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Charlie Wi’s running of the bulls

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By Pete Pappas

GolfWRX Staff Writer

Charlie Wi is about to be tested like he’s never been tested in his winless 162 game, seven-year PGA Tour career. Wi holds the lead at 12-under after two days at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, three shots ahead of second-place Dustin Johnson, already a two-time winner at this event in 2009 and 2010.

But just beneath Johnson on the scoreboard is a dogged crowd of players bunched up between 6-under and 8-under anticipating, no, salivating for Wi to falter. 

And no one’s going to care that Wi is one of the nice guys if he indeed does slip up.

Charlie Wi, welcome to the PGA’s version of running of the bulls.  Only you’re in Pebble Beach, not Pamplona.  You’re surrounded by the majestic Pacific Ocean crashing below the cliffs, rather than the wooden and iron barricades in the Spanish streets.

And instead of a herd of terrifyingly angry bulls chasing you? You have a dizzying onslaught of multiple winners and major champions, players with something to prove, players with chips on their shoulders, and oh yeah a few guys named Phil and Tiger, all breathing down your neck.  And they’re all looking to mow you down and give you the horns Charlie Wi.

Charlie Wi? Are you ready for this? 

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Wi had nightmares Friday night, and probably nightmares of being chased by that same menacing cartel of major champions and multiple winners just mentioned. But this is all normal. Being chased in your dream normally means worry. And whatever is pursuing you in your dream is your unconscious mind letting you know that you need to face some responsibilities.

162 games over 7 years and all you have to show for it is a cameo in the late night Stack and Tilt Golf Channel infomercials? You’re better than that Charlie Wi. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes just this weekend alone.

Two days in a row you’ve lead the field in eagles. Two days in a row you’ve lead the field in birdies. You rank first in driving accuracy, second in putts per green in regulation, and third in total putts. Charlie Wi it’s time to face your fears head on and take these bulls by their horns. You have the game to do it. You have the game to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Or, you could be content to be a mere footnote in this tournament, much like Rickie Fowler will be for his Friday afternoon color ensemble that made him look like an imulsion eating lambent glowstick straight out of the video game Gears of War 3 (which turned out by the way to be long on hype and short on bite).  Is that what you want Charlie Wi?

Saturday is moving day Charlie Wi. Be assertive. Be aggressive. Position yourself to fight back the likes of Dustin Johnson (nine-under), Padraig Harrington (eight-under), Vijay Singh (eight-under), Brian Gay (eight-under), Danny Lee (eight-under), Hunter Mahan (seven-under), Phil Mickelson (seven-under), and of course Tiger Woods (six-under). 

I want to see more shots like your magnificent long iron on No. 8 that you stuck inside 10 feet and then calmly rolled in for birdie. 

I don’t want to see shots like your tentative putt on No. 2 that cost you a birdie and nearly sent you into raving Woody Austin putter meets head combat mode (by the way he has won a few times already on tour).

Your critics are saying you struggle mightily in January and February events, and are probably already writing their Monday headlines like “Careless Wi-sper”, or “Sorry Charlie” anticipating you’ll provide a Jekyll and Hyde performance, erratic shot making and ultimately intimidated collapse.  Don’t let it happen Charlie.

If you think I’m being hard on you, I am.  But it’s a tough love.  You’re living the dream man.  And there are hundreds of thousands of people living vicariously through you.  There are hundreds of thousands of people who dream of being in the position you’re in: leading a field overflowing with the some of the most respected names and notable winners in the game today. 

Harrington moved up 38 spots Friday shooting a six-under 66 for his round at Pebble Beach, hitting 15 of 18 greens-in-regulation.  While Mickelson playing at Monterey Peninsula, moved up 33 spots Friday, shooting a five-under 65 for the round, and also hitting 15 greens-in-regulation.  Singh meanwhile moved up 12 spots shooting 4-under 68 at Spyglass Hill, starting strong on his front nine with four birdies in the first seven holes. 

Johnson of course is right on your heels (although his 72 at Spyglass Hill was his highest round at the course in four career starts there). 

And the world remains on the edge of its seat waiting for Tiger to break through and finally win an official PGA Tour event (his drought extends back to the 2009 BMW Championship). Tiger seems ready to do his part, saying after Friday’s round, “I gotta go get it tomorrow.”

All of these guys are major championship winners, and are either in the zone, on fire, or just knocking at the door to remind you there’s a long way still to go for that first win.  Big time players.  Big time names.  Big time games.

But you know what Charlie Wi?  You have a very real opportunity to finish ahead of all of them.  Slam the door closed on all of them.  And earn your first professional PGA Tour win on arguably the most prestigious and grandest course anywhere on the planet, in possibly the most memorable way imaginable, against some of the best players in the game today, and presumptively some of the best to ever play the game.

