Travelers Championship - TPC River Highlands
It would be safe to say Jim Furyk would be looking forward to getting back to TPC River Highlands for this week’s Travelers Championship. Whilst he’s not the reigning champion, he did shoot 58 last time he teed it up here. Furyk’s recent form has been nothing to write home about, he’s made just 1 cut in his last 7 starts, so coming back to a place where he set a new benchmark 12 months ago must have Mr. Furyk excited about hitting the first tee Thursday.
The Travelers Championship has been played at TPC River Highlands since 1984. The course was founded in Cromwell, Connecticut in 1928 but was known then as the Middletown GC. Over the years the course has been renamed and redesigned but in 1989 the “finishing touches” were made and the course reopened as TPC River Highlands. The course rates highly among the Touring Pro’s; a common consensus being this course has one of the best closing stretches (15 through 18) of all the courses on the US PGA Tour roster.
This week’s field is top heavy with big names and with two majors to go and the FedEx Cup looming, 3 of the biggest names on tour find themselves in search of their “game” or at least part of it. Rory McIlroy’s rib injury has limited him to just 7 starts this season and even though he’s ranked number 3 in the world, McIlroy sits 69th in the FedEx Cup. Day is number 4 in the world but can’t find a fairway and his FedEx is only slightly better than McIlroy’s at 45th. Jordan Spieth won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has had 6 top 10 finishes but his putters gone cold – Spieth has slipped to 40th in strokes gained putting.
Two-time winner Bubba Watson needs an injection of form, to say the least. He sits 109th in the FedEx Cup and has fallen to number 40 in the world – he does like it at TPC River Highlands though. Other notables in the field include Justin Thomas who’s having a great season and sits 3rd in FedEx and has moved to 12th in the world. Brian Harman is another who’s good shape this season, he won the Wells Fargo and finished T2 last week at the US Open and might be hard to beat. Lastly, although Paul Casey is without a win on the US tour since 2009, his form has been solid albeit less than spectacular.
Other Australians on the sheet are; Stuart Appleby (another member of the sub-60 club), Geoff Ogilvy, Greg Chalmers, Rod Pampling, Ryan Ruffels, Marc Leishman, Cameron Percy, Brett Drewitt and Brett Coletta.
It promises to be an exciting week, tune in for the latest news, scores and tee times here.
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BMW International Open
The European Tour is back to Germany this week. Golfclub Munchen Eichenreid, in Bavaria, will play host for the 23rd time. This event has been going since 1989 and the inaugural winner was Irishman and now funny commentator, David Feherty, who beat Fred Couples by 5 strokes to claim victory. The course itself is over 7,200 yards and will favour the longer hitters.
Henrik Stenson is the defending champion here and returns to defend it. Sergio Garcia also returns to the Germany for the first time since winning the green jacket in April. Ernie Els, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Martin Kaymer, Bernd Weisberger and Tommy Fleetwood will all be playing as well. Fleetwood hot off the US Open where he finished 4th and has jumped into 2nd on the Race To Dubai leaderboard. This time last year, he was world ranked 127th. He now sits at 21st after the weekend.
Australians playing this week include, Marcus Fraser, Jason Scrivener, Sam Brazel, Brett Rumford, Wade Ormsby and lefty Richard Green. The action starts Thursday 3:30pm our time, it should be a good one.
US Open - Erin Hills, Wisconsin
A classic US Open this week for a number of reasons. The lead up talk of how tough it was going to be, considering the long, unplayable fescue grass. For the first time since world rankings were started, the lack of a ranked 1, 2 or 3 making the cut in a major. The talk of Rory saying if your not good enough to hit fairways, you shouldn't be here, then he missing lots of fairways and was not there. The closeness of a lefty winning the Open for the first time. The record breaking 3rd round by Justin Thomas and the snubbing by Johnny Miller and ultimately, the stellar performance by Brooks Koepka to take out his 1st major.
One by one the challengers fell away. Justin Thomas, who's 9 under round 3 looked like a distant memory, started with 3 bogeys on the front nine and never was a factor. Rickie Fowler, who now holds the record for top 5 finishes in a major without a win, could only birdie 3 of the par 5's and ended up shooting even par on the last day. That will never get it done! The same can be said for Tommy Fleetwood and Brian Harman.
It was left to Hideki Matsuyama to push the leader as he shot 8 birdies and 2 bogeys for a last day 66 that was fantastic to watch. No fear in the Japanese players game as he went at flags constantly and posted the score to beat at -12. It all was not enough though as Koepka, who started birdie, birdie, played a great stretch of holes on the back from 14 to 16, where he sunk perfect putts for Open winning birdies, back to back to back. He looked the only one who was ever going to win and apparently had a phone call from friend Dustin Johnson the night before, giving him some great advice to just "take it one shot at a time." He did that and by the way, if you had read the preview this week, the big fella suggested Koepka as his roughie for the win. Did anybody clean up with the bookies? By the way, Koepka's -16 total ties the record for the lowest US Open score ever and that now makes 7 major debutant winners in a row.
Another poor tournament from the Australians with only Marc Leishman making the cut. The big Victorian finishing with a 75 to finish tied 27th for the week. Jason Day most disappointing as his play seemed to have no respect for the long fescue. Sometimes, you just gotta take your medicine, no matter who you are.
The tournament, for all its negative press at the beginning of the week, ended up being a classic. The fan favourites were of course, "Beeef!" and Steve Stricker. The Wisconsin native thrilling the home crowd with a great 69 in the final round that included 3 back nine birdies. He finished tied for 16th. Maybe next time Rickie?
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St Jude Classic
A bogey free 4th round 66 saw Daniel Berger win back to back St Jude Classics and notch up his second PGA Tour win. On a day where no less than 9 players held a share of the lead at one stage or another, Berger was cool under the gun and held off Charl Schwartzel and Whee Kim (-9) as well as fast finishing Billy Horschel and local amateur Brayden Thornberry (-8). Chez Reavie, Kevin Chappell and Rafa Cabrera Bello also finished -8 and all held the lead Sunday. Unfortunately, mediocre front 9’s cost them any chance.
Daniel Berger’s day didn’t start particularly well. He pulled his drive way left off the 1st tee and when his second landed in the native area left of the green things looked dire early; especially when Berger left his third in the rough again, 25” from the cup. Staring down the barrel of a double, Daniel Berger needed something “Tigeresque” to get it back on track, so he proceeded to chip in for par and didn’t look back.
