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Tour Mash: DJ blows a six-stroke lead on Sunday, Rose capitalizes

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Remember when September through November was the Silly Season? Skins Game and other made-for-television events were all that golf fans had to watch. Weren’t terrible, weren’t great. All is different in the realm of 2K17, where WGC in China, Schwab Cub on the Champions, CME on the LPGA and the Race To Dubai on the European Tour give us quality, meaningful golf nearly up to Thanksgiving. Time to mash some Halloween candy, pro-golf style.

Justin Rose wins World Golf HSBC Champions

No lie, the engraver was practicing “Dustin Johnson” on Saturday evening. The tall man they call DJ had a 6-stroke lead over Brooks Koepka, looking solid and unbeatable. The wind had something to say about things, and turned Johnson’s massive advantage into a gentle zephyr, floating away. In the end, Justin Rose took advantage and walked away with his second WGC title.

How the Rose bloomed

Want to know the secret to overcoming a large lead?

I THINK WHENEVER YOU’RE PLAYING BEHIND SOMEONE WITH A LEAD, TRY AND WIN THE OTHER GOLF TOURNAMENT. THAT’S ALWAYS MY MENTALITY. AND THEN JUST SEE WHAT HAPPENS. THE LEADER, YOU NEVER EXPECT HIM TO HAVE A BAD DAY, BUT JUST IN CASE, PLAY FOR SECOND.

Do what Rose did; beat all the other competitors and, if the golfer with the big lead falters, you have a chance. Rose wasn’t flawless on Sunday; he struggled like everyone else on the outward half, balancing three pars, birdies and bogeys. Still, he made two strokes up on the leader. On the inward half, the 2013 U.S. Open and 2016 Olympic champ was fire, with five birdies. In the end, Rose had a two-shot edge on Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson.

How the field wilted

Shoot in the 60s and win, might nearly have been the mantra for the leaders on Sunday. Stenson would need 68 to tie, and he posted 70, with a critical, late bogey at 17. Koepka needed 69 to tie, and looked as though he would get it, until a crushing double-bogey on the 16th. And Johnson? All he needed was a putt or two. The Myrtle Beach Man could not buy a break in round four. He wasn’t lousy (13 pars, 5 bogeys) he just wasn’t Johnson. By the way, Rose was the only guy in the top 15 after round 3 to shoot in the 60s on Sunday.

Cristie Kerr Continues Komeback at Sime Darby

See what we did up there? CK-CK? Yup, Halloween cheese. Back to Kerr. Her third win of the year was a battle, but she made just enough shots to notch the belt in Malaysia. After wins in Hawaii and France, Kerr’s Key might be to leave the continental U.S. in search of glory. Alliteration fun is not done. Kerr kept her komposure each time her swing betrayed her. Two holes after a double at the seventh, she made birdie. On the inward half, she bogeyed the 15th and 17th holes … and birdied 16 and 18, the latter for a walk-off win.

How Kerr closed the deal

There were low numbers (64 from Brooke Henderson, 65 from Nelly Korda) on the board on Sunday, but Kerr couldn’t find one. Fortunately, playing partner Shanshan Feng couldn’t take advantage of Kerr’s malaise. Want to know how good pro golfers are? They plan to mic-drop 35-foot putts on the final hole.

I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE LIKE A FIVE-WAY PLAYOFF. I WAS JUST LIKE, GOT TO DO IT. GOT TO DO IT. I WAS JUST, THE ONLY THING I COULD CONTROL WAS TRUSTING MY LINE AND HITTING THE PUTT WITH THE SPEED TO MAKE IT, AND I DID IT. NEVER LEFT THE HOLE. IT NEVER EVEN TRIED TO LIP OUT.

