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Old White Welcomes Back The Pros

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An American Classic welcomes back the PGA Tour this week and plenty of the world’s best players are looking forward to competing on a storied venue.

The Greenbrier Classic plays out on The Old Course at the famed Greenbrier Resort – the pride of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. It is a place of not only historical importance in American society but within the history of golf itself. Sam Snead was the resort’s golf pro for some 29 years and served as Golf Professional Emeritus from 1993 until his death in 2002. Tom Watson became The Greenbrier's second Golf Professional Emeritus in 2005.

The resort is a National Historic Landmark that has been welcoming guests since 1778 and golf has been a rich part of its legacy. There are three layouts on the property and the most famous of them, the 7031-yard, par 70 Old White will serve up the test for the PGA tour this week as the players clamor to win the $1,080,000 up for grabs for the winner.

Originally crafted almost a century ago by Charles Blair MacDonald, the Old White received a renovation at the hands of Jack Nicklaus in 1977 prior to the hosting of the Ryder Cup in 1979. It was recently given a restoration back to the original design by Lester George.

In addition to the Ryder Cup the Resort has hosted the Solheim Cup (1994), and a Champions Tour events from 1985-1987.

The field is plenty strong this week, even though with a World Championships event set right on its heels. There are least 10 players who have 7 or more wins on the PGA Tour and six of this year’s winners. That includes Jim Furyk and last week’s winner of the RBC Canadian Open, Carl Pettersson.

The latter name is important as players will face a similar test this week as they did in Canada during Pettersson’s win. The classic, old style design with tremendous bunkering and tight lines of play should favor players who were also contenders at the Canadian Open.

I’ll put enough weight into that to put the trio of Pettersson, Matt Kuchar and Trevor Immelman as my picks of the week. All three accorded themselves nicely amongst the thick rough and thin fairways at St. George’s and that type of play will go a long way on Old White.

Although Kenny Perry is not on my fave list for The Greenbrier Classic, I am hoping he plays well for other reasons. Perry has dedicated this week to the 29 families involved in the mining disaster that took place in West Virginia in April. He has pledged $2,000 for every birdie he makes during the tournament. Greenbrier owner James Justice will match Perry’s donation during the week. Funds raised through The Greenbrier Classic will be donated to the families through the West Virginia Council of Churches.

Let’s hope Perry can play all four rounds and go real low.

As usual The Golf Channel will have early coverage this week and CBS is set to take up where they left off in Canada by providing great visual shots of a classic golf course and hopefully conveying the rich history of The Greenbrier during their broadcast.

With this being a new PGA Tour event it should be one worth watching.

This report was provided to GolfWRX.com by Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)

PGA Tour Wrapups and Previews by Flagstick will be on a break for the next week and will return with the preview of the PGA Championship.

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Rahm gets win No. 2 and goes to world No. 2

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Week two of the 2018 calendar season added events on the PGA Champions and European tours. The PGA caravan left Hawaii for California and found its first playoff of 2018, just as the Champions Tour reached the islands. The Euros teed it up in Dubai, and the Web.Com Tour stayed in the Bahamas for a second week. With an Asian Tour event in Singapore, the globe’s eyes were once again on professional golf. Time for Tour Rundown at warp speed!

Rahm continues to build career with win at CareerBuilder Challenge

For all of the final round, it looked like Jon Rahm would pull away for a 4-stroke victory. His driving was impeccable and his irons were dialed in. His putting stroke looked sound, but some of the birdies simply did not nest. Throughout the four-hole playoff with Andrew Landry, it seemed as if Rahm was destined to lose. Somehow, he persevered and won.

Rahm’s patience pays off with second PGA Tour win 

How many edges of holes were singed with putts and chips by Jon Rahm down the stretch? At least four, not counting the playoff. Fortunately for the Basque, only Andrew Landry made enough of a move to track him down temporarily. Rahm played like the 3rd-ranked player should, and now he’s the world No. 2 player. Perhaps the fact that he couldn’t or didn’t separate himself from his pursuers, yet had enough weaponry to pull out a victory, mattered more than a runaway triumph. Yet golf is a funny game. The only fairway Rahm missed in extra time came on the 4th hole. Despite that errant tee ball and his misses on the first three playoff holes, Rahm was able to drain the only birdie of the playoff and walk away a champion.

