Golf roundup: Irish Open champ gives Sweden another boost

PA photo by Brian Lawless via AP / Vincent Norrman tees off on the 17th hole during the final round of the Irish Open on Sunday.

STRAFFAN, Ireland — Vincent Norrman gave Sweden a second straight winner on the DP World Tour when he shot a 7-under-par 65 to win the Irish Open on Sunday, while Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy faltered in the final round by hitting into the water on three holes.

A week after 23-year-old Ludvig Aberg produced a stunning finish to win the European Masters in Switzerland and help secure a spot on Europe's Ryder Cup team, the 25-year-old Norrman produced a similar late flourish at the K Club to earn his second victory in two months — after the PGA Tour co-sanctioned Barbasol Championship in mid-July — and underscore the talent emerging from Sweden.

Play was delayed for about 90 minutes because of bad weather soon after the leading groups teed off, with McIlroy at that stage in a four-way share of the lead at 12 under.

His bid for a second title at his home event, after 2016, tottered when he found the water off wedge shots from the middle of the fairway at Nos. 7 and 11. By the time McIlroy went into the water twice at No. 16 while shooting a triple-bogey 8, Norrman had already posted a target — 14-under 274 — that none of his fellow contenders, including Germany's Hurly Long (72) and New Zealand's Ryan Fox (70), could match.

Norrman won by one stroke over Long to give himself two titles in just 14 appearances on the European circuit. He is set to more than halve his place in the Official World Golf Ranking and potentially climb to No. 76.

His bogey-free round caught fire when he made six birdies in eight holes, starting with the seventh, to power through the field. He then had to wait 90 minutes to discover if he'd done enough.

"I think I was a little lucky. It was a long wait, but I am super happy," said Norrman, who turned pro in 2021 after attending Georgia Southwestern before moving on to Florida State. "If you are winning, you are doing something good. It's a world-class event, and honestly I can't believe this happened."

Shane Lowry (68) tied for third at 12 under — with Fox, Scotland's Grant Forrest (70) and South Africa's Thriston Lawrence (66) — in a confidence-boosting performance for the Irishman. It comes ahead of the Ryder Cup, where he'll compete in Italy at the end of the month after being a captain's pick despite poor recent form, and this week's BMW PGA Championship, where Lowry is the reigning champion.

McIlroy, who won the Dubai Desert Classic in January and the Scottish Open in July, closed with a 74 and tied for 16th.

Flesch fires 62 to seize Champions win

ST. LOUIS — Steve Flesch put all parts of his game together and matched his career low on the PGA Tour Champions with a 9-under 62 that took him from a two-shot deficit to a three-shot victory in the Ascension Charity Classic.

Flesch seized control early in the final round by playing the opening six holes at Norwood Hills in 6 under, including an eagle on the par-5 second hole when his approach caught a slope at the back of the green and rolled back to tap-in range.

Flesch finished the 72-hole event at 19-under 194, three shots ahead of Kevin Sutherland, who birdied his last two holes for a 67. Sutherland and South Korea's Y.E. Yang began the final round with a share of the lead.

Yang (70) and Brett Quigley (68) tied for third at 13 under.

Flesch said he found a swing key on the flight to St. Louis, which helped him to build a little time in the transition of his swing. He also putted great, which never hurts.

"It's a funny game," he said. "You never know when something is going to click. But man, this week it all came together."

Making it better for the 56-year-old American was having his son, Griffin, as his caddie. His son also caddied for Fred Couples when he won on the PGA Tour Champions.

"We just had a ball out there, and man, I'll tell you — winning with him on the bag is the most important thing for me," Flesch said. "It's a career clincher for me, honestly."

Flesch won for the first time this year and the fourth time since joining the 50-and-older tour. He moved to No. 21 in the year-long Charles Schwab Cup standings. Four tournaments remain before the senior circuit's three-tournament playoffs.

LPGA's Queen City Championship  settled in playoff

CINCINNATI — Minjee Lee lost a five-shot lead on the back nine and recovered at just the right time, hitting a wedge shot to two feet for a birdie to beat Charley Hull on the second playoff hole in the Kroger Queen City Championship.

Lee, a two-time major champion, won for the first time this year after closing with a 1-under 71. It was her second playoff victory on the LPGA Tour, and she never imagined it would get to that point.

The 27-year-old Australian seized control early and led England's Hull by five shots through 10 holes.

Six holes later, they were tied.

Lee led by four on the par-5 12th, with Hull already having hit her second shot into the water. Lee decided to go for the green with a fairway metal, and she pulled it so far left that it went out of bounds, leading to a double bogey.

Hull dropped only one shot, cutting the deficit to three, and then she made three birdie putts in the 12-to-18-foot range on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes to catch Lee.

"I had a few moments where I felt I was losing, but I wasn't," Lee said. "I was like, let's play till the end and see where it ends up. I didn't give up. I played every shot the best I could and won the playoff, so it feels nice."

Just getting into the playoff was hard work. They were tied going to the 18th in regulation at Kenwood Country Club, and both found a fairway bunker. Lee hit a pitching wedge to make sure she cleared the lip of the bunker. Hull attacked with a 9-iron and it rolled to just short of the green, allowing her to use her putter.

Hull's putt from 50 feet settled two feet away. Lee hit a wedge shot to seven feet and holed the par putt to join Hull at 16-under 272 for 72 holes and force a playoff.

On the 18th in the playoff, Hull caught a flyer from the rough and it bounded over the green near the grandstands. After a free drop, she used her putter to go up the slope to the green, and the ball stopped one turn from dropping.

Playing the 18th again on the second overtime hole, Lee's wedge landed well short of the green and it ran up the ridge and settled two feet from the hole. Hull's 15-foot birdie putt to extend the playoff missed to the left.

"Minjee played well in the playoff," Hull said. "At the end of the day, she was leading going into the final round and I done my best."

No one else really had a chance on the back nine. Women's PGA Championship winner Ruoning Yin at least walked away with a consolation prize. She closed with a 67 to finish alone in third at 14 under, and that should be enough for the 20-year-old from China to reach No. 1 in when the latest edition of the Women's World Golf Rankings is official on Tuesday.

Yin will join Shanshan Feng as the only Chinese players to be No. 1. Going into the year, she was just outside the top 100.

"I got goosebumps," said Yin, who goes by "Ronni" on tour. "I think world No. 1 is the big step on the way to chasing Shanshan. I got brain blank right now. I don't know what to say. Maybe I can't say something until I finally see my name as world No. 1."

Lee won for the ninth time in her career. She heads off for the LPGA Tour's Asia swing before returning for the final domestic stretch in November.