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Tour Mash: The weekend’s winners, and how they got the job done

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We’re enhancing the format of Tour Mash this week. For each event, we’ll give you our take on how the winner won, and why the others didn’t. We’ll offer even more crucial information for those Monday office discussions and chat-room chirps. Have a sample and enjoy the flavor.

Steele defends at PGA Tour’s Safeway Open

In the first of two title defenses for the week, Brendan Steele took advantage of faltering golfers ahead to close with 69 for 15-under par, two shots clear of Tony Finau, also on 69 for the day. In 2016, Steele finished at 18-under for a 1-stroke win over Patton Kizzire. Phil Mickelson and Chesson Hadley tied for 3rd spot on the podium at 12-under, three strokes behind the champion

How he won

While Steele was closing with two birdies over his final three holes, the third-round leaders wavered. Despite two bogeys on his inward half, the three-time tour winner kept his composure and closed strong to seal the deal

How he didn’t

How many fellows lay awake on Sunday evening? Tony Finau doubled his 14th hole on Sunday, finishing two back of the top spot. Tyler Duncan had the 54-hole lead, but bogeyed his first three holes on Sunday, falling to a tie for fifth. Chesson Hadley, fresh off the Web.Com tour, bogeyed 10 and doubled 12 on day 4, finishing three shots back. And Phil? Phil was simply Phil, with five bogeys and three birdies on the day for 70.

Hatton wins second consecutive Dunhill Links on European Tour

Tyrrell Hatton defended his 2016 Dunhill Links championship by three shots over Ross Fisher, in a battle of Englishmen. Hatton concluded his week at 24-under par, with Victor Dubuisson of France closing with 63 for 17-under, alone in third place.

How he won

Each contestant plays a round over Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course, before closing on Sunday again at St. Andrews. Hatton’s high round (68) of the opening three was at St. Andrews, where he shot 66 on Sunday. His twin 65s on Friday and Saturday, at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, distanced him enough from the field to make Sunday a mid-60s walk along the strand.

How he didn’t

Fisher’s Furious Finish might have been the headline on Sunday, if not for Hatton’s stellar play. Ross Fisher came to the 16th tee on Sunday at 11-under for the round. Birdies on any two-of-the-final-three holes would have granted him a magical 59. Alas, he concluded with pars, including a missed 30-inch putt at the last. Still, his 61 set a new course record for the Old, lowering the mark by one stroke. On the week, Hatton was simply too good: lesson learned.

Kerr’s emotion win at the Open de France on the Ladies European Tour

Cristie Kerr of the USA won the Lacoste Open de France by four shots over Xi Yu Lin of China. Kerr finished at 17-under through four rounds at the Golf de Chantaco course. Third place went to Azahara Muñoz of Spain. Muñoz ended at 8-under.

How she won

Kerr birdied five of her opening nine holes on Thursday, signing for an eight-birdie, 62 in the first round. As if that weren’t enough, she made six more birdies on Friday for 64, going without a bogey in her first 36 holes. Although she hiccoughed on Saturday, the American champion closed with an eagle for 68, then finished on Sunday with another 68.

How she didn’t

“She” could have have been any other golfer in the field, after Kerr’s opening 126 through two rounds. Anne Van Dam of the Netherlands was closest, at 132, but each of her opening rounds was marred with bogey. When she lost three more strokes on Saturday to the leader, the die was cast.

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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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Tiger changes driver-weight settings, shoots even-par 70 at Honda Classic

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After missing the cut by four strokes at the 2018 Genesis Open last week, Tiger Woods is back at it again this week at the Honda Classic; it’s the first time he’s played in back-to-back PGA Tour events since 2015.

Opting for something other than driver off the tee much of the day, Woods made one double bogey, one bogey, and three birdies en route to an even-par 70.

It’s no secret that Woods has been struggling off the tee of late, especially with the driver. He’s hitting just 35 percent of fairways on the year, and he has already made one driver shaft change (going from a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX to a Matrix Ozik TP6HDe ahead of the Genesis Open). According to photos on Thursday, it appears Woods has also changed the weight settings in his TaylorMade M3 for a bit more forgiveness and fade-bias (as pictured above). At the Genesis Open and the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods had the M3 driver weights in the forward position, which moves CG (center of gravity) forward and tends to lower spin.

On Thursday, however, Woods hit a slew of long irons and fairway woods off the tee instead of drivers at the 7,100-yard par-70 PGA National… an approach that seemed to work. Well, he hit just 50 percent of the fairways on the day, but that means he’s trending upward.

One of the shots Woods hit with the driver was so far right it was literally laughable… but he managed to make par anyway.

Actually, his double-bogey 7 on the par-5 third hole (his 12th of the day) came after hitting the fairway; he was fumbling on and around the green after hitting his third into a greenside bunker. That blunder aside, three birdies and an even-par round at the always-difficult PGA National leaves Woods currently in T19, obviously well inside the cutline.

Do you think Woods will make the cut? Do you think he can contend to win the tournament?

See the clubs Tiger Woods has in his bag this week at the 2018 Honda Classic.

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

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The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

Last year, Fowler won by four shots over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland, despite playing his final round in 1-over par.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Wednesday’s Photos

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

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USGA, R&A to roll out new World Handicap System in 2020

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A new handicap system is here, or rather, it will be once the USGA and R&A begin to fully implement the World Handicap System in 2020.

The new system focuses on achieving three main objectives: 1) encouraging as many golfers as possible to maintain a handicap, 2) enabling golfers of different abilities, genders, and nationalities to compete fairly, and 3) determining the score a golfer is reasonably capable of shooting at any particular course anywhere in the world.

Currently there are six handicapping systems worldwide, owing to the existence of six handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.

Under the new program, the USGA and R&A will oversee the World Handicap System and the governing bodies will be in charge of local administration.

The USGA presents the WHS as a better system that simplifies the existing structures. Not surprisingly, the organization believes the WHS will compel more golfers to maintain a handicap.

“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

Davis sees the new system marching arm-in-arm with the revisions to (and simplification of) the Rules of Golf.

“We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.”

Key features of the WHS include:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”
  • A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

The USGA and R&A conducted quantitative research in 15 countries around the world. 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed.

The research also helped model the tenets of the WHS, but, as mentioned, don’t tear up your GHIN cards just yet: We’ve only just begun the two-year transition period prior to the implementation.

To provide feedback to the USGA on the new World Handicap System, golfers can email the USGA at whsfeedback@usga.org, or see usga.org/whs for more info.

Additionally, the USGA created this FAQ.

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