PGA Tour European Tour
US PGA Championship
Brooks Koepka has gone wire-to-wire to win the 2019 US PGA championship, his 4th Major in 8 starts. Koepka looked like he was playing a different course than the rest for the first 3½ rounds. When he birdied 10, Koepka moved to 13-under and 5 clear of Dustin Johnson, the only other player in contention. Then Bethpage Black bared its teeth and Koepka returned to the pack, almost. Bogies on 11 through 14 saw his lead cut to just 1 after Johnson birdied 15 up ahead. Koepka steadied, Johnson stumbled and he was home by 2.
Dustin Johnson teed off 7-shots back (5-under) and looked to be playing for 2nd. He was 3-under through 15 Sunday, 8-under for the week and suddenly only 1-shot behind Koepka – he was in it. Unfortunately Johnson airmailed the green on 16 then missed from 9-feet for bogey, another on 17 and he was cooked. Johnson fired a closing 69 to finish 6-under and solo 2nd. Jordan Spieth had his best result this season finishing T3 at 2-under with Patrick Cantlay and Matt Wallace. Spieth’s form struggles have seen him fall to 39 in the OWGR, this week may provide the spark he needs to return to the top-10.
Cantlay is having a solid season; 3 top-10’s in his last 4 starts have pushed him to 12th in the FedEx Cup and 17 in the world. Wallace had missed his last 2 cuts but fought hard for his T3 finish this week. The Englishman had a double on 12 that ultimately cost him money, points and a solo 3rd. Luke List had played 3 sub-par rounds but closed with a disappointing 74 to fall into solo 6th.
Adam Scott was the best placed Australian carding a final round 74 to finish plus-1 and in a tie for 6th. Scott shot a brilliant 64 Friday to begin the weekend in 2nd, but then went 72/74 and lost ground. Jason Day was up and down all week and eventually finished T23, 4-over the card. Cameron Smith and Lucas Herbert were the only other Aussies to make the cut finishing T64 and T71 respectively.
Brooks Koepka played Bethpage Black to perfection. He was long and mostly straight – when he did miss he seemed like the only man capable of muscling it out of the rough to the green. Koepka putted beautifully and set the scene from the opening hole Thursday when he holed a 40-footer for birdie. This week’s historical win places Koepka atop of the heap, he’s displaced Dustin Johnson as the world No.1 and moved to 2nd in the FedEx Cup behind Matt Kuchar. Look out Pebble Beach and the US Open, Brooks is going for a 3-peat!
Colonial CC, Fort Worth; Texas hosts the Charles Schwab Challenge this week. For our full review, check in Wednesday night.
AT&T Byron Nelson
Sung Kang and Matt Every stood on the 15th tee tied for the lead at the AT&T Byron Nelson. It had been a long day too as the pair had to finish their 3rd round early Sunday morning. On Saturday, play was delayed first by rain then suspended due to darkness. Kang and Every, a back-to-back Arnold Palmer Invitational winner had played all 68 holes together, the 69th proved the difference. Sung Kang rolled a 23-foot putt in for birdie and Matt Every 3-putted for bogey. Kang was on the verge of his 1st TOUR win in 159 starts. Another birdie on 16 put Kang 3-up and it was his to lose. Sang Kang made a meaningless bogey on 18 to win by 2-shots from Every and a charging Scott Piercy.
Matt Every begun his 4th round 3 strokes behind Kang and knew it would be a shot out. Wide fairways, big greens and no wind meant Trinity Forest’s defences were down. Every opened with 3 straight birdies, a bogey and then added more birdies at 5 and 6 to go out in 32 and hit the lead. Birdies on 10 and 14 saw him share the lead then lose it after a disappointing 3-putt. Matt Every parred in to card a final round 66 and go down by 2.
Scott Piercy went 4 rounds without a bogie and shot 63/64 on the weekend to jump into a tie for second. Piercy teed off 5 back Sunday afternoon and shot into contention with 6 front-9 birdies but caught the par train home, making just 1 birdie on 14. World No.3 Brooks Koepka finished 4th after closing with a bogey free 65. Koepka goes into his PGA title defence next week in good shape. Peter Uihlein, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Rory Sabbatini, Tyler Duncan and Australian Matt Jones finished T5.
Matt Jones easily had his best result for the season. He’s made his last 10 cuts, has climbed to 89 in the FedEx Cup and is almost a lock for a card next season. Cameron Davis had missed his last 5 cuts but found some touch firing 4 sub-par rounds to finish T35 at 10-under. Curtis Luck finished T43 a shot further back. He closed with a 2-over par 37 which cost him places, points and money. John Senden missed the cut by a shot and Rod Pampling by 2.
This week; Old tournament, new time slot on maybe the most difficult public track in the world. The US PGA, in May at the famed Bethpage Black. Brooks Koepka defends his title, Tiger Woods has won a US OPEN here and is riding a wave - and there’s a host of serious contenders lining up behind them. We are set for a huge week on TOUR.
Wells Fargo Championship
Max Homa is the 2019 Wells Fargo champion, recognise the name? Unless you’re a PGA aficionado, you’re excused. On Sunday at the difficult Quail Hollow, Homa closed like a seasoned pro firing the equal low round of the day, a 4-under 67. Max Homa shared the 54-hole lead with Jason Dufner and Joel Dahmen. By the turn he had a 1-shot lead after 2 birdies and no bogies. Playing in the final group with Dufner, Homa opened the back-9 with 2 birdies to move further ahead. After 3 solid pars, Homa birdied 15 to move 4 up, only the Green Mile stood between him and his 1st TOUR victory. Max Homa bogeyed 16 then parred home for a life changing win.
How about the name Joel Dahmen, recognise this one? Playing a group ahead of Homa, Dahmen stood on the 9th tee with a share of the lead at 13-under. Bogies on 9 and 11 saw his chances evaporate. A very handy birdie on 14 then a great chip on 18 for par, meant Dahmen finished solo 2nd and earned an extra $158,000. Reigning FedEx Cup champion, Justin Rose snuck into 3rd closing with a 3-under 68. Rose went out in 33 and when he birdied 10 a charge looked imminent. Unfortunately, he closed with 8 straight pars and no momentum.
Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey and overnight leader Dufner finished T4. A 65 on moving day saw Garcia move back into contention after a disappointing 2nd round 73 but he started too far back. Fowler ripped the back-9 up on Saturday to push into contention, but too many bogies on Sunday cost him places. Casey is a tough track specialist and he didn’t disappoint. He struggled on the front-9 Sunday but managed to fire a final round 69. 2013 PGA champion Jason Dufner hasn’t won since 2017, unfortunately he still hasn’t. A final round 73 saw him fall from co-leader into T4.
Jason Day was the best placed Australian, T24 at 4-under. The defending champion went backwards on moving day with an ordinary 3-over 74, he was never in it. Matt Jones was our next best, T38 at 1-under. Unfortunately, par golf isn’t going to win often, rarely ever. Jon Senden was the only other Aussie to make the cut, finishing T54 at plus-2.
The Max Homa story is a good one; graduated college with Justin Thomas and were Walker Cup teammates. They played their 1st pro event together, the 2013 Safeway Open - Homa finishing T9 and Thomas a distant T72. The pair even turned pro together a year later in 2014 and for Johnson, the rest is history. Homa on the other hand found it tough; couldn’t make a cut, could barely hit a fairway and was embarrassed to even play practice rounds with other pro’s. In his last season on TOUR in 2017, Homa had 19 starts for 17 MC’s and 1 MDF. He just made the 2018 Web.com finals to regain his card and in the 1st 8 starts this season, Max Homa missed 7 cuts. As of Sunday night, he’s got a spot in the PGA in 2-weeks, and invite to the Masters next year and a 2-year exemption - job security at last.
Aaron Wise defends his AT&T Byron Nelson title this week at the Trinity Forest GC in Dallas, Texas. It’s also the last chance to make the field for the PGA the following week. The Byron is always a great event, check back later this week for our full preview.
A passionate, intense Spaniard and a laid back Texan proved a match made in heaven this week at the Zurich Classic, Louisiana. Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer set things up Friday firing a blistering 65 in the alternate shot format (a new tournament record). Then on the back-9 Sunday when it really counted, the pair made everything and closed out Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood by 3-shots, finishing 26-under.
From the outside looking in they seemed like an odd couple, but Rahm and Palmer have history – so do their caddies – and they made a formidable combination. Whilst the Friday 65 was special, their work on the greens late Sunday was phenomenal. The pair made 74-feet of putts, which included 3 birdies and some amazing par saves. It was Rahms 1st official TOUR win this season, his 8th top-10 and he moves to 6th in the FedEx Cup. Ryan Palmer hadn’t won since the 2010 Sony Open and has overcome the putting yips to notch up his 4th TOUR victory.
Garcia and Fleetwood didn’t do a lot wrong, they played some fine golf. A pair of 68’s in the alternate shot format were quality rounds, just not quite good enough as it turned out. Kyoung-Hoon Lee and Matt Every finished T3 with Brian Gay and Rory Sabbatini. 4 teams finished T5 at 20-under including Australian Curtis Luck and partner Hank Lebioda; and Seamus Power/David Hearn, Robert Castro/Cameron Tringale, Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown.
Matt Jones T22 (with J.J. Spaun) was the only other Australian to make the cut in what was another disappointing week for us. Pre-tournament favourites Jason Day and Adam Scott opened with a respectable 65 then fired a mediocre par-72 on Friday to miss the cut by a shot. 2017 champion Cameron Smith (with partner Jonas Blixt) missed the cut also, finishing 6-over after opening 66/72.
The Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte hosts the Wells Fargo Championship this week where Jason Day is the defending champion. Quail Hollow ranked the 5th toughest on TOUR last year and will be a stern examination with the PGA in just 3 weeks. Check back for our full preview Wednesday evening.
C.T. Pan closed the RBC Heritage with a 4-under 67 to finish at 12-under, then headed to the practice range to stay warm and wait. Rewind an hour; when Matt Kuchar (playing 2 groups ahead of Pan) bogeyed 17 to fall 2-back, Pan was 2 pars away from his 1st victory on TOUR. C.T. Pan had just bounced back after a bogey on 15 with a with a 9-foot birdie putt on 16 to take the solo lead. He was still on the range when he was told he’d won. The jacket was tartan not green but 500 FedEx Cup points, $1.2 million and a TOUR exemption through the 2020-21 season means C.T. Pan has job security – and a shot at a Green Jacket next year.
