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Dennis Watson wins Senior PGA Championship

It took 23 years for Dennis Watson to return to the winners circle, but he did it in major fashion at the 68th PGA Senior Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiwah Island.

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Dennis Watson Wins 68th PGA Senior Championship The first major of the year on the Champions Tour left a question on people’s minds, just who is Denis Watson? The answer – Denis Watson is a major champion. Sunday on Kiwah Island’s Ocean Course, the Zimbabwean overcame a 23 year drought to find his way back to the winners circle. Up to this point, much of Watson’s career had been characterized by injury rather than golf. A myriad of wrist, elbow, and neck problems have limited the number of events Watson has been able to play. In the press conferences afterwards, Watson expressed his feelings about his victory, "It’s wonderful to be playing golf again. To get out and do what you like to do is a wonderful thing."

At the beginning of the final round, it seemed Argentina’s Eduardo Romero would be the man to beat. Going into the back nine with a two shot lead, it seemed as though Romero would cruise into the clubhouse easily. However, the tables turned on the 195 yard par-3 14th where Romero pulled his tee shot. His ball not only found the waste area, but buried so deep into the soft sand it nearly disappeared. Forced to take an unplayable lie, he would end up with double bogey. Watson on the other hand hit his tee shot within ten feet and seized his opportunity by converting his birdie putt for a one shot lead he would not relinquish for the rest of the day. Romero who played only eight holes over par the entire Championship later said, "It cost me a lot … But I played good, I was just unlucky and played bad for one hole and then I just lost the tournament by that. I’m very happy with my game. Very sad for no win this week, because I feel very strong, I feel I was playing fantastic, but the golf it’s like this. Sometimes you win, sometimes lose."

In addition to this year’s Senior PGA Championship, the Ocean Course will also host the 2012 PGA Championship. Although the conditions on the tees, fairways, and greens seemed excellent, many players commented that the waste areas left quite a bit to be desired. The lack of sand towards the bottom of the bunkers and the excessive amount in the faces remained a topic of debate throughout the field. Craig Stadler said, "They definitely need to rework these bunkers or whatever they call them around the greens. 15 and 17 are horrible by the green. It’s like hitting it out of this brick here. Just put a little sand in there, give the guys at least a chance to use their talent and hit a shot rather than just leave it in the bunker or hit it in the water." After seeing Romero’s ball plug in 14’s waste area, even champion Denis Watson said, "I felt really bad for Eduardo. He hit a pretty bad shot, but I question how they had the face of the bunkers this week. I thought that was unfair."

Despite the questionable conditioning of the bunkers, the day would belong to Denis Watson. He kept his lead on the last four holes through some tense moments. A bogey on 15 cut Watson’s lead to one after Romero pared the hole. However, on the par-5 16th after hitting his second twenty yards off the green, Denis Watson chose to use his putter from well off the green and was able to convert his birdie opportunity and seal a major as his first victory on the Champion’s Tour.

Photo: AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain

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Morning 9: Perspectives on the Japan Skins | Tiger talks knee surgery/issues | Rory: Brooks is right

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 22, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Perspective on the Japan Skins
Golfweek staff writers Roxanna Scott and Adam Woodard…”Novelty is a good thing…Our favorite moment came on the 7th when the main cast was joined by world-class rugby players for a two-man scramble. (Tokyo is hosting the Rugby World Cup this month.) Hideki Matsuyama drained a 35-foot putt for birdie and was hoisted off the ground by his partner, former South African player Bryan Habana. “He’s my partner. I’m with him,” Habana yelled.”
  • “Low-level stakes, lackluster golf…So the GOLFTV production wasn’t what we are used to week to week, but the on-course interviews were a good diversion. (We heard Tiger really wants to play in the Olympics next year. Rory wasn’t offended by Brooks Koepka’s comments on their non-rivalry last week.)…But the quality of golf by the four big names wasn’t enough to carry our interest through the middle of the night. Perhaps it was the lack of big-time stakes for these guys (McIlroy won $23 million last season, which included his $15 million from the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title) or the lackluster golf, particularly those first few holes.”

