Los Angeles Times

Kitayama outplays stars at Bay Hill for first PGA Tour win


Kurt Kitayama had only to look around at the players next to him in the practice area and right below him on the leaderboar­d at Bay Hill to know what he was up against Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitation­al in Orlando, Fla.

“You can’t ignore it. You know who is there and just embrace the whole situation, I guess,” Kitayama said after a final two hours of pure theater for his first PGA Tour victory.

He got the result he desperatel­y wanted in a fashion he never imagined.

First came the wild tee shot that sailed out of bounds on the ninth hole that led to a triple bogey and let an all-star cast — Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler, Tyrrell Hatton and Harris English — back into the tournament.

And then the 30-year-old from Chico, Calif., who has played on 11 tours around the world to hone his game, delivered the winner.

Part of a five-way tie for the lead with three holes to play, he drilled a six-iron to inside 15 feet on the parthree 17th and holed the putt for birdie to take the lead. From the rough left of the 18th fairway, he gouged an eight-iron onto the green to 50 feet. Needing two putts to win, the first one stopped an inch from the cup.

He tapped in for an evenpar 72, giving him a onestroke win over McIlroy (70) and English (70).

Kitayama finished at nine-under 279 and earned $3.6 million, moving to No. 19 in the world.

Spieth (70), defending tournament champion Scheffler (73), Patrick Cantlay (68) and Hatton (72) all finished two behind Kitayama.

Echavarria prevails in Puerto Rico

Colombian rookie Nico Echavarria seized control with two straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a four-under 68 for a two-stroke victory in the Puerto Rico Open for his first PGA Tour title.

Echavarria tied the tournament record at 21-under 267 at Grand Reserve in Rio Grande.

Akshay Bhatia, a 21-yearold who turned pro at 17 and plays on the Korn Ferry Tour, shot a 65 to finish second and earn special temporary membership on the PGA Tour.

Carson Young had a 71 and finished tied for third with Nate Lashley (69).

Echavarria, 28, becomes the third Colombian to win on the PGA Tour, joining Sebastian Munoz and Camilo Villegas.

Ko ends drought

Jin Young Ko won for the first time in a year at the HSBC Women’s World Championsh­ip in Singapore and hopes the triumph signals a new start after a year of battling injuries that cost her the No. 1 ranking.

Ko answered an early charge by Nelly Korda, held her nerve during a storm delay and finished with a threeunder 69 for a two-shot victory at 17-under 271. Korda had a 69.

Ko, a 27-year-old South Korean, has 14 career wins on the LPGA Tour, including two majors, along with 11 titles on the Korea LPGA.

Toms triumphs

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

Toms, 56, pumped his fist as his six-foot bogey putt curled in to secure his third victory on the over-50 tour. He shot a four-under 68 for a 15-under 202 and won $330,000.

Karlsson shot a 67. Gene Sauers (64) and Mark Hensby (65) tied for third, three strokes back.

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