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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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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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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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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

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

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