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Tour Mash: U.S. wins Solheim Cup, Stenson sets scoring record

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Match play or medal play, the choice was yours this week across the globe. The Solheim Cup, the U.S. Amateur, and the Paul Lawrie were all contested in the traditional, head-to-head format. On the flip side, the Wyndham Championship, Dick’s Sporting Goods Open and News Sentinel Open counted every stroke. With the tour playoff season poised to begin on the PGA and Web.com tours, this week was the last mash for many in an effort to extend their seasons.

Match Play

The Solheim Cup might be distilled down to one singles match, the opening tout between Anna Nordqvist and Lexi Thompson. While the U.S. representative struggled to find her stroke, Nordqvist jumped out to a four-hole lead after the same number of holes.

After nine holes, the lead remained the same. Then, Thompson came out of her funk with a legendary run of three birdies and two eagles in a seven-hole stretch to erase the discrepancy and take the lead. Nordqvist birdied the last to halve the match, but any chance the European Team had to come back from its deficit was gone. The final tally was U.S. 16.5, Europe 11.5.

The 2017 U.S. Amateur offered a classic final that went to a 37th hole after Doug Ghim of Illinois and Doc Redman of North Carolina had battled to a draw in regulation.

Redman had qualified in a 13-for-8 playoff, earning the No. 62 seed of 64 in match play. His road to the final saw him eliminate No. 3 seed Logan Lowe in the round of 64 and No. 7 Mark Lawrence in the semifinals. In contrast, Ghim was the No. 9 seed after medal qualifying. He did not meet a higher-ranked opponent until Saturday when he outlasted No. 4 Theo Humphrey to earn his place in the 36-hole final match.

In the final, Ghim had a two-up lead with two holes to play, but Redman eagled the 35th hole and birdied the 36th to force extra holes at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. The golfers returned to the short 10th hole where Redman recorded a third-consecutive birdie to claim the national amateur title and all the baubles that accompany it. Both Redman and Ghim will represent the U.S. in September’s Walker Cup at Los Angeles Country Club.

After Adrian Otaegui blitzed past Spanish countryman Alejandro Cañizares with seven birdies in the 15 holes of their semifinal match of the European Tour’s Paul Lawrie Match Play, it was a shock to see zero birdies and a three-hole deficit for Otaegui in the final match. Germany’s Marcel Siem had seemingly turned the tables, going out in 3-under par and staking himself to a three-hole advantage.

And then, the tide shifted. Actually, it was more like a tsunami. Otaegui proceeded to win six of the final eight holes outright, claiming a 2 & 1 victory over a startled Siem. Otaegui birdied each of his final three holes after Siem had regained a one-up lead with a birdie at the 13th. The triumph was his first on the European Tour.

Medal Play

Henrik Stenson claimed the 2017 Wyndham Championship, the final, non-playoff tournament on the PGA Tour by one stroke over Ollie Schniderjans. Stenson had a topsy-turvy front nine for the second time this weekend, but he repeated his torrid, Saturday inward-half performance on Sunday to edge the young Texan.

Stenson had four birdies against two bogeys on his first nine holes on Sunday. Over that stretch, Schniederjans picked up a stroke by going out in minus-three. On the homeward side, Stenson recorded four birdies against zero bogies, reaching a tournament record 22-under, enough to keep the former Georgia Tech star at bay… and he did it without a driver in the bag.

Related: Stenson’s Winning WITB

Kevin Na took the early lead on Sunday with a 31 on the front nine. He gave most of it back with 38 coming home, and finished in a tie for fourth at 17-under. Webb Simpson finished solo third at 18-under.

At the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open on PGA Tour Champions, Scott McCarron and Kevin Sutherland served notice early on Sunday that the field was playing for third place. The two waged an epic duel in central New York at the En-Joie Golf Club. McCarron had eight birdies for 64 on Sunday, while Sutherland had five birdies and an eagle for 65.

