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Tour Rundown: More May showers from England to Texas

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The ladies of the LPGA and LET had the week off, so we’ll have to make due with the lads. No worries there, as 5 of the world’s major professional tours were in action. “Fairway Jesus,” as David Feherty likes to call Tommy Fleetwood, hosted the British Masters in Southport, England, while the Asia-Pacific Open was contested in Japan. Stateside, the Webbies were in Kansas City MO, while the Oldsters did battle in the first of back-to-back, major championships on PGA Tour Champions. Finally, the regular PGA Tour met in Dallas at the linksy Trinity Forest, where rain did its best to delay and detour. Ultimately, the players sneaked in 72 holes.

We find ourselves in the midst of a new major timetable. From April to July, on at least one tour each week, a major is to be contested. More attention for that tour, more of a chance for establishment (or redemption) of one’s career, is on the books. Pay close attention this week at Bethpage, when the PGA Championship debuts in May, or next week in Rochester, when the Senior PGA returns to Oak Hill. With no disrespect intended toward other professional tournaments, major titles are the ones that catch the attention of the lightweight golf fan, turning her or him into a passionate one, if only for a weekend. On, then, to this week’s Tour Rundown.

PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Classic has one victor, but much gratitude

While Sung-hoon Kang left Trinity Forest with a trophy and a big check, a handful of other golfers left with confidence. Coming into the season of many majors, that’s just as valuable. Kang lost the lead on Saturday to Matt Every, then reclaimed it Sunday morning, during the 3rd round restart. The two golfers handed the top spot back and forth through the entirety of the final 18 holes. Every had 5 birdies (and one bogey) over the first 6 holes, then Kang made a run with birdies from 14 through 16. The only way to separate was to play perfect golf, and the winds, wetness and diversity at Trinity Forest didn’t allow that, not for anyone in the final round. Check that. Scott Piercy was perfect. He birdied 6 of his first 8 holes to reach -20. He needed to reach 9-under on the day, but only one more birdie awaited. He tied Every at -21, two behind the victor.

In addition to Every and Piercy, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Peter Uihlein, Rory Sabbatini, Matt Jones and Tyler Duncan also came away with top-five finishes. Knowing that they were a run of birdies away from a challenge will stand them well as they travel half a country north, to near Long Island. Bethpage Black could not differ more from this week’s venue, but don’t tell that to those who left Dallas with the greatest prize: their confidence.

European Tour witness to Kinhult’s first triumph

Host Tommy Fleetwood gave everything he had to the 2019 British Masters, but with 6 holes remaining, he ran out of gas in an effort to hand himself the trophy. Next came defending champion Eddie Pepperell, he of the enviable wit and golf game. Pepperell reached the clubhouse at -15, and with golfers falling to their apparent doom behind him, looked a solid bet to at least reach extra holes. Bobby MacIntyre of Scotland joined the defender at 15 below par, and the pair waited for the final group to conclude play. Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult, with no wins to his name, played solid golf through the 14th, as Matthew Wallace alongside failed to separate himself from the field. Still chuffed at being ignored for a Ryder Cup captain’s pick last fall, Wallace has played with a sizable chip on his shoulder ever since. Over the closing six holes, with a chance to seize victory, the Englishman made six unfortunate pars, finishing on -15 with the earlier pair. Kinhult played as expected, making consecutive bogeys at 15 and 16 to begin to fall away. Just as suddenly, when all was certainly lost, he returned birdies at 17 and 18 to reach 16-under and shock the tournament field. With the win, the Swede’s OWGR status of 210 will certainly change, as he moves close to the top 100. For Wallace, an opportunity lost. For Pepperell, a near-defense. For MacIntyre, validation.

Gellerman claims first Web win at KC Golf Classic

Did anyone win this week, who hadn’t won before? I don’t think so. Holy smokes! In truth, I had no idea who Michael Gellerman was before today. I found his profile on the Web.Com Tour page, and thought that he possessed a face that combined Chris Farley with a young Ron Howard. In other words, middle America. Before today, Gellerman ranked 75th on tour; this evening, he sits at #8. Good week, wouldn’t you say? For the majority of the weekend, I expected that Argentina’s Nelson Ledesma would break through for his first victory. The Platense had 65 on Saturday, but certainly didn’t expect a 17-par, 1-bogey Sunday. Despite the absence of fuel on day four, Ledesma finished one excruciating stroke behind, in a tie for 2nd with Harry Higgs. Unlike the PGA Tour this week, many players had to feel like they let this one slip away, beginning with Ledesma. Luke Guthrie and Jack Maguire were even on the day and finished 3 back. Kyle Reifers was +1 on the day and sat alongside, at -8. Gellerman’s winning round was opportunistic: he made a birdie here, than a bunch of pars. Another birdie, then a second string of pars. When he birdied the 13th, the game was on. No one would catch him, and season-long goals would need a review.

