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Shocking News: Justin Thomas named the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year

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It was a foregone conclusion, but it was officially announced today that Justin Thomas beat out finalists Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama to receive the Jack Nicklaus Award for 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Thomas, who was winless in his first 70 starts on the PGA Tour, recorded five wins in 2017 including the PGA Championship. His year included a round of 59 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, a record-setting 9-under par round at the U.S. Open, and a $10-million bonus for winning the FedExCup Playoffs.

JT left no questions unanswered about his game, or his ability to perform under pressure in 2017. But how does he continue to improve and stay motivated going forward?

“I’ll just continue to do what I have,” Thomas told Golf World. “I don’t know who I heard it from back in college or whenever it was, but you just have to break it up. You have to have two to four goals that are very achievable, two to four goals that are in grasp but will be tough, and two to four goals that are maybe a little bit out of the realm and are going to be very difficult to do, but are somewhat achievable if you have a great year like I did this year.”

I think that means he has his sights set even higher for 2018. Topping his 2017 efforts would be quite the feat.

See the clubs Justin Thomas had in his bag in 2017

With two wins in 2017, including the season-ending Tour Championship, Xander Schauffele was named Rookie of the Year.

See the clubs Xander Schauffele had in his bag in 2017

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. mb

    Oct 7, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Why is this shocking? he played better than everyone on the PGA tour?.

  2. cgasucks

    Oct 5, 2017 at 9:29 am

    It is amazing how much one can achieve when jealousy and drive are in play. Justin admitted that he was jealous after seeing his buddy Speith win the British Open and wanted to get his share of that glory. Now you know the rest of the story..

  3. Travis

    Oct 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    It’s a joke Philip….

    • Philip

      Oct 4, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      I guess I have been tainted by too much “Enquirer” – funny how once the idea of it being a joke was put forth the title read differently. Goes to show the power of perception and how difficult it is to have everyone get the same meaning out of the same words.

  4. Philip

    Oct 4, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Exactly how is this shocking?

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Viktor Hovland wins the U.S. Amateur at Pebble, the drama of the first 25 PGA Tour cards

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In the final week before the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Webb Simpson gave notice that he will not be a liability as an automatic qualifier to the U.S. Ryder Cup squad. The European Tour welcomed a first-time winner, while the LPGA Tour recognized a veteran winner. The U.S. Amateur crowned a king from Norway, and the Web.Com Tour handed out its first 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-2019 campaign. Pretty good haul for a non-playoff week, wouldn’t you say? Let’s run it all down right not.

Snedeker follows 59 with second Wyndham Championship

In 2007, Brandt Snedeker made the Wyndham Championship his first PGA Tour victory. Eleven years later, he won his ninth title and second in Greensboro. This one was easily as difficult as the first one, thanks to the burden of 59. Unless you’ve been under the fabled rock, you know that Sneds began Thursday with a bogey, then made 1o birdies and an eagle to shoot 59. Guess how difficult it is to stay in contention, let alone win, with the weight of 59 on your shoulders? Yup, that difficult. Somehow, Snedeker did it. He had a challenge on day four from C.T. Pan, coming to 18 tied with the young Taiwanese golfer. As he did on Thursday, Snedeker made birdie at the par-four closer, finishing at 21-under on the week. Pan went OB off the 72nd tee, making double bogey and dropping into a tie for second with Webb Simpson, who had a chance to shoot 60 on the day. He also struggled at the last, making bogey for 62.

U.S. Mens Amateur trophy in Norwegian hands

This year’s final match was never dull; 19 of the 31 holes were won outright. By the time that Californian Devon Bling, rising junior from UCLA, and Viktor Hovland, same class at Oklahoma State (by way of Norway) shook hands on Pebble Beach’s 13th green, history had also been made. Before Hovland and Bling parred the 444-yard par four to seal the former’s 6 and 5 victory, only Arne Dokka (1965 USGA Public Links) had claimed victory for Norway in a U.S. national championship.

After qualifying 24th in stroke play, Hovland strengthened with each match. He was taken as far as the 17th hole only once in his first five matches, winning two matches on the 12th green. In the semifinals, Hovland dispatched the hottest amateur in the game, co-medalist Cole Hammer, 3 and 2. In the final, both golfers exhibited more nerves than excellent golf, with Hovland making fewer errors and winning the birdie battle, 6 to 4. With the triumph, Hovland will achieve another first next April, as the first Norwegian to play in the Masters Championship, at Augusta National golf club.

