Golf roundup: Swedish rookie wins European Masters, stakes claim for Ryder Cup spot

Keystone photo by Jean-Christophe Bott via AP / European Masters winer Ludvig Aberg poses with his trophy on Sunday in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
Keystone photo by Jean-Christophe Bott via AP / European Masters winer Ludvig Aberg poses with his trophy on Sunday in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland — DP World Tour rookie Ludvig Aberg surged to a two-shot win at the European Masters on Sunday — and right into the Ryder Cup picture for Europe when the six captain's picks are announced Monday.

The 23-year-old from Sweden stunned longtime scoreboard leader Matt Fitzpatrick of England by reeling off four straight birdies from Nos. 14 to 17 to card a 6-under-par 64 and finish the 72-hole event at 19-under 261.

Fitzpatrick faded to a tie for third, three shots back, though he secured direct qualification for the Ryder Cup team to face the United States via a year-long points ranking. So, too, did Scotland's Robert MacIntyre.

Aberg turned professional only in June after being named the best college player in the United States for a second straight year at Texas Tech University. In the sun-bathed Swiss Alps on Sunday, Aberg made himself a great option for Europe captain Luke Donald for the Ryder Cup in four weeks' time in Italy.

"I figured a win would put me in a good position," Aberg acknowledged. "Honestly, I've done a pretty good job of not thinking about it too much."

Aberg's potential for the Ryder Cup was clear on the PGA Tour since June — his four top-25 finishes including a tie for fourth at the John Deere Classic — and he also was tied for fourth at the DP World Tour's Czech Masters last weekend.

Still, victory on Sunday looked unlikely until deep into the final hour of play at Crans-sur-Sierre. Fitzpatrick had led by three strokes when he birdied the par-5 14th, but just 30 minutes — and back-to-back bogeys — later, a five-shot turnaround left Aberg clear by two.

Aberg barely missed his birdie putt on No. 18, but it did not matter. Needing an eagle on the 18th to force a playoff, Fitzpatrick made a bogey for a 1-under 69 to finish at 16 under — one behind runner-up Alexander Björk (66) of Sweden — and tied with Scotland's Connor Syme (67).

Fitzpatrick, the 2022 U.S. Open winner, still secured his Ryder Cup place as the third-place finisher on the tour points qualification path. MacIntyre of Scotland also will be on Europe's roster at Marco Simone, near Rome, on Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

Despite finishing 16 shots back Sunday, MacIntyre accrued enough points to hold off Yannik Paul and Adrian Meronk, who finished in ties for 20th and 13th, respectively, at the European Masters.

As for Asberg, the par-5 15th hole proved key to his successful outcome. Playing in the penultimate group, Aberg hit his second shot close to the pin, and made a birdie.

"I hit a 5-iron as hard as I could," Aberg said, describing it as his favorite shot of the day. "I knew I needed to take care of the par-5s, and luckily I did today."

Minutes later, Fitzpatrick put his approach wide of the green and his third shot went through into a bunker. He carded his first bogey of the day and quickly made another at the par-3 16th, again finding himself wide right of the green.

After winning back-to-back European Masters at the picturesque Crans-Montana ski resort in 2017-18, the 29-year missed a chance to match the late Seve Ballesteros' record of three titles at the event.

Fitzpatrick's path to earning automatic selection on points for the Ryder Cup was cleared by Tommy Fleetwood choosing not to play this weekend. Fleetwood is a likely captain's pick Monday, along with Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open winner.

  photo  Keystone photo by Jean-Christophe Bott via AP / Matthew Fitzpatrick, right, was unable to wrap up what would have been his third European Masters victory on Sunday in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
 
 

Thai teen wins LPGA event as Monday qualifier

PORTLAND, Ore. — Chanettee Wannasaen played a five-hole stretch in 6 under early in the final round and closed with a nearly flawless 9-under 63 for a four-stroke victory at the Portland Classic, becoming the first Monday qualifier to win on the LPGA Tour since 2015.

"I'm really proud of myself because I really work hard for the trophy," Wannasaen said.

Wannasaen arrived at Portland ranked 367th in the world in women's golf and having missed nine straight cuts in her rookie season. The 19-year-old from Thailand, who credited her caddie for keeping her calm, put together four stellar rounds in the 60s at Columbia Edgewater.

She shattered the tournament's 72-hole scoring record by five strokes with a 26-under 262 total for her first LPGA Tour victory.

"I don't give up. Yeah, I don't give up," Wannasaen said.