See the clubs Jon Rahm used to win

Landry and others made the most of their opportunities

Andrew Landry showed more gumption than anyone anticipated. The 2016 first-round leader of the U.S. Open stayed around even longer this week. A 72nd-hole birdie brought him to 22-under par and a tie with Rahm. The Arkansas alumnus drove the ball straight and far on each of the playoff holes, and never once sniffed a bogey. His irons brought him within birdie range but, like Rahm, he could not find the proper combination of line and speed. In the end, Landry missed last and settled (if such a term might be used) for a runner-up finish.

Fleetwood greets 2018 with title defense at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Tommy Fleetwood looks for all the world to be a millenial hipster with his free-flowing hair and his strands of beard. In absolute contrast, he is equal parts passion and cold blood. When opportunity beckons, he doesn’t look away. Given the slightest opportunity to defend his 2017 Abu Dhabi title, Fleetwood assented and took charge.

How Fleetwood dispatched Fisher and the rest

Through 9 holes of Sunday’s final round, the tag for Tommy Fleetwood’s title defense percolated as He gave an admirable effort. Nine holes and six birdies later, that tag line had changed to How in the name of all that is known did he defend his title? And yet, there was Fleetwood with the fourth European Tour title of his career and third in the past dozen months. When Fleetwood needed a great drive, he got it. When he didn’t hit a great drive, he came through with a stellar approach. When his approach was off, he drained a long putt. And for good measure, he hit a wonderful pitch at the 18th, nestling the ball 5 feet for birdie, and made that. The end result was a 2-stroke margin of victory over the runner-up, Ross Fisher.

What is it about Ross Fisher?

Ross Fisher is eternally composed. Not like his countryman Colin Montgomerie (more on him later), who wore every disappointment like a Halloween mask. Yet, the two share a certain sad penchant for missing opportunities. Last October, Fisher wasn’t going to catch Tyrell Hatton in St. Andrews, but he was chasing immortality. He had a 25-foot putt for the first 59 at The Old Course…and missed. He had a 4-foot putt for the first 60 at the Old Course…and missed. He broke the course record with his 61, but, you know. Fisher has an 0-5 record in European Tour playoffs. On Sunday, he was victimized by Fleetwood’s marvelous back 9 of 30 strokes, but by his own inability to gather the fruits of opportunity. Case in point: Fisher made a long and testy putt for bogey on the par-5 10th, a hole that many birdied. Rather than use it as a springboard to return to his coach on the birdie train, he floundered with four pars and one bogey over his next five holes.

Kelly wins at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

Jerry Kelly earned the 2017 PGA Tour Champions rookie of the year award, on the strength of consistent play and his first two tour titles. On Day 3 of the 2018 season, he added to his victory total with a 1-stroke win over Colin Montgomerie. A 2-stroke swing on 18 decided the fate of both…here’s how!

How Kelly klaimed the championship

For fans of Hideki Matsuyama and his deceptive reaction to fantastic shots, Mr. Kelly is guilty of the same on well-struck putts. He drops his putter from one hand and slumps his shoulders after mid-range putts. All the while, the ball is tracking toward the hole, and usually drops. Kelly played a fine round on Saturday, with 5 birdies and 1 eagle. It might have been the sole bogey of the round, on No. 16, that ignited his hockey-bred fire. The miscue allowed Colin Montgomerie to take a 1-shot lead into the final 2 holes, but Kelly’s birdie on No. 18 brought him the title. How’s that?

How Monty lost his opportunity

We forget how difficult it is to hold a lead in any event, at any juncture. Colin Montgomerie never figured the recipe out in major championships on the regular tour, but he had it down, for the most part, in regular tour events. On the Champions Tour, he has been quite solid, winning six times as a senior in the U.S. and five times in Europe. In the third round at Hualalai, Monty’s most reliable club betrayed him at the least opportune time. A drive into a fairway bunker at the last hole left him 100 yards to the green. He flew the putting surface with his approach and played an indifferent flop shot to 7 feet for par and a playoff. His effort was off the mark and the title slipped from his grasp.

Sergio’s Singapore Open

Despite this unexpected result, Sergio Garcia opened the 2018 season with a victory in Singapore. We’ll run down what he did right.

Sergio and Singapore on a Sunday

The #SingOpen2018 and @TheSergioGarcia made a perfect match on an extended final day. Wet weather forced a last-day completion of Round 3, and most golfers played more than 20 holes on the final day. Garcia stormed from behind with 66-68 over those final 36 holes to wrest the lead from Danthai Boonma of Thailand. Nine birdies and 1 bogey over that stretch of two rounds finished the task for the Spaniard, who looks to defend his 2017 Masters title in the spring.

