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Tour Mash: Kizzire breaks through, Feng doubles down

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You’ve seen those Schwab Cup commercials, where Bernhard Langer hogs all the ice to fill his Schwab Cup trophy? Well, the king was dethroned, but not by any of the expected challengers. On the LPGA Tour, we have a two-week streak for Shanshan Feng, and a homebody win on the European Tour. If you’re a Rickie Fowler fan, you may want to stop reading now. If not, let’s mash up some tour news and have a taste.

Kizzire gets debut PGA Tour win at OHL Mayakoba Classic

Maxie Kizzire goes by his middle name, Patton. In 2015, Kizzire won twice on the Web.Com Tour and was named player of the year. He graduated to the PGA Tour for 2015-16, and managed to keep his card each of the past two seasons, finishing inside the top 100. On Sunday, Kizzire fulfilled a bit of the promise his record offered, winning his first Tour event in Mayakoba. After finishing 72nd and 97th on the money lists, Kizzire will need to rewrite his fall plans to include the 2018 FedEx Finals.

How Kizzire broke through

Over the past two years, Patton Kizzire developed the reputation for consistent play. In four events during the new season, the Auburn alum has 3 top-10 finishes, and tops the FedEx Cup points list. On Thursday, Kizzire lit up the El Camaleon course with 10 birdies for 62. His gut-check round came on Friday, when he opened with double bogey. Thanks to the weather, Kizzire was forced into a 36-hole, Sunday finish. He came through big time with 66 and 67 for a one-shot victory over Rickie Fowler.

How Fowler, et al., didn’t do the job

By rights, Fowler should have held high the trophy. He made four bogeys on the week, way fewer than Kizzire, yet still finished one shot out of a playoff. What happened? Three bogeys in a 7-hole stretch from his 17th through 23rd holes on Sunday. Fowler might be the most snake-bitten golfer since Greg Norman to play the Tour. Most times he gets in contention, someone is right there to snatch away the win. Si Woo Kim was three behind Fowler, alone in third place.

Feng doubles down at LPGA Tour’s Blue Bay

Last year, Minjee Lee held off Ariya Jutanagarn to win Blue Bay. In 2017, Shanshan Feng did the same to older sister Moriya Jutanagarn. For Feng, victory in consecutive weeks establishes her as the queen of the fall. If the LPGA majors are ever held in October or November, watch out for Feng.

How Feng did it

Shanshan outlasted the competition. She wasn’t perfect on any day, averaging 2.25 bogeys per round. Fortunately for her, no one took charge and forced her to give chase. As a result, last week’s winner became this week’s winner. Despite more wins (3 to 2) and top-10 finishes (12 to 9) than the leader, Feng was only able to move to third in the Race to CME global challenge. Cue head scratch.

How they didn’t

Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa tried to join countryman Grace with a win of her own this weekend. After opening with 67-68, the weekend was a forgettable one, as she limped home with 76-73. The leaders all had one bad round, but two were too much to overcome. Moriya Jutanugarn had a chance to tie Feng on the penultimate hole, as the leader bogeyed the par-3 for the second consecutive day. Jutanugarn was unable to capitalize, however, as she penciled in a bogey of her own.

Sutherland wins Champions Tour’s Schwab Cup Championship and season-long race

It would surely be someone like Scott McCarron, Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry or Miguel Angel Jimenez that would dethrone Bernhard Langer. Well, Langer no longer occupies the throne of the Champions Tour king, but none of the four pretenders mentioned above, was able to ascend to the throne. Who then? Try on the name Kevin Sutherland for size.

How Sutherland did it

As Langer said, they are called playoffs for a reason. Before Sunday, Kevin Sutherland had not won on the Champions Tour. He now has two trophies for his shelf, thanks to his closing rounds of 63 and 66. The winner had two bogeys in his first 8 holes of Round 1, but countered them with eagles on Days 2 and 3. He had no other blips, snafus or slip-ups, and had enough gas in the tank to win by one slim stroke.

How Singh and Janzen came close

Lee Janzen held the tournament lead for most of the event. Over his final 9 holes, he had two bogeys, enough to tumble to a second-place tie. Vijay Singh had the Sunday back-nine that Janzen coveted, a 4-under 31. Like Fowler above, Singh should have won this tournament. He had 64 on Friday and 63 on Sunday. Unfortunately for the Fijian, he lost his mind on Saturday, with two double and two single bogeys, for a 1-over 72. John Daly was one stroke behind Singh and Janzen, at 13-under, tied with David Frost and David Toms in fourth spot.

Branden Grace wins European Tour’s Nedbank Challenge

There’s no more holding onto a tour win these days. Moving day has become moving daze, with professional golfers going low on Saturday and Sunday. Haotong Li set an early standard with 64 on Sunday, and Branden Grace nearly matched it, with 66. His 6-under effort zipped him past third-round leader Scott Jamieson by one, and brought him his home country’s Nedbank Classic.

How Grace reached graceland

No magic wand, no final-hole heroics, just more birdies. Grace outplayed Jamieson and everyone else over the final 36 holes. His weekend work included 12 birdies and two bogeys, both of the latter on Saturday. He was perfect when he most needed to be.