Nordea Masters is Waring’s first European Tour victory

We do our best to find great action clips, but sometimes, words do better than 1000 pictures. Paul Waring is greyer than one expects from a 32-year old golfer. Until the Nordea Masters, he had yet to win a professional event. A shaky swing on the 72nd hole suggested he might have to wait even longer. Thomas Aiken of South Africa caught a good break and made a sandy for birdie on the par-five closer, to reach 14-under. Already at that figure, Waring drew a lousy stance in the same sand pit, and was fortunate to make par and go to a playoff with Aiken. As the tide looked headed in Aiken’s direction, it suddenly shifted as the South African golfer’s overtime tee ball found water, and his third ended in a bush. Waring striped one down the middle, made par to Aiken’s bogey, and he became the 7th Englishman to ascend victory’s podium in 2018. After all that, you’d think he might be ecstatic, or at least, ebullient. Have a look.

LPGA Indy Women In Tech vaults Sung Hyun Park to No. 1 again

For most of the day, it looked like Lizette Salas would break through again, for a second LPGA victory. She had posted lightning rounds of 62 and 64 in the 1st and third rounds at the Brickyard Crossing golf course. On Sunday, however, Salas left the 60s for the first time all week, posting 70 with a bogey on her penultimate hole. That 5 dropped her into a tie with Sung Hyun Park, who filed a clean, four-birdie card in round 4. Equal at 23-under par, each had a chance to win on the last hole. Park missed from 8 feet, and Salas, from an excruciating 4. On the playoff hole, Salas erred on a birdie try from 20 feet. Park was deadly from 10 feet, cinching her fifth LPGA win and the world No. 1 ranking.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Open to Bart Bryant a second time

He’s hoping it won’t take another 5 years for a 3rd PGA Tour Champions victory, but Bart Bryant certainly feels at home in Endicott, New York. The Texas-born golfer overcame Michael Bradley’s 36-hole lead with 7 birdies on day three, and eased on out of the Binghamton area with a one-shot victory. Bryant was the only golfer in the top four to play bogey-free golf on Sunday, and his clean card made the difference. Bradley had yet to win on the senior circuit, and 4 birdies through 14 holes had him even with Sheriff Bart. A wayward drive at the 15th found the deep rough, and Bradley could not reach the green with his second. His only bogey on the day dropped him one behind Bryant. The two matched birdies at the closing hole, with Bryant draining a long putt for the victory.

Im bookends victories at Portland Open

Sungjae Im won his second victory of the year as the Web.Com regular season came to a close. Im was the first golfer to occupy the top spot on the race for the PGA Tour in the entire history of the Web.Com tour. This week, Im turned in a straight of sorts, posting 65-66-68-67 to win by 4 putts over John Chin. Chin’s two pair of 66s and 69s was 1 better than Erik Compton, the 3rd place finisher. Ben Taylor claimed the last of 25 PGA Tour cards by less than $1000 over No. 26, Wes Roach. Roach wasn’t the only near-miss of the week. For each tour-card recipient, so many others endured the frustration of almost and what if. Roach and others will have a second chance to earn a tour card during the 4 weeks of Web playoffs.

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Brandt Snedeker shoots 59 after bogeying his first hole at the 2018 Wyndham Championship

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Brandt Snedker started his first round of the 2018 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on the 10th hole with a drive way left off the tee, leading to a bogey. He didn’t make his first birdie until his fourth hole, actually, but from there, the flood gates were open. Snedeker birdied four holes in a row — hole nos. 13, 14, 15 and 16 — to go out in 32 (3 under).

He then SCORCHED his back nine, shooting an 8-under 27 including 6 birdies and an eagle. Certainly knowing it was for 59, Snedeker rolled in a 20-footer on his 18th hole (the course’s 9th hole). Watch the putt below.

It was by far the longest birdie putt he made on the back nine, probably because he was sticking everything to within 5 feet.

Notice the “0 feet” putt above? Yea, because he didn’t have to putt after dunking his second shot.

Where does Snedeker’s 59 stand in terms of the history books? He’s the 9th player ever to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour, and the FIRST to do so starting the round with a bogey.

Remember, even if you start with a bogey you can shoot your best round ever. Maybe not a 59 like Snedeker on Thursday of the Wyndham Championship, but don’t let that first-hole bogey get you down; there’s 17 more opportunities to make birdie — and Snedeker nearly did just that.

If you’re curious to hear what Snedker has to say about his 59, check out the Tweet embed below, or click here.

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Brooks Koepka, a machine built to win majors

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Brooks Koepka is your 2018 PGA Champion. Of his 4 PGA Tour victories, 3 have come at major events, all of which have come in the past 14 months. He has won a U.S. Open that played like a PGA (Erin Hills), a U.S. Open that played like a British Open (Shinnecock) and now, a PGA that played like a PGA, at Bellerive in St. Louis. What do we make of this 28-year old, born and bred Floridian, who doesn’t appear to win often, but makes it count when he does? That depends on the units with which you choose to measure his performance. Have a look at his most recent performance, a 2-shot win over Tiger Woods at the 2018 PGA Championship.

