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Tour Rundown: Lazy Days at Lahinch, MinnesOHta Mania and Wisconsin Women

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The European Tour’s 3-week run in early July might be unmatched in golf broadcasting. For a fortnight and a half, viewers are afforded the opportunity (most years) to see the finest links in golf. Played as it was created, centuries ago, golf balls carom with abandon around fairways and green sites. Putts from 70 feet (and sometimes, 70 yards) maneuver to within the leather. Sure, there’s tremendous golf in the heartland of the USA and other locales, but give credit its due assignment: golf along the ground, along the British coastlines, is spectacular. With that, to the linksland and this week’s Tour Rundown.

PGA Tour returns to Minnesota

It was an unforgettable return to the PGA Tour for the state of Minnesota. A tournament that had been contested on PGA Tour Champions, essentially received a promotion to the PGA Tour Regular. The golf course, dotted with ponds so reminiscent of the lakes of the host state, offered opportunities galore for birdies and disaster. More than one scorecard told the story of doubles, followed by eagles, pursued by birdies. The champion turned out to be the type of golfer that the event hopes to be: young, unafraid, a little brash, and worthy.

Matthew Wolff is a valley kid from California. Like Rickie Fowler, he left the west coast for America’s heartland, pursuing academics and golf at Oklahoma State. He got big for two reasons: great play in college, and regular feature on George Gankas’ Instagram feed. Wolff jumped up large on Saturday with 62. On Sunday, he stormed the castle in the end, closing with an eagle at the last to vault over Bryson DeChambeau and playing partner Collin Morikawa, securing an initial tour title by one stroke. The runners-up did nearly everything correctly: they posted 66s and tossed up a potent challenge. This was Wolff’s day, week, and moment, and he did not back away, he did not disappoint. As Wolff featured in a Tweet to Gankas, his teacher, a dream come true.

@pgatour     @3mopen     @George Gankas     @matthew_wolff5

Korn Ferry Tour visits NY/PA border

As happens each week on the Korn Ferry Tour, stories abound. The former Demon Deacon, making a run at his first, large-tour title. The US Air Force pilot and instructor, doing the same. The Kiwi grinder from down under, recently turned 40, also in search of the breakthrough victory. They toil in fair anonymity, the near-equivalent of the minor league ballplayer. Many of their tour stops are smaller towns and rural areas, where the KF event is the biggest game of the summer. Such was the case in Clymer, NY, where the Peek’n Peak Resort hosted another LECOM Health Challenge. As in previous years, when the likes of Bubba Watson competed, and winners like Chesson Hadley, Kevin Stadler and Guy Boros, held the trophy high, multiple stories collided into one, with Ryan Brehm the biggest tale of them all.

A single stroke separated Brehm and Tim Wilkinson (the Kiwi) as Sunday awakened. By day’s end, they had traded that stroke, and went into a playoff. Truly, they should not have been there. Brehm handed Wilkinson a 2nd chance by following a 71st-hole birdie with a 72nd-hole double bogey. Making a concerted effort to catch the pair, was the trio of Blaine Barber, Will Zalatoris (the Demon Deacon) and Chase Seiffert. Seiffert gave the greatest effort, closing with 4 consecutive birdies for 63, -19, just one shot out of the playoff. Barber and Zalatoris came to the closer needing birdie to join the after-party, but each came up short.

Off, then, went the pair of Brehm and Wilkinson to the elevated tee of the 18th hole. As in regulation, Wilkinson made a solid par 5. His 4th stroke lipped maddeningly out of the hole. Unlike regulation, when the hole ensnared him, Brehm made a right-proper birdie 4, securing his 2nd victory on the under-tour. On Monday, Brehm stood in 25th spot on the points list. On Sunday, he had vaulted to 5th place. The triumph ensured a return to the PGA Tour for 2019-2020 for the Michigan State alum.

@LECOMHC     @peeknpeak     @kornferrytour

Irish Open at Lahinch

Great golf courses need a champion. Not the type that says “OK, completely change this layout for the professionals” (cough, Merion 2013, cough). The type like Paul McGinley, who lobbied to bring the Irish Open to lovely Lahinch. Yes, the USA won those two wars, back in the day, but it has a ways to go in learning how to cherish its classic golf courses, especially when these host the professionals.

