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Tour Mash: Rahm wins in Dubai, Cook sizzles to victory

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Two more points races reached their end this weekend. The LPGA season culminated in Florida with the Race to the CME Globe, while the European Tour concluded its Race to Dubai in, where else? Dubai! The PGA Tour played its final event until the new year, in Georgia, while the Ladies European Tour played its Sanya Open in China. Before American Thanksgiving revelry and remembrance set in, it’s time for one more tour mash.

LPGA Tour: A day of twos ends in a win for Ariya

Ariya Jutanugarn birdied her final two holes to win the CME Tour Championship. She was given the opportunity to win in regulation when Lexi Thompson pushed a 2-foot putt for par at the last. Although Thompson did not win the year’s final event, she captured 2 titles of her own: Vare Trophy for low scoring average and Race To CME Globe, the season’s points race.

How Ariya Jutanugarn tasted victory

The power game has arrived on the LPGA Tour, in case you missed it. Golfers such as Lexi, Ariya and Sung Hyun Park obliterate the orb, leaving little yardage to the green. When her game is firing, Ariya Jutanugarn is unstoppable. After bogey at the first hole on Sunday, the young golfer from Thailand etched six birdies into the final 17 holes, for a second-consecutive 67. Her birdie at the last came from 23 feet, an amazing putt to hole with victory on the line. Down it went, and up went the smile of a champion.

How the rest came up just shy of a win

With eerie similarity, Lexi Thompson’s card was the flip side of Ariya’s. Thompson made six birdies over her first 17 holes, but the hiccough at the last, her only bogey on the day, dropped her to 14-under par and opened the door for Jutanugarn. Thompson was on absolute fire on Sunday, hitting all 14 fairways and using the putter 28 times. Ariya, Kim Kaufman, Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen stood tied atop at 10-under, heading into round 4. Pettersen’s 72, Kaufman’s 71 and Wie’s 70 were simply not enough to keep pace with those coming from behind on Sunday. Ariya, however, was up to the challenge.

European Tour: Rahm wins in Dubai and Fleetwood breathes again

For a time, it seemed as though Justin Rose would win his third consecutive event in Europe and would squeeze past Fleetwood for the season points title. The former Englishman was in the midst of the greatest scoring run of his career, while the later Englishman seemed to have little petrol left in the tank. Then the back nine on Sunday happened, and everything changed.

How Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour

Shane Lowry made 10 birdies on Sunday, but he had one bogey. Rahm had half as many birdies and zero bogeys, and that last number made the difference. The young Basque played a stellar 132 over the closing 36 holes, eclipsed only by Lowry’s 131. Rahm fearlessly navigated his way around the Jumeirah Estates course, eeking out a one-shot win over Lowry and also hard-charging Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

How the others went home trophy-less

We all want to know about Rose. four birdies on the outward 9-holes staked him to a lead, and the greatest season comeback on a major tour was nearly written. With only three bogeys in his first 63 holes, Rose proceeded to bogey 12, 14 and 16, with only a birdie at the last to bring him to 17-under. He ended up two behind Rahm, and in second place in the Race to Dubai points race. It was a glorious campaign for Rose, and cements him as world player to watch in 2018. The Englishman tied for fourth with Sergio Garcia, Dean Burmeister and Dylan Fritelli, both of South Africa, on 17-under par.

PGA Tour: Cook collects First Tour win in Georgia

Fall is a time for young aspirants to make a mark on the PGA Tour. Austin Cook followed the script, birdieing 3-of-his-final-4 holes to stretch a single-shot lead into a four-stroke triumph. J.J. Spaun, a Web.Com tour graduate in 2017, was in the mix for the second consecutive week. He played well down the stretch, and earned a runner-up finish.

How Cook caught fire

Austin Cook played a veteran front-nine, with one bogey and one birdie. None of the chasers caught him, so the Arkansas alum continued to manage his game in the fairways-greens style. On the inward half, Cook took charge, with birdies at 15, 17 and 18, to move well in front of the runner-up. With the precision of a surgeon, Cook took apart the Sea Island course in impressive fashion. After his second-round 62, many expected him to have one weak round on the weekend, but 66-67 showed the his mettle.

