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Tour Rundown: Georgia Hall wins the Women’s Open for England

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If you blink, the golf season will be over. The dog days of August feature a WGC, followed by the PGA, then the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs … and that’s just the PGA Tour. The professional lady golfers contested their 4th major of the year at the British Open, while the Champions and Web.Com tours were also in action. If that’s not enough, the European and American PGA tours featured bonus events in Fiji and Nevada. It was a smorgasbord of delights for the epicurean golfer, so let’s run down this week’s ample buffet.

Bridgestone Invitational swan song at Firestone

When he wasn’t blasting 375-yard drives, Justin Thomas was placing his approach shots closer than the competition. Those two figures added up to a 9th tour win and a first WGC championship for the young man from the hills of Kentucky. The 2017 PGA champion opened with 65-64, good for a tie with Ian Poulter atop the board. Thomas went a bit higher with 67 on Saturday, but it was quite good against Poulter’s even-par 70. On Sunday, while Dustin Johnson was sending shivers with an outward 29, Thomas continued to play with confidence and guile. Firestone has always been an air-ball course, and with the deeper drives of the contemporary player, the angles have changed. Thomas figured those out better than anyone this week, and brought a fine champion in the final year of Firestone on the PGA Tour. As Poulter drifted farther off, to a tie for 10th, Kyle Stanley took advantage of the opening and posted 68 for 11-under, and solo second.

Women’s British Open trophy will stay in England

14 years passed since Karen Stupples last won the British Open for England. In 2018, Georgia Hall played her way into the final game at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s. Paired with Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum, the 22-year old Hall began the 4th day with 3 birdies in her first 6 holes … and lost ground! Phatlum scorched the opening third with 4 birdies of her own, Bogey at the 8th appeared to derail the Thai golfer’s momentum, and she did not birdie again until the 15th. Meanwhile, Hall kept her card clean, then added birdies at 13, 15 and 16 to wrest the lead from Phatlum. Both players showed nerves over the closing stretch. Phatlum made a double-bogey 6 at the 17th, to finish on 15-under par. Hall closed with bogey, but had enough strokes in the suitcase to close at 17-under, 2 strokes clear of Phatlum. The win was Hall’s first major, and first LPGA Tour victory.

Barracuda Championship belongs to Putnam

We know that the PGA Tour will return to Montreux golf and country club, in Reno, next July. The event will have a new sponsor, but hopefully, the same format. A good Stableford, with 5 or 7 points on the line at the last hole, keeps everyone’s attention. Andrew Putnam came to the last hole with a 4 point lead, but up ahead, Chad Campbell faced an eagle pitch. Three at the last would have moved him ahead of Putnam, forcing the former Pepperdine golfer to make birdie for the win. Campbell could only summon birdie, meaning that Putnam only needed bogey to cinch his first Tour victory. He didn’t make it easy, with a drive into the rough and an approach shot, short of the green. Electing to putt, Putnam dropped his 4th for birdie, restoring his 4-point margin of victory. The biggest mover on day 4 was William McGirt, whose 20 points more than doubled Putnam’s 9. McGirt moved from 49th to 6th spot, and into 111th on the FedEx Cup points list.

KC Golf Classic comes down to wire in Overland Park

The list of recognizable Austrian golfers is a short one. It might begin and end with Bernd Wiesberger, unless you  are a true aficionado of the sport. With more performances like Sunday’s, Sepp Straka might make his way onto the radar screen. He’s so new, the Web.Com Tour site hadn’t updated his profile with career victory number one as of 6 am on Monday. Straka’s performance was up, down, and all around, but in the end, good enough for a 1-shot margin of victory over Kyle Jones. The 25-year old’s distaste for par was evident; he only made 7 in round 4. Seven birdies and 4 bogeys gave him 69 on day four. When Jones went from fairway bunker to fringe to bogey at the last, the door was open. Playing in the same group as Jones, Straka did him one better: fairway bunker to greenside bunker to par, for a double sandy and victory.

