It had been four long years since her last victory for Michelle Wie. In 2014, she won the US Open and could understandably have expected more victories and major titles in the coming years. It wasn’t to be. That streak ended this week.
Phil Mickelson, unfathomably, had gone five years since his 2013 win at the British Open. Despite many close calls, Lefty was unable to pull the string. Fortunately for his adoring public, he is back atop the podium. A big week for ending dry spells. Let’s run it all down in this week’s Tour Rundown.
WGC Mexico Championship ends Mickelson’s five-year slump
Part of the hilarity of golf is that accuracy matters little when putting is on fire. Phil Mickelson came to Mexico in 2017, visited every acre of the golf course, and still finished tied for seventh, four shots removed from the lead. With little fanfare, Mickelson bided his time at Chapultepec golf club in 2018, then pounced near the end. He birdied the 7oth hole to tie Justin Thomas atop the leaderboard, then dispatched the wunderkind with a par at the 17th hole for tour win number 43.
How Mickelson snuck in for the win
Lefty averaged one bogey per round. Thomas had six eagles, but he also had six bogeys. No one else in the field was able to minimize bogeys like the eventual winner. Mickelson’s late heroics included birdies at 15 and 16 to tie at the top, a par at the last (not so easy a feat, as we shall soon read) and then what should have been a birdie on the playoff hole, but somehow stayed out. All in all, Phil the Thrill was somehow destined to win this week in Mexico.
How the rest were bested
In a tweet, Justin Thomas showered props on the champion, while confessing that he was fortunate to even have a shot. His bogey on the playoff hole took the shine off the week, but maintained his ranking as current best in the world. To begin, the star of the week finally crashed to Earth on Sunday. After playing 13-under par golf through three rounds, and leading for two of them, unheralded Shubhankar Sharma bogeyed four of his final six holes to tie for ninth. Next in the gutted department was Tyrrell Hatton. Tied with Mickelson and Thomas on the 18th tee, Hatton bogeyed to drop to a tie for 3rd with Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello. The Spaniard had birdied the last to get to this point, and oh, what Hatton would have given for that magic. Note to Thomas Bjorn: pair Hatton and Cabrera in Ryder Cup in France.
Phil curls it in!
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 4, 2018
HSBC Women’s World Championship to Wie in 11th hour
A 35-foot putt for the win, from just off the 72nd green, is a PR dream scenario. Michelle Wie had it and made it, and that’s how the East was won.
How Wiesy made it look easy, kinda sorta
First came Danielle Kang, looking invincible through 36 holes. Next were the Korda sisters, with Nelly in the lead and Jessica in the hunt, after 54 holes were complete. In the end, Michelle Wie stood tallest and hoisted the winner’s trophy. A Sunday 65 is never refused, and the 2014 US Open titleist turned in a clean card of seven birdies and 11 pars to outdistance a quartet of runners-up by that one, slim stroke. The HSBC was Wie’s fifth LPGA tour title and first since that Pinehurst Open, four years ago.
How close the others came
Jenny Shin had a 65 of her own on Sunday, but it included a bogey at the worst time: hole 72. The miscue cost her the lead, then a playoff after Wie’s heroics. Nelly Korda also had a chance to tie on the last green, but her wee putt for birdie was never on line, and never threatened the hole. Brooke Henderson started fierce, with four birds in eight holes, but made no more until the last, to reach -16 after a 67. Danielle Kang, along with Korda, had to feel the greatest frustration. Kang had birdies at two and four… and 16 pars for 70. Korda had two birdies and one bogey for 71. Alas, it wasn’t their day.
— LPGA (@LPGA) March 4, 2018
Stricker claims Cologard Classic for 1st Champions Tour triumph
OK, we thought that 4 years was a long time…then we winced at a five-year dry spell. What about Steve Stricker, who hadn’t won since the 2012 Tournament of Champions. Well, he finally did, and it was his 1st trophy on the Champions Tour. Stricker finished two shots clear of a trio of runners-up at Tucson.
How Stricker stayed the course
Let’s remember who we’re talking about here. Stricker was most improved golfer on the PGA Tour two years in succession. The guy knows how to deal with periods of fallow. He probably doesn’t like them, but if Vegas were to give odds on golfers tenacious enough to come back, Stricker would be an easy bet. The Wisconsonian began Sunday 1 shot back of Tommy Tolles. When Tolles backed up, the door opened for all comers. Stricker combined position with poise and edged past the field to claim the cup.
