Bae wins PGA Tour opener at Silverado
NAPA, Calif. — Bae Sang-moon built a big lead and was steady enough on the back nine at Silverado to win the Frys.com Open on Sunday in the first event of the new PGA Tour season.
Bae missed a short birdie putt on the 18th that only affected the margin. He closed with a 1-over 73, the first player on the PGA Tour since Ben Crane at the St. Jude Classic in June to win with a final round over par.
He won by two shots over Steven Bowditch, who closed with a 67 on a dry, hot day in the Napa Valley.
The only drama came from the 28-year-old South Korean, who was six shots ahead when he made a par on the 10th hole. Bae had a trio of three-putts — two of them from just off the green — to start coming back to the field.
But no one got closer than two shots all day.
Hunter Mahan, one of four players in the field who were in the Ryder Cup two weeks ago, looked as if he might make a run when he holed out from 91 yards on the 13th hole for eagle to get within two shots of the lead. But he hit a poor chip on the 15th that led to bogey, and he barely got out of the bunker on the par-5 16th that kept him from a birdie.
Mahan closed with a 70 and wound up in five-way tie for third with Retief Goosen, Hideki Matsuyama, Martin Laird and Bryce Molder. Matsuyama finished with two straight birdies, and tied for third for the second straight year at the Frys.com Open.
Zach Blair, the PGA Tour rookie who played in the final group, was out of the mix quickly with early bogeys. He had a 74 to tie for 12th, five strokes back.
Bae, who finished at 15-under 273, won for the second time in his career and earned a return trip to the Masters in April.
He looked shaky, even when no one was making a run at him. Bowditch birdied the 18th to reach 13-under 275, and he even went to the practice range as Bae kept missing greens and scrambling for par.
Bae took three putts for bogeys on the 11th, 13th and 14th holes, though a 15-foot birdie putt on the 12th steadied him briefly. If there was a key shot, it might have been on the par-5 16th. He drove into a nasty lie in the rough, gouged it out to the fairway, and then aggressively went at the back pin with a sand wedge. It took one hop on the firm greens and wound up in the rough.
The chip came out clean and rolled to 2 feet for par and slight relief. He again went just over the back on the 17th, and hit another safe chip to tap-in range that kept his lead at two shots playing the par-5 18th.
“I think I was a little nervous,” Bae said. “This course wasn’t easy, actually. I’m very, very happy.”
Matt Kuchar, playing in the penultimate group and starting the final round five shots behind, fell back quickly by missing a 4-foot putt on the opening hole and hitting behind a tree on the third hole. He closed with a 76. Brooks Koepka missed several birdie chances late that could have at least made Bae think. He had a 72 and had to settle for a top 10 in the PGA Tour opener, along with Hudson Swafford, Jon Curran and Robert Allenby.
Lee Westwood had a 69-67 weekend and tied for 12th.
At Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, China’s Shanshan Feng rallied to win the LPGA Malaysia for her fourth LPGA Tour title, playing a six-hole stretch on the back nine in 6 under.
The 25-year-old Feng, four strokes behind Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum entering the round, closed with a bogey-free 8-under 63 for a three-stroke victory over Phatlum.
Feng birdied Nos. 11-14 to tie Phatlum at 16 under and pulled away with a four-stroke swing when she holed a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th and Phatlum made a double bogey on the par-3 15th.
Feng parred the last two holes to finish at 18-under 266 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. She’s projected to jump from ninth to fifth in the world.
Playing a group behind Feng, Phatlum birdied the 16th and closed with two pars for a 70. She was trying to become the LPGA Tour’s first Thai winner.
Lydia Ko missed a chance to take the No. 1 ranking from Stacy Lewis. The 17-year-old New Zealander needed to win and have Lewis tie for 12th or worse. Instead, Ko closed with a 70 to tie for eighth at 11 under. Lewis had a 69 to tie for 21st at 7 under.
At Cary, N.C., Kirk Triplett won the SAS Championship for his second victory of the year and fourth in three seasons on the Champions Tour.
The 52-year-old Triplett closed with a 3-under 69 for a three-stroke victory over Tom Lehman. Triplett finished at 14-under 202 at Prestonwood Country Club.
Triplett followed each of his three bogeys with birdies. The three-time PGA Tour champion also won the ACE Group Classic in February.
Lehman eagled the par-5 17th in a 70.
Bernhard Langer and Kenny Perry tied for third at 10 under. Langer, the 2012 winner, finished with a 68. Perry, the 2011 champion, had a 67.