What you missed: Wins for Simpson and McDowell, a new PGA Tour record and LPGA cancel Chinese tournament amid Coronavirus concern


Wins for Simpson and McDowell, a new PGA Tour record, Colt Knost announces retirement and LPGA Tour cancel Chinese event due to Coronavirus

After losing in a play-off to Hideki Matsuyama at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2017, Webb Simpson had his revenge on TPC Scottsdale, besting Tony Finau with a birdie on the first play-off hole.

For Simpson, it means a move back inside the World's top 10 for the first time since 2012, but he's not the only one who made a significant ranking move with victory at the weekend. 

Graeme McDowell ended a five and a half year wait for glory on the European Tour by capturing a two-stroke win at the Saudi International, despite incurring a bad time on Friday, and achieved his aim of getting back inside the World's top 50. 

Elsewhere, Harold Varner III set a new PGA Tour scoring record for consecutive pars, Colt Knost announced his retirement from the professional game after missing the cut, the LPGA Tour cancelled an upcoming event in China, and the PGA Tour and its players paid tribute to Kobe Bryant. 

Here's what you missed. 

Webb Simpson beats out Finau in play-off for Waste Management Phoenix Open 

Tony Finau looked all set to end a spell of nearly four years without a win, but it was Webb Simpson who snatched the title with a birdie on the first play-off hole at TPC Scottsdale. 

Simpson, who lost out in a play-off here to Hideki Matsuyama in 2017, carded back-to-back birdies on the final two holes for a final round 69 to tie Tony Finau on 17-under-par, who missed a final-hole birdie putt for victory.

The pair headed back to the 18th hole, and despite Finau finding the bunker with his tee shot, both players set themselves up with similar birdie chances to what they had had on the 72nd hole. 

Going first this time, Finau's chance once again rolled by, and Simpson made the most of his opportunity as he rolled in his 12-foot birdie putt for the sixth PGA Tour victory of his career. 

"Honestly, there on 15 when I drove it in the water, Tony hit a great drive. I didn't think it was over, but I thought I'm going to really have to do something special to get back in it," said Simpson, whose win moves him back inside the World's top 10.

"And thankfully I birdied the last two to have a chance and then repeated in the playoff. So it feels great. It's been a year and a half since THE PLAYERS, which is a long time, but it feels great."

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G-Mac wins 11th European Tour title in Saudi International 

Graeme McDowell claimed his first European Tour title in over five years with a level-par final round to end the week at Royal Greens G&CC on 12-under, two shots clear of defending champion Dustin Johnson. 

The Northern Irishman, whose last win came at the 2014 Open de France, recovered from a shaky start in difficult conditions as the chasing pack failed to mount any real challenge. 

For McDowell, the win was special, and means he has already achieved the goal he set himself this year of moving back inside the World's top 50. 

"It's special," he said after his win. "I've been working hard the last year and a half. I want to be back up there one more time just to be able to play against these guys.

"The game of golf is in such great shape, there are so many great players in the world, it's so exciting to be a top player in the world and I want to be back up there again.

"My big goal this year was to be back in the Top-50 in the world, back competing in the big tournaments. I'm very excited that it's happened a little faster than I expected but hopefully it's laying some foundations down for having a big year.

"I really feel like I'm moving in the right direction, and it's weeks like this that really give that you which I can eye on effect and hopefully I can use it.

"Kevin (Kirk, coach) said to me, 'There's no reason why the best golf in your career can't still be ahead of you'.I like that. I like that kind of idea. I like that focus."

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PGA Tour pay tribute to Kobe Bryant with Sunday pin on the 16th hole 

The 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is renowned for its unique atmosphere, and players often wear pieces of clothing in tribute to sports teams while playing the par-three.

This week, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas and Max Homa were among those to wear Kobe Bryant jerseys on tournament days, honouring the LA Lakers legend who tragically died in a helicopter crash with eight others last week. 

Following in the footsteps of its players, the PGA Tour paid homage to the superstar basketball player in their own way on Sunday - placing the hole locating 24 paces on and 8 from the left (the two numbers he wore in his career), with the flag in LA Lakers colours.

Colt Knost announces retirement after missed cut in Phoenix 

Former World No.1 Colt Knost called time on his professional career after shooting rounds of 70 and 72 to miss the cut by one shot at TPC Scottsdale. 

Knost, 34, had been playing on a Major Medical Extension (wrist) this season, and needed a victory in his hometown after missed cuts at the Safeway Open and Sony Open. 

But it wasn't to be for Knost, who announced his retirement from the game soon after, admitting he no longer wants to play if it's not on the PGA Tour. 

"I just don't want to go play that other tour (Korn Ferry Tour) anymore," Knost said "It's been fun, but I'm kind of over it even though I still love playing.

"The game has just changed so much. Guys hit is so far, and I don't. But you know, I'm excited for what I have ahead."

Knost, who has a radio show on SiriusXM, will now be taking up broadcasting more regularly after accepting an opportunity with CBS Sports. 

On social media, Knost wrote: "It's been a hell of a ride!! Can't thank all my family, friends, and sponsors for all of their support over the years! I had the greatest job in the world for a very long time! Gonna miss competing out on the @pgatour with all my boys! Time for the next chapter!


Varner III sets record for number of pars to start a tournament (32)

Harold Varner III earned a new PGA Tour record for consecutive pars at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but it's not one he's particularly pleased to own. 

"It’s not a record I wanna have,” he said after his round.

He recorded 18 pars during his opening round, and continued that streak through the next 14 at TPC Scottsdale, totalling a run of 32 straight pars. 

The new PGA Tour record (ShotLink era), surpasses K.J Choi's previous tally of 27, which he achieved at Colonial in 2006. 

"When I got done I was, like, 18 was enough," Varner said. "I was hoping we would just blaze the trail today. Obviously that wasn't the case to start off. 

"It's crazy. Some days you're like, Man, I could buy a par. And then some days you're like, I just hate pars. So it's funny just to be right in the middle the whole way. But it's just -- I don't know, I guess we can have fun, I'm sure my boys will be texting me something crazy, I don't even really want to look at it, honestly."

After consecutive rounds of 71, Varner III missed the cut by one. 

LPGA Tour cancel March tournament in China amid Coronavirus fears

The LPGA Tour announced on Thursday that they have decided to cancel the 2020 Blue Bay LPGA tournament due to health concerns regarding the Coronavirus in China.

The tournament was set to take place from the 3-5th March in China's Hainan Island, but both LPGA and their partners in China decided to cancel the event. 

According to the BBC, there have already been 17,000 confirmed cases and 361 deaths in China, with more than 150 cases so far outside of the country. 

The statement read: "Given the current health concerns and significant travel restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus in China, the LPGA along with our partners in China have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Blue Bay LPGA ... Any time you cancel an event, it is a difficult decision.

"The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority. While we are disappointed that the tournament won't take place this season, we look forward to going back to Blue Bay in 2021 and for many years to come."

Equipment switches for Koepka

Brooks Koepka made a couple of equipment changes in Saudi Arabia this week, just two weeks after finally replacing the final Nike club in his golf bag.

The World No.1, who is a free agent, confirmed he was technically playing with a new putter at Royal Greens G&CC. 

“We just changed the grip, but technically it is a new putter,” Koepka told Sky Sports. “Pretty much the same thing as the old one, just for the grip change.”

Interestingly, it wasn't the only change he made this week. He started the first two days of competition with a TaylorMade M5 Driver in the bag, only to be spotted putting a Callaway Mavrik Driver in to play from Saturday. He finished in a tie for 17th on -4 after rounds of 70-69-65-72. 

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