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Tour Rundown: Cantlay, Lee6, Migliozzi, and more

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With the exception of the USGA Women’s Open this week, day four in professional golf was a birdie-them-all type of afternoon, across all tours. Golfers reminded fans and followers of their ability to go low at a given moment, defying expectation. As for the ladies, well, the Country Club of Charleston appeared to win day four, as only 12 scores (out of 70) dipped below par over the final 18 holes. How did all of this come about? Take a step-by-step Tour Rundown with us, and we shall answer that question.

Cantlay takes Memorial for 2nd PGA Tour title

There was a time, so long ago, it seems, when Patrick Cantlay was just another, can’t-miss kid. He stood atop the amateur world, came within a whisker of winning a US Amateur, destined for PGA Tour glory. Injury and tragedy turned up in his next hand, and his name drifted away on the breeze, toward the file marked “whatever happened to…”

And just like that, it seemed, he returned. Cantlay rediscovered his game and his winning ways, claiming an inaugural Tour title in 2017, at the Shriner’s Classic. In 2019, he registered top-ten finishes at the Masters (t9) and the PGA (t3). The young-old man from California was knocking on the door, as they say, and then came Sunday at the Memorial. Despite Martin Kaymer’s lead, a Sunday differential of 8 strokes would get the job done. Beginning the day 4 in arrears, Cantlay started quickly, with birdies at 5 of his first 9 holes. The 2014 US Open winner from Germany showed no signs of letting anyone catch him, as he stood -3 on the day through 8 holes.

At the 9th, fortune swung its pendulum. Kaymer spent a long time in the rough, needing a six-feet putt to salvage bogey. From that point on, his driver abandoned him, finding rough and sand more than fairway. His heroic shots saved pars, not birdies, and Kaymer signed for 72, and a 3rd-place finish, 2 behind runner-up Adam Scott. Scott had plodded along most of the day, barely registering on radar, until a 3-hole stretch of birdies from 14-16 brought him to 2nd place alone at -17. The day, however, belonged to Patrick Cantlay. 8 birdies with 0 bogies rarely disappoint, and -19 was his destiny, a 2nd tour title, at the course that Jack built. And what was Cantlay’s secret? A few words from the legend himself.

Lee6 wins first American professional title at US Open

A few year’s back, Jeongeun Lee added the number 6 to her last name. Her explanation was that there were others with similar names, and she wanted fans and family to know that it was she on the leader board. On Sunday at Seth’s Place, the Country Club of Charleston golf course that reintroduced Seth Raynor to golf fandom, Lee6 pushed all those eponymic golfers aside with masterful golf. She won the US Open by 2 shots, and now we know why.

Celine Boutier and Jaye Marie Green reached -6 on Sunday, the number that ultimately won the tournament. They could not hold their place, and each dropped to a tie for 5th, three behind the champion. Others fired, then fell back, but a quick look at statistics tells the Lee6 tale. The young woman from Korea was the only golfer to shoot below par each day this week. In an event where no one went super-low (65 on Thursday the low number) and where the low score each day went up as the week progressed, consistent excellence was rewarded. On the course’s most daunting hole, the par-3 11th, Lee6 made 3 birdies in 4 rounds. Call it an avoidance of disaster, call it an energy boost, deuces on the Redan added up to a 2 shot win over three golfers, and reason to celebrate.

Migliozzi claims first European Tour title at Belgian Knockout

No one tires of tournaments like this one. Qualifying round, followed by head-to-head play over abbreviated rounds. In Belgium, it was total strokes, not holes won, that decided each match. Many was the time that a final-hole swing decided (or nearly decided) matches throughout the 6 rounds of head-to-head combat. In the end, it was the unheralded Guido (pronounced GEE-doe, not Gwui-doe) Migliozzi who rang the birdie bell more than the others, and walked away with an inaugural European Tour title.

After quietly qualifying and sneaking through his first three matches, Migliozzi arrived at day the last with 7 other golfers. He did what champions do during each of his 3 9-hole matches on Sunday: make birdies. Migliozzi birdied 3 holes during each round of 9 holes, dispatching Bernd Wiesberger (just barely) by one, then Ewen Ferguson by 3, and finally, Darius Van Driel by a comfortable 4 shots.