As the tournament unfolded, Brayden Thornberry just got better and better. Faced with the possibility of missing the cut as he made the turn Friday at +4, Thornberry played his last 45 holes beautifully and finished T4. Phil Mickelson was another who held the lead Sunday at -9 and a drought breaking win looked possible. However, on 12 Mickelson made a 19’ putt…. for a triple bogey and that win disappeared before his eyes. Phil hasn’t won since 2013 and it seems his inability to finish rounds off is a common thread, with his back 9 scores letting him down.
The best placed Australian was Adam Scott at -6 and T10. Scott’s whole season is scheduled for him to peak at the 4 Majors and with only 1 missed cut in his last 11 tournaments, his form looks solid. Matt Jones started the day -7 but a disappointing final round 72 saw him fall out of contention – definitely a missed opportunity after an opening round 65. Brett Drewitt was the only other Aussie to make the cut but finished well back T60 at +2.
We are in Wisconsin next week for the US Open at Erin Hills. It is the 1st time the state of Wisconsin has hosted a US Open and there can be no doubt it will be an extremely tough examination as tradition dictates. Make sure you catch our preview and updates.
* Interesting stat from last weeks PGA Tour, TPC Southwind holds the record for the most balls in the water of any tournament course, 4,700 since 2003. TPC Sawgrass is a distant second with 3,104. Wow!
Another South African has won on the European Tour this year as Dylan Frittelli has taken out the Lyoness Open. Shooting 70, 71, 68, 67, Frittelli saved his best work for the weekend and finished at -12, one shot clear of the chasers who included David Horsey, Jbe Kruger and Mikko Korhonen, who all finished at -11.
It's Frittelli's first victory on the European Tour and he banks 166,660 Euro for the win and moves into 17th on the Race To Dubai leaderboard. His driving accuracy and greens in reg stats were way ahead of the field and were the things that helped him across the line. Another product of the Texas college system and another playing partner of Jordan Speith, Frittelli will be hoping for more of this in the future, like his higher ranked friend.
Of the australians this week, lefty Richard Green, who promised much from the week before, failed to make the cut shooting 76 & 78. Ryan McCarthy was the leading Aussie finishing at -3.
With the US Open this week, the European Tour, at least in Europe, takes a week off.
How often does someone shoot a 77 in the 3rd round of a PGA Tour event and still win? Well not since Nick Faldo carded a 3rd round 77 at the 1989 Masters and walked away with the jacket - not very often indeed! Jason Dufner started Sunday a little on the shaky side too with 3 birdies, 3 pars and 3 bogies in his first 9 holes. Who knows what happened between the 9th and 10th tees, but Dufner rediscovered the form that had mysteriously deserted him for a round and a half and closed with an almost flawless 32. On a course that rewards accuracy at the flag, Dufner was pinpoint hitting every green to within 12 feet of the pin. He had a slight hiccup on 18 but drained a 40-foot bomb for par and a 3 shot victory.
Daniel Summerhays was looking to join an elite club of those who register their first win on tour at the Memorial and with a 3 shot lead after 54 holes, Summerhays was looking very good. A final round 78 (41 on the back 9) saw his chances go up in smoke and he finished a disappointing T10 at 7 under.
Rickie Fowler had his chances and after crushing his drive down 18 he watched as Dufner left his second in the rough. Needing to stuff it close for a look at birdie and put the heat on Dufner, Fowler missed the green left from 136 yards, a shot he could stick closer in his sleep! A disappointing bogey and Rickie was done.
Anirban Lahiri had a bogey-free round of 65 but started too far back to put any real pressure on. Justin Thomas and Matt Kuchar were in the mix early but bogies on their inward 9’s saw them pose no real threat either. Bubba Watson returned to form and was in contention, but a final round 73 that included 5 bogies saw him fall away. Last week’s winner Kevin Kisner had four sub-par rounds and was solid finishing 8 under T6.
Jason Day and Marc Leishman were the best placed Australians at 5 under T15. Leishman is having a productive season to date and Day’s lead up to the US Open looks to be on track. Victorian Brett Coletta was the next best at -2 and T25 and after a poor first round Adam Scott fought back well on day two with a 66 but then so-so rounds of 71 and 74 saw him finish at -1 and T31. Greg Chalmers, Road Pampling, Cameron Smith, Curtis Luck and Matthew Griffin collected cheques but finished well back.
We are in Memphis next week for the FedEx St Jude Classic, tune in for our preview and take on the tournament.
The Nordea Masters for 2017 has been won by little known Italian, Renato Paratore. The 20 year old has been a golf pro since the age of 17 and before turning pro, represented his country and Europe in the junior Ryder Cup in 2012 and 2014.
He turned pro in 2014 and had success winning the Italian National Championship. The Nordea Masters though, will be his biggest victory in his short career. Standing at 191cm and possessing a perculiar swing, he may now be ready to show his potential and win more often.
Earlier in the day, South African George Coetzee shot a new course record 66 and posted a score to beat of -9. At one stage there was a five way tie, but one by one the leaders faulted. Defending champion, Matt Fitzpatrick looked the most likely to win all day. His final day 7 birdies getting him close, but the double on the 4th meant he missed the mark by one shot. The same margin for Chris Wood. His bogey on the 18th cost him a chance at a playoff and both he and Fitzpatrick finished at -10.
A further shot back was Coetzee and Thorbjorn Oleson. Oleson hit some strange wayward shots on the back nine, but kept making miraculous par saves. The 2 birdies and one bogey, not enough to reach the top. Home favourites Alex Noren(-5) and Henrik Stenson(-3) just did not sink enough putts to be in contention, Stenson only made 11 birdies for the week, very unusual for him around his home course.
Of the Australians, the lefty Richard Green finished best at -2 which was good enough for tied 30th. The week, though, belonged to Paratore, whose finishing nine holes of 7 clutch pars and 2 birdies was enough for the victory.
Dean & Deluca
It would be fair to say Kevin Kisner wanted, actually, needed to hole his 5-footer for par on the 18th, as playoffs are not his forte. I’m not suggesting he would have lost the 4-way playoff if he missed, but his record is not great.
Since the 2014/2015 season, Kisner has placed second 6 times, losing 4 in playoffs. With defending champ Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Sean O’Hair giving him the silent “NOONAN”, Kevin Kisner calmly brushed in his par putt on 18 and donned the plaid jacket.
Opening with 3 birdies on the back 9 and another on 15, Kisner was in a commanding position. After bogeying the next, he steadied with two pars to post a 66 which was good enough to close the deal by a shot. Spieth and Rahm had putts on 17 and 18 respectively that would have got them to 10 under and a playoff but they didn’t drop. O’Hair would have been ruing missed opportunities having 4 birdies but 2 costly bogies on his front 9. However, his back 9 was solid and he played the 18th beautifully draining a putt from 10 feet to get to 9 under and be part of a possible 4-man playoff. Not to be, Kevin Kisner made a great up and down for his second win on tour.
