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Tour Mash: Bryan wins at home, Molinari tops Dunne

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The world’s major golf tours returned to serious action after Masters week, reminding us how much wonderful talent exists and how much more is on the rise. Tournaments in Morocco, South Carolina’s low country, and oh, that place called Hawaii, have us dashing for some mashing. Let’s Tour Mash it up after a one-week hiatus.

PGA Tour: A fitting win for Wesley Bryan

The same week that Tommy’s Honour (the cinematic story of Young Tom Morris) was released for limited run in the U.S., another unlikely script was written for Wesley Bryan. The former trick-shot maven turned Web.com Tour king, turned PGA Tour player is now a PGA Tour winner. No more fitting place than his home state of South Carolina.

A bunch of fellows with better Tour pedigrees than Bryan began the final day atop the RBC Heritage leaderboard on Hilton Head Island. Jason Dufner hadn’t been in this position in a few years, and it showed. The Duff dropped off page one with a 5-over 76 on Sunday. Moving up quickly was perennial Harbor Town challenger Luke Donald, whose own Sea Pines story is too unlikely for the big screen. Donald has finished in the top-3 at the RBC Heritage on seven of the last nine times he’s played the event, including five runner-up results. He has no plaid jacket (emblematic of the winner), but a lot of money to show!

It was Bryan, the Columbia, SC, native and USC (South Carolina) alum who became the first native in the 49-year history of the event to receive the coveted blazer. After a four-birdie tear on the front nine brought him into the mix, Bryan came home with a 2-under back nine to assume the lead. The win moved him inside the top-15 on the FedEx Cup points list and earned him the first invitation to the 2018 Masters.

Related: Bryan’s Winning WITB

LPGA Tour: Kerr wins 19th tour title at Lotte Championship

After 15 years on the LPGA Tour, Cristie Kerr hasn’t forgotten how to finish off the opposition. The two-time major champion closed strong in Hawaii with a final-round 66, claiming victory by three strokes over a trio of pursuers. Third-round leader Su-Yeon Jang had played flawless golf for 54 holes, but came untracked on Saturday’s front nine with a bogey and a double. Poised to take advantage were young stalwarts Lydia Ko and In Gee Chun. Both closed with solid rounds (64 and 67, respectively) to tie Jang at 17-under.

It was Kerr, the LPGA poster child of the mid 2000s, who surged from the pack to claim victory. Pairing six birdies with 12 pars on a delightful plate, the Arizona resident overtook the faltering leader and the hopeful pursuers, ultimately triumphing by three shots with a 20-under total. A resurgent Lydia Ko closed with eight birdies over her final 12 holes, but Kerr had no desire to let the chasers gain any ground.

European Tour: Molinari tops Dunne at Trophee Hassan II

In 2015, Paul Dunne found out as an amateur how difficult it is to win a professional event. Keep in mind that his third-round lead was in the British Open championship… at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Not the easiest of wins to finish off. On Sunday, Dunne learned as a professional that it’s pretty tough to win anywhere. The young Irish professional played pretty well on Sunday, closing with a 1-under 72 to finish at 9-under par. Then came Molinari.

Edoardo Molinari, former U.S. Amateur champion and Ryder Cupper, eagled two of the par fives on the inward half of the Red Course at Royal Dar Es Salam in Morocco. Molinari added two birdies coming home to join Dunne atop the standings. The two golfers returned to the 18th hole, where Molinari had eagled (and Dunne had birdied) during regulation. Both golfers chopped it up this time around, but Dunne’s failure to convert a par putt meant that Molinari had his third European Tour title in hand. Paul Waring of England came third, one stroke out of the playoff at 8-under.

PGA Tour Champions: Mitsubishi Electric Classic

It took Canada’s Stephen Ames nearly 50 PGA Tour Champions starts to win his first title, but the wait is over. Ames closed out a week as best golfer with a 6-under 66 for a 4-stroke win over Bernhard Langer. In 3rd place after round one’s 67, Ames moved to the top spot on day two win a 68, but he saved his best for last at the TPC Sugarloaf course.

Four birdies on the outward half offered no hope to Langer and the other huntsmen. A critical, chip-in for birdie on No. 7 preserved Ames’ momentum; he closed conservatively with a 2-under inward half, which was more than enough to maintain his winning margin. The trio of Fred Funk, David Frost and Brandt Jobe tied for 3rd at 10-under.

