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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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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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