Kachar’s outstanding season continues with a solo 2nd. The world No.16 also closed with a 67 that included 6 birdies. A bogey on 7 hurt, not as much as his bogey on the par-3 17th though. The 2014 champion found the sand off the tee and couldn’t get up and down. Kuchar made a nice birdie on 18 but it left him a shot short off a playoff. Patrick Cantlay, Scott Piercy and Irishman Shane Lowry finished a stroke further back, T3 at 11-under.
Cantlay had another solid result on the back of his T9 last week at the Masters. Unfortunately, 3 front 9 birdies sandwiched a double which halted his run. Patrick Cantlay birdied 14 and 15 to move within a shot, but a careless bogey on the 72nd cost him a top-2, points and money. Piercy closed with a 2-under 69 to post his best result this season. It was his 5th top-10 this and moves him to 33rd in the Fed Ex Cup.
Lowry opened with a fine 65 and backed it up Friday with a 68 to hold the 36-hole lead. On moving day, Shane Lowry fired an even par 71 to tee off Sunday a shot behind 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson. By the time Shane Lowry stood on the 9th tee, he was back in the lead by 2. An untidy bogey on the straightforward par-4 9th saw him return to the pack. Then on the 12th, he flubbed a pair of chips, took double and he was cooked.
Aside from C.T. Pan’s win, the biggest story of the RBC was World No.1 Dustin Johnson’s back-9 implosion. The 54-hole leader went out even with the card and was still in the lead, then it all fell apart, big time! Bogey’s on 11, 12 and 13 then consecutive doubles on 14 and 15 saw him free-fall out of contention. A consolation birdie on the 18th did little to lighten his mood. Maybe Masters week finally caught up with him?
Australia had a disappointing week at Hilton Head, Marc Leishman was the only Aussie to make the cut finishing T58. The Leesh fired a pretty ordinary 3rd round 77 which all but killed has chances. Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Smith and Rod Pampling failed to break par and that’s where the cut was made.
C.T. Pan adds his name to the list of 13 players who have made the RBC their 1st TOUR win; it includes Sir Nick Faldo and Australians Aaron Baddlely and Peter Lonard. Pan’s victory puts him well in contention for Ernie Els’ International’s Presidents Cup team to be played later this year.
TPC Louisiana, Avondale is the scene for next week’s TOUR event; the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. It is a team’s event where Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy are the defending champions. Check back later this week for our full preview.
Tiger Woods was a very different man the last time he slipped on THE green jacket Sunday afternoon in Georgia. He was a young bull dominating professional golf, intimidating opponents with his shot making ability and his steely glare. Fast forward 12 years and Woods was faced with the with the fact he may never play again. Then last year Tigers comeback appeared “complete” when he won the season ending TOUR Championship. And now 14 years later he’s the Masters Champion, again!
Clichés are clichés because they’re true. "The Masters doesn’t start until the back-9 Sunday" - is true. Make the cut, get within striking distance moving day and walk off the 9th in contention. Then just play the golf of your life in the toughest environment you’ll ever experience. The best in the game were lining up for a shot at the title too – Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Webb Simpson, Tony Finau and Francesco Molinari. None had taken on Tiger when he was at the peak of his powers, they'd only really seen it on TV. Good luck gentlemen.
Tiger Woods teed off Sunday morning 2-shots adrift of Francesco Molinari and was only 1 back after 9 going out in 35. It was the stroke of luck Tiger got on the 11th hole that started the chain of events that would lead him to his 15th major. Just like Saturday, Tiger carved his tee shot wide right and just like Saturday, he found a gap in the trees with a direct shot to the 11th green. He made par when he should've made more. Then it was the turn of the 12th hole to change the day. Molinari forgot to check the wind and left it short into Rae's Creek. So did Finau. Tiger took out one extra club and hit the middle of the green. It would prove decisive. When the final group were in the 15th fairway, there was a 5-way tie for the lead. A solid strike from 217-yards and 2 putts later and Tiger moved to 13-under with the lead to himself for the 1st time of the week. An almost perfect 8-iron on 16 settled 3-feet from the pin, another birdie and suddenly he was 2-shots up. A regulation par on 17 and a meaningless bogey up 18 gave Tiger Woods his 15th Major and his 81st TOUR victory.
Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka finished a shot back T2 on 12-under. Johnson quietly made his way through the field, no heroics just solid golf. Then in the heat of the moment, he made 4 birdies in 5 holes to close with a 32 to get to 12-under. Xander Schauffele hasn’t won a Major, yet. With 4 TOUR victories (2 this season) including the 2017 TOUR Championship and the 2019 WGC-HSBC, he’s a player. Unfortunately, 4 front-9 birdies were offset with 3 bogies but he was still hanging in there. Schauffele came home in 33, not quite enough.
Koepka looks like Tarzan and he plays like him too. He crushes the ball off the tee but shows amazing touch around the greens. Augusta’s 12th has claimed some men over the years, now Koepka can add his name to the list. Brooks Koepka dumped his tee shot in Rae’s Creek and made double. He bounced back with an eagle on 13, a birdie on 15 and had a chance to tie with Woods on the 18th green, but his putt slid by the low side by just enough to hand him equal 2nd.
Jason Day, Webb Simpson, Tony Finau and 54-hole leader Francesco Molinari shared 5th place at 11-under. Day fought through a crippling back issue Thursday to post a gutsy 2-under 70 and backed up Friday with a solid 67. A 1-over 73 on moving day saw him tread water whilst others moved ahead. Jason Day closed with a fine 67 to be our best placed Australian. Simpson and Finau shot a pair of 64’s Saturday to rocket into contention. Webb Simpson didn’t make enough birdies Sunday and Tony Finau was ultimately brought undone on 12, as well.
Francesco Molinari was looking to become the 1st Italian to win the Masters. For 3 days, Molinari played almost faultless golf, carding just 1 bogey on the 11th Thursday. The man they call the “metronome” went out Sunday even with the card and was clearly the man to beat. Then the hole Jack Nicklaus calls “the spookiest little par-3 on TOUR” took another man down. Francesco Molinari’s Masters dreams drowned in Rae’s Creek on the 12th. He bounced back with a birdie on 13 but another double on 15, when he hit a wedge shot too high and clipped a pine tree was the last nail in the coffin.
Adam Scott was the next best placed Australian finishing T18 at 6-under. For the 1st 2-days Scott struck it beautifully but couldn’t hole a putt and the trend continued into the weekend. Adam Scott played the weekend rounds 1-over the card after being right there Friday night – he probably should have been in the lead. Marc Leishman carded a final round 75 to fall to T49 finishing plus-1. The Leesh didn’t break 70 for the week. Cameron Smith signed for a 4th round 77 which was good enough for T51. Smith teed off Sunday 3-under and a 2nd consecutive top-10 was there to be taken, alas he was another victim of the par-3 12th taking a 5.
The king is now back on his throne where he belongs, no one can deny that. The young bucks had a crack, but ultimately Tiger showed them the way. Until today, the greatest comeback in golf was when Ben Hogan won a major 16 months after having a head on crash with a greyhound bus. Hogan just willed himself back from the abyss and today Tiger did the same. Not long ago he was unable to get out of his chair to greet friends at his house, the golfing media had written him off as a has been and some even called for him to "do the right thing" and retire. We have said it many times over the past years on this website, "never write off a champion." Today, Tiger showed us the fight that's left in him and now he owns the greatest comeback, not only in golf, but perhaps in all sport.
22 year old Swede, Marcus Kinhult will be feeling on top of the world today because he has just won the 2019 Betfred British Masters with a birdie on the 72nd hole.
Kinhult started the day in the last group tied with Matt Wallace, who was the more fancied winner today. Both men did not start very well on the front nine with Wallace plugging in the bunker on the first and making bogey. Kinhult was just plugging along and making pars, but he made 2 birdies on the 2nd and the 11th. Both were par 5's so he was playing a little safe. Standing on the 15th tee it was still tied at the top, but Kinhult was about to get a little nervous. Bogey, bogey had him behind for the first time in the day and all of a sudden they came from everywhere.
Defending champion, Eddie Pepperell was making ground all day and finished the back nine 3 under to be at -15 and in the clubhouse. Scotsman, Robert MacIntyre came with a rush making birdie on 10, birdie on 14 then hitting it to 4 feet on the par 5, 17th and making eagle. A birdie down the last and he was in the clubhouse at -15 as well. There was only one other group on the course and it was Kinhult, Wallace and Richie Ramsay.
Wallace missed a very short putt for birdie on the 17th and it would prove very costly because his birdie putt on the 18th slid by the cup and he went off because it hit a little plug mark and went off course on the way to the hole. Mostly his fault, because now you can fix them, he should've taken a little more time. Ramsay had hit his 2nd to 2 inches directly behind Kinhult's so he had the best read he could possibly have. He stepped in, rolled in the putt and celebrated. It was looking like a 4 way playoff, but Kinhult took it away from the other 3 with a brilliant winning putt.
The host curse continued with Tommy Fleetwood only finishing tied 8th at -10. Tommy deserves high praise though as his hosting duties through the week could not have been better. He won the Hero Challenge with a stunning display the day before the tournament. He went out in the 2nd last group and had massive crowds following him. Tickets were sold out on the Saturday and the locals flocked to see the hometown boy come good. He even went out after the 3rd round and fixed divots on the fairways with the grounds crew. Who else does that? Great job Tommy.
Dimi Papadatos was the leading Australian tied 15th with -9, after a final round 71. Scott Hend and Lucas Herbert tied 35th with -5 and Jason Scrivener was tied 58th at -2.
Volvo China Open
Most of the locals were getting excited heading into the final round of the Volvo China Open. Two of their hometown hero's (Ashun Wu & Li Hoatong) were in contention, but it wasn't to be as both of them played good golf on the last day, but couldn't bridge the gap. Instead, the crowds flocked to the final group with Hebert, Korhonen and last week's winner Jorge Campillo playing great golf and putting a space between them and the rest of the field. A 4 shot space.
So there was only 3 players really in position to win it. Campillo was on fire early with birdies on 1, 2 & 5, but it was his play through 9-12 that got the commentators talking. His putter lit up as he holed a 6 footer on 9, a 18 footer on 10, a 15 footer on 11 and then finally another 6 footer on 12. 4 birdies in a row and it looked like he would be winning 2 times in a row, after not winning in his first 229 times on tour. Out in the lead by 2, Campillo got an attack of the rights off the tee and the bogeys on 14 & 15 had him in a tie for the lead on the 17th tee at -19.
Korhonen had the other hot putter. He rolled in several putts over 40 feet and looked like he couldn't miss, but without the long putts, he was just making solid pars. A few good close ones on the longer par 5's and he was -5 standing on the 17th tee and tied at -19.