Webb Simpson held the 54-hole lead, but he caught the par train on the back 9 Sunday and then had a bogey on the last to shoot a 71 and finish 8 under, 5th by himself. The low round of the day belonged to Steve Stricker, the oldest man in the field, he turned back the clock to 2009 when he shot 63 twice to win here. His last round 63 didn’t produce a win this time, but it was superb nonetheless.
Australia’s Curtis Luck and Marc Leishman were the best placed Australians finishing T34 at 1 over. The next best was Geoff Ogilvy at 4 over and Matt Jones was the only other Aussie to make the cut finishing T63 at 7 over.
We’re going to Jack’s house next week, Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin Ohio for the Memorial Tournament where William McGirt will be looking to defend his title. Tune in for our preview later this week.
BMW PGA Championship
The first leg of the new Rolex Series has been run and won. The BMW Championship was taken out in spectacular fashion by Alex Noren.
Noren fired a course record 10 under, 62 on the final day to set the bar at -11. A score that nobody could get near to in the end. Although there were 6 or 7 players at one stage at -9 and -8, they all fell victim to the Wentworth golf course, the late rain and some terrible golf.
The 54 hole leader, Aussie Andrew Dodt, started his day with a bogey, but bounced back with birdies on 3 and 4. They were the last confident holes played until he finished birdie, birdie on 17 and 18 to finish tied for 6th at -7. Dodt really looked like he did not want to win. He played safe to the middle of greens and came up short on chip shots again and again. It was a round I'm guessing, he would want back.
Of the other challengers, Shane Lowry couldn't buy a putt, then drove the ball all over the place to fall away. Branden Grace found the ditch on the 12th and instead of taking a drop, tried to play out Van Der Velde style and his day was over. Henrik Stenson made 2 bogeys in the last 6 holes to fall to third and Hideto Tanihara, who looked like he was going to challenge, kept leaving putts too short. It was horrendous golf by some of the best golfers in the world. There were hooks, slices, chunky chips, out of bounds drives, poor decisions and weak putting. It was hard to watch.
Franky Molinari saved the day by adding some interest on the back nine. The Italian played some mignificent iron shots and made 3 back nine birdies to finish second at -9. He looked like the only challenger really.
But nobody was going to catch Alex Noren. The round of the week got him the victory and has put him into the world top ten rankings as well at number 9. He takes out the first Rolex Series Tournament and the winners cheque from BMW at the same time. What an amazing days golf it was.
AT&T Byron Nelson
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the PGA gives us another great tournament with another great story - or two. Billy Horschel was at the lowest ebb in his short career on tour, he was enduring his most unproductive stretch since his rookie year in 2011. In 2014 Horschel won The TOUR Championship and FedEx Cup; life on tour was very comfortable thank you very much. But golf giveth and taketh away and Billy Horschel had been winless ever since.
It felt like Jason Day was canning them from everywhere this week, then on the 73rd hole he missed from 4 feet for his first 3 putt of the tournament and gifted Billy Horschel the Byron Nelson. One three putt in 73 holes – it wasn’t so much that Day had a 3 putt, it was when he had it. This came after Day played the shot of the day, chipping in at the 15th off a downhill lie over a bunker to get to 12 under.
James Hahn almost holed his second shot on 18 that would have put him into the playoff, but it was 3 bogies in 3 holes (12, 13, 14) that cost him in the end. With the 54-hole lead at 12 under James Hahn looked the man to beat, but when the deal needed to be done Sunday afternoon, he couldn’t close it.
Jason Kokrak started the day 2 shots off the pace at 10 under, but 1 over through nine on Sunday made it a difficult proposition and he finished with an untidy 71 and 4th place. Danny Lee, Sean O’Hair, Byeong Hun An and Bud Cauly finished tied for 5th at 8 under, but were never really in the hunt. Marc Leishman was the only other Australian to finish under par at -6 tied for 13th and Rod Pampling was well off the pace shooting 75 in the last round to finish tied for 59th at +3. Geoff Ogilvy and Greg Chalmers were the only other Aussies to make the cut.
Spare a thought for Jordan Spieth. A “9” on the par 5 16th in Fridays round saw him miss the cut by a shot. It just goes to show we all have disasters, but yours and mine cost us a couple of beers and our pride, not $1000’s!
Congratulations Billy Horschel, today was your day - golf giveth this time around. We’re still in Texas next week for The Dean and Deluca Invitational at Colonial CC Fort Worth. I have a feeling Jordan Spieth will be keen to bounce back and defend his title.
The Asian Tour this week has the $300,000 Thailand Open. This event has been missing from the Asian Tour schedule for 8 years and makes a welcome comeback.
Rattanon Wannasrichan has won the Thailand Open with a 2 shot victory over Shiv Kapur of India. Wannasrichan fired a final round 67 to hold off a fast finishing Kapur who had 5 birdies on the back nine and a final round 63. Wannasrichan shot 62, 69, 65, 67 in front of his home crowd to win.
Australians Terry Pilkadaris and Scott Hend finished 6 back from the leader, but inside the top ten at -15 for the week. Well done boys!
Rocco Forte Open
Spaniard Alvaro Quiros has won the Rocco Forte Open after a playoff against south African Zander Lombard.
Quiros was at one stage 7 clear in the lead at -20 after birdies on 2, 4, 5 & 6. Unfotunately, for him, he stumbled on the back nine and after dropping a further 4 shots in 3 holes (15, 16 & 17) found himself in need of a sand save on the 18th green to force the playoff. Hitting it to about 10 feet, he calmly rolled in the par putt. Lombard, on the other hand, was making scores happen all day. He went out in 32 after 5 birdies and came home +1 after 3 bogeys and 2 birdies. His chip at the 18th to a foot forced the playoff.
Both players made par down the first playoff hole and went back to the 18th once more to decide the winner. Lombard had a chance to force a third playoff hole, but missed a 3 foot par putt to hand the tournament to Quiros. It's his first win since 2011 and he now earns a regular spot back on the European Tour. He was once ranked in the top 20 players in the world, let's hope this is the start of the climb back up that leaderboard.
Australians Marcus Fraser and Jason Scrivener both shot 67's on the last day to finish tied for 5th place. If not for the double bogey on 17, Scrivener may have been in that playoff. China's Li Hao Tong made an impressive albatross on the par 5, 12th hole.
