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Tour Rundown: Day wins in Monday finish, Li lassos win

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The weather around the world was nearly as tempestuous as Rhein Gibson, as chinooks and draughts impacted play from Dubai to San Diego to the Bahamas. When the dust had settled, one champion defended her title, two others won for the first time, and a fourth overcame one of the world’s best. Oh, and a playoff was halted by darkness. Time to round up all the week’s events in another Tour Rundown.

Farmers Insurance playoff takes six holes and two day

On Monday, Alexander Noren and Jason Day concluded play as darkness fell with the tournament title undecided after a quintet of holes. Ryan Palmer joined the duo at 10-under at the end of regulation, but made par on the first extra hole to drop from the chase. Noren and Day each birdied the par-five closer three times in overtime, and made pars at the 16th and 17th. The playoff concluded on Monday during the anti-climactic first hole as Jason Day secured the win with a tap-in birdie.

Jason Day’s Winning WITB

The playoff trio

Noren began the day in first place, and held firm through the front nine. His 3 birdies and 2 bogeys gave him a look at his first PGA Tour title. Two bogeys on the inward nine dropped him to 10-under. Playing partner Ryan Palmer also struggled to find daylight on a challenging fourth day, but was able to birdie the 72nd hole to join Noren and Day atop the podium. Day turned in 4-under 32, but like the others, struggled coming home. He had 2 bogeys and 0 birdies on the home side, good enough to join his counterparts in extra holes, and eventually secure the win.

That other story

Tiger Woods returned to competition, and his performance could be judged a success. He made the cut on the number, shot four rounds between 70 and 72, and tied for 23rd, 7 shots behind the leading trio. Woods was all over the course off the tee (some things never change!) but ground his way to success as he has done so often. The showing was a positive sign in the return of the game’s greatest.

Li lassos second European Tour title in Dubai

Haotong Li held the No. 60 ranking on the OWGR list heading into the Dubai Desert Classic. That’s going to change. Not entirely unfamiliar to Euro and USA golf fans thanks to his third-place finish at last year’s Open Championship, Li lacked a signature victory over a respected foe. He checked both boxes on Sunday.

How Li came back AGAINST RORY FREAKING McILROY

If you paid attention to the Euro-centric announcers on Golf Channel’s feed, Li was doomed when he made bogey to McIlroy’s birdie at the 1oth hole on Sunday. Even after McIlroy made bogey at the next, Li’s inability to convert a makeable birdie putt kept the margin at 1. Meanwhile, Tyrrell Hatton was making noise with birdies of his own a few holes ahead, and the wags anticipated a McIlroy vs. Hatton duel, with Li an afterthought. Let’s end this, now: Li bogeyed the 12th, then made four birdies over the final six holes, winning by 1 over Roars for his first European Tour win outside China. Xièxiè and wan an.

How Rory, et al., let Li Escape

Truthfully, Rory should have put this thing away. He played even-par golf over the final 9 holes, when 2-under would have done the job. He didn’t put any pressure on Li when he had him on the ropes (Li bogeyed two of the opening three holes on the inward half, before steadying the ship). Assuming it’s part of the process, if this loss translates into a green jacket in April, it will be worth it. Watch out for Tyrrell Hatton: this lad can flat out play. The Englishman played flawless golf on Sunday, with 6 birds against 12 pars. Like McIlroy, he couldn’t get it done at the end, parring his final 4 holes to finish third alone, 2 behind Rory and 3 back of the champion.

Lincicome opens LPGA Tour season with wind-swept victory

Brittany Lincicome has won two LPGA majors, a Canadian Open and five other tour events. Odds are, she never won in more wind than Sunday at Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Lincicome entered the week as defending champion, but was overlooked for most of it, thanks to an opening 74. Then came the weekend.