Hebert had a 3 shot lead going into the final round and although his play was steady, it was not awesome. He is the only player of the 3 that has not won on the European Tour before and looked a little nervous. He took 3 wood off the tee most of the day because of this. Birdie, then bogey, then birdie, birdie had him -2 for the day and standing on the 17th tee with the other 2 players, he was tied on -19.
It all came down to the final 2 holes. The rain began to fall quite heavily as all players got ready to hit on 17. Campillo had his anti-right swing going and hooked it a little left into the thick rough. Korhonen and Hebert both down the middle. With 210 to carry the water, Campillo had no choice but to lay up. Korhonen had played safe all day and did the same here too with a lay up. Hebert had 244m to the hole and out came the fairway wood. Only a short pitch of 50m to the green remained. All 3 men on the green for 3. Korhonen lipped in his birdie putt while the other made par. To the 18th!
With water all the way down the right, this 274 meter hole is a test. Hebert was the only one with the power to reach it and he pulled driver instead of the 3 wood he had hit all day. He hit it onto the green, CLUTCH! Campillo & Korhonen were both on the fairway, inside pitching distance. Campillo had 20 feet to be in a playoff, he missed. Hebert holed his birdie, Korhonen his par. PLAYOFF! Back to the 18th tee.
Korhonen hit first and played driver to 15 feet from the greens edge. Hebert with driver again and to about the same spot as Korhonen, but other side of the fairway. Korhonen's 2nd to 12 feet. Hebert's off the back edge! Hebert left his birdie putt short and then Korhonen rolled in the winning putt. After 1 victory and 12 times to the Q School, Finland's Mikko Korhonen is a winner once again. Min Woo Lee was the leading Australian at -12. What a day of drama! Gotta love the European Tour.
Trophy Hassan II
Ok, so let's get the big news out of the way first. Nacho Elvira did not make the cut. I know I said that his record here was very good and he was in good form, but the big man from Spain just could not get it done after a first round 77 and even though he came back strong with a 74 on day 2, he missed the cut by a single shot. Apologies to any of you who backed him, but no refunds!
That being said, the weekend served up some great golf. As predicted, the golf course was extremely tough and in the end, only 2 players broke par every day and only 20 players finished under par for the 4 rounds. The golf course, especially the pin placements were very hard. One of the pins on Saturday was 3 from the right, 3 from the front and had a shelf 6 feet left of the pin that fed everything 30 feet from the flag. To say precision was the game this week was really an understatement.
As I mentioned, only 2 players broke par everyday and they were Julian Suri and Jorge Campillo. Suri had his chances through the week to steam ahead of the field, but 25 of his last 29 holes in the tournament were pars. That normally would get you falling back places, but on this course, he just seemed to tread water near the top. Campillo, on the other hand, started day four with 2 bogeys on the 2nd & 3rd holes and was almost forgotten about, but his fight back was incredible and some of his shots down the stretch were amazing.
Tied for the lead with 3 holes to play, Campillo carved his tee shot on 16 away and almost into the trees. He lucked out and got a semi decent lie, but was in the 2nd cut of rough 170 from the pin. The pin was on a raised green and only about 10 paces on and 5 from the right. He played the "shot of the tournament" and rolled in the birdie to take the outright lead. He then rolled in another after immaculate touch with the wedge from the front of the short 17th. He nervously waited on the 18th tee for the groups in front to clear.
Ahead of him Suri needed a birdie to put any sort of pressure on Campillo's 2 shot lead, but his second finished in the front bunker on 18 and his bunker shot came up 25 feet short of the very back pin placement. He made par. Back on the tee Campillo's brain was going over and over on his career. 228 events, 6 runner ups, 10 top 3's, 17 top 5's, 28 top 10's. The chatter must have been very loud because he hooked his tee shot left and into the fairway bunker. Sitting over his second though, he calmed his thoughts and ripped an iron to inside 100. His third just sat on the edge of the putting surface and he had 3 putts for the win. He only needed 2 and players came from everywhere to spray the Spaniard with champagne. He is very popular on tour and all know just how hard he has worked to get this first win. Incredible!
For the Aussies, Wade Ormsby was very much in contention going into day 4, but his 4 over 77 dropped him to tied 14th at -1. Dimi Papadatos was one back at even par and Jack Mcleod another 2 shots back and tied 30th. It's been a long time coming, but congratulations to Jorge Campillo.
Let me first start by saying that Gary Player has designed a fiendish golf course here at DLF Country Club.
The back nine and especially the closing 4 holes are just edge of your seat stuff. Even though there are 2 par 5's in the closing holes, very few golfers could take advantage of it. The 15th's flag position was at the back of the green and Mr. Player has buried many elephants in these greens. Most shots had to challenge going over the green to get close and if they did go over, game over. The 16th is a downhill par 3 and again the pin was back right. The problem is the wind was ripping from the left to the right and right of the green was death. Par was a great score! The 17th green sits high above the fairway and the green sits sideways to it. All players see is a bunker, the top of the flag and 15,000 carefully placed rocks. The finishing hole brought so many players to grief and it's a reachable par 5. There are at least 4 huge humps in the green itself and when the flag is positioned well, the 4 putt comes into play.
All that being said, it was the eventual winner, Stephen Gallacher making birdie on 15, 17 & 18 to take out the victory. The 44 year old Scotsman was the sole player to navigate these difficult holes the best and his 3rd Euro Tour victory was one of his sweetest with his son on the bag. The 54 hole leaders were Callum Shinkwin, who shot a horrible +6, 78 on the final day that included no birdies at all and Julian Suri. The Indian born Suri was cruising after the front nine and although he had 2 bogeys, he also steadied and birdied 8 & 9 going into the turn. Pars on 10, 11, 12 & 13 had him sitting 2 clear of a fast finishing Jorge Campillo who was in the clubhouse with -8. Then came the par 4, 14th hole.
Suri's drive was in the middle of the fairway and he had 256 yards to the pin. Much to a few chuckles of the commentators (who thought he needed more club) he struck a magnificent 5 iron and it hit on the green only 10 feet before the pin, but it ran and ran and unluckily ran off the back edge. His chip shot was a little thin and strong and he was over the other side of this wickedly narrow green. His next came up short. His next was long and on the edge of the other side. His putt for double bogey came up very short. His putt for triple lipped out. He had made 8 from a shot that he really should've been staring down a birdie putt from. How good is golf? The field had caught him and all of a sudden there were 9 players within 2 of the lead.
Most of those 9 could not make much impact on the leaderboard because they just could not navigate around this back nine. It all came down to 2 men at the end. Gallacher and Masahiro Kawamura from Japan, who's strange swing was working very well and after hitting it to 5 feet from the 17th fairway, rolled in the birdie to tie Gallacher with one hole to play. This was the perfect time to hit his worst drive of the day and after hooking it left, made a very good 5, but Gallacher knocked it on in 2, then 2 putted for the win.
Scott Hend was in contention going into the weekend, but his Saturday wasn't great and his tweet before Sunday, where he told everybody he was tired, didn't fill us full of confidence that his Sunday would be anything but average. He was just that and shot a final round 79 to finish tied 35th with Marcus Fraser. Jake Higginbottom shot a final round 68 to be tied 27th (Even par) and the leading Australian. Hend says he has been on the road since October 2018 and can't wait to get home. That's 6 months straight on the road, travelling the world, playing golf. That sounds like heaven to me, but what do I know?
The European Tour takes a little mid season break while The Masters is played and will be back on April 25 for the Hassan II from
Valero Texas Open
When Canadian Corey Conners stood on the 1st tee Sunday at TPC San Antonio, he didn’t know he was about to board The Oaks Course roller coaster. Trailing 54-hole leader Si Woo Kim by a shot, Conners rattled off 4 birdies in his 1st 5-holes and stood on the 6th tee leading by 4 – going up! By the time he walked off the 9th green after 4 straight bogies, Conners trailed Charley Hoffman by a shot – going down! Corey reeled off 3 birdies to start the back 9 and made another on 14 to recapture the lead - going up! Birdies on 16 and 17 and Conners moved to a tournament record 20-under and his 1st win on TOUR – and up!
Charley Hoffman likes this time of year. The 2016 Texas Open champion shot a fine 64 on moving day and followed up Sunday with a blemish free 67 to finish 2nd. This week’s result is Hoffman’s best this season, by a long way. Timely? Ryan Palmer fired off the equal low round of the day, a bogey free 64 to finish alone in 3rd.
Brian Stuard, Si Woo Kim and Kevin Streelman were T4. Brian who? It was Stuard’s best result backing up his T18 last week at the Valspar. Kim looked the winner Saturday night, but a final round 72 was never going to be enough. Streelman came from the clouds with a final round 64 but he started too far back.
Matt Jones and Aaron Baddeley were the best placed Australian’s finishing 7-under and T30. A disappointing 3rd round 74 for Jones and he was done. Baddeley shot 4 sub-par rounds but had too many bogies to contend. Curtis Luck was the only other Aussie to make the cut but recorded an MDF after a 3rd round 81.
Corey Conners’ now has job security through the 2020-21 season and a ticket to the 1st major of the year, the Masters – this week. I hope he gets a bed, I hear Augusta gets pretty busy this time of year. Be sure to check out our full preview here tomorrow and stay up to date via our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play
This time last year Kevin Kisner was trounced by Bubba Watson in the final of the Dell Match Play. 12 months on, Bubba goes home Friday night and Kisner takes care of Matt Kuchar 3 & 2 in the final. After losing his 1st match Wednesday morning, Kisner proved unstoppable and beat some handy players along the way. Hao Tong Li 6 & 5 in the round of 16, an in form Louis Oosthuizen 2 & 1 in the quarters and Italian superstar Francesco Molinari 1 UP in the semi’s. The Dell Technologies Match Play is Kevin Kisner’s 3rd and definitely most important win on TOUR. The money’s nice but it’s the exemptions he receives that are the gold.
Matt Kuchar is having a fine season and leads the FedEx Cup on the back of 2 wins, a further 2 top-5’s and no MC’s. The Kuch’s quarter final match against Sergio Garcia could’ve turned nasty after Garcia had a brain snap. In the semi-final, Matt Kuchar just got over Dane Lucas Bjerregaard 1 UP in what was a close match. Then in the final, Kuchar’s normally reliable putter went cold and he gifted a couple of holes to Kisner which proved the difference.
Molinari and Bjerregaard played off for 3rd place with Molinari winning comfortably 4 & 2. 2018 was a breakthrough year for Molinari and whilst he cooled over Christmas, a win in the Arnold Palmer a month ago saw blue skies return. Lucas Bjerregaard had the biggest win of his career in the quarter finals when he edged out Tiger Woods 1 UP. Bjerregaard got over some big names last week; Henrik Stenson 3 & 2 in the round of 16 and he took care of Justin Thomas in the group stage.