The Players Championship
Golf at the elite level never fails to deliver. Since Tiger’s dominance and subsequent disappearing act, the PGA tour gives rise to story after story. Sergio’s major drought breaking Masters victory, Dustin Johnson’s dominance in the month before the Masters then sensational withdrawal. Coupled with only one of the big three (Day, Spieth, McIlroy) having a win this year on tour (with Spieth winning back in early February) and now The Players Championship has it’s youngest ever champion in Si Woo Kim. And its only mid-May. On Sunday afternoon when the Stadium Course is renowned for disposing of even the most seasoned pros, Kim was flawless carding a bogey free 69.
Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter challenged mid-way through their rounds but gave shots back in the closing holes leaving Kim to battle with himself and the intense situation he was (supposedly) experiencing. If Si Woo Kim was nervous he certainly didn’t show it – he was as solid as a rock, closing with 9 straight pars. In fact, Kim had one bogey in his last 36 holes. His ability to get up and down from various situations with a variety of clubs was sublime.
Poulter and Oosthuizen finished 3 shots off the pace at 7 under and both of them suffered from not taking on the course. I think they thought that Kim would come back to the field and their play reflected that. Again and again they played it safe while Kim went at the flag. Only with nothing left to lose on the 18th, after a second shot schanck, did Poults go flag hunting, but it was too little, way too late. Rafa Cabrera Bello and Kyle Stanley a further shot back tied for fourth at 6 under. Spare a thought for some of the players that had days they would rather forget. Jason Day had 80, Sergio 78 and J.B Holmes an 84!
Adam Scott was the best placed Australian after shooting 32 on the back 9, but 2 front 9 bogies probably cost him any chance of contending and Scott finished 5 under. Aaron Baddley, Rod Pampling and Jason Day were the only other Australian’s to make the cut but all finished well back.
With the “5th major” done and dusted we move to Texas and the AT&T Byron Nelson at the TPC Four Seasons Resort. Stay tuned for our tournament preview.
Open de Portugal
This week marks the return of the Open de Portugal to the European Tour roster. It was last played in 2010. This weeks event is a co-sanctioned event with the European Challenge Tour.With most of the big names in golf playing The Players Championship, this tournament may go under the radar for most, but it should be a good one to watch.
Englishman Matt Wallace has won the Open de Portugal with a wire to wire victory. Wallace shot a 10 uner 63 on the first day of the tournament and although shooting even par (73) on moving day, he went into the final round 5 shots clear of the field. The 69 on the last day good enough for his 1st European Tour victory, just over 83,000 Euros and a European Tour card.
The leading Australian was Ben Eccles, who was tied for 48th at -5. Congratulations to Matt and we look forward to seeing him in action on the tour.
Wells Fargo Championship
Brian Harman has sunk an incredible 72nd hole, 30 footer to win the Wells Fargo Championship. It is Harman's 2nd win on the PGA Tour and he was visibly excited after sinking the long putt to beat Dustin Johnson by 1 shot.
Johnson earlier had made a 15 foot putt on the 18th himself to finish at -9 as well as Pat Perez (-9) who will be thinking about the double bogey he made on 14 that cost him a chance at the title. Jon Rahm finished a further shot behind at -8 and had a chance to force a playoff on the last hole. His second shot was long and his chip back for eagle was not good.
Overnight leaders Patrick Reed and Alex Noren both had rounds they would rather forget. Reed having a horror run of 4 bogeys in 6 holes on the back nine and Noren shooting a final day 77. The day though, belonged to Harman as his 71, 69, 70 and final day 68 was good enough for the one shot win and the exemptions that come with it. Most notibly, entry into the Masters.
Just what is it and how does it work? Well, this is the first event of the new Golf Sixes format. There are 16 countries represented by 2 man teams. These teams are split into 4 different groups and the matches are played over 6 holes with ties going to sudden death at the 18th. It is similar to the event played in Perth at the start of 2017, but this time it is a teams event.
The inaugural golfsixes has been won by the team of Thorbjorn Oleson and Lucas Bjerregaard from Denmark. They defeated the Australian team of Scott Hend and Sam Brazel by 3 to 1.
This tournament was a breath of fresh air for a sometimes pedestrian schedule on the European Tour, but I commend them for doing something different. The atmosphere of the matches was fun, loud, fast and everything that normal golf just is not. The crowd and the players seem to really enjoy it. With the matches only being over 6 holes, most of them were over in less than an hour. Many of the top seeds were defeated by single shots on the 6th, or last hole. France and England suffered this fate.
The final came down to Denmark versus Australia. It was a tale of the unlucky against the bit luckys. The Australians should have been 3 up after 3 holes, but the lip outs at 1 and 2 kept it to just one up after a birdie on the 3rd. The 4th hole was where things started to turn for the Australians. Both players hit their drives into the water down the left and handed the hole to the Danes. A great birdie on the next had them 1 up. It was on the last hole where Team Denamark had a bit more luck. Their second shot was heading for the water, but stopped within a foot of going in by some heavy grass. The Aussies could not convert a 10 foot putt and it handed the win to the Danes. Well deserved, although I couldn't help but think about the 2 in the water that turned the tide against the Aussies.
Again, it was the fast paced style of play here that most likely cost the Australian team the chance to have some composure on that tee. The 4th hole was the clock hole and players only had 30 seconds to hit a shot, or be penalised a stroke. Had this been a standard hole, Scott Hend may have thought twice about hitting his driver after Brazel went into the water. But, that was the GolfSixes.
Personally, I thought it was fantastic to see the European Tour again lead the way into new territories regarding golf and how it's played. Team Scotland beat team Italy for the 3rd place trophy.
Volvo China Open
The European Tour this week heads to China for the Volvo China Open. Li Haotong is the defending champion and a pretty good field has assembled this week to battle it out at the Topwin Golf and County Club, at the foot of the Great Wall.
Frenchman, Alex Levy has won the Volvo China Open with a birdie on the 1st playoff hole against South African, Dylan Frittelli. Levy shot a final round 67 to tie Frittelli, who only needed to shoot par or better on the final round to win. The 74 he shot was not good enough, but he had a chance in the playoff. Levy made his birdie with a 15 foot putt and clinched the win.
The best placed Australians were Sam Brazel and Jason Norris, who finished tied for 48th position.
Zurich Classic of New Orleans
The Zurich Classic is headed for a Monday finish as Kevin Kisner rolled in a 94 foot chip to make eagle on the 72nd hole and force a playoff between him and Scott Brown, versus Jonas Blixt and Cam Smith of Australia.
