The World Cup of Golf may not get the fields it once got, but this year’s story more than made up for the lack of star names. The tournament got a fitting winner (Jason Day) and the best team won (Australia). Here are 5 Things you need to know from the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf:
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1. AN EMOTIONAL VICTORY: Jason Day arrived at Royal Melbourne after losing eight members of his family in Typhoon Haiyan the week before, and could have been forgiven if he’d pulled out. However, he teamed up with Adam Scott to help Australia win the team title, and in the process secure an emotional individual win.
With his mother Dening looking on, Day returned a final round of 2-under 70 for a 10-under total to defeat Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn by two shots. Scott’s 7-under score gave Australia a 17 under winning score to finish 10 shots ahead of Matt Kuchar and Kevin Streelman of the United States. It is the fifth time Australia has won the World Cup of Golf.
“I found out last week that we lost some family members over in the Philippines and to have my mum here over the weekend, even to have my sisters and my nephew, to be here to be as a family knowing that I can hold them is very special to me,” Day said.
“It would have been the easiest thing for me to just go ahead and pull out of the tournament with what has been going on over the last week. But I really wanted to come down here and play with Adam and really try and win the World Cup.”
It is Day’s first victory since the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship. He is the first Australian since Brett Ogle in 1992 to finish as leading individual.
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2. DAY’S OLYMPIC APPEAL: Day has called on 2016 Olympic Games organizers to include a “team” element in the golf competition.
Golf returns to the Olympics as a demonstration sport in 2016 and 2020, with the IOC set to vote in 2017 on whether it should have a permanent place in The Games. It is the first time since 1904 that golf has been included in the Olympics.
Day never played with teammate Scott at Royal Melbourne and wants to do so should the pair represent Australia in Rio.
“My message to the Olympic Games organizers is that it would be good thing if teammates could play together in Rio,” Day said.
“If we play together we could help each other out as teammates as they do in other Olympic team sports.”
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3. CAPPING OFF SUPERB SEASON: Thomas Bjorn seems to get better with age. Bjorn’s second-place finish was his third of the season, and one of nine top-10s.
The Dane recorded his 14th European Tour victory this year when he won the Omega Masters. He placed 10th on the European money list, the Race to Dubai, with €1,546,736 in earnings, his second highest career earning season following 2000 when he made just under €2 million.
While naturally disappointed not to win, Bjorn was magnanimous in defeat.
“As a whole it’s been a great week,” Bjorn said. “I couldn’t be happier for Jason winning. He has gone through a rough time of late and for him to even be here is a big thing and then to go and win a golf tournament and for them to win the team event as well, that’s what you want to see.”
The 42-year-old has found a new lease of life after going three seasons between 2006-2010 without a victory. In 2008 he slipped outside the top 100 on the European money list and had to rediscover his hunger for the game. He’s found that now and is looking toward a return to the European Ryder Cup team next year after appearances in 1997 and 2002.
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4. OFFERING ADVICE: Bjorn has called on Europe’s stars to be less selfish in the wake of the controversy surround the Euro Tour’s Final Series.
Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia did not play in the required number of events to play in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, and Bjorn has told Europe’s stars to think more about the good of the tour.
Europe’s stars have to play in two of the three events leading up to the DP World Tour Championship to qualify, but some players have complained it’s too much golf.
“I have been very honest with all of our leading players competing in the States saying I need from them the truth, and I also make very clear to them that for 99 PERCENT of their career they think about themselves and nobody else,” Bjorn said.
“That remaining one percent could just be the thing that you leave for somebody else that, in the long run, will make you feel good about yourself. That’s the one percent I am trying to drag out of them, to think about someone else.”
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5. NO CAR, BUT GREAT COMEBACK: Welshman Stuart Manley put together the most eclectic scorecard during the competition with his third-round, 1-over 72. So eclectic that it included scores of 1 and 11 in successive holes.
The 2004 Walker Cup player aced the par-3 third hole, and thought he’d won the Mercedes on display behind the tee. However, the car was only offered for the final day.
The Welshman’s disappointment was compounded on the next hole when he posted an 11, the highest score of his professional career.
“It’s the highest high and then the lowest low I’ve ever experienced on a golf course,” Manley said.
To his credit, Manly birdied No. 6, then No. 14 and eagled No. 15 for his 72.