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Tour Mash: Curry Impresses, Matsuyama Heats Up for PGA

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What a week in professional golf! The Solheim Cup teams for Europe and the U.S. were solidified, a British Open champion and a WGC champion were crowned, and an NBA superstar moonlighted as a Web.com Tour player. And all this on the eve of the PGA Championship! Here we go with this week’s Tour Mash.

Steph Curry, Am I Right?

You know that Curry thought long and hard about accepting the invitation to play in the Ellie Mae Classic on the Web.com Tour this week. Once decided, he was all in. Then, the hard-core training began! Great job with 74-74.

Matsuyama Shoots Course-Record 61 on Sunday, Wins WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

The fear that Hideki Matsuyama might one day realize his potential is real, and golf may turn a page because of it. Matsuyama went out in Sunday in 30 strokes thanks to an eagle and three birdies. He came home with birdies on four of his final six holes for 61 and a three-stroke win over Zach Johnson.

Winning WITB: See what clubs Matsuyama used to win. 

The best tweet on the great, young champion asked, “Does Matsuyama know that it’s OK if every approach shot doesn’t finish in the hole?” No one hits the ball better and closer more often than the 25-year-old from the island of Shikoku, Japan. He absolutely blew past Johnson, one of the overnight leaders, by seven shots on Sunday. Charley Hoffman, who might surprise this week at Quail Hollow, shot 66 on Sunday for a third-place finish.

With the victory, Matsuyama moves to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings and became the man to watch at Quail Hollow, a course similar in many ways to Firestone, at this week’s PGA Championship.

Stroud Earns Quail Hollow Berth with 1st PGA Tour Win

Chris Stroud had to work a bit longer for victory, but it finally came for the 37-year old Texan. After eliminating Greg Owen on the first playoff hole with a birdie, Stroud again birdied the closing hole in Reno to fend off Richy Werenski’s run at victory and claim his first PGA Tour win. With the victory, Stroud earned a spot in this week’s PGA Championship.

Stroud came from the great beyond on Sunday with 20 points, nearly half of his week-long total, in the modified Stableford event. Despite making three bogeys on the day, the champion closed with three birds and an eagle in his final six holes.

IK Kim Finally a Major Champion at Women’s British Open

It turns out that a six-stroke lead is safe, but only when the nearest pursuers don’t make much of a dent. In-Kyung Kim, she of the infamous 12-inch miss at the Nabisco Championship, played marvelous golf through 54 holes and then held on for dear life on Sunday. Her grip was just strong enough to secure her first major title.

Kim stood at 19-under par with 10 holes to play on Sunday, but Jodi Ewart Shadoff was in the midst of an eight-birdie 64 that would bring her to 16-under. Kim bogeyed No. 9, and then she made nine consecutive pars to earn a two-stroke victory at Kingsbarns. Unlike the 2012 Nabisco, where a 72nd-hole yip of a one-foot putt dropped her into a playoff for the title (which she would lose), Kim closed and locked the door today.

Michelle Wie also made a run at the title, but her last of seven birdies came at the 12th hole. She bogeyed No. 17 to fall into a tie for the third spot with Caroline Masson and Georgia Hall.

Ellie Mae Classic Win Makes Piller’s Day Complete

Beyond golf and Steph Curry, there were other winners at TPC Stonebrae this week. One is Martin Piller, whose wife was named to the U.S. side of the 2017 Solheim Cup. Piller had 62 on Friday, and on Sunday he turned in a closing 64 for a one-stroke win over Brandon Harkins. Both the winner and runner-up birdied the 16th hole, but Harkins could not get to 18-under with birdie on either of the closing holes.

Andrew Yun held the overnight lead, but he stumbled out of the gate with two bogeys in his first eight holes. He shot even par on the day and dropped into a tie for third with Nate Lashley at 15-under. As for Steph Curry, he proved that he’s no sideshow. His concentration and game translated well from the hardcourt to the softcourt, as he smiled from tee to green and offered great appreciation for his competitors and the gallery.

Goydos Shoots 60-66 on Weekend to Win 3M Championship

A day after playing his final four holes in 5-under to shoot 60, Paul Goydos had enough in the tank to shoot 66 to tie Gene Sauers in regulation and then win a playoff. Goydos’ finish on Sunday was not nearly as electric as Saturday, but his 54th-hole birdie was enough to move on to extra holes.

The playoff ended quickly. The daunting second shot over water proved too much for Sauers. He flared an iron right and failed to clear the massive hazard. Goydos did so (barely) and made a routine par for the victory. Sunshine, as Goydos is known on tour, moved inside the top-5 in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup Race.

Be like Charley, Be Honest!

We love our heroes and we love a guy like Charley Hoffman. Most of us can’t hit 280-yard shots from rough over water, but we, too, are tired of finishing second!

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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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tom1

    Aug 7, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Matsuyama and SRIXON come thru again.

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5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

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

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

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

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