Tear­ful Stan­ley ends drought with PGA Na­tional play­off win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PO­TOMAC: Kyle Stan­ley wiped away tears while pon­der­ing five years of strug­gle and doubt that ended Sun­day with his play­off vic­tory over fel­low Amer­i­can Charles How­ell to win the PGA Na­tional. Af­ter both fired four-un­der par 66s at TPC Po­tomac to stand atop the leader­board af­ter 72 holes on seven-un­der 273, Stan­ley parred the first ex­tra hole to cap­ture his sec­ond PGA crown, the first com­ing 135 starts ago at the 2012 Phoenix Open.

“There was some doubt there for a lit­tle bit,” Stan­ley said. “It’s no fun. You ques­tion whether you are ever go­ing to make it back.” Tears trick­led down his cheek. His voice cracked, then halted, as he spoke, seek­ing the right words to sum up his per­se­ver­ance to sus­tain his ca­reer the past few sea­sons.

“I wish I didn’t cry so much,” Stan­ley said. “It just feels so good to put the work in and see the re­wards. I think that’s where most of the emo­tion is com­ing from.”

In the dra­matic play­off on the par-4 18th hole, Stan­ley was in the right rough off the tee in the play­off but found the green­side rough, chipped to four feet and made the putt af­ter How­ell had missed his par bid. “I’m thrilled,” Stan­ley said. “It’s very spe­cial to get a sec­ond win... I knew it was just a mat­ter of time.”

How­ell, com­ing off a 10-week lay­off with a frac­tured rib, has not won in 293 PGA starts since tak­ing a play­off over Phil Mick­el­son at Riviera in 2007. “I’m a bit shocked,” How­ell said. “I can’t be­lieve how well I played. I started hit­ting balls eight or nine days ago. I came in here quite rusty. I’m glad to be back and hope­fully can stay healthy.”

Ninth-ranked Rickie Fowler made a ca­reer-high nine birdies but the US star also made two bo­geys and a dou­ble bo­gey to set­tle for a share of third with Scots­man Martin Laird on 275. South Korean Kang Sung was in a pack shar­ing fifth on 276 that in­cluded Swe­den’s David Ling­merth, Aus­tralians Cur­tis Luck and Marc Leish­man and Amer­i­cans Ben Martin, Kee­gan Bradley, John­son Wag­ner and Spencer Levin.

LAIRD IN BRI­TISH OPEN

How­ell had some con­so­la­tion de­spite fail­ing to end his decade-old win drought, join­ing Stan­ley, Laird and Kang in qual­i­fy­ing for the Bri­tish Open, the sea­son’s next ma­jor event tee­ing off July 20 at Royal Birk­dale. “Ma­jors are re­ally spe­cial so it will be re­ally fun,” Kang said. “I’ll be fine with the wind, but I’m not re­ally used to that linksstyle course.” “To play it any­time is spe­cial,” Laird said. “It’s my fa­vorite tour­na­ment.” It’ll be How­ell’s first ma­jor start since the 2015 PGA Cham­pi­onship and Stan­ley’s first ma­jor since the 2013 PGA.

“Bri­tish Opens are a lot of fun,” Stan­ley said. “You have to get cre­ative and play a non-tech­ni­cal style of golf I think I play re­ally well.” Stan­ley, who lost his only other PGA play­off in 2012 at Tor­rey Pines, pre­vailed af­ter a back-nine shootout that had 12 lead­ers within three strokes. Stan­ley opened with a bo­gey but be­gan a run of three birdies in four holes at the fifth, sink­ing 10-foot putts at six and eight. He added a three-foot birdie putt at the par-5 10th and a tap-in birdie at 14. How­ell grabbed a share of the lead by sink­ing a 27-foot ea­gle chip at 14, the 299-yard hole that sur­ren­dered the most ea­gles of any par-4 hole on tour this year.

WAT­NEY TIES MARK WITH 64

Fowler was foiled by a botched chip and a poor putt to dou­ble bo­gey 14, the week’s eas­i­est hole. “Mak­ing nine birdies is a re­ally good thing be­cause it’s hard to give your­self those op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Fowler said.

Nick Wat­ney matched the course record of 64 set by US com­pa­triot Russ Cochran in 2010. “There was noth­ing ground­break­ing, no ah ha mo­ment,” Wat­ney said. “I was do­ing a lot of good things. To­day it all came to­gether.” —AFP

PO­TOMAC: Kyle Stan­ley holds the tro­phy af­ter the Quicken Loans Na­tional golf tour­na­ment, Sun­day, in Po­tomac, Md. Stan­ley won in a play­off. —AP

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