Full piece.

2. …and more perspective…
A few quality takes from the Golf.com crew in Tour Confidential…
  • Sean Zak, senior editor (@sean_zak): It was going to be difficult to live up to the hype, but I was genuinely entertained. This was much better than The Match, and probably always was going to be. The course was a highlight as we watched elite pros play shots for the first time. Tiger was a lowlight on the first four holes (rust, perhaps) and then started flagging it. Rory wilted after putting on a ball-striking display, and Day’s putter reigned supreme. The only lowlight was the man unmentioned thus far. Hideki really never got it going.
  • Josh Sens, contributor (@JoshSens): Well, that was one weird show. The production itself was almost local cable access quality – you could hear the players talking and then you couldn’t; the shot tracer worked and then it didn’t; the images glitched and jumped then steadied. It was like the Skins game version of Between Two Ferns. In that way it was almost endearingly bad. I kind of liked how unslick it was. Full disclosure: I nodded off after the first nine. In that time the golf itself was a long way from spectacular and the conversations the mics did pick up were a long way from interesting. But there were some high points, including a goofy moment where each guy got paired with a rugby legend and they played a two-man scramble. The rugby players themselves seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and there was a funny scene when Matsuyama drained a long putt and his hulking partner jumped into his arms in celebration. Matsuyama caught him and it looked like he might slip a disc. Bottom line: It was strange and pretty awful but it also sort of worked.

Full piece.

3. Tiger talks knee surgery 
In addition to revealing he originally planned his arthroscopy for post-2018 Hero World Challenge, but ultimately decided to soldier on through the season, Woods let on just how much the creaky joint was bothering him as the year wore on.
  • Per Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Woods’ left knee held up well for half the year, highlighted by his victory at the Masters, but he struggled late in the season and failed to advance to the Tour Championship, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed him to have the surgery a week earlier than he’d planned.”
  • “It got to where it was affecting the way I read putts. You could see it towards the end of the year I wasn’t getting down on my putts well,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’ve been down this road before and I knew the protocols.”

Full piece.

4. Jimenez storms to victory
Golf Digest’s John Strege…”One of those occasions was Monday’s final round of the first Charles Schwab Cup playoff event, the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, which he won with his best round of the year, a nine-under-par 63 at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond.”
  • “Jimenez began the rain-delayed final round in a tie for fourth, three shots off the lead shared by Tommy Tolles and Scott Parel, then went out and played a bogey-free round that included nine birdies on a water-logged course.”
5. Rory: Brooks wasn’t wrong
Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek...”Those weren’t fightin’ words….That was Rory McIlroy’s summation when asked about Brooks Koepka’s blunt response about a rivalry between the two top players in the world.”
  • “…”What Brooks said wasn’t wrong. He has been the best player in the world for the last couple of years, four majors,” McIlroy told GolfTV during Monday’s The Challenge: Japan Skins at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, the site of this week’s Zozo Championship. “Don’t think he had to remind me that I haven’t won (a major) in a while. I love Brooks, he’s a great guy. Obviously, super competitive like we all are. I can see where he’s coming from.”

Full piece.

6. Don’t expect much from Tiger this week
So writes ESPN’s Bob Harig…”expectations should be tempered this week at the Zozo Championship. Woods admitted as much in a brief interview Monday after the event with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama. Woods looked rusty on his way to earning five skins in the competition won by Day.”
  • It’s always been that way whenever I’ve had one of these layoffs,” Woods said. “It was nice to get out there and compete. To get back in the flow of things. My range of motion, my strength, is there again. I just have to work my way back and hope I find a feel for the round quickly.”
  • “There was a time when long breaks hardly impacted Woods. He’d take weeks off, and come back and win again. He’d show up at Torrey Pines following a lengthy break and perform like he’d been playing and practicing all along.”
  • “Physical woes in recent years have made that extremely difficult. The demands that come with being Tiger Woods — father, golf course designer, endorser, foundation head, golfer — add more diversions. And Woods, at 43, is simply at a point where he can’t give his peers such a head start and be competitive.”

Full piece.

