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Tour Rundown: DJ’s walk-off eagle, the first Tour event with a shot clock

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It borders on comical to suggest that Dustin Johnson, or anyone, is the favorite for this week’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. That course is played in competition once every dozen years, and its presentation changes from decade to decade. The only guarantees are an interesting tournament and a grateful winner. For now, that’s enough. We have tournaments to run down, beginning with Johnson’s win in Memphis. He wasn’t the only winner during this first, full week of June, but his conclusion was the most exciting, without doubt.

DJ takes 18th tour trophy in Memphis

Voted Best Guy To Hole Out On 18 he might not be, but Dustin Johnson calmed his way past the closing eagle on Sunday to win by 6 over pugnacious Andrew Putnam. Johnson smiled his trademark half-moon, waved laconically, and eased closer to XX victories. After posting the second-low round for 3 consecutive days, Johnson’s margin of victory was trebled with his 171-yard hole-out at the 72nd green. The tall & bearded one’s overnight tie was broken when Putnam doubled the first hole to drop back. The runner-up gave another shot back, 3 holes later, before steadying the nerves somewhat with a birdie at the 7th. Putnam concluded his day with 11 consecutive pars, allowing Johnson the freedom to play (how else?) casually in. J.B. Holmes had birdies at 15 & 16, to close with 67 and ascend to a third place finish, 4 back of Putnam. With the victory, the regular PGA Tour takes a week-long break as the USGA’s national men’s open championship takes center stage

Korhonen avoids the Clock-Keeper on way to 6-stroke triumph

In the first-ever, clocked event on a major professional tour, Finland’s Mikko Korhonen played 4 rounds in the 60s to emerge with a six-stroke win over Scotland’s Connor Syme. While Korhonen and Syme were tending to business as usual, the European Tour began a crackdown on the snails of the golfing world. Allotted-time imits were established at week’s start, and four penalties were assessed for laggards. Clemens Prader was the worst of the transgressors, taking a full 4 extra seconds to hit a putt at the 6th, in round 3. Grant Forrest, Markus Brier and Oscar Stark were also gifted with extra strokes on the week, thanks to their pause. Back to the golf-Korhonen began the week with 62, bogey-free holes, posting 16 birdies along the way. He wobbled with 2 mid-round bogeys on day four, but had enough petrol in the tank to lock up his 1st Euro Tour title. Syme made an absolute bomb of a putt at the par-3 closer to separate from a quartet at 9-under, and claim solo second for himself. For his efforts, Syme earned 2 of the week’s Best Shots, as seen below.

Metro NY girls take 1st and 3rd at ShopRite on LPGA tour

Annie Park might be forgiven for thinking that a final-round 63 would give her the kind of walk in the park that Johnson and Korhonen (see above) enjoyed on Sunday. Neither lad had a Sakura 61 in his field, however, as did Park. The Long island native signed for 6 birdies and 1 eagle in round 3, which were enough to keep Sakura Yokomine at bay, and earn her first Tour title. The Japanese golfer made eagle at the third, then piled 8 more birdies into her kettle, to finish the day at 10-under, 15-under for the week, one behind Park. Also in the mix was yet-to-win Marina Alex, the tour’s Jersey Girl and Vanderbilt alumna. Alex aced the 17th hole, to counteract a 14th hole bogey, and post 64 for 14-under and solo third. It was her second top-3 finish of the season, and certainly buoys her spirits as summer arrives en force.

Wright goes overtime for Web.Com win

Kyle Jones and Christian Brand were hoping to hoist a trophy at day’s end; instead, Chase Wright and Alex Prugh did battle in extra holes for the RustOleum Championship title. Jones and Brand fell back early, victims of not enough birdies on a day when the little warblers were a necessary commodity. Wright had 4 in regulation, plus another on the 2nd playoff hole, to claim an inaugural Web.Com tour victory. Prugh had 7 birdies on the day, but 2 bogeys were enough to keep him from outright victory. After finishing at 17-under, 1 clear of Brand, the two combatants played the finishing hole twice. On the 2nd go-round, Wright was able to convert his birdie putt and ascend to the podium’s top spot.