Charlie Wi, 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Champion.  Has a Wi-nning ring to it don’t you think?

Additional Notes:

Harrington and J.P McManus sit atop the celebrity leaderboard at 25-under, while defending champions D.A Points and partner Bill “My foe, my enemy is an animal.” Murray are tied for 26th place at 12-under.

Round 3 coverage resumes Saturday at 10:00 am PST on Golf Channel, and at 12:00 pm PST on CBS.

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Pete is a journalist, commentator, and interviewer covering the PGA Tour, new equipment releases, and the latest golf fashions. Pete's also a radio and television personality who's appeared multiple times on ESPN radio, and Fox Sports All Bets Are Off. And when he's not running down a story, he's at the range working on his game. Above all else, Pete's the proud son of a courageous mom who battled pancreatic cancer much longer than anyone expected. You can follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas

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  1. Grim

    Feb 12, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Intersting article, but you obvioulsy know nothing about gears of war. As a long time fan i can say GoW3 delivered far more than 2 and expaned on the greatness that was the first game. I would say leave comments that do not belong in an article out, because as the gaming consensus has shown GoW3 was and is a great game. Guess your a halo kid.

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Monday at the Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana, were, among other things, a giant three-legged crocodile roams.

Now in it’s second year, the tournament’s unique two-man team format has attracted a wealth of top talent, including 10 of the top 14 golfers in the OWGR. We’re on the scene snapping bag pictures, and have WITB looks at Matt Jones and Roberto Diaz, in addition to a general gallery from the TPC Louisiana range.

Let’s dig in.

Matt Jones doesn’t need his name embroidered on his headcovers: tape and a marker will do just fine, thanks

Last week, Faaaabel the Goat. This week, someone who would eat Faaabel

Roberto Diaz: Brand agnostic

Wesley Bryan’s Taco Bell(t) lives

Homemade putting aid or soon to be seen on a Golf Channel infomercial (or both)?

UDI with a side of lead

Shaft bags: Assemble!

Roberto Diaz Fourteen RM wedge

What more do you need in life?

A bouquet of Circle T putter covers

Check out our photos from Monday below!

Monday’s Galleries

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Popular Photo Galleries

Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana (par 72; 7,425 yards), designed by Pete Dye with consultants Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson.

The Zurich Classic is a unique event on the PGA Tour because it’s not an individual stroke-play event. Instead, the format consists of two-man teams playing best-ball on Thursday and Saturday, and alternate-shot on Friday and Sunday.

Last year, Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt won the event after four playoff holes against Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown. The Smith/Blixt duo will be back to defend their title, and the Kisner/Brown pairing will be back avenging their loss.

Other notable pairings in the field include Daniel Berger/Gary Woodland, Wesley Bryan/Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay, John Daly/Rory Sabbatini, Jason Day/Ryan Ruffels, David Duval/Jim Furyk, Tony Finau/Daniel Summerhays, Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello, J.B. Holmes/Brand Snedeker, Matt Kuchar/Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel, Sean O’Hair/Jimmy Walker, Pat Perez/Jason Dufner, Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer, Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley and more!

Check out our photos from the event below!

Monday’s Galleries

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Moriya Jutanugarn and Andrew Landry win their first titles

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It was a week of firsts on two of the world’s major professional tours. Moriya Jutanugarn claimed her first LPGA title in an impressive manner, while 2016 U.S. Open surprise Andrew Landry seized control in Houston to inscribe his name on the winner’s trophy for an initial time. Elsewhere, a pair of underdogs upset the favorites at the Champions Tour’s Missouri affair, while two veterans added additional titles to their resumes in Europe and on the Web.Com tour. It’s an interesting brew in this week’s cauldron, so let’s give it a stir and see what we taste in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Landry holds off resurgent trio to claim Houston Open

Andrew Landry led that U.S. Open at Oakmont after day one, and hung around the top of the leader board until the fourth day. When his name resurfaced at this week’s Tour stop, few were certain he could hold off a resurgent Zach Johnson, the two-time major winner. Well, few other than Zach Johnson thought Landry might pull it off.

How Landry locked in

From the 10th hole on Friday, through the same hole on Sunday, Landry made zero bogeys. He had 13 birdies in that stretch, on a course that gives a few up, but not in buckets. That 36 hole run of brilliance, including birdies on Sunday’s first three holes, staked Landry to an advantage that he would not relinquish. For the entire week, only four bogeys dotted his scorecards, and two of those came on Thursday. Landry’s putter was hot all week, and his driving game was laser-accurate. The sum total: welcome to the winner’s circle, Mr. Landry.

Click here to see the clubs Landry used to win the 2018 Valero Texas Open

Who made a run?

