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Tour Mash: Leishman closes the deal, Wattel wins his first

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Week three of the PGA Tour playoffs came to a close, setting the stage for a stirring FedEx Cup finale in Atlanta. The LPGA contested its last major championship of 2017 in France. Football may be in the air, but important golf balls fly higher. Have a sample of what mattered this week in our September 18th Tour Mash.

Leishman unleashed, finally, in Chicago

Marc Leishman of Australia heard the footsteps. They weren’t coming from playing partner Jason Day, who would counter every three birdies with a bogey or double. Instead, it was Justin Rose who was making a run at the leader. If ever an event felt owned by a golfer it was this one. Question was, could Leishman close the deal?

The massive Aussie had led since his opening 62, but when Rose reached 19-under at the 16th, Leishman had to feel threatened. He had two tour wins to his credit, including this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. None had ever given him a chance at the FedEx Cup, though, and Leishman was not to be denied. He closed with three birdies over the final quadrilateral, securing a 5-stroke margin of victory over Rose, who bogeyed the 17th to drop back to a second-place tie with Rickie Fowler, at 18-under. With the win, Leishman joined Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm in the playoffs top five.

Nordqvist wins 2nd major title at Evian

Anna Nordqvist is tough. She returned from a debilitating bout of mono this summer to feature prominently in the European Tour’s Solheim Cup challenge. On Sunday, the Swede defeated upstart American Brittany Altomare on the first playoff hole to win her second major title.

All golfers began the round behind Moriya Jutanugarn. The Thai golfer played well over her first nine holes, but played her final nine holes in two-over, dropping to 8-under and a gut-wrenching T3 finish, one back of the playoff duo. With Jutanugarn were Lydia Ko and Katherine Kirk.

Altomare and Nordqvist played the playoff hole in rainy conditions, unable to avoid the deluge that had lingered all day but never committed. Neither player offered her best in extra holes, but it was Nordqvist who squeezed in a clutch bogey putt to secure victory over Altomare’s double.

Snaps for Hadley after Boise victory on Web.Com

Chesson Hadley knew he would return to the PGA Tour in 2017-18, before the 2017 Web.Com Tour playoffs began. His sense of urgency might have diminished just enough to free up his game. On Sunday, the North Carolina native and Georgia Tech alum finished with fury, birdieing holes 15 through 17 at the Boise Open. He reached 16-under par, then watched his pursuers work in vain to catch him.

Close to Hadley were Ted Potter, Jr., and Jonathan Randolph. both men birdied 16 and 18 to sign for 15-under, one excruciating stroke shy of the top spot. For Randolph, the finish secured his PGA Tour card for 2017-2018. With his win, Hadley moved to the top of the Finals board, about $85K clear of 2nd-place Andrew Landry. The tour moves to Cleveland for the penultimate playoff event, before closing the season in Florida, in two weeks.

Jerry Kelly wins again on Champions Tour

Much like Hadley, Jerry Kelly sought vindication. He had been a tour winner, and when he finally won on the Champions Tour in late August, the pressure valve had opened and the pent-up steam of frustration, released. On Sunday at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, it looked as thought Kelly would add a runner-up finish to that title, but Lee Janzen closed poorly, and Kelly took advantage.

Janzen stood at 16-under with four holes to play, but errant shots at the 15th and 17th led to bogey and double, dropping him to 13-under on the week. Kelly did nothing spectacular, simply going about business as usual. He birdied the 15th to get to 14-under, then closed with three pars to edge Janzen by one, for victory No. 2 on the senior circuit. Tommy Armour III and David McKenzie were a further stroke back, tied for third at 12-under.

Wattel a winner at last on European Tour

Romain Wattel trailed only Kiradech Aphibarnrat at the start of round four in Holland. Chasing his first European Tour victory, Wattel had to feel a bit positive as his day trended upward, while Aphibarnrat lost the handle and finished at 2-over on the day, 12-under overall and tied for ninth. Austin Connelly, the young Canadian, appeared from nowhere and the game was on.

Connelly birdied the 18th hole at The Dutch, reaching 14-under with his second consecutive round of 66. Wattel remained poised, however. Although his final birdie came at the 10th hole, he closed with seven consecutive pars, enough to secure his debut victory on the European circuit. Wattel moved to 55th spot in the Race To Dubai rankings, while Connelly ascended to 71st.

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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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  1. Timbleking

    Sep 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Bien joué, Romain !!!

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Everything former Nike rep Ben Giunta said about working with Tiger Woods

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Ben Giunta, a former Nike Tour Rep and now owner of the TheTourVan.com, joined host Johnny Wunder and TXG’s Ian Fraser for the most recent installment of the Gear Dive podcast.

While you’ll want to hear everything Giunta has to say, his remarks about working with Tiger Woods are particularly notable, and we wanted to present them here for those of you who may be more textually inclined.

On Tiger Woods’ preferences for club testing

“He always does his testing at home. 99 percent of the time. Whenever Tiger showed up to an event he was ready to go. There was no tinkering with equipment at Tour events. All of the work we did with him, we would do a week prior.”