How the others lost

Jacqui Concolino and Danielle Kang did what was necessary. Both golfers shot low rounds (67 and 66, respectively) to enter the chase. Both came up one shot short, as did Feng, thanks to Kerr’s 72nd hole bottle rocket. Kang had nothing but pars through 11 holes, then close with an eagle and three birdies to come oh-so-close. Concolino played the first 12 holes in 4-under par, but a costly bogey at 15 was her undoing. As for Feng, two bogeys on the opening nine and two birdies on the inward side. Meh.

Sanderson Farms Championship is Armour’s First Tour Win

In pre-internet 1993, Ryan Armour lost the USGA Junior final match to Tiger Woods. Armour went on to Ohio State as a student-athlete, then bounced around every tour imaginable for 20 years. He won on the Web.Com tour in 2016, and now has his first PGA Tour victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

How Armour stayed in the moment

Can you want to win too much, for those around you and for yourself? Yes, you can. Ryan Armour may have wanted it more than words can say, but he kept matters simple: hit it in the middle of the fairway, hit it in the middle of the green, put the putter on it and see what happens. All week long, he was one or two better than his closest pursuers, which adds up to a five-shot cushion at 19-under par, five strokes clear of the resurgent Chesson Hadley. Jonathon Randolph had his low round of the week (67) on Sunday to jump up to solo third spot.

How the others tried, but didn’t quite make it

It’s hard to blame the pursuers when the leader gives them no room. In this event, the field was truly playing for second position. Hadley needed 63 in a week when no one went lower than 65. Everyone else needed a monumental Armour collapse, and it did not happen. Scott Strohmeyer won a playoff for the final tournament spot in Monday’s open qualifier, then caught lightning in a bottle with rounds of 72-67-68-71. His T4 finish means the man with no status whatsoever will play next week in Las Vegas.

PowerShares QQQ Championship to Langer in extra holes

So sturdy was the play of both, as others around them faltered, that the gods of golf decreed that Bernhard Langer’s putt for the win, on the 54th green, would 360-degree lip out, and that he and Miguel Angel Jimenez would play overtime for the spoils of victory.

How Langer ground this one out

After 9 holes on day 3, Langer was behind David Toms and Scott McCarron, and didn’t have his usual, daunting game. On the inward half, he was perfect. The now seven-time champion in 2017 birdied four-of-the-first-five inward holes to assume the lead. Four closing pars nearly cost him the title, as Jimenez made his run. Even with the power lip-out on 18, Langer still had life and when given a second opportunity in the extra period, the German took advantage.

How Jimenez and company let this one slip away

Langer was beatable this week, but no one put him away. McCarron had a chance to do so, and came home in 1-over. Toms also had opportunity, but made only one par on a sloppy/brilliant back nine (5 birdies, 2 bogeys, 1 double.) It was Jimenez, after eagle three on the 16th brought him into a tie at the top, who had multiple, late opportunities. First, he missed a 10-feet putt for birdie on 17 to take the lead. Next, he missed a 15-feet putt for birdie at the last, which would have forced Langer to make for a half. Finally, the Spaniard missed a long but makeable birdie putt on the first extra hole. Note to future challengers: Langer doesn’t give anyone that many chances.

Indonesia Open to @ProCoconut

Twitter handle is @ProCoconut, ’nuff said. Panuphol Pittayarat held off a spate of longer last names to claim his first Asian Tour win, by five strokes. Think we’re kidding? Read on.

How @ProCoconut got the job done

Pittayarat had the low daily round (65) on two of the four tournament days. The other two 18s were 68 and 67. That totals 23-under and is tough to beat. The 24-year old Thai hit 62 greens in regulation and kept his putts under 30 in 3-of-4 rounds. Count 28 birdies on the week, and you have the recipe for winning stew.

How the others fell short

Certainly not in letters, they didn’t. Kaewsiribandit was five behind the winner in 2nd spot, while Janewattanond tied Tantipokhakul for third, at 15-under. For fun, Wannasrichan was one back, in the fifth spot. Now you know why Thais love nicknames. Great golf was played, but none could approach the efficiency of the winner.

