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Tour Rundown: McIlory falters on Sunday, loses to Molinari

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One difficult debate in professional golf is, why are 3 of 4 major championships held each year in the USA? Does Europe deserve two? Probably not. What about Asia, Africa, or South America? See? This week, the European Tour held its PGA Championship, and the best golfers (McIlroy, Cabrera-Bello, Fleetwood, Noren, Poulter, Jaidee) turned up. The LPGA warmed up for the U.S. Open with an event in Michigan, while the Seniors held their PGA championship in the same state. The youngsters finished up the Texas swing, while the Webbies grooved in Nashville. Could May offer a better week of golf? Doubtful. Let’s Rundown those Tours with this week’s TR.

BMW PGA Championship to Italy’s Molinari

Francesco Molinari did the one thing he needed to do on Sunday to have a chance at victory: he kept a clean card. Four birdies, zero bogies, 68, 17-under par. His co-leader after round 3 had 4 birdies as well, but he also had 2 bogeys. And that is why Rory McIlroy finished second to the Italian champion. The victory was Molinari’s 5th on the European tour, and his first in 2 years. As for McIlroy, much as in this year’s Masters, he had a chance to stake a claim to the title, but failed to do precisely that. Molinari birdied 2 of his first 4 holes, while McIlroy helf off until the 8th to notch a red number. The 4-time major winner than bogeyed his next two holes to drop from contention. His birdie-birdie finish served to vault him into solo 2nd, but his performance was not the one that major champions usually offer. Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark closed with 65 to tie for 3rd with Sweden’s Alex Noren.

Rose romps to Fort Worth Invitational win

If you can envision a finer, tidier performance than 66-64-66-64, by all means, point it out. Justin Rose, the 2016 Olympic champion and 2013 U.S. Open champion, won his ninth PGA Tour title and second of the wraparound season, by 3 strokes over 2017 U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka. Both Rose and Koepka bogeyed the 18th hole, but the tournament had been decided by then. Koepka turned in the second-low round of day 4, to finish alone in the runner-up spot. Rose was far from perfect on the week, posting five bogeys in 4 rounds. The inordinate number (25) of birdies that he made did more than compensate for his errors. The only thing he lost all week was a shot at the tournament record of 21-under.

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While Rose’s sustained brilliance was unmatched, mention should be made of Kevin Na and his 123. The American opened with 6-birdie, 1-eagle 62, then closed with a 9-birdie 61. His middle rounds were best described as meh, but what lightning he caught in a bottle. Na finished 4th at 14-under, 1 behind Emiliano Grillo.

Volvik Championship a birthday present for Minjee

If Lydia Ko hadn’t pulled a miraculous, playoff-hole eagle out of her visor a month ago, Minjee Lee might find herself with a second win of the season. As it stands, her work in Ann Arbor was better than the rest, allowing her to gain career win number 4 on the LPGA tour and move inside the top 5 of the season-long points race. With In-Kyung Kim and Moriya Jutanugarn attempting to chase her down, Lee bent but didn’t break. She made bogey at the penultimate hole to drop into a tie with Kim, but found the resilience to birdie the last. The rebound allowed her to ease off the final green with the greatest of celebrations, capping off her 22nd birthday in dreamy style.

The final hole at the Travis Pointe country club promises certain drama for the best golfers on the LPGA tour. It’s brevity (only 470 yards) ensures that an accurate drive will offer a run at the green, and a chance at eagle. While none of the top 3 (Lee, Kim and Jutanugarn) succeeded in making 3, each one made birdie to conclude her round. Lee’s was a delicate affair, after her approach missed the green short right, leaving a testy pitch shot. Lee bumped her recovery toss to 2 feet, ensuring her slim margin of victory. Kim moved inside the top 30 of the CME Points Race, while Jutanugarn settled into the 2nd spot, just behind sister Ariya.

PGA Senior Championship is Broadhurst’s second senior major

Paul Broadhurst has enjoyed a successful month. He teamed with Kirk Triplett in Missouri in April for a victory at the Bass Pro Shops event. This week, Broadhurst exploded on Sunday with 8 birdies for 63, leaving only dust between him and his pursuers. Jerry Kelly might have thought that his second 65 of the week would have catapulted him into contention…think again. The solid effort was enough to garner a tie for 3rd with 3rd-round co-leader Scott McCarron, who closed with a topsy-turvy 71 for 14-under. The other co-leader, Tim Petrovic, fared a bit better. He shot his 4th straight round in the 60s for 15-under, securing solo second. The field was helpless in the wake of Broadhurst, who earned his 4th victory in 4 years on the Champions Tour.