“Rick Nichols, who was my boss when I was at Nike…he was Tiger’s right-hand guy. He worked with him on pretty much everything. We would prep everything. Rick would go and work with him at home…at that time it was in Orlando. They would tweak and do everything they needed there. Then when he showed up to the tournaments, I could probably count on one hand the number of times he came into the trailer to get work done.”

“He was built different. He came to do his homework on the golf course and prepare for the tournament. He was not tinkering around with equipment when it came to tournament time.”

“Any time he would test anything during the week…it was for a backup. He was constantly searching for backup drivers and…woods. So if something happened…he already had done all of his work.”

On Tiger’s driver preferences

“We were always tinkering with different CGs. Obviously, there was a lot of special stuff made for him. He didn’t use an adjustable driver…until Nike got out of the equipment business. We were always making sure the center of gravity was perfect. He was very specific on face angles and how much loft he wanted to look at. And he always wanted the face angle to be pretty much the same.”

“We had to have different iterations with different lofts based on where his golf swing was…obviously, his golf swing changes a lot based on all of his injuries and swing changes…There were certainly times where he was swinging a driver that spec’d out at a true eight-degree head, then he’d be all the way up to 11 or 12 degrees sometimes.”

On Tiger’s consistency in iron preferences

“The only thing that ever really changed with Tiger’s irons…was the lie angle. But lofts…they have been the same since he played golf…It’s been the same specs for his entire professional and amateur career. Those specs haven’t changed but the lie angles have. As far as I know, he has never experimented with different iron shafts [True Temper Dynamic Gold X100]. They’ve always been the same…with wooden dowels down in the tips of the shafts.”

“He always had the mindset that he was going to manipulate the club to get the ball to do what he wanted it to do.

On the consistency of Woods’ wedge setup

“He’s evolved with different grinds depending on his delivery or what he’s trying to do technique-wise, he’s modified his soles a little bit over time…but he’s always kind of reverted back to your traditional dual sole.”

In addition to talking Tiger, Giunta discusses how he got a job on Tour, working with Rory McIlroy, tinkerers vs non-tinkerers, and what he’s doing now (and more) in the rest of the podcast.

You can listen below.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB 2018

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Tour News

WATCH: Tiger Woods on Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf

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Tiger Woods just appeared in a Bridgestone Golf Facebook Live video. While the audio isn’t the greatest (sounds like there’s some mowers rolling by), we’ve got to pass it along.

Check out the video below.

Woods initially discusses his wedges, before moving on to sharing some insights about how he hits his patented stinger–covering the ball, starting it farther right, and keeping his follow through short.

On his ball, the Bridgestone Tour B XS, which he presents as a softer ball well-suited to his swing, Woods says

“I need spin. I don’t spin the ball a lot. My swing has never produced a lot of spin. I’ve always been able to take spin off the golf ball–I grew up in an era where we played balata. What separated a lot of guys was the ability to take spin off the golf ball…to keep it below the tree line. There was a lot more movement in the golf ball.”

“My swing has naturally evolved. I’ve had different swings throughout the years, but each swing didn’t spin the ball a lot. So, when I get up to my long irons with a harder ball that most people would launch…I don’t. It falls out of the sky because it has so little spin.”

Woods mentioned that he hasn’t played Shinnecock since the course’s pre-U.S. Open makeover, but that he expects the course will be particularly difficult: an old-school U.S. Open with minimal graduated rough where it will be difficult to shoot under par.

Responding to comments, Woods sings Hazeltine’s praises and mentions he’d love to be able to wear shorts during PGA Tour events

“We play some of the hottest places on the planets and it would be nice to wear shorts…even with my little chicken legs,” Woods says.

Woods tells amateurs looking for more spin around the greens that they need a soft golf ball, mentioning that solid contact, maintaining loft, and allowing to club to do its job are key. Woods mentions that he has “a couple extra shots around the greens” thanks to the softness of his golf ball.”

We’ll next see the 14-time major champion in action at next week’s Memorial Tournament (which he discusses to wrap up the video).

 

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Popular Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Tuesday at the Fort Worth Invitational

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GolfWRX is on the ground at Marvin Leonard’s famed pet project, Colonial Country Club, peeking into players bags and taking in the action on the driving range.

While you’ll want to take a trip through the buffet line, we’ve made you a plate of some of the tastiest morsels.

Absolutely savage new putter cover for Jon “Rahmbo” Rahm. Just killer.

Prettier than a new penny.

Spotted: Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI

Everything here is excellent. Just excellent.

More like Garsen Murray. Am I right?

If you were Aaron Wise standing over the winning putt at last week’s Byron Nelson, this is what it’d have looked like (of course, you’d have had a ball and the putter would be soled on the green, but you get the point…)

Abraham Ancer’s new Artisan wedges are simply incredible… All of this: Artisan star stellar stuff.

Rickie Fowler has gone grape.

You can’t fool me. You’re not Adam Hadwin, you’re a golf bag.

Is Patrick Cantlay considering a switch to a Cameron Napa?

Check out all our photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational below.

Tuesday’s Photos

Special Galleries

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

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