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Tour Rundown: Kodaira wins after Kim’s collapse

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After two consecutive weeks of major championships, the world’s professional tours eased up on the pedal a wee bit. The PGA Tour headed to South Carolina, while the LPGA was in Hawaii and the European Tour went to Spain. While part of the country suffered through winter’s rebirth, the PGA Tour Champions (Georgia) and the PGA Tour made adjustments based on weather. The elder statesmen went so far as to play 36 holes on Saturday, to avoid Sunday altogether. Time to wrap up and round up all the deets on this week’s Tour Rundown.

Kodaira benefits from Kim’s kollapse

Some say it takes good fortune, along with good play, to earn a win on any tour. Satoshi Kodaira would admit freely that he benefited from both on Sunday at Harbor Town. Kodaira put himself in position for a high finish, posting 66 on day four. Si Woo Kim opened wide the door to a playoff with wretched putting down the stretch, and Kodaira took advantage of the invitation.

How Kodaira built on a solid Masters performance

Kodaira played well last week at Augusta National, posting 3-of-4 rounds at par or better, to finish inside the top-30. Buoyed by that result, he came to Hilton Head Island and played the up-down game. Rounds of 73 and 70 on Thursday and Saturday made him look like a middle-of-the-pack guy, but 63 and 66 on the other 2 days brought him to the top of the leader board. When Kim bogeyed 3 of his final 7 holes, Kodaira was in a playoff for the title. After pars split the 18th hole twice, the duo journeyed to the 17th, where Kodaira ended things with a long birdie putt. The win was his first on the PGA Tour.

See the clubs Kodaira used to win

How Kim kame apart

Golfers usually give tournaments away with one bad swing. To watch a golfer miss makeable putt after makeable putt is pure anguish, and that’s the show that viewers saw on Sunday afternoon. Kim needed to make one put out of all the ones he missed, to avoid the playoff at 12-under par. He couldn’t and fell to the runner-up position. A telling statistic is his woeful stature on the strokes-gained-putting stat list-he’s dead last. Luke List, a journeyman who finds the cameraman’s eye from time to time, finished in a tie for 3rd with Bryson DeChambeau, 1 shot out of the playoff. DeChambeau’s scorecard line sure looked like that of a champion: 68, 64, 66 in rounds 1, 2 and 4. A wayward swing on the second hole on Saturday led to a triple-bogey 8; throw in two back-nine double bogeys, and he had himself a 75.

Lotte Championship on LPGA Tour is Henderson’s sixth title

Brooke Henderson kinda made this one look easier than the others. The young Canadian is equal parts power and sunshine, but her previous wins (and close losses) have reminded us how difficult it is to win, even for the most precocious of talents. On Saturday, Henderson held off two of the world’s most decorated golfers to claim victory by 4 strokes.

How Henderson Held Firm

Brooke made an early habit of winning in a variety of locales around the globe, so a victory in the Hawaiian islands was in the offing. Rounds of 68-66 staked her to the halfway lead, and she expanded it well through most of Friday. A double and a bogey over her closing holes in round 3 brought questions of her ability to hold a now-reduced lead. She answered those questions in Saturday’s final round. When it mattered most, Henderson was on. She played her final 5 holes in 2-under par, eliminating her final challengers.

How Feng and Park made her work

After Mo Martin’s train got derailed in round 4, the challenge fell to 2 of the LPGA’s most decorated golfers. ShanShan Feng was the bronze medalist in Rio’s Olympics in 2016, and has won 9 times on tour. The gold medalist that year? Inbee Park, who is already in the LPGA hall of fame. When Henderson looked up, they were on her heels. Neither one mounted a challenge on day four, surprisingly, but Spain’s Azahara Muñoz gave Henderson fits. The Iberian nailed 5 birdies against 0 bogies, to jump to 8-under and solo second place. On this day, Henderson was too strong, and a deserving champion.

Rahm returns to Spain in triumph

Jon Rahm gave Augusta National a run last week in the Masters tournament, and it wasn’t until the 69th hole that he lost his opportunity to wear the green jacket in 2018. He returned home to Spain’s capital, intent on capturing his home open. Rahm didn’t disappoint, winning by 2 at 20-under, although countryman Nacho Elvira and Ireland’s Paul Dunne gave him quite the battle.

Rahm manages emotions for win

The young Basque entered the final round a stroke behind leaders Dunne and Elvira, and perhaps his spot in the penultimate pairing took just enough pressure off. Rahm is known for wearing his emotions from the brim of his cap, down to his socks (forget the sleeves!) and this day was not so different. Incapable thus far of repressing his feelings, Rahm figured out a way to allow them to express, yet still preserve control. A chip-in for birdie at the 10th hole was his first of three on the inward half. A miraculous break at 17: his ball, destined for water, hung up on the bank. From there, he pitched close enough to make par, then birdied the last. Precisely the combination of skill and fortune that saw Patrick Reed to victory in Augusts, came to Rahm’s bag this week in Spain.