Unlike traditional match play, where a misplayed stroke can only cost one hole, stroke-play matches keep all players in the game. Migliozzi had a 3-shot advantage over Wiesberger, last week’s winner, at the final tee of his quarterfinal match. The Austrian made birdie as the Italian, bogeyed, but Migliozzi survived by one stroke. Cheers to the champion, to creative tournament formats, and to a resurgence of golf for the young.

Despite 60s and 61s from others, Cappelen rallies for REX Hospital Title on Web Tour

Sebastian Cappelen, from the golf powerhouse of Denmark, bogeyed his first two holes on Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina. Despite the inauspicious beginning, Cappelen did not go away. He played the remaining 16 holes in -9, hyper-charged by 5th hole hole-out from the rough for eagle. Chris Baker had posted 60 in round two, but his Sunday 72 relegated him to a tie for 4th. On Saturday, Zack Sucher signed for 62; that number edged him a bit closer, into a tie for 2nd with Grayson Murray. What did Murray do on Sunday? Came from nowhere, that’s what. He had 10 birdies on the day, albeit none over the closing three holes, to jump from 22nd to 2nd. It was Cappelen’s extended brilliance that led to 21-under par in the end, clear of the chasers by 3 strokes. The title brought the Dane from his own nowhere to prominence. With the winner’s check, Cappelen jumped from 73rd to 10th, in the season-long chase for a PGA Tour card.

Mr. Comeback comes back and wins Principal Charity Classic in playoff

We’ve saved the best for last. Kevin Sutherland did something you don’t even find in video games. He birdied 8 of the 9 closing holes of Sunday’s final round. Sutherland went out in 2-under 34, but came home in 28 paltry strokes. He was on the green on the 16th in regulation, but somehow failed to convert the birdie putt. Truth be told, that might have been even worse for Scott Parel, the overnight leader. Parel didn’t play poorly on Sunday, but his bogey at the par-five 16th was a game changer. Sutherland and Parel went off to extra holes after tying at 17-under par, one shot clear of perennial runner-up Jerry Kelly. Parel had a 10-feet birdie putt on the first playoff hole to change the day’s fortunes, but he incredulously left it short, right on line with victory. Undecided after one, the golfers returned to the closer for a 3rd time on the day. With, what else, a birdie, Sutherland ended the long day with his 2nd Champions Tour victory of the year. Side Note: both of Sutherland’s wins this season have come in extra holes. Both have come against Scott Parel.

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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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Morning 9: Danny Comeback | Nelly | Munoz (and the rise of Latin American golf)

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

September 23, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Danny Comeback 
James Corrigan at The Telegraph…”The great Danny Willett comeback is finally complete. The Englishman, who fell so far and so dramatically in the wake of his Masters glory, proved that all the talent and competitive resilience of 2016 remains with a 20-under destruction of Jon Rahm and a world-class field.”
  • “…To think, after this event last year, Willett was still struggling with injury, still suffering with a breakdown in confidence and down at 462nd in the world. Now at 31st, he has re-entered the all-important world’s top 50 for the first time in more than two years and on the evidence of this barnstormer, the Yorkshireman’s progress will carry on going in one direction only.”
  • “…The 31-year-old went toe-to-toe with world No6 Rahm on the West Course and put a Spaniard in the works of all those who expected the ruthless 24-year-old to ease to his fourth Rolex Series victory.  Willett’s 67, composed in difficult conditions as the wind and rain eventually remembered where Surrey is, awarded him a three-shot triumph and a £900,000 cheque.”

Full piece.

