Golf: Tiger wins in Japan for yet another record and Jin Young duly emerges with the Player of the Year award

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THE past week has been laden with all sorts of interesting happenings around the globe and one characterised by a few outstanding accomplishments.

Englishman Steven Brown breached the winners’ circle for the first time on the European Tour when he seized his moment and won the Portugal Masters.

In the process he moved from 150th on the Race to Dubai standings to 69th and secured his playing card for next season.

Jin Young Ko was joint ninth at the LPGA Tour’s BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea

and picked up two accolades with it. She was crowned the 2019 Rolex Player of the Year and clinched the Leaders Top-10 award as well.

But even as illuminating as these two stars were when setting themselves apart from the rest of their fields, they paled in the shadows of Tiger Woods’ victory at the US PGA Tour’s inaugural Zozo Championship at Narashino Country Club near Tokyo, Japan on Monday.

Woods’ three-stroke triumph was his 82nd and it lifted him alongside Sam Snead’s all-time record of wins on the Tour.

It came on the back of a 19-under 261 finish at an event that by all accounts replaced the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur on the PGA Tour’s schedule. It was also an event that marked Woods’ first PGA Tour start since undergoing knee surgery in August and heightened the prospect of more to come from a player many say is the best that ever played the game of golf.

The victory, which was also Woods’ first since slipping into the Green Jacket with a fifth Masters title at Augusta National Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia in April, had him climb to sixth in the world rankings.

Unsurprisingly, this has spawned talk of him taking on a player/captain’s role at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Victoria, Australia next month.

The US and International teams who will clash in the biennial tournament from Dec 12 to 15 are set to be finalised this week with the announcement of the captains’ picks and there is a growing feeling that Woods, the American skipper, will be on the team sheet.

He said earlier in the year that he would play in Melbourne if he was fit and made the team on merit – well he has more than done that now.

In the wake of his matching Snead’s all-time mark of 82 wins on Tour, Woods said it was “about consistency and doing it for a long period of time”.

Snead won for the last time on Tour when he was 52 and Woods said after the Zozo: “As far as playing until 52, I hope that’s the case. If you would have asked me a few years ago, I would have given you a different answer, but certainly the future looks brighter than it has and hopefully I can be as consistent as he was well into my 40s and early 50s.”

Woods won for the first time in his fifth event on Tour in Las Vegas in 1996. It took him 23 years to match the record of 82 – including 15 Major titles.

Snead, with seven Majors and also known then as “Slamming Sammy”, took 29 years to set the record.

This is no mean achievement, and at the age of 43 many will now expect Woods to go on and pass that mark, with one eye on Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Majors.

Brown’s win in Portugal was one that surprised even him. Starting the tournament 150th in the Race to Dubai, he said he did not even think he would be able to hold on to his European Tour card – let alone win the thing.

Automatic qualification for playing rights on the Tour is for the top-115 when the counting is done.

He climbed to 69th in the standings with his nail-biting one-stroke win over South Africans Brandon Stone and Justin Walters at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, and will also have welcomed the winner’s cheque for 1.5mil euros.

On the LPGA Tour, Jin Young was crowned the Rolex Player of the Year, largely because of her four wins this season – two of them Major titles, the Ana Inspiration and the Evian Championship. She also won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and the CP Women’s Open for good measure.

The Top-10 title comes with a US$1mil bonus. And even if Brooke Henderson posts a top-10 finish at this week’s Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA and draws level on 12, Jin Young will still head the standings by virtue of her four victories, to the Canadian’s two (as things stand).

Jin Young also leads the Money List with US$2.71mil to second-placed Jeongeun Lee6’s US$1.96mil. Sung Hyun Park is third with US$1.5mil and Henderson fourth with US$1.4mil.

All the same, Jin Young, the 24-year-old from Seoul with six LPGA wins to her credit, should top all when the season does finish.

For Woods, no one will begrudge him enjoying his record-equalling 82nd win on the PGA Tour, with a glance at the Presidents Cup where he will captain Team America.

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