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Tour Rundown: 20 Ws for DJ, Yang’s third in Thailand, Trainer no longer

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While the arrival of a major championship or a World Golf Championship event heightens enthusiasm among viewers, it makes the job of Tour Rundown an arduous one. Other tours tend to take the week off (European, Web and Champions, for example, this week) and our intrepid investigators (me!) are forced to scour the planet for golf news. Fortunately, the Ladies European Tour and the PGA of Australia bailed us out this week, with wonderful events. With that said, here is this week’s GolfWRX Tour Rundown, highlighted by the WGC Mexico Championship.

Dustin Johnson double-decade in wins after WGC Mexico

We’ve come a long way since the USGA planted a tree, to stop Lon Hinkle from taking a US-Open shortcut. While purists bemoan the traversing of entire par fours in one mighty strike, it makes for great golf. Such was the tale at Chapultepec this week, as Rory and Rickie and DJ (and many others) took countless lines over treetops, arriving on or near the putting surface in one. Trouble still lurked, which made Dustin Johnson’s triumph an impressive tableau.

The lanky one drove the ball supremely all week, matched it with steely iron play and nervy recovery efforts. McIlroy tried mightily to put pressure on the 2015 US Open champion on Sunday, but Johnson responded each time with the shot required. In the end. DJ stood atop the pyramid with 21-under par, 5 shots clear of his pursuer from Northern Ireland. Paul Casey, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Ian Poulter came third at -11. His 20th tour win and 6th WGC title brought Johnson to 8th in FedEx Cup standings and 2nd in world golf rankings.

Yang claims 3rd LPGA Thailand title by 1

Make a note to bet Amy Yang in 2020, when the LPGA Tour returns to Thailand in February. The Korean-turned-Australian-turned Floridian made this year’s playing her 4th LPGA title, and 3rd in 5 years in the Land of Smiles. As for Minjee Lee, the young Korean-Aussie must wonder what more it takes to win. Despite four rounds in the 60s (one of two golfers to achieve this distinction all week), Lee came second to Yang’s 9-birdie Sunday effort.

Despite 2 bogeys in round four, Yang rode 5 consecutive front-nine birdies to 64 and victory. Lee had no blemishes on her Sunday card, but still came up one agonizing stroke from a playoff. Spain’s Carlota Ciganda also went stratospheric over the final 18. The Iberian had 2 eagles in her 63, and certainly imagined herself in the mix. Alas, her -20 was 2 off the pace and 1 behind Lee’s runner-up tally.

Trainer no longer, Martin wins on PGA Tour

After 2 Web.Com tour titles in 2018, Martin Trainer didn’t slow his roll one bit in Puerto Rico. The USC Trojan kept his 2018 Web.Com momentum at full speed at Rio Grande golf club this week. He overtook 54-hole leader Aaron Baddeley with a 7-birdie 67, and earned a convincing, 3-shot win over Baddeley and 3 cohorts.

The title was Trainer’s first in 11 events on tour. He had solo appearances in 2011 and 2014, all while working his way up from PGA Tour Latinoamerica to the Web, to the top shelf. Johnson Wagner was within a stroke of the winner late Sunday, but made bogey at 17 to fall 2 back. Trainer’s 72nd-hole birdie established the final victory margin. Wagner and Baddeley were joined by Roger Sloan and Daniel Berger in the runner-up stable.

Skarpnord earns 4th Ladies European Tour title in Australia

After 2 titles in 2K9, followed by another in 2K13, Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord waited 6 years to secure victory number four. She did so at the Australian Ladies Classic, by two shots over Spain’s Nuria Iturrios. Skarpnord and hometowner Hannah Green.

The only bumps along the road for the Norwegian appropriately came at the diabolical 13th. Skarpnor bogeyed the hole each day, accounting for 4 of her 11 bogeys on the week. The rest of the way, she was in control. 19 birdies, including the 71st and 72nd holes, gave her the 2-shot margin of victory over the runners-up. Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom owned a slim 3rd round over a host of players, but received no love from the Bonville course on Sunday. She ballooned to 75 and a t6 finish in the end.

Nisbet in control at Queensland PGA Championship

A wonderful competition ensued late Sunday, between Harrison Endycott and Deyen Lawson. In the end, the pair tied at -18. Officially, that tie represented second place, as Daniel Nisbet lapped the field by a 6-stroke margin. Nisbet’s greatest victory came in 2018, at the New Zealand Open. Since then, a spate of missed cuts and mediocre finishes have kept him mired near the 400th spot on the official world golf rankings. This week, however, was a different story. The Queenslander etched 24 birdies and 3 eagles onto his 4 scorecards this week, and closed with rounds of 63-63-64 after a ho-hum 66 in round one. The title is Nisbet’s 3rd in the past 2 seasons on his home tour.

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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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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Magical stuff on three tours

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Something happened this weekend. Something quite large in the world of professional sport. An athlete with a hearing impediment claimed victory on the world’s stage. Diksha Dagar, former world deaf championship winner and silver medalist in Deaflympics golf, chased down a victory on the Ladies European Tour. In this writer’s mind, the winners of the Players Championship and the Kenya Open, while deserving of praise, take a rightful backseat to a standard bearer.

Ladies European Tour – South African Open goes to Indonesia’s Diksha Dagar

Diksha began the week with a double bogey, and closed it with a trophy in hand. Not the traditional manner of claiming a first, major professional victory, but certainly one for a unique record book. The young Indonesian golfer totaled 76 that first day, but dropped 10 strokes on day two with 66, sitting just two behind the leader. Her only trouble was, the leader was home-country pro Lee-Anne Pace, in search of a 10th Euro Tour win, and first in five years.

