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Tour Rundown: Poulter earns spot in The Masters after an unbelievably clutch putt

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This week in professional golf is brought to you by Chip, the motivational emotion encouraged by past slights that rests on an athletes shoulder. Only three winners emerged from the professional tours this week, but they were memorable for diverse reasons. The LPGA opened a season of major championships in California, the PGA tour hosted its final event in the run-up to the Masters, and the Web.Com tour was in Georgia for a professional debut that may stand the test of time. All 3 winners have us stoked to tell you more about their exploits, so step aside as we cruise into Tour Rundown mode.

And the first major of the year goes to…

When you have a 3-participant playoff that extends into day 2, usually little is remembered from the BP (before playoff) era. When you have an 8-hole playoff, won by a first-time champion on tour, you have a great story. When that winner holds off a 7-time champion and LPGA hall of fame member, you best not wreck the story. And with that lead-in, say hello to your newest LPGA tour and major champion, Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden.

How Lindberg held off Inbee and Jennifer

Pernilla Lindberg attended Oklahoma State and came out on tour in 2009, after graduating in International Business. Nearly 9 years later, the ebullient Swede found herself in position to win not just one tournament, but a major title at that. After opening with 65-67, Lindberg fought her swing the next two days, but managed to drain a birdie putt on the final green to reach the magic playoff number of 15-under par. Suffice it to say that 8 holes in, Lindberg drained a 20-feet putt to seize the day and send home the exhilarated gallery in the happiest of ways.

How Inbee and Jennifer (et al.) gave ANA their all

Both Park and Song closed with rounds of 67 to push Lindberg deeper than she wanted. Song bowed out on the 3rd playoff hole with par, while Park managed to go 8 holes in, before losing to Lindberg’s second birdie in extra time. Right on their heels were Ariya Juntanugarn and Jessica Korda, who managed 65 and 66, respectively, on Sunday. Simply put, this was a major for the ages, and all of the runners-up and also-rans added to the lore.

Poulter gets Masters invitation, after all

Never one to be shy with his feelings, Ian Poulter was speechless a week ago. Why? Turns out he received some misinformation after his semi-final loss in the WGC Match Play, about a certain invitation to a certain spring party. Nope, Ian, sorry. You actually didn’t qualify. Poulter took to Twitter (as he sometimes does, making himself look … human) to vent his frustration. He then went to work in Houston, won the Open, and absolutely stole the final invitation to the 2018 Masters tournament.

How Ian Poulter showed us the way

No matter your feelings on his Ryder Cup performances for team Europe, his ability to stay in the spotlight despite not winning anywhere since 2012, or his brash demeanor, respect is due to Ian James Poulter. The Englishman converted a 20-feet putt for birdie at the last, probably around the time that former UTexas golfer Beau Hossler began to feel that the title was his. In a very succinct playoff, Poulter stayed dry while Hossler went for a dip. The former made par while the latter posted triple, and the event was decided.

Related: Ian Poulter’s Winning WITB

How Hossler nearly played his way to Augusta

Hossler has always been a cosmic talent, qualifying for a US Open before he finished high school. Barring injury, his first tour victory should come in the next two months. In essence, he did everything necessary to win in Houston, posting consecutive birdies from holes 12 to 15, to reach 19-under par. After Poulter’s final-hole histrionics, Hossler acquitted himself admirably in the playoff, until his third shot. After a drive in the fairway bunker, his approach cleared the fronting water, but found more sand. It was the greenside bunker shot that did the young pro in, sailing beyond the putting surface and into lake despair. Still, with the runner-up finish, Hossler improved 56 spots, inside the top 30 of the FedEx Cup chase.

Sam Burns shrugs off Walker Cup slight, wins first Web event at Savannah Golf Championship

Every decade or so, the USGA Walker Cup selection committee makes one of those head-scratching decisions. In the 1990s, it left Brandt Snedeker off the team. In the 2000s (all right, 2011, but give us some wiggle room), John Peterson was denied an earned spot on the squad. In 2017, the same fate befell Sam Burns, the college player of the year. The process always remains a mystery, but in the case of Sam Burns, the slight might already be forgotten. Burns won his 1st important professional title this week in Savannah, finishing at 21-under to win by one.

How Burns grabbed the steering wheel

Sam Burns began the week with a benign round of 72. He reeled off 3 consecutive 65s to not only make the cut, but nab the victory on is 72nd hole. After that opening, 3-bogey, 3-birdie effort, the victor made 21 birdies, and eagle and 2 bogeys the rest of the way. After 9 holes on Sunday, Burns stood 1-under on the day, off the pace set by Scott Langley. Something at the turn fired up the LSU alum, as Burns came home in 30 strokes, with 6 birdies against 3 pars. He played his final 3 holes in minus-3, edging Roberto Castro by one.

