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Tour Rundown: The Champ is here

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If you’re a fan of international travel, fall professional golf is the time of year for you. With the men in Shanghai and Mississippi, the ladies in Taiwan, and the seniors in California, no two times zones were alike (almost). The world’s elite men enjoyed the fruits of their labors in Asia, while the up-and-comers attempted to make a name in the American southeast. The women and senior men find themselves in playoff chases, hoping to cap their years with the ultimate in triumphs. Join us for a rundown of all the week’s events.

Schauffele earns finest win in WGC Shanghai

Xander Schauffele was the quietest person frustrated by this year’s Ryder Cup USA performance. Widely recognized as the runner-up to Tony Finau for the last captain’s selection, Schauffele put his nose back to the grindstone and played well in September and October. He capped off the run by defeating the same Tony Finau in a playoff at the HSBC Champions World Golf Championship. Oh Irony! Schauffele  began the final round 3 strokes behind Finau, who was gunning for a signature win of his own. The Utah native didn’t play poorly, finishing four clear of Justin Rose, the 3rd-place combatant. Trouble for Finau was, Schauffele played some marvelous golf in round four. He combined six birdies with two bogeys for 68, reached the par-five 18th in two in the playoff, and calmly two-putted for birdie to claim the trophy as his own. Finau’s work was laudable, and his time on the big-stage podium will come soon enough. Imagine, if you will, the two of them paired in international competition. Team USA could do much worse than that.

Korda klaims first LPGA tour title in Taiwan

Back in 2013, when Nelly Korda was some 14 years of age, she qualified for the US Open at Sebonack and competed alongside her sister. Zip ahead to 2018, and Jessica’s younger sister made a breakthrough of her own. With no one running away with the Swinging Skirts Taiwan Championship, Korda played solid golf in round four and ascended to the top of the podium for the first time. Two birdies and an eagle might seem like a light load, but no bogies gave her 68, on a day when the low round totaled 66. That number came from Minjee Lee, who made a furious attempt to katch Korda. The Australian champion birdied her final two holes to close within two, but Korda was uncatchable, winning by two strikes at 13-under par.

Sanderson Farms comes down to a battle of Cs

Cameron, Corey and Carlos walked into a… golf tournament. Wouldn’t make a good joke opener, would it? That’s fine; it’s the story line behind this year’s Sanderson Farms championship in Jackson, MS. Corey (Connors) had made a run at events last season on the PGA Tour, and looked to establish himself as a strong finisher. Carlos (Ortiz) hoped to finally add a big-tour win to the trio of events he won on the Web.Com tour in 2014. As for Cameron (Champ), he’s only the next great thing according to some, the young beast in the eyes of others. Long off the tee and soft around the greens, Champ edged past the other two Cs and won his first PGA Tour event by four strokes. Owner of a four-stroke lead after 54 holes, Champ made a pair of bogeys at 7 and 8 to offer hope to his pursuers. Not much later (holes 13 through 18) Champ dashed their hopes with five birdies over the closing 6 holes. The victory moved Champ into the top 6 on the 2018-19 FedEx Cup race, and gave unsustainable bylines to golf journalists everywhere.

Parel nonpareil in Sherwood

Scott Parel began the year with a little-heralded win in an unofficial event. His triumph at the Diamond Resorts Invitational in January set an unforgettable year in motion. It would take until August for the former Web.Com winner to claim his first senior title, but the 2nd came less than two months later. Parel and others watched as Miguel Angel Jimenez tumbled from the top spot on Sunday with a 73, offering the field a chance to steal a victory. Parel notched two birdies on each side of the scorecard, strayed not once into bogeyland, and came out on top by one stroke over Paul Goydos. The runner-up did nothing to hurt his chances, parlaying 5 birdies and 0 bogies into a delightful 67. Kenny Perry looked to have the best chance to overtake Parel, starting 6-under through 13 holes. The Kentuckian was unable to dig any lower, and finished solo third at 8-under, two behind Goydos.

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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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19th Hole

I wasn’t ready for the 2019 Rules of Golf

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We weren’t ready. We thought we were, but we weren’t.