The Englishman began the week at Harbor Shores with a forgettable 72. He improved dramatically with 64 on day two, then continued to excel. A Saturday 64, highlighted by a 6-birdie 30 on the front nine, was followed by Sunday’s 63. Never flinching, never wavering, Broadhurst outdistanced the competition in the manner of a young Ussain Bolt. With the win, Broadhurst surged into the top spot of the Schwab Cup race, advancing 14 places. Kelly moved up 2 spots, from 5th to 3rd, while McCarron elevated by one, into 8th.

Nashville Golf Open title gives status and hope to Davis

If you’ve been to Nashville, you know that the convention center is shaped like a guitar. When Cameron Davis was presented with the winner’s trophy on Sunday, it bore … what else? The shape of a guitar, of course. Davis was able to parlay a rare Web start into a victory when defending champ Lanto Griffin could not get stabilize early on day four. Davis played a remarkable pitch-and-run at the last for an up-and-down birdie to eek out the 1-stroke victory over Griffin, Kevin Dougherty and Josh Teater.

Davis went out in 2-under par 34, then turned on the jets with five incoming birdies for 31 and a day-low 65. Griffin had played wonderful golf over the first three days, never rising above 67, in a valiant defense of his 2017 title. His opening 7 holes on Sunday were unpredictable and inexplicable. Four bogeys and three birdies kept him in the chase, but in search of some sort of balance. Griffin made one birdie the rest of the way, gutted at the final hole with a left-short birdie putt to reach a playoff. Dougherty had 66 and Teaster, 68, to move up the Sunday leader board. Davis jumped all the way from 72nd to 14th in the season-long chase for a PGA Tour card.

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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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Equipment

The drivers used by the top-10 longest hitters on the PGA Tour in 2017-2018

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What drivers do the PGA Tour’s longest golfers use to bomb their tee shots? Now that the 2017-2018 PGA Tour season is behind us, we can do a thorough examination.

First, here’s a tally of what the top 10 in driving distance on Tour are using by driver manufacturer. Interestingly, only two OEMs figure.

  • Ping: 4
  • TaylorMade: 6

But this is GolfWRX, so of course you want to know more. Below is a breakdown of the driving-distance leaders on the PGA Tour in 2017-2018, the specifics of their drivers, shafts and how far their average tee shots flew.

10) Keith Mitchell

Driver: TaylorMade M1 440
Loft: 10.5 degrees (10 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS T1100 7.5 (tipped 1 inch)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing weight: D3
Grip: Golf Pride Victory Cord 58R
Average driving distance: 312.6 yards

9) Bubba Watson

Driver: Ping G400 LST
Loft: 8.5 degrees (7.6 degrees)
Shaft: Ping BiMatrix-X (tipped .50 inch)
Length: 44.5 inches
Swing weight: D4
Grip: Ping 703 Gold
Average driving distance: 312.9 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Bubba’s clubs

8) Brooks Koepka

Driver: TaylorMade M3 460
Loft: 9.5
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70TX
Average driving distance: 313.0 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Koepka’s clubs

7) Gary Woodland

Driver: TaylorMade M3 440
Loft: 9 degrees (8 degrees)
Shaft: Accra RPG 80X (tipped 2 inches)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing weight: D5
Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord Mid
Average driving distance: 313.4 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Woodland’s clubs

6) Dustin Johnson

Driver: TaylorMade M4
Loft: 9.5 degrees
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution 2.0 Tour Spec
Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Average driving distance: 314.0 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Dustin’s clubs

5) Luke List

Driver: TaylorMade M4
Loft: 8.5 degrees
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana White D+ 80TX
Average driving distance: 314.7 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about List’s clubs

4) Tony Finau

Driver: Ping G400 Max
Loft: 9 degrees (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Accra Tour Z X485 M5 (tipped 1 inch)
Length: 45.25 inches
Swing weight: D5
Grip: Custom Lamkin UTX Mid
Average driving distance: 315.3 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Finau’s clubs

3) Tom Lovelady

Driver: Ping G400 Max
Loft: 9 degrees
Shaft: TPT MKP 15.5
Length: 44.75 inches
Swing weight: D3+
Grip: Golf Pride V55 Full Cord 58R
Average driving distance: 315.9 yards

2) Trey Mullinax

Driver: Ping G400 Max
Loft: 9 degrees
Shaft: Mitsubishi KuroKage XT 60-X
Length: 45 inches (tipped 1 inch)
Swing weight: D4
Grip: Golf Pride V55 Full Cord
Average driving distance: 318.7 yards

1) Rory McIlroy

Driver: TaylorMade M3 460
Loft: 8.5 degrees
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 70XTS
Length: 45.625 inches
Swing weight: D8
Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet 58R
Average driving distance: 319.8 yards

See what GolfWRX members are saying about Rory’s clubs.

