Sport Golf

Sunday 22 September 2019

Thomas in driving seat for $15m but McIlroy lurking

Thomas Pieters celebrates after putting in for par on the 13th on his way to winning the Czech Masters. Photo: Getty
Thomas Pieters celebrates after putting in for par on the 13th on his way to winning the Czech Masters. Photo: Getty

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy will begin this week's Tour Championship five shots behind new FedEx Cup leader Justin Thomas after a disappointing weekend in the BMW Championship in Chicago.

The world number three closed with rounds of 70 and 71 to tie for 19th on 11-under at Medinah, 14 shots behind Thomas, whose three-shot win catapulted him from 15th to first in the race for the $15 million FedEx Cup bonus.

Leading by six shots overnight thanks to a scintillating, course record 61 on Saturday, Thomas birdied four of his last eight holes to card a 68 and claim his 10th PGA Tour win by three shots from Patrick Cantlay, who shot 65, on 25-under par.

As a result, Thomas leapt from 15th to first in the FedEx Cup standings and under the new staggered format introduced for the Tour Championship, he will start on 10-under par at East Lake, two shots ahead of second-ranked Cantlay, three ahead of third-ranked Brooks Koepka, four clear of Patrick Reed and five ahead of McIlroy.

Secure

Open champion Shane Lowry, who needed to finish solo 29th at Medinah to secure his a first appearance at the Tour Championship, tied for 48th on five-under after a 69 to fall from 25th to 33rd in the standings.

Graeme McDowell also misses out on Atlanta, ending up 68th after he tied for 57th on three-under after a 71.

Masters champion Tiger Woods, who needed to finish 11th to defend his title at East Lake, tied for 37th with Jordan Spieth after a 72 and fell further in the standings to 42nd.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Meadow won the ISPS Handa World Invitational Men | Women at Galgorm Castle and boosted her confidence in her battle to keep her LPGA Tour card.

The Jordanstown star (27) fended off world number 29 Charley Hull down the stretch to win €36,030 - the same cheque awarded to men's winner Jack Senior.

Hull got to within two shots when Meadow bogeyed the 17th, but the Solheim Cup star missed a six-footer for eagle at the last and tapped in for a 69 to the Ulster star's 73.

"It's unbelievable to win here really," said Meadow, who won by one stroke on 10-under par. "When Charley hit that three-wood to six feet on 18, it was an unreal shot.

"She didn't make the putt, but it was a great run at me. She definitely gave me a run for my money."

Meadow is ranked 110th on the LPGA Tour standings, and while only the top 100 keep their cards, she returns with her confidence sky-high.

"I've got a little bit of work to do to maintain my LPGA card, so hopefully I can take this win and use this as momentum," she said. "It's big for my confidence."

Leona Maguire tied for sixth on five-under after a 73 with Castlewarden amateur Lauren Walsh a shot further back after a 71, giving her a brilliant share of eighth in her first appearance in a professional event.

Senior (31) shot a 67 to Matthew Baldwin's six-under 64 to tie on 11-under before claiming the title with a birdie at the second extra hole after they had tied on 11-under.

Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin, who was only Irishman to make the 54-hole cut, closed with a 69 to tie for 21st on two-under.

Belgium's Thomas Pieters (27) claimed his first European Tour victory for three years when he held off a late charge from Spanish rookie Adri Arnaus to win the D+D Real Czech Masters for the second time.

Arnaus birdied two of the final three holes for a closing 69 that Pieters only matched by converting a short putt at the 18th for a one-stroke win on 19-under at Albatross Golf Resort in Prague.

Paul Dunne closed with a 69 to share 23rd on nine-under and jump seven spots to 90th in the Race to Dubai while 2018 runner-up Pádraig Harrington tied for 58th on four-under after a 70.

Des Smyth recorded his best Staysure Tour finish in more than 11 months when he tied for 11th behind Paul Lawrie in the Scottish Senior Open at Craigielaw.

In amateur golf, France's Tom Gueant beat Sweden's Wilmer Ederö with a birdie at the 37th to win the R&A Boys' Amateur Championship at Saunton.

Slovenia's Pia Babnik (15) handed Austria's Isabella Holpfer her second successive defeat in the Girls' final, winning 4&3 at Panmure on Saturday.

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