Jon Rahm blistered Lahinch in the final round. Despite stumbling with 2 bogeys over the course of the day, the Spaniard made up for them on the 12th hole, with an eagle. He posted 8 birdies to reach 62 on the day, 126 for the weekend. The trophy gives Rahm bookends, as he first won the tournament by 6 strokes, in 2017. On this occasion, his margin of victory was 2 shots over Andy Sullivan and Bernd Wiesberger. On a day when the Spanish flag seemed destined to fly over Lahinch, Rahm worked his way through the course with precision. In contrast, countryman Rafael Cabrera-Bello jumped out to a 3-stroke lead, then lost his game. The Canary Islander birdied 3 of his first 5 holes, then succumbed to some ailment and bogeyed 4 of 6 holes as the back nine commenced. He finished in a tie for 4th with Eddie Pepperell and Robert Rock.

@ddfirishopen     @europeantour     @mcginleygolf

The tournament within the tournament

Qualifying for The Open championship is so cool! Each week of the Rolex Series (including the upcoming Scottish Open) three golfers not otherwise exempt, will earn a spot at Royal Portrush. Despite having 2 major titles, Martin Kaymer is still on the outside, looking in. Why? Well, Paul Waring birdied 4 of his final 6 holes to squeek past the German great and earn a spot in 2 weeks in Northern Ireland. In addition, to Waring, Bernd Wiesberger (2nd at Lahinch) and Robert Rock () also claimed a place in the run for champion golfer of the year. This week, not only will a Scottish Open champion be crowned at the Renaissance Club, but a triumvirate of grateful golfers will punch a ticket for Portrush.

@renaissancegc     @TheOpen     @ScottishOpen

Loaded ladies field makes Wisconsin #Awesummer

There’s a reason we left the exciting, Thornberry Creek news for last. In the awesummest awesummer of them all, four golfers went into the final round tied for the lead at -20. Tiffany Joh, she of the piano playing and the standup comedy, shot a laudable 67. It earned her a tie for 3rd with Amy Yang. Sung Hyun Park, whom everyone expected to win for a 2nd consecutive week, had 69 for a tie for 6th spot. Ariya Jutanugarn, the 2018 US Open champion, went 2-eagle low with 64. She made a deuce at the par 4 sixth hole, and a 3 at the par 5 9th hole. Out in 30 strokes, she looked like the world-beater on Sunday. Alas, her ridiculous bogey at the par 5 15th hole did her in. She needed perfection on this day, and it went a-wandering.

So who, then? Shanshan Feng, she of the cow-print pants and the permanent smile, turned in a remarkable 63 to reach -29, one beyond the grasp of Jutanugarn. Feng had no eagles, but otherwise, she was perfect. 9 birdies, 9 pars, with a 7-feet putt for a 3 at the last. The 2016 bronze medal winner in Rio claimed her 10th tour title after her duel with Ariya. The golf on all fronts was blindingly good; as with all tournaments, only one golfer hoists the trophy. Feng probably won’t win the Race to CME Globe (symbolic of LPGA supremacy) this year, but she did leap 15 spots in the standings with her victory.

@lpga     @shanshanfengCHN     @thornberrylpga

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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: Tour updates | One-week offseason | Forgotten father of Skins Game?

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 18, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans. Get out there and enjoy some fall golf this weekend!
1. CJ Cup
AP report on the action on Jeju Island, where tournament favorite Justin Thomas has surged to the top…”Justin Thomas shot a 9-under 63 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, putting himself in position to win his second PGA Tour event in South Korea in three years.”
  • “Thomas, who won the inaugural CJ Cup in 2017, has a two-round total of 13-under 131.”
  • “South Korean-born New Zealander Danny Lee (66) is in a tie for second place with first-round leader and former U.S. Amateur champion Byeong-Hun An, who shot 69 before his home fans.”

Full piece.

