Oct
27
2013
Your golf in Asia Sunday round-up: Gonzo wins, so does Suzann and more…
By Stephanie Wei under Asian Tour
Nice guys do finish first

Nice guys do finish first

Because I need my beauty sleep before bringing you nearly-exclusive coverage of The Match between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy from Mission Hills at Hainan Island on Monday, this is going to be relatively quick.

But fear not! — I’ll touch on everything you missed or need to know (since you probably spent your weekend watching football at waking hours instead of golf in Asia in the middle of the night in the U.S.). 

*Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano didn’t exactly play the 72nd hole as gracefully as he would have liked, but he won the BMW Masters, the first of four events in the European Tour’s inaugural Finals Series, aka Europe’s version of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup. The Spaniard chipped in for birdie on the 17th hole to expand his lead to three shots heading into the last.

Unfortunately, this invoked thoughts of Jean Van de Velde’s infamous meltdown on the final hole of the ’99 Open Championship, where the Frenchman made a triple-bogey to eventually lose in a playoff, according to the AP’s Doug Ferguson:

Fernandez-Castano felt a little too comfortable, deciding to play it so conservatively down the 18th hole that it nearly cost him. His tee shot cleared the water and went into a bunker, and he blasted out some 30 yards to avoid a bad shot that might hit the lip. That left him 168 yards for his third shot, and he aimed so far away from water and the flag that he wound up in another bunker.

”The only thing I was thinking about on the 18th was Jean Van de Velde,” he said, referring to the Frenchman who made triple bogey on the final hole of the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie and lost in a playoff. ”There’s so many things that go through your mind. Jean is a good friend of mind. I don’t know, I just didn’t want to mess up, and I almost did. It’s a weird feeling. I’m not used to have a three-shot advantage when I’m playing such a big tournament like this.”

His bunker shot by the green was his best on the final hole, leaving him two putts from 8 feet for the win. He looked tentative on the first putt, and it rolled 2 feet away, just enough to make him nervous.

That was more drama than he needed, though Fernandez-Castano still managed to win for the seventh time in his career.

Gonzo’s win also boosts him to top 50 in the world rankings, which will be important as he embarks on his first full season on the PGA Tour.

He will get in at least two WGCs, and staying in the top 50 would get him into the majors. Fernandez-Castano is moving his family to Miami in December.

”Just at the perfect time,” he said. ”There’s never a bad time for a victory, let’s put it that way. But this has been just the perfect one.”

*Meanwhile, at the weather-delayed PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic in Malaysia on Sunday, Ryan Moore and Gary Woodland both parred the long par-5 18th — in quite different fashions — to force a playoff on Monday morning at 7:30am local time. Good news for American golf fans is that’s Sunday evening on the east coast! Prime time golf! Woot.

Moore and Woodland were playing in the same group and both laid up off the tee and found the fairway on the last hole in regulation. Then, Moore hit an pretty ugly 3-wood as he attempted to set himself up for a wedge shot into the green and his third shot left him with 65 yards for his fourth, which he knocked to two feet and saved par.

On the other hand, Woodland hit three solid shots that set him up with a 12-footer for birdie, which he missed. While he missed it for the win, he’ll still have a chance to capture his third PGA Tour win on Monday in a sudden-death playoff against Moore — though they kind of got there in polar opposite ways with the way they executed the 72nd hole. Basically, Woodland was steadier and smarter on 18 and Moore was both clutch and erratic.

Hey, whatever still gives you a shot at playing for the top prize, right? Who’s your money on?

*Suzann Pettersen shot a final-round 69 and held off a charging Azahara Munoz to capture her second consecutive Taiwan Sunrise LPGA Championship by five shots. Pettersen had an ace on Friday during the second round.

*Chang-woo Lee of Korea won the 2013 Asian Amateur Championship, earning an invitation to the 2014 Masters Tournament and, along with the runner-up Shohei Hasegawa, automatic entry into International Final Qualifying for the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

*Kiradech Aphibarnrat is closing in on Special Temporary Membership — which would provide him with unlimited sponsor’s exemptions as he tries to earn his PGA Tour card — following his T3 finish at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. The Thai golfer earned $406,000 on Sunday to leave him less than $14,000 short of qualifying for STM eligibility. Better news for Aphibarnrat: He’s in the HSBC Champions field, a WGC event, which means no cut and a guaranteed payday. Boom.

*Finally, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook for live updates on the glitz and glam of the Tiger (Lao Hu) vs. Rory match at Mission Hills’ Blackstone Course on Monday. It begins at 12:30pm local time (so 12:30am EST). There’s a long itinerary all-day of events for the exhibition, so there will be plenty of fun updates, I’m sure.