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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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19th Hole

I wasn’t ready for the 2019 Rules of Golf

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We weren’t ready. We thought we were, but we weren’t.

For the last year, the USGA reminded us that in 2019 Rules of Golf were coming, but we didn’t listen. We heard the flag stick could remain in and we heard that you could take a penalty drop from knee-height.

But we didn’t listen.

I bet none of you have even practiced using your putter to flatten the entire green between your ball and the cup. You can do that now.

I’m also sure that you and I will continue to hover our club in all hazards, er, penalty areas. Yeah, we’re calling it a penalty area now.

The USGA went to the extreme depths of changing words all to simplify the game for you.

I don’t think the USGA listened either.

The rule changes were intended to speed up play and simplify golf for amateurs. Seems like a good idea. In turn, they may have bamboozled the PGA Tour while confusing the only amateurs who kind-of, sort-of knew the rules.

The pros didn’t need a new rule book, the amateurs just needed a simple one.

Us “locals” as the USGA refers to amateurs, do have one extremely fluid perk. When hitting a ball OB, or following a lost ball, you can drop with a two-stroke penalty instead of walking back to the tee. This of course, is dependent on your course, head professional, tournament conditions, and other factors including and not limited to what phase the moon is in.

If that’s somewhat confusing, read up, ask about your local rules, and buy a few extra sleeves. Reason being, in 2019, the limit on searching for a golf ball has been cut from five to three minutes.

2019-rules-of-golf

But wait, there’s good news.

Thanks to the USGA, if you accidentally move your ball as you frantically high-step through fescue, it’s no longer a penalty! What an exciting 180 seconds that will be!

If you somehow don’t find your golf ball in the hazard penalty area, the USGA tried to help us out, which they did, yet regrettably took away a more iconic portrait on the golf course.

The rigid, stoic stance and forceful drop of a ball at shoulder-height.

And we let it happen.

Now, we’ll watch a defeated man deliberately bend to his knees and gingerly drop his ball…Which, by the way, appears to be a convenient way for cheaters to “take a drop” that ideally doubles as “identifying my first ball”.

Don’t even get me started on the back issues this could flare up.

We heard in late 2018 that Bryson DeChambeau would use the flagstick when the odds were in his favor. He even laid it out simply for us.

“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick.”

Simple.

We didn’t listen Bryson, we didn’t believe. We also have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.

But hey, as Bryson would say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Yeah, he’d clearly never say that, but here’s to hoping!

We heard he would do it, but we didn’t believe it. We had to see to believe. What we saw was DeChambeau first in strokes gained putting in the very first round he was allowed to do it.

Obviously, this trend will continue for DeChambeau, and others may join in, because what is golf if not a constant chase for a marginally better opportunity at success.

Watch your back, because those others that may join in could be closer than you think. You may turn around to find a fellow member asking for the flag on their next 12-footer.

It should be a fun year of commentary and confusion at your local club and on the PGA tour. Professionals will have constant questions for rules officials, and commentators will consistently question Bryson’s methods.

There is one real question I hope is answered this April.

What will we do when Bryson banks in a downhill putt at No. 2 of Augusta?

Will we be ready? Will Augusta?

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News

Stewart Cink pens multi-year deal with Ping

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Ping Golf has announced that six-time winner on the PGA Tour, Stewart Cink, has signed a multi-year deal with the company.

The deal will see the American play a minimum of 11 Ping clubs, as he looks to end an almost decade long winless streak on the PGA Tour. Cink had previously been an equipment-free agent (having been a Nike man prior to that) although he had been using Ping clubs for the majority of the last season.

Speaking on the addition of Stewart Cink to Team Ping, company president John K. Solheim stated

“Stewart has a long track record of success and overall consistency, evidenced by his wins, top 10s in majors, and the fact that he has competed on five U.S. Ryder Cup teams and in four Presidents Cups.

“He has instant credibility, and we know him well because he has played Ping irons for many years. Our tour staff has been impressed by his professionalism and his knowledge of equipment. We’re delighted to be associated with Stewart.”

Cink will make his first start as a Ping staff player at this week’s Sony Open. According to the company, the 2009 Open Championship winner is expected to have Ping’s G400 LST driver, G400 fairways woods, i25 irons and Sigma 2 Arna putter in the bag this week at Waialae Country Club.

No details of the financial terms of the arrangement have been disclosed.

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Equipment

Charles Howell III’s winning WITB: 2018 RSM Classic

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Driver: Titleist TS3 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue 65

Fairway woods: Titleist TS2 (15, 21 degrees)
Shafts: Fujikura ATMOS Tour Spec Black 8X, Fujikura ATMOS Tour Spec Black 9X

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB 4-iron, Titleist 718 AP2 (5-7), Titleist 718 CB (8-PW)
Shafts: Project X LZ 6.5 (hard stepped)

Wedges: Vokey SM7 (52, 56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align

Ball: Titleist Pro V1 (proto)

SEA ISLAND, GA – NOVEMBER 17: Charles Howell lll tees off on the eighth hole tee box during the third round of The RSM Classic at the Sea Island Resort Seaside Course on November 17, 2018 in Sea Island, Georgia. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

RELATED: See what members are saying about CH III’s equipment in the forums.

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19th Hole

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