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Tour Rundown: Jess Korda gets back in the winner’s circle in record-setting fashion

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#AllTheFeels no doubt qualifies as this week’s Tour Rundown hashtag. First, you’ve got Jess Korda returning from the PUP list to win the LPGA Thailand in record-setting fashion. Next comes Eddie Pepperell, whose cheeks and chin smile grander than his mouth, no matter the moment. He snagged his first European Tour title in Qatar. You want more? How about Ben Campbell, sidelined for over a year with a chest illness, rebounding from a playoff loss in the same event last year to win the New Zealand PGA?

PGA Tour Honda Classic

All right, there was one winner from the Usual Suspects category. Hopes were high for a Luke List Breakout or an English Tommy Fleetwood Conquering of the Colonies triumph. In the gloaming, it was that young, familiar face of Justin Thomas, hoisting his eighth tour trophy.

How he won

Thomas seems to be that old soul who modifies his tactics according to the venue. We’ve seen him go low when conditions afford the opportunity, and we’ve seen him manage a calm day with aplomb. On Sunday, Thomas and company dealt with the wind, whose only demand was to avoid mistakes. Other than a 9th-hole bogey, Thomas did just that. He positioned himself with a Saturday 65, then followed it up with a firm 68 on Sunday. In the playoff, Thomas’ busted a drive up the fairway’s right side, then reached the putting surface with his second shot. Two putts later, his birdie clinched the trophy.

Click here to see the clubs JT used to win the 2018 Honda Classic.

How the others did mighty battle

Luke List was the fellow most might have pulled for, had they not been in the Thomas camp. Come to think of it, perhaps that was Fleetwood. Both are engaging fellows with enviable stories of diligent work. List had a chance to enter the pagoda of victory after spending time in golf’s minor leagues, but a wayward drive on the playoff hole made birdie a bit more elusive. His par was ultimately shy of Thomas’ birdie effort. Fleetwood had victory in sights when consecutive bogeys at 14 and 15 dropped him out of the lead. He rebounded with birdie at 16, but would have needed two more to join the playoff. In the end, it was Sweden’s Alex Noren in third at 7-under, followed by Fleetwood at 6-under for the fourth spot.

Pepperell dumps the bagel with first Euro Tour triumph at Qatar Masters

There are few as gregarious and witty in professional golf as Eddie Pepperell. Between his blog and his twitter account, his opinions are well-known and well-versed. Pepperell’s previous top finish was a playoff loss at the Irish Open. His T16 at the U.S. Open last year gave a hint that his game was rounding into proper form. His work this week was stellar, from start to finish, and his trophy, well-earned.

How he won

Pepperell fended off challenges from Oliver Fisher on the final two days. He birdied the 18th on Saturday to tie Fisher atop the standings, then held steady on the outward nine, as Fisher struggled. Sunday was the only day that the winner failed to birdie the closing hole, but a short putt for par was worth 100 times its weight in gold.

How he lost

Fisher got off track with consecutive bogeys at the 4th through 6th holes. With the outcome all but settled, Fisher unsettled matters with five birdies on the inward half, to reach 17-under par. Like Pepperell, Fisher failed to birdie the finisher, after three consecutive days of birdies. That and the lone hiccough on the inward side, a bogey at the 13th, prevented Fisher from mounting a massive comeback and earning his second tour triumph.

Korda back on top with win at LPGA Tour Thailand Classic

Jessica Korda had two eagles in Thursday’s first round in Chonburi. A good thing it was, as she also had two bogeys and a double. With the balance sheet even, she added six birdies and joined three golfers atop the leader board. On Friday, Korda closed her round with yet another eagle, but it came on the heels of eight birdies, giving her 62 on the day and a lead she would never relinquish.

How she won

What? That intro didn’t tell you enough? OK, Korda followed up her 66-62 start with a 68-67 conclusion. She pencilled 25 birdies and three eagles on her four scorecards, and won by four over the tandem of Moriya Jutanugarn and Lexi Thompson. Korda alternated pars and bogeys over her final nine holes, a unique achievement that established her margin of victory.

How Moriya and Lexi ended up second

Moriya started the day four strokes back of the leader, and would have needed 63, 1 lower than the day’s best, to climb into a tie with Korda. Achievable, perhaps, but a slow start (six consecutive pars) doomed Jutanugarn’s chances. As for Thompson, she made the most of what there was. Playing Happy, like the inscription on her putter face, Lexi etched eight birdies onto the relief of her round, jumping from fifth to second at day’s end. Her 64 was tied with Jin Young Ko and Pornanong Phatlum for round four low score.

Campbell defends home country with New Zealand PGA Championship title

Ben Campbell must have searched in vain for countrymen alongside on the 1st page of the leaderboard. No matter, he said, I’ll simply make a few birdies and survive my late bogey, and hold the lot of them off. At least, that’s the internal conversation we imagined!

How Campbell came back

The Kiwi was tied with Aussie Deyen Lawson on 16-under at day’s start. While Lawson experienced the unfortunate birdie-bogey kind of day, Campbell was able to post three birds against one boge, and held off Ashley Hall for the victory. Lucky charm for Campbell? His mother caddied for him this week! Want more good fortune? Campbell played the Manawatu golf club over and over while honing his game. Sometimes, the stars align.

How he lost

Hall played the round of the day, a 65, to gain four strokes on the leaders. His work moved him into a tie for second with Lawson, two behind the first place mark. It would be ludicrous to suggest that an 8th-hole bogey, his only one on the final day, kept Hall from victory. Hall put himself in position to win, but Campbell refused to release his hold on the top spot.

