What you missed: Wins for Duncan, Rahm and Kim, MacIntyre named rookie of the year, and a new pace of play policy for the PGA Tour
Jon Rahm claimed the Dubai Double with a final hole birdie to defeat Tommy Fleetwood to both the DP World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai Crown, while Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre was named European Tour Rookie of the Year.
On the LPGA Tour, Sei Young Kim captured her third victory of the year to win the Race to the CME Globe and the biggest pay out in women’s golf, while commissioner Mike Whan announced a $5.1 million increase in prize money spanning across the 2020 season.
Elsewhere, the PGA Tour are going to start targetting individuals who repeatedly break slow play rules, Brooks Koepka is replaced by Rickie Fowler in the Presidents Cup, and the BBC lose their remaining broadcast rights to the Masters to Sky Sports.
Plus, 28 players earned their European Tour cards for the new season last Wednesday, but some will have to wait a little longer to make their first starts after the co-sanctioned Hong Kong Open has been postponed due the ongoing ‘social unrest’ in the city.
Duncan earns playoff win for breakthrough victory on PGA Tour
Tyler Duncan claimed the last official PGA Tour event of the year in dramatic fashion as he birdied three of his final four holes to tie Webb Simpson before defeating him with a birdie on the second play-off hole.
Duncan, who began the day four shots behind overnight leader Brendon Todd, emerged as the surprise contender with a four-under back-nine that included a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force the playoff on 19-under-par.
The pair matched pars at the first hole of sudden death, but Duncan rolled in a 12 foot birdie putt at the next to earn his maiden PGA Tour victory – just over two months after regaining his tour card with a 12th place finish in the Korn Ferry Tour finals.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Duncan. “I’m just so happy to be out here playing and to win, it’s unbelievable.
“I won on the PGA Tour. That’s something I’ve always dreamed of.
“I knew it was going to be a tough day out here. It was colder, the wind picked up and I was just trying to do the best I could, fight until the end. I hit one of the best 4-irons I’ve ever hit on 17 6 feet up the hill and you guys saw the probably 30-footer I made here on 18 just to get to a playoff.”
Jon Rahm completes Dubai Double
Jon Rahm birdied the 72nd hole during a dramatic final day in Dubai to win the DP World Tour Championship and finish the year as European No.1.
Rahm, who saw a six stroke lead disappear after a blistering back nine by Tommy Fleetwood, managed to edge out the Englishman with an up-and-down for birdie on the par-five 18th at Jumeriah Golf Estates.
Rahm and Fleetwood were just two of five players who could end the year as Race to Dubai Champion, and Rahm’s victory saw him overtake Bernd Wiesberger at the top of the standings with his second European Tour victory in a row.
“I feel like I’m going to start crying,” Rahm said immediately after his win. “It was such an up and down day. I had a six shot lead and I came down eighteen needing a birdie to win. It was hard, I tried to battle out there.
His win was Rahm’s sixth European Tour title, and it comes not only with a prize of $5,000,000, but a place in the history books as only the second Spaniard behind Seve Ballesteros to be European No.1.
“It’s still something I can’t really process right now. Seve’s such an icon for all of us, especially in Spanish golf, and such an icon for me,” Rahm said. “Anytime you can join your name to a list where the only name in Spanish golf is Seve Ballesteros, it’s a pretty big deal.
“It’s really so hard to believe that some of the greatest champions in European golf and Spanish golf haven’t been able to accomplish what I have in just three years. That’s what I can’t really put my mind into.”
Robert MacIntyre named Rookie of the Year
Robert ‘Bob’ MacIntyre was awarded the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award after an impressive break-out season on the European Tour that included three runner-up finishes and a T6 at The Open at Royal Portrush.
The 23-year-old from Oban was announced as the winner of the award after closing out his season with a final round three-under 69 at the DP World Tour Championship, which was good enough for a 14th place finish on six-under-par.
