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Tour Rundown: Aaron Wise and Miguel Angel Jimenez both win their first

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Forget the Vegas Golden Knights for a moment. Golf, friends, is what is on the rise. Play a knockout event in Europe, toss in a rollicking, fun, unpredictable course in Texas, and spice it up with the most interesting man in golf (nope, never gets old) and the third weekend of May was nifty. A simple Tour Walkdown wouldn’t be nearly enough; we need a full-on, high-speed Rundown. Lace up your kicks and Zoom.

Aaron Wise collects first PGA Tour Win at Byron Nelson

People will say that the hardest thing to do is hold a lead. Marc Leishman opened with a saucy 61, and he nearly kept the reigns all week. In the end, Aaron Wise was too much duck for Leish, and finished on -23 to capture his first PGA Tour title, by three shots. Wise made 4 bogeys on the week, and 3 of them came on Saturday. His third-round 68 still made up ground on the Aussie leader, who closed 69-68 on the weekend. Wise was not flawless from tee to green on Sunday, but he avoided the hiccoughs that found him on Saturday. His scramble game was strong, and bogey stayed away. As for Leishman, after a bogey at the short 2nd, he drove the green at 4 and converted the bendy eagle putt. Two more birdies on the outward nine kept him close to Wise. On the inward half, which Wise played 1-under, Leishman had a shot. Two bogeys staved off his challenge, and Wise was a winner. Brandon Grace had a lightning round of his own on day 4, closing with 62 for a third-place tie with JJ Spaun and Keith Mitchell.

Aaron Wise Winning WITB

Adrian Otaegui knocks field out in Belgium

According to some Twitter post, Adrian Otaegui is undefeated in European Tour match play competition. Twelve consecutive wins. Future Ryder Cup captains, are we aware? Something about those Spaniards, those Basques, and their ability to get things done in head-to-head competition. Otaegui survived two tough matches in the rounds of 32 (w/Max Kiefer) and 16 (w/Matthew Southgate) where he squeaked by with a 1-stroke margin of victory. From that point on, it was clear sailing for the Iberian. Along the way, he defeated countryman Jorge Campillo in the quarters, Scotland’s David Drysdale in the semis, and France’s Benjamin Hebert in the final match. The beat-a-countryman, beat-a-Brit was common with Hebert as well. He knocked off Mike Lorenzo-Vera in the quarters, followed by James Heath in the semis, to arrange his final dance with Otaegui.

Jutanugarn is LPGA Queen once more in Virginia

While Sunday’s attention was divided between Brooke Henderson’s charge and the leading trio’s fight for supremacy, Ariya Jutanugarn had been in this position too many times to care. The long-hitting Thai golfer might have put things away with a birdie at the 16th; instead, she bogeyed and fell into a playoff with In Gee Chun of Korea and Nasa Hataoka of Japan. On the first extra green, Japan and Thailand made birdie, bidding farewell to Korea. On the 2nd playoff hole, Jutanugarn again made birdie to clinch the 8th LPGA title of her young career. As for Henderson, one wouldn’t think that a first-round 70 would put you that deep in the hole, but it did. Despite 65-65 on the weekend, Henderson was 1 agonizing putt or chip or whatever on the outside, looking in.

Michael Arnaud (after a magical nine holes) wins the Web Week in South Carolina

Arnaud posted 188 strokes to the board over his final 54 holes. Heck, do that and you can shoot your weight and still win. Arnaud’s found-magnificence was beyond impressive. His second-round 60 included a front-nine 27 that began with five birdies and two eagles…CONSECUTIVELY from holes 1 to 7. Dude was on track to shoot 26 or some nonsense until he bogeyed the 9th. Birdie there would have given him 25 for the outward half. Pity KH Lee and Robbie Shelton, who would have had a heck of a playoff on any other Sunday. The pair finished at -22, five strokes behind Arnaud. Question is, will Arnaud continue to excel, or will he remember one May weekend as the time he caught lightning in a bottle? In either case, the magic was his for a time.

Jimenez FINALLY grabs a senior major at Tradition

I would have bet MI CASA that MAJ had won a senior major title before his triumph at Greystone in Birmingham. It’s a big month for the steel city, as the USGA Women’s Open will be at Shoal Creek at the end of May. Back to the most interesting man. Jimenez built a comfortable lead (4 strokes) after 3 rounds. He opened with a magnificent 64, and no one could match it (and truly close the gap) until Jeff Maggert on Sunday. It was Jimenez’ tournament, as he displayed a remarkable command of all weapons. He did not make multiple bogeys until Sunday, at which point he had assumed complete control. As for the chasers, Joe Durant, Gene Sauers and Steve Stricker were able to claim a share of the runner-up podium spot, finishing at -16, 3 back of the victor. As with the remainder of the field, none could match Jimenez’ slew of birdies, which more than offset his slight number of bogeys.

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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. 2putttom

    May 21, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    gooOOOO DUCKS !

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Tour News

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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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

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

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