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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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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).

Related

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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