How the chasers came up short

Roberto Castro was in the top 25 on the PGA Tour a few years back, but has been unable to recapture that form. His slow improvement on this year’s Web.Com tour escalated dramatically in Savannah. Castro closed with the day’s low round, a 64 that also featured a closing birdie. These days on the Web, if you don’t finish with something in the mid-60s, you go home empty handed. The win moved Castro well up the ladder, in the chase for  a return trip to the PGA tour. Scott Langley led for much of the day, but was unable to preserve his brilliant, opening-nine form to the end. His 67 brought him a tie with Justin Hueber for 34d place.

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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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10 interesting photos from Monday at the Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana, were, among other things, a giant three-legged crocodile roams.

Now in it’s second year, the tournament’s unique two-man team format has attracted a wealth of top talent, including 10 of the top 14 golfers in the OWGR. We’re on the scene snapping bag pictures, and have WITB looks at Matt Jones and Roberto Diaz, in addition to a general gallery from the TPC Louisiana range.

Let’s dig in.

Matt Jones doesn’t need his name embroidered on his headcovers: tape and a marker will do just fine, thanks

Last week, Faaaabel the Goat. This week, someone who would eat Faaabel

Roberto Diaz: Brand agnostic

Wesley Bryan’s Taco Bell(t) lives

Homemade putting aid or soon to be seen on a Golf Channel infomercial (or both)?

UDI with a side of lead

Shaft bags: Assemble!

Roberto Diaz Fourteen RM wedge

What more do you need in life?

A bouquet of Circle T putter covers

Check out our photos from Monday below!

Monday’s Galleries

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Zurich Classic

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana (par 72; 7,425 yards), designed by Pete Dye with consultants Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson.

The Zurich Classic is a unique event on the PGA Tour because it’s not an individual stroke-play event. Instead, the format consists of two-man teams playing best-ball on Thursday and Saturday, and alternate-shot on Friday and Sunday.

Last year, Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt won the event after four playoff holes against Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown. The Smith/Blixt duo will be back to defend their title, and the Kisner/Brown pairing will be back avenging their loss.

Other notable pairings in the field include Daniel Berger/Gary Woodland, Wesley Bryan/Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay, John Daly/Rory Sabbatini, Jason Day/Ryan Ruffels, David Duval/Jim Furyk, Tony Finau/Daniel Summerhays, Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello, J.B. Holmes/Brand Snedeker, Matt Kuchar/Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel, Sean O’Hair/Jimmy Walker, Pat Perez/Jason Dufner, Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer, Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley and more!

Check out our photos from the event below!

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Tour Rundown: Moriya Jutanugarn and Andrew Landry win their first titles

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It was a week of firsts on two of the world’s major professional tours. Moriya Jutanugarn claimed her first LPGA title in an impressive manner, while 2016 U.S. Open surprise Andrew Landry seized control in Houston to inscribe his name on the winner’s trophy for an initial time. Elsewhere, a pair of underdogs upset the favorites at the Champions Tour’s Missouri affair, while two veterans added additional titles to their resumes in Europe and on the Web.Com tour. It’s an interesting brew in this week’s cauldron, so let’s give it a stir and see what we taste in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Landry holds off resurgent trio to claim Houston Open

Andrew Landry led that U.S. Open at Oakmont after day one, and hung around the top of the leader board until the fourth day. When his name resurfaced at this week’s Tour stop, few were certain he could hold off a resurgent Zach Johnson, the two-time major winner. Well, few other than Zach Johnson thought Landry might pull it off.

How Landry locked in

From the 10th hole on Friday, through the same hole on Sunday, Landry made zero bogeys. He had 13 birdies in that stretch, on a course that gives a few up, but not in buckets. That 36 hole run of brilliance, including birdies on Sunday’s first three holes, staked Landry to an advantage that he would not relinquish. For the entire week, only four bogeys dotted his scorecards, and two of those came on Thursday. Landry’s putter was hot all week, and his driving game was laser-accurate. The sum total: welcome to the winner’s circle, Mr. Landry.

Click here to see the clubs Landry used to win the 2018 Valero Texas Open

Who made a run?

