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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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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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Tour News

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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Popular Photo Galleries

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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