How Jamieson and company came up shy

Jamieson had four birdies and 13 pars of his own on Day 4. His only gaffe was a double-bogey 6 on the 8th hole.  To his credit, he didn’t spiral away after that blooper. Jamieson came home in 34, one shot shy of a playoff. Victor Dubuisson of France reached 10-under with birdie at the 10th, but his ephemeral lead was gone with bogey at No. 15, and third place was his reward.

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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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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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GolfWRX Morning 9: Bubble boys’ unknown agony | Snedeker parlays 59 to trophy | Golfer’s finger bitten off (by golfer)

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

August 20, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans. Not all Mondays are created equal, but all Mondays are Mondays.
1. Sneds!
If you shoot 59 in one of the four rounds of a PGA Tour event, you should ultimately win the event, no? Fortunately, Brandt Snedeker parlayed his record score into his first win since 2016.
  • “Shooting 59 on Thursday, your expectations go through the roof,” Snedeker said, also expressing pride that he could “cap it off the way we did today, to play pretty much a flawless round of golf.”
  • C.T. Pan’s undoing was also…interesting…AP report: “For a while, it looked like it might come down to a playoff between Pan and Snedeker, who were even at 20 under entering Pan’s final hole.”
  • “But the 26-year-old from Taiwan ran into big trouble: Pan shanked his tee shot out of bounds off a cart path down the right side of the fairway and needed four shots, including the penalty stroke, to reach the green on the par 4.”
  • “Pan said he heard “a couple noises in my head which caused me to hit a bad shot….”It’s my fault. I can learn something from it,” he said. “I only played one bad hole, which is fine. You know, I’ve still got a lot of golf left.”
2. A Norwegian takes the U.S. Am
AP Report on the 20-year-old’s win…”Viktor Hovland’s week at the U.S. Amateur went so well that even when he made rare mistakes with drives into hazards, it didn’t end up hurting him at all.”
  • “Hovland recovered from one to take the lead for good on the fourth hole of the 36-hole final and another to halve the final hole of the morning round and maintain a 4-stroke lead.”
  • “Hovland rolled from there to become the first Norwegian to win the U.S. Amateur, beating UCLA sophomore Devon Bling 6 and 5 on Sunday to cap a dominant week at Pebble Beach.”
  • “I’ve had a lot of tournaments before where I hit the ball really well, but the few times I missed a green or hit a bad shot I haven’t been able to scramble or make putts,” he said. “This week it kind of all came together, which is really cool.”
Really cool, indeed.
3. Bryant’s first W since wife’s death
Cheers to Bart Bryant for his first victory since his wife’s death from cancer in April of 2017. Hard to imagine the ordeal he and his wife went through as she endured treatment for brain cancer while he tried to keep doing his job on the PGA Tour Champions.
  • John Strege writes…”Bryant, 55, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th green at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y., the difference in his one-stroke victory in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
  • “It’s been a long road in life and and a long road in golf, and the golf just hasn’t been very good. The last three or four months I’ve started to feel I had something, I just wasn’t making the putts. This week I finally made four or five putts over 20 feet or maybe longer. I think that’s what put me over the top. Hopefully it’s going to kick start into better things.”
  • “Cathy Bryant was diagnosed with brain cancer on Mother’s Day, 2016. It claimed her life on April 5, 2017. The 2017 season was the least productive of his PGA Tour Champions career; he failed to post a top 10 in 15 starts.”
4. Getting out of Park at the Brickyard
Soft greens + preferred lies = time to step on the gas. That’s exactly what Sung Hyun Park did, which is fitting, considering the venue
  • Jennifer Meyer of LPGA.com writes…”Park fired a final round 4-under par, 68 to share the lead with Lizette Salas at 23-under to end regulation on Sunday. The two headed to No. 18 for a sudden death playoff.  It took only one hole for the Republic of Korea native to defeat Salas and earn her third victory of the season at the Indy Women in Tech Championship Driven by Group.”
  • “Park, who was the first player to win the Rolex Rookie of the Year and Rolex Player of the Year awards in the same year since Nancy Lopez achieved the feat in 1978, is projected to take over the most prestigious title of them all. The current world No.4 is projected to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn at No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings following her win in Indianapolis. It’s a position Park held once before for a week in November 2017.”
5. The merciless Wyndham
Shane Ryan penned a piece on the under-the-radar drama of the regular season’s final event for the (often unknowing) bubble boys.
  • “And yet, belying the lackluster atmosphere, there are very real, very personal, and very hidden acts of drama playing out on this course. Hurley thought he needed that putt on the ninth hole, and though nobody else realized it, and though you wouldn’t see the shot on TV, the stakes-at least for him-were quite high. He was playing in the last year of a full exemption after winning the 2016 Quicken Loans Invitational, and it had not been a dream season. As you’d expect for someone that far down the points list-he began the week 202nd-his 2018 story is a story of missed cuts.”
  • “Yet, though he didn’t know it at that moment he missed that final birdie putt missed, Hurley was projected to finish 200th in the FedEx Cup standings. If Hurley could finish 200 or better, he would earn a spot in the Web.Com Tour Finals series. From there, he could fight against a field of 150 golfers-75 from the PGA Tour, 75 from the Web.com-for one of 25 PGA Tour cards for next season. But if he stayed at 202 or 201, no such luck.”
  • And on Sergio…”Garcia came close. At 3:40 p.m., with the front nine behind him, the Spaniard was one shot clear of the cut-off. Then he made bogey on three of five holes-betrayal of the driver and the wedge-and he fell back into the shadowlands. The beneficiary was Seamus Power, who missed the cut here on Friday, but who now rose from 126th to 125th. Garcia had a chance to rescue himself, but he needed more than the two birdies he managed coming in. How he felt when he finished 128th is anybody’s guess-he managed to sneak away before any journalist could brave the difficult approach.”
 