Marc Leishman was the only Australian to see weekend action. Leesh cleaned up DeChambeau, Aphibarnrat and Russell Knox in the group stage and looked set to go deep. He met Oosthuizen in the quarters and they were all square after 6 but Louis Oosthuizen turned 2 UP and Marc Leishman never got a look in after that. Jason Day and Cameron Smith went winless in their groups in what were mediocre displays. Day lost to Furyk, Mickelson and Stenson – a strong group but he should have played Saturday. Smith went down to an inform Paul Casey, Abraham Ancer and Charles Howell III.
The TOUR stays in Texas this week for the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio where Andrew Landry is the defending champion. With the Masters the week after, it is the last chance to make the field.
The Valspar Championship is hard to win. Copperhead is an honest test culminating in the Snake Pit, one of the most gruelling 3-hole stretches on TOUR. Until this year’s edition, only 2 players had won it twice in its 19-year history. On Sunday in Florida, Paul Casey become the 1st man to successfully defend at Copperhead and it truly was a battle of attrition.
It was man verses course and Paul Casey held is nerve down the stretch to win by a shot from Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Kokrak. Casey closed with a 1-over 72, the 1st time the winner of the Valspar has shot over-par in the final round. Paul Casey needed a par at the last after a bogey on 17 reduced his lead to just 1. From a fairway bunker, Casey blasted to 20-feet and comfortably 2-putted his way to victory.
South African Oosthuizen had his best finish for the season closing with fine 2-under 69. A bogey on 16, a hole he only parred once for the week, was costly. Louis got up-and-down on 18 to finish 7-under to give himself a chance. Jason Kokrak entered the Snake Pit with a share of the lead at 8-under. Joining the TOUR in 2012, Kokrak was seeking his 1st win in this his 197th start. He stumbled at 18 with a bogey and ultimately a shot out of a play-off.
Bubba Watson and Sungjae Im finished 6-under and T4. Watson played smart golf to close with a solid 3-under 68 for his best result since the Waste Management in February. It’s a timely return to form for Bubba as he heads to the WGC – Dell Tech Match Play this week as the defending champion. Im carded a final round 70 to record his 4th top-10 in his 1st season on TOUR. Sungjae Im ranks 17 in the FedEx Cup and his OWGR has improved to 72.
Matt Jones and Curtis Luck were the only Australians to make the cut, finishing T13 at 3-under the card. Jones had 3-bogeyies, a par and a birdie in his last 5-holes to record a final round 72. It could have been, should have been lower and a better finish. Luck was the 12th alternate and a last minute addition to the field. Starting the final round at 5-under and in contention, Luck shot a 4th round 2-over 73 to fall 7-places.
Congratulations Paul Casey, not only did he take on and beat a quality field, Casey survived an arduous battle against one of the toughest tracks on TOUR, Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort.
The TOUR heads west to Texas for the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play. It’s a star studded field and match play is a format we don’t see often. It’s always a great week with attacking golf the norm, check back later this week for our full review.
A calm looking Rory McIlroy stood on the 17th tee at TPC Sawgrass knowing 2 pars stood between him and the 2019 Players Championship. Just 3 good swings. A punchy 9-iron to the island resulted in a 2-putt par – 1 down 2 to go. The 18th at Sawgrass is daunting; 462-yard par-4 and water left tee to green. McIlroy piped his drive – 2 down 1 to go. From 155-yards Rory McIlroy covered the pin coming to rest just 13-feet from the hole. 3 good swings later and McIlroy had his 15th TOUR victory in the bag, capping off a consistent 3 months.
Rory McIlroy had finished top-6 in his last 5 starts and whilst solid, he just wasn’t able to get it done Sunday afternoon. This week he was cool, he was patient and he was rock-solid as challengers came and then stumbled. Rory stumbled early too with a double on the 4th, but bounced back and signed for a 2-under 70 to clip TOUR veteran Jim Furyk by a shot.
Once described as having a swing that looked like he is trying to kill a snake in a phone box, it was vintage Furyk. Ok I’ll admit it, I love Jim Furyk and when he posted a fine 67 and set the mark at 15-under, deep down I was hoping it was good enough. Furyk teed off Sunday 5-shots shy of the lead and went out with a fighting 2-under 34. Birdies on 10 and 11 thrust him into the mix then a miss from 3-feet and a bogey on 15 stalled his run. Jim Furyk immediately bounced back on the par-5 16th with a birdie and then stiffed his approach on 18 to 3-feet, maybe his best shot for the day. He tapped in for a birdie, posted a 67 to finished 15-under – not quite as it turned out.
Eddie Pepperell and Jhonatton Vegas shared 3rd finishing 14-under. Englishman Pepperell is a 2-time winner on the European Tour and he ripped it up on the back half at Sawgrass coming home in 31. The highlight was holing a double-breaking 49-footer on 17 for birdie. Venezuelan Vegas fired a faultless 66 and went one better than Pepperell on 17, boxing a monster 70-footer. It was the longest putt recorded on this hole since shot-link has been in use.
Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Tommy Fleetwood finished T5 at 13-under. Johnson was the only player in the field to record 4 sub-70 rounds on his way to his best ever finish in THE PLAYERS. Snedeker was 1 of 8 players to share the lead at 14-under Sunday, but a careless bogey on 18 cost him a share of 3rd. Fleetwood teed off just 1-shot out of the lead, made a bogey on the 1st an then tread water for 8-holes. He gave back what he took coming in a signed for a 1-over 73, a disappointing result after a fine start to the week.
Jason Day was the best placed Australian finishing T8 after closing with a mediocre even-par 72. Teeing off just 3-shots out of the lead, Day went out in 38 (2-over) and his race was run. A cool putter was Day’s problem as he posted his 4th top-10 this season. Adam Scott finished a shot further back T12. It was Scott’s 4th top-10 this season also. Cameron Smith was the only other Australian to make the cut, T56 2-under the card. Unfortunately, Smith couldn’t break 70 in 4-rounds.
An Irish man winning on St Patrick Day, fitting really. Congratulations Rory McIlroy.
The TOUR remains in Florida this week for the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead) where the players will take on the famed snake-pit. With a big month on TOUR culminating in the Masters in 5-weeks, everyone is looking to peak. Check out our full review later this week.
Arnold Palmer Invitational
As Francesco Molinari rolled in a 43-footer for birdie on the 72nd to card a final round 64 and post a tournament winning score of 12-under, Arnold Palmer would’ve have been watching and smiling. Molinari’s Sunday charge was reminiscent of what he dished up when in his prime.
This year it was the flat stick - as it was last - that did the damage on Sunday at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge. 2018 champion Rory McIlroy made everything on his way to a 64 and this year Molinari repeated the dose. “I think it’s the best putting round of my career”, were Francesco Molinari’s words when interviewed after his win.
Overnight leader, 24-year-old Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick didn’t do a lot wrong Sunday, except perhaps make enough birdies. The 2013 US Amateur and 2015 British Masters winner carded a final round 71 to finish 2-shots behind Molinari.
Korean Sungjae Im shot a 4th round 68 to move into T3 with Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello. It was Im’s best result since joining the TOUR this season. Fleetwood’s 4-over 76 on moving day proved costly and left him with too much work to do Sunday, despite shooting a fine 68. Bello slipped up in the 2nd round with a 75, backed up Saturday with a 2-under 70 that included 4 bogies but he too started too far back.
Australia’s Aaron Baddeley was T3 Saturday night at 7-under, just 2 off the lead. Badds.com had a horror back-9 Sunday afternoon that included 2 bogies and a double closing with a 3-ovder 39. He signed for a 2-over 74 which saw him fall to a T17 at 5-under. Marc Leishman was in danger of missing the cut after going out in 40 on the front-9 Thursday but he bounced back to shoot an even-par 72. Another 72 moving day saw him lose ground to the field. A double on the 72nd hole cost him a top-15 and the Leesh finished T23 at 4-under.
TPC Sawgrass hosts THE PLAYERS this week where Webb Simpson is the defending champion. The "5th Major" attracts the best on the planet and this year will be no exception. For our full review of the, check in later this week.
The Honda Classic
Keith Mitchell boxed a 15-footer for birdie on the 72nd-hole to win the 2019 Honda Classic – his 1st as a pro. In fact, Mitchell birdied 4 of his last 7-holes in the wind at the toughest course on TOUR with 2 of the biggest names on TOUR charging. Keith Mitchell had stared victory down before and faltered, not this time.
Tied for the lead after 36 and T2 after 54, Mitchell bogeyed 1 and 2 and found himself in familiar territory – not again. He rallied birdying 3 and another at 9 to go out square. A bogey on 11 proved only a minor hiccup as subsequent birdies on 12/13/15 and then another in the clutch on 18 meant Keith Mitchell was home. A career defining win and an absolute life-changer!
Reigning TOUR Player of the Year Brooks Koepka and 2017 champion Rickie Fowler finished T2, a shot behind Mitchell. Both Koepka and Fowler are tough track specialists and both closed with birdies moving them into a share of the lead. Neither Brooks Koepka or Rickie Fowler brought their “A” games this week to Florida but they did enough to contend, genuine positives with big events imminent.
Ryan Palmer went out 4-hours before the leaders and by the time he holed out on 18, Palmer had a share of the lead. Going out in 29, he unfortunately couldn’t keep it going – he birdied the tough 16th and 17th though to shoot the low round of the day, a 7-under 63 – enough to finish T4 with Lucas Glover. Glover shot a fine 66 to record his best finish this season, backing up a T7 at Pebble for his 3rd top-10. Maybe the biggest story of the week though was Vijay Singh. T2 after 54-holes, 56-year-old Singh fired an even par 70 to finish solo 6th, failing in his bid to become the oldest winner on TOUR.
In what was a disappointing tournament for Australia, Matt Jones and Cameron Davis were the only Aussies to make the cut. Jones finished T36 closing with a disappointing 74 after starting the day 3-under. Davis posted an equally disappointing 73 and fell 20 places to finish T59 at plus-3. Adam Scott missed the cut by a shot and Cameron Smith missed his first cut of the season, backing up an opening round 68 with an out of character 79.
It’s another BIG week with the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill due to start this Thursday. Rory McIllroy is the defending champ and comes in on the back of 4 top-4’s in his last 4 starts on TOUR - including a solo 2nd in the WGC Mexico 2-weeks ago. McIllroy is overdue and shapes as the outright favorite in what is always a great event.