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Patrick Reed airs out Jordan Spieth and Captain Jim Furyk following the 2018 Ryder Cup loss

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In an interview with Karen Crouse of The New York Times, Patrick Reed held zero punches about his displeasure with former Ryder Cup partner Jordan Spieth, Captain Jim Furyk, and the egos of the United States team.

First, a bit of back story. Patrick Reed — dubbed “Captain America” — played foursomes and fourballs with Jordan Spieth in both the 2014 and 2016 Ryder Cups, amassing a 4-1-2 record as partners in the two events.

But when it came to the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, Patrick Reed was paired with Tiger Woods in both fourball sessions (losing both), while Spieth played with Justin Thomas in fourballs and foursomes (Spieth/JT went 3-1). Reed sat the bench for both foursomes sessions.

According to Reed, the decision to split from Spieth was not his call, or the captain’s, but rather, due to Spieth’s wishes. Reed also took shots at Furyk for sitting him in both fourball matches.

Here’s what Reed had to say…

About Jordan Spieth

“The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” Reed said, according to the NYT. He added: “I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success. He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done.”

In the post-Ryder Cup press conference with the entire team, the ex-partners were asked about the split, to which Spieth answered: “We were totally involved in every decision that was made… Jim allowed it to be a player-friendly environment.”

When asked about this moment in the interview by the NYT, Reed said, “I was looking at (Jordan Spieth) like I was about to light the room up like Phil in ’14,” in reference to Phil Mickelson calling out Captain Tom Watson in the 2014 post-Ryder Cup interview.

About Captain Furyk

“I thought he might go back with the groups that have worked in the past (after the first alternate-shot session).”

“For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice.”

About the U.S. Team

“Every day, I saw ‘Leave your egos at the door,’” Reed said, of inspirational messages in the team room. “They (the Europeans) do that better than us.”

Full New York Times article.

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Tour News

Team USA provides Sunday thrills, but ultimately loses the 2018 Ryder Cup

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Team USA was trailing 10-6 going into Sunday’s 12 singles matches against Team Europe at the 2018 Ryder Cup. It was a highly unlikely comeback — about a 9 percent chance according to multiple data sources — but there were moments on Sunday it looked possible.

Justin Thomas, in a back-and-forth match against Rory McIlroy, pulled off a crucial win after Rory drove the ball into the lip of a fairway bunker on 18 and hit his approach shot into the hazard.

Other things were happening, too.

Finau was finessing Fleetwood. Webb was waxing World No. 2 Justin Rose. Koepka was keeping up with Casey. Woods was withstanding Rahm’s will. Reed was rolling.

But ultimately, alliteration aside, the Europeans were simply winning too many holes, and racking up points. The United States needed to win 8 matches. It had to be an utterly one-sided Sunday in the USA’s favor, and it simply was not.

Tiger vs. Rahm in the fourth slot proved to be a huge swing match after USA recorded 2.5 points in the first three matches. Rahm missed a four-footer on 16, giving Tiger a chance at 1 down with 2 to play, but Rahm closed the deal on 17 with a short birdie putt (leading to an expectedly huge celebration) after Tiger missed the fairway off the tee and failed to chip in. Tiger finished 0-4 in the 2018 Ryder Cup.

About the time Rahm closed the door on Tiger was when Ian Poulter took hold of the match against Dustin Johnson (despite DJ holing a few long putts to give hope), and he closed the door with fantastic approach shots on the final three holes. Thorbjorn Olesen closed out Spieth 5&4. Bubba Watson went down 5 to Henrik Stenson, Molinari went up 3 on Phil Mickelson, and Sergio Garcia was up 2 holes on Rickie Fowler. With too much blue on the scoreboard and just not enough red, it was just a matter of time. Europe was a lock to take back the Ryder Cup. And they did.

The Ryder Cup officially ended when Francesco Molinari hit the green on 16 and Phil flared one into the water. Fittingly, due to Molinari’s 5-0 performance, his 4&2 victory on Sunday gave Europe its winning point.

The overlying factor in the entire Ryder Cup was the United States’ inability to hit fairways on a Le Golf National course that penalizes missed fairways. This could have something to do with it…

Here’s how the relevant matches finished as Europe clinched the Cup:

  • JT def. Rory 1up
  • Brooks and Casey: halved
  • Webb def. Rose 3&2
  • Rahm def. Woods 2&1
  • Finau def. Fleetwood 6&4
  • Poulter def. DJ 2up
  • Olesen def. Spieth 5&4
  • Molinari def. Mickelson 4&2
  • Stenson def. Bubba 5&4
  • Garcia def. Rickie 2&1

So what’s the takeaway? Did the task force make bad choices with the captains picks? Did Furyk’s pairings cost the U.S. in the first two days? Was it simply a great performance by the Europeans?

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the Ryder Cup here. 

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