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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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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge at the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West (7,113 yards, par 72) in La Quinta, California.

The field this week is headlined by Jon Rahm, who’s currently ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings after his second-place finish at the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks ago. Joining him in the field are notables John Daly, Brian Harman, last week’s Sony Open champion Patton Kizzire, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson.

Defending-champion Hudson Swafford notched his first career victory at the 2017 CareerBuilder Challenge, where he won by one stroke over Adam Hadwin. He’ll be back in the field this year to defend his title.

Check out our photos from the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge below!

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Tour Rundown: Europe storms back, Kizzire takes trophy in a marathon playoff

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The second week of 2018 returned a number of tours to action around the globe.  The Hawaiian-stretch concluded on the PGA Tour, while Europe began its campaign in South Africa. The PGA Tour Champions and PGA Tour Australasia were also in action. And just for fun, the Web.Com Tour’s Great Exuma Classic in the Bahamas began on Saturday and concludes on Tuesday. At the halfway point, Dan McCarthy holds a 1-stroke lead over three guys named Matt, Mark and Rhein. Dash with us to the first Tour Rundown of this new year.

Eurasia Cup goes to Europe in a final-day comeback

Following the trace of the Ryder and Presidents cups, the Eurasia Cup pitted 12 golfers from the Asian continent against a dozen counterparts from Europe. The Asian hosts acquitted themselves well in team play, surging to a 3.5-2.5 lead after Day 1, and retaining the same margin after Day 2, 6.5-5.5. Unfortunately for the likes of Haotong Li, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Byeong Hun An, Day 3 belonged to Europe. The 8.5-3.5 tally over the final 18 holes gave the visitors a 14-11 win.

How Europe won

Alex Noren has played superb golf the last 24 months, winning five times in Europe. He led off on Saturday for Europe, made 5 birdies, and dispatched Nicholas Fung, 4 & 2. And the boys in blue were off in a hurry. Although Poom Saksanin would level the day’s tally with a second-match win over Paul Casey, Europe proceeded to win the following 7 matches and claim the challenge cup. The greatest win belonged to Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who etched 6 birdies onto his scorecard in a 15th-hole win over Gavin Green.

How Asia lost its lead

Although world top-10 golfers Rahm, Rose and Garcia were not in the lineup for Europe, the squad boasted five golfers currently ranked in the world top 20. The highest-ranked golfer from Asia, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, was absent; his presence certainly would have boosted Asia’s hopes on Sunday. Partner play in team matches is unpredictable, but the talent of a team rises on singles day. And so it was at Glenmarie in Malaysia. The Asian team, while dogged, could not ascend to the level of its opponent.

Kizzire outlasts Hahn at the Sony Open in Hawaii

I’ll confess that I still suffer from Woodsitis, where a front-runner was likely to win the tournament, but I’m in treatment. PGA Tour events are supposed to be competitive, and even go topsy-turvy from time-to-time. Such was the case on Sunday at the Waialae Country Club. Over the closing holes, the leader made double bogey and missed the playoff, the guy who shot 62 snuck into the playoff, and the fellow who played the final seven holes in 1-over won the tournament!

How Patton Kizzire committed trophy robbery on Maui

Maxie Patton Kizzire has yet to win on mainland USA, but he has two tournament titles in his two seasons on the big tour. Kizzire never looked like a winner on Sunday, with pars on his first nine holes. An eagle-birdie run at the advent of the inward nine caught our attention, but his finish was anything but spectacular. When Tom Hoge closed poorly, Kizzire found himself in a playoff with James Hahn. The Auburn alumnus never looked like a winner until he won. He missed shots here, there and everywhere, but somehow stayed afloat. On the sixth extra hole, Kizzire made par to Hahn’s bogey, and the trophy was Alabama-bound.

How Hahn and Hoge came up short

Hahn probably felt like the most fortunate guy in the islands. He birdied half of his holes during the final round, and added two more in overtime. Hahn certainly felt comfortable during extra time; both of his tour wins have come in playoffs. Putts on the first two playoff holes singed the edge but did not fall. The third time wasn’t the charm, but second-place money and points are a warm comfort. Hoge confessed that two bad swings did him in, at 8 and 16, but putts on 17 and 18 gave him a look at the title. Ultimately, his rags-to-riches story received a significant boost from his third-place finish.

Related: Patton Kizzire’s Winning WITB

European Tour opens season at South African Open

Chris Paisley had no business winning this tournament. Branden Grace, a native, had yet to win his country’s Open championship, and he was on a roll. Starting the round 1 behind Paisley, Grace began with birdie and eagle to take the lead. And yet, there was Paisley on the 18th green, owner of a 3-shot victory margin and his inaugural European Tour title. What gives?

