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Mobile Bay LPGA Classic Preview: Let’s Roll

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By Vince Robitaille

GolfWRX Staff Writer

After a brief stint on the jewel of the Pacific, the LPGA heads back to the core of continent this week, more precisely, to Mobile, Ala. The event has now changed patronyms thrice in three years – the sponsor situation finally settling and a name for the event being selected, hopefully for the long haul this time around, the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic – its location, nevertheless, remains true and steady. While the RR Donnelley Founders Cup was established in an effort to honor the women’s trailblazers, the LPGA Tour, through their yearly stop in the Ole South, lets us appreciate the legacy of one of the upmost illustrious families in golf… well, once more in the year, this time not involving any green fabric nor gold threads. Set on The Crossings course at Magnolia Grove, arguably not the least eleventh of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic will assume the role of battlegrounds for the 143-golfer strong field, come Thursday morning, many of whom have experienced repeated success at the venue.

Maria Hjorth is unquestionably a member of the aforementioned group. The veteran Swede will be looking to defend her title, but, most importantly, to heat up the fire under her lukewarm game of the past months, much like she did in 2011. After disposing of her adversaries in rather tight fashion – late birdies on Nos. 15 and 17 enabling her to edge out her closest pursuer by two strokes – Hjorth went on a impressive run that included eight top-15 finishes and five top-10s; her best subsequent result consisting of a solo third in the HSBC Brasil Cup. Unfortunately for our subject, one of her rare off weeks came in late September with her 1-3 performance on the grounds of Killeen Castle in the 2011 Solheim Cup.

Speaking of last fall’s European victory, while Hjorth’s contribution was left wanting, no one’s impact on the events came anywhere near the seismic force of her fellow countrywoman’s, Sophie Gustafson, who will also be part of this week’s field. While the 38-year-old Gustafson has experienced a downshift in results over the past 7 months, following her 4-0 performance in Country Meath, the course’s setup might prove favorable to her and yet another Scandinavian star that often shined on the Robert Trent Jones Trail, current World No.3 Suzann Pettersen. In fact, The Crossings, with its large receptive greens and exploitable lines that will lend aggressive yet reliant strikers of the ball a helping hand, one could easily see either of our two candidates come out on top in Alabama; the preponderance of the flagstick being significantly diminished and the primary concern becoming sharp iron play.

Leaving without mentioning Song-Hee Kim, after having brought to the table the subject of golfers who’ve made Mobile their proverbial home away from home, would be a probant proof of sheer incompetence on Yours Truly’s part. The 2006 Duramed Futures Tour champion’s bright days now appear foggy – 16 months removed from her stellar 2010 campaign which included 13 top-10’s – but, even in less than optimal form, the Korean simply can’t fare faultily at Magnolia Grove, her 2011 AVNET Classic performance is a prime example of this. Whilst many would find themselves hard-pressed to put their hard-earned money on a player that has shown quite lackluster shape in recent memory, repeated success in precise settings – especially in our beloved game where courses and conditions are, not only, highly peculiar, but demand a specific array of skills depending on said peculiarities – has us wondering if another deep run is in the stars for the now World No. 48.

Click here for more discussion in the “LPGA/ladies golf talk” forum.

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10 interesting photos from Monday at the Fort Worth Invitational

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GolfWRX is on the ground at Marvin Leonard’s famed pet project, Colonial Country Club, peeking into players bags and taking in the action on the driving range.

In addition to a gallery of photos from Misery Hill, we have WITB looks at Chad Campbell, Sung Kang, and Si-Woo Kim’s golf bags.

While you’ll want to take a trip through the buffet line, we’ve made you a plate of some of the tastiest morsels.

Welcome to the silver side, Maverick McNealy.

Only appropriate for their to be Hogans at Colonial. J.J. Henry does the honors.

Colonial stalwart Keith Clearwater with an Acculock Ace putter in the bag.

Si-Woo Kim’s driver has an “under construction” aesthetic. Love it.

Abraham Ancer may have the only grafitti-inspired bag font on Tour.

Tidy stuff.

Sung Kang: Going dual drivers this week or testing Tensei Orange vs. Tensei White?

A.B.C. How about this new Odyssey putter cover?

Chad Campbell is still rocking the TaylorMade Burner TP 5-wood!

…and Adams Idea Black irons with a strip of lead tape. Swoon.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational below.

Monday’s Photos

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

 

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational at Colonial

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club (par 70; 7,209 yards). The event has now been hosted here for 73 straight years.

Headlining the field this week are Jordan Spieth, who’s currently ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Jon Rahm (No. 4), Justin Rose (No. 5) and Rickie Fowler (No. 6). Joining them are notables Webb Simpson, who’s coming off his win at The 2018 Players, as well as Wesley Bryan, Jason Dufner, Bryson DeChambeau, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Pat Perez, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Jimmy Walker, and last week’s champion, Aaron Wise.

