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Tour Rundown: Welcome back, Lydia Ko!

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Last week’s installment of Tour Rundown, very quietly, was the 300th piece I published for this tasty website. Some of those 3 centuries of articles were inspired, original material; while others have followed a pre-determined format for ease of consumption and digestion. Over that period of nearly 6.5 years, two essential credos compel me forward: no one films the photographer, and the writer never outweighs the word. Deposit number 301 might be the last you read from me, or it could represent the beginning of another perfect game. Now, back to the business at hand: Tour Rundown!

Horschel and Piercy claim PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic

If the Zurich Classic were simply a better-ball event, red ink would be in short supply and one-dimensional couples would do battle for the title. The inclusion of alternate shot on 2 of the 4 days is a bit of brilliance, on the part of the organizers. Why? Ask Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer. They finished double-double (not the Tim Horton’s kind) on Friday to fall from in-the-mix status to missed-the-cut doldrums. On Sunday, we saw more of the same.

How Horschel and Piercy stuck a fork in it

Their best score of the week was a Saturday 61, 11-under in better ball. Their best performance, however, was their Sunday 67. Only one other team was able to shoot 67 in alternate shot all week, and they had to slap each other’s faces to do so. While third-round leaders Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown and Michael Kim/Andrew Putnam were each giving four shots back to Old Man Par, the 2013 Zurich Classic individual champion and his partner were flawless on Sunday. Five birdies and nary a bogey eased them to 22-under, one ahead of the 40s, Pat Perez and Jason Dufner.

See the clubs Horschel and Piercy used

How Duff and Perez nearly made their comeback

The old guys were flawless on Sunday, too. If Horschel and Pierce were FL on the diamond clarity scale, Dufner and Perez were just behind at IF. Four birdies and zero bogeys totaled the day’s second best, and brought them from fifth to second alone. As mentioned above, the overnight leaders (Kisner and Brown at 20-under) and the overnight chasers (Kim and Putnam) could not repeat their earlier successes. The chasers had three consecutive bogeys to open their back nine, punctuated by a double-bogey at the 16th. The leaders also had a miserable inward half, with a similar score of 41.

Alexander Björk returns on investment at European Tour’s China Open

In 2012, Björk listed himself on an investment site, offering 10 percent of winning to those who bankrolled him. Six years later, the Swede cinched his first Euro Tour title, overtaking the third-round leaders with an impeccable 65. Bjork’s win came by one shot over Adrián Otaegui. The Basque bogeyed 17 to fall to 16-under, and a final-hole birdie offered only the solace of solo second spot.

How Björk bjecame a tour winner

Björk’s week was solid from start to finish, with only a topsy-turvy 72 in round 2 standing out. He was mid-60s in the other rounds, revealing an affection for Beijing’s Topwin course. After three bogeys on day two led to an even-par round, Björk made just one more blue square the rest of the week. 13 birdies over the closing 36 holes allowed him to ease past a coalition of challengers. The Swede concluded an unmatched fortnight with his win, coming on the heels of a third-place finish last Sunday in Morocco.

How things came apart for Wallace and company

As happens so often these days on the tours, nothing less than final-round perfection will do. England’s Matt Wallace had won twice when holding the 54-hole lead. On Sunday, he notched seven birdies of his own, but fumbled twice for triple and single bogey. He tumbled to a third-place tie with countryman Jordan Smith and Spain’s Jorge Campillo. Otaegui was oh-so-close on Sunday. Six birdies brought him to the brink of triumph, but the one stumble, at the penultimate hole, was his undoing. Olazabal’s twin had secured top-2o finishes in his previous four tour events, so runs at a second career title should continue to come.

Welcome back, Lydia Ko! Playoff win at LPGA’s Mediheal

It had been a challenging few years for New Zealand’s national golfing treasure. Lydia Ko had not won since July of 2016, and she had no desire to celebrate a two-year anniversary. Ko entered the final round of the Mediheal with a slim lead over Jessica Korda, who had experienced a 2018 comeback of her own. While Korda faltered, Ko weathered a difficult front nine and was able to gather herself enough to reach a playoff with Minjee Lee.

