Golf roundup: Lydia Ko’s big shot key in win with Jason Day

AP photo by Steve Nesius / LPGA player Lydia Ko and PGA Tour member Jason Day hold the championship trophy on Sunday after winning the Grant Thornton Invitational, the first mixed-team event for the two tours since 1999.
AP photo by Steve Nesius / LPGA player Lydia Ko and PGA Tour member Jason Day hold the championship trophy on Sunday after winning the Grant Thornton Invitational, the first mixed-team event for the two tours since 1999.

NAPLES, Fla. — LPGA star Lydia Ko's fairway metal shot set up the birdie she and PGA Tour counterpart Jason Day needed to win the Grant Thornton Invitational on Sunday.

They closed with a 6-under-par 66 in modified fourballs to capture the first mixed-team event for the women's and men's tours in 24 years.

Playing the par-5 17th hole, Australia's Day and New Zealand's Ko were tied with the Canadian duo of Corey Conners and Brooke Henderson, who had to settle for two closing pars and a 63.

The format allowed both players to hit tee shots, then switch to the other player's golf ball and finish out the hole. Day was in a bunker left of the green at the par-5 17th, no easy up-and-down finish. Ko had 208 yards into a slight wind, and her fairway metal never left its target.

"That is so nice," Day said as Ko's shot was in the air.

It landed near the hole and rolled out about eight feet. Her eagle putt never had a chance, but the hard work was done. Both she and Day secured easy pars on the 18th hole of the Gold Course at Tibúron Golf club to finish at 26-under 190 in three-day event.

"It's weird because that felt like the most stress-free win," Day said, "because I knew she was going to step up in the end."

The clutch performance allowed Ko to cap an otherwise poor year on a winning note. Ko was the Race to CME Globe champion on the LPGA Tour last year at Tiburon. This year, she failed to be among the top 60 who returned as she went winless — until Sunday.

It was the first time the PGA Tour and LPGA had a mixed-team event since the JC Penney Classic in 1999, and players on both tours spoke endlessly about looking forward to the next one.

Conners holed out from the fairway for an eagle on the ninth hole, and he and Henderson briefly took the lead until Day made a 15-foot birdie on the 12th. They stayed close the rest of the way.

"We both did a pretty good job of getting the ball in play off the tee," Conners said. "There's a few shots we'd both like to have back throughout the day. But we fought hard and gave ourselves a lot of chances."

They failed to birdie the 17th when Henderson pulled her second shot well left of the green into a waste area, and Conners came up short of the green and couldn't get up and down.

Ludvig Aberg, the sensational rookie who won on the PGA Tour and Europe's DP World Tour and played in the Ryder Cup since turning pro in June, teamed with fellow Swedish player Madelene Sagstrom to post a 60 in the final round. They also briefly had the lead but ran out of holes and finished third, two shots behind.

Tony Finau and Nelly Korda didn't make birdie until the sixth hole. They closed with two birdies for a 67 and tied for fourth with Denny McCarthy and Megan Khang (65).

Baylor School graduate Harris English, playing with France's Celine Boutier, finished 12th in the 16-team event. They closed with a 65 to wind up at 19 under.

Americans win

BRADENTON, Fla. — David Toms and last-minute replacement Billy Andrade both won crucial points over the last three holes of their nine-hole singles matches as the Americans rallied late to win the inaugural World Champions Cup.

Andrade, an assistant captain who replaced the injured Jim Furyk, birdied the seventh hole and picked up 3.5 points over Vijay Singh from the International team. In the anchor match, Toms made birdie on the eighth hole to give the Americans the lead, and they clinched it when Retief Goosen made a double bogey trying to make up ground.

The Ryder Cup-style matches were among senior players from the United States, Europe and everywhere else in the world. Points were awarded to each hole over each of the alternate-shot, better-ball and singles matches.

The Americans had 221 points, while the International team had 219 and Europe had 208.

Jerry Kelly of the U.S. team led all scorers with 61 points for the week.

Welcome to LIV

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Kalle Samooja, Kieran Vincent and Jinichiro Kozuma won the three spots on LIV Golf rosters for 2024 by taking the top three spots in the first LIV Golf Promotions event.

Samooja finished at 8-under 136 in the 36-hole shootout that followed 18-hole rounds on Friday and Saturday, each with a cut before the scores were reset. Kozuma and Vincent were part of a three-way playoff for the final two spots, with Laurie Canter having to settle for exemptions into all the International Series events on the Asian Tour, along with the rest of those players in the top 10.

See you Monday

MALELANE, South Africa — The final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and the Sunshine Tour, was postponed because of dangerous weather conditions. The final round is set for Monday.

South African major champions Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen were each 1 under through seven holes in the final round and 16 under for the tournament, a 72-hole event. Players were taken off twice because of a threat of lightning before officials said there would be no more play.

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