It wasn’t Johnson. Iowa’s favorite son hasn’t won since the 2015 British Open, although his game has shown its old fire of late. Johnson couldn’t find a groove on day 4, making as many bogeys in that round as Landry did all week. In the end, Johnson had a top-5 finish, amid signs that another victory may not be far in the offing. Sean O’Hair had the low round (66) of the day, and that magic was enough to boost him to a second-place tie with young Trey Mullinax, who followed a Saturday 62 with a notable 69 to rock steady. Jimmy Walker, finally recovered from a bout of illness, had the day’s 2nd-lowest score of 67, and he moved all the way to 4th spot.

Mighty Moriya holds off Korean trio for first tour title

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand has been close before. She has seen little sister Ariya hoist victory awards before. On Sunday, it was her turn. Jutanugarn and Marina Alex were two of the leader with no title to their credit, heading into the closing 18 holes. While the key to victory still eludes the young American, it was Jutanugarn’s turn to triumph.

What Moriya discovered on Sunday

Actually, she dug deepest on Saturday. The older sibling opened round three with a double bogey, stood 3-over on the day after six holes, and appeared to be sinking. The ship’s wheel steadied with two birdies and hole-out eagle coming home, and then it began the final day with four birdies and no bogeys in the first 15 holes. A late bogey served only to add faux drama, as Jutanugarn calmly closed the deal for victory the first.

Park, Young and Yeon can’t win this case

Reading a bit like a law firm, Inbee Park, Jin Young Ko and So Yeon Ryu made their runs at Moriya. Inbee had a bogey at the turn, and needed perfection on Sunday. She didn’t get it, so a tie for second was in the offing. Ko might have had the best opportunity at day’s start, but a 2-over outward nine took her too far off pace for a 3-under inward half, to provide recovery. She also came second, at 10-under. Ryu put an opening bogey behind with four birdies through 12 holes, but could not go deeper over the closing stretch. Her fourth-place finish was her best of 2018.

Levy wins for third consecutive year on European Tour

France’s Alexander Levy nearly has a five-year win streak. His first two tour titles came in 2014. He skipped 2015, but hasn’t missed in the subsequent years. His work in Morocco this week added up to a one-shot win over a literal blast from the past, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros. Eight golfers finished within three strokes of the top spot, adding drama to the finish at Royal Dar-Es-Salaam.

Nothing spectacular leads Levy to win

There were no great streaks of brilliance, no runs of multiple birdies, for the 28-year old. All that he did, efficiently, was make enough birdies to stay ahead of his pursuers. After bogey at the antepenultimate hole on Sunday, Levy responded with a dart at the par-three 17th, to re-establish his lead. The win was the fifth of his career.

See the clubs Levy used to win

Oh so close for Oh so many

Let’s begin with Quiros. The Spaniard, compared with Dustin Johnson (for his length off the tee) in his early years, has been adrift. Sunday was his best chance in forever to secure a tour title. His first 16 holes were a tangle of bogeys and a pair of birdies. The Iberian closed admirably, with birdies at the final pair, to claim solo second, one back of Levy. Also close were Mikko Illonen (tied for third with three others at 7-under) and England’s Andy Sullivan, one more back at 6-under, in a tie for seventh.

Two more for the road: Axley wins on Web, while Broadhurst/Triplett claim Legends

Eric Axley would have preferred to win his 3rd professional event in glorious fashion. He’ll take a rain-shortened title at the North Mississippi Classic, his second career Web.Com title and his first title of any sort in 12 years. Waaaay back in 2006, Axley won the very same Houston Open (see above) contested this week on the PGA Tour, and a bit of success was predicted for the left-hander. Success, as we know, doesn’t come to all hands, and Axley was able to birdie his final two holes on Saturday to stake a one-shot advantage. Tied for second were the USA’s Willy Wilcox, Columbia’s Sebastian Munoz, and Korea’s K.H. Lee.

Triplett and Broadhurst birdie 1st playoff hole for victory

The rules for the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf are slightly simpler than those of field hockey, which means that they aren’t very simple. Both courses in use boast par-3 holes alone, but each has a different number of holes, so numbers on the scoreboard are meaningless. With the two Spaniards (Olazabal and Jimenez), the defending champs (Franco and Singh) and two major champions (Lehman and Langer) in the mix, the undervalued pairing of Kirk Triplett (he of the hat) and Paul Broadhurst (he of the …) were not anyone’s favorites to emerge. And here we are.

No one seemed bent on making any heroic moves on Sunday, so it came down to which teams would find their way. Lehman/Langer joined the eventual winners at the 9th hole. Triplett played the hole to perfection: tee shot into bunker, bunker shot into hole, thank you very much. No birdie putts were holed, and the title belonged to the unlikely pairing of Kirk and Paul.

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