WGC – Mexico Championship
After 54 holes Dustin Johnson was leading the field of 72 in Mexico by 4 shots from Rory McIlroy and by 7 shots from the chasing pack, all he had to do was have a pretty decent day on the final round and he would win comfortably. Rory would do his best early to try and bridge the gap and after his birdie on the 2nd hole and DJ's 1st bogey of the week on the 4rd hole, McIlroy was only 2 behind and the makings of a boil over was brewing, but Bogeys from Rory at 4 & 6 plus a birdie from DJ at 6 and the lead was back and never in trouble again.
McIlroy blitzed the back nine and made birdies on 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 & 17 to card a final round 67, but DJ matched most of Rory's birdies to complete the week with a 66 and take his 6th WGC title. He moves his world ranking from 3 to 2, takes his 20th PGA title, his 2nd this year on the European Tour & 1.538 million euro. As good as Rory was this week and he was good, DJ was just better. When interviewed after the last round McIlroy stated, "It was no contest. He 's drives are going 380 down the middle of the fairway and he's holing most of the putts he's looking at."
Paul Casey finished strong with a 6 under 65 to take tied 3rd with Poulter and Aphibarnrat, Aussie Cam Smith finished tied 6th with Sergio and Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas shot a 10 under 62 on the final day to take outright 9th. Tiger Woods finished out the week tied 10th, but as good as his tee to green game looks, he continues to miss putts. He continues to get better though and is on track to really have a great tilt come Masters time in April.
The decision to go with Golf TV for the coverage was a pretty poor one, especially for us here in Australia. On top of paying for Foxtel and various other sporting subscriptions, Golf TV were asking us to pay AGAIN just to watch this tournament. Apparently, it was not even available to Australian subscribers, but this is something I could not verify as I was not going to fork out the money to pay again to watch golf that really should have been FREE to air. I'm not sure who to point the finger at, but someone got this really wrong. Let's hope this does not become a normal weekly thing because I'm sure we can all agree, we pay enough already.
It was a tough week for the 3 other Aussies in the field. Marc Leishman finished tied 62nd after a first day 77, Jake McLeod was good finishing tied 45th at +1 and Matthew Millar was 70th at +17 with his 2nd round 82 doing most of the damage. The tour heads back into the states for the Honda Classic next week from the PGA National Champions course.
In what can only be described as a tough week at Riviera CC, J.B. Holmes came from 4-shots behind to win the Genesis Open, his 1st victory since 2015. Holmes stood tall carding a final round 1-under 70 while his challengers, Justin Thomas and Adam Scott failed to cope with the conditions shooting 75 and 76 respectively. In a tournament where the weather dictated play, most of the field had to play 30-plus holes Sunday to complete the regulation 72 in the 4-days.
The opening round was cancelled due to torrential rain and the weather didn’t allow the field to catch up until Sunday. When the 3rd round was complete by Sunday lunchtime, Thomas had a 4-shot lead over Holmes and Scott with 18 to play. That’s where it ended for Adam Scott and Justin Thomas. On Sunday morning the conditions were beautiful, then a brief storm was followed by fierce wind and Thomas and Scott imploded on the greens. J.B. Holmes closed with even par 36, it was enough to finish a shot clear of Thomas and 2 clear of Si Woo Kim.
Justin Thomas had 19 putts on the back half, including a 4-jag for double, the final miss from 2-feet. He threw in 2 3-putts for good measure on his closing 9. Korean Si Woo Kim backed up a T4 last week with a solo 3rd after firing the low round of the day, a 5-under 66. Marc Leishman and Rory McIllroy fired 68 and 69 respectively to finished T4. Leishman unfortunately bogeyed 15 and 16 costing him a T2, money and points. McIllroy eagled the 1st and went out in 32 but closed with a 1-over 37 and lost ground.
Adam Scott’s 76 saw him fall to T7, 4 back-9 bogeys sealing his fate. In 6 starts this season, Scott has posted 3 top-10’s and sits 19th in the FedEx Cup, his best start to a season for some time. Aaron Baddeley and Cameron Smith were the remaining Australians to make the cut. Both placed T49 and both were unable to break par in the final 18-holes.
Spare a thought for Jordan Spieth; 9-under with 18-holes to play, 1-over with no holes to play after a closing 81. That’s right…. 81. Spieths card included a double, triple and a quadruple!
The TOUR heads to Mexico this week for the 2nd WGC event of the season, the Mexico Championship. Phil Mickelson is the defending champion; he won 2-weeks ago and finished T37 Sunday closing with a 71. WGC’s always attract quality fields; this week will be no exception.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Phil Mickelson turned back the clock this week at Pebble Beach winning his 5th Pro-Am. Mickelson has now tied Mark O’Meara with the most wins here and it was his 44th PGA TOUR title. It was vintage Phil as he fired a faultless 7-under 65 to win by 3-shots from overnight leader Paul Casey. It’s taken a lot of hard work to wind back those hands though. A modified diet and sessions in the gym have Phil in perhaps the best shape of his life. In the last 2-years, Mickelson’s swing speed has increased 7 mph and he feels like he’s putting the best he ever has. Try and tell Phil it’s a young man’s game!
Paul Casey slept on a 3-shot lead Saturday night but it might have been a restless night as Casey has closed out just 1 of his 5 54-hole leads on TOUR. With just a solitary birdie on the front half, playing partner Mickelson was able to close the gap to 1. The heat was well and truly on, but consecutive bogies on 11 and 12 had Casey’s lead melting away. Birdies on 14 and then 18 on Monday morning elevated him to solo 2nd but it wasn’t enough, the damage was done. Scott Stallings finished 3rd on 15-under, easily his best result this season. Starting the day 9-under, Stallings tore it up on the front half going out in 31 (5-under). A bogey on 12 halted his run, but he added 2 further birdies to grab his biggest pay cheque in some time.
Jason Day finished T4 with Si Woo Kim. It was Day’s 6th top-10 in 10 starts here and he has never missed the cut at Pebble Beach. A lacklustre 72 on moving day left too much to do Sunday though. June and the US Open is still 4-months away, I bet Jason Day can’t wait to get back to Pebble. Kim teed off 6-shots off the pace and was hot early with 4 birdies in his 1st 6 holes. A bogey on 8 stalled his run. He got it to 14-under by the 14th but that’s where it ended and a bogey on 18 just cost him some cash and points.
Curtis Luck was the next best Australian after Day finishing T28 at 6-under. Nothing happened for Luck over the weekend shooting 73/71. Matt Jones was T53, 3-under the card. He was consistent never shooting over-par, but that’s going to win much on TOUR. Cameron Davis finished plus-3 (T59) after a disappointing final round 78. John Senden and Adam Scott finished 2-under but recorded MDF’s, made cut didn’t finish. Scott would be disappointed after his solo 2nd at the Farmers 2-weeks ago.
The TOUR moves to the very exclusive Riviera CC, California this week for the Genesis Open, the last event of the “West Coast Swing”. Bubba Watson is the defending champion and is coming off a T4 at the Waste Management Open 2-weeks ago. Check out our full review here Thursday morning.
Waste Management Phoenix Open
Rickie Fowler has held the 54-hole lead 7 times. And all 7 times he has shot over-par on Sunday. One of those times was right here 12-months ago when he bogeyed 3 of the last 4-holes, shot 73 and finished T11. When Fowler walked off the 12th green Sunday afternoon in Phoenix, he might have been having a de ja vu moment. In 1-hour, he went from 5-shots up to 1 behind. Here we go again!
In what can only be described as “unbelievable circumstances”, Fowler carded a triple bogey-7 on the 11th then backed up with a bogey on 12. Lead gone. South African Branden Grace teed off 7-shots behind Fowler but was the only man in contention making birdies and found himself in the lead. Then on the par-5 15th, Fowler cracked his 2nd 240-yards over a hazard to set up birdie, he wasn’t done either. The drivable par-4 17th had hurt Fowler in the past, not today. Rickie Fowler piped his drive 336-yards to the green, 2-putted for birdie and the lead once again. An up-and-down par on 18 and Rickie Fowler was the finally the Waste Management Phoenix Open champion, his 5th victory on TOUR.
Branden Grace closed with a 2-under 69 finishing 2nd, easily his best result in 5 starts. The world No. 53 missed the cut at the Farmers last week but has jumped over 100 places to 31 in the FedEx Cup with this week's result. Justin Thomas was having his own issues. He teed off 5-shots behind Fowler and went out in 37 (2-over) after a double on 9. Thomas closed with consecutive birdies to card a 1-over 72 and finish solo 3rd. Chez Reavie shot a bogey free 68 to finish T4 with Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar. Watson closed with an even par-71 after bogeying 4 of his first 5-holes. Kuchar had a day to forget, a mediocre 75 after a pair of 65’s and an opening 67 was disappointing.
Australia only had 2 players on the time sheet, Aaron Baddeley and Cameron Smith. Baddeley missed the cut after going 4-over, a 2nd round 77 doing the damage. Smith finished T15 after closing with a 1-over 72. When Cameron Smith opened 67/65, he was in good shape but he went 1-over on the weekend and lost ground. Another solid result though has Smith comfortably inside the top-50 in the FedEx Cup at 39.
The TOUR moves to one of the world’s most famous locations this weekend for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am where defending champion Ted Potter Jr. broke through for his 1st win on TOUR last year. Tune in later this week for our full review and make sure you stay up to date with everything golf via our Facebook page and Twitter feed @daddyshack.
The Farmers Insurance Open
Reining FedEx Cup champion and World No.1 Justin Rose turned possible disaster into a convincing 2-shot shot victory at the Farmer Insurance Open in San Diego. Teeing off Sunday with a 3-shot lead on the notoriously tough Torrey Pines South Course, Rose’s lead was cut to just 1 after 6-holes. It was then he had a quiet word with himself and subsequent birdies on 7,9 and 10 restored some comfort. But 11 through 18 on the South course are some of the toughest closing holes on TOUR so Rose was in for a trying finish to ensure victory.
Pars on 11 and 12 – 2 of the South Courses hardest holes – kept the ball rolling but Rose’s mettle was about to be severely tested. He missed 3 greens in a row and each time had to get up and down for par to maintain his break on the field. Closing birdies on 16 and 18 secured a 2-shot victory, his 10th on TOUR and his 1st after a recent switch to Honma equipment. Of Justin Roses TOUR victories, many have come on difficult layouts, a source of great pride for Rose.
Adam Scott tore it up on moving day, firing a 7-under 65 to move into 2nd just 3-shots off the lead. He was out in 36 Sunday and had no momentum when Rose was struggling, thus making no ground. Scott then closed with 4 straight birdies on 15 through 18 to card a final round 68 and finish 2nd, 2 shy of Rose and his best result for some time. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Talor Gooch finished T3 at 16-under. Matsuyama’s 3rd round 73 ultimately hurt his chances. Gooch carded 4 solid sub-70 rounds and has had 2 top-5’s in his last 2 starts after missing 2 consecutive cuts.