LET: LALLA Meryem Cup a 1st for Spilkova

Suzann Pettersen was voted most intimidating golfer on the Ladies European Tour in a recent poll. That’s a decided advantage for any golfer, but it wasn’t enough to ensure victory at the second event of the week at the Royal Dar Es Salam club in Morocco. The Blue Course anticipated another win from the great Norwegian competitor, but instead it was host to the coming-out party of Klara Spilkova, the first Czech golfer to win on the LET.

Spilkova debuted on tour at the age of 16, but was still in search of her maiden victory seven years later. She picked Sunday to fire a tournament-best round of 66 (matched by Georgia Hall) to reach 8-under. Pettersen birdied the 17th hole to close within one, but left her tying putt on No. 18 three inches short in the jaws of the cup. Her Sunday 71 came up just shy of Spilkova’s clean card.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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Tuesday’s Photos from the 2018 Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

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The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

Last year, Fowler won by four shots over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland, despite playing his final round in 1-over par.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Tuesday’s Photos

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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 Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

Last year, Fowler won by four shots over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland, despite playing his final round in 1-over par.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Monday’s Photos

Special Galleries

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

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Tour Rundown: Bubba is back (from near retirement)

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The California cruise on the PGA Tour came to an end at Riviera, as it always does. Tiger Woods played poorly over the George Thomas classic, as he always does. Oh, and Bubba Watson showed why he is not in the ranks of ballers Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland. Big wins were earned from Australia to Florida, by 22 year olds and 41 year youngs. Our tour rundown runs gathers results from five unique tours, and breaks each triumph down for you. Have a glance at this week’s Tour Rundown.

Watson returns to form with third Genesis Open win

There are too many ledes to unearth for this one: Horses for courses or Mercurial Watson, or how about My wife’s the hoops star, I’m the golfer? Whatever was in that Tracy McGrady rejection on Friday night was the medicine Bubba Watson needed to return to the winner’s circle. Along the way, Watson schooled the 20-somethings (and even the other Lefty) on how to close the deal in Hogan’s Alley.

How Watson came back from near-retirement

While the siren song of the candy store, car dealership and baseball team might have been strong, Bubba Watson wanted to be a champion golfer again. After nine, up-and-down holes (3 birdies and 2 bogeys) on Sunday, Watson was looking up at Patrick Cantlay, Kevin Na and even Phil Mickelson. Not to worry, as the Florida portsider had played the inward half under par all week. Watson closed with 3 birdies and 0 bogeys over his final 9 holes, sealing a 2-stroke win over Na and Tony Finau.

See the clubs Bubba used to win the 2018 Genesis Open

How a quartet missed out

Let’s summarize: Na played the back side in 1-under par and needed Watson’s 3-under for a playoff; Tony Finau was 2-under on the closing half, but needed double that for extra holes; Phil Mickelson bogeyed 15 and 16 when he knew that birdies were needed; Patrick Cantlay played 1 over in his final 9, when 2-under would have meant playoff. All the also-rans and almost-weres didn’t do what Watson did: close the deal.

Jin Young Ko secures Australian Open on LPGA Tour

It’s a stretch to call Jin Young Ko an LPGA player, as her first 9 wins came on the LPGA of Korea tour. In October and now in February, Ko bested world-class fields to win co-sanctioned events, and is now a two-time LPGA champion. At this rate, it might be difficult for her to remain tethered to the Korean tour.

How Ko won the week

A 7-under 65 on Thursday was the fuel Ko needed to take a lead that she would not relinquish. Although Katherine Kirk matched that number on Sunday, no one was able to wrest the advantage from the 22-year old Ko. Two rounds of 69 and one of 71 brought her to 14-under on the week. On day four, Ko started quickly with two opening birdies. A pair of bogeys on the outward half kept her within sight of the field, but birdies at 9, 13 and 17 were the recipe for re-establishing her three-shot margin of victory.

How she kept the field at bay

The challenging Kooyoonga golf club was not very free with low rounds this week. Ko’s compatriot Hyejin Choi, posted a flawless 67 on Sunday to move up one spot, into solo second at 11-under. In third and fourth were a pair of Australians, Hannah Green at 10-under and the aforementioned Katherine Kirk, at 9-under. Marina Alex was the low USA golfer at 7-under, tied for fifth spot with Minjee Lee.