How the others flamed out

Spaun really didn’t flame out, not like last week, when he caught the double-bogey train. A proven winner on other tours, Spaun should win in 2018. His game was solid, mixing in more birdies than bogeys, and his second-place finish was well-earned. Brian Gay might have been more comfortable than any other golfer this week, but he was just as erratic. Case in point: back nine. From holes 13 to 18, Gay made one birdie, two eagles, two pars and one double. Still, his numbers were low enough to secure solo third, one stroke behind Spaun and two in front of the fourth-place finishers.

Ladies European Tour: Boutier sizzles on back nine for win

Celine Boutier imagined a top-10 or top-5 when the third day dawned at Yalong Bay, in China. After bogeys on holes 4 and 5, she needed to gather herself in order to preserve her standing. From this day forward, “gather herself” in the dictionary will forever show a picture of Celine Boutier. Her six-birdie finish vaulted her past all challengers, to her first European Tour victory.

How Boutier bloomed

The recent Duke University graduate posted three rounds in the 60s, the only competitor to achieve that distinction at the Sanya Open. The Frenchwoman didn’t make a bogey until the 15th hole of her second round, but she was stuck in neutral from that hole through the 9th hole on Sunday, making only pars and bogeys. Something clicked at the turn, and Boutier regained the confidence that had produced 10 birdies during the tournament’s first half.

How the others gave chase

Solar Lee was in good standing on Sunday’s outward nine. She bounced back from an opening bogey with three birdies through the 9th, and held the top spot on the leader board at 7-under. Lee reached 9-under through 13, but made bogey at 14 to drop to 8-under. Then came the blossoming of Boutier, and Lee had to be satisfied with the runner-up spot. One spot behind Lee was Valdis Thora Jonsdottir, Iceland’s reigning professional golfer, at 7-under.

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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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  1. CB

    Nov 20, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    You forgot to mention Koepka winning in Japan for his back to back victory!!

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5 things we learned Friday at the British Open

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We had a leader by two shots, until Carnoustie did its thing. Here’s the question: is it CarnNASTY or is it the Siren song of the Barry Burn? The serpentine end to a lengthy waterway beckons and teases and devours. It did the same to Kevin Kisner today, but we’ll get to that before too long. 79 golfers made the cut, thanks to Kisner’s gaffe…don’t worry, we’ll get to it. Some pre-tournament favorites went home early, and some unexpected names surged to the top of the leaderboard. Time now to run down the 5 things we learned on Friday at the 2018 British Open.

1. Kisner had it, until he lost it.

It might be from the tee, or from the approach, but the Barry Burn inevitably asks more than you have to give. Kisner stood in the fescue, owner of a two-shot lead, when he took an ill-advised (if any advice actually came) swing at clearing the water. He failed and poof, there went the lead. Kisner closed with six and fell back to a tie with Zach Johnson, winner of the 2015 British Open at St. Andrews.

Kisner stood in the left rough, knowing that the burn and the nearby out-of-bounds lurked, and still he went for the green. He came up woefully short, one-hopping into the briny depths. The good news for Kisner? Until the brain fart on 18, he had parlayed five birdies against two bogeys on the day, so he still finished atop the list, albeit in a tie with a former winner of the world’s oldest open championship.

2. Some will stay and some will go

From the bottom to the agonizing top, these golfers won’t be around for the weekend: Poulter, Bubba, DJ, Rahm, Sergio, Hideki and JT. The foursome missed the cut by one misplayed shot.  No, they’re not here to make the cut, but you don’t win without first making it past the halfway farewell.

We know that Sam Locke will win the medal for low amateur. The young Scotsman from Aberdeen was the only one who doesn’t play for pay to shoot below 146. Locke must be saluted; after making consecutive bogeys at 13 through 15, the lad clenched his teeth and played that treacherous closing triumvirate in two-under par. Now that’s mighty. He’ll be joined by a number of golfers expected to challenge, like McIlroy, Finau, Spieth, Fowler and even Woods.

