Sunday's roundup: RSM Classic heads to playoff
St. Simons Island, Ga. — The largest PGA Tour playoff of the year at the RSM Classic didn’t finish before darkness Sunday, and it won’t include Billy Horschel when it resumes.
Horschel, the highest-ranked player in the five-man playoff at Sea Island, burned the edge of the cup with his birdie putt at No. 18 on the first playoff hole. Stepping over a routine tap-in from 2 feet, he blocked it to the right and was eliminated.
“I took my time and just blocked it,” Horschel said.
Mackenzie Hughes, the Canadian trying to become the first rookie to go wire-to-wire in 20 years, had a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 18 on the second extra hole and it turned away to the left. It already was plenty dark, and there was no chance to play another hole.
Hughes, Blayne Barber, Camilo Villegas and Henrik Norlander were to return at 8 a.m. on Monday to finish the final PGA Tour event of the year.
So much is at stake for all of them, starting with a trip to the Masters.
Norlander and Villegas don’t have full status on the PGA Tour this year — Norlander received a sponsor’s exemption — and a victory would take care of that. Hughes began his rookie season just six weeks ago and has a honeymoon planned in the offseason. Barber is going for his first PGA Tour victory.
All of them had their chances, and none had any real regrets over the final hour.
Hughes narrowly missed birdie chances on the 15th and 16th holes, but holed a 5-foot par putt on the 18th in regulation for a 1-under 69 to join the playoff.
Norlander, who closed with a 65, stuffed a 9-iron into 3 feet on the 18th in regulation and was the first to reach 17-under 265. Barber ran off back-to-back birdies on the back nine, and he had a 12-foot birdie attempt at the 18th that he missed on the low side. He shot a 66.
Villegas played the best coming down the stretch. Two shots behind with three to play, the Colombian hit an aggressive drive on the par-4 16th that set up a wedge for a short birdie, then holed an 18-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the par-3 17th to tie for the lead. He finished with a 6-foot par on the 18th for a 68.
It was the largest playoff on the PGA Tour since Alex Cejka won a five-man playoff in Puerto Rico in 2015.
No one else was close to joining the playoff. Jim Furyk had a 67 and was part of a large group at 14-under 268. That included C.T. Pan of Taiwan, who faced a longer day than even the players who had to return Monday.
Pan left after the tournament to catch a flight from Savannah to New York, then New York to Hong Kong, and then a connection to Melbourne where he was to arrive Tuesday night in Australia for the World Cup.
Ariya Jutanugarn was unable to accept the CME Globe trophy when it was first being presented to her, needing both hands to hold a big plastic cube stuffed with $1 million in cash.
That’s a great way to end a season.
Jutanugarn’s breakout year ended with a haul of prizes Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship— the LPGA Tour’s player of the year award, the money title and the season-long Race to CME Globe points competition that comes with a $1 million bonus.
A winner of five tournaments in a year that started slowly with a major meltdown in the California desert and turned around with her winning three consecutive starts in May, Jutanugarn held off Lydia Ko for all three of those trophies.
In Gee Chun made a 10-footer for birdie on the final hole to win the scoring title by the slimmest of margins, making her the first player since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win both the Vare Trophy and rookie of the year in the same season. If Chun’s final putt had not fallen, Ko would have won the Vare.
Charley Hull won the tournament for her first LPGA Tour title. The English player shot 66-66 in a bogey-free weekend to finish at 19-under 269.
So Yeon Ryu (67) was second, Jennifer Song (68) followed at 15 under, and Jutanugarn (69) was 14 under with Mo Martin (68) and Beatriz Recari (68). Chun (70) was seventh at 13 under.
Ko (72) tied for 10th at 11 under.
Henrik Stenson won the Race to Dubai title for the second time in four years, and Matthew Fitzpatrick won the World Tour Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Stenson shot 7-under 65 on Jumeirah’s Earth Course to stay ahead of his rivals in the year-long race. The Swede earned a bonus of $1.25 million as the European Tour’s top player.
The 40-year-old Stenson, who also won the Race to Dubai in 2013, tied for ninth at 12-under 276 — in a group that included Rory McIlroy (65).
Fitzpatrick closed with a 5-under 67 to finish at 17-under 271, a stroke ahead of fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton (68).
Jordan Spieth made a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat local hopes Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall for his second Australian Open title.
Spieth, the American star who won the Masters and U.S. Open last year, had to sink another clutch par putt on the 18th hole at Royal Sydney to join Smith and Hall at 12-under 276.
Hall and Smith each shot 66. Four players held the lead at various times on a dramatic final day, including Spieth, who was playing the Australian Open for the third time. He also has a runner-up finish (2015) to go along with his wins in 2014 and 2016.