Defending champion Jason Day finished T5 with Rory McIllroy and Spaniard Jon Rahm. Day had 21 birdies and an eagle for the week but made too many bogies to contend. McIllroy fired a pair of 69’s on the weekend but like Day, was never really in it. 2017 champion Rahm opened the week with a blistering 62 but unfortunately backed it up with an even par-72. A 68 on Saturday saw him move to within 4 of Rose after 54-holes. Shooting par on Sunday wont win many tournaments and that’s just what Jon Rahm did. Still he adds another top-10 to his impressive resume and is challenging Rose for most consistent player on TOUR.
Cameron Smith shot a final round 65 to move into a T9 at 12-under, another solid result indeed. Matt Jones needed a good tournament this week and he had one. Jones closed with a fine 67 and moved into a tie for 13th on 11-under. Marc Leishman finished T43 at 5-under and John Senden T57 on 3-under along with Cameron Davis, they were the only other Australians to make the cut.
The TOUR heads to Arizona for the Waste Management Open this week where “bomber” Gary Woodland is the defending champion. Host venue TPC Scottsdale, Stadium Course plays home to the largest crowds of any golf event in the world and is most famous for its par-3 16th, “The Coliseum”. It’s always a great event on the schedule, check in later this week for our full preview.
For much of this tournament it seemed like our website favourite, Ignacio "Nacho" Elvira would run away with the victory. Heading into the final days play Elvira had played better than anybody. He was 2 clear on top of the leaderboard standing on the 1st tee on the final day.
Unfortunately for Nacho, his front nine was mediocre. A birdie at the par 4, 6th hole and 8 pars. Around him his competitors were charging. Jordan Smith 6 birdies on the front nine, Johannes Veerman 4 birdies and Australian Scott Hend, 5 birdies and a place now on top of Nacho in the lead. Both Hend and Nacho made bogey down the 10th and looked for a while like they would let the rest of the field catch them up, but the back nine at Saujana GC is tough and not many had grabbed a hold of it all week.
Johannes Veerman closed with -2 on the back nine and set the clubhouse lead at -12. Back on the 13th Hend made birdie and was now up by 2 shots at -15. Nacho had to get something going or he would again be the bridesmaid. Hend hit his tee shot at the par 3, 16th to about 6 feet and another birdie would make the difference to wide to close. Nacho stepped up behind him with all the pressure and matched Hend. Not only that, but he sunk the birdie while Hend missed. Nacho barely missed the water hazard on the 17th after hitting his tee shot a little fat, but he made a regulation par and Hend just lipped his par putt in to do the same. Standing on the 72nd hole, Scott Hend had a 1 stroke lead over Nacho with just the par 5, 18th to go. Hend had played the par 5's -12 for the week and Nacho -9.
Nacho teed off first and found the fairway. Hend found the bunker. With the rain starting to fall, he played his second from the bunker and found the fairway. Nacho smashed his fairway wood but came up 30 meters short of the green. Heavy rain started to fall as Hend stepped up to hit his 3rd. 118meters to the pin, he punched a low wedge pin high and 25 feet left of the pin. Nacho paced out his 3rd and took his time. Just as he took back the club, a loud thunder clap echoed throughout the course and Elvira heard it, his shot fell short and left him at least 35 feet for the birdie to tie.
Then it all happened at once. Lightning and the horn was blown. The tournament was put on hold with the final 3 players standing on the 72nd green. The players retreated under cover to wait out the delay. After an hour and 40 minutes, Nacho amazingly holed his putt and after Hend missed they went to a playoff. It was Nacho who went into the bunker off the tee this time and Hend who was in the greenside bunker for 2. His bunker shot was absolutely exquisite and the 3 footer for birdie secured the 45year old his 3rd European title. Nacho, once again, was runner up. Bad luck Nacho, but we will continue to cheer for you. It can't be long until that breakthrough win will come, but massive congratulations to Scott Hend. It's great to see the Aussie back on top and his game in good form. The final day 67 too good against Nacho's 70.
Jazz Janewattananond birdied the last to finish outright 3rd on -13, Veerman 4th and Ernie Els tied 7th at -10 making a record 300th top 10 finish world wide. Terry Pilkadaris and Lucas Herbert tied for 25th at -6. Thomas Pieters, who had another angry meltdown on day 3, finished tied 41st on -3 after he was leading after day 2. He's a massive talent, but his on course club throwing and antics are getting a bit old now. Someone needs to tell him to pull his head in.
Another maiden winner on the European Tour this week! 22 year old Italian, Guido Migliozzi has taken out the Kenya Open by one shot from his playing partner and fellow young gun Adri Arnous.
Both of these young tour rookies played together on the day before and had -13 between them. They sat together in the final group and even though the front nine was no great show, the back nine was incredible. It was full of challengers coming and going, pressure putts, hitting pins and in the end a worthy champion.
It is so good to watch fearless young golfers taking out driver and blasting shots long down the middle of golf courses that really are way too tight to be doing that. They don't care, they just do it and the results are fun to watch. At times it almost makes them fall out of contention, but they rebound. Migliozzi's drive on the 9th took a terrible bounce and sat against a huge fig tree beside the green. He chatted with his caddy for a minute or so, then took out a club and hit it towards the tree trunk, rebounding it towards the green and even though he made a bogey, he soaked up the pressure and in the end, it was the right decision.
Last weeks winner Justin Harding, who is quickly becoming a back nine Sunday specialist, almost did it again. He birdied 9, then 11 and then eagled 12. A dropped shot on 13 stalled him a little, but birdies on 15 and 17 had him 1 shot behind standing on the 18th tee. His drive was perfect, but his second was too strong and he made a good par to finish at -15. He sat in the clubhouse and waited for the rest to finish.
The final grouping both hit the fairway and Arnous(-15) needed a birdie to force the playoff. Guido(-16), just needed a par. His second shot was amazing and it actually hit the pin before sitting on the edge of the green 10 feet from victory. Arnous will be kicking himself, because his birdie putt was right on line, but ended up short. Guido knocked it to a few inches and tapped in for the Victory. Although he had won the Italian Amateur, he had never even had a top 10 on the European or Challenge Tour before this win. He moves straight away into the top 30 in the Race to Dubai and cements his place on the European Tour for the near future.
The biggest roar of the week though belonged to local player Simon Ngige who pitched in on the last hole to finish tied 25th. The local crowd went bananas and even one of the course marchalls ran up and hugged him! Nick Cullen was the sole Australian that made the cut and he finished tied 54th on Even Par.
I know all the eyes this week were on The Players, but this was a fantastic tournament to watch, played on a great little golf course in incredible Kenya. Can't wait for next year.
South Korea's Jinho Choi was out early on the last day of the Qatar Masters. He was sitting at -3 and the leading pack were at -9, but his front nine was something to be talked about. He birdied 1, 2 & 3, then made another 2 at 8 & 9 to turn in 31. He was just one off the lead and the leaders were still on the front nine doing not much. He then made another birdie at 12 then eagled the short par 4, 16th with a long putt from off the green to be 11 under and leading the tournament. He exploded out of the bunker on the 18th and had about 4 feet for birdie, but missed. Had he made that putt, he would've been -12. He was in the clubhouse while the leaders were just making the turn.
Behind him all sorts of action was happening. The wind had finally decided to mellow and the course was the most playable it had been all week. The very, very long list of contenders were all just getting by. Nobody was really jumping clear and at one stage there were 16 players within 2 shots of the lead. It would all come down to who would play the back nine better and for a while it looked like Nacho Elvira, Andy Sullivan, Mike Lorenzo Vera, Christian Bezuidenhout and Justin Harding would fight it out.
Elvira, who is a long standing favourite of mine on the Tour played well, but could not stay composed. He made birdie at 10 and dropped a long putt on 12 for another. Was this going to be the time he broke through? I must admit, I was getting the Nacho Libre memes ready, but it wasn't to be. He bogeyed the next and then another on 17. The birdie on the 18th was regulation and he fell one short. Sullivan had made his way to the lead after 4 birdies through 12, but his back to back bogeys on 13 & 14 dropped him out of contention. Mike Lorenzo Vera just keeps getting close but no cigar. The Frenchman finished in a flurry with 2 birdies on 17 & 18, but his pedestrian front nine cost him. That just left the two South Africans.
Bezuidenhout was solid all day and had 2 birdies on the front and 3 on the back, but his dropped shot on the par 4, 11th had him join the record number of players sitting at 2 shots behind the winner at -11. His countryman, Justin Harding was playing without full playing rights. His high finishes over the past 12 months had seen him graduate from the Asian Tour to some sponsors invites to the Euro Tour and even though he was finishing well, he still had no walk up start in any tournament. In the past 12 months Harding had top 10 finishes in Switzerland, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Africa, Mauritius, Dubai, Australia, Zambia and Zimbabwe but had no wins on the European Tour. That has changed now. He started brilliantly with 3 birdies in the first 4 holes and finished just as well with 3 birdies in the last 4 holes. Together with another 2 on 10 & 12 and his last round 66 was good enough to win by two shots over the long list behind him.
Although the 3 Australians, Min Woo Lee, Nick Cullen & Jake McLeod were with the leaders heading into the final round, Lee & McLeod could only manage 1 over 73's to finish tied 20th and Cullen a par round to finish tied 14th. Maybe next time boys.
A great win by Harding, even though he uses a long putter (sorry, it just looks wrong).
Kurt Kitayama has only been on the European Tour for 11 events, but he has just sealed his second victory with a come from behind victory at the Oman Open. It's not often you can point to an 8 on the scorecard and say, "yeah but he actually ended up winning", but this is the case. Kitayama's 3rd round started quad, bogey, bogey, birdie, bogey, but he managed to fight back.
The entire tournament was interrupted by the weather. Last year conditions were brilliant and Joost Luiten won with a score of -16, but strong winds and massive sandstorms caused the delay of the second day and players had to start early and finish late to get all their golf in. Heading into the last day there were so many chances because dropping a shot in the conditions was something that the entire field was doing and they were doing it often. The greens were slick and so were the run offs.
One by one the challengers all came to the top only to fall. Luiten's defense of the title was hamstrung by an injury and he limped to -2 after a par round on day 4. Joachim B Hansen was sitting on top early stages but his round fell apart after bogeys on 8, 11 & 14. He finished tied 6th after another on the 18th. Fabrizio Zanotti was working his way into contention, even though he had 2 double bogeys on his final round card. His back to back birdies on 13 & 14 had him in the lead and he had a 10 foot birdie putt on the 16th to go further in front. Not only did he miss, but his next lipped out & his next missed the hole completely. A 4 putt had him gone but a birdie on the 18th got him into tied 2nd.