2. Munoz gets it done
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Munoz started the day with a one-shot lead, and for much of the afternoon it appeared to be his tournament to lose. But Im rallied with three straight birdies on the back nine to overtake him, leaving Munoz in the unenviable position of needing a birdie on the hardest hole to force the Tour’s first playoff since the RSM Classic in November. But his 15-footer on the 72nd hole found the bottom of the cup, and when Im missed a short par putt on the first playoff hole Munoz was left with a 4-footer for the win. The Colombian was battling to save his card at last month’s Wyndham Championship, but with the win he’s now exempt through the 2022 season and will make his Masters debut in April.”
3. Meet Munoz 
So, who is this guy? 
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin“Like his former teammate, he didn’t take long to enter the winner’s circle. Munoz won his second start on the Korn Ferry Tour, after receiving a sponsor exemption into the event in his native Colombia. It translated into his first PGA TOUR card.”
  • “He made his first start as a PGA TOUR member at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Three years later, it was the site of his first PGA TOUR win after he beat the reigning Rookie of the Year, Sungjae Im, on the first hole of a playoff.”
  • …”I never thought I was going to be a PGA TOUR player,” Munoz said. “It wasn’t even an option.”

Full piece.

4. Nelly!
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Nelly Korda didn’t leave Europe without a trophy after all.”
  • “A week after Korda and the Americans were defeated by the Europeans at the Solheim Cup in Scotland, Korda romped to her first Ladies European Tour title.”
  • “With a 4-under-par 67 in blustery conditions Sunday, Korda won the Lacoste Ladies French Open by eight shots.”
5. Unleash the calves!
Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek on what’s ahead in Napa…
  • “Come for the calves, stay for the golf.”
  • “OK, that pithy pitch more than likely wouldn’t pass muster on Madison Avenue, but it’s not completely out of touch for this week’s Safeway Open in California wine country.”
  • “It directly plays to tournament headliner Phil Mickelson and his ongoing braggadocio on social media about his bodacious calves, the envy, it seems, not only of any 49-year-old, which Mickelson’s birth certificate reveals to be his age, but anyone period.”
  • “And that includes Tom Brady and Steph Curry, who recently exchanged light-hearted tweets with Mickelson about beefing up each other’s legs below the knee.”

Full piece. 

6. Rising, falling in strokes gained putting
Some research from David Dusek and the Golfweek team shows who’s improving (and who isn’t) in SG:P…”Unlike Spieth, who went from being a below-average putter to elite, Denny McCarthy went from being solid to the best on tour by lifting his average from 0.449 to 0.926, the 14th biggest rise last season.”
  • “Other notable golfers who made big strides last year with their putter include Sam Ryder (0.776), Aaron Baddeley (0.711), Adam Scott (0.633) and Ryan Palmer (0.569).”
  • “On the other side of the spectrum, Emiliano Grillo fell a massive -1.179, dropping from 10th in strokes gained putting to 185th.”
  • “It was also a rough year for Phil Mickelson, who dropped from an average of 0.51 to -0.16, the fifth-largest decline on tour. Justin Thomas also dipped significantly, -0.458, from 0.272 to -0.186. His wrist injury in late spring may have been responsible for some of the decline, but it was still the 10th largest on tour.” 

Full piece.

7. On spending $400 on a putter…
A question for Bomb & Gouge…Do I need to spend $400 on a putter or nah? –@Sam_Beishuizen
“Do you “need’ to spend $400 on a putter? No one truly needs to spend $400 on a putter. Of course, if you’re willing to spend $500-plus on a new driver, you could investigate the value of a higher end putter because you might be better fit at that price point than one from the bargain barrel. But fact is, most putters on the Golf Digest Hot List are well below that, and we’ve even had putters that go for as little as a hundred bucks make the list. And tour players have won with putters they picked up on sale or even used at the local golf shop or Golf Galaxy. If you’re the type of golfer that appreciates the quality of materials and the craftsmanship that comes with a $400 putter then you might not need to, but you might want to. It’s no different than the person who drives a Tesla or a Mercedes. They don’t need it to get where they’re going. A Honda CR-V will do just fine. But there’s a certain chest-puffing attitude that comes with knowing you have something special. Same applies to putters.”
8. Slow start to slow play monitoring
Geoff Shackelford writes…”The four-point plan debuted this week at the BMW PGA and despite some nice additions to the list of slow play remedies, we know the players aren’t always to blame. Even with the overrated field size reduction to 132, there is the pesky matter of modern distances on any course under 8,000 yards. That means waits, more waits and almost no chance of getting around in the time par of 4:30 or so.”

