Golf Finales: PGA RSM Classic, and LPGA CME Group Tour Championship

By Nhat Hoang
Nhat Hoang
Nhat Hoang
November 23, 2021 Updated: November 24, 2021

PGA: RSM Classic

Talor Gooch won his first career PGA Tour title at Sea Island, Ga. on Sunday with a round of 64.

Gooch tied the tournament record of 22-under with a total of 260 (64–65–67–64); his solid play, hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation, did not allow any contenders an opportunity to threaten him.

Gooch finished three strokes ahead of second-place Mackenzie Hughes (Canada).

Sebastian Munoz (Columbia) took third place, and Tyler McCumber (U.S.) tied for fourth place with Cameron Smith (Australia).

Gooch, the 30-year-old Oklahoma native, had placed his previous best finish with a fourth-place tie at the Fortinet Championship earlier this season.

“Man, it was a great week,” Gooch said. “I played well all week obviously, and today being a crucial day, I had a couple of opportunities where things could have taken a turn for the worse and I was able to make some clutch putts,” he said.

“At the beginning of the week, I got with Callaway and we got a new putter in the bag and it worked out pretty good for the week,” he said.

“To finish the fall season off like I just did, it’s a dream come true.”

The win earns Gooch a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and The Masters; which begins early next year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua.

Gooch was warmly embraced at the 18th green following the round by his wife; he kissed her and their newborn child.

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Talor Gooch reacts to a missed birdie putt on the first green during the final round of the RSM Classic golf tournament, in St. Simons Island, Ga, on Nov. 21, 2021. (Stephen B. Morton/AP Photo)

LPGA: CME Group Tour Championship

Jin Young Ko (South Korea) shot a personal low round of 9-under 63, to win a 4-way tie as she defended her CME Group Tour Championship while also winning the season-long race to the CME Globe title on Sunday.

Ko’s remarkable 23-under 265 score separated her from the other contenders;  including Nelly Korda (U.S.), Nasa Hataoka (Japan), and Celine Boutier (France), who were all part of the tie.  It secured Ko’s season finish at #1 in world rankings and the Rolex Player of the Year honors.

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Jin Young Ko, of South Korea, right, holds the player of the year trophy along with LPGA Commissioner, Mollie Marcoux, left, after winning the LPGA Tour Championship golf tournament, in Naples, Fla., on Nov. 21, 2021. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo)

Ko felt pressure from Hataoka, who made three birdies over her final four holes. Hataoka scored a 64 for the second straight day to finish 22 under and fell just one stroke short of tying Ko.

Boutier shot a round of 68, and Mina Harigae shot 67 and tied for third at 18 under par.

Lexi Thompson (U.S.) finished eighth overall with a round of 68, and 16 under for the tournament.

Korda, the world #1 at the beginning of the tournament, posted a 69 to tie for fifth at 17 under, alongside Megan Khang and Minjee Lee (Australia).

“Honestly it was definitely the ‘Jin Young Ko show’ today,” Korda said. “It was really cool to witness. Obviously, I wish I could have kind of given it a better run, but in all, I think I had a great year,” she said.

“So I’m just going to kind of look back on that and enjoy it. She just played amazing golf. There is not much you can do. Just sit back and watch honestly.”

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Nelly Korda hits on the ninth hole during the final round of the LPGA Tour Championship golf tournament, in Naples, Fla., on Nov. 21, 2021. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo)

Ko was aware that she had to win the tournament to regain #1 in the rankings. She reached the green in regulation, for an unheard number of 63 consecutive times for the tournament.

Ko’s performance is quite remarkable considering she wasn’t able to have normal practice sessions this week, due to a wrist injury that initially plagued her in May.

After her grandmother’s passing, Ko had further difficulty returning to the LPGA Tour but felt obligated to her sponsors to play and perform.

“Well, I would say it’s really tough,” said Ko. “My grandmother passed away (early in) the year, but I had to play well out here,” she said.

“So I have a great team, my caddie, and my manager. So they are my motivation, and motivated (me) for the season.”

In her quest to play the LPGA Tour, Ko moved to the United States in 2018 and learned English in the process. She quickly reached the top of the women’s tour in 2019.

Regarding the $1.5 million prize money, Ko said, “I will keep the money (in) the bank, maybe a little shopping with parents.”

Ko was also gracious of Korda’s performance for the year, as Korda also won Olympic gold; which didn’t count towards Rolex Player of the Year.

“So proud of myself,” Ko said. “Player of the year, it’s cool… It’s really tough to get player of the year, especially this year with Nelly,” she said.

“Nelly has had a great year, even a gold medal, won a major tournament, and three more wins this year. I feel a little sad for Nelly,” Ko said. “But I was a little luckier than her.”

This rivalry may likely continue as Ko, 26, and Korda, 23, have been playing at another level above their competition. Both are looking forward to the off-season; the previous two years with the CCP virus (Covid-19) lockdowns have made the tour long and grueling—oftentimes without fans.

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South Korea’s Jin Young Ko after winning the LPGA Tour Championship golf tournament, in Naples, Fla., on Nov. 21, 2021. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo)
Nhat Hoang