In total, MacIntyre had seven top 10s on the European Tour this season, and made 25 cuts in 30 tournaments, earning him an 11th place finish in the Race to Dubai.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said MacIntyre.
“Halfway through the season when it became on the radar that we could win both awards, it’s something that we set out to do. Today we’ve finally achieved it and now I’m absolutely over the moon for it.
“I’ve enjoyed the battle. The last few weeks have been hard because I’ve been looking over my shoulder until last week when I got overtaken.
“But I could only control what I can control and that was putting some good golf shots on display and I finally managed to put in two good rounds this week to seal it off.
Sei Young Kim pips Charley Hull to biggest prize in women’s golf with walk-in birdie at the final hole to win the CME Group Tour Championship
Sei Young Kim walked in a dramatic final hole birdie at Tiburón Golf Club to clinch her 10th LPGA Tour title and the biggest prize in women’s golf, beating out Charley Hull to the CME Group Tour Championship title by a stroke.
Kim needed to two-putt from 25 feet to get in to a playoff against Hull, who had birdied the last three holes in a row, but instead rolled in her effort to win the tournament and claim the $1.5 million first prize.
At the time of her putt, Kim wasn’t aware that Hull had tied her lead, thinking instead she lay one shot clear of Nelly Korda – who tied for third place with Danielle Kang on -16.
“To be honest, I was only aware of Nelly’s position, I didn’t know about Charley,” said Kim of standing over the final putt of her wire-to-wire win.
“I was just trying to two-putt to beat Nelly. I knew it was on a good line, but I didn’t know it was going in. Then I heard the crowd yell. Just knowing that I won the greatest prize in the history of women’s golf is a great honor.”
That 72nd hole birdie left Kim with a final round 70, closing out the 26-year-old’s third victory of the year, in addition to ending the season as the Race to the CME Globe champion.
PGA Tour to focus on individuals instead of groups with change to slow play policy
According to a report from Golf Digest, some big changes on slow play are set to be coming to the PGA Tour.
The PGA Tour confirmed to Golf Digest that the policy board “has approved a number of modifications to the Pace of Play Policy”, which include a new focus on individual players instead of groups.
For repeat offenders (who take more than 45 seconds to play a shot), their names will go on a list. That list won’t be made public, but it does mean that players who are on it will be more likely to be timed, the consequence of a bad time being a one-stroke penalty.
There could also be another aspect introduced that sees the PGA Tour assign extra rules officials for additional monitoring.
LPGA Announce Record Prize Money for 2020
The LPGA Tour has announced an increase in prize money for 2020, increasing the amount they compete for by $5.1 million on 2019 for a combined prize fund of $75.1 million across 33 events.
The largest purse increase for the 2020 season comes at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which will grow by $450,000 to $4.3 million, while the ANA Inspiration will rise from $3 million to $3.1 million.
Other purses increasing in 2020 are the CP Women’s Open ($2.35 million, up $100,000), the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give ($2.3 million, up $300,000), the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational ($2.3 million, up $300,000), the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana ($1.85 million, up $100,000) and the Volunteers of America Classic ($1.4 million, up $100,000).
“A $75.1 million total purse. That number is a testament to the support we are receiving from sponsors and industry partners around the globe,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said. “As I enter my second decade as commissioner, we find ourselves in a new phase of the LPGA Tour. We’ve grown, but now we flourish.”
Benjamin Poke triumphs as 28 graduate European Tour Q School
A record 1,063 took part in the three stages of the European Tour’s Qualifying School this year, and 28 players went on to earn their Tour cards following the six-round marathon Final Stage at Lumine Golf Club.
The best of them all was 27-year-old Danish golfer Benjamin Poke, who led from the second round and finished with a final round 64 to end up six strokes clear on 25-under-par.
Poke, who has only just completed his rookie year on the Challenge Tour, called the feat of earning his Tour card ‘unbelievable’.
“To play on the European Tour is something that you always dream about when you are young, so to finally stand here with my card is unbelievable,” Poke said.
