Thursday, January 18, 2018
Golf

South Korea's Bae wins PGA's Byron Nelson

IRVING, Texas — Sang-Moon Bae watched anxiously after hitting his tee shot at the par-3 17th hole Sunday in the Byron Nelson Championship.

When the ball landed on the front edge of the green fronted by water, he leaned backward, obviously relieved. He was only a few shots away from his first PGA Tour victory and a congratulatory hug from the widow of the tournament's namesake.

After squandering a four-stroke lead in the final round, the 26-year-old South Korean beat Keegan Bradley by two for a win in the United States to go with his 11 international victories on the Korea, Japan and Asian tours.

"It's something I've always dreamed of, winning on the PGA Tour," Bae said. "It was surreal to have Mrs. (Peggy) Nelson there and with all the history … I was in awe, actually, so almost I didn't know how to react."

Bae finished at 13-under 267 with a closing 1-under 69 on a day with wind gusting near 40 mph.

Four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the front nine gave Bae a four-stroke advantage in the final group. But he made double bogey at No. 9 and a bogey at the next hole.

After some nice par saves, Bradley, who shot 72, finally got even with a birdie at the 15th. But he missed a short birdie putt at the next hole to fall behind for good.

"When my iron play came back in the latter part of the round, I had confidence," Bae said.

Bradley was trying to become the Nelson's first wire-to-wire winner since Tom Watson in 1980. Bradley set the course record with an opening 60 even with two bogeys.

Bae won $1.2 million, nearly matching his tour career earnings of $1.6 million in his 42 previous starts.

Players wore red ribbons during the final round in memory of Ken Venturi, the 1964 U.S. Open champion and longtime CBS golf analyst who died Friday.

LPGA: Jennifer Johnson won the Mobile Bay Classic for her first tour title, birdieing four of the final six holes for a one-stroke victory over Jessica Korda and Pornanong Phatlum in Mobile, Ala.

The 21-year-old American closed with her second straight 7-under 65 for a tournament-record 21-under 267. A 15-foot birdie putt on 17 secured the win. "Before I hit my birdie putt on 17, I saw that Pornanong was tied with me at 20 and I didn't want a playoff so I was like, 'I'm going to make this thing,' " Johnson said.

Tampa resident Kristy McPherson (69) finished at 9-under 279.

PGA Europe: Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell made amends for last year's defeat to capture the World Match Play Championship, defeating Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee 2 and 1 in the final at Kavarna, Bulgaria. McDowell fought back from 2 down after four holes and only edged in front on the 14th hole before securing victory at the 17th. It was McDowell's second win in three events after he also captured the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage earlier this month at Hilton Head, S.C., and moved him to the top of European Tour's money list. McDowell advanced to the final by defeating Branden Grace of South Africa 3 and 2 in the semifinals earlier in the day. Thongchai defeated Thomas Aiken of South Africa 3 and 2 to reach the final.

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