Full piece, including tweets from an unimpressed Matthew Fitzpatrick.

9. The rise of Latin American golfers?
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker writes…”A week ago, 20-year-old Joaquin Niemann of Chile became the youngest non-American winner on the PGA Tour since 1923. Sunday, 26-year-old Sebastian Munoz became the first Colombian-born player to win on tour since Camilo Villegas.”
  • “Quite the fortnight for Latin American golf.”
  • “[Joaquin] winning last week was kind of like the last piece of the puzzle that I needed to know that we’re good enough, we’re able to compete,” Munoz said after his playoff victory over Sungjae Im at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss. “That we’re here, we’re PGA Tour members, and we play to win.”
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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship

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GolfWRX was on site at the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship at the Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi.

In addition to the usual spread of range photos from Monday and Tuesday, we also got a look at a new flatstick from Bettinardi, a few of Matt Jones’ Scotty Cameron putters, new wands from PXG, and some new shafts from Mitsubishi.

Check out a few highlights below and find the links to all our galleries after that.

2018 Scotty Cameron Hula Girl cover sighting!

A look at the unique tee markers

New Callaway staffer Akshay Bhatia’s awesome Callaway Apex MB irons

“Furby Boy” Joaquin Niemann’s 56-degree wedge

New Mitsubishi Tensei AV shafts spotted

One of the several new PXG Gen2 putters we got an in-hand look at

Sam Ryder with a little weight taken out of his Cleveland RTX-3 wedges

One of Matt Jones’ prototype Scotty Cameron putters

An in-hand look at the limited Bettinardi QB8 that launched in The Hive this week

All our photos from the Sanderson Farms Championship

WITB

General galleries

 

 

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Morning 9: Hoage! | Another Romo sponsor’s exemption | First foreign-born U.S. Mid-Am winner | Skins game details

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

September 20, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Another bite at the Hoge 
Sean Martin at PGATour.com…“Tom Hoge couldn’t keep pace with Joaquin Niemann over the final holes of last week’s A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, but now Hoge finds himself atop the leaderboard in the second event of the PGA TOUR season.”
  • “Hoge, who finished second to Niemann on Sunday, shot a bogey-free 64 on Thursday to lead the Sanderson Farms Championship before first-round play was suspended due to weather.”
  • “Hoge temporarily tied Niemann at The Greenbrier’s Old White TPC after making birdie on the 12th hole. Hoge bogeyed on two of his next three holes, though, and Niemann made six back-nine birdies to win by six strokes.”

Full piece.

2. Meanwhile, in Europe…
Round one at the BMW PGA…“Rory McIlroy made six bogeys and a double bogey in his last 11 holes to shoot 4-over 76 at the BMW PGA Championship, leaving the world No. 2 already 11 strokes off the first-round lead held by Matt Wallace on Thursday.”
  • “McIlroy’s round fell apart after his birdie at No. 5 that followed an eagle at No. 4, as he shot 42 in his back nine in glorious conditions at Wentworth.”
  • “One over for his round arriving at the 17th tee, he pulled his drive and wound up making a double-bogey 7. Another wayward drive led to a bogey at the 18th and he didn’t talk to reporters after his round.”

Full piece.

At the time of this writing, Danny Willett has an -8 second round going and is ahead by three at -12.

3. Romo planning to make the cut?
“The Forecaddie perused the Safeway Classic field next week and saw former quarterback Tony Romo will be playing on a sponsor invite. This was hardly earth-shattering given the former Cowboy’s appearance in three PGA Tour events and his passion for competitive golf.”
  • “But The Man Out Front also remembered Romo’s job with CBS where his uncanny ability to predict play calls has rapidly made him America’s most beloved football analyst. So what happens if Romo makes the cut in Napa when he and Jim Nantz are penciled in to work that Sunday’s Vikings-Bears game?”
  • “The Forecaddie hears CBS is just fine with Romo’s appearance and a backup plan is in place should he have the rounds of his life.”

Full piece.

