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RR Donnelley Founders Cup Recap: Y Try?

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By Vince Robitaille

GolfWRX Contributor

A lingering elbow injury? No. An entire field of the LPGA’s best players at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup? As it has been demonstrated over and over again, no. Even hail in Arizona apparently doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to stopping the outright most dominating figure, in the 500-year-old sport that is golf, since the glory days of Tiger Woods. In a week orchestrated around the celebration of the LPGA’s past, in the collective effort of honouring the other Tour’s trailblazers, and future, synthesized in the blonde 11-year-old hurricane named Izzy Cantwell that swept through Friday and Saturday’s televised coverage, what was really exalted is its present, best summarized in two words which, I’ll give it to you in spades, respectively begin with the letters “Y” and “T”.

The parallels with the heydays of the Californian feline are numerous and easy to spot, the quintessential one, though, is found in the weirdly familiar feeling that arises when one’s about to ask about the week’s results in women’s golf: the potent question isn’t who anymore, but how? Well, this week she did it in a fashion that wasn’t without reminding us of one of the greatest clichés of tournament golf – most precisely one linked to the Masters Tournament – “It doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday”. In fact, at the turn, Tseng found herself trailing the 2010 Money List No. 1, Na Yeon Choi and former World No. 1 Ai Miyazato, by 1 and 3 shots respectively. A slow start – both literally, as two distinct 60 minutes long play interruptions put an halt on any kind of momentum she could have picked up on the front nine, and figuratively, as the aforementioned momentum never really got going – couldn’t, in the end, keep her from kicking off her newest campaign on American soil with a second victory in as many weeks.

To recap yesterday’s action without analyzing the weather’s effects on it is, for lack of a better expression, grossly inadequate. While Miyazato annulled any kind of advantage the interruptions could have brought her adversary by picking back where she left off, namely hitting fairways and greens as well as draining just about every putt facing her, the softened playing surface, occasioned by the rain and melting hail, mitigated Tseng’s strengths. In fact, while the impact of an ever so slightly more level driving distance average is non-negligible, the more receptive greens enabled Miyazato to be considerably more aggressive with her hybrids and give herself genuine opportunities to shave some strokes and separate herself from Tseng and Choi, which she did, until a certain someone shifted gears.

The charge began on 10th and, much like the Tiger of old, one could notice with a mere look at her demeanour. After a bomb of a drive that found the left rough, if you can call it that, and seeing Miyazato send her approach in a green-side bunker, Tseng proceeded to airmail a short iron to the back of the putting surface and to drop the subsequent 20 footer to shave a stroke. After a second-straight birdie on the par-5 11th, Tseng, now tied for second at 15-under with Choi, was now but a mere shot behind Miyazato. After all members of the last threesome of the day had safely laid up on the short 13th, Tseng, who found herself pin-high, but two feet right of the green, sunk her putt from the fringe to reach 16-under and, concurrently, Miyazato; the latter seeming to deflate instantly, never to be in real contention again. A fourth birdie over a stretch of five holes, saw the current World No. 1 take the lead for the first time in the final round. Keeping her foot to the floor, she converted another opportunity, in blatantly dreadful weather, and reached the winning mark of 18-under for the tournament; Choi and Miyazato, much to their very own dismay, would close out a lone stroke behind.

Tseng’s triumph – on a stormy dusk ill-suited for anything but a Sergio Leone film – leaves one wondering if there is something, or someone, out there capable of impeding the expansion of her control to all forts of the LPGA tour. While some see, in the young Lexi Thompson, the wild gunslinger that holds enough ammunition to bring down Yani Tseng, I, for one, would put my money on – if one were to ask me, thus placing me under the proverbial gun– either a tendency for the latter’s trusty putter to suddenly start misfiring from point-blank range – a surprising amount of 5-footers did slip by this weekend – or on another young up-and-coming American whose name I shall only reveal Wednesday.

Click here for more discussion in the LPGA/Ladies golf talk forum

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Tour News

Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut

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Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB

Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.

(c/o PGATour.com)

We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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Tiger Woods shoots an opening-round 72 (1-over) at the 2018 Genesis Open

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After hitting just 17 fairways all week at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished T23, Tiger Woods switched driver shafts and added 0.75 degrees of loft in his TaylorMade M3 driver ahead of the 2018 Genesis Open this week. He went from using a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft, to a Matrix TP6HDe shaft — he used a TP7HDe shaft back in 2015.

So how did the switch work out for him at Riviera CC on Thursday?

Well, he hit driver 9 times during his round of 72 strokes; four went right — one of which got lost in a tree and he had to re-tee — one went left, and four found the fairway. He hit 8-of-14 fairways in total; no Fred Funk, but an improvement. Woods’ bigger issue on Thursday, actually, was that he hit only 7 greens in regulation, leaving himself a few tricky up-and-downs. Despite hitting only 38 percent of greens, Woods managed to make 5 birdies, and he continues displaying prowess on the greens (1.784 Strokes Gained Putting, and 82 feet worth of putts made).

He also showed some flashes of old Tiger with Arnie-esque follow through.

Of course, that means he missed the fairway way right, and he did go onto bogey the hole, but the shot made for some excitement on golf twitter, at least.

According to @RandallMellGC, Tiger described his round in a post-round interview: “I fought hard. I made a few simple, silly mistakes, bad shots here and there, missed on the wrong side, made a few birdies as well. 1-over’s not bad.”

Yea, that’s about right.

Tiger currently sits at T66, and six shots off the leader. Lots of golf to play, but he’ll likely be contending with the cutline come Friday afternoon. How do you think Tiger will finish this week at the 2018 Genesis Open?

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Tour News

Bill Haas injured in fatal car crash in Los Angeles

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Bill Haas was involved in a fatal car crash in Pacific Palisades, Calif., site of the Genesis Open, Tuesday night.

The 35-year-old was riding in the passenger seat of a Ferrari driven by a member of the family with whom Haas is staying this week. According to LA County fire officials, the Ferrari collided with a BMW driven by a 50-year-old woman. Haas and the driver of the BMW were transported to a local hospital. The 71-year-old male driver of the Ferrari was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Ferrari also reportedly “clipped” a vehicle driven by actor Luke Wilson prior to the rollover. Wilson was not injured, per a police report.

Per PGATour.com, Bill Haas’ manager, Allen Hobbs of Players Group Management, released the following statement Wednesday morning.

“Last night in Pacific Palisades, California, Bill Haas was involved in a serious car accident in which the driver—a member of the family with whom Haas and his family were staying for the Genesis Open—was killed. While Bill escaped serious injuries and has been released from the hospital, he is understandably shaken up and—more importantly—his deepest condolences go out to the host family during this tragic and difficult time.“

“Bill will withdraw from the Genesis Open and plans to head home to Greenville to recover. He appreciates the support of friends, family and the golf world as a whole, and he has asked for privacy as he processes what has happened.“

Geoff Shackelford tweeted this video of the KTLA coverage of the crash.

Bill Haas’ father, Jay, spoke with Todd Lewis on Golf Channel’s morning drive earlier in the day, saying his son was “very fortunate.” Beyond swelling in one of his legs and pain, Haas sustained no serious injuries, according to his father.

See the discussion in the forums here

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