2. French Open
With round 2 underway, here’s the post-round one report from Reuters…”George Coetzee and Ryan Fox carded six-under-par 65s to share the lead in the French Open first round on Thursday as the European Tour returned to Le Golf National in Paris a year after the course hosted the Ryder Cup.”
3. Hole-in-one and a second-round lead 
AP report…”Brooke Henderson made a hole-in-one and shot an 8-under 64 to take the lead in the second round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai on Friday.”
  • “The Canadian aced the 175-yard second hole. She followed that with a bogey, but then birdied four more holes on the front nine, finishing her round at 11-under 133 total.”
  • “Jessica Korda (67) was two strokes behind in second, followed by defending champion Danielle Kang (67) in third.”
4. One-week offseason
The Forecaddie with an interesting scheduling observation…”The Man Out Front could not get past the dates for the Korn Ferry Tour playoffs.”
  • “The season-ending stretch will compete head-to-head with the PGA Tour playoffs, right down to the final Sunday of Aug. 30.”
  • Which means while the FedEx Cup comes to a conclusion at East Lake, the Korn Ferry Tour’s always valiant battles to gain Tour cards will be playing out at Victoria National and once again presented by United Leasing but without the spotlight those finals enjoyed this year when finishing on Labor Day, a week clear of the 2019 Tour Championship.”
5. Molinari splits with caddie
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”Francesco Molinari has parted ways with his caddie Pello Iguaran, who has been on the Italian’s bag for the last four years.”
  • “The 2018 Open Champion will now employ Jason Hempleman until the beginning of 2020 where Mark Fulcher will then take the reigns. Fulcher caddied for Justin Rose for 11 years, in which period Rose won the U.S. Open and Olympic Gold.”
  • “The 36-year-old announced the decision via his social media accounts, where he stated…”It’s been nearly 4 seasons of incredible emotions and really productive work, but unfortunately relationships sometimes come to an end, even if it’s not what we wish for.Pello will always be a member of my team and more importantly my family. He’s one of the most hardworking, loyal, positive, reflective people I’ve come across during my career.”

Full piece.

6. Tiger’s back, but is he ready?
ESPN’s Bob Harig, always a voice of reason, breaks down Tiger Woods’ activities since last playing professional golf, along with what he has on the docket, before concluding..”All of this assumes a level of health and fitness that went missing for the latter part of 2019. Woods turns 44 on Dec. 30 and performing at a high level — competing and winning tournaments — depends so much on his ability to properly prepare, let alone be fit enough to compete with the best in the world.”
  • “But first things first: a long trip to Japan, a skins competition followed by a PGA Tour event, and some answers to where Woods is headed with his game.”
7. How the Skins Game started
Speaking of skins, great stuff from Adam Schupak for Golfweek on the forgotten man from the genesis of the beloved event…”When Steve Sesnick read about the upcoming reboot of the Skins Game in Japan headlined by Tiger Woods, he couldn’t help but feel a moment of pride like that of a proud parent. And why not? It was further confirmation that his concept – even if he believes it has outlasted its expiration date – still works.”
“More than 35 years ago, Sesnick claims that he conceived the concept that became one of the most successful made-for-TV franchises in all of sports: four of golf’s biggest names, competing in a go-for-broke format over two days during Thanksgiving weekend when golf traditionally was dark, college football was limited, and even the NFL had two fewer games to compete against.”
8. Record rounds in the 60s
Viktor Hovland’s incredible play continues…Golf Channel’s Carson Williams…”A day after setting a PGA Tour record with his 18th consecutive round in the 60s, Hovland was at it again Friday during the second round of the CJ Cup in South Korea where he carded his 19th straight round in the 60s. The newly-minted Tour member drained a testy par putt at the par-4 ninth to keep his streak alive.”
  • “No, it’s cool,” Hovland said Friday following a second straight 3-under 69. “Obviously I would have liked to have maybe higher finishes in the tournaments that I’ve played, but it really goes to show the consistency that I’ve had over the summer.”

Full piece.