How Lincicome came from nowhere to defend her title

Eight birdies and 1 bogey is always an acceptable round. Only Carlota Ciganda was better (65) and her round came on the heels of an 81. Lincicome and the rest of the field withstood the reduction of the event from 72 to 54 holes, thanks to winds that moved golf balls and blew visors around the course. Those winds cancelled a large part of play on Friday. Come Sunday, there was the defending champion, backing up her Saturday 67 with another stellar round. Lincicome’s 67 was the low round of the day, giving her two of the low third rounds of the event. That usually results in a desirable finish.

How Feng and company failed to keep pace

Shanshan Feng played 2-under golf on Sunday… and was left in the dust by the champion. Her undoing was a lack of birdies: 3 on the day against 1 bogey. Amy Yang began the day in the second spot, played nearly an identical round to Feng (4 birdies and 1 bogey) and could only watch as Lincicome raced by. Feng and Yang tied for third at 9-uner, 3 behind the winner. Only Wei-Ling Hsu matched Lincicome and Ciganda’s birdie total on the day, but Wei-Ling needed perfection, and 2 bogies undermined her effort. Still, the second-place finish was the best in her LPGA career.

From British Columbia to the Bahamas, Web.Com Tour title for Svensson

Adam Svensson eaked out a 1-shot victory over last week’s winner, Sungjae Im. The triumph made the Web.Com Tour 2-for-2 in first-time winners in 2018. More of a grind than a fireworks display, the conclusion to Wednesday’s fourth round offered a glimpse inside the challenge of winning.

How Svensson raised the winner’s chalice

No one was more consistent that the Canadian. Three rounds of 68 plus one of 67 brought him to 17-under par. On Wednesday, Svensson stood a clean 5-under par through 16 holes. He drained a sizeable putt of some 25 feet for par on 16, a putt that would have motored at least 6 feet past had it missed. Although he slipped with bogey at the penultimate hole, the former Barry (Florida) University golfer had enough mental presence to par the 18th for the title.

How Im came close to his own double

Sungjae Im will be an interesting cat to watch in 2018. So many golfers burst from the gate with brilliance, but the continuation of it is often capricious. Im had 3 bogeys on his final-day scorecard, but 4 birdies and 1 eagle kept him in the thick of the chase. Im went birdie-birdie at 14 and 15, but could not summon one more stroke of brilliance, to reach a playoff. His 16-under finish kept him atop the money list.

And Gibson?

The aforementioned Rhein Gibson finished solo third at 15-under, losing the lead and a chance at victory on the final two holes. The latter slip-up stemmed from a possibly-incorrect ruling, wherein his caddie picked up a ball that Gibson had kinda-sorta declared unplayable. The official assessed a 2-stroke penalty at the par five, and Gibson made a valiant birdie-for-bogey. He also might have thrown a headcover at the caddie. And the caddie might have vindicated himself through researching decision 26.1/9. Goes to show that not just the NFL and NBA refs are in the hot seat.

Peterson collects first Asian Tour title in Myanmar

Paul Peterson won the Czech Masters in 2016, for his first, big-time victory. The former Oregon State golfer has made a career overseas, alternating between the European and Asian tours. On Sunday, Peterson charged from third to first in Myanmar, holding off a harder-charging Satoshi Kodaira of Japan, for a 2-shot triumph.

How Peterson collected his first Asian Tour title

A quick start boosted Peterson into the lead in Round 4. After routine pars at the first 2 holes, the journeyman went birdie-eagle-birdie to seize the lead. The remainder of the round was a bumpy ride, with 4 birdies and 3 bogeys. Despite Kodaira’s heroices, the effort was enough to claim victory.

How Kodaira nearly grabbed the prize

At the start of the day, everyone was chasing France’s Lionel Weber. The leader played the front nine in 2-over, but left the chase for good with a quadruple-bogey 8 at the 13th hole. Weber would ultimately drop a tie for 21st. As Peterson fought to maintain his composure, Satoshi Kodaira was making a mad dash to the top. Beginning the round in 18th spot, Kodaira balanced 8 birdies with 10 pars, for a sublime 63, the low round of the week. Kodaira’s comeback fell two shots shy of a playoff, but his tie for second with countryman Tomoyo Ikemura was consolation enough.

