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Tour Rundown: Molinari runs away with it; playoff decides Women’s PGA

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The end of June brought heartbreak for a few golfers. Leads were given away in the final swings at more than one event. In one instance, the end was immediate. In others, the loss was delayed a bit, but still gut-wrenching. This is competitive golf, played under the searing sun of summer, a sun that always burns hottest when the stakes are highest. It’s best to remember that, as we welcome the cauldron of important events, held each July and August. For this week, we’ve five events to feature in our Tour Rundown.

PGA TOUR: Molinari scampers off with Quicken Loans

Francesco Molinari makes certain of things these days. He has a rotten playoff record (0-3) on the European Tour, where he also has 5 victories. Last month’s European PGA was followed by his 1st stateside win, at the TPC at Avenel Farms. On Sunday, Molinari found himself paired with Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, a former Web.Com Tour darling. Ancer posted 62 on Saturday, but needed something similar to separate from Molinari and the field. The pro from Mexico struggled to 72 in round 4, but stood near to Molinari’s magnificent, 4th round  62. The 6 birdie, 1 eagle performance included a run of 6-under through five holes at the back nine’s opening.

I had predicted on Twitter that Tiger Woods would shoot 61 on Sunday and win his first event of 2018. I wasn’t far off, despite being far off. Woods did shoot 66 and move into a 4th-place tie with Ancer. Problem was, only Molinari shot 62 and no one could catch him. His 8-shot victory was the tour’s widest winning margin of this campaign, and certainly pencils him in as a candidate for both a major title this summer, and a spot on the European Ryder Cup team in the fall. Bravo, Francesco!

LPGA TOUR: 2-hole, 3-way playoff decides Women’s PGA

Ryu So-yeon made double bogey on  Sunday’s 2nd hole. The Korean golfer, twice a major champion in her young career, shook off the misstep with four birdies against a single bogey over the next 14 holes. With a 2-shot advantage coming to the par-3 17th hole, the Colonel again reared her devious head, and a 2nd double brought the leader back to the field. Unable to birdie the 18th, Ryu went into a playoff with Park Sung-hyun, another young Korean of immeasurable talent, and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, author of five birdies and two eagles in her Sunday 64.

As a proper introduction to Independence Day in the USA, fireworks ensued in Illinois. Both Korean golfers birdied the 18th hole, eliminating Hataoka. Play moved to the 16th hole, where each remaining competitor reached the green in regulation. With impending birdie putts, bad weather moved in and forced a delay. When play resumed, Ryu missed her effort, but Park was unerring. Her second overtime birdie brought her a fourth LPGA Tour win and second major in as many seasons. In 2017, Park debuted with a marvelous performance at the US Open. She leaves Kemper Lakes golf club as owner of the two most coveted titles in the USA.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: USGA Senior Open a battle of survival

Not nearly as traumatic as the Ryu collapse, Jerry Kelly’s finish at The Broadmoor in Colorado was slower and more painful. The affable Wisconsinite held a two-shot advantage as the race turned down the home stretch. Miguel Angel Jimenez had lost his momentum, and no one else offered the guise of worthwhile challenger. Kelly made the tournament a tournament by challenging himself, with back-to-back bogeys at 11 and 12. Unable to summon a birdie on the road in, he watched as David Toms dropped a birdie at 16, moving to -3, alone at the top. Kelly finished tied for runner-up with Jimenez and Tim Petrovic at -2. Paired with the magnificent Spaniard on Sunday, Kelly watched helplessly as his putts failed to fall, and the Iberian sank 2 birdies of his own on the closing holes. As for Petrovic, he also birdied the final hole on Sunday, for his best-ever finish in a senior major championship.

EUROPEAN TOUR: French Open to Noren, unexpectedly

Remember the name Julian Suri. The USA-born product of Duke University may go down in professional golf history as a one-off winner. If that is the case, he will remember Sunday as the day his train derailed. Suri stood proudly at the 15th tee, owner of a three-shot lead on the field. Bogey there dropped him to a 2-shot margin. Closing quickly was Sweden’s Alex Noren. The certain Ryder Cup member for Europe birdied 16 and 17 to teach -7, one back of Suri as the American reached the final tee. He hooked his tee ball left, then dunked his approach in Lake Le Nacional, sinking his victory hopes with the little white orb. Suri finished in a 2nd-place tie with Scotland’s Russell Knox and England’s Chris Wood, one behind the two-time champion at Le Golf Nacional, site of this fall’s Ryder Cup matches.

In other, odd news, only Justin Thomas (t8) of the USA saw fit to play the course in competition. Are the Yanks overconfident? Are they over-scheduled? Do they see the French course as too similar to their own, and not worthy of a trial run? Don’t be surprised if Thomas is the USA’s shining light come September, and if the Red, White and Blue is unable to follow its 2016 triumph with a needed win on European soil.

WEB.COM TOUR: Lincoln Land Championship ablaze in birdies

When, if ever, did a golfer need to finish -20 to secure a spot IN THE TOP 10? It happened this weekend in the land of Lincoln, on the Web.Com tour. 19-under got you a tie for 11th and a decent check, but wow! Anders Albertson strung 66-66-64-63 together for -25 and a two-shot margin of victory over Adam Long and Kramer Hickok. Long had 63 of his own on day four, but pars at the last five holes must have felt like bogeys on a day when everyone went low. Hickok had the lead on Saturday evening, and didn’t play poorly on Sunday. His first dozen holes featured 1 birdie against all pars, as race car after race car sped past. Awakening at the next, he birdied four consecutive holes to move within a stroke of the leader. Needing more magic over the final 2 fairways, Hickok bogeyed the 17th to drop away from the chase. As the Web.Com Tour moves into my backyard this week at the LECOM Health Challenge, I hope that the supply of birdies has not been exhausted. We’re due for some 4th of July fireworks at the Peek’N Peak Resort.

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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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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

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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Equipment

Danny Willett’s Winning WITB: DP World Tour Championship

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Driver: Callaway Rogue (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana W 60x

3-wood: Callaway Rogue Fairway Wood (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana W 70X

Irons: Callaway X Forged Utility Irons (18, 21, 24 degrees), Callaway X Forged 18 Irons (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Superlite

Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged PW (48 degrees), Callaway Mack Daddy 4 Wedges (54, 58 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold

Putter: Odyssey Prototype (Stroke Lab)

Ball: Chrome Soft X

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Danny Willett spotted with new Odyssey prototype putter, putter shaft

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You may have seen Danny Willett’s name near the top of the leaderboard at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. At 10 under, the Englishman sits one stroke behind fellow countryman Matt Wallace.

You may not have seen, however, that the 2016 Masters champ has a new Odyssey prototype putter in the bag.

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

(Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

All the company would say

“Willett first put in his new gamer last week at the Nedbank Challenge. Willett’s prototype putter also features a new prototype Odyssey shaft to help improve the consistency of the putting stroke.”

Willet has historically favored his blade-style Odyssey O-Works #1 W. More recently, at the Turkish Airlines Open, we spotted him with an Odyssey Versa Jailbird Black. However, the prototype in question is clearly a heel-shafted mallet with a different insert than the 1 W or the Jailbird. The insert looks to be the White Hot Microhinge. Obviously, the two-tone, potentially multi-material, shaft, and the technology therein, is notable as well. Also apparently two-tone, the putter head, which looks similar in shape to a Tank Cruiser and similarly has a pair of sole weights.

Do we need the TG2 to break down the few photos we have like the Zapruder film? We’ll continue digging, in the meantime, let us know what you think, GolfWRX Members!

 

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