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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.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. DaveFromAccounting

    Oct 31, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    It could if the successful rounds were first and the least successful round was the one with the most pressure. It certainly looked like he had a hard time trusting his equipment when the pressure grew. Although, this isn’t totally out of character for DJ with, or without, new equipment.

  2. Wonder Why

    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:54 pm

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Bridgestone Golf appoints Dan Murphy President as CEO

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Following the departure of Angel Ilagan late last month, Bridgestone Golf has appointed Dan Murphy as President and CEO.

Dan Murphy was previously with the company from 2004 to 2015. He most recently served as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. As President and CEO, Murphy will be responsible for directing the company’s core business functions, including product planning and production, marketing, sales and customer relations.

“I’ve been with Bridgestone Golf since the beginning and the passion runs deep,” says Murphy. “We make the most technologically-advanced golf balls in the world and my role is to help ensure Bridgestone is recognized as the industry’s leading example of how science and data is used to make products that improve the performance of all golfers.”

Since 2015, Murphy was President of textile manufacturer Kentwool and Vice President of American Achievement Corporation.

Before joining Bridgestone Golf almost 15 years ago, he held key marketing and business development positions at TaylorMade, Dunlop Slazenger, Maxfli, and General Mills.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: How Brooks Koepka channeled Jack Nicklaus | It happened again | Mickelson theories abound

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note to start your day.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below. Feedback is always welcome–send everything from news tips to complaints (hopefully more tips than complaints)!

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

 

June 18, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans. However poorly your start to the week is going, you can rest assured it’s better than Mike Davis’. The USGA head will continue to parry criticism about course conditions at Shinnecock and the decision not to disqualify Phil Mickelson. Needless to say, it’s not the look the folks in Far Hills wanted.
1. BK to BK
Tougher course, same winner: Brooks Koepka won his second U.S. Open in a row AND Joe Buck got Koepka’s girlfriend’s name right. Incredible performances.
  • While there’s plenty of good writing about the golf jock’s win, Tim Dahlberg’s AP columns stands out. “Titled Koepka wins an Open where the whiners go home early,” Dahlberg looks at BK’s win through the old Jack Nicklaus quote that he knew he didn’t have to worry about anyone complaining about the U.S. Open setup.
  • Now, the validity of player gripes in Nicklaus’ era versus today is up for debate. However, it is worth noting that Koepka didn’t complain once in the course of his W.
  • Said Koepka after his win: “I enjoy the test. I enjoy being pushed to the limit,” he said. “Sometimes you feel like you are about to break mentally, but that’s what I enjoy. I enjoy hard golf courses. I enjoy playing about the toughest in golf you are ever going to play.”
2. The faltering of Dustin Johnson
Not to kick a man when he’s down, but it’s worth remembering that Dustin Johnson was 4 under par after two rounds at the U.S. Open. Brooks Koepka’s winning score was 1 over, and DJ himself ultimately finished at 3 over par.
  • What went wrong for the World No 1
  • Golf Channe’s Will Gray spelled it out: “The culprit for Johnson’s regression was clear. After leading the field in strokes gained: putting through the first two rounds, he couldn’t get comfortable on the greens on the weekend. Johnson needed 38 putts to complete his third round, T-64 among the 67 players who made the cut, and his 35 final-round putts were T-63 in the same category.”