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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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Equipment

The drivers used by the top-10 longest hitters on the PGA Tour in 2017-2018

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What drivers do the PGA Tour’s longest golfers use to bomb their tee shots? Now that the 2017-2018 PGA Tour season is behind us, we can do a thorough examination.

First, here’s a tally of what the top 10 in driving distance on Tour are using by driver manufacturer. Interestingly, only two OEMs figure.

  • Ping: 4
  • TaylorMade: 6

But this is GolfWRX, so of course you want to know more. Below is a breakdown of the driving-distance leaders on the PGA Tour in 2017-2018, the specifics of their drivers, shafts and how far their average tee shots flew.

10) Keith Mitchell

Driver: TaylorMade M1 440
Loft: 10.5 degrees (10 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS T1100 7.5 (tipped 1 inch)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing weight: D3
Grip: Golf Pride Victory Cord 58R
Average driving distance: 312.6 yards

9) Bubba Watson

Driver: Ping G400 LST
Loft: 8.5 degrees (7.6 degrees)
Shaft: Ping BiMatrix-X (tipped .50 inch)
Length: 44.5 inches
Swing weight: D4
Grip: Ping 703 Gold
Average driving distance: 312.9 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Bubba’s clubs

8) Brooks Koepka

Driver: TaylorMade M3 460
Loft: 9.5
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70TX
Average driving distance: 313.0 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Koepka’s clubs

7) Gary Woodland

Driver: TaylorMade M3 440
Loft: 9 degrees (8 degrees)
Shaft: Accra RPG 80X (tipped 2 inches)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing weight: D5
Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord Mid
Average driving distance: 313.4 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Woodland’s clubs

6) Dustin Johnson

Driver: TaylorMade M4
Loft: 9.5 degrees
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution 2.0 Tour Spec
Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Average driving distance: 314.0 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Dustin’s clubs

5) Luke List

Driver: TaylorMade M4
Loft: 8.5 degrees
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana White D+ 80TX
Average driving distance: 314.7 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about List’s clubs

4) Tony Finau

Driver: Ping G400 Max
Loft: 9 degrees (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Accra Tour Z X485 M5 (tipped 1 inch)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing weight: D5
Grip: Custom Lamkin UTX Mid
Average driving distance: 315.3 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Finau’s clubs

3) Tom Lovelady

Driver: Ping G400 Max
Loft: 9 degrees
Shaft: TPT MKP 15.5
Length: 44.75 inches
Swing weight: D3+
Grip: Golf Pride V55 Full Cord 58R
Average driving distance: 315.9 yards

2) Trey Mullinax

Driver: Ping G400 Max
Loft: 9 degrees
Shaft: Mitsubishi KuroKage XT 60-X
Length: 45 inches (tipped 1 inch)
Swing weight: D4
Grip: Golf Pride V55 Full Cord
Average driving distance: 318.7 yards

1) Rory McIlroy

Driver: TaylorMade M3 460
Loft: 8.5 degrees
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 70XTS
Length: 45.625 inches
Swing weight: D8
Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet 58R
Average driving distance: 319.8 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Rory’s clubs.

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Tour News

Patrick Reed airs out Jordan Spieth and Captain Jim Furyk following the 2018 Ryder Cup loss

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In an interview with Karen Crouse of The New York Times, Patrick Reed held zero punches about his displeasure with former Ryder Cup partner Jordan Spieth, Captain Jim Furyk, and the egos of the United States team.

First, a bit of back story. Patrick Reed — dubbed “Captain America” — played foursomes and fourballs with Jordan Spieth in both the 2014 and 2016 Ryder Cups, amassing a 4-1-2 record as partners in the two events.

But when it came to the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Patrick Reed was paired with Tiger Woods in both fourball sessions (losing both), while Spieth played with Justin Thomas in fourballs and foursomes (Spieth/JT went 3-1). Reed sat the bench for both foursomes sessions.

