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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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19th Hole

I wasn’t ready for the 2019 Rules of Golf

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We weren’t ready. We thought we were, but we weren’t.

For the last year, the USGA reminded us that in 2019 Rules of Golf were coming, but we didn’t listen. We heard the flag stick could remain in and we heard that you could take a penalty drop from knee-height.

But we didn’t listen.

I bet none of you have even practiced using your putter to flatten the entire green between your ball and the cup. You can do that now.

I’m also sure that you and I will continue to hover our club in all hazards, er, penalty areas. Yeah, we’re calling it a penalty area now.

The USGA went to the extreme depths of changing words all to simplify the game for you.

I don’t think the USGA listened either.

The rule changes were intended to speed up play and simplify golf for amateurs. Seems like a good idea. In turn, they may have bamboozled the PGA Tour while confusing the only amateurs who kind-of, sort-of knew the rules.

The pros didn’t need a new rule book, the amateurs just needed a simple one.

Us “locals” as the USGA refers to amateurs, do have one extremely fluid perk. When hitting a ball OB, or following a lost ball, you can drop with a two-stroke penalty instead of walking back to the tee. This of course, is dependent on your course, head professional, tournament conditions, and other factors including and not limited to what phase the moon is in.

If that’s somewhat confusing, read up, ask about your local rules, and buy a few extra sleeves. Reason being, in 2019, the limit on searching for a golf ball has been cut from five to three minutes.

2019-rules-of-golf

But wait, there’s good news.

Thanks to the USGA, if you accidentally move your ball as you frantically high-step through fescue, it’s no longer a penalty! What an exciting 180 seconds that will be!

If you somehow don’t find your golf ball in the hazard penalty area, the USGA tried to help us out, which they did, yet regrettably took away a more iconic portrait on the golf course.

The rigid, stoic stance and forceful drop of a ball at shoulder-height.

And we let it happen.

Now, we’ll watch a defeated man deliberately bend to his knees and gingerly drop his ball…Which, by the way, appears to be a convenient way for cheaters to “take a drop” that ideally doubles as “identifying my first ball”.

Don’t even get me started on the back issues this could flare up.

We heard in late 2018 that Bryson DeChambeau would use the flagstick when the odds were in his favor. He even laid it out simply for us.

“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick.”

Simple.

We didn’t listen Bryson, we didn’t believe. We also have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.

But hey, as Bryson would say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Yeah, he’d clearly never say that, but here’s to hoping!

We heard he would do it, but we didn’t believe it. We had to see to believe. What we saw was DeChambeau first in strokes gained putting in the very first round he was allowed to do it.

Obviously, this trend will continue for DeChambeau, and others may join in, because what is golf if not a constant chase for a marginally better opportunity at success.

Watch your back, because those others that may join in could be closer than you think. You may turn around to find a fellow member asking for the flag on their next 12-footer.

It should be a fun year of commentary and confusion at your local club and on the PGA tour. Professionals will have constant questions for rules officials, and commentators will consistently question Bryson’s methods.

There is one real question I hope is answered this April.

What will we do when Bryson banks in a downhill putt at No. 2 of Augusta?

Will we be ready? Will Augusta?

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News

Stewart Cink pens multi-year deal with Ping

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Ping Golf has announced that six-time winner on the PGA Tour, Stewart Cink, has signed a multi-year deal with the company.

The deal will see the American play a minimum of 11 Ping clubs, as he looks to end an almost decade long winless streak on the PGA Tour. Cink had previously been an equipment-free agent (having been a Nike man prior to that) although he had been using Ping clubs for the majority of the last season.

Speaking on the addition of Stewart Cink to Team Ping, company president John K. Solheim stated

“Stewart has a long track record of success and overall consistency, evidenced by his wins, top 10s in majors, and the fact that he has competed on five U.S. Ryder Cup teams and in four Presidents Cups.

“He has instant credibility, and we know him well because he has played Ping irons for many years. Our tour staff has been impressed by his professionalism and his knowledge of equipment. We’re delighted to be associated with Stewart.”

Cink will make his first start as a Ping staff player at this week’s Sony Open. According to the company, the 2009 Open Championship winner is expected to have Ping’s G400 LST driver, G400 fairways woods, i25 irons and Sigma 2 Arna putter in the bag this week at Waialae Country Club.

No details of the financial terms of the arrangement have been disclosed.

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Equipment

Charles Howell III’s winning WITB: 2018 RSM Classic

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Driver: Titleist TS3 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue 65

Fairway woods: Titleist TS2 (15, 21 degrees)
Shafts: Fujikura ATMOS Tour Spec Black 8X, Fujikura ATMOS Tour Spec Black 9X

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB 4-iron, Titleist 718 AP2 (5-7), Titleist 718 CB (8-PW)
Shafts: Project X LZ 6.5 (hard stepped)

Wedges: Vokey SM7 (52, 56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align

Ball: Titleist Pro V1 (proto)

SEA ISLAND, GA – NOVEMBER 17: Charles Howell lll tees off on the eighth hole tee box during the third round of The RSM Classic at the Sea Island Resort Seaside Course on November 17, 2018 in Sea Island, Georgia. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

RELATED: See what members are saying about CH III’s equipment in the forums.

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19th Hole

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