Sports

GOLF ROUNDUP

Jon Rahm up to Challenge of four overtime holes

Jon Rahm, right, celebrates with his caddie Adam Hayes after winning the CareerBuilder Challenge golf tournament on the Stadium Course at PGA West, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in La Quinta, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Chris Carlson(Associated press
Jon Rahm (right) celebrates with caddie Adam Hayes after winning the CareerBuilder Challenge at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.

Jon Rahm beat Andrew Landry with a 12-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole of a playoff Sunday in the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, Calif.

In fading light on the Stadium Course at PGA West, Rahm finished off Landry for his second PGA Tour title and fourth worldwide victory in a year. The 23-year-old Spaniard will jump from third to second in the world ranking behind Dustin Johnson.

‘‘It’s hard to believe, to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth, three-time major champion,’’ Rahm said. ‘‘I only have two wins and he’s got 10-plus, right? I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.’’

Advertisement

Rahm overcame surprising par-5 problems in regulation to shoot 5-under 67. Landry, playing a group behind Rahm in the final threesome, forced the playoff with an 11-foot birdie putt on the water-guarded 18th for a 68. They finished at 22-under 266.

Get Sports Headlines in your inbox:
The most recent sports headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

‘‘Tournaments like this build character,’’ Rahm said. ‘‘I'm just proud of myself to hit what’s probably my least favorite club, which is the 3-wood, three times in a row dead center on my line on 18 — four times if you include the regular play.

“To be honest, really happy the way it happened the way it did and really proud of the way I played. I hit a lot of bad putts today, hit a lot of edges, but lucky the one I needed to make went in.’’

After Rahm made his birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole, Landry missed an 11-footer.

‘‘This was a weird pin location,’’ Landry said. ‘‘I felt like it was hard for those balls to break and I read it perfectly the first time and the next two times we had the exact same yardage, exact same putt right there, so just hit it a little too firm and tried to take some of the break out and it actually just kind of stayed high.’’

Advertisement

Rahm and Landry each missed chances to win on the first two extra trips down 18. Rahm’s 9-foot birdie try slid left on the first, and Landry’s 8-footer went by to the right on the second. They missed long birdie tries on the third extra hole, the par-4 10th.

Rahm parred the four par-5s Sunday, with the Pete Dye-designed layout playing tougher with many pin positions on the edges of greens, after going 13 under on 12 par 5s in the first three rounds with an eagle and 11 birdies.

‘‘It’s been a fighting day,’’ Rahm said. ‘‘I've been a ball-striking clinic most of the week and in the playoff I was just not making the putts. I just got fortunate that none of us really made any and I was able to make the one that mattered. But then again, it was really supreme ball-striking on my part today. Especially, on the back nine, I hit the ball as good as I can.’’

Rahm started the week with a career-best 62 at La Quinta Country Club, shot 67 on Friday on the Nicklaus Course, and had a 70 at the Stadium on Saturday.

The former Arizona State star was second behind Johnson two weeks ago at Kapalua in his first start since winning the European Tour’s season-ending event in Dubai in November. Rahm will open his Torrey Pines title defense Thursday in San Diego.

Advertisement

The 30-year-old Landry had his best career PGA Tour finish and third top-three finish of the season.

‘‘I've been playing well all year, had a great season last year and I'm rolling it over right into this, into the fall and now starting the year out,’’ Landry said. ‘‘Second-place finish, we'll take it and move on next week to Torrey Pines.’’

Adam Hadwin (68), Martin Piller (70), and John Huh (66) tied for third at 20 under, and Kevin Chappell (67) and Scott Piercy (70) were another stroke back.

Third-round leader Austin Cook had a 75 to tie for 14th at 16 under.

‘‘Ball-striking just kind of disappeared today,’’ Cook said.

European — Tommy Fleetwood successfully defended his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title with a sensational back nine.

The 27-year-old Englishman, who celebrated his birthday Friday, started the final round two shots behind overnight leaders Ross Fisher and Thomas Pieters, and an indifferent front nine saw him make the turn five shots behind Fisher as gusty winds hit the National course of Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

But Fleetwood birdied the 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, and 18th holes for a 7-under 65 to finish at 22-under 267.