3M Championship goes to nervous Kenny Perry

Is it possible to shoot a 60 that never had a chance to be a 59? Kenny Perry did just that on Saturday of the 3M Championship. His round was a thing of beauty, 8-under through 15 holes. He certainly would find himself near the top of the board. Perry closed birdie-birdie-eagle for 12-under on the day. Whooooooo. On Sunday, they say, the hardest thing to do is follow a super-low round with one good enough to win. Perry bucked the trend, survived back-to-back bogeys on the front nine, and finished off a 3-shot victory over Wes Short, jr. The runner-up did his best Perry impression, going 9-under on day three to apply pressure. Perry was solid on the inward half, posting three birdies for his 9th win on the Champions tour.

European Tour: Fiji International to Bhullar with late heroics

How did he do this! Gaganjeet Bhullar missed a short birdie putt at 16 to close within one of leader Anthony Quayle. Quayle had just ripped a long iron to eagle range at the penultimate hole, then drained the putt to reach -14, or so we thought. Bhullar misplayed his 2nd to the par-five 17th, leaving a 30-yard pitch to the flag. Quayle made par at the last, and the television folk called it a fine, 10-under 62, a new course record. As cards were being signed, it was learned that Quayle had made an early bogey, and that his course record was 63, not 62. And Bhullar? Just a little pitch-in for eagle at 17, followed by par at 18 for a one-shot victory, the 9th of his career.

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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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. ogo

    Aug 9, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Watching womens golf is about as exciting as watching a toilet flush, over and over again. Same with womens tennis where all the players are leggy girls from Eastern Europe… while the golfers are short stubby Asians. Bleeech… 😮

  2. Robert

    Aug 6, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Georgia Hall showed nerves of steel coming down the stretch birdying 3 of the last 6 holes. On 18 she hit a very good shot from the right rough to get on the green. From there a safe 3-putt secured the Major win.

    Of some WITB coincidence, both Georgia Hall and Andrew Putnam were using Odyssey Rossi Mallets.

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Tour Rundown: Pepperell wins the British masters, Leishman wins in Malaysia, Langer wins again

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October, and the trees are stripped bare, of all they wear. U2

Perhaps it’s due to its status as my birth month, or something larger and deeper. October is a raw month, as April was cruel for Eliot. It is raw in its golf, too. Of the four events played this week, only one took place in the USA. Touring professionals left the summer of majors behind, to journey globally, in search of answers and questions. They went to Malaysia, England and Korea (and let’s not forget, North Carolina.) Names both familiar and emerging claimed trophies, and the game marched on. Here’s a Sunday rundown of all things tour, mid-October.

CIMB in Malaysia in Leishman’s hands

Marc Leishman’s brilliance with golf cudgels is know well to his touring brethren. To the golfing public, which measures fame in little more than major victories, he is an enigma. And here was Leishman, on Sunday at Kuala Lumpur, schooling playing partner Gary Woodland and the rest of the field with a brilliant 65. There were lower scores, but just barely (a pair of 64s.) Leishman had 62 earlier in the week, but was a wee bit overlooked, as Woodland had 61 the same day. On Sunday, there was no mistaking the two. Leishman rushed from the gate with birdies on hole 2 through 5, scarcely glancing rearward at the trailers. He summited 26 strokes beneath par, equalling the tournament record and placing him five clear of the runners-up. Woodland tried to keep pace, but fell off the rails midway through the inward half. 3 bogeys in 5 holes did him in, dropping him back to a tie for 5th at -20. 2nd spot on the podium belonged to the american trio of Emiliano Grillo (Argentina), Chesson Hadley and Bronson Burgoon (both USA). The victory compelled Leishman to 2nd spot on the young FedEx Cup list for 2018-19.