9. Tiger’s Olympic goal 
Reuters report…”Tiger Woods says next year’s Tokyo Olympics are a “big goal” as he looks to add to his decorated career.”
  • “Woods, 43, won his 15th major at the Masters earlier this year but injury ruled him out of golf’s return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence in 2016.”
  • “I don’t see myself having too many opportunities other than next year,” the American said.
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Francesco Molinari splits with caddie Pello Iguaran

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Francesco Molinari has parted ways with his caddie Pello Iguaran, who has been on the Italian’s bag for the last four years.

The 2018 Open Champion will now employ Jason Hempleman until the beginning of 2020 where Mark Fulcher will then take the reigns. Fulcher caddied for Justin Rose for 11 years, in which period Rose won the U.S. Open and Olympic Gold.

The 36-year-old announced the decision via his social media accounts, where he stated

“It’s been nearly 4 seasons of incredible emotions and really productive work, but unfortunately relationships sometimes come to an end, even if it’s not what we wish for.Pello will always be a member of my team and more importantly my family. He’s one of the most hardworking, loyal, positive, reflective people I’ve come across during my career.

We’ve had both good and tough times on the course, but most importantly we both grew together and as individuals during our time together. Best of luck for the future and thanks for an amazing run together Jason Hempleman will be on the bag until the end of the season. Mark Fulcher will be on the bag at the start of 2020.”

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It’s been nearly 4 seasons of incredible emotions and really productive work, but unfortunately relationships sometimes come to an end, even if it’s not what we wish for. Pello will always be a member of my team and more importantly my family. He’s one of the most hardworking, loyal, positive, reflective people I’ve come across during my career. We’ve had both good and tough times on the course, but most importantly we both grew together and as individuals during our time together. Best of luck for the future and thanks for an amazing run together Jason Hempleman will be on the bag until the end of the season. Mark Fulcher will be on the bag at the start of 2020. Sono state quasi 4 stagioni di emozioni incredibili e lavoro davvero produttivo, ma sfortunatamente le relazioni a volte non finiscono come tutti vorremmo. Pello sarà sempre un membro del mio team e, soprattutto, della mia famiglia. È una delle persone più laboriose, leali, positive e riflessive che ho incontrato durante la mia carriera. Abbiamo avuto momenti belli e momenti difficili sul campo, ma soprattutto siamo cresciuti insieme e come individui durante il tempo insieme. Buona fortuna per il futuro e grazie per una fantastica esperienza insieme Jason Hempleman sarà il mio caddie fino alla fine dell’anno. Mark Fulcher sarà il caddie dall'inizio del 2020 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

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In the period Molinari and Iguaran were together, some of the highlights include Molinari’s win at The Open Championship in 2018, the BMW PGA Championship, and the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational. However, since April, Molinari has failed to record a top-10 finish.

 

 

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Morning 9: LPGA, LET partnership? | Ryder Cup ticket fiasco | Alfredsson: Senior women’s golf dynamo

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.

October 17, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. “True partnership”
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell on an exciting development for women’s golf…
  • “The LPGA and Ladies European Tour have renewed talks that could lead to “a true partnership” between the two organizations.”
  • “LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti sent a letter to LET players this week informing them of the discussions. She told players that a dialogue was “in full swing” to create a “50-50 joint venture” between the tours.”
  • “LPGA and LET officials said in a joint statement Wednesday that while it’s too early to publicly discuss specifics, they are working to complete terms of a new agreement in time to present it to LET players at their annual meeting on Nov. 26 in Spain.”

Full piece.

2. Alfredsson!
AP report on the emerging dynamo in women’s senior golf with the 2019 double…
  • “Helen Alfredsson added the Senior LPGA Championship to her U.S. Senior Women’s Open title, rallying Wednesday at cold and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two major championships of the season.”
  • “Three strokes behind Juli Inkster entering the day, Alfredsson closed with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. The 54-year-old Swede was the only player to break par on the final day at the Pete Dye Course and, at 2-under 214, the only one under par for the week.”

Full piece.

3. And on Jeju Island…
AP report…An was on!
  • “In the first event of a three-tournament PGA TOUR swing through Asia, Byeong Hun An was the first-round leader in his home country at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES with an 8-under 64. Joaquin Niemann sits a stroke behind in second.”
  • “Jason Day’s attempt to impress International team captain Ernie Els for a spot at the Presidents Cup took a positive turn when the Australian shot a 6-under 66 to sit two strokes off the lead and in solo third after the opening round.”

