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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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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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Tour News

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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