3. Some will join José Jurado and others

…as runners-up at Carnoustie. Jurado lost to Tommy Armour in 1931, and was followed by Reg Whitcome, Frank Stranahan, Jack Newton, Dai Rees, Sergio Garcia and, of course, Jean Van de Velde. Those men never captured an Open, but fellow runners-up Bob Charles, Jack Nicklaus, Justin Leonard and Peter Thomson, did. And so it might be for Kisner, Pat Perez, Xander Schauffele, Erik Van Rooyen, et al.

They find themselves in the running for the championship at Friday’s end, which is a triumph in itself. They want more, and they will spill everything out onto the course over the weekend, all for glory and eternal fame. To those who come up short, we salute you for entering the cauldron and baring your skills and emotions on the world’s stage. If it’s your year, you might even catch the breaks.

4. There are golfers who challenge year in and out

Their names are Matt Kuchar, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Charley Hoffman, and there are others. These are the golfers who’ve won on tour, many more times than once. To date, they have been unable to claim one of the game’s four major championships. They might wonder how golfers like Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton, and Paul Lawrie were able to do so, in this event alone, in just the past two decades.

They have been preceded by Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Doug Sanders and others, golfers of the highest quality who could never break through, while others were touched by fate, perhaps undeservedly so. The Open Championship is history itself, and demands that we consider not just the importance of today’s event, but of all the others, throughout time. To the aforementioned foursome, along with Noren, Olesen, Moore and Perez, have a go.

5. The one golf course rules them all

It comes down to this, doesn’t it? The dry-baked course on Thursday, the one that allowed 400-yard drives and 280-yard 6 irons, gave way to a softer version, yet the scoring went up. What is Carnoustie’s true face? Who will figure out the mystery come Sunday?

We would bet on Zach Johnson, but it will be difficult for him to play well on Saturday. Why? Well, Kisner is unlikely to maintain his level of play, and it’s supremely difficult to play well as your partner’s chances ebb away. We might go with the resurgent Jordan Spieth, or the indecipherable Brooks Koepka. Neither should be in a position to win, yet both are, and both are proven major winners. Or McIlroy, who appears to have rediscovered his 15-year-old self.

What we’re saying is, who knows! More importantly, who cares? As they almost always do, Carnoustie and the Open will present us with a champion worthy of our affection, and deserving of the Claret Jug. Perhaps a putt like this one will complete the job.

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USGA, R&A to target green-reading books

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Green-reading books are about to get a tough edit. Per a report by Geoff Shackelford, the USGA and R&A are going to “severely restrict” the information players can have at their disposal in the books, beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

According to Shackelford, “the move will effectively render the books impractical to players who have increasingly leaned on them for reading putts.”

Several sources have confirmed the decision is coming.

“We announced last year that we were reviewing green-reading materials and expect to be able to give a further update in the coming weeks,” an R&A spokesman said. “We believe that the ability to read greens is an integral part of the skill of putting and remain concerned about the rapid development of increasingly detailed materials that players are using to help with reading greens during a round.”

For its part, the USGA had this to say.

“We haven’t made any public announcements on Green Reading Materials since our joint announcement with The R&A last year, but we do plan an update on our review process in the coming weeks. It’s simply too premature to discuss, but we promise to keep everyone informed as we move forward.”

The books, particularly the green-mapping portion, have come under scrutiny in recent years, particularly as they have become popular at the college level. Opponents of the books believe they slow down play and/or remove an element of skill in the playing of the game.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Kiz catches a big one | USGA to restrict green-reading books? | 78 for Lincicome

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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.