Asian Tour sees Asaji’s inaugural victory on home soil

It seems that a stellar young prospect emerges from Japan every decade or so. Ryo Ishikawa and Hideki Matsuyama have shown their skills in recent years, and the future seems bright for amateur Ren Yonezawa, who posted 2-under par this week at the Sobu country club. That number tied him with the USA’s Micah Lauren Shihn at the end of 72 holes, but the pair found itself staring up at Yosuke Asaji, who eclipsed them by one with -3 total. The victory was Asaji’s first on the Asian Tour, Asaji and Shin were the front-runners entering round four, but each struggle to a +1 score of 72 on the final day. In contrast, Yonezawa played brilliantly, tying for low round of the day with 68. For Asaji, the victory validated years of toil on practice ranges and putting greens; for the young Yonezawa, the almost-was signals an opportunity to ascend the WAGA rankings and perhaps make a career of professional golf one day.

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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 Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Albertsons Boise Open

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GolfWRX bypassed the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship in the early part of the week (we made it there Thursday!) for the road less traveled this week: The Korn Ferry Tour. Specifically, we have a full buffet of photos from the range at the Albertsons Boise Open, including a full plate of WITB looks.

Here are 10 interesting photos from the Albertsons Boise Open.

This spread of Scotty Cameron Circle T putter covers will have enthusiasts drooling

Is this tee marker edible?

Name a better-dressed pro than Morgan Hoffmann…

Brandon Crick’s Pingman-stamped Glide wedge

The TaylorMade Boise Open headcover features a Boise St. blue turf background

D.J. Trahan’s Grateful Dead dancing bear headcovers are money

J-Gore! Cheers to the 2002 champ!

Sweet orange paintfill on Kevin Doughtery’s PXG 0311T 4-iron

Idaho (potato) fries aplenty on Scotty Cameron’s superb Boise Open headcover

I was unaware Will Zalatoris nickname was Beavis. But a look at this wedge and a look at this photo have me pretty convinced it is

All our galleries from the Boise Open

General galleries

WITB, special galleries

 

 

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Morning 9: Rory offers simple slow play fix, isn’t sure about TC format | Brooks favors the Euro plan | Sunjae Im!

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 22, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Rory’s simple slow play fix
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard reporting...”The Northern Irishman has always been one of the most outspoken players when it comes to pace of play on the PGA Tour but enough is enough.”
  • “I saw [the European Tour] released a four-point plan, but I only read the headline. I didn’t go deeper into it. I’ve had enough of the slow play stuff,” McIlroy said. “I had two hours of it last week at the [player advisory council] meeting, and that came to nothing.”
  • “Although he didn’t know the details of the new European pace of play policy, McIlroy did offer a solution for slow play when he pointed out that pace of play won’t be an issue at this week’s 30-man Tour Championship.”
  • “Seriously, it’s like traffic, right? You get 156 in the field, and it’s hard to get those guys around quickly. Even last week, 70, there was no mention of pace of play,” McIlroy said. “I’m in a privileged position that I can say that because I’m going to get into a field of 30 or 70. Obviously, guys that are not quite in my position would disagree with that. [But] if you want to speed up play, cut the field sizes.”

Full piece.

2. Rory unsure regarding new Tour Championship format 
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”While saying Wednesday that he understands many of the reasons for the new format, he also said “come back to me Monday and I’ll tell you whether it’s worked or not.”
  • …”If we’re at the PGA Tour trying to do the season of championships, where it starts at the Players in March and goes through the four majors and culminates with the FedEx Cup in the end, if the FedEx Cup really wants to have this legacy in the game, like some of these other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?” McIlroy said Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club.”
  • “That’s my only thing. I get it from a fan experience point of view. I get it from giving guys that have played better throughout the year an advantage. But at the same time, it will make it sweeter for a guy that starts at even or 1-under par and goes all the way through the field and wins. Or if Justin Thomas shoots the tied low score of the week and doesn’t end up winning. … I don’t know.”

Full piece.

