Championship.
Langer appeared to be in trouble when his second shot on the par-5 18th ended up in the rough short of the green. He hit a brilliant pitch to 5 feet and made the putt after Sluman's birdie attempt rolled just wide.
The victory was the 56-year-old Langer's third of the year and his third major title on the Champions Tour. The 2-time Masters champion shot an even-par 70 to finish at 15-under 265 at Fox Chapel.
Sluman had a bogey-free 65 to match Langer but narrowly missed a birdie putt on the first playoff hole that would have won it.
Russ Cochran, who trailed by seven shots early in the final round, had a 67 to finish third at 14 under.
BMW INTERNATIONAL OPEN
COLOGNE, Germany — Fabrizio Zanotti won the BMW International Open to become the first player from Paraguay to win a European Tour event, beating second-ranked Henrik Stenson on the fifth hole of a playoff.
Zanotti won when Stenson conceded after failing to hole a bunker shot. Rafa Cabrera-Bello was eliminated on the fourth extra hole and Gregory Havret dropped out on the second.
Zanotti closed with a 7-under 65 to match Havret (66), Stenson (67) and Cabrera-Bello (67) at 19-under 269 on the Gut Laerchenhof course.
UNITED LEASING CHAMPIONSHIP
NEWBURGH, Ind. — England's Greg Owen won the United Leasing Championship for his first Web.com Tour title, overcoming a 7-stroke deficit with a 5-under 67 for a 1-shot victory.
The 43-year-old Owen, the winner of the European Tour's 2003 British Masters, had a 9-under 279 total at Victoria National and earned $108,000.
Playing more than an hour ahead of the final groups, Owen opened with a triple bogey, birdied Nos. 6 and 7, and played the first eight holes on the back nine in 7 under — making five birdies and an eagle — before closing with a bogey.
Ryan Armour and third-round leader Mark Hubbard tied for second. Armour finished with a 68 and Hubbard had a 75.
ISLAND RESORT CHAMPIONSHIP
HARRIS, Mich. — Molly Aronsson won the Island Resort Championship for her first Symetra Tour title, beating former University of Washington teammate Sadena Parks by a stroke.
The 26-year-old Aronsson, from Shelburne, Vermont, closed with an even-par 72 to finish at 1-under 215 at Sweetgrass Golf Club. She earned $18,750 to jump from 117th to 13th on the money list with $21,287. The final top 10 will earn 2015 LPGA Tour cards.
Parks finished with a 75.
Katie Kempter and Canada's Sara-Maude Juneau tied for third at 1 over. Kempter finished with a 75 and Juneau shot 74.