Wannasaen is just the third qualifier to win on tour. Canada's Brooke Henderson had been the last Monday qualifier to win, taking the same Portland event in 2015. The other qualifier to finish first was American player Laurel Kean, who won the State Farm Classic in 2000.

Third-round leader Megan Khang failed in her bid to win consecutive events. The 25-year-old American, a winner a week ago the CPKC Women's Open at Shaughnessy in Vancouver, British Columbia — her first on tour — closed with a 71 and finished alone in sixth at 19 under.

Khang was satisfied with her performance over the last two, tiring weeks.

"You know, game is pretty solid," she said after a round that included three birdies and two bogeys on he back nine. "I mean, I can't really say too much about today. A couple putts didn't drop, but overall, I mean, Chanettee played amazing. ... You're out there, and there is nothing you can do about that. Gave myself a bunch of chances ... again, putts didn't drop."

Wannasaen, who had previously won on the Access Series of the Ladies European Tour and Thai LPGA, lost a playoff to Yue Ren last week in Idaho in the Epson Tour's Circling Raven Championship. She admitted the extended run of missed cuts weighed on her, but she credited the Epson Tour with boosting her confidence.

Xiyu Lin of China closed with a 64 to finish second. China's Ruoning Yin (64), American player Gina Kim (66) and Spain's Carlota Ciganda (67) tied for third, another stroke back..

Tied for second place entering the round, Wannasaen charged into the lead with birdies at Nos. 3 and 5, an eagle at the par-5 fifth, and two more birdies at the sixth and seventh holes — a stretch of 6 under that catapulted her into the lead at 23 under.

She carded a 30 on the front nine and was never really pressured on the inward nine, methodically playing the back and adding three more birdies to her total. She increased her advantage with consecutive birdies at Nos. 13 and 14, then added another at the 17th to increase her lead to five stokes with four to play.

"I really like this course because I can make a lot of birdies," Wannasaen said.


Commodore leads U.S. win at Walker Cup

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Gordon Sargent lived up to his billing as the No. 1 amateur in the world by winning all four of his matches at St. Andrews as the United States rallied to win the Walker Cup and take the trophy for the fourth straight time.

Great Britain & Ireland had a three-point lead going into the final two sessions on the Old Course. The Americans won three of the four morning foursomes, and they poured it on during the 10 singles matches.

The Americans won six of the 10 matches and halved two others to complete a Sunday rally in which they outscored GB&I 10-4 over two sessions.

They won by a final score of 14 1/2 to 11 1/2.

"They played hard to the bitter end," U.S. captain Mike McCoy said. "This one is going to be a great ride home."

Caleb Surratt never trailed in the lead match, a 3-and-2 victory over Calum Scott, and then U.S. Amateur champion Nick Dunlap picked up a key half-point at the time. Dunlap was 3 down with four to play against Barclay Brown when he won the next two holes and then halved the match with a birdie on the 18th.

Sargent and John Gough of England were all square going to the 17th when Gough sent his drive too far right, just over the ball near the Old Course Hotel and out of bounds. That gave Sargent a 1-up lead. Sargent, a junior at Vanderbilt, then drove the 18th green with a 3-wood and Gough conceded the match as Sargent's eagle putt trickled to a stop near the hole.

The final blow in the Americans' favor was Dylan Menante three-putting the 18th for a halve with Matthew McClean. That gave them 12 1/2 points, with two other matches dormie on the course, assuring them enough to win the cup that dates to 1922.

"All the momentum seemed to be on the U.S. side," GB&I captain Stuart Wilson said. "Their players handled the conditions better than our guys."

Sargent, who won the NCAA title as a freshman, went 4-0 for the week.

GB&I was looking to win for the first time since 2015 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and had the momentum with a 7 1/2-4 1/2 lead after the two Saturday sessions. McCoy said he was concerned because the morning foursomes is not the U.S. strength.

But he put his best two players together — Dunlap and Sargent — and they scored a 1-up victory in the second match. Surratt, who went 3-1 for the week, and Ben James won the lead match and Preston Summerhays and Nick Gabrelcik also picked up a point.

"After the morning session, I felt a lot better, like we were back in the tournament and we had a chance to win this thing," McCoy said. "Last night was pretty concerned. The morning was the thing that made the day."

The United States now has a 39-9-1 lead in the series. The Walker Cup next goes to Cypress Point Club on the Monterey Peninsula in California for the 2025 matches.

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