Lehman claims the Principal Charity Classic by 2

Fifteen months ago, Tom Lehman secured his 10th Champions Tour victory. On Saturday, the Minnesota native overcame a week of weather disruption and hot pursuit to earn win No. 11, by 2 strokes over Scott Parel, Glen Day, Woody Austin and Bernhard Langer. Why Saturday? Sunday’s final round was cancelled by extreme weather, leaving Lehman as the title holder. He had established a 3-shot cushion by the time he arrived at the 18th tee, so he took his time playing the last in 5 bogey strokes. In any other circumstance, Lehman might have been irked. In this case, he suffered not a bit for the final-hole faux pas. Austin closed with 4 consecutive birdies to jump into the 2nd-place quartet, while Langer could not approximate his opening 64 on Sunday. 2 too many bogeys dropped him out of the top spot. With the cup in his grasp, Lehman moved up 10 spots, into 10th position, in the season-long Schwab Cup race. Langer reclaimed the top spot with his runner-up finish, after dropping behind last week’s winner, Paul Broadhurst, for 7 days.

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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. Richard

    Jun 12, 2018 at 9:09 am

    It’s about time the PGA Tour did something like The Euro Tour with playing times. As an example, the time it took Daniel Berger to decide to chip the ball 40yrds the other day was absurd and he’s not the only one! It’s becoming a joke the time these guys take to play a shot.

    You could have put the name of the Euro Tour tournament in the write up Ron. A bit slack.

  2. Tony Lutz

    Jun 11, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Principal Classic was in Des Moines, IOWA – Tom Lehman is from Minnesota, so not his HOME STATE

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Tour News

Brandt Snedeker shoots 59 after bogeying his first hole at the 2018 Wyndham Championship

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Brandt Snedker started his first round of the 2018 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on the 10th hole with a drive way left off the tee, leading to a bogey. He didn’t make his first birdie until his fourth hole, actually, but from there, the flood gates were open. Snedeker birdied four holes in a row — hole nos. 13, 14, 15 and 16 — to go out in 32 (3 under).

He then SCORCHED his back nine, shooting an 8-under 27 including 6 birdies and an eagle. Certainly knowing it was for 59, Snedeker rolled in a 20-footer on his 18th hole (the course’s 9th hole). Watch the putt below.

It was by far the longest birdie putt he made on the back nine, probably because he was sticking everything to within 5 feet.

Notice the “0 feet” putt above? Yea, because he didn’t have to putt after dunking his second shot.

Where does Snedeker’s 59 stand in terms of the history books? He’s the 9th player ever to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour, and the FIRST to do so starting the round with a bogey.

Remember, even if you start with a bogey you can shoot your best round ever. Maybe not a 59 like Snedeker on Thursday of the Wyndham Championship, but don’t let that first-hole bogey get you down; there’s 17 more opportunities to make birdie — and Snedeker nearly did just that.

If you’re curious to hear what Snedker has to say about his 59, check out the Tweet embed below, or click here.

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Brooks Koepka, a machine built to win majors

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Brooks Koepka is your 2018 PGA Champion. Of his 4 PGA Tour victories, 3 have come at major events, all of which have come in the past 14 months. He has won a U.S. Open that played like a PGA (Erin Hills), a U.S. Open that played like a British Open (Shinnecock) and now, a PGA that played like a PGA, at Bellerive in St. Louis. What do we make of this 28-year old, born and bred Floridian, who doesn’t appear to win often, but makes it count when he does? That depends on the units with which you choose to measure his performance. Have a look at his most recent performance, a 2-shot win over Tiger Woods at the 2018 PGA Championship.

  • Birdies: 22 in total, 13 on the front nine
  • Bogeys: 4 total, 2 on each nine
  • Double Bogeys: 1
  • Eagles: 0

Out of 72 holes, it might be said, Koepka made 5 mistakes that counted. That’s not a lot. He made two consecutive mistakes on the front nine on Sunday, but countered those two holes later, with three consecutive birdies. Koepka also bogeyed consecutive hole in round three, on the inward half. Similarly, he made a birdie soon after, to regain momentum. On Thursday, when he made double bogey on the par-3 5th hole, he made all pars before and after, until the 11th. From that point on, it was 3 birdies and 5 pars. What we see from him is an incredibly precise performance, where mistakes are minimized and opportunities, maximized.

