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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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Equipment

Spotted: Dustin Johnson with new Fujikura Ventus prototype at the Masters, RBC Heritage

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Beyond the obvious big news of some guy named Mr. Woods winning his fifth green jacket this past weekend, there were some pretty interesting developments with another player that runs on a first name basis or at least initials: DJ switched drivers MID tournament and had a new Fujikura Ventus prototype shaft to go along with his new TaylorMade M6 as he took on Augusta National Saturday and Sunday.

We don’t have all the details yet, but from what we have heard so far this new Prototype Black Ventus is an even lower launching version of the blue Ventus currently available. If history is correct, and we are looking at a line extension, then the colors tell a lot of the story. The Atmos line features both a blue and black version with a final higher-launching red version to round out the series in what Fuji calls their color-coded launch system to make fitting and product recognition just that much easier.

Photos of the “black” prototype via Fujikura.

It’s not unusual for shaft companies like Fujikura to bring out prototype profiles utilizing technologies from their newest lines to try and get them into the bags of more players. Fuji’s newest technology is VeloCore, and we have already seen it adopted at a high rate. Here is some more info from Fujikura to explain the technology

“VeloCore is a multi-material core comprised of ultra-high modulus Pitch 70 Ton Carbon Fiber (about 150% stronger and more stable than T1100g) and 40 Ton bias layers that are the full length of the shaft for incredible stability. VeloCore Technology promotes consistent center-face impact and provides ultimate stability, tightening dispersion and increasing control. The result is a shaft that maximizes the MOI (moment of inertia) and ball speed of your clubhead through the reduction of twist during the swing and at impact, especially on off-center hits.”

This makes sense, considering any contact made beyond an absolutely perfect (almost impossible from a physics standpoint) strike in line with the COG of a driver head traveling at 120 mph will result in twisting at impact — MOI is maximized in driver heads to increase stability along with spin with Ventus and VelocCore, Fujikura thanks to their Enzo system, is better understanding how that relationship works with the shaft to produce new and better products.

Anyway, since we know DJ deviated from his traditional Fujikura Speeder Evolution II Tour Spec driver shaft for his weekend rounds this past weekend, we can expect to see it again this week at the RBC Heritage this week at Hilton Head, and we’ll have our eyes peeled to see where else this shaft pops up on tour.

Johnson teeing off during Wednesday’s RBC Heritage Pro-Am.

 

 

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Courses

No. 12 at Augusta National: The Golden Bell tolls for Koepka, Molinari

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On Sunday, Tiger Woods accomplished what many thought he could never do by winning another major championship, the 2019 Masters. In collecting his fifth green jacket, Tiger added a new luster to what was already a brilliant legacy. Woods overcame unusual start times, difficult conditions and a generation of young golf warriors that he helped to create. And like every champion before him, Woods had to contend with holes 11 through 13 on Sunday, the beautiful beast nicknamed Amen Corner by the great golf writer Herbert Warren Wind.

Of the three holes, it seems that 12 is the one that has drowned more hopes and dreams in the creek that winds through the terrible trio than either of the other two. Arnold Palmer made six on Sunday in 1959 on the way to losing to Art Wall by two. Tom Weiskopf made a mind-boggling 13 in 1980. Greg Norman had a double bogey during his Sunday collapse in 1986. And there’s Jordan Speith’s quadruple bogey in 2016, which some think he has still not recovered from. Through the generations, the hole named Golden Bell has sounded a death knell for many a would-be champion.

This week, I had the opportunity to walk the back nine at Augusta National with Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Jones is an acclaimed golf course designer in his own right but he is also the son of the legendary Robert Trent Jones, the man who designed the second nine at Augusta National as we know it today and therefore shaped history and the outcome of so many Sundays for so many players.

As we walked along the holes Jones described the changes both dramatic and subtle that his father had made in 1948 to shape the second nine, and I came to a greater understanding of why the stretch is so special. The second nine was deliberately crafted as the ultimate offer of risk/reward. It was designed to create heroes and tragic figures of epic proportions. As we got to the tee box at number 12, Mr. Jones’ well-known face (as well as the microphone I was holding in front of it) caused a crowd together around us as he described what his father had done with the most famous par three in golf.

Jones pointed out how the wide, narrow green on the 12th follows the path of Rae’s Creek which runs in front of it.

“It appears that the creek and the green are running almost perpendicular to the tee box at 12, but the right side of the green is actually significantly further away from the golfer than the left side. This is critical when it comes to playing the Sunday hole location on the right side of the green. Because of the way the hole is framed by water and bunkers, the golfer is deceived into either selecting the wrong club or taking a half swing, which often leads to a shot into the water.”

Jones’s words proved prophetic, as Brooks Koepka and Francisco Molinari made watery double bogeys that doomed their championship hopes. Woods, on the other hand, made par on 12, providing the spark that eventually led to his victory. How did Woods negotiate the 12th?

Again, RTJII shared his crystal ball. “Jack Nicklaus played the 12th better than anyone because he always played to the middle of the green,” noted Jones. “Jack felt that whether the pin was on the right or the left, a shot over the front bunker to the center of the green would take a big number out of play and maybe leave an opportunity for a birdie.”

Sure enough, on Sunday while pretenders to the throne went pin seeking with either the wrong club or ill-advised half swings, Woods channeled his inner Nicklaus, hitting a full-swing 9-iron with conviction to the middle of the green and safely two-putting. It was at once humble and heroic. It was the thing that heroes and champions do: survive demons in order to slay dragons. The moment his tee shot on 12 landed safely was the moment that I, and many others, knew in our hearts that Tiger Woods was, in fact, going to win again at Augusta. It is a singular accomplishment, made possible by his combination of wisdom and nerve at number 12 on Sunday. Amen, indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Popular Photo Galleries

All our photos from the 2019 Masters

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We have 15 threads packed full of photos from Augusta National for your viewing pleasure during this Masters weekend.

We’re rounding them up here for your convenience. Enjoy!

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