Cam Smith and Jonas Blixt have won the Zurich Classic after a 4th hole birdie this morning. Cam Smith was the one who hit a magnificent wedge shot to 3 feet and sunk the putt for the win. Both teams had their chances to win with 3 putts of less than 10 feet just missing the edge of the cup the first 2 times down the 18th hole.
The young Queenslander now has a 2 year exemption for the tour and will be teeing it up in all the majors as well as rising the leaderboard in the FedEx Cup. His future on the tour looks set as he is only the 3rd Aussie to win a PGA Tour event under the age of 24. The other 2 were Jason Day and Adam Scott. Congratulations Cam! And go Aussies!
Valero Texas Open
If a race horse had 179 starts and, although showed promise in a few big races, could never quite bring home the chocolates, it would be sent to the knackery. Lucky for Kevin Chappell he’s not a race horse because on his 180th start, he had his first victory on the PGA tour when he brushed in an 8-footer for birdie on 18 and win The Valero Texas Open.
After a decorated college and amateur career Chappell turned pro in 2008 and spent 3 years on the Nationwide Tour before graduating in 2011. In his rookie season he finished tied for second at this very tournament in just his ninth start and then followed it up with a tie for third at the 2011 US Open – Kevin Chappell would have been forgiven for thinking his first win was close.
Six years later Kevin Chappell was still winless and the monkey on his back putting on weight. Yet with career earnings totalling nearly $10million USD and only 30 years old, life wasn’t that bad – or was it? A win on tour was a high priority, especially after experiencing success throughout his amateur career. He closed out Brooks Koepka by a shot after Koepka playing ahead of Chappell, birdied the 18th on his way to a 67 and tie for the lead. Undaunted, Kevin Chappell played the last hole beautifully, holed out for a 4 and walked away with $1.1 million and an awesome pair of boots.
Kevin Tway and Tony Finau finished 2 shots further back on 9 under with Australia’s Aaron Baddley finishing fifth at 8 under. Cameron Smith tied for sixth due largely to a second round 65 and Matt Jones was 5 under and tied for thirteenth. Geoff Ogilvy and Cameron Percy were the only other two Aussies to make the cut.
Pre-tournament favourites Charlie Hoffman and Matt Kucher had fairly disappointing tournaments. They both made the cut but finished middle of the road at 2 over.
This week we’re in New Orleans for the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana. Some big names are back too; Day, Fowler, Spieth and Watson are teeing it up after a short break post The Masters.
Last year Wesley Bryan was trying to scratch out a living on the Web.com tour, what’s more he was probably better known for his trick shots. Fast forward 12 months and Bryan wins the RBC Heritage, slips on the plaid jacket and propels himself to 14th in the FedExCup and is staring squarely at a spot at the Tour Championship. The South Carolinian native was solid down the stretch with a bogey free back nine to close the deal by a shot at 13 under.
Arguably the bigger story for the week was Luke Donald going down by a shot and racking up his fifth second place and seventh top three finish – all in the last nine years at the same tournament! If Donald had been able to hit fairways off the tee (he hit 31 of 56), he may well be the one sporting the plaid jacket. Conversly, Donald’s short game was sublime and kept him in it, but will his time ever come at Hilton Head?
The best placed Australian was Rod Pampling at 6 under with Cameron Smith a further shot back. Marc Leishman finished 2 under and was the only other Aussie to make the cut in a fairly disappointing tournament for Australia.
Next week we are at TPC San Antonio for the Texas Valero Open
"If ever there was an omen bet though, get your money on Garcia. When his ball stayed up on the 13th, I instantly thought of Fred Couples and Adam Scott receiving such gifts and going on to win the Masters!"
If you read yeterdays update, you would've read the above statement I made after the the third round. I'm not a betting man (unfortunatly), but maybe, just maybe the golfing gods were sending me a message. Maybe like Sergio they recognise I've paid my dues, the goods are finally going to smile my way.
I think not, Sergio Garcia simply discovered you have to accept everything that happens on the golf course. If you miss, walk to your ball and play you're best next shot. It's no ones fault, you hit it! Much has been written and said about Garcia's "new" state of mind, take the good with the bad and move on.
Sergio's win was gutsy, coming off bogies on 10 and 11 and done by two to Rose, Sergio was in trouble again on the 13th. A penalty drop and an awesome par save and then Justin Rose missing a crucial birdie putt, meant Garcia avoided a possible 4 shot swing. He then played solid golf and had a real opportuntiy to close the deal early in regulation, but Sergio's putt on the 18th slid by.
The play-off was basically done when Rose missed right in the pines off the tee and Sergio Garcia was able to hit his favoured cut straight into the mayors office. Justin Rose chipped out and Garcia all but closed the door with a fine shot pin high to about 15 feet. Now Rose needed the gods to smile his way but it was not to be, Sergio drained his putt to put it beyond all reasonable doubt - a great win.
It was a battle for two and it seemed no one else was invited. Charl Schratzel fired a 68, Matt Kucher a 67 and Thomas Pieters bounced back with a tidy 68 after faltering yesterday, but no one put any real pressure on the leaders. Adam Scott just couldn't get it going missing a couple of putts early that could've really put him amongst it. There were other good scores posted, but they weren't good enough or they started too far back.
Other than Adam Scott, no Australian's figured. Jason Day shot a 71 to finish 1 over, Marc Leishman also fired a 71 but finished 8 over and Curtis Luck capped off his first Masters with a very respectable 72 and finished the tournament 9 over.
So the 2017 Masters did come down to the back 9 on Sunday and one man beat everyone and everything including himself to not only win his first major, but THE major! Congratulations Sergio Garcia.
Shell Houston Open
Russell Henley booked himself a place in the Masters field this week with his win in The Shell Open at Houston. In the wind and rain Henley made 10 birdies on his way to shooting 65 and in doing so, put a stop to Sung Kang's attempts to win his first PGA event.
After shooting rounds of 65 and 63, and getting it to 16 under on Friday, Kang could only manage 1 under on the weekend - but it was still enough to finish second by himself. A shot further back were Luke List and Rickie Fowler. 3 over after the first 4 had Fowler on the back foot and playing catch up, though he rallied and closed with 5 birdies in his last 11 holes. But it was Henley's 4 birdies in 5 holes on the back 9 that put him in unbeatable position as he stood on the 18th tee.
The best paced Australian was Aaron Baddeley at 7 under, Geoff Ogilvy was a further 2 back and Matt Jones finished 1 under. Jon Rahm backed up his second place last week with a top ten result at -9.