7. Captain Woods gets a look at potential Presidents Cup squad member Woods
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on TW looking at TW as a captain’s pick..”Tiger Woods admitted on Monday that he’s been “consumed” by his duties as captain of this year’s Presidents Cup team in recent weeks.”
  • “Since undergoing surgery on his left knee in August, Woods’ practice has been limited, leaving little for him to focus on beyond this year’s matches in Australia.”
  • “It’s been a fun process to be a part of,” Woods said. “I’ve been part of it the last couple years as a vice captain and now having three great vice captains and being able to communicate with all eight guys, who they want on the team and who they think that will fit on the team.”

Full piece.

8. ANGC job fair
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”the most prestigious golf club on the planet, is holding a job fair for the 2020 Masters.”
  • “The club, according to an ad, is looking to fill temporary tournament positions in concessions, culinary/kitchen, housekeeping, food and beverage, restrooms, and retail. Applicants are asked to bring multiple copies of updated resumes and should be available to work Saturday, April 4 through Sunday, April 12, 2020.”

Full piece.

9. Beat him in his own sweater vest! 
Funny tidbit from the skins match that you might have missed.…”Tiger Woods began play at the MGM Resorts The Challenge: Japan Skins wearing a navy blue sweater vest over a light blue-and-white striped shirt. Jason Day, meanwhile, was just in his shirt sleeves.”
  • “By the sixth hole, Woods has taken off the vest in favor of a full-length sweater…By the seventh hole, Day was wearing Tiger’s sweater vest.”

 

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Tour Rundown: JT the CJ Cup collector, Colsaerts closes the door, Kang the boss

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With ghouls and goblins on the horizon across much of the world, professional golf marched into the deep autumn with resolve. The European Tour revisited the site of last year’s Ryder Cup, while the PGA Tour Champions took up residence along the James River in Virginia. The LPGA and PGA Tours logged serious flier miles, hosting events in China and Korea.

We said it last week, but we’ll never tire of repeating it: fall professional golf is AWESOME because it means something. No more silly season events with more commercials than golf. No more Tom Watson complaining about Gary Player and a grass leaf, in an exhibition. Run run Run it down with us in this week’s Tour Rundown.

PGA Tour   JT adds 2nd CJ Cup to home hardware shelf

Justin Thomas came into this week as a favorite of sorts. He plays very well in Asia, with 3 previous Tour wins, including the 2017 iteration of this event. After his 2-shot win over Danny Lee this week, 36% of JT’s tour wins have come in Malaysia and Korea. Thomas trailed first-round leader Byeong Hun An (known as “Ben”) by five strokes, but that differential was erased on day two. More than most on tour, Thomas pulls a 63 out of his bag when he needs it most, and he seized the lead after 36 holes. He cooled off on Saturday to a 70, but Byeong chilled to 73, and the lead on Saturday was shared by Thomas and Lee. Their Sunday duel went back and forth; each was -4 on the day through 14 holes. Lee stumbled with bogies at 15 and 16, then nearly banged an eagle putt in at the last. Lee settled for birdie, allowing Thomas the luxury of a two-putt from 6 feet for the win. The champion needed but one, and the two-shot margin of triumph was his.

LPGA Tour   Danielle Kang shows that she’s the boss in Shanghai

Danielle Kang won’t look back at Sunday in Shanghai, and recall a birdie fest. She made but two of the rare birds, managing 70 on the day. Across the remainder of the card were 16 pars, and that tally was enough to secure a 0ne-shot victory over Jessica Korda. Shanghai is now a favorite of the California-born golfer, as this victory was a defense of her 2018 win. She began the day a stroke behind Floridian Korda, and her mistake-free golf was the determining factor. Korda, in search of her 6th tour title (and first in 20 months) posted three birdies on her 4th day in Shanghai. To her dismay, each one came on the heels of a bogey. The putts that fell over the first 54 holes, the ones that saved par and preserved the lead, did not fall. It was Kang who rose up, Kang who kept the momentum going, on day four. And in a repeat performance, it was Kang who hoisted the winner’s sculpted trophy, symbolic of victory.