Oman Open on European Tour

Joost Luiten began the fourth day at Oman in a three-way tie for first spot, but asserted himself early on Sunday with birdies on holes 2 through 4. It was enough to separate from the field, and he was able to hold off Chris Wood to earn his 8th European Tour title, by two strokes.

How Luiten claimed victory

After the fiery beginning, Luiten cooled off in the later stages of the opening nine holes. Bogeys at 7 and 8 brought him back to the field, but he wasn’t done for the afternoon. Luiten birdied 12 and 13, then added the clincher on a tricky birdie putt on the 16th hole. That final birdie gave him a 2-shot separation on Chris Wood, and he held on for pars at the final two holes for a 68 on the day and 16-under for the tournament.

How Wood and others came up shy

Matthew Southgate and Julien Guerrier began Sunday in a tie with Luiten, but the day turned sour early for Southgate. The Englishman had four bogeys in a five-hole stretch. Two more miscues on the inward half dropped him into a three-way tie for ninth at 9-under par. Guerrier held the wheel a bit steadier: two bogeys at the turn were offset by three birdies coming in, and the young Frenchman was able to coax a solo third-place finish out of the week. It was Chris Wood who gave the greatest chase to Luiten. Wood had four birdies on the day, and was in a tie at the top at 15-under, when he yanked a drive at 17 and found a hazard. Although he was able to play his ball, the ensuing bogey was the mistake he could not afford. A par at the last placed him at 14-under, one shot clear of Guerrier and two behind the champion.

Durant welcomes second PGA Tour Champions title at Chubb Classic

Technically, it’s his third, but the first was a two-man win with Billy Andrade. Durant probably caught wind that Billy Mayfair and Tim Petrovic were going super-low (8-under on Sunday) and that David Toms was at their heels (7-under on the day.) Each of those three earned a top-four finish, but Durant took matters into his own hands over the closing seven holes. He left Naples as the 2018 Chubb champion.

When Joe Durant woke up

Durant was 1-over through 7 holes on Sunday, headed in the wrong direction. Birdies on 8 and 9 reminded him that he still had a chance, but the eagle on 13 kicked his game into a higher gear. Birdies at 14, 17 and 18 were enough to offset a bogey at 15, and Durant cruised home with a four-stroke victory over Mayfair, Toms, Petrovic, Lee Janzen and Steve Stricker.

How that quintet fell away

After eight birdies through 14 holes on day 3, Mayfair had zero over his closing four. Toms did the opposite-He played the outward half in 2-under, but came home in 5-under to reach the podium. Petrovic had 4 birdies on each half, but also simply ran out of holes. Janzen threw an early scare into the eventual champion, but two bogeys and not enough chirps were his undoing. Stricker’s finish was the most painful. Within site of Durant and needing birdie at the last for 18-under, Stricker was forced to go for the flag, and instead got wet. His double-bogey finish dropped him from solo second to the five-way tie.

Daniel Fox surprises at Australian PGA championship

Daniel Fox had one previous victory on the Australasian circuit, but he made the most of opportunity’s knock on Sunday. The 41-year old played error-free golf over his final 14 holes, counting 6 birdies for a one-stroke victory over Matthew Millar and Steven Jeffress.

How Fox found the winner’s platform

Fox might say he was the last man standing, and none would argue. The runners-up had chances at birdie at the final hole, but neither one could convert. Fox counted three rounds of 65 and one of 67 on his card.  On the week, he had three bogeys and one double, against 21 birdies and one eagle. In an event where the margin ‘twixt victory and not-victory was razor-thin, Daniel Fox shaved the final whisker.

How Millar and Jeffress came up short

The easy answer would be: they didn’t birdie the 72nd hole. Jeffress had the low round (63) of the week, but his 67-67-66 lost ground on the other three days! As for Millar, one might point to his last two, outward nines. On both weekend days, he made nine consecutive pars to open his round. Against a par of 33, it wasn’t bad, but he gained no ground on the leader. Millar’s stat line for the week read: one eagle, 21 birdies, six bogeys. Yup, nearly identical to Fox, but nearly is the operative word.

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