How Ko conquered her doubts

When you begin a final round with three bogeys in six holes, your path is usually clear, unless you have greatness in you. Ko found a way to make five birdies against one more bogey over the final 12 holes. When she birdied the 18th, she found herself in a playoff with Lee, who has flirted with greatness of her own during her years on tour. Unfortunately for her, Ko is most at home in a playoff, when she can go head to head with her competition. Suffice it to say that she won this overtime affair, her fifth in six extra-hole battles. How she did it? Well…

How Lee nearly conquered all

Minjee Lee has three LPGA tour wins of her own but, like Ko, none since 2016. The Aussie had seven birdies in her final round, including 3 of the final 4 holes. She even had one more in the playoff, on the par-5 closing hole. Unfortunately for Lee, Ko went one better, with an eagle 3. The runner-up finish, couple with Lee’s Australian-tour victory at the Victorian Open in February, bodes well for the soon-to-be 22 year old.

WATCH Lydia Ko describe why her 58-degree wedge is so different

Expected win for Mexico’s Rodríguez at Web.Com’s ULC Championship

They say that Victoria National was built to host a U.S. Open championship. I’m here to tell you two things: with all the water, it’s completely not a USGA course. It may, however, be the most demanding course on any tour. If tournament organizers set the course up at its penal worst, golfers might not break 75. Maverick McNealy can attest to this: after opening with 64, he didn’t smell par the rest of the week. Still in the lead after 54 holes, the young Cardinal struggle again on Sunday to tumble from the race. As for the winner? Read on.

How José de Jesús Rodríguez locked up win No. 1

Rodríguez shouldn’t be a surprise to many, despite the thinking that some young American (McNealy, Ethan Tracy, Wyndham Clark) would break through for an inaugural Web win. The Mexican champion has risen steadily this season, with a 3rd-place tie in the Bahamas as his previous-best finish. On Sunday, Rodríguez stood 4-under par through 14 holes, the equivalent of chasing 59 at Victoria National. Although he closed with 2 bogeys over his final quartet of holes, he did so smartly and strategically. Rodríguez went from bunker to bunker at the last, but avoided those heavy numbers that derailed many challenges this week.

What Wyndham and the others have to learn

In Clark’s case, not much. He scorched the back nine in 30 strokes, to jump from 10th to nearly-first, one back of Rodríguez at 5-under for the week. Only three outward bogeys kept the former Oregon Duck from reaching a playoff or better. McNealy had a three-day case of the nerves, after opening with 64. Needing to play his final three holes in 1-under, he instead went 2-over to finish tied for third with Kyoung-Hoon Lee, two back of Clark and three off the lead. Unlike that other National, the annual site of the Masters, this one demands absolute precision off the tee, and JJR was the king of accuracy this week.

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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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tommy

    Apr 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Hey Ron, since when is a 3-wood to a foot in a playoff not worthy of a mention? Wow…

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More beginners, bigger base: Insights from the NGF’s Industry Report

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A record number of first-time players took up the game in 2017, according to the National Golf Foundation’s Industry Report. 2.6 million beginners swung a club for the first time last year. Additionally, first-timers making their maiden trips to a golf course increased for the fourth straight year.

The NGF took a different route with its report this year, saying,

“To more accurately reflect the evolution of golf’s overall consumer base…[the organization] expanded definition of participation looks beyond traditional on-course golf and also factors in off-course engagement, which tracks those who swing a golf club at facilities like Topgolf, indoor simulators and driving ranges.”

Per the NGF, the on-course participant base held steady at 23.8 million golfers in 2017. 8.3 million people played exclusively off course, interestingly, at Topgolf and similar facilities, driving ranges, and simulators. Thus, the total number of “golfers” in the U.S. is nearly 32 million.