European Tour   Colsaerts closes door that Hansen left ajar in France

Two European golfers, of a similar generation, were cursed with the announcement of their length. Alvaro Quiros of Spain, and Belgium’s Nicholas Colsaerts, were both predicted to amass win after win after win. Shame on the sportswriters. For Colsaerts, it had been 7 years since his last tour win, at the 2012 World Match Play. On Sunday, outside Paris, the Belgian sealed his 3rd tour victory, by 1 stroke over Joachim B. Hansen. The final 90 minutes were as exciting as anything that happened in September of 2018, when Europe and the USA did battle in the storied team competition. Colsaerts notched an eagle at the 14th, only to follow it with a rinse at the 15th for double bogey. Like that he went from leader to pursuer. Hansen birdied 4 of his first 6 holes on Sunday’s inward nine, and was the beneficiary of the Belgian’s untimely swim. He returned the favor on dry land, banging a putt from shy of the 17th green over the 17th green, into the rough. Hansen made a double of his own, and gave the lead back. Colsaerts was able to negotiate the watery 18th in par figures, ensuring that he would lift a long-awaited trophy and put a few bad memories away in a box.

PGA Tour Champions   Jimenez lights more than a cigar in old Virginia

Poor Tommy Tolles. He picked a heckuva week to run into the smoldering Spaniard. Tolles bounced back from an early bogey on Monday (Sunday rainout) to shoot 4-under par and overtake Monty, Woody, Bernie, and everyone but … Miggy? Yup, Miguel Angel Jimenez, of the Malaga Jimenez, absolutely ignited on a wet, James River course at the Country Club of Virginia. The swashbuckling corsair had 9 birdies on the day and never so much as puffed a ring of smoke at a bogey (whatever that means.) The victory was MAJ’s 2nd of the season, and first since February. He won’t win the Schwab Cup, but he did jump into the top 10 in points. As for Tolles, his runner-up finish moved him 22 spots, from 59th to 37th. A nice finish after Halloween (the next event, in California) and Tolles might just sneak into the finale (and keep his card, too!)

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Morning 9: Skins winner | CJ Cup | Colsaerts a victor again | Kang defends

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 21, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans. [featured image c/o GolfTV]
1. Day wins skins
Good stuff from Daniel Rapaport in, what I believe is, his first or second piece since making the jump to Golf Digest…”Jason Day summoned two disparate up-and-downs from bunkers to win MGM Resorts The Challenge: Japan Skins at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club on Monday. One was as routine as it gets for a tour pro-a lob wedge that led to a winning tap-in birdie on the par-5 18th. The other one was the type of shot you’d dare your buddy to hit after a few back-nine beers.”
  • “I haven’t hit a bunker shot with a 6-iron in probably eight years,” Day said of his play on 14. You’d have no idea given how easy he made it look. He squatted-“I felt like I was sitting on the sand,” he said-opened his clubface up, nipped it perfectly, then used that same 6-iron to sink the par putt.”
  • “That type of short-game wizardy is what allowed Day to turn a so-so round into $210,000 and a victory over Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama”

Full piece.

2. CJ Cup
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill on JT’s win…”Since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, Thomas has 10 wins after grabbing his 11th career title at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES on Sunday. In that span Johnson is next with eight, Koepka six. It’s no contest.”
  • “It was the second win on JeJu Island in three years for Thomas as he held off a plucky crowd favorite in Danny Lee by two shots.”
  • “The 26-year-old former FedExCup winner has now converted eight of 11 54-hole lead/co leads into victory. He finds a way. And while those watching him are very impressed with such resolve Thomas isn’t ready to adopt the closer title just yet.”
  • “I don’t think you can ever necessarily call yourself the best closer. I’ve only won 11 times. I feel like once I get to 40 or 50 times and I’ve closed a lot of those, then I think that’s kind of different,” Thomas says.”

Full piece.