It's officially Masters Week now, stay tuned for Carls Masters preview.
World Golf Championships - Dell Match Play
Three in a row for DJ as he dominates in Austin and widens the gap between himself and the rest, in the world golf rankings. Not once in his seven matches and 112 holes was Johnston "down". Add to this the top 64 players in the world teed it up in Austin, DJ smashed a quality field.
5 down through 8 in the final, Jon Rahm could have been forgiven for thinking about an early beer. A couple of makeable putts slid by the hole and DJ was looking invincible. But 4 down on the par 4 13th tee, Rahm smashed his drive 270 yards plus into the wind, over water on to the green. Two putts for a birdie and Rahm's comeback was ignited. Two more birdies on 15 and 16 and it was game on and for the first time in the tournament, DJ's grip on the trophy appeared to be under threat.
The match was decided on the 18th when DJ calmly rolled in his par putt to bring his WGC tally to four, a career slam! With The Masters only a few weeks away and a T6 and T4 in his last 2 starts at Augusta, Johnston has firmed as favorite to win a second major.
Arnold Palmer Invitatonal
Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill hosts the Invitational this week. Jason Day is the returning champion.
Aussie Marc Leishman has won the Invitational. Leaishman shot a final round 69 that included play down the stretch that was the definition of clutch. The 51 foot eagle putt he made on 16 to hit the lad was just the start. Finding the bunker on the 17th, he was short sided. He played a delicate flop out of the sand and then holed a 5 footer for par.
On the 18th tee, he sprayed his drive into the deep rough right. Taking his medicine, he played a perfect shot to 15 feet from the front of the green. Pitched up to 3 feet and sunk the putt for par and the win. He had 4 putts over the last 4 holes and this was why he won. The others on the leaderboard wre up and down, but none finished as well as Leishman.
He gets $1,566,000 and has tour tickets for the next 3 years. He also gets into the Masters field for April. A great effort by Marc and it's great to have back to back Australian winners at this tournament. Congrats!
Hero Indian Open
The Gary Player re-designed course at DLF golf and country club is the venue for this years Hero Indian Open.
S.S.P. Chawrasia has defended his title and won this years Hero Indian Open. The golf course was brutal during the week and Chawrasia was one of only 7 golfers that were under par at the end of the 4 days, eventually winning by a huge 7 strokes.
Rafa Cabrera Bello and Anirban Lahiri were the only 2 players inside the top 10 to join Chawrasia in being under par on the last day. They both finished 9 shots behind the winner.
Wade Ormsby was the leading Australian at +5 for the week.
Adam Hadwin has won at Copperhead after a dramatic back nine with playing partner Patrick Cantlay. The two were tied heading to the 18th, but the deadlock was broken when Cantlay could not get up and down from the greenside bunker on the 72nd hole.
Hadwin finished at -14 after a nervous last round of 71 to claim his first PGA Tour victory. He went out on the front in even par and had birdies at the par 5, 11th and then on the par 3, 13th. The double bogey on 16 brought back Cantlay into contention, but Hadwin sealed the deal with a great par on the last to add another Canadian name to the winners list this season.
Big hitting Tony Finou shot a final round -7, 64 to finish 5th. Charl Schwartzel finished 6th and Henrik Stenson finished tied for 7th. Rod Pampling was the leading Australian at tied 41st.
WGC Mexico Championship
The world's best assemble for another WGC event. This time, it's in Mexico. Ironic that it was taken from Donald Trump's Doral and given to Mexico. No wall as yet, so there should be good crowds. The full top 30 players in the world are playing in this event, except for the world number 2, Jason Day, who is still nursing an injury.
Dustin Johnson has confirmed his world number 1 status by taking out the WGC Mexico. Johnson fired a final round 68 to finish one shot clear of Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who rolled in a long birdie on the 18th to finish second. Rory McIlroy, who had the chance to become the new world number 1 this week, failed to fire on the weekend, shooting 70,71 and eventually finishing tied 7th, with Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker.
It was Jon Rahm that will be the most disappointed though. He was tied for the lead with 3 to play, but finished bogey, bogey, par to drop to tied 3rd with Ross Fisher. Although the PGA / European Tour event promised to showcase the best of the PGA Tour, it was the European Tour players that seemed to relish the spotlight, filling 3 of the top 5.
Unfortunately, there were no Australians that finished under par this week. Adam Scott, who was the defending champion here, was the best placed Aussie at +1.
So the chocolates go to Dustin Johnson again as he cements his place as world number 1 with yet another win.
The Honda Classic
Rickie Fowler has hung on to win the Honda Classic by a comfortable margin of 4 shots. Fowler started the day with a for shot lead, but his front 9 was very up and down. He carded 2 bogeys, a double bogey and 2 birdies to go out 2 over.
At one stage he was only 1 shot in front, but he drained a long birdie putt on12, then followed it with another from 25 feet on 13. His birdie on 16 sealed the win and even though he bogeyed the final 2 holes, the challengers were nowhere to be seen and he cruised to victory.
Adam Scott was the leading Australian at -4.
With 3 places up for grabs in the British Open field for 2017 this week, you would have thought that some players would be scrambling for a win at the Joburg Open. Unfortunately, only 4 of the top 100 players in the world turned up this week. Of the 4 that did turn up, Brandon Stone at 69 is the top ranked player in the field.
Darren Fichardt has won the Joburg Open by 1 shot over Stuart Manley and Paul Waring. All 3 have qualified to go to the British Open. In a shortened 54 hole tournament that was drowned by lots of rain, the leaderboard was crammed with challengers. Only 5 shots separated the top 22 players. Fichardt shot 66,66,68 to claim the one shot win and move him into 18th position on the "race to Dubai."
There were no Australian players playing this week on the European Tour.
Dustin Johnson has won the Genesis Open at Riviera by 5 shots. At one stage he was 9 clear, but he finished the afternoon a little wayward down the stretch for a 71. The damage was done in his earlier rounds of 66,66,64 though. Johnson now overtakes Austrailias own, Jason Day as the new world number one ranked player. Any wonder after the golf he has been playing. Top 10 after top 10. Top 5 after top 5. Johnson is a machine! Long off the tee, accurate with his irons and lethal with the putter.
European Tour regular Thomas Pieters finished second on -12 after a final round 63, tied with American Scott Brown. Justin Rose was a further shot back on -11. Adam Scott was the best placed aussie at -9 and Jason Day, who made the cut, finished up 2 over par after rounds of 70,70,75,71.
The Tour now heads south to Florida and PGA National for the Honda Classic. Adam Scott is the defending champion here.