3. Tommy 63

Here’s a take: Tommy Fleetwood’s final-round tournament record-tying 63 won’t get the love it deserves both because Fleetwood didn’t ultimately win and because of the USGA’s rain god routine prior to the final round
  • This is a shame. Fleetwood’s 7-under final round was one bad putt read at the 18th hole away from a 62. The score would not only have been a historic achievement–the lowest round in U.S.Open history–but it would have tied him with Brooks Koepka.
  • Here’s another take: We focus too much on the Englishman’s hair and beard (both of which are epic at the moment). He has top-10 finishes in the last two U.S. Opens and has added his name to a shortlist of players on the verge of a major breakthrough.
4. USG-let it get aw-A-y
Helped by a few dicey pins and more wind than expected, Shinnecock Hills got away from the USGA late Saturday. And while the tournament is over and the damage done, plenty continue to discuss the topic.
  • Geoff Shackelford broke it down nicely for Golfweek.
  • “Shinnecock Hills 2018 will be remembered for Wednesday night’s round-saving watering, not hydrating enough Saturday and an emergency drenching Sunday to keep the place from spilling into absurdity.”
  • “For two of its final three days, the U.S. Open faced bright, dry and potentially fast conditions. The U.S. Golf Association fed Shinnecock Hills enough water. History, however, will remember Saturday’s gaffe when players putted off browned-out greens as balls would not stop rolling and, most disappointing of all, the morning wave faced wildly better course conditions compared to the beleaguered afternoon leaders.”
  • “The lessons of 2004 were not learned….The mistake that could never happen again, happened again.”
5. Mickelson’s field hockey remains baffling
What to say about Phil Mickelson? The left-hander’s child-playing-putt-putt routine Saturday continues to confound, especially after Mickelson declined to talk to reporters Sunday and engaged in a mock celebration at the 13th hole (scene of the Saturday crime) Sunday.
  • Some scribes question whether Mickelson’s move (essentially taking the penalty to save time and avoid pain) was as calculated as Lefty later made it seem. Reports indicate Mickelson told playing partner Beef Johnston he wasn’t sure what the rules dictated in such a situation…before later telling reporters he knew the rules and was using them for his advantage.
  • Plenty continue to discuss the incident from an etiquette standpoint. Just as many debate whether Mickelson ought to have been disqualified or withdrawn from the tournament. And of course, some celebrate the gesture as a perceived middle finger to the USGA, its course management, and hole locations.
  • In short, Mickelson’s polo playing will remain a topic of discussion.
6. Parziale and father
No. 6 was going to be Ian Poulter complaining about the USGA and U.S. fans, but really, whose life is going to be enhanced by that? So, instead, how about Matt Parziale?
  • The reigning U.S. Mid-Am champ, already much discussed owing to his Massachusetts firefighter backstory, not only made the cut at the U.S. Open (as you probably know), but he had his father on the bag all week.
  • Heckuva Father’s Day! Parziale finished 5 over par Sunday to tie for low amateur at 16 over for the tournament.
7. Other golf!
In case you missed them, there were professional golf tournaments not named the U.S. Open played last week. Here’s one.
  • So Yeon Ryu won the Meijer LPGA Classic. Lydia Ko finished three shots back. The win is the sixth of the South Korean’s career and represents a return to form.
  • “If I look back on my season, I wasn’t really satisfied with it and I’ve been really, really struggling, I had a lot of crazy moments,” said Ryu. “I had some good rounds, I had some really bad rounds, so I couldn’t even really finish top-10 much compared to any other season. So all those reasons just drove me crazy.”
8. Gear Dive
Johnny Wunder goes deep with Mizuno Golf Engineer Chris Voshall. Voshall speaks on how Brooks Koepka was the one that almost got away, and why Mizuno irons are still secretly the most popular on Tour.
9. USG-pay d-A-y
The cleverness in this section’s title is over the line, just like Shinnecock Hils, Saturday.
Here are the payouts for top finishers at the (big money) U.S. Open.
  • 1: Brooks Koepka, $2,160,000
  • 2: Tommy Fleetwood, $1,296,000
  • 3: Dustin Johnson, $812,927
  • 4: Patrick Reed, $569,884
  • 5: Tony Finau, $474,659
  • T-6: Xander Schauffele, $361,923
  • T-6: Tyrrell Hatton, $361,923
  • T-6: Henrik Stenson, $361,923
  • T-6: Daniel Berger, $361,923
Rough stuff for Tony Finau, whose double bogey at the 72nd hole cost him more than 200 grand. But at least he didn’t dislocate an ankle in this major championship
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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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