Hana Bank belongs to Dumbo

If In Gee Chun had her way, the golfer nicknamed Dumbo would scamper off by gobs of strokes with each tournament. Owner of an unfortunate 0-3 record in LPGA Tour playoffs, the Korean golfer wants no part of extra holes. While 3rd-round leader Charley Hull of England struggled with birdie-bogey runs, Chun birdied 4 of her first 6 holes and separated herself by 3 strokes from the field. Out in 31, she resisted the lure of a 10th-hole bogey and added 2 more birdies to reach 16-under par. Hull and company could not close the gap, and the Englishwoman settled for 2nd at -13. Chun began the week with matching 70s, to place herself inside the top 20, but not yet a threat. Her weekend was nearly flawless, as she matched 66s on Saturday and Sunday, to emerge from the multitude. The win was her first, non-major victory on the LPGA Tour, coming after triumphs at the 2015 US Open and the 2016 Evian Championship.

Ace, Ace, Baby propels Pepperell to British Masters title

It was a rugged, mucky affair on Sunday at Walton Heath, born of the talented hand of architect Herbert Fowler. Eddie Pepperell, who spends a fair amount of time mucking around on Twitter, was the man for the job. He began the day at -9, and ended the day at that figure. Most times, even par gets you nowhere on tour; on this particular Sunday, it got you to the top of the podium. Pepperell had four eagles on the week, including an ace on Thursday and the hole-out below for a deuce on Sunday. The winner made a massive putt for par on 14, which probably saved his round. He bogeyed 15 and 16 to let Alexander Bjork into the tournament. The Swede was unable to capitalize, bogeying 18 to offer Pepperell a 2-stroke advantage at the home hole. The Englishman finished in proper form, getting up and down for par from a greenside bunker to win by a pair.

By the way, if you want a crack at Fowler in North America, visit Eastward Ho! on Cape Cod (which he built) or Pebble Beach, whose 18th hole he extended to its current glory.

SAS Championship almost never in doubt for Bernhard Langer

Bernhard Langer made a single bogey in 54 holes this week. The inconceivable occurrence happened precisely at the midway point of the tournament, on the 27th hole of SAS Championship. Astronomers at the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico acknowledged a slight orbital shift at that very moment, while CERN scientists reported … oh, never mind. Langer had made 8 birdies in 9, back-nine holes on Friday for 29 on the par-37 side. It was ultimately his week, although Gene Sauers kept pace for a while. The duo matched 62-67 through 36 holes, but Sunday was all Germany. Langer had 7 birdies on the day for 65, leaving him 6 strokes clear of 2nd-place Scott Parel. Sauers struggled in round three, tumbling all the way to a tie for 5th spot, after a +3 75.

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How a broken 6-iron changed Eddie Pepperell’s 2018

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When Eddie Pepperell was scrambling around local golf shop Auchterlonies in Scotland on the week of The Open Championship looking for an emergency replacement shaft for his 6-iron, he probably didn’t believe that moment would change the trajectory of his 2018. That incident, however, played a considerable role in Pepperell’s wire-to-wire victory at last week’s British Masters.

In Scotland, Pepperell had his 6-iron fitted with the KBS C-Taper shaft, and according to Mizuno’s Matt McIsaac, at The Open that week, he hit his 6-iron better than any other club over the four days on his way to a T6 finish.

Fast-forward to last week’s British Masters, and on the Monday of the event, the Englishman was to have a filming session with Mizuno where the company would demonstrate to him its shaft optimizer.  Pepperell was then taken through Mizuno’s 3-swing diagnostic process, where lo and behold they recommended the KBS C-Taper shaft to him.

Described as “very much a feel player” by McIsaac, Pepperell equipped himself that day with a new set of JPX 919 Tour irons, with KBS C Taper shafts, and then went on to win the British Masters just a few days later.

What should we glean from this story? Well according to Matt McIsaac, it’s that there is a best fit shaft out there for everyone.