Tied heading to the back nine, Sutherland birdied the 12th to take the lead, only to have McCarron even things up with birdie on No. 13. Sutherland birdied the 16th and 18th holes to finish at 19-under. Unfortunately for him, McCarron birdied the closing trio to take the title at 20-under. Three of the most popular golfers in town this week (John Daly, local lad Joey Sindelar, and Woody Austin) tied for third at 13-under.

When Ken Looper, overnight leader, triple-bogeyed his opening hole on Sunday of the News Sentinel Open on the Web.com Tour, eyes on the prize became the rallying cry of all golfers within sight of the top spot on the leaderboard. A slew of challengers took runs at the top, and it was Talor Gooch who had enough arrows in his quiver for the title. Gooch had six birdies on the day, finishing at 18-under to climb three spots into the pole position.

Jonathan Hodge, the runner-up, had five birdies for 30 on his outward half. The back nine was less kind, however, as the man from Tennessee played it in even par to open the door for Gooch. As for Looper, each time he made amends for his opening 7 a bogey would get in his way. Looper tied for third at 16-under, one behind Hodge and two back of the champion.

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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.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Patches O'Hullahan

    Aug 21, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    The Solheim Cup is a snoozer. Let’s be frank, the European team didn’t have any serious talent other than Norquist. It is time to make this a real competition by allowing the Asian players, whom are the best in the world, to display their talent in the international stage. If the LPGA wants to survive, they need to go where the money is, Asia.

    • Darryl

      Aug 24, 2017 at 2:57 am

      Sorry Patches, a US – Asia competition would be as one sided as the Solheim is now, with the US taking on the European sacrificial role.

  2. Rex

    Aug 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    What was the history that stenson made?

    • Ronald Montesano

      Aug 21, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      He set the tournament scoring record. Not the same as winning an election, but a nice four days, nonetheless.

      RM

  3. Leon

    Aug 21, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Solhiem cup is fun but not exciting. Let USA groups with Europe and play against South Korea, who has 10 players among world TOP20. That’s we called a fair and exciting match. The current Solhiem cup is more like flight for the 2nd tier. Sad

  4. Woody

    Aug 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I can’t say the Solhiem cup is the best golf or most entertaining golf when the majority of the best players aren’t participating …aka Asian players.

    • Guantanemo

      Aug 21, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Agreed, at this point, it might be an interesting idea to have a USA vs South Korea event for the women…

  5. Vic

    Aug 21, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Once again the Solheim Cup IMO, is some of the most entertaining Golf of the year.

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Tour News

It’s the Ardmore! Woods begins Quicken Loans National with TaylorMade putter in the bag

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If you had a bet going with your buddies that there was no way Tiger Woods would depart from his beloved 13 major-winning Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS this week, you lose.

Woods started the first round of the Quicken Loans National with the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 he has been practicing all week with at TPC Potomac.

Adam Schupak spotted Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, on the way to the first tee for Woods’ 1:20 ET start time with the camo TaylorMade putter cover in the bag (not surprisingly, the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 was beneath the cover).

Woods has struggled with the putter this season, as we’re all well aware, particularly since the Memorial. No. 89 on Tour in strokes gained: putting, the 14-time major champion knew he had to do something.

“I’m trying to find something that I can feel again, like the swing of the putter, getting my body in the right positions and seeing the lines again,” Woods said. “You know, it’s just one of those things, once I start to get the ball rolling on my lines, then I’ll be back to putting like I was. I just have not been rolling it on my lines. And then on top of that, when they don’t roll on lines, then I have a hard time seeing my lines and it’s a vicious cycle. And I’m just trying to get out of that cycle.”

Woods reportedly tried a number of TaylorMade putters in the Bahamas last week, arriving (as far as we know) at the Quicken Loans National with just the Ardmore and his Newport to choose between.

He has made his choice for the first round. We’ll see how it pans out and whether Woods remains a mallet man all week.

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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).

Related

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!

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

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