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Tour Mash: Berger goes back to back in Memphis

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The second weekend in June was one for comebacks on the world’s professional golf tours. Three events saw unanticipated collapses by third-round leaders. With six events in the week before the U.S. Open, let’s spin those beaters and mash up some scores.

PGA Tour: Berger goes back to back in Memphis

No lead was safe on any tour this Sunday. Rafa Cabrera-Bello seemed as safe a bet as anyone, but he gave two strokes away on his outward nine and could not recover. His loose play opened wide the gate for the thoroughbreds of the PGA Tour, and Daniel Berger made the final burst to defend his 2016 FedEx St. Jude Classic title and collect his first win of 2017.

Charl Schwartzel looked very good for a very long time on Sunday, but his bid at a first PGA Tour victory since the 2016 Valspar came up shy by one stroke. Phil Mickelson had a share of the lead at one point; his run at the title was derailed by a triple-bogey 7 at the 12th hole. Even amateur Braden Thornberry, the recently-crowned, 2017 NCAA individual champion was in the mix. Thornberry played a flawless round, highlighted by one eagle, three birdies and no bogeys, but he could only reach 8-under, two shots behind the champion.

Related: Berger’s Winning WITB

It was left to Berger to finish off an unexpected title defense. The 24-year-old counted four birdies against 14 pars in his Sunday 66, and he took up residence in the top-10 of the FedEx Cup pursuit. His title defense was the first in Memphis since David Toms won in 2003 and 2004.

European Tour: Lyoness Open is Frittelli’s 1st Euro Tour win

As third-round leader Felipe Aguilar’s Sunday turned sour, a handful of golfers seized the opportunity to claim Austria’s Lyoness Open. Throughout the final nine holes, Jbe Kruger, Richard McEvoy, David Horsey, and Mikko Korhonen all had a hand on the top rung or were within a stroke. One name stood out from the rest, and it was his that would be inscribed on the winner’s 2017 trophy: Dylan Frittelli.

The 27-year old South African was no stranger to the pressure that comes with winning a tournament. As a college golfer at the University of Texas, Frittelli won the decisive match in the 2012 NCAA finals. He also won twice on the Challenge Tour and had lost two playoffs on the European Tour. On this day, Frittelli was up to the challenge.

Despite a glorious hole-out for eagle from Kruger, a four-birdie start for Horsey, and buckets of low numbers all around, Frittelli was the show horse. He birdied five of his first 11 holes, withstood a missed two-footer for another and a bogey on the 14th, and benefited from bumpy finishes from Kruger (bogey at the last) and McEvoy (bogey-bogey finish.) With the maiden win behind him, Frittelli moves inside the top 15 of the season-long Race To Dubai.

LPGA Tour: Manulife Classic goes to Jutanugarn in playoff

No one likes to write about the golfer who lost the tournament, who found a way to snatch defeat from the comfortable lap of victory. We’ll hold off on that for a paragraph or two. Ariya Jutanugarn made a 30-odd foot, hard-turning putt for birdie on the first extra hole, and left Cambridge, Ontario, as the 2017 Manulife champion.

To secure the title, the soon-to-be-ranked No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings made par after par over the final 90 minute of her round. Then she watched as In Gee Chun made a pair of birdies at Nos. 15 and 16 to join her at 17-under. Both must have felt that their bids were for second place, as the lead was securely in the hands of Lexi Thompson.

And then, in Greg Normanesque-fashion, Thompson gave the tournament away. She bogeyed Nos. 12 and 13, the former a par-5 hole that she normally devours for a snack. With two shots in hand on the penultimate tee, she bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 to fall into a tie. In the playoff, pars from Thompson and Chun were not enough, and Jutanugarn had her first win of 2017.

Web.com: Jaeger wins No. 3 at Rust-Oleum Championship

Last July, Stephan Jaeger fashioned a 58 at the Ellie Mae Classic, his first Web.com Tour victory. This week at the Rust-Oleum championship, the German-born, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga educated golfer claimed his third tour victory in two seasons, by two strokes over Ted Potter, Jr.

Jaeger began the day with a four-stroke lead over Potter, and he never wavered. A bogey on No. 9 (on a par-5, no less) was his only hiccup of the day, until the last. Potter made three birdies in his first five holes, and the game was on. Thanks to strong play from Jaeger, the lead never dipped and the meaningless bogey on No. 18 reduced Jaeger’s margin of victory to two strokes.

Champions Tour: Jobe claims 1st Champions Tour win at Principal Charity Classic

Brandt Jobe was known as a travelling man during his PGA Tour days. The UCLA golfer won in Canada, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and Thailand, but never in the U.S. On Sunday, Jobe teed off in a first-place tie with Glen Day. While Day was Wrong-Way Day in the final round, Jobe fired a 69 to finish at 14-under.