“There’s a ‘best fit’ shaft for everyone – for Eddie; it was the KBS C Taper – for someone else it will be the S Taper.  Wait for the moment when you’re open to improvement, throw away your preconceptions and try the Optimizer.  It doesn’t know if you’re male, female a tour winner or a 24 hcp – just measures your move and finds the best shaft for it.”

With last week’s victory, Pepperell, who sat 133rd in the Official World Golf Rankings at the beginning of the year, is now ranked 33rd in the world and looks assured of a place at Augusta National next year for the Masters.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: UnLeished: Malaysia edition | New theories on BK vs. DJ | King-Collins’ time?

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1. UnLeished in Malaysia
Somehow, Marc Leishman remains unheralded. Thrice a winner in the past two seasons, the big Australian, No. 16 in the world, is eminently deserving of his due
  • AP Report…”Leishman shot a 7-under 65 in the final round to win the CIMB Classic Sunday by five strokes and equal the tournament course record.”
  • “The Australian was in fine form as he strolled to his fourth PGA Tour title and matched Justin Thomas’ tournament record of 26-under 262 in 2015 on the PGA Kuala Lumpur West course.
  • “Leishman started strongly with four birdies in the first five holes, before turning in another long birdie putt on the ninth for 31.”
  • ‘Two more birdies on the 10th and 16th followed and sandwiched his lone bogey at the 13th, before he birdied the final hole and celebrated with a fist pump.”
2. Pepperell resurgent
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait with the context…”Hard to believe Eddie Pepperell had to return to the European Tour Qualifying School at the end of 2016, and was outside the top 500 in the world in May last year. Now he’s a two-time European Tour winner and a world top 40 player.”
  • “The 27-year-old is looking forward to his Masters debut after victory in the $4 million Sky Sport British Masters at Walton Heath, his second European Tour victory, and second of the season following the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in February. Pepperell led wire to wire, returning a level-par 72 in the final round for a 9-under 279 to grind out a one-shot victory over Sweden’s Alexander Bjork.”
  • “The first-place check of $658,000 takes Pepperell to seventh on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, and into the top 40 of the Official World Golf Ranking.”
3. Chun’s 14th
In the midst of its Asian Swing like the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour saw In Gee Chun hoist the trophy at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship at SKY72 Golf & Resort, Ocean Course for her first victory of the year and her first W since the 2016 Evian Championship.
  • LPGA.com report...”The 24-year-old South Korean native carded seven birdies, along with a lone bogey, to finish three strokes clear of 54-hole leaders Charley Hull, who placed second, and Danielle Kang, who was four shots adrift.”
  • “Before this week, I won 13 times as a professional,” said Chun, who clinched the third LPGA win of her career. “I am glad that I am done with the No. 13. I really hate that number.
4. Reminder: Bernhard Langer is still the king of senior golf
In case you’d forgotten…
John Strege writes…”It was only an illusion, the appearance that Bernhard Langer, at 61, had begun his initial descent to age-induced mediocrity. His six-shot victory in the SAS Championship on Sunday put that notion to rest.”
  •  “It was his second victory of the season (he has finished second five times), second in the SAS Championship (he won in 2012) and his 38th on the PGA Tour Champions, second only to Hale Irwin’s 45.”
  • “Langer shot a seven-under par 65 at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., equaling the lowest round of the day. He played 54 holes in a tournament record 22-under par 194. Scott Parel finished second by also shooting a 65, while Langer’s 36-hole co-leader Gene Sauers shot a three-over 75 and tied for fifth.”
5. Golf’s most improved
David Dusek calculated the calculations, analyzed the algorithms, and dissected the digits to determine the Tour’s most improved players.
  • Harris English, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Nicholas Lindhelm, and Patton Kizzire top the list in imroved SG:T2G play.
6. More about DJ vs. BK
The Forecaddie digs into one of the lingering mysteries from Le Golf National…
