Kitayama wins at Bay Hill; Jin Young Ko triumphs on LPGA


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Kurt Kitayama let an All-Star cast of contenders back into the tournament with a triple bogey, only to beat them all with a clutch birdie and the best lag putt of his life to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday.

With five players tied for the lead with only three holes left, Kitayama pulled ahead with a birdie putt from just inside 15 feet on the par-3 17th hole for the lead. Then, his 50-foot putt on the last hole stopped an inch from the cup.

The tap-in par for an even-par 72 might have been the easiest shot he had all day.

Rory McIlroy missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole and shot 70 to finish one shot behind with Harris English, who played bogey-free on the weekend at Bay Hill and closed with 70.

Defending champion Scottie Scheffler’s wedge to the 18th was a foot away from giving him a good look at birdie to take the lead. It spun back into the rough and he made bogey for a 73.

Jordan Spieth missed four straight putts inside 8 feet through the 17th hole. He joined Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay and Tyrrell Hatton two shots back.

They all had a chance, mostly because of one swing. Kitayama had a two-shot lead when he hit a wild hook out-of-bounds on the ninth hole, leading to triple bogey.

He didn’t make a bogey the rest of the way and captured his first PGA Tour title, which came with a $3.6 million payoff. He finished at 9-under 279 and moved to No. 19 in the world.


SINGAPORE (AP) — Jin Young Ko held off an early charge from Nelly Korda and closed with a 3-under 69 for a two-shot victory in the HSBC Women’s World Championship, her first victory in a year.

Ko became the first player to win back-to-back at the tournament and joined Inbee Park as the only multiple winners of the LPGA Tour event at Sentosa Golf Club.

She said it was the most important of her 14 wins on the LPGA Tour and 11 on the Korea LPGA because of going so long without a win while struggling with a wrist injury late last year.

Korda also closed with a 69. She ran off three straight birdies on the front nine to get within one shot, only to make bogey on the sixth hole. She never made another serious run at the 27-year-old South Korean the rest of the way.

Ko finished at 17-under 271 and won $270,000. She was No. 1 in the world at this time a year ago and since had dropped to No. 5.


RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) — Colombian rookie Nico Echavarria seized control with two straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a 4-under 68 for a two-shot victory in the Puerto Rico Open for his first PGA Tour title.

Echavarria was soaked on a sunny day at Grand Reserve, with friends and family spraying him with champagne after he tapped in for par.

He tied the tournament record at 21-under 267.

Akshay Bhatia, who plays on the Korn Ferry Tour, closed with a 65 to finish alone in second and earn special temporary membership on the PGA Tour. Carson Young, who led through 36 holes, had a 71 and finished third with Nate Lashley (69).

Echavarria, a 28-year-old who played at Arkansas, becomes the third Colombian to win on the PGA Tour along with Sebastian Munoz and Camilo Villegas.

The victory gets him into The Players Championship and its $25 million purse next week at the TPC Sawgrass. He also earned a spot in the PGA Championship and has a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.


TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — David Toms got up-and-down for his third bogey of the week on the par-4 18th hole at Tucson National to beat Robert Karlsson by one stroke in the Cologuard Classic on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 56-year-old Toms was surprised to learn that his tee shot on 18 had rolled into the water flanking the right side of the fairway. After a penalty drop, he hit his third shot right of the green, then left his chip about 6 feet short. He pumped his fist as the bogey putt curled in to secure his third victory on the over-50 tour.

Toms closed with a 4-under 68 for a three-day total of 15-under 202 and won $330,000.

Karlsson shot 67. The 53-year-old Swede won 11 times on the European tour but has never won in the United States.

Gene Sauers (64) and Mark Hensby (65) tied for third, three shots back, and Doug Barron (65) was alone in fifth.


Agathe Laisne of France made up a six-shot deficit by closing with a 6-under 66 and winning a three-way playoff in the Florida Natural Charity Classic, the opening event on the Epson Tour. She won the playoff over Kiira Riihijarvi (68) and Jillian Hollis (72). … Brendan Jones of Australia closed with a 5-under 66 for a three-shot victory in the New Zealand Open. The 48-year-old Jones won for the second time on the Asian Tour, to go along with 15 titles he has won on the Japan Golf Tour. … Jiyai Shin, a former world No. 1 from South Korea, opened the Japan LPGA season by winning the Daikin Orchid Ladies in Okinawa. Shin closed with a 1-under 71 for a three-shot victory over Momoko Ueda and Olympic silver medalist Mone Inami. … Lily May Humphreys of England captured her first Ladies European Tour title when she closed with a 6-under 67 and rallied from six shots behind to win the Joburg Ladies Open by two shots over Ana Pelaez Trivino of Spain and Moa Folke of Sweden.


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