  • Birdies: 22 in total, 13 on the front nine
  • Bogeys: 4 total, 2 on each nine
  • Double Bogeys: 1
  • Eagles: 0

Out of 72 holes, it might be said, Koepka made 5 mistakes that counted. That’s not a lot. He made two consecutive mistakes on the front nine on Sunday, but countered those two holes later, with three consecutive birdies. Koepka also bogeyed consecutive hole in round three, on the inward half. Similarly, he made a birdie soon after, to regain momentum. On Thursday, when he made double bogey on the par-3 5th hole, he made all pars before and after, until the 11th. From that point on, it was 3 birdies and 5 pars. What we see from him is an incredibly precise performance, where mistakes are minimized and opportunities, maximized.

Koepka is no fool. He knows his initial strength is distance off the tee, and he utilized it to perfection at Bellerive. After round two, he commented,

“I like the way the golf course sets up. People talk about it turns right-to-left, but you’ve always got a bunker on the inside of the turn, but I can carry most of them, so it’s not really a big deal that the holes turn right-to-left, you can kind of get away with it with my length.”

Yes, Brooks, you can, but only if you are accurate when the ball returns to Earth. After three performances where he outplayed the best from two generations, we might become believers. During the same interview, Koepka revealed a bit more about who he is, and what he does, during a major week:

“More attention to detail. More mentally focused, more every shot really, really means something. You drop a shot or two, it’s, you really put yourself back. There’s a lot more focus that I have in the Majors, the preparation, I mean everyone on my team even says I act a little different, the way I approach it. It’s very down to a routine this week and other weeks sometimes, not saying I vary from the routine, but it’s much more disciplined. Eating right, going to the gym, it’s almost timed perfectly.”

None of those things is impossible to emulate. I’m certain that Rickie Fowler does them, and I’m positive that Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, and Tiger Woods do so as well. None of them hoisted the Wannamaker trophy this week, so something that Koepka does, or has, or know, continues to pay off.

It might be absolute comfort in his skin. Koepka told a story about a workout he had with perennial partner, Dustin Johnson, this week at Life Time Fitness in St. Louis. In his words,

“Today I was in there with Dustin and everybody wanted a picture with Dustin. They were talking about him as we left and I was just standing there laughing. They were like, did you see that No. 1 player in the world was here. It’s like, yeah, okay. I don’t know what to say to that. It was like, all right.”

I’d certainly be tempted to jump in and tell the ogglers who I am, but that’s not Koepka. He doesn’t have the DJ beard, the DJ bent wrist, the DJ wife/daughter of a hockey legend. It’s only about Brooks Koepka, albeit not in an egocentric way. The egotist approaches the ogglers and tells them who he is. Koepka focuses on self: I’m just focused on me. I feel like, if I do what I’m supposed to, I should win the golf tournament. That’s not arrogance, that’s not delusion. He is good, good enough to win each time he tees it up. Is he proud of his first tour win, at the Phoenix Open? For sure. Is he prouder of the three that came next? Without a doubt. The stakes continue to increase, and Koepka rises to the occasion.

Remember, too, that Koepka lost a sizable chunk of this season. He shut his game down after injuring his wrist. A late-2017 surgery kept him out of action through the Masters, an event that now seems tailored to his style of golf. Not a large muscle that heals quickly, but a part of the body with so many moving parts. A part of the body so essential to the execution of every golf shot. If that threat doesn’t give one pause, and later, gratitude, then one has missed the point.

In 1986, Greg Norman and Severiano Ballesteros were the two best golfers in the world. Jack Nicklaus was not, a relic from another era, whose most recent win had come six years prior. When the Golden Bear began to make noise at Augusta National, Norman and Ballesteros folded. Fast forward 32 years, to the footsteps of another forest creature, Tiger Woods. Woods posted 8 birdies for 64 on Sunday at Bellerive. He reached the number (-14) that I suggested yesterday would be enough to win, except it wasn’t. Why not? Koepka, unlike Norman and Ballesteros, rose to the challenge.

Brooks Koepka has joined a small group of golfers with three major victories. He now has two distinct major titles on his resume, and will certainly be one of the favorites at all four majors next year. From 1903 to 1905, Willie Anderson was the only man to raise the unnamed trophy. In 2019, Koepka might join him at at Pebble Beach. He might put on a green jacket in Georgia, in April. He also might grasp a trophy named for a specific wine, at Royal Portrush, in Northern Ireland.

See Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB

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