Last year, Kevin Kisner captured the second PGA Tour victory of his career after shooting a final-round, 4-under 66.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational below.

Monday’s Photos

Special Galleries

 

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

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Aaron Wise and Miguel Angel Jimenez both win their first

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Forget the Vegas Golden Knights for a moment. Golf, friends, is what is on the rise. Play a knockout event in Europe, toss in a rollicking, fun, unpredictable course in Texas, and spice it up with the most interesting man in golf (nope, never gets old) and the third weekend of May was nifty. A simple Tour Walkdown wouldn’t be nearly enough; we need a full-on, high-speed Rundown. Lace up your kicks and Zoom.

Aaron Wise collects first PGA Tour Win at Byron Nelson

People will say that the hardest thing to do is hold a lead. Marc Leishman opened with a saucy 61, and he nearly kept the reigns all week. In the end, Aaron Wise was too much duck for Leish, and finished on -23 to capture his first PGA Tour title, by three shots. Wise made 4 bogeys on the week, and 3 of them came on Saturday. His third-round 68 still made up ground on the Aussie leader, who closed 69-68 on the weekend. Wise was not flawless from tee to green on Sunday, but he avoided the hiccoughs that found him on Saturday. His scramble game was strong, and bogey stayed away. As for Leishman, after a bogey at the short 2nd, he drove the green at 4 and converted the bendy eagle putt. Two more birdies on the outward nine kept him close to Wise. On the inward half, which Wise played 1-under, Leishman had a shot. Two bogeys staved off his challenge, and Wise was a winner. Brandon Grace had a lightning round of his own on day 4, closing with 62 for a third-place tie with JJ Spaun and Keith Mitchell.

Aaron Wise Winning WITB

Adrian Otaegui knocks field out in Belgium

According to some Twitter post, Adrian Otaegui is undefeated in European Tour match play competition. Twelve consecutive wins. Future Ryder Cup captains, are we aware? Something about those Spaniards, those Basques, and their ability to get things done in head-to-head competition. Otaegui survived two tough matches in the rounds of 32 (w/Max Kiefer) and 16 (w/Matthew Southgate) where he squeaked by with a 1-stroke margin of victory. From that point on, it was clear sailing for the Iberian. Along the way, he defeated countryman Jorge Campillo in the quarters, Scotland’s David Drysdale in the semis, and France’s Benjamin Hebert in the final match. The beat-a-countryman, beat-a-Brit was common with Hebert as well. He knocked off Mike Lorenzo-Vera in the quarters, followed by James Heath in the semis, to arrange his final dance with Otaegui.

Jutanugarn is LPGA Queen once more in Virginia

While Sunday’s attention was divided between Brooke Henderson’s charge and the leading trio’s fight for supremacy, Ariya Jutanugarn had been in this position too many times to care. The long-hitting Thai golfer might have put things away with a birdie at the 16th; instead, she bogeyed and fell into a playoff with In Gee Chun of Korea and Nasa Hataoka of Japan. On the first extra green, Japan and Thailand made birdie, bidding farewell to Korea. On the 2nd playoff hole, Jutanugarn again made birdie to clinch the 8th LPGA title of her young career. As for Henderson, one wouldn’t think that a first-round 70 would put you that deep in the hole, but it did. Despite 65-65 on the weekend, Henderson was 1 agonizing putt or chip or whatever on the outside, looking in.

Michael Arnaud (after a magical nine holes) wins the Web Week in South Carolina

Arnaud posted 188 strokes to the board over his final 54 holes. Heck, do that and you can shoot your weight and still win. Arnaud’s found-magnificence was beyond impressive. His second-round 60 included a front-nine 27 that began with five birdies and two eagles…CONSECUTIVELY from holes 1 to 7. Dude was on track to shoot 26 or some nonsense until he bogeyed the 9th. Birdie there would have given him 25 for the outward half. Pity KH Lee and Robbie Shelton, who would have had a heck of a playoff on any other Sunday. The pair finished at -22, five strokes behind Arnaud. Question is, will Arnaud continue to excel, or will he remember one May weekend as the time he caught lightning in a bottle? In either case, the magic was his for a time.

Jimenez FINALLY grabs a senior major at Tradition

I would have bet MI CASA that MAJ had won a senior major title before his triumph at Greystone in Birmingham. It’s a big month for the steel city, as the USGA Women’s Open will be at Shoal Creek at the end of May. Back to the most interesting man. Jimenez built a comfortable lead (4 strokes) after 3 rounds. He opened with a magnificent 64, and no one could match it (and truly close the gap) until Jeff Maggert on Sunday. It was Jimenez’ tournament, as he displayed a remarkable command of all weapons. He did not make multiple bogeys until Sunday, at which point he had assumed complete control. As for the chasers, Joe Durant, Gene Sauers and Steve Stricker were able to claim a share of the runner-up podium spot, finishing at -16, 3 back of the victor. As with the remainder of the field, none could match Jimenez’ slew of birdies, which more than offset his slight number of bogeys.

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