3. JT wants the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup
Good to hear he didn’t endorse finishing third if it’ll secure the cup…JT isn’t keen for a repeat of 2017
  • AP report…”Justin Thomas lived it two years ago when he capped off his best year by capturing the FedEx Cup with a runner-up finish in the Tour Championship. Thomas was thrilled to win the cup and its $10 million prize, but felt like a loser in the immediate aftermath because he was second in the Tour Championship to Xander Schauffele.”
  • “As the No. 1 seed, he starts Thursday at 10-under par with a two-shot lead under the staggered start. It’s possible that Thomas could finish the most under par and win the FedEx Cup, even though he doesn’t have the lowest 72-hole score.”
  • “And yes, he will be paying attention…“You guys probably won’t believe me, but, yeah, it will irk me,” Thomas said of such a scenario. “I want to beat everybody every week I play.”

Full piece.

4. Can anyone really win the FedEx Cup? 
Shane Ryan investigates…
  • “…a player starting at even par has to overcome a 10-shot deficit against the top player, but he also has to overcome a variety of smaller deficits against 25 other players. That compounds the problem, but one way we can try to answer the question is by examining other big comebacks in PGA Tour history. A look at final-round comebacks shows us that one player, Paul Lawrie, managed to take back 10 strokes in a single round, though it did require Jean Van de Velde’s infamous collapse at the 1999 Open Championship”
  • “…But Stewart Cink also roared back from nine shots down, and eight players have managed the feat on Sunday from eight shots back. In some respects, the task facing the “start-at-even” crew in the Tour Championship this weekend is much easier. First, they have 72 holes, not 18, to overcome a 10-stroke deficit. Second, the competition is 29 players, not the 70-or-so who typically make the cut at a “normal” event. They have a longer time to beat a smaller number of players, and by that reckoning, chipping off 2.5 shots per round seems far from impossible.”

 

5. In case you missed it: U.S. Prez Cup team top 8 set
Brooks Koepka
Justin Thomas
Dustin Johnson
Patrick Cantlay
Xander Schauffele
Webb Simpson
Matt Kuchar
Bryson DeChambeau
6. Olesen pleads not guilty
BBC report…”Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen has appeared in court charged with sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft.”
  • “The 29-year-old Ryder Cup winner has also been charged with assault by beating…He indicated he would plead not guilty when he appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.”

Full piece.

7. Brooks favors the European plan? 
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“Koepka has been an outspoken critic of slow play, calling for stiff penalties against lallygagging PGA Tour players. He was asked about a policy announced this week by the European Tour that cracks down on idlers by imposing stroke penalties, not the meaningless fines used this side of the Atlantic.”
  • “Perfect. We should adopt it,” Koepka replied. Then came the surgical insertion of the needle.
  • “I think you’ll see some urgency to play. It doesn’t matter how quick you walk. It doesn’t matter how quick you do anything.”
  • “The “quick walk” argument – that hoofing it to one’s ball faster excuses taking more time than permitted to execute the next shot – is the flaccid defense of Bryson DeChambeau, a notorious laggard and someone with whom Koepka has sparred on the issue.”

Full piece.

8. Cole Hammer time…for you to win the McCormack medal
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…“On Wednesday, the USGA and R&A announced that Hammer remained the No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and thus had secured the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s player at the end of the summer.”
  • “With the honor comes exemptions into the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and the 2020 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, so long as Hammer remains an amateur when playing in the majors.”

Full piece.

9. Alone in anonymity?
Sungjae Im has hardly gotten the recognition he deserves this season…
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“One of the tour’s premier talents walked East Lake in anonymity Wednesday afternoon. Hard to do, given there are just 30 players at this shindig. When he passed a group of fans, necks strained to see the name on the bag, followed by a common chorus of whispers. Who’s that? … that’s not Hideki, right … wow, pretty nice shot. The man would nod as he made his way through, paying no heed to their ignorance. He doesn’t even blame them.”
  • “Hey, I’m surprised I’m here too,” Sungjae Im says with a laugh.
  • “In the Year of Young Guns, from Cameron Champ’s auspicious start to the torrid summers of Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland, only one-Im-is standing at the Tour Championship.”
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Thorbjorn Olesen pleads not guilty to sexual assault; will face trial next month

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On Wednesday, Thorbjorn Olesen indicated that he would plead not guilty to the charges of sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft, and assault by beating, and he will now face trial in September.

Sky Sports broke the news that the Dane appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday where he confirmed his name, address, date of birth and nationality as well as his not guilty plea, and he has since been released on unconditional bail.

Olesen will now face trial at Isleworth Crown Court on 18th September which is the day before the European Tour’s Flagship event – the BMW Championship at Wentworth.

The 29-year-old was arrested on 29th July at Heathrow Airport and released upon investigation after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman and urinating in the aisle of a first-class cabin.

Olesen is currently suspended from the European Tour while the case is ongoing.

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