Fisher, 37, got off to a fast start when he made an eagle from 45 feet on the par-5 second hole and added two more birdies in his front nine. A bogey on the par-5 10th, which could have easily turned into a double if not for a 25-feet putt, stalled his progress.

Playing two groups ahead of him, Fleetwood had birdied the 10th and 12th holes, but he saved his best golf for the next four holes. On the 13th, he was stymied behind a tree but hit his second shot from the desert to 6 feet.

The top-ranked European then rolled in a 25-feet putt on the par-3 15th to join Fisher at 20-under, before moving ahead with a 50-feet birdie putt on the 16th hole. He then picked up another shot on the 18th, which proved to be a luxury cushion when Fisher failed to make birdies on the 17th and 18th.

‘‘I feel a lot more emotional, actually, than last year. I don’t know why. I just really wanted to win this one,’’ said Fleetwood, who is expected to advance from 18th to 11th in the rankings on Monday.

‘‘I had the year of my life last year. I know everybody has been talking about it, and just backing it up is the next big thing, really. It’s a weird feeling coming to defend a trophy because it’s yours and you don’t want to give it away.’’

Fleetwood added that the tough conditions made it easier for him to focus.

‘‘I wouldn’t have known I shot 30 on the back nine when I came in. I was playing really well. I was hitting really good shots in. It was just a case of scoring being tough, and we had to keep going. It was sort of shot after shot.

‘‘When the conditions are that tough and that windy, it actually helps you focus on each shot because there’s never any easy shots. Two days before, with flat calm conditions, it was way easier to look ahead.’’

A disappointed Fisher, who was runner-up twice late in 2017 and is winless since the Tshwane Open in March 2014, praised Fleetwood’s perfomance.

‘‘Hats off to Tommy. I don’t feel like I've lost a tournament. He’s gone out there and shot 65 and he’s won it, so all credit to him,’’ said Fisher.

Rory McIlroy finished inside the top-five once again, tying for third with Matthew Fitzpatrick. — his eighth top-five in nine Abu Dhabi starts — but he was happy with the result this time.

‘'It just felt great to get another tournament under my belt. It’s a great start to the year. I have no complaints. My body held up really well. My game was probably better than I expected it to be. So I'm really happy with the week,’’ said McIlroy who started well with two birdies in his first four holes, but could not get going on the back nine.

Asian — Masters champion Sergio Garcia began his 20th year as a pro by closing with a 3-under 68 for a five-shot victory at the Singapore Open.

Garcia won for the 28th time in his career, and in his fourth Asian country.

Starting the final round of the rain-delayed event at Sentosa Golf Club, the Spaniard birdied his first hole, picked up two more birdies before the turn and made all pars on the back nine.

He won by five shots over Satoshi Kodaira (71) and Shaun Norris (70).

Jazz Janewattananond, a 22-year-old Thai, was among four players who earned spots in the British Open. The others went to Danthai Boonma of Thailand, Lucas Herbert of Australia, and American Sean Crocker.

Champions — Jerry Kelly bounced back from an inexplicable miss off the tee to stun Colin Montgomerie in the tour’s season opener in Ka’upulehu-Kona, Hawaii.

Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par, and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Kelly was tied with Montgomerie when he drove it well right into lava rocks on the wide par-4 16th. He hit a provisional but ended up taking an unplayable lie after he found his ball amid the rocks and made bogey.

‘‘It was shocking,” Kelly said. “I stayed really solid within myself all week and I tried to hit the crap out of that one and it cost me right away. I knew exactly what I did wrong. I took a big old backswing, and I couldn’t come back from it, so it showed me a lot.’’

On 18, it was Montgomerie who made a mistake off the tee, finding a fairway bunker. His approach went over the green, and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Hartford golfer, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour’s Sony Open at Waialae.

Kelly won in Honolulu in 2002, one of his three PGA Tour victories.

‘‘I talk to the spirit of the islands all the time and it means a lot to me to win here again,’’ he said. ‘‘They did it for me in ‘02 and they've been with me ever since. It’s just fantastic, I love it.’’

Kelly began the day two shots off the lead and pulled even when Montgomerie made double bogey on the par-3 fifth. Kelly moved in front with a 25-footer for birdie on 13, but Montgomerie responded with two straight birdies, setting up the drama on the closing holes.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.