In front of him were a several of golfers, all bent on unseating him and taking the tournament’s prize. Scott McCarron had the day’s low round (66), but he came up one agonizing stroke shy of a playoff. Kevin Sutherland did the same, signing for 68 when 67 was needed for a shot at glory. Both golfers shared the runner-up space on the podium.

Bernhard Langer, who seems to win every week, had his sight set on a third-consecutive win (and fourth overall in 2017.) The German giant gave all that he had, but his final-day 67 brought him to the clubhouse two strokes in arrears and in solo-4th position.

PGA Tour LA: Puerto Plata Open to relentless Tee-K Kelly

Tee-K Kelly made 10 birdies in Round 1. The he made five birdies and one eagle in both Rounds 2 and 3. In Round 4, he produced a mere three chirps. If he had finally run out of birdies, it was of no consequence. He began the final round with a nine-shot advantage, and he ended it 21-under, seven strokes clear of runner-up Ryan Ruffels.

Kelly completed his eligibility last spring at Ohio State University, and then he embarked on a professional career that would earn him status on PGA Tour Latinoamerica. Two top-20 finishes in his first five events suggested that the Illinois native might figure in the race for promotion at season’s end. After this week’s performance in the Dominican Republic, expectations have risen.

Kelly was dominant from the start. Thursday’s 61 was a course record, but it was the middle rounds of 67 and 66 that separated him from all pursuers and made Sunday an informal chase for second place. It was Ruffels, the young Australian from whom much is expected, who responded with a 66 of his own to surge ahead of Brandon Matthews and Patrick Newcomb into the second-place spot. Ruffels moved into the sixth spot on the tour’s Order of Merit, one slot above Kelly.

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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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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Monday at the Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana, were, among other things, a giant three-legged crocodile roams.

Now in it’s second year, the tournament’s unique two-man team format has attracted a wealth of top talent, including 10 of the top 14 golfers in the OWGR. We’re on the scene snapping bag pictures, and have WITB looks at Matt Jones and Roberto Diaz, in addition to a general gallery from the TPC Louisiana range.

Let’s dig in.

Matt Jones doesn’t need his name embroidered on his headcovers: tape and a marker will do just fine, thanks

Last week, Faaaabel the Goat. This week, someone who would eat Faaabel

Roberto Diaz: Brand agnostic

Wesley Bryan’s Taco Bell(t) lives

Homemade putting aid or soon to be seen on a Golf Channel infomercial (or both)?

UDI with a side of lead

Shaft bags: Assemble!

Roberto Diaz Fourteen RM wedge

What more do you need in life?

A bouquet of Circle T putter covers

Check out our photos from Monday below!

Monday’s Galleries

Special Galleries

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

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana (par 72; 7,425 yards), designed by Pete Dye with consultants Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson.

The Zurich Classic is a unique event on the PGA Tour because it’s not an individual stroke-play event. Instead, the format consists of two-man teams playing best-ball on Thursday and Saturday, and alternate-shot on Friday and Sunday.

Last year, Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt won the event after four playoff holes against Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown. The Smith/Blixt duo will be back to defend their title, and the Kisner/Brown pairing will be back avenging their loss.

Other notable pairings in the field include Daniel Berger/Gary Woodland, Wesley Bryan/Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay, John Daly/Rory Sabbatini, Jason Day/Ryan Ruffels, David Duval/Jim Furyk, Tony Finau/Daniel Summerhays, Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello, J.B. Holmes/Brand Snedeker, Matt Kuchar/Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel, Sean O’Hair/Jimmy Walker, Pat Perez/Jason Dufner, Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer, Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley and more!

Check out our photos from the event below!

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

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Tour Rundown: Moriya Jutanugarn and Andrew Landry win their first titles

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It was a week of firsts on two of the world’s major professional tours. Moriya Jutanugarn claimed her first LPGA title in an impressive manner, while 2016 U.S. Open surprise Andrew Landry seized control in Houston to inscribe his name on the winner’s trophy for an initial time. Elsewhere, a pair of underdogs upset the favorites at the Champions Tour’s Missouri affair, while two veterans added additional titles to their resumes in Europe and on the Web.Com tour. It’s an interesting brew in this week’s cauldron, so let’s give it a stir and see what we taste in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Landry holds off resurgent trio to claim Houston Open

Andrew Landry led that U.S. Open at Oakmont after day one, and hung around the top of the leader board until the fourth day. When his name resurfaced at this week’s Tour stop, few were certain he could hold off a resurgent Zach Johnson, the two-time major winner. Well, few other than Zach Johnson thought Landry might pull it off.

How Landry locked in

From the 10th hole on Friday, through the same hole on Sunday, Landry made zero bogeys. He had 13 birdies in that stretch, on a course that gives a few up, but not in buckets. That 36 hole run of brilliance, including birdies on Sunday’s first three holes, staked Landry to an advantage that he would not relinquish. For the entire week, only four bogeys dotted his scorecards, and two of those came on Thursday. Landry’s putter was hot all week, and his driving game was laser-accurate. The sum total: welcome to the winner’s circle, Mr. Landry.

