If April is the cruelest month (and not just for golf), then July is the kindest. Major championships on multiple major tours culminating the third week with the Open Championship at … Whoa, slow down, masher! We’ve got five important events to summarize, so buckle in and #MashOn.
PGA Tour: DeChambeau breaks through at John Deere
Bryson DeChambeau on the move! ????
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 16, 2017
Bryson DeChambeau turned in the performance predicted for him since his magical amateur summer of 2015. Down two strokes to Indiana favorite son Patrick Rodgers (coincidentally, also in search of an initial PGA Tour triumph) with scant holes remaining, DeChambeau hit a blind, flat-footed metal from an awkward lie, oh, about 260 yards onto the 17th green. He two-putted from 45 feet, and Rodgers made bogey on the same hole three groups later.
With a chance at victory, DeChambeau knocked an iron toward a hole cut dangerously close to water at the home hole, finishing nearly 15 feet past. His putt had just enough steam to catch the low edge and fall in for a closing birdie, a 67 on the day and a one-stroke margin on Rodgers. The Avon, Indiana, native drove into the rough on No. 18 and was unable to match DeChambeau’s birdie. Rodgers finished one stroke back at 17-under for his best Tour finish. Wesley Bryan and Rick Lamb tied for third at 16-under, while perennial winners/contenders Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson finished in a fifth-place tie at 15-under.
Related: Bryson DeChambeau’s Winning WITB
The victory was doubly tasty for the cerebral golfer, as DeChambeau earned a spot in the Open Championship this week at Royal Birkdale.
LPGA: U.S. Women’s Open is Park’s 1st major and tour title
— USGA (@USGA) July 17, 2017
One way or another, the U.S. Women’s Open of 2017 would have been a coming-out party for a talented golfer from Korea. After Shanshan Feng struggled to 73 and relinquished a slender lead, a quartet of golfers seized an opportunity to challenge for the big cup. Hye-Jin Choi was the most compelling story; the 17-year old amateur was bidding to become the first non-pro since Catherine Lacoste in 1956 to hoist the hardware. Also in the mix were M.J. Hur and So Yeon Ryu, the 2011 winner.
Choi acquitted herself well, holding the lead into the back nine on Sunday. She ran into trouble on No. 10 and 16, where she returned three strokes to her pursuers. Twenty-three-year-old Seoul Sister Sung Hyun Park seized the opening and played a flawless (3-under par) back nine to overtake Choi and all the rest. Indeed, it was Park who represented best over the weekend rounds, matching 67s on Saturday and Sunday. Choi ended in the runner-up podium spot at 9-under, two shots behind the winner. Hur and Ryu found themselves another 2 shots back in a 3rd-place tie.
European Tour: Scottish Open to Cabrera-Bello in playoff
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 17, 2017
You wouldn’t call Rafael Cabrera-Bello a 10-year, overnight sensation, but you wouldn’t be far off if you did. It’s hard to imagine that the 33-year old from Spain’s Canary Islands has been at this professional game since 2005, but it’s true. Followers of the European Tour came to know him in 2009, when he won the Austrian Open. The world of golf was introduced to him in 2016, when he represented Europe well in the Ryder Cup. Now Cabrera-Bello holds an important professional title and is among the favorites to contend this week at Royal Birkdale’s 10th Open Championship.
Low was the only way to go on Sunday, and Cabrera-Bello’s 64 dropped the limbo bar the farthest. The Spaniard returned a clean card of eight birdies and 10 pars. Then he waited to see what third-round, co-leader Callum Shinkwin of England would do. Needing a mere par at the par-5 18th to win his first professional title, the Englishman struggled to scratch out a bogey on a hole that his pursuer had birdied just moments before. Off the two golfers went to the 18th, where Bellow once again dominated the par-5 finisher, making another birdie to eliminate Shinkwin.
A look back saw the contrast between the steely Cabrera and the untested Shinkwin. The latter left par and birdie putts short on the 18th and playoff holes, while the champion absolutely nutted a 276-yard 3-metal to within 20 feet for eagle during extra time.
Champions: Senior Players Championship 1st senior major for McCarron
How the @SENIORPLAYERS was won …
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) July 17, 2017
The final round at Caves Valley, near Baltimore, turned into an unexpected battle of the long putters. Bernhard Langer, who never gives away a lead, appeared on a march toward senior major victory No. 10 (and third of 2017.) The German champion was out in 2-under 34, enough to keep fellow long wander Scott McCarron (out in 31) at bay.
The inward half played out like a masquerade, as Langer donned the mask of an untested rookie. He closed with zero birdies, a bogey and a double bogey for 3-over on his final 9, and a shocking 17-under total. McCarron, who had opened with five birdies on his outward half, needed only one more (at No. 10) and a shoal of pars to outlast Langer by one and join Park as debutantes at the majors ball.
Despite his struggles, Langer appeared in control until the penultimate hole. At the daunting par-3, a wayward tee ball into the gunge forced the three-time defending champion to take a penalty drop. The resulting double dropped him out of first place for the first time all week.
Web.com Tour: Garnett makes Utah Championship his ticket to PGA Tour
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) July 17, 2017
These days, a win on the Web.com Tour can equal a trip to the PGA Tour. Brice Garnett found that out on Sunday in Utah, when eight birdies overcame two bogies, totaling 65 and 21-under for the week. Although Mexico’s Abraham Ancer nearly gave Garnett more than he desired with 10 birdies of his own, the alum of college golf powerhouse Missouri Western was able to stem the Ancer tide and claim his first Web.com Tour title. The win also cemented his spot in the Web.com Tour’s Top-25, earning Garnett a 2017-2018 PGA Tour card.
On a day when par felt like 68, nine players shot 65 or better. Another eight posted 66. Former amateur stalwart Denny McCarthy had a shot at victory on Saturday evening; by Sunday afternoon, his 2-under 69 dropped him to a tie for 5th with overnight leader Jacques Blaauw. Blaauw had 70 on Sunday, and it was not nearly good enough.
If anyone had a right to feel unfulfilled, it was Rob Oppenheim. On a day when birdies over the final four holes were plentiful, Oppenheim had none. He finished one meager stroke out of a playoff, in a tie with Ancer and Austin Cook at 20-under.