ISPS Handa Super 6's
Local Brett Rumford has taken out the ISPS World Super 6's tournament in Perth. Rumford was clearly the best player through the first 3 days of stroke play, finishing 5 clear of everybody at -17. The unique format of the Super 6's though, meant that matchplay over 6 holes would determine the winner. The final 24 were paired off and match by match, the numbers were cut until the final match which was between Rumford and young teenager Phachara Khongwatmai.
Rumford eventually beating the Thai 17 year old 2 & 1. Aussie pair Adam Bland and Jason Scrivener took 3rd and 4th and Louis Oosthuizen placed 5th.
The format was sensational and proved to be a winner for the viewing asudience as well. Many people today talking of how exciting the short playoff hole of only 65 meters was, as well as how entertaining the 4th day turned out to be. It's great to see the tour embracing change every now and then. Hopefully there is more of this type of tournament to follow.
Back to South Africa next week for the Joburg Open.
Pebble Beach Pro Am
Jordan Speith has cruised to victory at Pebble Beach by 4 shots to win his first tournament for 2017 and his 9th on the tour. Speith shot 68, 65, 65, 70 in sometimes trying conditions to clinch the win.
Kelly Kraft finished second 4 shots behind on -15, then Dustin Johnson at -14, Brandt Snedeker at -13, Gary Woodland, Jon Rahm and our own Jason Day equal 5th on -12. It was a good bounce back from Day who carded a 3 over par 75 on Saturday.
Speith though, was never going to be caught and he kept the field at arms reach throughout the last round. His form look great this year as he has finished top 10 in every tournament in 2017 he has played. The signs look good for his return to Augusta and perhaps an improvement on his second place last year.
The PGA Tour now heads over to Riviera CC for the Genesis Open and the return of Jason Day and Adam Scott to Hogan's Alley. Sergio Garcia is also playing, fresh off a win on the European Tour. It should be a classic contest and Riviera always looks magnificent.
Little known Paraguayan golfer Fabrizio Zanotti has taken out the Maybank Championship with a superb eagle on the 18th hole. He shot -9 for the day and was clearly the best golfer out there in the last round. the 63 was enough to take the trophy over 2nd placed David Lipsky, who needed a birdie on the 72nd hole to force a playoff.
Overnight leader and Masters champion, Danny Willett shot a 73 on the final day and fell out of contention, eventually finishing tied for 5th place. It was, however, a great return to form for Willett, who has been struggling since his victory at Augusta last year. His first 3 rounds of 66, 67, 67 included only 2 bogeys in total and his form looks good for the Masters again this year.
Sam Brazel was the leading Australian at -9 and looks to be having a good 2017.
The tour now moves to our shores next week for the ISPS Handa Super 6's. Staged at Perth's Lake Karrinyup GC, the event is tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Australasian Tour. The unique format has players playing regulation stroke play for 54 holes, then the last top 24 will pair off and play 6 hole matches until a winner is decided. Patrick Reed and Alex Noren are two of the headline golfers who will be playing. It should make great viewing for the Television audience, and all golf fans should be tuning in to see the action on Sunday.
Waste Management Phoenix Open
Hideki Matsuyama has won the title back to back after a playoff victory this morning against Webb Simpson. Simpson who carded a final round 64 including birdies at 15, 17 & 18 to get him to 17 under and tie for the lead after 72 holes was outstanding and had several chances to win, but the putts slipped over the edge of the hole time after time.
Matsuyama shot a 66 in the final round and the playoff with Simpson was very close. They played 18 (both pars), 18 again (both pars), 10 (both pars), then came to the 17th. 17 was always going to be the hole that decided it. The tricky back placement of the pin was the thing that made it impossible for Simpson to putt at the hole, after he came to rest back right. A bunker seperated him from the flag. He putted it to about 24 feet but missed the second putt by millimeters to make par. Matsuyama chipped his second to about 10 feet and rolled in the putt to secure his back to back victories. He won in a playoff against Rickie Fowler on the 17th last year as well.
This win puts Matsuyama in 1st place in the FedEx Cup race and gives him his 4th PGA Tour victory. Not bad for a 24 year old. Marc Leaishman was the leading Australian at -9.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Sergio Garcia has won his 12th European Tour tournament and taken a wire to wire victory in the Dubai Desert Classic. He started the week with a 7 under par 65 and ended with a 3 under 68 to beat out Henrik Stenson for the title by 3 strokes.
Playing together in the last round, Stenson cut the lead to only 2 on the 14th hole, but Garcia stepped onto the par 3, 15th and hit the winning shot. A 7 iron to 2 feet. Stenson was over the back of the green and made bogey. Stenson had a chance to try and go for the win on the 17th hole that was drivable, but instead he played an iron and made par. Garcia strode to the 18th with a 4 shot lead and took the title with a par.
Curtis Luck was the leading Australian finisher at -5 and although he shot a 75 in the last round, the young amatuer has much to be proud of. His game is solid enough to compete with these guys and I'm sure success will follow shortly.
Farmers Insurance Open
Rookie sensation Jon Rahm has won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines by 3 strokes, thanks to a back nine on Sunday that included 2 eagles and 2 birdies.
He finished the last round with a 65 and a monster eagle putt from 60 feet on the 18th green sealed the win. Rahm, who is just 22 years old, has finished in the top 10 now several times, including a top 10 finish at the US Open last year. Although he has only played on tour for less than a year, he looks like he belongs and his power game off the tee will see him being one to watch in 2017.
All eyes earlier in the week were on Tiger Woods and his return to the PGA Tour. Unfortunately, Tiger shot 76,72 to miss the cut. Aussie Marc Leishman started the day just 2 shots off the lead and although at one stage he did hold a share of the lead, he fell away late to finish with a final round 73, tied for 20th.
The action for next week is all about the stadium hole at TPC Scottsdale. The Phoenix Waste Management Open will see a big name field looking to please the crowd on the 16th, the noisiest hole in golf.
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
The Qatar Masters has been won by Korean Jeunghun Wang after a birdie on the first playoff hole against Swede Joakim Largergren and South Africa's Jaco Van Zyl.
All 3 were tied at -16 after regulation play and it was Van Zyl who was in the box seat during the playoff. He had hit the green for 2 and had about 35 feet for eagle. Wang was long and had to chip back from the grandstand. Largergren was in the greenside bunker and could only manage a par. Wang hit his chip to about 3 feet and watched as Van Zyl 3 putted to make par. Wang calmly stepped up and sunk his putt to win the tournament and propel himself into the world's top 50 players.