Elvira and Dunne almost find the magic

For most of the day, Spain was uncertain which of its sons would triumph. Jorge Campillo made an early run, before finishing 5 back, in a tie for 5th. It was Elvira who looked most like a champion, however. Powerful birdie putts at 13 and 14 brought the Madrid native to a tie with Rahm at 19-under. Disaster struck for Nacho at 17, the site of Rahm’s salvation. A club short and three yards left, his sphere found the hydro that Rahm avoided. Elvira made double, and finished 3rd at 17-under. Paul Dunne came to the back nine in a tie with Rahm, and made the same number of birdies as the champion. He was unable to avoid a pair of bogeys, and finished 2 behind, in second alone at 18-under.

Flesch finds first PGA Tour Champions win in Georgia

Steve Flesch is used to waiting patiently, so a win in his first full year on the Champions Tour is rarefied air for the lefthander. Flesch held off Bernhard Langer and Scott Parel in extra holes to claim the Mitsubishi Electric championship, finishing regulation play at 11-under par.

How Flesch flourished

The Kentucky native began round 3 a shot behind Langer, but managed to birdie the last hole to squeeze his way into a tie with the Teutonic titleist. Well ahead of the final pair, Scott Parel blazed through the course in 64, to join the duo at the magic number. Flesch was nothing but perfect in overtime, making birdie twice at the 18th hole. During the first go-round, Langer’s par was eliminated. In the reprise, Parel could not match the 4 at the par-5 closer, and Flesch had his first title in 11 years.

How Parel and Langer gave chase

Let’s be honest, when Langer is 100 years old, we will expect him to be the favorite each time he tees it up. The German played bogey free on day three, but could not amass the same number of birdies he found on each of the first 2 days. His 69 included a par at the last, and failing to birdie the 18th hole either time he played it on Saturday was cause for his runner-up finish. Parel quietly plays himself into contention with frequency, but there was nothing quiet about his closing round. The Michigan product birdied 6 of his first 7 holes, finishing at 8-under on the day. Unable to steal the tournament in regulation time, he nearly did so after hours. Unable to match Flesch’s third consecutive birdie at 18, Parel joined Langer on the podium’s lower level.

Del Solar shines across the border in Argentina

Cristobal Del Solar, a native of Chile, Argentina’s friendly rival, exceeded expectations in Córdoba on Sunday. He won the Abierto del centro on PGA Tour Latinoamérica by 5 strokes. Despite a final-round 74, Del Solar had built up enough of a cushion to force the field to chase him down. None was able to do so, and Del Solar raised the winner’s trophy at days end.

How Del Solar locked up his first professional victory

Del Solar looked like the owner of this event from day one. He was in 5th place after round 1, moved into the lead after 36 holes, then opened up a 6-stroke gap after the 3rd round. On Sunday, only 5 scores were posted in the 60s, so any round below 70 meant a major move up the leader board. While Del Solar was struggling to his worst round of the week, a 4-bogey, 1-birdie effort, none of his closest competitors was able to sustain a charge. Del Solar moved inside the top 3 on the season-long Order of Merit with the victory.

What the others were unable to do

Essentially, make birdies and avoid bogeys. Del Solar had 8 bogeys on the week, and those were more than offset by 18 birdies and an eagle. Colombia’s Marcelo Rozo began to make up the deficit on Sunday by playing even-par golf, but a double bogey at the 9th did him in. MJ Maguire of the USA closed with an erratic 72, 1 over par, to tie for 2nd spot with Rozo. 1st-round leader Skyler Finnell of the USA found himself in third spot on Sunday morning, but a forgettable day led to 78 and a 20-spot drop on the chart.

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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. Sherwin

    Apr 16, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    The grammar and spelling in this article is bad.

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Tiger wins the Tour Championship, a 59, and Stricker is back

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Imagine the headline Rose wins FedEx Cup and no one is aware. Essentially, the golf world found out about the Englishman’s championship in the aftermath of the comeback of Tiger Woods. Is it a complete comeback? Who knows what a complete comeback is? We know that Tiger won for the first time since 2013, and we see how people care. It’s akin to Jack is back from 1980, with all the drama of the internet age thrown in. For now, as golf gives way to football (with the exception of the Ryder Cup,) the Woods victory will sate us all through the winter months, and give time and space to discussions about Tiger’s at Augusta and Pebble Beach, sites of the first two major championships of 2019.

The PGA Tour’s Tour Championship lies safely in Tiger’s paws

Tiger Woods won this tournament by leading after 18 and 36, then establishing a margin of five strokes, heading into Sunday. He wasn’t completely dominant, say, as he was in 2000 at Pebble’s millenial U.S. Open. He was very, very good, and the golf world did more than pause and notice. Justin Rose didn’t have enough to chase him down. Rory McIlroy buckled in his presence on Sunday. Guys like Horschel, Johnson and Matsuyama move up 4, 6 and 12 spots, respectively, to claim 2nd through 4th positions. One-over par was good enough for a 2-shot victory, number 80 on the career list, for the only candidate to challenge Jack Nicklaus for greatest male golfer of all time. Do you think we missed him? Have a look.