Jorge Campillo was sitting in the clubhouse thinking that his score of -6 was going to win, but there were 3 left in contention still out on the course. Clement Sordet looked good, but his iron play deserted him with 2 bogeys on his final few holes, then Max Keiffer was the only one who could stop Kitayama. He was not up to the task and even though he made a few birdies on the back nine, he did not make them when it counted. He needed birdie up the last after a bogey on 17. He only managed par. That left Kitayama out in front by one shot after making back to back birdies on the 16th & 17th. Playing the 72nd hole, he hit the fairway and hit the green. His birdie putt just missed, but the tap in handed the young American his 2nd win on tour. In the end it was text book, but the ups and downs of the top 10 players on the final day was entertaining to watch.
ISPS Handa World Super Sixes
Australian golf again is the winner this week after a spectacular tournament at Lake Karrinyup for the World Super 6's. The golf course proved to be a superb stage for some of the European Tours best players as again and again the playoff hole was used to decide the matches. The local crowd and us viewing it from all over Australia loved every single minute of it.
The first 3 rounds of stroke play had determined the top 24 and the final day of match play was much anticipated. There was still players like Thomas Pieters, Adrian Otaegui, Wade Ormsby, Ryan Fox and Min Woo Lee all looking for the win, but for some it would take more holes than others to get the job done. The top seeded 8 players drew a bye for the first round and all the others took to the course. The format is awesome in my opinion.
Ormsby was out in the first round after having his putter stolen the night before. It was that putter that the night before saw him holing a 45 footer to stay in the tournament. Ormsby took to social media asking for the return of the putter, but to no avail. He was beaten by Scott Vincent 3&2. Otaegui defeated Daniel Gale to advance to the second round and Min Woo Lee had to endure 3 knockout holes to finally get over Frenchman, Gregory Bourdy.
The second round saw Ryan Fox needing the same 3 playoff holes to knockout Jazz Janewattananond. Otaegui beat Per Langfors 2&1, Paul Dunne beat Matt Jager on the second knockout hole and Min Woo Lee took the massive scalp of Thomas Pieters after the Belgian bogeyed his final hole. Hopefully good things ahead for the young Aussie Lee, but he was knocked out of the tournament in the next round by Otaegui 2up. The other quarter final wins went to Fox, Vincent and Dunne.
Ryan Fox beat Paul Dunne 1up in the 1st semi and Otaegui beat Vincent 3&2 in the other setting up the final of Fox Vs Otaegui for the victory. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he just looked like he had played too many holes for the day and his tee game went missing. Ryan Fox on the other hand looked like a man on a mission and quickly took the first, the second and the 3rd holes to have Otaegui dormy going down the 4th. It should have been a battle of precision vs power, but Otaegui's precision had deserted him and the putt he really needed to keep himself in the game fell short. Fox rolled his up to the hole and tapped it in for the win 3&2. Dominant.
It's the first win on the European Tour for Ryan Fox. He did it in style by not making a single bogey on the final days play. Fox plays a style of golf that is refreshing to see. He plays quickly and does not mess about with green reading rubbish or looking at putts from 20 different angles. If only others would take note. Although he seems like he has been around for a very long time, he has never actually cracked it for a win until now. That's 7 years to finally break though. He has worked his way to 85 in the world rankings, but now will have a good little jump into the 60's. He hopefully will use this as a stepping stone to greater things as he has shown massive talent over the past few years. His power is something to behold and after seeing him knock his driving iron past most others drivers, it surely won;t be long until he wins again.
Paul Dunne won on the knockout hole in the playoff for 3rd by almost holing his tee shot. It caught part of the hole and the tap in saw him win 1up on Scott Vincent. A special thanks to Foxtel for cutting his victory speech short. Seriously Foxtel, have some respect! He took to the podium and they went to a commercial break. Another reason New Zealand will hate us for.
ISPS Handa VIC Open
This tournament has had a habit in recent years of producing tight finishes. 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2018 were all decided by playoffs and with the leaderboard bunched up before the start of the final days play, it was looking like it may just happen again in 2019.
If you were a fan of the Australian players it was also looking good with so many chances at the top. Nick Flanagan, Brad Kennedy, David Bransdon, Jason Scrivener and Wade Ormsby were all looming as possible champions. There was also some quality challengers coming from overseas with the likes of Nicolas Colsaerts, David Drysdale, Callum Shinkwin, David Law and South African young gun Justin Harding who was the 2nd highest ranked player here this week. Only Spaniard Adrian Otaegui was higher.
Ormsby held an overnight lead and started by making birdie down the first 2 holes. Another on 5 had him making the turn with a 33(-3) and sitting at -18. Brad Kennedy started like a house on fire and made birdies on 2, 3, 4 & 5 followed by 2 more at 7 & 9 carding him a front nine of just 30! The other quiet mover was Scotsman, David Law. A 35 on the outward nine which included a self imposed penalty (Good karma) on the 9th green when he made his ball move at address, was quickly followed by birdies at 10 & 11. He was 15 under par and only 3 shots behind Ormsby who was playing good golf. Unfortunately, it wasn't great golf. Again and again, he missed putts by small margins. He had a run of 11 pars and although he was out in front, he was not putting a big enough gap between himself and the challengers behind him.
Law made an excellent birdie at the 16th and was now only 2 behind Ormsby heading to the 18th tee. Two superb strikes of the golf ball later, he was staring at an 8 foot straight eagle putt on the par 5. He sank it and tied the lead at -18. Back on the 17th tee, Ormsby pulled his tee shot on the par 3 and was left with a delicate flop shot to try and save his par. It proved to be too delicate for him and his ball rolled off the putting surface and to a position that still required some good work. Again his chip shot did not get close enough and the resulting double bogey 5 had him needing an eagle up the last to force a playoff. His putt from the back of the 18th green slid by a few inches low and the tournament had been won by David Law.
This is Law's first win on the European Tour. He turned pro in 2011 and has had some success in the lower tier tours. He finished 14th on the Challenge Tour last year which earned him his promotion to the European Tour. It seems he has made the most of his opportunity. He takes away the winners purse of 156,250euros and was elated with the win. He said "Just being a European Tour player was enough for me." After 4 events, he is more than just a player, he is a Tour winner. It goes to show how some good karma can come back and reward you when you least expect it.
Brad Kennedy finished tied with Ormsby for 2nd, Justin Harding 3rd, Jason Scrivener has another top 10 finish and was tied with David Drysdale and David Bransdon at equal 5th.
In the ladies event Celine Boutier (-8) shot an even par final round to win, closely followed by Sarah Kemp who shot a final round 7 under 65 to finish at -6, tied with Su Oh and England's Charlotte Thomas. American Kim Kaufman held the 54 hole lead but faded today with a 78 to finish tied 8th.
For a first up tournament, the Saudi International really delivered. A 61 from Dustin Johnson on day 2 had the course a new low round and the former world number one looking like he was on a mission. Then came day 3 and Haotong Li's amazing 4 eagles in a single round. Again, a new record for the European Tour. Sergio Garcia was DQ'd for damaging greens as well! Both LI & DJ stood on the 1st tee on the last day at -16 and both looked to be in great form. They were 5 shots clear of their nearest challenger and looked to be the two who would fight it out. It didn't take long to change.
Tom Lewis was the nearest challenger and he was 5 back, but it didn't seem to matter to him. He started with a birdie down the first, then another on the second. With shots covering the flag sticks on every green, he continued to birdie holes. On 3, 4 and then 5 and suddenly he was 5 under through 5 holes and one behind the leaders who were sluggish to start. A bogey on the 6th stalled Lewis and he didn't recover. He finished on -16 and outright 3rd, but he did put a scare through everybody on the golf course for a while.
Before getting to the winner, let me acknowledge the performance of 20 year old Australian, Min Woo Lee. Brother of Minjee, this slightly built West Australian packed a punch. He lead the driving distance stat for the week with 334.5yrds average and in a field that included Haotong Li, Ryan Fox and Dustin Johnson, that is quite the achievement. He also posted a putting average of 27.5, which was 4th in the field. He charged on the last day and after rounds of 69, 70 and 63 in only his 2nd tournament on the Tour, he carded a final round 63 to finish outright 4th and pocket himself a cool 150,000euros. An incredible effort from a young Australian with a very bright future.
But, enough waving the flag, Johnson and Li had started slowly and although both were making par saves, there was only a birdie each standing on the 9th tee. Li was the first to stick his nose a little in front by again chipping in from off the green. As if he hasn't done it enough through the first 3 days of the tournament. Both players bogeyed 10 and Li was still one in front on the 11th tee, but DJ was about to strike. Birdies on 11 and 12 had him back in front and it was Li's turn to falter. He bogeyed 13 & 14 and although he birdied the 15th, DJ was still 3 ahead as they came to the signature hole, the 16th.
DJ pulled his tee shot and landed in the Red Sea. His drop was only 28yards from the tee, next to the ladies, but he struck a pure iron to about 12 feet and sunk the putt for a bogey. He was still 2 up and he gave Li no other chance to catch him by birdieing the final 2 holes. DJ wins his 6th European Tour title and moves to 5th lifetime in Americans winning on the tour, just behind names like Woods, Nicklaus, Watson and Mickelson. He stays at number 3 in the world rankings and pockets 508,000euros. Great effort by Haotong Li after the wrongful decision of his penalty last week, but that's another argument for another day.
Scott Hend finished tied 6th with a final round 67 and Jake Mcleod played 4 days of good golf to finish tied 34th at -4. The future looks bright for Australia with players like Lee and Mcleod, as both looked very comfortable on the big stage.
30 years ago there was a square patch of desert in the middle of nowhere near a small town called Dubai. The city consisted of just one tall building, but there was a plan. In 2019 there are over 400 tall buildings in Dubai, 20 million tourists go there every year and the golf course that was made on that square patch of desert, now the Emirates Golf Club, just may have witnessed one of the most dominating golfing performances for a very long time.
25 year old Bryson DeChambeau has spent his first few years as a professional golfer being half joked about. His scientific approach to the game is not for some, but after his 4 rounds at this tournament, he has the European Tour and all connected with it converted into believers. Yes, he takes a long time to decide what type of shot he wants to hit. What swing speed, what trajectory, what vector and what velocity, but when he finally selects a club he hits some of the most amazing shots you will ever see. Accurate, perfect yardage and also with the touch of a surgeon from around the greens. Not to mention his putting which this week amazed everyone.