6. And the analytics suggest…
Rich Hunt is back with his always excellent look at who the U.S. Ryder Cup captain–in this case one Jim Furyk–ought to choose to round out his roster.
Some of Hunt’s Secret Sauce
“There are some simple statistical rules to follow for optimal picks:
  1. Seek out quality performers around the green as it helps most in the Foursome (alternate shot) and individual match play format.
  2. You want birdie makers and quality performers on each of the holes (par-3’s, par-4’s and par-5’s) for the Fourball (best score) format.
  3. Ryder Cup experience doesn’t mean anything if the player is a poor Ryder Cup performer.
  4. All things being equal, take the younger player.
  5. Lean towards the player who fits into both Fourball and Foursome formats over the slightly better player that only fits well into one format.”
Who does this formula point to? Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, and Tony Finau.
7. Ms. Thompson afoul of the rules again
In case you missed it, Lexi Thompson tried to lift and clean her tee ball after it landed in the opposite fairway at the Women in Tech, Saturday. A rules official stepped in and had her replace the ball in its original position–which saved Thompson another penalty stroke for playing her ball out of position.
  • After the round, she didn’t point to spacing out or some mental malfunction, rather (and troublingly) it seems she was unaware of what the preferred lies local rule stipulated…something everyone who has ever played in a soggy club event knows.
  • This may be an unpopular opinion, but Lexi Thompson ought to make the Rules of Golf the final entry on her summer reading list.
8. Golfer has finger bitten off…by another golfer
Honestly, I wasn’t sure where to position this story in today’s M9. In a sense, a golfer biting off another golfer’s finger ought to top all other stories…Anyway, details are scarce, but here’s what Dan Kilbridge from Golfweek wrote.
  • “Things took a barbaric turn Friday night during a fight at Southers Marsh Golf Club in Plymouth, Mass…A 47-year-old man was arrested and charged with mayhem after allegedly biting another man’s finger off during the altercation.”
  • “WCVB reports that someone called 911 after two foursomes got into it on the course. Firefighters arrived to find that one of the men had his finger bitten off down to the knuckle. The rest of his finger was on ice.”
  • Someone please dispatch a reporter to Plymouth to get the full story! But more importantly, sorry about your finger, sir, and here’s hoping it could be reattached.
9. Broken club, busted head
From one bizarre golf injury to another. In case you missed this story in the weekend shuffle, Kevin Stadler smashed his club into the turf at the WinCo Portland Open, and the club head smashed a spectator in the head.
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig writes...”The club broke somewhere near the bottom of the shaft and hit a spectator in the head, causing injuries that required six stitches, according to Orlando Pope, a Web.com Tour rules official who got an explanation from players in the group.’
  • “Stadler ended up missing the cut in the last regular-season event of the Web.com Tour schedule. He was not available for comment.”
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Former TaylorMade CEO Mark King “is taking over” at Honma

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Mark King is coming back to the golf equipment business. The former TaylorMade CEO, who was with the company in various capacities for 30 years, told Golf Digest he’ll be working with Honma Golf as a consultant.

The title doesn’t capture the scope of King’s role, however, as he’ll reportedly be at the helm of company strategy and direct and expansion into North America.

“He’s in charge,” a former Honma employee told Golf Digest anonymously. “It’s been in the works for awhile. Mark’s taking over everything.”

King announced he was stepping down from his role as president of Adidas North America in April, telling Digest he didn’t intend to return to the equipment business, but he was so impressed with Honma’s operation, he was eager to be involved.

“Listen, I was ready to retire, I wasn’t really looking to do anything,” King said. “But as this was presented to me by Chairman Liu, I could see he has big plans and a big vision. I really found it exciting because it is not TaylorMade or Callaway or Cobra or Titleist or Ping. This is a much different brand with very different price points and a fascinating story when it comes to technology and craftsmanship. This is a totally different experience.”

High-end Honma has a minimal footprint in North America, but it seems King and company intend to change that. King, who oversaw impressive growth, experimentation, innovation, ever-shrinking product cycles, and glittering launches at TaylorMade says Honma is planning a major launch for January and plans to have a strong tour presence.

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