How the pretenders lined up behind Stricker
Fellow cheesehead Jerry Kelly was Stricker’s biggest threat, but he had too much turf to make up in round three. Kelly’s opening salvo of 70-72 was kinda weak, but his 8-birdie 65 on Sunday tied the low round of the week. He jumped up 21 spots into the week’s 2nd spot. Tied with JK were 1st-round leader Scott Dunlap and 2016 US Senior Open champion Gene Sauers. Dunlap opened with one of those 65s, but could not return to the 60s the final 2 days. 69 on either day would have meant a playoff for the Floridian nee Pennsylvanian. As for Sauers, he needed birdie at the last to tie Stricker, but closed instead with bogey to drop out of 2nd alone.
It's a stuff show for @stevestricker.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) March 4, 2018
Coetzee claims 2nd Tshwane Open by 2 strokes
George Coetzee will welcome the European Tour to South Africa every week, thank you very much. The Pretoria native, who played the Pretoria country club course with great frequency as a youth, won his 2nd co-sanctioned event there in four years. Coetzee took the lead on Friday and refused to offer it up to anyone else.
How Coetzee turned home cooking into another title
It wasn’t easy. The 54-hole leader bogeyed two consecutive holes, early on Sunday, to offer hope to his closest pursuer, Sam Horsfield. Coetzee found his focus two holes later, making his first birdie of the day at the sixth hole. He followed it with six more birdies, against a bogey at the 16th, for 67 on the day. The victory was his ninth on the South African tour, and his fourth on Europe’s premier golf tour.
How Horsfield mounted his comeback
After Friday, it was Coetzee’s event to lose, and he never gave real hope to the field. Although Horsfield drew within a shot on Sunday, he had too much real estate to overcome. Despite opening 68-69, the Englishman found himself far behind Coetzee’s 67-64 start. Horsfield had Saturday’s low round of 64, and he would have needed another 64 to put pressure on the eventual winner. Still, Horsfield had to be satisfied with an early-season, solo 2nd place, one ahead of Finland’s Miko Korhonen. The Fin took the lead over the round’s first seven holes, as he stood -15 while Coetzee was edging backward. Korhonen could not keep up the torrid pace, and ended the day on -15.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) March 4, 2018
New Zealand Open to Nisbet by 2
It was going to take a monumental comeback by anyone in the field, to erase Terry Pilkadaris’ 54-hole lead at the New Zealand Open. The Aussie stood at 190 strokes through three rounds, a massive 23-strokes under par. Incredibly, after summoning 25 birdies over the 1st three rounds, Pilkadaris was able to uncover one solitary bird on day four. This treachery opened the door to the field, and Daniel Nisbet stepped through.
How Nisbet caught the rabbit
After Pilkadaris’ sublime 62 on Saturday, the tournament appeared over. However, the leader’s 70 was overtaken by another 62, this time from countryman Daniel Nisbet. The Queenslander started well, at three under through 9 holes, to take the lead in the chase for runner-up spot. A back nine of one eagle and four consecutive birdies (holes 14-17) brought Nisbet home in 30 strokes. What had become a two-horse race was decided when neither golfer birdied the final green.
How Pilkadaris lost the magic wand
A golfer who marks down 17 pars and one birdie, is usually the toast of the town. In Pilkadaris’ case, the day could not have been more frustrating. Putt after putt stayed out of the hole, as his closest competitor drained one effort after another. All that was left to do was shrug and move on to the next event, consoled somehow by a runner-up finish.
Daniel Nisbet opens with a par but finds his first birdie of the day at the 2nd.
— PGA of Australia (@PGAofAustralia) March 4, 2018
Greg Norman: “If I had to do it all over again, I would go to one-length clubs”
Greg Norman has never been a man to shy away from speaking his mind, and during Saturday’s Golf Channel broadcast of the QBE Shootout, the Australian declared that if he had the opportunity to begin his career again, he would do so with single-length irons.
Norman stressed how his experience while experimenting with Cobra King One Length irons led him to conclude that single-length irons are more beneficial than standard irons because “your spine angle stays the same” no matter what club you are using.
“Believe it or not, if I had to do it all over again as a 13 or 14-year-old, I would go to one-length clubs,” Norman said. “I actually had a set made for me when [Bryson DeChambeau] first came and joined, and I got it straight off the bat. When you think about it, my 4-iron and my 8-iron are the same length, but my ball flight was so good on all of them because your spine angle stays the same.”
