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Tour Rundown: Jutanugarn goes the distance, DeChambeau survives playoff

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If ever a golfer were dismissed, it was Ariya Jutanugarn on the second playoff hole of the USGA Women’s Open. Come to think of it, the same happens with Bryson DeChambeau, each time he goes into scientific detail about a swing or a shot. #KeepGolfWeird might never be the hashtag that #KeepAustinWeird is, but golf needs its unanticipated stories and its outliers. Golf reflects life, and those anomalies are less rare than some would attribute. After a tremendous week of June golf, let’s run it all down in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Jutanugarn does the unthinkable…twice, at the U.S. Women’s Open

If you followed the Twitterverse, one anachronistic word was linked to Ariya Jutanugarn in the waning moments of regulation play: meltdown. Time to put that word to bed. Not an appropriate nor accurate metaphor, under any circumstance. If you’ve not played Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Alabama (I did, in April) then you don’t have an idea of how challenging the back nine is. Fred Couples does; he lost a lead with four consecutive bogeys on 13-16 in 1990, losing the PGA Championship in the process to Wayne Grady. Ariya Jutanugarn and last week’s field also know. It wasn’t that anyone could lose a seven-shot lead with nine to play (cough, Palmer, cough) but that someone might actually build such a disparity.

One of the commentators related Jutanugarn’s applause for her opponent’s playoff birdie as being resigned to her fate. Note to commentator: Jutanugarn does that for all of her opponents. She respects clutch play in others, which might allow her to summon her own successes under great pressure. She did that in spades on Sunday at Shoal Creek. Ariya Jutanugaran is a powerful player, with a tendency to miss left when the game is on. She missed right a few times on Sunday, as well, but found an enviable calm after each shot. Her playoff opponent, Kim Hyo-joo, did the same when faced with a daunting deficit. Two kindred spirits then met for four extra holes of golf on a Sunday afternoon. Jutanugarn parred them all. After an opening birdie, Kim went bogey-par-bogey, and Jutanugarn had her second major championship, ninth LPGA victory, and third consecutive playoff win. Brava! What an Ariya.

DeChambeau conquers foes in playoff for Memorial title

It’s difficult to win on the PGA Tour. Even a guy who owned the amateur world, as Bryson DeChambeau once did, needs to establish himself at a new level in the big leagues. DeChambeau took another step toward another level on Sunday, dispatching Kyle Stanley and Byeong Hun An in two playoff holes for career win No. 2 at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament. A look at the top give golfers offered an episode of Young and Younger, as names like Patrick Cantlay, Peter Uihlein and DeChambeau populated the list. Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson (T6 and T8, respectively) were the first, established names to appear on the leader board. Golf has a way of teasing its followers, offering a week where all the up-and-comers dispatch the old guard, then following it up with a glimpse of the Wise and the Wizened.

DeChambeau didn’t exactly play like a champion over the closing holes of regulation. He bogeyed two of the final five, including the last. An did have the right stuff, making birdie at two of his final four to tie the Physicist. As for Stanley? He had every ingredient in his broth: a double, four consecutive birdies, and a closing bogey when par would have won. Off they went to extra time, where An and BD eliminated Stanley with par on the first hole. At the second playoff go-round of the closing hole, DeChambeau would have a run at birdie, but not before An tugged his approach, then hit a recovery shot for the ages. In the end, the putt and celebration of Bryson are the stuff that makes up human DNA: unbridled, well-earned joy.

Olesen holds off world’s hottest golfer for victory No. 5

His first name is Jacob, but when you might be called Thor, you use your middle name to ensure it. Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark held off Francesco Molinari of Italy, by one stroke, thanks to a clean card on day four. Molinari, last week’s winner at the PGA Championship of Europe, needed the same card to force a playoff, but a penultimate-hole bogey, sandwiched by 5 closing birdies, did him in. Molinari was brilliant all week, opening with consecutive 66s, and then went one better on Sunday, with 65. Problem was, Olesen was spectacular, salvaging a disastrous 68 in round two with two 65s and Sunday’s 64.

How spectacular? 24 birdies and one eagle on the week spectacular. He made four bogeys, including two on day one, but compensated with surreal putting and ball striking. Oh, and nerves of steel, as exemplified by his sandy at the last (putt from about seven feet) for par.

England’s Lee Slattery had the third-round lead, thanks to a wondrous 62 on Saturday. His week-low round included eight birdies, one eagle AND a bogey. Alas, Slattery summoned 67 on Sunday, but all it got him was solo third spot, thanks to the fireworks of Olesen and Molinari. Although not convinced in the slightest that Molinari will win the US Open in two weeks, don’t be surprised to see his name on the leader board at Shinnecock Hills. As for Olesen, a solid career took one step closer to a spectacular one with Sunday’s victory.

Joey Garber and his flow take Rex Hospital Open on Web Tour

After gaining fame on the Minnesota Hockey All-Hair team, Joey Garber turned his attention to golf. OK, cards on the table…part of that was invented. Garber does play golf, however, has massive lettuce on his scalp, and is quite good at his chosen profession. How good? He won on Sunday in Raleigh, moving from 50th spot to 6th on The 25 chase for a PGA Tour card. Garber held off Hank Lebioda and Scott Langley, both tied for 2nd at -17, by a putt or a chip or whatever you will.

The Georgia alum had four birdies in his first seven holes on Sunday to join the chase for the title. Despite an erratic back nine of four pars, three birdies and two bogeys, Garber managed to ease past the competition for his first Web.Com Tour win. In all, 2 more golfers stood at -16, with 4 more at -15 on the week, giving credibility to the term “bunched up.” So many golfers, so much talent, only one trophy. Hats off to Garber and his mane. If ever a field of lettuce were worthy of champion’s status, it is this one.

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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.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Mike B

    Jun 6, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Saw the headline about the US Women’s Open and the viewership numbers, and why it was so low. Nothing to do with who might win, or the conditions, and so on… Has to do with one thing, IMHO… FOX!! Their contract needs to be yanked for US Opens immediately. Azinger, Faxon and Inkster are semi tolerable, but Joe Buck has to go!! Stick to baseball Joe. The microphones in every cup is so f@$&ing annoying, the stupid segments, with whoever it is in the fairway with a crayon and poster board, also has to go. FOX has trouble doing news, don’t mess with golf. Please throw in the towel with this experiment.

  2. Gurn Blanstin

    Jun 4, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    I wish GolfWrx would provide WITB for more LPGA and Champions players bags. I can identify with their games better and would enjoy seeing what they game… My 2c

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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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