Finishing immediately behind Poke to regain their status on Tour were multiple European Tour winners Gregory Havret (-19), Alejandro Canizares (-18) and SSP Chawrasia (-17).
Laurie Canter, who finished tied on 16-under-par with Rasmus Hojgaard and Aaron Cockerill, was one of six English players to earn their Tour cards. The others were Garrick Porteous (-14), Marcus Armitage (-14), Dave Coupland (-13), Toby Tree (-13) and Dale Whitnell (-12).
Another notable names to earn their Tour cards through this year include multiple European Tour winners Bradley Dredge and Darren Fichardt, who finished 128th and 130th respectively in this years Race to Dubai rankings.
The European and Asian Tour have decided to postpone the Hong Kong Open due to ‘the ongoing level of social unrest’ in the host city
Due to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, the European Tour and Asian Tour have taken the decision to postpone the Hong Kong Open, which was set to kick off the new season at Hong Kong Golf Club, Fanling from November 28 to December 1.
The protests, which centre around identity, started earlier this year and have become increasingly violent. As a result, the two Tour’s have cited the safety of ‘everyone involved’ as the reason behind the decision.
In a statement, the European Tour Chief Exectuive Keith Pelley said: “The decision has been taken due to the ongoing level of social unrest in Hong Kong. As the safety of our players, staff, stakeholders and everyone involved in each and every one of our tournaments around the world is our top priority, we feel this is the correct, but unfortunate, course of action.
“The European Tour thanks everyone at the Hong Kong Golf Association, the Hong Kong Golf Club and all persons associated with the Hong Kong Open for their hard work in endeavouring to stage the tournament and we look forward to hopefully returning early next year.”
The event, which was supposed to be the first in the new European Tour season, had originally been planned at the same time as the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, but that will now be the only tournament on this week.
Koepka out of Presidents Cup; Fowler picked as replacement
World No.1 Brooks Koepka has withdrawn from the U.S. Presidents Cup team with an ongoing knee injury, and has been replaced by Rickie Fowler.
Koepka, who qualified first in the USA’s team standings, was forced to withdraw following the second round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges after reinjuring his left knee by slipping on wet concrete. He flew back to the U.S. for treatment but announced last week that his knee needs more time to heal, and he has pulled out of the biennial contest against Ernie Els’ International side in Australia next month.
“Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the U.S. Presidents Cup Team because of my knee injury,” Koepka said in a statement.
“I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete.
“Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100 percent in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal.
Captain Tiger Woods said that he was disappointed, but spoke to Rickie Fowler, who has agreed to join the team for a third time.
“Rickie has played on a couple Presidents Cup teams, was someone seriously considered for a pick and is well respected and liked by his teammates. I know he’s going to do a great job for us.
The BBC have lost their remaining rights as Sky Sports confirmed as exclusive UK broadcaster of the 2020 Masters
Starting from 2020, Sky Sports will become the exclusive UK broadcaster of the Masters for the very first time.
Sky Sports will broadcast all four days of tournament action from Augusta National on their dedicated golf channel, in addition to round-the-clock coverage on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports’ social and digital platforms.
The loss of remaining rights for the BBC means that for the first time in 57 years, the first major of the year will not be shown live on terrestrial TV.
Two years ago Augusta National and the BBC had signed a multi-year contract which gave them rights to highlights of the first two days and full coverage for the third and fourth rounds, but from next year viewers will have to pay for Sky if they don’t want to miss the live action. Under the terms of the new agreement, the BBC will now only be able to show the highlights.
Sky Sports’ managing director Rob Webster said: “The Masters has provided some spectacular moments on Sky Sports – not least Tiger Woods’ unforgettable comeback this year – and we look forward to broadcasting many more at one of the most iconic global sporting events.
“We are proud of our ten-year association with Augusta National, and our golf team does a great job sharing the magic of the Masters with our viewers.”