3. Colsaerts wins again
Reuters report…”Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts captured his first European Tour title in seven years on Sunday, winning the French Open by one shot after a final round of 72.”
  • “The 36-year-old, who held a three-shot lead coming into the final day at Le Golf National, fired three birdies and a superb eagle on the par-five 14th before a double bogey on the next hole to finish at 12-under for the tournament.”
  • “Denmark’s Joachim B Hansen carded a three-under-par 68 in the final round to finish a shot behind, while South Africa’s George Coetzee was third after signing off with a 71.”

Full piece.

4. LPGA
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins on Danielle Kang’s scrappy victory…
“There wasn’t a single hole that I thought I won until the last putt dropped,” Kang said after earning her third career LPGA title.”
  • “Kang, the tournament’s defending champion, birdied the first hole of Sunday’s final round at Qizhong Garden Golf Club to take the lead over Korda, her teammate in the recent Solheim Cup. It was a good way for Kang to start the round, which happened to fall on her 27th birthday, but she didn’t make another birdie until the 15th hole. A steady stream of pars in between, and on the final three holes, gave her a two-under-par 70 to finish at 16-under 272 for the tournament. Mind you, she had to work for each one of those pars. Kang’s usually strong ball-striking disappeared on Sunday. She missed six greens, and three times found herself in greenside bunkers. Aggressively aiming at pins left her with difficult short-sided chip shots. To her credit, she converted them all.”
5. Never stop pushing
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski on what may be the secret to Justin Thomas’ success...”It takes a certain mentality, not to mention unalloyed confidence, to continually light a match to PGA Tour scorecards the way Justin Thomas is inclined to do. It wasn’t one so much taught to Thomas-though his father Mike, a PGA professional, supplied him the tools-as it has been cultivated from within.”
  • “As a youngster, Thomas would play the short course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., determined to ace every hole. That doesn’t sound all that unusual, but this kid was different; if he didn’t ace it, he’d promptly move on to the next hole. Go low or go “doh.”
  • “Now, it’s dough. And it keeps rolling in.” 

Full piece.

6. While you were sleeping
Christopher Powers at Golf Digest on what you missed-and some of the more curious elements-of the Japan Skins, including this…
  • “Rugby players spice things up…After six quiet holes, four rugby players in Japan for the Rugby World Cup added their own brand of excitement. Mike Tindall of England, George Gregan of Australia, Bryan Habana of South Africa and Brian O’Driscoll of Ireland were part of the second “charity challenge,” which paired them each with one of the pros. The hole ended in a tie, but it was an electric tie at that. Matsuyama made the first birdie from way downtown, causing his partner, Habana, to jump into his arms/scare the hell out of him. Moments later, O’Driscoll buried his birdie putt for the halve”

Full piece.

7. Monday finish
AP report…”Heavy rain forecast to last throughout the day forced the postponement of the third round of the PGA Tour Champions event on Sunday.”
  • “Scott Parel and Tommy Tolles share the lead at 12 under par, with Colin Montgomerie one shot back.”

Full piece.

8. An unexpected opportunity
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols on how tournaments like the Senior LPGA Championship provide once-elite players the opportunity to tee it up again…
“I used to do that,” said Suzanne Strudwick, “but could I do it again?”
  • “There were plenty of players trying to answer that question at the Senior LPGA Championship. Players like Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, a major winner who hadn’t teed it up in real competition in a decade.”
  • “Two back surgeries later, Meunier-Lebouc took one look at the entry list at French Lick and couldn’t resist. And with good friend Helen Alfredsson winning the U.S. Senior Women’s Open earlier this year, her mind had already started churning at the possibilities. Alfredsson, of course, completed the Senior Slam by once again besting Juli Inkster at the Senior LPGA.”
  • “But the week at the demanding Pete Dye Course wasn’t about a trophy for the French National coach. Meunier-Lebouc knew that some of players on that entry list, like her, hadn’t played much golf at all recently, and the knowledge freed her up to the idea of coming back “for the experience” – a foreign phrase for elite-level athletes.”

Full piece.

9. Worth a listen
Our Ryan Barath appeared on The Hackers Paradise podcast to discuss club building. It’s a great listen, whether you’re a novice of the craft or have a wealth of experience turning down ferrules.
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