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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.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Greg Elder

    Feb 27, 2018 at 11:59 am

    She was threatened that her sister was getting more attention than her. They fixed her pig nose and droopy face and now she is better looking than Nelly. Its obvious.

    • Shawn Gillen

      Feb 27, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      Totally agree with you Greg. I smell serious you know what on this story.

  2. Mower

    Feb 26, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Awesome play by Jess! Hope this year’s good for her.

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Sangmoon Bae is headed back to the PGA Tour

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The schedulers may have whiffed with Tour Championship and Ryder Cup in back-to-back weeks, but that’s what we have on the horizon. As the 2017-18 PGA Tour season comes to a close, and with it, the Web.Com Tour playoffs, number one on everyone’s mind is next season: where will I play? Do I have status? Some of those questions were answered last week, so let’s run down the answers to the questions, in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Bae back on PGA Tour after Web.Com playoff win

The oldest event on the Web.Com Tour was the site of Sang-moon Bae’s comeback completion. Two years of mandatory military service in South Korea did little to derail the 32-year old’s professional career. Bae birdied the 72nd hole to hold off his challengers, including the eponymous Anders Albertson, to win the Albertson’s Boise Open at 19-under. Bae was a stroke off the first-round lead, then moved into a first-place tie after 36-holes. He continued to advance, seizing the 54-hole lead. Albertson caught fire on Sunday, making 5 birdies in his opening 9 holes. After a bogey stall at the 11th, Albertson birdied 5 of the closing 8 holes. Roberto Diaz of Mexico was tied with Bae after round 3, but a Sunday 68 dropped him back to 5th place. Bae guaranteed a return to the 2018-19 PGA Tour with his Idaho triumph.

Wu works wonders in Holland for KLM victory

Like Bae, Ashun Wu of China birdied the 72nd hole at The Dutch club, host site of The KLM championship on the European Tour. Like Bae, his closest pursuer (Chris Wood) failed to match it, and Wu walked away with his third career European tour title. Wood held a 1-stroke lead over Wu after 54 holes, and the battle to see which “W” would emerge with the “W,” came down to the final 9 holes. Wood played well, making 3 birdies in the inward half. They were sandwiched around a double-bogey at the 12th, and the Englishman closed with 5 pars to finish at 15-under. Wu’s card included only one hiccough, a front-nine bogey, and he was a bit more clutch when it counted. The victory moved Wu inside the top 50, in the season-long Race To Dubai.

Stanford claims first LPGA major title at Evian

For her entire career, Angela Stanford has been a fixture in the top 5 of major championships. It has been a wonder that she did not claim one of them until the fall of 2018. In France, Stanford mounted a final-round comeback, overcame 3rd round-leader Amy Olson, and captured the Evian Championship by one shot over Olson and 3 others. Stanford opened with 72 on Thursday, then dived into the 60s with abandon. Rounds of 64-68-68 brought her to 12-under par. The Texan was able to keep her head, despite an eagle-double-birdie stretch on holes 15-17. Austin Ernst had a clean card on Sunday, but 3 birdies were 1 shy of victory. Mo Martin also had 3 birdies on day 4, but 2 bogeys brought her back to 11-under with Ernst. Sei Young Kim and Olson both went above par in the 4th round, after playing marvelous golf through the first 3 days. Despite their struggles, they also finished in that second-place tie.

Broadhurst claims third title of PGA Tour Champions

Paul Broadhurst won his first 2 Champions title in 2016. After taking a break in 2017, the Englishman returned with abandon in 2018. Wins at the 2-man Bass Pro and the May Senior PGA were followed this week with a triumph in Michigan. Broadhurst overcame a surging Brandt Jobe, who birdied 5 of his firs 6, back-9 holes, before he stalled. Jobe reached 13-under to claim second place alone. Broadhurst finished in style, with birdie at the last, for a 2-shot win.

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Photos from the 2018 European Tour Properties Senior Classic

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Thanks to photographer Mladen Aleksandrov, GolfWRX was live from the 2018 European Tour Properties Senior Championship at Lighthouse Resort & Spa in Balchik, Bulgaria.

For those who don’t know, this tour is essentially the equivalent to America’s Champions Tour, and this event hosted legends such as Ian Woosnam and Jarmo Sandelin. Magnus P Atlevi took home this year’s title, winning by three shots over Stephen Dodd.

Check out our photos from the event, including a bit of culture and a bit of golf equipment. Enjoy!

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Tiger Woods puts his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 back in the bag at the BMW Championship

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Tiger Woods and his beloved flatstick have ended their separation and are once again an item. Woods put his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 back in the bag for the first round of the BMW Championship. The putter, which Woods has used for 13 of his 14 major championship victories, had been on the shelf since the Quicken Loans National in June.

We hinted this was a possibility earlier this week after spotting Woods practicing with both his famed Newport 2 and a TaylorMade Juno. Woods arrived at Aronomink without the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 he’s been using for five events prior to last week’s Dell Technologies Championship.

Woods used the Juno at TPC Boston to less than satisfying results: Woods was 36th in the field in strokes gained putting and was particularly poor during the final round when he needed 33 putts and lost 1.352 strokes to the field on the greens.

Woods, who is 50th in strokes gained: putting this season, put the Cameron in play for a nine-hole practice round Tuesday.

 

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