Click here to see the clubs Landry used to win the 2018 Valero Texas Open

Who made a run?

It wasn’t Johnson. Iowa’s favorite son hasn’t won since the 2015 British Open, although his game has shown its old fire of late. Johnson couldn’t find a groove on day 4, making as many bogeys in that round as Landry did all week. In the end, Johnson had a top-5 finish, amid signs that another victory may not be far in the offing. Sean O’Hair had the low round (66) of the day, and that magic was enough to boost him to a second-place tie with young Trey Mullinax, who followed a Saturday 62 with a notable 69 to rock steady. Jimmy Walker, finally recovered from a bout of illness, had the day’s 2nd-lowest score of 67, and he moved all the way to 4th spot.

Mighty Moriya holds off Korean trio for first tour title

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand has been close before. She has seen little sister Ariya hoist victory awards before. On Sunday, it was her turn. Jutanugarn and Marina Alex were two of the leader with no title to their credit, heading into the closing 18 holes. While the key to victory still eludes the young American, it was Jutanugarn’s turn to triumph.

What Moriya discovered on Sunday

Actually, she dug deepest on Saturday. The older sibling opened round three with a double bogey, stood 3-over on the day after six holes, and appeared to be sinking. The ship’s wheel steadied with two birdies and hole-out eagle coming home, and then it began the final day with four birdies and no bogeys in the first 15 holes. A late bogey served only to add faux drama, as Jutanugarn calmly closed the deal for victory the first.

Park, Young and Yeon can’t win this case

Reading a bit like a law firm, Inbee Park, Jin Young Ko and So Yeon Ryu made their runs at Moriya. Inbee had a bogey at the turn, and needed perfection on Sunday. She didn’t get it, so a tie for second was in the offing. Ko might have had the best opportunity at day’s start, but a 2-over outward nine took her too far off pace for a 3-under inward half, to provide recovery. She also came second, at 10-under. Ryu put an opening bogey behind with four birdies through 12 holes, but could not go deeper over the closing stretch. Her fourth-place finish was her best of 2018.

Levy wins for third consecutive year on European Tour

France’s Alexander Levy nearly has a five-year win streak. His first two tour titles came in 2014. He skipped 2015, but hasn’t missed in the subsequent years. His work in Morocco this week added up to a one-shot win over a literal blast from the past, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros. Eight golfers finished within three strokes of the top spot, adding drama to the finish at Royal Dar-Es-Salaam.

Nothing spectacular leads Levy to win

There were no great streaks of brilliance, no runs of multiple birdies, for the 28-year old. All that he did, efficiently, was make enough birdies to stay ahead of his pursuers. After bogey at the antepenultimate hole on Sunday, Levy responded with a dart at the par-three 17th, to re-establish his lead. The win was the fifth of his career.

See the clubs Levy used to win

Oh so close for Oh so many

Let’s begin with Quiros. The Spaniard, compared with Dustin Johnson (for his length off the tee) in his early years, has been adrift. Sunday was his best chance in forever to secure a tour title. His first 16 holes were a tangle of bogeys and a pair of birdies. The Iberian closed admirably, with birdies at the final pair, to claim solo second, one back of Levy. Also close were Mikko Illonen (tied for third with three others at 7-under) and England’s Andy Sullivan, one more back at 6-under, in a tie for seventh.

Two more for the road: Axley wins on Web, while Broadhurst/Triplett claim Legends

Eric Axley would have preferred to win his 3rd professional event in glorious fashion. He’ll take a rain-shortened title at the North Mississippi Classic, his second career Web.Com title and his first title of any sort in 12 years. Waaaay back in 2006, Axley won the very same Houston Open (see above) contested this week on the PGA Tour, and a bit of success was predicted for the left-hander. Success, as we know, doesn’t come to all hands, and Axley was able to birdie his final two holes on Saturday to stake a one-shot advantage. Tied for second were the USA’s Willy Wilcox, Columbia’s Sebastian Munoz, and Korea’s K.H. Lee.

Triplett and Broadhurst birdie 1st playoff hole for victory

The rules for the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf are slightly simpler than those of field hockey, which means that they aren’t very simple. Both courses in use boast par-3 holes alone, but each has a different number of holes, so numbers on the scoreboard are meaningless. With the two Spaniards (Olazabal and Jimenez), the defending champs (Franco and Singh) and two major champions (Lehman and Langer) in the mix, the undervalued pairing of Kirk Triplett (he of the hat) and Paul Broadhurst (he of the …) were not anyone’s favorites to emerge. And here we are.

No one seemed bent on making any heroic moves on Sunday, so it came down to which teams would find their way. Lehman/Langer joined the eventual winners at the 9th hole. Triplett played the hole to perfection: tee shot into bunker, bunker shot into hole, thank you very much. No birdie putts were holed, and the title belonged to the unlikely pairing of Kirk and Paul.

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