  • “The Forecaddie has asked around and thanks to two eyewitnesses, can confirm Koepka’s assertion that there are no issues between his gym buddy and good friend Johnson. Turns out, Koepka may be up for Nobel Peace Prize consideration down the road since TMOF hears he was preventing his pal getting into a more serious brouhaha with someone at the party.”
  • “While Koepka might have been the subject of DJ ire for a few seconds after intervening, the light tussling between them understandably led to multiple eyewitnesses confirming the Telegraph report of a fight between them to Golf Digest. But The Forecaddie’s ears, and even Furyk in a Golf Channel interview last week, confirmed Koepka was acting as a friend in getting Johnson to cool off. Koepka, the U.S. Open and PGA Champion and probably the only person capable of corralling Johnson, ushered him off to a cab for a late-night fresh air spin around Versailles and away from the Ryder Cup team hotel bedlam.”
A new mystery is born! Who was DJ so mad at? TMOF has heard whispers but isn’t saying…
7. A breakthrough for King-Collins?
I interviewed Rob Collins in 2015 and have been a fan of the man and his work ever since
At the time of the interview, Sweetens Cove’s architect thought business was about to pick up for the firm.
Golfweek’s Martin Kaufmann suggests there could soon be fire where there has been much smoke…”Even in the current environment, in which few new courses are being built and architects are more focused on renovations and restorations, one would have thought King and Collins already would have parlayed Sweetens Cove into additional assignments. Collins insists he and King are close to a breakthrough.”
“We have got a bunch of irons in the fire,” Collins said recently while driving to Mississippi to watch his nephew’s high school football game. “We’ve got more inquiries right now than we’ve ever had.”
“The design team – Collins is the architect, while King oversees construction – is working with PGA Tour player Zac Blair on plans for The Buck Club, Blair’s dream club in Utah, though a timeframe for that project has not been announced. Collins is hopeful that he and King will start a nine-hole renovation project in New York soon, and he said the pair has had nibbles on proposed jobs in South Carolina and Michigan. Collins also mentioned tentative talks regarding a 100-acre site near Knoxville, where he dreams of building something like El Boquerón, the mythical Alister MacKenzie design with two greens per hole.”
8. Tree tattle tale
Scanning the latest arboreal happenings in Maryland, and, oh boy…
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall writes…”According to the Washington Post, Congressional, past home to U.S. Opens and future site of the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup, has been cited by inspectors in Maryland’s Montgomery County for failing to obtain a permit for tree removal. The Post reports that officials discovered “over 20,000 sq. ft. of tree canopy” had been trimmed from the property.”
  • “Inspectors technically received notice from Helen Wood, a board member of the environmental nonprofit organization Conservation Montgomery. “We all have a stake, really, in their trees,” Wood told the Post.
  • “However, Wood was tipped off on the club’s dealings by someone on the inside. Specifically, a Congressional member who was fed up with the new look…”I am [upset] because they’re ruining my club,” the member told the Post, speaking on anonymity because, let’s be honest, this person is losing his/her membership once their identity’s revealed. “I think they don’t want members to fuss. I think it [was] also quietly done so it didn’t draw attention from the county.”
9. All credit to mum
Sounds like Eddie Pepperell’s mother played a vital role in his British Masters win. Cheers, Mrs. Pepperell. .
  • Phil Casey of the Belfast Telegraph writes…”Pepperell’s three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke when he three-putted the ninth – where he enjoyed a hole-in-one on Thursday – and Bjork covered the front nine in 34.”
  • “However, Pepperell then promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and, although bogeys on the 15th and 16th set up a nervous finish, the 27-year-old from Oxfordshire saved par from a bunker on the last to seal a deserved win.”
  • “The credit for the eagle goes to my mum Marian because she gave me some mittens as I was walking off the 10th tee,” Pepperell joked. “I didn’t swing it well and it was a grind.”

 

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