See the clubs Sergio used to win

The battle for second ended in a tie

With Garcia separating himself from the peloton, attention turned to Boonma and cast for the runner-up resolution. After three stellar rounds (70-68-65), Boonma stumbled in Round 4 with 73, finishing in a tie for 4th with countryman Jazz Janewattananond. Satoshi Kodaira of Japan and South Africa’s Shaun Norris each birdied the final hole to finish tied for second at 9-under, 5 blows behind the champion.

Hello, World for Sungjae Im at Web.Com Opener

Sungjae Im, all of 19 years of age and pegging it in his first Web.Com event ever, gave us a Hello-World moment with a closing 65 and a 4-shot win over Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz. How did the young Korean pro flu powder his way to the top of the podium? We’re asking ourselves the same question

How Im became I’m The Champ

Im entered the final round of the Great Exuma Classic in a tie with Ortiz, but eyes were on proven winners like Rhein Gibson, Steve Marino and Erik Compton. Sungjae Im went out in Round 4 and played perfect golf. He had 4 birds on his outward half, then seized the trophy by both handles with 3 more chirps on holes 14 to 16. Simply put, there was nothing that Ortiz or any other entrant could do, beyond bow and salute the victor.

How Ortiz and the others took the shock

Carlos Ortiz did what he had to do during Tuesday’s final round. He played a solid round, minus-3 with 5 birds and 2 bogies. He stayed ahead of Gibson and all the others, but would have needed to turn his bogies into birdies to tie Im atop the board. Rhein Gibson began round four like a boss, with birdies on 5 of the first 6 holes. He reached 8-under and looked like the eventual winner. The engine sputtered, and it was 1-birdie-1-bogey-10-pars the rest of the way. Gibson would have needed 10-under on the day to tie for the trophy, but with a few more birdies along the way, would he have frightened Im? Who knows!

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Lexi Thompson signs multi-year endorsement deal to play Bridgestone ball

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Lexi Thompson, who currently plays Bridgestone’s Tour B X ball, will now do so in an official capacity. The company announced today it inked the 22-year-old to a multi-year deal.

The eight-time LPGA Tour winner had been playing Bridgestone’s B330-S for the past two seasons.

“I’ve used Bridgestone for years and the new Tour B product is shockingly good,” said Thompson. “It gives me tremendous distance off the tee without sacrificing any performance around the green. What’s more, I feel confident hitting any type of shot the situation calls for.”

“When I’m testing a golf ball, I look for three things – distance, accuracy and feel,” said Thompson. “For me, the new Tour B delivered in spades. I’ve never played anything that has responded so positively to any situation the golf course throws at me.”

Bridgestone’s Tour B Series includes four models–X, XS, RX and RXS (each $44.99). The company leveraged data from more than three million consumer ball fittings, as well as third-party insights and Bridgestone’s own resources, to create the four-ball lineup.

RELATED: Bridgestone’s Tour B balls were designed with the player in mind

Bridgestone’s professional staff includes, among others, Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Fred Couples, and Bryson DeChambeau.

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Sergio Garcia WITB 2018 (with commentary from Sergio)

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This special-edition of Sergio Garcia’s WITB includes commentary about his clubs from a podcast he recently did with Callaway, Garcia’s new equipment sponsor. Below are the clubs he is using in Singapore this week.

Driver: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi KuroKage Dual Core 70TX
Sergio says: “This new driver feels really, really good. I love the ball flight. I can hit it both ways, left to right, or right to left. And I’ve been driving it quite well. So that gives me even more confidence.”

3 Wood: Callaway Rogue 3+ (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi KuroKage XT 80TX

5 Wood: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (18 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi KuroKage XT 80TX

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro 16 (3-4 iron), Callaway Apex MB 18 (5-9 iron)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 130x

Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (48-10, 54-10 and 58-08)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 130x
Sergio says: “I loved the wedges right away. They feel so much better for me. I got a lot more spin and different ball trajectories. And because I get more spin, I can be more aggressive with my chipping.”

Putter: Odyssey Toulon Azalea

Golf Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft
Sergio says: “My golf ball feels really nice. It’s definitely much better around the greens for me. It was important for me to make sure I liked the golf ball (when I came to Callaway)… It’s very important to see and feel that you can work the ball, and flight the ball. And that’s obviously one of the reasons why I decided to come to Callaway.”

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Sergio’s switch to Callaway in our forums

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