Full piece.

4. Ticket fiasco
Oh boy. JR Radcliffe at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, syndicated in Golfweek…”Tickets for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, next year sold out in less than 50 minutes on Wednesday, and fans on social media were furious with the process.”
  • “Tickets for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler next year sold out in less than 50 minutes on Wednesday, and fans on social media were furious with the process.”
  • “The Ryder Cup website did indicate: “Due to high demand, having an access code does not guarantee you a chance to buy tickets. Available inventory may vary depending on when you’re able to access the sale.”
5. “Better options”
ESPN’s Bob Harig suggests Lefty doesn’t think he’s getting picked for captain Woods’ squads…”Mickelson said Wednesday that he doesn’t expect an at-large pick from U.S. Presidents Cup team captain Tiger Woods and that he does not believe he is deserving.”
  • “There are much better options of players that have played consistently at a high level that deserve to be on the team,” Mickelson, 49, said in South Korea at the CJ Cup, a PGA Tour event he is playing for the first time. “Even if I were to win, I have not done enough to warrant a pick.
  • “I’m not asking for one. I don’t expect one. I think there are a lot of better options for the U.S. side.”
6. 58 penalty strokes!
Golf Digest’s Alex Myers on a wildly penal occurrence…”Lee Ann Walker was assessed 58 penalty strokes after it was discovered she had violated Rule 10.2b several times over the course of the first two rounds at the senior major being played at the Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Ind. Implemented earlier this year, the rule prohibits caddies from lining up golfers on putting greens, among other spots on the course. And as Walker found out, there is no limit to the amount of penalty strokes a player can incur for breaking it.”
  • “In a statement released by the Senior LPGA Championship Rules Committee, the harsh decision came after Walker notified a rules official during the second round on Tuesday that she had been violating the rule. Obviously, Walker didn’t realize this until it was pointed out to her by a fellow caddie on her fifth hole. Walker then went through her round so far as well as the first round on Monday to determine just how many times she broke the rule. Considering the total, she was obviously being lined up by her caddie on most putts.”

Full piece.

7. BK vs. Rory
Our Gianni Magliocco…”The 29-year-old, who was speaking to the AFP ahead of this week’s CJ Cup, has been on the PGA Tour since 2015 and has won four major’s in that period, while McIlroy’s last success at a major championship came back in 2014.”
  • “I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I just don’t view it as a rivalry.”
  • “The world number one then further reiterated his lack of belief that there is currently a serious rivalry in golf and laid out his intentions to remain at the top of the sport for the foreseeable future.”
  • “I’m not looking at anybody behind me. I’m number one in the world. I’ve got open road in front of me I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry. You know if the fans do (call it a rivalry), then that’s on them and it could be fun. Look I love Rory he’s a great player and he’s fun to watch, but it’s just hard to believe there’s a rivalry in golf. I just don’t see it.”

Full piece.

8. Meanwhile, at Q-School…
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell with the report on the action in Florida…”Germany’s going for a wire-to-wire victory at the LPGA’s second stage of Q-School.”
  • “Esther Henseleit grabbed a share of the second-round lead with a 5-under 67 Tuesday at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla., a day after fellow countrywoman Olivia Cowan took the first-round lead.”
  • “At 9-under overall, Henseleit is tied at the top with China’s Yan Liu (67), one shot ahead of Cowan (72), Thailand’s Prima Thammaraks (68) and American amateur Sierra Brooks, whose 66 equaled the low round of the day.”

Full piece.

9. LPGA Shanghai update
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Nasa Hataoka should be getting more worldwide attention.
With two Japan LPGA Tour major championship victories in her homeland over the last month, she arrived for the start of this week’s Buick LPGA Shanghai on fire.”
  • “And she didn’t cool off in Thursday’s first round.”
  • “A 5-under-par 67 at Qizhong Garden Golf Club gave Hataoka a share of the lead with South Korea’s Amy Yang.”

Full piece.

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