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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

It’s the Ardmore! Woods begins Quicken Loans National with TaylorMade putter in the bag

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If you had a bet going with your buddies that there was no way Tiger Woods would depart from his beloved 13 major-winning Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS this week, you lose.

Woods started the first round of the Quicken Loans National with the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 he has been practicing all week with at TPC Potomac.

Adam Schupak spotted Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, on the way to the first tee for Woods’ 1:20 ET start time with the camo TaylorMade putter cover in the bag (not surprisingly, the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 was beneath the cover).

Woods has struggled with the putter this season, as we’re all well aware, particularly since the Memorial. No. 89 on Tour in strokes gained: putting, the 14-time major champion knew he had to do something.

“I’m trying to find something that I can feel again, like the swing of the putter, getting my body in the right positions and seeing the lines again,” Woods said. “You know, it’s just one of those things, once I start to get the ball rolling on my lines, then I’ll be back to putting like I was. I just have not been rolling it on my lines. And then on top of that, when they don’t roll on lines, then I have a hard time seeing my lines and it’s a vicious cycle. And I’m just trying to get out of that cycle.”

Woods reportedly tried a number of TaylorMade putters in the Bahamas last week, arriving (as far as we know) at the Quicken Loans National with just the Ardmore and his Newport to choose between.

He has made his choice for the first round. We’ll see how it pans out and whether Woods remains a mallet man all week.

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5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

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

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