It wasn’t Johnson. Iowa’s favorite son hasn’t won since the 2015 British Open, although his game has shown its old fire of late. Johnson couldn’t find a groove on day 4, making as many bogeys in that round as Landry did all week. In the end, Johnson had a top-5 finish, amid signs that another victory may not be far in the offing. Sean O’Hair had the low round (66) of the day, and that magic was enough to boost him to a second-place tie with young Trey Mullinax, who followed a Saturday 62 with a notable 69 to rock steady. Jimmy Walker, finally recovered from a bout of illness, had the day’s 2nd-lowest score of 67, and he moved all the way to 4th spot.

Mighty Moriya holds off Korean trio for first tour title

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand has been close before. She has seen little sister Ariya hoist victory awards before. On Sunday, it was her turn. Jutanugarn and Marina Alex were two of the leader with no title to their credit, heading into the closing 18 holes. While the key to victory still eludes the young American, it was Jutanugarn’s turn to triumph.

What Moriya discovered on Sunday

Actually, she dug deepest on Saturday. The older sibling opened round three with a double bogey, stood 3-over on the day after six holes, and appeared to be sinking. The ship’s wheel steadied with two birdies and hole-out eagle coming home, and then it began the final day with four birdies and no bogeys in the first 15 holes. A late bogey served only to add faux drama, as Jutanugarn calmly closed the deal for victory the first.

Park, Young and Yeon can’t win this case

Reading a bit like a law firm, Inbee Park, Jin Young Ko and So Yeon Ryu made their runs at Moriya. Inbee had a bogey at the turn, and needed perfection on Sunday. She didn’t get it, so a tie for second was in the offing. Ko might have had the best opportunity at day’s start, but a 2-over outward nine took her too far off pace for a 3-under inward half, to provide recovery. She also came second, at 10-under. Ryu put an opening bogey behind with four birdies through 12 holes, but could not go deeper over the closing stretch. Her fourth-place finish was her best of 2018.

Levy wins for third consecutive year on European Tour

France’s Alexander Levy nearly has a five-year win streak. His first two tour titles came in 2014. He skipped 2015, but hasn’t missed in the subsequent years. His work in Morocco this week added up to a one-shot win over a literal blast from the past, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros. Eight golfers finished within three strokes of the top spot, adding drama to the finish at Royal Dar-Es-Salaam.

Nothing spectacular leads Levy to win

There were no great streaks of brilliance, no runs of multiple birdies, for the 28-year old. All that he did, efficiently, was make enough birdies to stay ahead of his pursuers. After bogey at the antepenultimate hole on Sunday, Levy responded with a dart at the par-three 17th, to re-establish his lead. The win was the fifth of his career.

See the clubs Levy used to win

Oh so close for Oh so many

Let’s begin with Quiros. The Spaniard, compared with Dustin Johnson (for his length off the tee) in his early years, has been adrift. Sunday was his best chance in forever to secure a tour title. His first 16 holes were a tangle of bogeys and a pair of birdies. The Iberian closed admirably, with birdies at the final pair, to claim solo second, one back of Levy. Also close were Mikko Illonen (tied for third with three others at 7-under) and England’s Andy Sullivan, one more back at 6-under, in a tie for seventh.

Two more for the road: Axley wins on Web, while Broadhurst/Triplett claim Legends

Eric Axley would have preferred to win his 3rd professional event in glorious fashion. He’ll take a rain-shortened title at the North Mississippi Classic, his second career Web.Com title and his first title of any sort in 12 years. Waaaay back in 2006, Axley won the very same Houston Open (see above) contested this week on the PGA Tour, and a bit of success was predicted for the left-hander. Success, as we know, doesn’t come to all hands, and Axley was able to birdie his final two holes on Saturday to stake a one-shot advantage. Tied for second were the USA’s Willy Wilcox, Columbia’s Sebastian Munoz, and Korea’s K.H. Lee.

Triplett and Broadhurst birdie 1st playoff hole for victory

The rules for the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf are slightly simpler than those of field hockey, which means that they aren’t very simple. Both courses in use boast par-3 holes alone, but each has a different number of holes, so numbers on the scoreboard are meaningless. With the two Spaniards (Olazabal and Jimenez), the defending champs (Franco and Singh) and two major champions (Lehman and Langer) in the mix, the undervalued pairing of Kirk Triplett (he of the hat) and Paul Broadhurst (he of the …) were not anyone’s favorites to emerge. And here we are.

No one seemed bent on making any heroic moves on Sunday, so it came down to which teams would find their way. Lehman/Langer joined the eventual winners at the 9th hole. Triplett played the hole to perfection: tee shot into bunker, bunker shot into hole, thank you very much. No birdie putts were holed, and the title belonged to the unlikely pairing of Kirk and Paul.

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