One pure shot from the first fairway sent K.J. Choi to an easy victory Sunday, as he finished with a 13-under-par 271 total in the Chrysler Championship at Palm Harbor, Fla. Yet clutch performances by Ernie Els and Paul Goydos made them feel like winners too.
Choi hit a three-wood into 20 feet for an eagle on the opening hole and closed with a four-under 67 for a four-shot victory over Goydos and Brett Wetterich, making Choi eligible for the next two tournaments -- the Tour Championship next week, and the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship next year.
He wasn’t the only one celebrating after the PGA Tour’s final full-field event of the year. A bogey on the 16th put Els in danger of falling out of the top 30 and missing the Tour Championship. But he saved par from the bunker on the 17th. Then, after driving into the trees and pitching back to the 18th fairway, Els hit a wedge from 51 yards that stopped inches away for a tap-in par. Had he made bogey, Els would have been 31st on the money list by $852.
“The last two up-and-downs were big,” Els said. “I’ll remember those for a long time.”
Goydos felt even better. He was 160th on the money list and expecting to go back to Q-school to get his card. He put together his best four rounds of the year, making a four-foot par on the 18th hole for a 70 that left him tied for second. That was worth $466,400, moving him up 63 spots to No. 97 on the money list.
Asked if he was expecting the big rally, Goydos replied, “No.”
“I shot a billion at Disney last week,” he said. “My expectations were to miss the Halloween party by making the cut, and then building on a few things for Q-school.”
Jim Thorpe won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Sonoma, Calif., but Loren Roberts lost $500,000 in the Champions Tour’s season-long points competition with one big hiccup.
Thorpe’s final-round 68 gave him a 17-under 271 total and a two-shot victory over Tom Kite in the season-ending event.
Roberts, Thorpe’s playing partner, provided more drama when he missed a 4 1/2 -foot putt on the final hole. With that single miss, Jay Haas took the points title and the resulting $1-million annuity. Roberts, the Champions Tour’s best putter all season, settled for a $500,000 annuity.
Jin Joo Hong, 23, became the third South Korean player to win the country’s lone LPGA Tour event in her first tour start, closing with a two-under 70 for a three-stroke victory in the Kolon-Hana Bank Championship at Gyeongju, South Korea. Hong ended up with an 11-under 205 total on the Mauna Ocean Golf Club course.
Annika Sorenstam, who said she felt “quite comfortable out there” as she began the day with a seven-shot lead, shot a 68 to win the Dubai Ladies Masters by six shots over Helen Alfredsson at Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Sorenstam finished at 18-under 270 in the European Ladies Tour’s season-ending event.
Padraig Harrington won the European Order of Merit with a big boost from Sergio Garcia, whose bogey on the final hole of the Volvo Masters at Sotogrande, Spain, moved the Irishman into a three-way tie for second and allowed him to overcome Paul Casey for the money title. The Volvo Masters title went to Jeev Milka Singh, who finished at 284, one shot better than Harrington (69), Garcia (72) and Luke Donald (69).