“Golf participation is evolving,” said NGF President Joe Beditz. “On-course, green-grass participation is holding its own and off-course is continuing to grow. There’s no denying that we’re down from our pre-recession highs, but it appears to us that traditional participation is stabilizing and there may be a new support level between 23 million and 24 million.”

The game’s most ardent players continue to account for 95 percent of all rounds-played and spending in an $84 billion industry.

With respect to translating off-course participation into on-course play, the number of non-golfers who said that they’re “very interested” in playing golf increased to 14.9 million from 12.8 million in 2016.

Rounds played were down 2.7 percent to 456 million in 2017. As has been the case every year since 2006, there were more facility closures than openings, with just over 200 facilities shutting their doors. The U.S. still has just under 15,000 facilities: 45% of the global supply.

Openings such as Streamsong Black in Florida, Shepherd’s Rock in Pennsylvania and Bayou Oaks in Louisiana got plenty of attention, but renovation projects remain the major industry investment. The NGF tracked 1,100 major course renovations in 2017.

The average price of an 18-hole round of golf at a public course in 2017: $34. 75 percent of U.S. courses are open to the public. The NGF says this is the highest public-to-private ration in the country’s history.

Looking ahead to 2018, the NGF sees “a further balancing of supply and demand.” 15 to 25 new course openings, 75 to 100 major renovation projects.

NGF members can access the full report here for free ($199 for non-members)

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Tour News

Lucas Glover’s wife arrested for domestic violence after allegedly attacking husband for poor play

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Lucas Glover’s wife, Krista, 36, was arrested after allegedly attacking Glover and his mother after he missed the 54-hole cut at The Players Championship, Saturday.

Krista Glover was released on $2,500 bail after spending the night in St. John’s County Jail. She’s slated for a May 31 court date on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence battery and resisting arrest without violence.

Per the officer’s report, following Glover’s third-round 78 and MDF at Sawgrass, the Glovers had an altercation, which Lucas’ mother, Hershey, attempted to stop. At that point, Krista allegedly began attacking her husband’s mother. Hershey Glover reportedly had cuts and blood on her arms, as did Lucas.

Glover and his mother did not want to press charges, according to reports. Glover reported his wife had been drinking and that she frequently berates him about his poor play, calling him a “‘loser” and other names in front of the couple’s children. 

The three-time PGA Tour winner tweeted the following statement, Sunday.

Per the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department, full details are available via the arrest report below.

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Popular Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the AT&T Byron Nelson

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The PGA Tour arrives at Trinity Forest Golf Club for the first time as the AT&T Byron Nelson settles into its new home.

To familiarize yourself with this 2016 Coore & Crenshaw design, we have shots from both the front and back nine at this buzzworthy track. Additionally, we have our usual assortment of range photos, as well as WITB looks and shots of J.J. Spaun’s sweet Scotty Cameron. We also got a look at Jordan Spieth’s instructor, Cameron McCormick’s studio, which is extremely cool.

Here are 10 interesting photos from our Monday/Tuesday coverage.

Rumor has it J.J. Spaun thought his “for street use only” custom Cameron merited inclusion in 10 Interesting Photos. He’s not wrong!

Have yourself a Callaway Apex MB, Noah Goodwin! (The reigning U.S. Junior Am champ is in the field on a sponsor’s exemption)

What’s better? Troy Matteson’s headcovers or the bag by his bag? Toss up.

Martin Flores: A man of multiple Scotty Cameron headcovers

What’s going on here? Vintage lefty weapons and more…

Colt Knost’s camp has the beverage situation under control. (Also: great range buckets)

Not sure of the owner, by strong headcover game

Ireland’s Seamus Power’s custom Accra shaft

Cameron McCormick hangs banners for his students’ achievements. There are many.

PSA: You have to see our shots of Trinity Forest

Check out all our photos from Monday and Tuesday at Lord Byron’s tournament.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos below

 

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