BETHESDA, Md. (AP) – Five weeks ago K.J. Choi received a trophy from Jack Nicklaus. On Sunday, he got one from Tiger Woods.
The biggest name in South Korean golf was again the prized guest at a golf party thrown by an American star, punctuating an adventurous back nine with a great bunker shot on his way to a three-stroke victory over Steve Stricker at the inaugural AT&T National.
Choi shot a final-round 68 for a 9-under 271 total to win for the sixth time on the PGA Tour, the most victories by an Asian-born player, and his $1.08 million first-place check matched the one he got for winning Nicklaus’ Memorial last month.
This week, Woods joined Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as players to host a tour event. The event was a red, white and blue spectacle surrounding the Fourth of July, but Choi added to the international flair, attracting a substantial gallery of local Korean-Americans that cheered him in his native language.
Stricker was among several possible contenders who struggled with the bumpy greens on a sweltering day at Congressional Country Club. Stricker had three bogeys on the back nine to finish with a 70. Mike Weir (74) also got close before three consecutive back-nine bogeys. Jim Furyk (69) was in the hunt before going 2 over after the turn.
The third-round leader was Stuart Appleby at 9 under – two shots ahead of Choi – but he collapsed by dropping six strokes in his first seven holes.
Bryant wins U.S. Senior Open as Watson fades
HAVEN, Wis. – Brad Bryant took advantage of another U.S. Senior Open flameout by Tom Watson, shooting a 4-under-par 68 on Sunday to complete the second-biggest comeback in tournament history.
Bryant’s birdie on the 16th hole at Whistling Straits gave him the lead as Watson frittered away six shots in a five-hole stretch on the back nine – the latest in a series of final-round disappointments for Watson in the high-profile senior major.
Bryant, 52, won only once in more than two decades on the PGA Tour. But he finished third on the Champions Tour money list last year with two victories, and won again earlier this year at the Regions Charity Classic in Birmingham, Ala., in May.
It was the first victory in a senior major for Bryant, who finished second in the 2006 Senior PGA championship.
His comeback on the final day of the senior open was second only to Allen Doyle’s victory from nine shots back in the 2005 tournament.
Watson shot a 6-over 78 to finish 1 under for the tournament, behind Bryant, Ben Crenshaw at 3 under and Loren Roberts at 2 under.
Bryant was the only player to shoot all four rounds at par or better. The winds whipped up at Whistling Straits for the second straight day to hold scores down at the Scottish-style course that sits on the banks of Lake Michigan about an hour north of Milwaukee.
Watson is known for his ability to play in the wind, but it didn’t keep him out of trouble on the back nine Sunday.
For all his success in major tournaments on the PGA Tour, Watson has never won a U.S. Senior Open in eight tries. He finished second in three of the previous five, most recently in front of a partisan crowd in his home state of Kansas in the final round of last year’s senior open, when Watson lost to Allen Doyle.
Watson again appeared to have the tournament in hand going into the back nine this year, only to watch it slip away. Watson, who came into Sunday with a three-shot lead.
on Roberts, shot 1 under on the front nine and began the back nine with a birdie to go to 9 under for the tournament.
But Watson put his tee shot in a fairway bunker on the par-5 11th hole and missed a 6-foot putt for bogey that moved him to 7 under for the tournament, only one shot ahead of Bryant.
Watson missed another short putt for bogey on the 12th hole, then lost another stroke on 13 when a 6-foot par putt circled the hole and rimmed out – sending him to 5 under for the tournament and a tie for the lead with Bryant.
Bryant came into Sunday at 2 under, and began the day by shooting 4 under on the front nine. But he was having problems of his own on the back nine and couldn’t fully capitalize on Watson’s misfortune until the final few holes of his round.
After bogeying Nos. 12 and 14, Bryant finally broke with his decisive birdie on No. 16, using a sharp chip shot to set up a 3-foot putt to take a one-stroke lead over Watson at 6 under for the tournament.
Watson later put his tee shot behind a shrub on the par-4 15th hole. His club brushed the bush on his follow-through and his ball trickled forward about 20 yards into more long grass. He would chip on and three-putt, falling three shots behind Bryant.