For the last year, the USGA reminded us that in 2019 Rules of Golf were coming, but we didn’t listen. We heard the flag stick could remain in and we heard that you could take a penalty drop from knee-height.

But we didn’t listen.

I bet none of you have even practiced using your putter to flatten the entire green between your ball and the cup. You can do that now.

I’m also sure that you and I will continue to hover our club in all hazards, er, penalty areas. Yeah, we’re calling it a penalty area now.

The USGA went to the extreme depths of changing words all to simplify the game for you.

I don’t think the USGA listened either.

The rule changes were intended to speed up play and simplify golf for amateurs. Seems like a good idea. In turn, they may have bamboozled the PGA Tour while confusing the only amateurs who kind-of, sort-of knew the rules.

The pros didn’t need a new rule book, the amateurs just needed a simple one.

Us “locals” as the USGA refers to amateurs, do have one extremely fluid perk. When hitting a ball OB, or following a lost ball, you can drop with a two-stroke penalty instead of walking back to the tee. This of course, is dependent on your course, head professional, tournament conditions, and other factors including and not limited to what phase the moon is in.

If that’s somewhat confusing, read up, ask about your local rules, and buy a few extra sleeves. Reason being, in 2019, the limit on searching for a golf ball has been cut from five to three minutes.

2019-rules-of-golf

But wait, there’s good news.

Thanks to the USGA, if you accidentally move your ball as you frantically high-step through fescue, it’s no longer a penalty! What an exciting 180 seconds that will be!

If you somehow don’t find your golf ball in the hazard penalty area, the USGA tried to help us out, which they did, yet regrettably took away a more iconic portrait on the golf course.

The rigid, stoic stance and forceful drop of a ball at shoulder-height.

And we let it happen.

Now, we’ll watch a defeated man deliberately bend to his knees and gingerly drop his ball…Which, by the way, appears to be a convenient way for cheaters to “take a drop” that ideally doubles as “identifying my first ball”.

Don’t even get me started on the back issues this could flare up.

We heard in late 2018 that Bryson DeChambeau would use the flagstick when the odds were in his favor. He even laid it out simply for us.

“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick.”

Simple.

We didn’t listen Bryson, we didn’t believe. We also have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.

But hey, as Bryson would say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Yeah, he’d clearly never say that, but here’s to hoping!

We heard he would do it, but we didn’t believe it. We had to see to believe. What we saw was DeChambeau first in strokes gained putting in the very first round he was allowed to do it.

Obviously, this trend will continue for DeChambeau, and others may join in, because what is golf if not a constant chase for a marginally better opportunity at success.

Watch your back, because those others that may join in could be closer than you think. You may turn around to find a fellow member asking for the flag on their next 12-footer.

It should be a fun year of commentary and confusion at your local club and on the PGA tour. Professionals will have constant questions for rules officials, and commentators will consistently question Bryson’s methods.

There is one real question I hope is answered this April.

What will we do when Bryson banks in a downhill putt at No. 2 of Augusta?

Will we be ready? Will Augusta?

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News

Stewart Cink pens multi-year deal with Ping

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Ping Golf has announced that six-time winner on the PGA Tour, Stewart Cink, has signed a multi-year deal with the company.

The deal will see the American play a minimum of 11 Ping clubs, as he looks to end an almost decade long winless streak on the PGA Tour. Cink had previously been an equipment-free agent (having been a Nike man prior to that) although he had been using Ping clubs for the majority of the last season.

Speaking on the addition of Stewart Cink to Team Ping, company president John K. Solheim stated

“Stewart has a long track record of success and overall consistency, evidenced by his wins, top 10s in majors, and the fact that he has competed on five U.S. Ryder Cup teams and in four Presidents Cups.

“He has instant credibility, and we know him well because he has played Ping irons for many years. Our tour staff has been impressed by his professionalism and his knowledge of equipment. We’re delighted to be associated with Stewart.”

Cink will make his first start as a Ping staff player at this week’s Sony Open. According to the company, the 2009 Open Championship winner is expected to have Ping’s G400 LST driver, G400 fairways woods, i25 irons and Sigma 2 Arna putter in the bag this week at Waialae Country Club.

No details of the financial terms of the arrangement have been disclosed.

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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

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align

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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19th Hole

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