By Jay Betsill
The Northern Trust Open, a tournament with a strong field full of PGA Tour stars was won by a relative unknown in a Hollywood-style ending on Oscars Sunday in Los Angeles. James Hahn outlasted former world No. 3 Paul Casey and eight-time PGA Tour winner Dustin Johnson to win on the third playoff hole by draining a 25-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole at famed Riviera Country Club.
“I never would have thought I would win this tournament,” Hahn told CBS Sports’ Peter Kostis after his win at the prestigious event.
The playoff came to fruition in part because Sergio Garcia bogeyed the final two holes to finish 5-under, one shot out of the tie for the lead. Garcia held a one stroke lead on the No. 17 tee, needing only to par in to win. Casey also bogeyed the final hole to end up in the playoff.
“I’ve always been truthful to myself and I didn’t deserve to win this week. It’s as simple as that,” Garcia said.
Jordan Spieth, Keegan Bradley and Hideki Matsuyama joined Garcia in finishing one shot out of the playoff. Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen lead most of the tournament, but faltered on Sunday with a 75 to finish at 4-under.
Notables included Vijay Singh (T12, -3), defending champion Bubba Watson (T14, -2), Jim Furyk (T14, -2), Nick Watney (T22, E) and Jimmy Walker (T41, -3). Brandt Snedeker, the winner last week at Pebble Beach, made the cut but finished 74th at +15. Big names who missed the cut included Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Webb Simpson, Kenny Perry, 2011 champion Aaron Baddeley, 2012 champion Bill Haas and four-time major champion Ernie Els.
The PGA Tour now heads to Florida for the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. The stellar field includes Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and Justin Rose.
The Honda Classic also marks the PGA Tour season debut of world No. 1 Rory McIlroy. Tiger Woods was in the field, but elected to skip the event as part of his leave of absence to work on the state of his game. Woods missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, then withdrew on his 12th hole at the Farmers Insurance Open due to lower-back stiffness.
— Lydia Ko shot a final-round 2-under 71 for a two-stroke victory over South Korea’s Amy Yang in the Women’s Australian Open. It was the 17-year-old golfing prodigy’s second start as world No. 1.
“I’ve always played well in Australia, so it’s always cool coming back here,” she said. “It’s great. I played pretty solid. I think that’s a really important thing and to win on such an amazing golf course.”
— According to a Golf.com report, Michael Jordan is so unhappy the slow pace of play at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida, that he is looking into building his own private venue with an ultra-exclusive membership roster, possibly as few as 100.
Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Keegan Bradley, Camilo Villegas and Michelle Wie are among the members at the Bear’s Club that reportedly has an initiation fee of $90,000.
— The Irish Open, the European Tour event held opposite the AT&T Byron Nelson in Las Colinas, announced that both Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els have committed to play in the event. They are the latest marquee names to join the event that benefits Rory McIlroy’s charitable foundation. Others who are already heading to the tournament are Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rickie Fowler.