Sunday's golf: Henderson wins Evian for 2nd major title after wild finale

Associated Press

Evian-Les-Bains, France — So much had happened in a chaotic final round of the Evian Championship — a spectator unwittingly picking up a stray ball, a pair of four-putts in the final group, a seven-way tie for the lead — that it was hard to know what to expect as Brooke Henderson walked down the fairway on the 72nd hole.

The Canadian was in a share of the lead with LPGA rookie Sophia Schubert and had just had a lucky escape when her wild hook off the tee at the par-5 No. 18 flew into trees and bounced out to relative safety.

Brooke Henderson, of Canada, center, celebrates after winning the Evian Championship women's golf tournament in Evian, eastern France, Sunday, July 24, 2022.

Now in the middle of the fairway, could Henderson make birdie to win the second major title of her career, six years after her first at the Women’s PGA Championship in 2016 when she was only 18?

Henderson handled the pressure, hitting her third shot to 8 feet and rolling in the putt for an even-par round of 71. She was soaked in champagne by fellow players after clinching a one-stroke victory that certainly didn't come easy.

“Definitely not my best today,” Henderson said. “I just tried to stay patient and remind myself that I was still in it.

“I made some clutch putt and shots down the stretch which really helped.”

After all, Henderson went into Sunday with a two-stroke lead and having barely been out of position all week at Evian Resort Golf Club in rounds of 64, 64 and 68.

That was wiped out after the first hole, though, thanks to a birdie from playing partner So Yeon Ryu (73) and a bogey from Henderson.

So began the craziness of the final round of the fourth major of the year, when there were 13 changes to the lead.

At No. 5, Ryu had a double bogey to gift Henderson a three-stroke lead. At the next hole, Henderson also four-putted for a double and saw her lead slip to one.

By that time, Olympic champion Nelly Korda — who started six shots behind Henderson but was soon only three behind — had pushed her approach shot into the rough near a path and seen a spectator wander up to the ball and pick it up.

The ball had to be replaced to a best estimate of where it was picked up, and Korda went on to make a double of her own.

Henderson was knocked out of the lead for the first time — if only briefly — when Schubert made birdie at No. 12 to move onto 15 under, breaking a seven-way tie for first place.

Henderson managed to keep pace with Schubert with birdies at Nos. 14 and 15, and a clutch par putt at No. 16.

The pair were tied for the lead after reaching the 18th, with Schubert playing in the group ahead of Henderson.

Henderson chipped out into the fairway and pulled off her fourth birdie of the day, three of them coming in the final six holes.

She finished on 17-under 267.

Schubert, who started the final round four off the lead, almost won in just her second major as a professional. Playing her first year on the LPGA Tour, she hadn't had a top-10 finish before this week.

Five players were tied for third a further shot back: Mao Saigo (64), Lydia Ko (66), Charley Hull (67), Hyo Joo Kim (67) and Carlota Ciganda (68).

Korda, who holed from a greenside bunker for eagle at No. 9 and somehow found herself in that seven-way tie for the lead, made eight pars and a bogey in her back nine and finished tied for eighth — four behind Henderson — after a 69.

PGA Tour

Blaine, Minn. — Tony Finau shot a 4-under 67 to win the 3M Open by three strokes Sunday, erasing a five-stroke deficit with 11 holes left as Scott Piercy tumbled out of the lead down the stretch at windy TPC Twin Cities.

Piercy followed his tournament-record 54-hole score with a wince-inducing 76 to tie for fourth, four strokes back.

Finau finished at 17-under 267. Sungjae Im (68) and Emiliano Grillo (71) tied for second place. James Hahn surged up the board with a 65 to match Piercy and Tom Hoge (70) at 13 under.

Piercy bogeyed four of six holes before a triple-bogey implosion on No. 14, allowing Finau — playing in the preceding trio — to take over for good on his way to his third career tour victory.

Finau made a 31-foot putt for birdie on the 15th green to strengthen his grip on the lead, as the 6-foot-4 Utah player calmly and confidently walked the TPC Twin Cities course in his white hat and aqua-striped polo.

The surest sign this was Finau's day came on No. 17. His tee shot clanged off the side of the grandstand, ricocheted back onto the green and rolled into the rough — just a few feet from the water. He landed the perfect chip within a foot of the hole to make the par 3, then smiled slightly as he playfully clamped his hand on his chest as if to pretend the sequence gave him heart trouble.

On the daunting par-5 18th, Finau found the water off the tee to face one final challenge. After the penalty stroke, his recovery shots were spot on. With Piercy looking on from the fairway, Finau made a 3-footer for bogey to seal it. He pumped his fist several times, took off his cap and walked off to embrace his family.

Finau, who tied for third at the 3M Open in 2020, jumped from 30th to 17th in the FedEx Cup race. He entered the week ranked 17th in the world.

Piercy shared the first-round lead with Im on Thursday after a 65 and pulled away from the pack Friday with a 64 to take a three-shot edge into the weekend.

The 43-year-old from Las Vegas, who still makes his native city his home base, stretched his lead to four strokes after enduring the 6 1/2-hour delay Saturday to let the rain and lightning play through. His foot bothered him so much he started taking his right shoe off after each swing and walking in his sock to the the next lie.

That was nothing compared to the grind he found himself in Sunday. He was at 20-under after six holes. Less than an hour later, Piercy was in trouble. After posting only three bogeys on his first 61 holes, he went over par on seven of his last 11. That included the 7 he turned in on No. 14.

Piercy's tee shot landed in the fairway bunker, and his sand wedge didn't get him out of the sand. With a risky, last-ditch approach to get back on track, his next try from the bunker splashed in the water short and left of the green — instead of a safer play to the right. After the drop, Piercy hit into the rough. Then his next attempt stopped 3 inches short of the cup.

Grillo, the Argentine who tied for second at the John Deere Classic three weeks ago, also had a triple bogey that loomed large in the end, a 7 on No. 7.

PGA Champions

Gleneagles, Scotland — Darren Clarke birdied the last hole to beat a resurgent Padraig Harrington and win the Senior British Open by one shot on Sunday.

Clarke and Paul Broadhurst were level at 9 under overall after the third round but it was Harrington, a three-time major winner, who soared into contention at Gleneagles with a 3-under 67 to pressure Clarke on the last hole.

The 53-year-old Clarke held firm with a birdie to post a 69 to finish 10-under 270 overall and add a senior major to his Claret Jug at the British Open in 2011.

Play was suspended following heavy rain in the early evening with Clarke and Broadhurst still having five holes left when play resumed at 8 p.m. local time.

Argentine Mauricio Molina and American Doug Barron both posted 65s to end in a six-way tie for third place at 8 under, along with four-time major champion Ernie Els (68), Thongchai Jaidee (68), Steven Alker (70) and Broadhurst.

Broadhurst fell back with a 1-over 71 and finished one shot ahead of Scotland's Colin Montgomerie after he hit a 69.