According to Reed, the decision to split from Spieth was not his call, or the captain’s, but rather, due to Spieth’s wishes. Reed also took shots at Furyk for sitting him in both fourball matches.

Here’s what Reed had to say…

About Jordan Spieth

“The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” Reed said, according to the NYT. He added: “I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success. He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done.”

In the post-Ryder Cup press conference with the entire team, the ex-partners were asked about the split, to which Spieth answered: “We were totally involved in every decision that was made… Jim allowed it to be a player-friendly environment.”

When asked about this moment in the interview by the NYT, Reed said, “I was looking at (Jordan Spieth) like I was about to light the room up like Phil in ’14,” in reference to Phil Mickelson calling out Captain Tom Watson in the 2014 post-Ryder Cup interview.

About Captain Furyk

“I thought he might go back with the groups that have worked in the past (after the first alternate-shot session).”

“For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice.”

About the U.S. Team

“Every day, I saw ‘Leave your egos at the door,’” Reed said, of inspirational messages in the team room. “They (the Europeans) do that better than us.”

Full New York Times article.

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Tour News

Team USA provides Sunday thrills, but ultimately loses the 2018 Ryder Cup

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Team USA was trailing 10-6 going into Sunday’s 12 singles matches against Team Europe at the 2018 Ryder Cup. It was a highly unlikely comeback — about a 9 percent chance according to multiple data sources — but there were moments on Sunday it looked possible.

Justin Thomas, in a back-and-forth match against Rory McIlroy, pulled off a crucial win after Rory drove the ball into the lip of a fairway bunker on 18 and hit his approach shot into the hazard.

Other things were happening, too.

Finau was finessing Fleetwood. Webb was waxing World No. 2 Justin Rose. Koepka was keeping up with Casey. Woods was withstanding Rahm’s will. Reed was rolling.

But ultimately, alliteration aside, the Europeans were simply winning too many holes, and racking up points. The United States needed to win 8 matches. It had to be an utterly one-sided Sunday in the USA’s favor, and it simply was not.

Tiger vs. Rahm in the fourth slot proved to be a huge swing match after USA recorded 2.5 points in the first three matches. Rahm missed a four-footer on 16, giving Tiger a chance at 1 down with 2 to play, but Rahm closed the deal on 17 with a short birdie putt (leading to an expectedly huge celebration) after Tiger missed the fairway off the tee and failed to chip in. Tiger finished 0-4 in the 2018 Ryder Cup.

About the time Rahm closed the door on Tiger was when Ian Poulter took hold of the match against Dustin Johnson (despite DJ holing a few long putts to give hope), and he closed the door with fantastic approach shots on the final three holes. Thorbjorn Olesen closed out Spieth 5&4. Bubba Watson went down 5 to Henrik Stenson, Molinari went up 3 on Phil Mickelson, and Sergio Garcia was up 2 holes on Rickie Fowler. With too much blue on the scoreboard and just not enough red, it was just a matter of time. Europe was a lock to take back the Ryder Cup. And they did.

The Ryder Cup officially ended when Francesco Molinari hit the green on 16 and Phil flared one into the water. Fittingly, due to Molinari’s 5-0 performance, his 4&2 victory on Sunday gave Europe its winning point.

The overlying factor in the entire Ryder Cup was the United States’ inability to hit fairways on a Le Golf National course that penalizes missed fairways. This could have something to do with it…

Here’s how the relevant matches finished as Europe clinched the Cup:

  • JT def. Rory 1up
  • Brooks and Casey: halved
  • Webb def. Rose 3&2
  • Rahm def. Woods 2&1
  • Finau def. Fleetwood 6&4
  • Poulter def. DJ 2up
  • Olesen def. Spieth 5&4
  • Molinari def. Mickelson 4&2
  • Stenson def. Bubba 5&4
  • Garcia def. Rickie 2&1

So what’s the takeaway? Did the task force make bad choices with the captains picks? Did Furyk’s pairings cost the U.S. in the first two days? Was it simply a great performance by the Europeans?

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the Ryder Cup here. 

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