4. First foreign-born U.S. Mid-Am winner
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“Australian Lukas Michel rallied to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur final, 2 and 1, to punch his ticket to next year’s Masters and U.S. Open.”
  • “The 25-year-old from Melbourne trailed Joe Deraney for much of the 36-hole final at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo., and Deraney held a 1-up advantage with just nine holes to play. But from there Michel turned the table, closing with birdies on four of his final eight holes. That included a birdie on No. 15, which gave him his first lead in 29 holes, and another on No. 16 to push his opponent to the brink.”
5. Stadium’s a goin’ up!
Golfweek’s Todd Kelly…”The Waste Management Phoenix Open is more than four months away but construction at TPC Scottsdale has already started.”
  • “The Thunderbirds House and Grounds Crew got things going on Monday, Sept. 16, the earliest the construction has ever started, but workers need to get going now because of the time and material it takes to build the luxury suites, grandstands, bleachers and all the other infrastructure for the tournament that draws the largest crowds in golf.”
  • “In 2018, tournament organizers announced a weekly attendance mark of more than 719,000. Close to 217,000 fans were tallied on Saturday that year, always the most highly attended day of the year for the Phoenix Open.”

Full piece.

6. ZJ takes advantage
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”‘Opportunity’ is a word used often at the Sanderson Farms Championship. The second event of the PGA TOUR season provides new players fresh off the Korn Ferry Tour the chance to gain experience, get a head-start in the FedExCup race and even earn that maiden victory and all the trappings that accompany it.”
  • “The PGA TOUR’s newest members aren’t the only ones who can change the trajectory of their career during this time of year, though. Veteran players, the ones with majors and FedExCups on their resume, also appear on the tee sheets of these early events. Many are trying to recapture that winning feeling or at least gain some confidence before the calendar changes to a new year.”

Full piece.

7. Hovland’s “home” debut
Golf Digest’s John Huggan…”Viktor Hovland has never failed to shoot in the 60s on the European Tour. Not even once.”
  • “Of course, the three-under-par 69 with which the 22-year-old Norwegian began the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Thursday is also his first round as a professional in a European Tour event. Which did not go unnoticed.”
  • “Interviewed by Sky Sports and the BBC after his seven-birdie, four-bogey trip around the famous old Burma Road, which left him four off the lead of England’s Matt Wallace, Hovland was then surrounded by a posse of the U.K.’s print media. And still then he wasn’t done. Three journalists from his home country-one from VG, the biggest-selling newspaper and another from NRK, the most-watched television station-are here to cover his debut on the Old World circuit.”

Full piece.

8. Molinari speaketh
An interesting question for Francesco Molinari in a New York Times interview…”On a personal note, does it bother you that soccer players get more adoration than golfers in Italy?”
  • After last year, I get stopped a lot more often and get asked for autographs and pictures. It’s the recognition of the results I’ve had and things I’ve accomplished in the last two years. And it feels nice. I love it when it’s young kids. Part of what I do is because I was that young kid looking up to Costantino Rocca and all the Italian players that were on tour. It’s great to know that I’m doing the same now with the younger generations.”
  • “But I’m not the kind of guy who looks for too much public attention. Footballers get a lot of love, but they also get a lot of hate as well when they don’t play well. Italians are very passionate about sports. Football is a tough sport to be in. I’d rather golf.”

Full piece.

9. ICYMI: Skins game details
News from yesterday, in case you missed it. Our Gianni Magliocco…”The upcoming skins match in Japan involving Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama is set, with a prize purse of $350,00 up for grabs.”
  • “The opening six holes of the event billed as ‘The Challenge: Japan Skins’, will be worth $10,000 each, with the value of holes increasing as the match continues – with the potential of there being a total of $100,000 on the line on the 18th hole.”
  • “The event is scheduled to finish under the lights, and according to the release, will feature “special in-match challenges and surprises.”
  • “Viewers in the U.S. can watch the skins match live on Golf Channel, while those outside the U.S. will be able to tune into the event on Discovery’s GOLFTV. Viewers in the UK and Ireland will need to pay a subscription fee for the service.”
  • “Coverage of ‘The Challenge: Japan Skins’, which takes place on the week of the Zozo Championship, begins on Oct. 20 at 11 PM ET.”
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