If he stays there, he will have earned himself an invite to the Masters at Augusta in April and a chance at a green jacket. The 24 year old has already won 3 times on the European Tour and the move inside the top 50 rankings will get him invited anywhere he wants to play.
The best placed Australian was Scott Hend at -2.
Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic
Brittany Lincicome has won the Pure Silk Classic in the Bahamas, defeating Lexi Thompson on the first playoff hole, after the two women were tied at -26 through regulation play. American players filled the top 5 spots and dominated the scoring all week.
Lincicome takes home the first title for 2017, as well as $210,000. Sarah Jane Smith was the best placed Australian in the field but finished well back on -3.
Career Builder Challenge
Hudson Swafford has won the Career Builder Challenge by 1 shot over the newest member of the 59 club, Adam Hadwin. Swafford played the PGA West Stadium course back nine better than anyone on the last day and while those around him struggled to make pars, he made birdies on some of the course's toughest holes. His birdies on 15, 16 and 17 handed him the win.
It's Swafford's first PGA Tour win and he moves from 69th to 6th on the FedEx Cup points table. Phil Mickelson played his first tournament of the year and finished 9 behind the leader at -11. Patrick Reed finished at -13 and the leading Australian was Geoff Ogilvy at -10.
Congratulations Hudson on your first win!
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Englishman Tommy Fleetwood has won his second European Tour event and taken out the HSBC Championship at Abu Dhabi.
Fleetwoods first win was over 3 years ago, but he has been consistant in his scoring, finishing in the Race To Dubai's top 50 most years. This win puts him into the lead. It also puts just over 420,000 Euro into his bank. Fleetwood surged to the lead after a chip in eagle at the 10th and followed it by having another birdie on 11, then 16, then again on 18 to score a 31 on the back nine.
He finished 1 shot clear of American Dustin Johnson who eagled the 72nd hole and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal, who had an amzing scoring week. Larrazabal carded ten 2's for the week on the par 3's and 25 birdies all up. Dropped shots on the back nine at 11 and 15 put him out of the running. Johnson's long game off the tee had him always in with a chance, but the birdie on 16 and eagle on 18 were only enough to get the world number 3 tied for 2nd place. His 64 on Saturday was an incredible round with no bogeys, 6 birdies and an eagle.
Wiesberger, Aphibarnrat and Martin Kaymer were a further shot back in equal 3rd. Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood a further 2 shots behind them. Stenson played well early in the week and Westwood was solid all 4 days, shooting 68,69,69,69.
But, the tournament belonged to Fleetwood who moves up to 53 in the world ranking and will be one to watch this year. Congratulations Tommy!
Sony Hawaiian Open
Justin Thomas has gone wire to wire and won the Sony Hawaiian Open for 2017. Thomas carded the tours 7th 59 in history on the opening round and went on to shoot 64 on Friday, then a pair of 65's on the weekend to finish 7 shots clear of the field at -27.
Englishman and Olympic gold medalist, Justin Rose, finished second. He birdied 15,16 & 18 to sneak past Jordan Speith who was a further shot back after shooting a final round 63. They were all playing for second though, as Justin Thomas was the clear winner.
Thomas goes back to back with wins in Hawaii, only the 3rd player in PGA Tour history to do that while under the age of 24. Only Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have done this before him and it puts him in elite company. We could be seeing the start of another dominant player on tour as Thomas is growing more and more confident with each passing week. He obviously has the game to compete and must now be one of the players to watch this season. He jumps over Hideki Matsuyama as the leader in the Fedex Cup. Congratulations Justin!
BMW South African Open
Englishman Graeme Storm has won the BMW SA Open after a 3rd playoff hole par to beat Rory McIlroy. It has been almost 10 years since Storm has won on the European Tour and last year, he even lost his tour card. He was given entry to some recent events because some players chose not to compete.
McIlroy was 1 shot up on Storm with 2 holes to play, but after hitting into the bunker on the par 3, 17th, his ball was semi plugged in the face, leaving him an extremely difficult shot to even get it out. He got it out, but the ball ran back into the bunker. He got up and down for the bogey but both players were tied going down the last.
After both making regulation pars, the playoff was on. McIlroy was obviously struggling with a sore back and was taking anti-inflams most of the 3rd and 4th rounds. He has been hitting way too many balls lately due to testing new equipment and the toll is showing. His new Callaway Epic driver failed to find the fairway on all of the 3 playoff holes, although it was long.
The 1st playoff hole, McIlroy hooked into the left rough, but made par. The 2nd time he pushed it right and made a miraculous shot out of trees for a par. The 3rd time he pushed it right again and after hitting his second a little heavy, came up short of the left trap. He pitched to 6 feet, but could not make the par putt. Although Rory was not hitting fairways, the skill he showed by making the pars each time just showcased why he is the world number 2.
Storm on the other hand, was a picture of consistency. Each time, as in regulation play, he hit 5 wood to the fairway and left himself 180 meters in. He hit the middle of the green every time and made 2 putts for par. The 3rd time down, seeing Rory miss, the par gave him the victory.
The exemption will see him compete for the next 3 years on the European tour and if he keeps up his form from this week, more victories will surely follow. Congratulations Graeme!
SBS Tournament of Champions
Justin Thomas has won the SBS Tournament of Champions for 2017. Thomas records his 3rd PGA Tour victory and his second victory in this new season. He is now 2nd on the Fedex Cup points and finished the tournament at -22, 3 clear of the red hot Hideki Matsuyama, who leads the Fedex race.
Thomas shot 3 consecutive rounds of 67 and a final round 69. He made the turn at -3 and was clear at the top of the leaderboard, but he bogeyed the 10th and double bogeyed the 15th. With his challengers getting closer, he rallied to birdie 17 and almost eagle 18, before tapping in for a closing birdie. Good friends Jordan Speith and Jimmy Walker were one of the first to congratulate Thomas at the back of the 18th green.
Earlier, Speith had shot the best round of the day with a 8 under 65 that had no bogeys and 8 birdies. Aussie Jason Day finished with a great eagle on the 72nd hole as he hit his second shot to 8 feet and rolled in the putt. Runner up Matsuyama had an interesting last round at Kapalua. His scorecard featuring 3 bogeys, 4 birdies and a stunning 60 foot wedge hole out for eagle at the 14th. His great form seems to be continuing into 2017 and he looks to be the man to watch for this year.
Kapalua and Hawaii never fail to deliver a great tournament. The stunning visuals are a delight to watch every year. A great start to the 2017 season and congratulations to Justin Thomas.
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