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Tour Mash: 4 Memories from The Players Championship

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It was a light week in the world of professional golf. The LPGA, Web.com, Champions, Ladies European, and PGA Latinoamerica tours all took the seven days off. The stage was left to the Open de Portugal and a small get-together, south of Jacksonville, to hold our attention.

We’ll get to Iberia later. First, here are four memories from the 2017 Players Championship.

Players Championship Memory #1: Si Woooooooooo

Si Woo Kim did what some great golfers have done previously; he made The Players Championship his first top-shelf win. It’s not a major, but it’s close. Guys like Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, and Henrik Stenson all won at TPC Sawgrass before claiming a major title. Guys like Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, and K. J. Choi have also won, but are yet to break through in one of the big four. What about Si Woo?

Well, he’s only 21, and the youngest winner in the history of the event. He has won twice in nine months on the PGA Tour and has shown the ability to hold a lead. Kim made three birdies on the outward half to take the lead, then he put the swing on cruise control with nine pars on the inward side. While golfers melted down all around him, Kim was calm and a deserving champion.

Related: Si Woo Kim’s Winning WITB

Players Championship Memory #2: Big bird, that albatross

Despite Kim’s youthful victory, the 2017 trend has been toward wily veterans and experience. Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia dueled it out at Augusta in April, and Rafael Cabrera-Bello jumped up to a 4th-place tie with an albatross-birdie run on the 16th and 17th holes on Sunday. He wasn’t the top veteran in the field; that distinction went to Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen, two stalwarts who finished three back of Kim at 7-under par.

What Cabrera-Bello, a fist-time Ryder Cup participant in 2016, did best was show a flair for the dramatic under the greatest of pressure. While Poulter made an shank-bogey at the last (more on that later) and Oosthuizen bogeyed two holes on the back nine after closing the gap, Cabrera-Bellow simply ran out of holes. Even when he got himself into trouble (he drove it in the water at the last) he managed to hole a 40-foot putt to save par.

Players Championship Memory #3: Shanks a lot

Love him or hate him, Ian Poulter brings out the fans… with their cheers and jeers. One of the great Ryder Cup performers of the last 20 years, Poulty has had less individual success than one would expect from such a veteran of international competition. Poulter, having excused himself from attention over the last few seasons, made a delightful return to our scrutiny with a consistent, four-day run.

Poulter was deep in the mix after a birdie at the 11th on Sunday. He followed it with an inexplicable bogey at the oh-so-simple 12th hole, and then closed with that bogey on No. 18 after a hosel-rocket approach. Did the weight of the moment get to him? Absolutely. Did he shy away from it? Not for a second. Was it his worst memory of the week? Nope, that would have been the Twitter block from Brandel Chamblee.

Good to have you back, Poulty.

Players Championship Memory #4: Don’t mess with the 12th

The PGA Tour pays attention to other governing bodies. After the USGA received much recognition for its reincorporation of the driveable par-4 hole at the U.S. Open, the Tour pulled the trigger on a change to the 12th hole. Long one of the most-eagled holes on the course, despite its length of 360 yards, the Tour hoped that a reduction to 300 yards would make it even more likely to impact the tournament. Sadly, year one was a flop. Here are four reasons:

  • Trouble left and trouble right. No reason to risk driver or even three-metal with bunkers and H2O lurking.
  • Awkward look to the hole (see below.) It simply doesn’t set up well for the players. The silly bunker up the middle should have been replaced by a series of smaller ones. As it is, half of the fairway is out of play.
  • A great mind once indicated that a driveable par-4 should make the lay-up difficult and the risky play easier. Not the case here.
  • Another great mind, in this case, Tom Doak, suggested recently that if the 12th were meant to look like this, Pete Dye would have found it when he laid out the course.

As it was, Dustin Johnson gave us one great memory when he played the 12th totally wrong, and came away totally right. All this debate and criticism may be forgotten one day when some guy aces the hole on the way to victory.

European Tour: Wallace holds off red-hot Suri in Portugal

You know it’s an off week when the European Tour and its Challenge Series hold a dual-ranking event. Matt Wallace of England will be forever grateful for this conspiracy. Wallace had previously won six times on the Alps Tour (nope, I hadn’t heard of it, either. And no, it’s not a cycling circuit.) and joined the European Challenge Tour in 2017. With all the greats across the pond in North Florida, Wallace led for 72 holes at the Morgado Resort in Portimao.

An unheralded American, Julian Suri, nearly stole the glory from Wallace. Suri birdies four of his first five holes, and 10 of his first 15 to move into the lead. He couldn’t hold form, however, and bogeyed No. 16. Meanwhile, Wallace played perfect golf on the final day with four birdies of his own against zero bogies. He gained strokes on the 13th and the 16th, coasting to a three-shot victory over Suri.

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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.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. M Sizzle

    May 17, 2017 at 1:30 am

    Wait, there was a tour event last weekend??

  2. Tom1

    May 15, 2017 at 11:27 am

    In this case , the cream always rises to the top…

  3. Taylor

    May 15, 2017 at 11:10 am

    the Players this year was a dud. What a disappointment, felt like all the top players didn’t really show up. Good to see Poultier playing better, but besides Sergio’s Ace on Thursday, Players was a snoozer.

    • Ronald Montesano

      May 15, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Not an uncommon opinion. Do major championships have duds? Is this part of what keeps TPC from elevation to major status?

      • H

        May 15, 2017 at 1:27 pm

        Don’t need another major. If anything, if there was to be a another major, it should not be in the USA, but some Euro Tour or some global site, and if that happened then all the world’s Tours will have to re-align for the world’s game and that won’t happen because then the significance of the current US and Brit majors will be diminished and we can’t have that. The WGC stuff is enough. People can argue, what’s the major for the Euro Tour besides the Brit one? Shouldn’t there be 4 majors on the Euro Tour? These are discussions that the US PGA would rather avoid as it doesn’t want to take away the glory of American golf

  4. robin

    May 15, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Kyle Stanley had no chance when your partner shoots and 84

  5. Ian

    May 15, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Are they finally conceding that whole albatross/double eagle debate?

    • Ronald Montesano

      May 15, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Who are they?

      • Ian

        May 15, 2017 at 12:16 pm

        PGA Tour and I heard one commentator say “double eagle”, then Nick Faldo chimed in “there’s no such thing as a double eagle”. – all of this is really important to me. It’s right up there with such pondering as how many sombreros does it take to cover the universe.

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2017 QBE Shootout at Tiburon G.C. in Naples, Florida. Formerly known as the Franklin Templeton Shootout, or the Shark Shootout, the unofficial event plays host to 24 of some of the world’s best golfers, competing in a two-person team competition. The format calls for 54 holes; first-round scramble, second-round modified alternate shot, and third-round fourball (or better ball).

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