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

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

 

July 20, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans. Metaphor alert: The first below represents the first-round Open lead…
1. Kiz cruises
You wouldn’t think a South Carolina boy would be comfortable at Carnoustie… but Kevin Kisner is liking it.
  • “The golf course is great for me,” Kisner said. “The conditions have been fine. Going forward, you never know what you’re going to have in Scotland. I know the rain is coming in tomorrow. I don’t think the rain is going to affect how the golf course is playing in one day, but I have to just keep doing what I’m doing. If I have 22 putts the next three days, I bet I’ll have a pretty good shot.”
  • Interestingly, Kisner is sharing house this week with Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker.
  • “It’s not intimidating at all. They’re all great people. That’s the best part about it,” Kisner said. “I mean, we’re out there playing soccer at night and hanging out. Everybody is just really chill, and it’s a lot of fun to be around those guys. There’s a lot of great players. It’s really cool just to hear what they have to say. Everybody’s sitting around at night scratching their head on what club to hit off of every tee.”
2. Cheat sheets begone?
Golfweek broke the news that green-reading books are set for a neuter.
  • Geoff Shackelford writes…”Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the move will effectively render the books impractical to players who have increasingly leaned on them for reading putts.”
  • “Three golf industry rules experts confirmed the plan to Golfweek. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the move.”
  • “We announced last year that we were reviewing green-reading materials and expect to be able to give a further update in the coming weeks,” an R&A spokesman said. “We believe that the ability to read greens is an integral part of the skill of putting and remain concerned about the rapid development of increasingly detailed materials that players are using to help with reading greens during a round.”
  • “The USGA provided the following statement: “We haven’t made any public announcements on Green Reading Materials since our joint  announcement with The R&A last year, but we do plan an update on our review process in the coming weeks. It’s simply too premature to discuss, but we promise to keep everyone informed as we move forward.”
3. Tiger, Tiger
It was an up and down day on the golf course Thursday for Tiger Woods, and he ultimately finished at even par, as you likely know.
  • Instead of recapping his round, I’ll call attention to this quote from Woods…”I’ve always loved playing this championship. I’ve been able to win it a few times. I’ve just always enjoyed — this is how the game should be played. It should be creative. It should be played on the ground.”
  • “You can utilize the ground as an ally. When we play home in the States, that’s not the case. Everything is going straight up in the air, but this is very different. It’s amazing the shot — the creativity. I mean, you can roll the ball 100 yards if you wanted to, or you can throw it straight up in the air. I like having those shot options.”
4. “Brain fart”
Forget about everything else in Jordan Spieth’s opening round. How does this happen?
  • Rex Hoggard writes..”Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.”
  • “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it’s an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”
5. Brandon Stone’s epic day

How about Stone’s couple of days, actually? He came to Carnoustie on the heels of a final-round 60 to win the Scottish Open. All he did in his opening round was fire a 3-under 68. Not bad!

  • But his Thursday to remember was only getting started as Stone made the 25-mile trip south to the Old Course to peg it…with a set of hickory clubs! Well played, sir, well played.
6. Who does Pat Perez speak for?
Pat Perez is going to Pat Perez. The interesting question is: How many pros agree with his sentiments? The answer: probably more than you think.
  • “They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They’ve got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you’ve got the greens receptive. They’re not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn’t. The course is just set up perfect.”
  • “The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”
7. Lincicome’s most enjoyable 78
Randall Mell writes…”Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward…It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.”
  • “A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.”
  • “I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well…I love playing with the guys. It’s so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”
8. Vegas’ visa saga
Great stuff from Ryan Lavner detailing what it took to get Jhonny Vegas to Carnoustie.
  • “The problem was an expired visa….Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.
  • “No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.,,Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.”
  • “His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time…Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”
9. KT Tape: Thanks, Tiger (probably)
Josh Sens with the details on the stuff...”The KT Tape that Woods wore Thursday is manufactured and sold by a Utah-based company of the same name….Russ Schleiden, KT Tape’s chief marketing officer, said that Woods was wearing KT Pro Black Tape, which is made of synthetic fiber and is designed to last four to seven days, longer than the three-day duration of the original cotton KT Tape.”
  • “Soon enough, KT Tape had posted an offer on its website: “25% off golfer’s flash sale.”
  • “By mid-afternoon, Utah-time, Schleiden said, traffic on the site was up 300 percent.”
  • “How that translated into actual sales was too early to tell, Schleiden said, “because our sales normally peak after work and in the evening.” But based on past experiences with other high-profile athletes wearing KT Tape in big events…Schleiden guesstimated that the Woods-driven publicity would prompt a 100 percent spike in sales.”
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