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Tour Rundown: Woodland wins in overtime on Super Bowl Sunday

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On the weekend of the big football game, golf offered up excitement across the globe. Playoffs decided events in Australia and Arizona, while an unanticipated comeback from an unknown quantity claimed a European Tour title in Malaysia. On the heels of the “Iggles” big victory in Minnesota, let’s have our own championship Tour Rundown for the first weekend of February.

Woodland claims third PGA Tour title in overtime

Four-point-five years had passed since Gary Woodland won in Reno. His game had improved, but the victories did not follow. On Sunday, one of the tour’s most natural athletes returned to the winner’s circle, dispatching Chez Reavie on the first extra hole.

How Woodland Won

Playoffs are passe on tour these days; four consecutive weeks of them will do that to a fan base. Woodland finished a solid forty minutes before Reavie, thanks to a 9-birdie round of 64 on Sunday. A 10th would have finished things in regulation, but Woodland’s 10-feet effort broke off harmlessly. In the playoff, Woodland drove into the church pew bunkers on the left, but drew a clean lie. He was able to reach the front fringe, and his 2-putt par from 25 feet topped Reavie’s bogey five.

See the clubs Woodland used to win on Sunday

How Reavie went down fighting

The 2001 USGA Public Links champion played in Sunday’s final threesome, but drew little inspiration from his partners. Bryson DeChambeau and Rickie Fowler struggled on the fourth day, leaving Reavie to find his own motivation. A poor iron shot into the 16th led to bogey, but the 36-year old responded with two closing birdies, the latter on the strength of a cross-green bomb of a putt. In the playoff, Reavie had the upper hand off the tee, but played a sloppy iron that spun off the green, leaving him a tricky chip. He was unable to get up and down to extend the playoff. Ollie Schniederjans and Brendan Steele tied for third at 15-under par and 3 strokes out of the playoff.

Scott Langley surges for first Web.Com Win

Panama provided a warm welcome for the left-hand brigade. Eric Axley led entering round four. Edward Loar ended in a tie for second, and Langley came out on top. No lead is safe, on any tour, at any time. Birdies and double were exchanged like currency, leaving nothing certain until the final green.

Langley’s Road Map

The 28-year old alum of The First Tee and the University of Illinois had a scorching back-nine on track, with four birdies in his first six holes. A double bogey on the 16th brought him back to the field, but he was able to hold off Rafael Campos and Loar by two strokes. Three birdies on the outward half stood Langley at 7-under on the day, so if ever a double bogey was not the end of the world, this was it.

How the chasers came up short

The buried lede was this: if you’re going to make a double bogey, make lots of birdies. Axley had two of them, and not enough birdies to remain in the hunt. Loar had birdies at 1 and 3, but a late double was his undoing. Campos had a passel of birdies of his own, but three bogeys meant that his comeback effort would come up a bit shy. The daunting, closing trio of holes at Panama Golf Club offered only one birdie (Campos at 17) to the entire top ten on Sunday.

Sharma blazes past field for second Euro Tour title

Shubhankar Sharma was a little-known quantity from India before Sunday. He had won in South Africa in December, but was not on anyone’s radar in Malaysia. In round four, he played the golf we all dream about, posting 10 birdies and nary a bogey, on his way to a 62 and a 2-stroke win over the third-round leader, Jorge Campillo. Sharma tallied 23 birdies on the week, so it’s safe to say the best was left for last.

How Sharma shook off Campillo

In case you missed it, 10 birdies! At dawn’s first light, Sharma was barely inside the top 20. He finished an hour ahead of the final trio, who had to wonder if the scoreboard had been taken over by jesters. Despite not making birdie at the easy opening hole, Sharma matched 31s on each side to separate himself from the field.

Campillo comes up just shy of a playoff

In truth, it wasn’t as close as it looked. Campillo opened with eagle 3 for the second consecutive day, but had to birdie the final 2 holes to move a stroke ahead of Ryan Fox and countryman Pablo Larrazabal, for solo second spot. Not much that one can do, when golf like Sharma’s is played. Fox had the shot of the week, for an albatross (double-eagle) on Saturday’s first hole, and followed it up on Sunday with an eagle at the opening hole.

Hawkes edges Endycott at Oates Vic Open

In a battle of young pros, third-round leader Simon Hawkes held off Harrison Endycott, emerging triumphant on the first playoff hole. Hawkes had a chance to win in regulation with eagle at the last, but his birdie was enough to cinch a spot in the playoff.

How Hawkes took down Endycott

Simply put, he closed with birdie in regulation to tie, then made birdie on the only playoff hole for the win. Hawkes had 5 birdies against 1 bogey on the final day, enough to dispatch all pursuers save one.

Endycott edged close to victory, but …

He came close, there is not doubt, but Endycott beautiful 66, built by 6 birdies and 12 pars, was just not enough. In the playoff, he and Hawkes both got into bunker trouble, but the runner-up was unable to extract himself efficiently, and settled for par and the second-place check.

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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. Tom54

    Feb 5, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Maybe Mr Montesano was busy watching Super Bowl pregame instead of Phoenix Open because Chez Reavie was paired with John Rahm and Fowler, not Fowler and DeChambeau. He was correct that both his playing partners did not play that well in his group. Certainly thought Rahm and Fowler would have done better but that’s why we tune in.

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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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