How Paisley dumped the monkey

He made 6 birdies and 12 pars on Sunday. Simple, really. Paisley didn’t twitch when Grace blazed early. He kept playing the game that had given him the lead through 54 holes. Paisley spread his birdies out, three on each nine, never consecutively. He forced Grace’s hand, demanded that he play better quicker. On Sunday, Paisley looked more the part of the veteran winning for a 5th or 10th time, and not a 32-year old on the cusp of his first, prime-time title.

How Grace lost his chance at the win

As quickly as the South African golfer grasped the lead on Sunday, he gave it away. Facing a similar bunker recovery to one he had on Saturday where he had to play the ball away from the hole into the fringe, Grace flinched. He pulled it off on Saturday, but left the ball in the sand on Sunday. The resulting double bogey was the only non-par he had from third to the 11th holes. A bogey on 12 was followed by eagle and birdie on the next two holes. For a golfer who prides himself on consistent play, Round 4 was an oddity for Branden Grace.

Champions Tour opens unofficially at the Diamond Resorts Invitational

What better way to start the season than with an unofficial, modified stableford event? Add non-golf athletes and LPGA stalwarts to the field, and the fun really kicks in. Scott Parel held a 1-point advantage on Saturday evening, but felt the weight of expectations throughout the final day. Meanwhile Scott Dunlap made a move with 34 points on Sunday, including a birdie on the last hole. When the dust had settled, two Scotts were tied at the top.

How Parel persevered

Scott Parel last won on the Web.Com Tour in the early part of the decade. He came to the 16th hole 3 points behind Dunlap, but made bogey. His 17th-hole birdie brought him into a tie for the lead, guaranteeing that a closing par would get him the final point he needed for the win. Well, that’s not easy to do, especially after your playing partner shanks his tee ball on the par-3 closer. Parel fanned on his tee shot, left his pitch well short, and made another bogey to finish tied with Dunlap. On the playoff hole, Parel acquitted himself better, two-putting from fairway short of the green for par and the victory.

How Dunlap dunked

It’s unfair to ignore what Scott Dunlap put together on Sunday, and focus solely on the wretched way he played the sole, sudden-victory hole. Dunlap shot the equivalent of a 64 in Round 3, with birdies on his final three holes. Much like Kenny Perry in the 1996 PGA Championship, Dunlap may not have expected to go to extra holes, and may not have prepared for the playoff as expected. What is known is this: he dunked his tee shot, left his par pitch 30 feet short, and left his bogey putt 3 feet short. Ugh.

PGA Tour Australia visits New Zealand for the REBEL Sport Masters

Auckland and its Wainui Country Club hosted the opening event of 2018 on the PGA Tour of Australasia. A full field of hungry young golfers did battle, but in the end, it was a few wizened veterans who held court at the REBEL Sport Masters.

How Millar scaled the mountain

Matthew Millar had as clean a card as one could desire over his closing triumvirate of 67s. One bogey and one double were all that marred his stellar play over the final 54 holes. The result was a 5-stroke triumph and his second career Australasian tournament title. Even Millar’s opening 72, 1-over par, was a thing of consistency. His 15 pars and 1 birdie simply needed a few more of the later; he obliged over the next three days.

How Smail and Fowler locked in their top-3 finishes

David Smail was brilliant over the first six holes on Sunday. Birdies on five of them brought him into the title picture, but he could not maintain the pace. To his credit, not a single bogey soiled his card on the final day. Unfortunately, after birdie at the 6th, it would be nine consecutive pars before closing with birdies at 16 and 18. Nevertheless, his mighty 64 shot him past a host of competitors into solo second. The ageless Peter Fowler led on Day 1 with 66, but would not crack 70 the rest of the way. His veteran guile allowed him to overcome bogeys on 2 and 3 on Day 4, and steady the rudder. With 5 birds against 2 bogeys over the remainder of the course, Fowler came in under par on Day 4, 1 behind Smail and 5 back of Millar.

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Photos from the 2018 Sony Open in Hawaii

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The second half of the Hawaiian swing brings the PGA Tour to Waialae Country Club (7,044 yards, par 70) for the 2018 Sony Open in Hawaii, and GolfWRX Forum Member tod071 was on the grounds taking photos. Special thanks to him and Reid Ogata!

The field this week consists of Jordan Spieth, defending-champion Justin Thomas, two-time Sony Open winner Jimmy Walker, 2017 Rookie-of-the-Year Xander Schauffele, and a slew of the game’s top players.

Check out our photos from the Sony Open on the island of Oahu!

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