On day three, Pace looked every bit a champion, and Dagar, equal parts runner-up. Scotland’s Michele Thomson and Germany’s Esther Henseleit were in the mix as well, ultimately tying for thrid spot at 3 under. As for the challengers? Pace stumbled with bogeys at 13 and 17, to finish at 4 under on the week. Dagar, in Pace’s words, played flawless golf and closed with birdies at 15 and 16, the later on a holed chip shot, to reach 5 under and claim victory. On this occasion, flawless was the diamond.

PGA Tour – The Players Championship has fitting champion on St. Patrick’s Day

At 2:20 EST, 18 golfers were within 2 shots of the lead at TPC Sawgrass. The leaders were in the throes of McIlrahmoid Fever, that wretched illness that strikes most golfers when much is on the line. Even thought it’s not an official major, the Players has every trapping of that august status: a course waiting to bite you on every shot, money, exempt status, peer respect, and P-R-E-S-S-U-R-E. In the end, only four golfers were within two shots of the lead, and two of them didn’t figure until late. Confused? Understandable.

In a nutshell: Jim Furyk made a run for the old guys, but came up one stroke shy. Jon Rahm hoped to claim that first big win of his professional career, but a wretched closing stretch did him in. Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day, Brian Harman and others all tap-danced their way into, then out, of contention. In the end, it was the leprechaun himself, Rory McIlroy, who recovered from an early double bogey with 33 on the inward half, to raise the trophy of many faces. McIlroy, birdied 11, 12, 15 and 16 on his way to 16-under par. The title certainly cements him as a potential favorite to finish the career grand slam next month at Augusta.

European Tour – Magical Kenya Open ends up in the hands of Migliozzi

Don’t think that others didn’t try to claim the 2019 Magical Kenya Open trophy. The statue of the strutting rhinoceros would make other baubles pale in comparison. The final nine holes of this year’s event were as compelling as the majestic beast whose visage went home with Guido Migliozzi. The first-time champion on the European Tour took the lead early on Sunday, lost it, then found it again with a run of six pars to the finish. His birdies on 10 and 12 were enough to reclaim the top spot, and pars held his space atop the podium.

Last week’s winner, Justin Harding of South Africa, made four birdies and an eagle from holes 10 to 18. It was his unfortunate bogey at lucky No. 13 that kept him one shot behind the Italian. Countryman Louis De Jager also reached 15 under, closing with seven frustrating pars, while in search of the elusive bird to reach 16 under or better. Spaniard Adri Arnaus jumped into the lead with three mid-round birdies, but gave it back with bogey at the par-5 12th. One more birdie coming home was just enough to join the tie for second with the South Africans.

 

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Tiger Woods working with putting coach Matt Killen at The Players

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Tiger Woods says he is fit and healthy ahead of this week’s Players Championship, and the 14-time major champion has putting coach Matt Killen alongside him at TPC Sawgrass as he seeks his third title at the event.

Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte broke the news on social media, and the move represents the first time Woods has had an instructor of any type since his split with Chris Como in 2017.

Woods struggled with the flat-stick at his last outing at the WGC-Mexico, where he three-putted six times. That event represented the first time that Woods has lost strokes to the field on the greens at a tournament since the Northern Trust back in August, and over his previous 24 rounds, the 43-year-old ranks 42nd in this week’s field for strokes gained putting.

Killen currently works with Justin Thomas, J.B. Holmes, Bud Cauley and Blayne Barber, and speaking to Golf Digest, the putting instructor stated on Monday that he likes what he sees in Woods’ stroke.

“His stroke looked good. His putting is better. I like what I see.”

Woods tees off on Thursday at 1.27 pm ET alongside Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed.

 

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Francesco Molinari joins Callaway tour staff; WITB details

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Callaway Golf has announced that the 2018 Open Champion, Francesco Molinari, has joined its tour professional staff.

Molinari will make his debut on the PGA Tour as a Callaway staffer this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he will game Callaway woods, irons, wedges, an Odyssey Putter, and a Chrome Soft Golf Ball, as well as a Callaway Staff Bag.

Regarding the announcement, the Italian had this to say

“I am joining Callaway because I’m so impressed by their equipment. More than anything, I’m looking forward to playing the new Epic Flash Driver and the Chrome Soft X Golf Ball. The ball speed gains that I’m getting from the driver are unbelievable. And this golf ball is the best one that I’ve ever played. The performance from tee-to-green, especially the feel and control, is exactly what I want.”

Speaking on the announcement, Callaway Senior VP of Global Sports marketing, Tim Reed stated

“We’re proud to welcome Francesco as our newest Callaway Staff Professional. We’re confident that he will play at an even higher level and enjoy many more great wins with Callaway equipment. He’s added ball speed off the driver with Flash Face Technology, and his performance on approach shots and around the greens has been spectacular with his new Callaway irons, wedges, and our Chrome Soft Ball.”

Currently in the Italian’s bag is an Odyssey Toulon Madison Putter which features a new Stroke Lab Shaft. Speaking on the putter which Molinari is presently using, Sean Toulon, SVP, Callaway Golf & GM, Odyssey Brand, said

“Francesco is a tremendous putter, and he really likes the milled performance he’s seeing from the Madison. And with the Stroke Lab Shaft he’s getting more consistency in the rhythm and the tempo of his stroke. It’s a combination that’s going to help him have a lot of success and make of a lot of big putts.”

Francesco Molinari WITB 2019

Driver: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei White 60 TX

Fairway wood: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei White 70 TX

Irons: Callaway Apex 19 (4-iron), Apex MB 18 Irons (5-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X 100

Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (50, 56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X 100

Putter: Odyssey Toulon Madison Stroke Lab

Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X

 

 

 

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