Koepka is no fool. He knows his initial strength is distance off the tee, and he utilized it to perfection at Bellerive. After round two, he commented,

“I like the way the golf course sets up. People talk about it turns right-to-left, but you’ve always got a bunker on the inside of the turn, but I can carry most of them, so it’s not really a big deal that the holes turn right-to-left, you can kind of get away with it with my length.”

Yes, Brooks, you can, but only if you are accurate when the ball returns to Earth. After three performances where he outplayed the best from two generations, we might become believers. During the same interview, Koepka revealed a bit more about who he is, and what he does, during a major week:

“More attention to detail. More mentally focused, more every shot really, really means something. You drop a shot or two, it’s, you really put yourself back. There’s a lot more focus that I have in the Majors, the preparation, I mean everyone on my team even says I act a little different, the way I approach it. It’s very down to a routine this week and other weeks sometimes, not saying I vary from the routine, but it’s much more disciplined. Eating right, going to the gym, it’s almost timed perfectly.”

None of those things is impossible to emulate. I’m certain that Rickie Fowler does them, and I’m positive that Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, and Tiger Woods do so as well. None of them hoisted the Wannamaker trophy this week, so something that Koepka does, or has, or know, continues to pay off.

It might be absolute comfort in his skin. Koepka told a story about a workout he had with perennial partner, Dustin Johnson, this week at Life Time Fitness in St. Louis. In his words,

“Today I was in there with Dustin and everybody wanted a picture with Dustin. They were talking about him as we left and I was just standing there laughing. They were like, did you see that No. 1 player in the world was here. It’s like, yeah, okay. I don’t know what to say to that. It was like, all right.”

I’d certainly be tempted to jump in and tell the ogglers who I am, but that’s not Koepka. He doesn’t have the DJ beard, the DJ bent wrist, the DJ wife/daughter of a hockey legend. It’s only about Brooks Koepka, albeit not in an egocentric way. The egotist approaches the ogglers and tells them who he is. Koepka focuses on self: I’m just focused on me. I feel like, if I do what I’m supposed to, I should win the golf tournament. That’s not arrogance, that’s not delusion. He is good, good enough to win each time he tees it up. Is he proud of his first tour win, at the Phoenix Open? For sure. Is he prouder of the three that came next? Without a doubt. The stakes continue to increase, and Koepka rises to the occasion.

Remember, too, that Koepka lost a sizable chunk of this season. He shut his game down after injuring his wrist. A late-2017 surgery kept him out of action through the Masters, an event that now seems tailored to his style of golf. Not a large muscle that heals quickly, but a part of the body with so many moving parts. A part of the body so essential to the execution of every golf shot. If that threat doesn’t give one pause, and later, gratitude, then one has missed the point.

In 1986, Greg Norman and Severiano Ballesteros were the two best golfers in the world. Jack Nicklaus was not, a relic from another era, whose most recent win had come six years prior. When the Golden Bear began to make noise at Augusta National, Norman and Ballesteros folded. Fast forward 32 years, to the footsteps of another forest creature, Tiger Woods. Woods posted 8 birdies for 64 on Sunday at Bellerive. He reached the number (-14) that I suggested yesterday would be enough to win, except it wasn’t. Why not? Koepka, unlike Norman and Ballesteros, rose to the challenge.

Brooks Koepka has joined a small group of golfers with three major victories. He now has two distinct major titles on his resume, and will certainly be one of the favorites at all four majors next year. From 1903 to 1905, Willie Anderson was the only man to raise the unnamed trophy. In 2019, Koepka might join him at at Pebble Beach. He might put on a green jacket in Georgia, in April. He also might grasp a trophy named for a specific wine, at Royal Portrush, in Northern Ireland.

See Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB

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Photos from the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur

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GolfWRX is live from the U.S. Women’s Amateur at the Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs, a venue which most recently hosted the 2006 Tennessee State Open.

The USGA fielded a record 1,468 entries for the competition, in which Kristen Gillman, Kaylee Benton, Laren Stephenson, and Jiwon Jeon are still alive in match play.

From WITB looks to shots of the superb Fazio course to some high art calligraphy (see below) we have it all.

Friday’s photos

Related: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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