The Australian went on to say that anyone looking to introduce their kid to the game of golf, should give them single-length irons to optimize their chances of success.
“I think parents now, for longevity, golf is a sport you can play your entire life, so if you look at that motion that [DeChambeau is] going through there, it’s such an effortless motion. He’s stacked up beautifully. At the end of the day, the motion is so simple through there. So the one-length golf club, in my humble opinion, give a kid at six, seven, eight…get him used to it and he’ll do well.”
Norman won 88 times in his career, including 20 wins on the PGA Tour and two major championship victories. Could the Shark have achieved even more if he had have used single-length irons during his career instead of standard irons?
Let us know what you think, GolfWRXers!
Web.com Tour hopeful suffers heartbreaking finish to miss out on Tour status by one stroke
With the careers of many players hanging in the balance at Web.com Tour Q-School, the agony of those who miss out matches the ecstasy of the few that make their way through the brutal process.
On Sunday, there was one particular man who suffered the agony of missing out more than others.
Patrick Sullivan was inside the top-40 and heading for his status on the Web.com Tour for 2019 before it all went wrong. Playing the back nine of Sunday’s final round, the 35-year old faced a birdie attempt on the 14th green but struck his ball off the green and into the water. Sullivan ended up making a costly double bogey on the hole and followed the error with another bogey on the 15th hole.
We've heard all the QSchool horror stories over the years. I was wondering if anyone had ever putted it into the water on the back nine to miss by one? If not…..dibs. ???????
— Patrick Sullivan (@sullivangolf) December 9, 2018
To his eternal credit, Sullivan showed incredible resolve. Needing to play his final three holes in four-under par, Sullivan managed to make a birdie and an eagle before heading to the final hole.
A three on 18 was a must, and Sullivan faced a nerve-jangling four-footer to claim his Web.com Tour status for next season. The putt, however, slid by, leaving him one shot outside of the magic number.
Golf can be a cruel sport at times.
The fine line can be cruel.
Patrick Sullivan (@sullivangolf) went birdie-eagle on holes 16 and 17 Sunday to move within a shot of the current projected top-40.
This was his birdie try at the last. pic.twitter.com/jSlnrf55ni
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) December 9, 2018
Sullivan does, however, have conditional status for next year, meaning he will have the opportunity of playing events through Monday qualifiers.
GolfWRX Morning 9: Louis king again | Q-School craziness
By Ben Alberstadt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
December 10, 2018
Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. King again!
Louis Oosthuizen captured his home country’s open for his first win in three years.
2. St. Simons boys triumph
Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman, both residents of St. Simons Island, joined forces to win the QBE Shootout.
3. A horrific stolen clubs story…with a happy ending
From our Gianni Magliocco…:”Web.com Tour Q-School is well known for being a gruelling process, and while 49 players graduated over the weekend, one man was forced to go to hell and back to do so.”
4. Walker: Q-School Medalist
PGATour.com Staff report...”With a tight leaderboard down the stretch at Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament, University of Virginia alum Danny Walker emerged from the pack to birdie his final three holes and claim medalist honors at 27-under at Whirlwind Golf Club. Coming from the fourth-to-last group, Walker posted an early 9-under 63 before waiting for his fate as the final groups finished. With the victory, Walker earns fully-exempt status on the Web.com Tour in 2019.”
5. The Shark wishes he went single length!
Here’s an interesting note (or maybe just a Cobra staffer hyping a product his sponsor has cornered the market on among major OEMs).
6. Steph’s tourney to Lake Merced
Golf Channel’s Will Gray...”A new PGA Tour event in the Bay Area hosted by NBA superstar Steph Curry is now expected to debut next fall at Lake Merced Golf Club.”
7. LET in Limbo
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”The 2019 LET Qualifying School is scheduled Dec. 16-20 in Morocco. Once again, those players who earn one of the 25 cards have no idea how many tournaments they will play next year. The LET has yet to publish its 2019 schedule.
8. Pining for the Q-School of yore?
According to the Forecaddie, some Tour vets are feeling a bit of nostalgia.
9. Q-School heartbreak
Move over, Cody Blick…
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Why flaring your left foot out at address could be a big mistake
Charles Howell III’s winning WITB: 2018 RSM Classic
Did Justin Rose confirm his switch to Honma?
Cobra launches new King F9 Speedback drivers and fairways
Bryson DeChambeau’s Winning WITB: 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Matt Kuchar’s winning WITB: 2018 Mayakoba Golf Classic
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