Tiger’s Winning WITB

Web.Com Tour Championship is McCarthy’s first

Denny McCarthy has a flair for the dramatic. Why else make your first Web.Com tour win (and potentially, your last) anything but the Tour Championship? With his 4-shot margin of victory over Lucas Glover, McCarthy further sealed his trip to the big leagues in October, serving notice of the arrival of yet another young talent. The University of Virginia alum surged past 3rd-round leader Sepp Straka with 4 birdies in 5 holes, to close his outward nine. He had 4 more birdies on the inward half, to go with a bogey per side, for a round of 65 at the Atlantic Beach country club in Florida. Glover birdied the 2nd hole, but fell into a malaise. He moved through the turn with bogey at 8 and double at 10, which served to awaken his birdie engine. Four birdies over the final 7 holes closed his round and guaranteed 2nd place money. As for Straka, he wasn’t bad until the 16th hole. He was 3-under on the day with three to play, within reach of McCarthy, until he tripled the antipenultimate hole. He tied for 3rd spot with three others. For the rest of the field, it was a dramatic day of heartbreak and joy. Have a look.

European Tour sees first 59 in Portugal

Oliver Fisher secured his place in European Tour history, signing for the first round of 59 in the long history of the circuit. Nicolas Colsaerts holed out for an Albatross on a par five. And yet the week belonged to the guy who shot 61. Tom Lewis claimed thefirst-place baubles in Portugal, despite opening with a mundane 72 in round 1. He followed it with 63-61 to find himself in the thick of matters. On Sunday, with golfers around him faltering, especially 3rd-round leader Lucas Herbert, Lewis seized the advantage and rode a 3-shot win over loquacious Eddie Pepperell. It had been 7 years since young Tom Lewis won his first European Tour event, also along the Iberian coast in Portugal. Nearly a decade later, a wizened, older Tom Lewis brought home a well-deserved bookend.

Stricker takes inaugural Sanford International on Champions Tour

Steve Stricker and Brandt Jobe began the final round of the Sanford International in a tie at 130. Given Stricker’s margin of experience in the wins and the international-competition column, it might have been expected that the Wisconsonite would make short work of Jobe. He did. And the rest of the field took notice, too. Stricker closed with 67 to secure a 4-shot win over surging Tim Petrovic. Jobe’s 2-over par 72 dropped him into a tie for 4th with Kevin Sutherland. The victory catapulted Stricker into the top 10 in the season-long Schwab Cup race.

PGA Tour Latinoamerica has “two strokes lower” winner in Rozo

Marcelo Rozo did something rarely seen, on any tour: he fired 69-67-65-63 to win the 65 IHSF Brazil Open by one stroke over Australia’s Harrison Endycott. Despite the glamour of the “two strokes lower” sequence, the Colombian needed every shot to hold off his challenger. Endycott eagled the par-five 18th hole, but Rozo was up to the task. He birdied 16 and 17, and made a clutch par at the last for his 1st win of the season. The victory launched Rozo all the way to the top of the season-long Order of Merit, guaranteeing him membership on the Web.Com tour next season.

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Tiger Woods catches fire after a slow start, shoots 5-under 65 at Tour Championship to tie lead

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Tiger Woods, who came to the Tour Championship 20th on the FedExCup points list, is making early moves at the Tour Championship at East Lake. After an opening-hole 3-putt from 25 feet for a bogey, and then three straight pars, Tiger played the rest of his round 6-under par (birdies at 5, 6, 12 and 14), capping it with a 27-foot eagle putt at the 18th hole. In the end, it was a 5-under 65 for Tiger, who currently sits tied for the lead with Rickie Fowler.

Here’s his approach to the par-5 18th hole, which measures 590 yards in total:

And here’s the eagle putt, to which he reacted with a few casual fist pumps and a putter raise.

As we’ve reported, Tiger recently switched back to his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter with which he’s one 13-of-14 majors throughout his career. He may have found the spark of old on the greens.

The only problem is, even if Tiger wins this week’s Tour Championship, he’s going to need some help winning the FedExCup and $10 million payout. Here are the scenarios he needs to happen:

But hey…

Here’s where the top-5 players on the FedExCup points list sit currently on Day 1:

  1. Bryson DeCheambeau (+3 thru 15, T27)
  2. Justin Rose (-2 thru 15, T6)
  3. Tony Finau (-2 thru 16, T6)
  4. Dustin Johnson (+2 thru 16, T23)
  5. Justin Thomas (-3 thru 16, T4)

Who do you think is going to win the Tour Championship and the FedExCup?

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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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