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Tour Rundown: Jimenez wins the Senior Open at St. Andrews

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The essence of professional golf remained outside the USA as July soldiered on. The PGA Tour contested the Canadian national championship near Toronto, while the LPGA and Ladies European Tours visited the Open championship of Scotland in East Lothian. Of even greater importance, the senior men journeyed to the home of golf for the Senior Open championship. Many unique ingredients in the batter, so let’s blend up a Tour Rundown and see how it tastes.

DJ claims third victory of season at Canadian Open

One thing you can say about Dustin Johnson: he bounces back well. After his first missed cut of the season, Johnson traveled across the Atlantic and played outstanding golf in Oakville. His work over the Glen Abbey course was without peer, and he ambled his way to a 3-shot victory over Whee Kim and Byeong Hun An. That trio began day 4 in a first-place tie. While Johnson and An had won on the professional stage, Kim had not. Johnson threw down his challenge on the outward half, playing 3-under golf over the opening nine holes. Neither challenger remained apace, and the 2016 U.S. Open champion built a comfortable lead. Then came a mid-round rain delay, and the spirits of the challengers returned. Kim played 3-under over the closing nine, while An closed in minus-two.

Unfortunately for the them, Johnson upped his game as well. He birdied each of the back-nine, par-five holes, after making his only bogey of the round at number twelve. By round’s end, Johnson was in at 23-under par, sufficient to wear the Canadian Mountie’s hat for the first time. The victory was the 19th of his increasingly-storied career, and moved him over 500 points ahead of Justin Thomas in the FedEx Cup points race. An moved to 36th spot, while Kim jumped to 51st on the same list.

Senior Open belongs to Jiménez after unmatched week

Miguel Ángel Jiménez might remember 2018 as the year he learned to close out a senior major championship. The 54-year old champion from southern Spain had captured the fancy and imagination of the golfing public, morphing from The Mechanic to the The most interesting golfer in the world. Cigars, knee swirls and a unique hairstayle will do that for a man. Throughout his career, the major-championship column remain unchecked. In May, Jiménez claimed the Tradition, and this week, he added a second at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Dueling down the stretch with the eternal poise of Bernhard Langer, Jiménez eeked out a single-shot victory over the German, 12-under to 11-under.

Both golfers went away from the start in great fashion. Jiménez was -4 on the day through 12 holes, while Langer stood at the same figure, through 8. This week, the winds played against on the homeward run, and neither golfer could post much red on the inward trek. Scott McCarron played the back nine in minus-3, a move that elevated him to T3 with Stephen Ames and Kirk Triplett. A unique two-putt, from the 18th tee to the 17th green, preserved the Spaniard’s advantage and par at the last was enough to join him forever, with countryman Seve Ballesteros, as winners of Open championships at The Old Course.

Jutanugarn holds off Lee for Scottish Open

The golf courses of Gullane put on a show this month for fans of golf. This week, the ladies contested their Scottish Open over the sublime layouts, and two golfers matched skills down the stretch. World number-one Ariya Jutanugarn held off Australia’s Minjee Lee by a single shot, claiming her 3rd title of 2018, and 2nd national championship of that stretch. The Thai golfer reached 13-under par, 1 ahead of Lee and 5 beyond 3rd place Jin Young Ko and Haeji Kang.

Through the first 6 holes on Sunday, Lee had assumed a one-stroke lead over the 2018 U.S. Open champion. Jutanugarn’s only bogey came at that 6th hole, but she rebounded with immediacy, making birdie at 4 of the next 5 holes. Lee was 2-under over that same stretch, but could only watch as Jutanugarn moved one ahead. As they came to the last, Lee found herself 10 feet from birdie, while Jutanugarn faced a tricky pitch shot over creased fairway. The potential for a 2-stroke swing was nigh, but Jutanugarn’s touch was exquisite. Her ball nested 1 foot from the hole, forcing Lee to make birdie to tie. She erred, and the title belonged to Ariya, her third of the season.

Price Cutter Charity is Trainer’s second win of 2018

Martin Trainer occupies third spot on the Web.Com Tour’s money list. He has 2 victories in this calendar year, yet he might be the most unrecognizable star of the 2018 season. After winning in Mexico in March, Trainer missed 7 of 8 cuts and, until a T9 finish in Utah this month, had not finished inside the top 50 on tour. He missed the cut last week in Missouri, but destiny again inserted her hand, and Trainer again found his game. He opened with a 10-birdie 62 on Thursday, played three more rounds in the 60s, and survived a Henrik Norlander, weekend charge with a birdie of his own at the 72nd hole. The victory elevated the Southern Cal alumnus from 24th to his current 3rd, secure in the knowledge that a 2018-19 PGA Tour card awaits.

All credit to Norlander for applying pressure. After opening with 68, he survived the lowest-ever cut on the Web.Com Tour (-7) with 67 on day 2. Scores of 65 and 64 on the weekend moved him oh-so-close to the top. His season has featured consistent yet unspectacular play, with a T8 at LECOM earlier this month, his previous best. Like Trainer, he birdied the final hole, and finished 24-under par. The runner-up finish moved him 30 spots on the season-long race for The 25, to 22nd position.

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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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  1. Gurn Blanstin

    Jul 31, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Wish that we could see a bunch of Senior WITB… Watson? Lehman? Etc…

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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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