Going into the final round he was leading by just a single shot from Haotong Li (the defending champion). There were another 16 players within 6 shots of him and a few of the early players out had caught his overnight score of -16. It seemed like it was going to be a grandstand finish, but DeChambeau had other ideas. He birdied the first 3 holes and before anyone could blink, he was 4 shots clear. His putter was on fire and the putts were hitting the flagstick dead center. The front nine had been the tougher side all week and he spent the rest of the front nine hitting the middle of greens and making pars. Then he made the turn.
His second shot to the par 5 10th came to rest about 15 feet from the pin and he sunk the putt for an eagle 3. He birdied the 11th and was looking unstoppable, but a wayward drive on the 12th had him under a thick bush. He hacked it out and eventually made bogey, but it was his last poor shot. Birdies on 13, then 14 and he was 6 shots clear. His playing partner, 23 year old Haotong Li held the tournament record at -23 and DeChambeau wanted it. He was 20 feet from the green on the par 4, 17th and his chip was perfect. The resulting birdie had him -24 and ready to re-write the record books. He could've gone for it on the last par 5, but he laid up and took the par, winning by 7 shots. His 64 was the low last round by a champion, his lowest tournament total, a tournament record, highest winning margin at this event, his first victory overseas and his 4th in his last 9 starts. You could not help but be impressed in every way.
Matt Wallace took 2nd on his own with a 72nd hole birdie followed by a 5 way tie for 3rd which included Haotong, Sergio, Poulter, Paul Waring and Alvaro Quiros. A further shot back in tied 8th was the Australian pair of Jason Scrivener and Lucas Herbert. Scrivener is inside the top 10 of the Race to Dubai after a solid opening to the season and Herbert was impressive after his 3rd round penalty which could've derailed his tournament. Hend, Brazel and Ormsby all made the cut but faded on the weekend.
I must admit, I have not really been a huge fan of DeChambeau's methods and mostly because he takes so long to play golf. It is one of the things that really annoys me about the PGA Tour. Players just play like they have all the time in the world and we have nothing better than to wait 5 minutes for them to hit a shot, but after watching DeChambeau through this week and especially his incredible final round, I have to say that I am a believer too. Just hurry up a little Bryson and I will be your biggest fan. Congrats!
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Let's face it, a few years ago it looked like Shane Lowry would be a world beater. He was winning on the European Tour, even as an amateur and looked to be taking his place as one of the guys to beat going forward. His win at the Irish Open in 2009 was special, but it was 3 years before he won again at the Portugal Masters. Another drought of 3 years before again wining at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and now he fights off veteran Richard Sterne on the final hole for a wire to wire victory in 2019 at the HSBC.
Sterne had it his own way through the front nine holes with birdies at 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 & 9. A bogey at 6 was his only blemish, but Sterne had not won in a long time too (2013 Joburg Open) and was a little nervous. His 2 over back nine had him on the defensive and hoping that Lowry couldn't seal the deal. Both men stood on the 18th tee -17 and both hit the fairway.
Sterne sliced his second shot onto the cart path right of the final green, but Lowry was more composed and hit his second to the par 5 onto the green and 25 feet from an eagle. Sterne took the drop and played his 3rd to about 15 feet. Lowry rolled his putt to about a foot and marked his ball. It was all up to Sterne. There was 15 feet between him and a playoff. His putt missed and Lowry tapped in the winning birdie to take the tournament and a place inside the world's top 50.
It's a significant win for Lowry because it solidifies him as a world top 50 player. It gives him access to all 4 majors for the year and puts him back on the path we all thought he was on a few years ago as one of the world's best golfers. Joost Luiten shot 2 eagles on his final round to finish 3rd at -15. Louis Oosthuizen had a final round 66 to remind everybody that he was still there. Soren Kjeldsen finished a worthy 5th after rounds of 66, 69,71 & 69.
Jason Scrivener was the leading Australian at tied 16th, with Scott Hend shooting a final round 67 and finishing tied 27th. Lucas Herbert was sitting pretty after 2 rounds, but finished with 76, 73 to finish the week tied for 54th. We are in Dubai next week for the Omega Desert Classic where Haotong Li will defend his title. Don't miss our preview hitting the Facebook page on Wednesday. Tommy Fleetwood failed in his attempt to win 3 in a row this week, but did celebrate his birthday in style finishing tied 42nd at -5.
Tour rookie Adam Long stepped into his 2nd on the last Sunday afternoon at La Quinta, California knowing something special was needed. From 175-yards off a hanging lie, Long drilled his 6-iron to 14-feet then watched as playing partners Adam Hadwin and Phil Mickelson missed their birdie tries. Adam Long then boxed his putt for birdie to win by a shot, his 1st win on TOUR in just his 6th start.
The 31-year-old Long has played “pretty much most tours around the world” and won his card with a 13th-place finish last year on the Web.com tour’s regular season. Adam Long closed with a bogey free 65, backing up his 63 on moving day. Long teed off 3-shots adrift of 54-hole leader Mickelson and 2 shy of Hadwin. A chip-in on 12 and another on 15 saw him draw level with his playing partners and co-leaders, Mickelson and Hadwin. Long’s 6-iron into 18 was a great shot, his best for the week under the circumstances and ultimately set up his win.
Phil Mickelson opened the tournament with 12-under 60 but failed to convert his 54-hole lead – he’s only won once in the last 7 times he’s slept on the lead Saturday night. It was Mickelson’s 1st start on TOUR since October and though he lead for most of the week, he was “rusty” and “struggled” inside 10-feet on the greens. Adam Hadwin was super consistent but shooting par on the back-9 Sunday isn’t going to win you many tournaments.
Taylor Gooch shot the low round of the day, a sizzling 64. Gooch went out in 30, but a bogey on 15 stalled his run and he finished 4th at 24-under, a shot further back. Dominic Bozzelli finished solo 5th closing with a 6-under 66. Defending champion Jon Rahm shot 68 or better over the 4-rounds and finished a very credible 6th, 21-under. Rahm looks set for major success this year.
The best placed Australian was Aaron Baddley finishing T18 on 16-under. Baddley opened with a 71 and got better as the week went on, closing with a 7-underr 65. Cameron Davis was T28 at 15-under shooting 4 sub-par rounds. Curtis Luck was the only other Australian to make the 54-hole cut. Luck opened 64/66, was 14-under and in with a shot, but closing rounds of 76 and 75 saw him fall out of contention.
The TOUR remains on the west coast this week for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, San Diego where Australia’s Jason Day is the defending champion. Check in Thursday morning for our full review.
Matt Kuchar has won his 9th title and his first in Hawaii taking out the Sony Open with an incredible display on the back nine. His front nine was let's say, forgettable. Bogeys at 2, 4 & 5 with a few 2 birdies thrown in saw his 2 shot lead vanish and Andrew Putnam take over in front, but Kuchar's back nine's all week had been good and he clicked into gear with birdies on 10 & 12 then rolled one in where Putnam should have on 15 to take the lead away. He backed it up on 16 as well, then birdied the par 5, 18th to take the "W" in style by 4 shots over a pedestrian Putnam who could only manage par around the back. That will never win you a tournament on a Sunday.
It's Kuchar's 2nd win of the 2018/2019 season and he jumps up to 2nd on the FedEx Cup standings, only a few points behind Xander Schauffele.
A strong showing over the 4 days though by Putnam and the top 10 will keep him in the picture for the next few tournaments. Marc Leishman was looking to charge over the final day and made a pretty good fist of it. He was 3 under through the front nine and birdied 11, but a poor approach to 12 saw him stall and a few missed putts later, he had finished tied 3rd with Chaz Reavie, Hudson Swafford and Corey Connors. He did though shoot a 6 under 64 which tied the best round of the day. It's good to see Leish finishing off a tournament well.
54 year old Davis Love III turned back the clock to come in 7th and defending champion Patton Kizzire charged on the last day with a 5 under 65 to finish tied 13th. Luke Donald on his comeback could only manage even par and did not make the cut, but he wasn't alone with Jordan Speith, Paul Casey, Zac Johnson, Bubba Watson and Adam Scott all failing to make the weekend. Scott says he is finally getting over his sleep worries after having 2 young children and the past 2 years will hopefully seem like a distant memory in 2019. Not off to a good start though Adam.
Cam Smith finished a creditable 22nd and Matt Jones 29th to round out the Aussie assault for the week.
Sentry Tournament of Champions
I think I can quite safely say, Xander Schauffele has played the round of the year! Granted it was the 1st tournament of 2019, but Schauffele closed with an incredible 11-under 62 to beat Gary Woodland by a shot – round of the year – and take out the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Xander Schauffele teed off 5-shots adrift of 54-hole leader Woodland and opened with a bogey. Then in tough windy conditions, Schauffele could do no wrong making 4 birdies and a chip-in eagle on the 9th to be out in 31.
Things only got better. He holed a wedge from 107-yards for eagle on 12, then birdied 14/15 for a share of the lead. But Xander wasn’t done. In the group behind, Woodland watched as Schauffele stiffed his 2nd shot into the tough 508-yard, par-4 17th and make birdie. Gary Woodland new the drill and it was simple, make birdie – and he did. It was Schauffele’s turn now and he flushed his 3-wood to 12-feet on 18, narrowly missed his eagle and signed for an 11-under 62. Needing to match Schauffele, Gary Woodland hung his 4-iron out right and missed the green. He chipped to 10-feet but missed his putt and Xander Schauffele had his 2nd win in 4 starts on TOUR this season.
Gary Woodland would be no doubt disappointed, very. He was the only player in the field to fire 4 rounds in the 60’s, never shooting worse than 68, but it still wasn’t enough. Justin Thomas carded 2 rounds in the 70’s, but closed with an 8-under 65 to finish solo 3rd. Defending champ Dustin Johnson, Australian Marc Leishman and Rory McIllroy finished T4. Johnson had a 2nd-round 74 that buried his chances. Leishman got off to a solid start but a front-9 38 (3-over) on Friday cost him dearly. McIllroy only had 3 bogies for the week but couldn’t find any momentum and whilst solid, a closing 72 saw him lose ground.
Jason Day shot an ordinary 75 on moving day, closed with an eventful 66 and was never really in it. Spaniard Jon Rahm had another solid week firing 4 sub-par rounds and finishing T8 on 13-under but like McIllroy, seemed to lack momentum. Young bomber Cameron Champ impressed again amid a quality field. A 3rd round 74 cost him any chance of contending. Reigning player of the year Brooks Koepka made a disappointing start to 2019 finishing 24th at 4-under. An opening 76 did him no favours.