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Tour Rundown: Unlikely Shibuno, the Postman, ZB, and more

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Major championship season came to an end this week with the Women’s Open championship. Many PGA Tour golfers exhaled a sigh of relief (they kept their cards for 2019-20) or inhaled a deep breath of recommitment (they lost their tour cards.) The European and Champions tours are off on vacation for another week or two, so you get a look at tours you don’t normally see in Tour Rundown. We’ll even toss in an amateur event, which we almost never do. This one is the toughest amateur event in the world to win. You’ll see why. Time for Tour Rundown on Monday, August 5th, 2019.

Wyndham Championship sees Postman cap the regular season with a delivery

The list is long for golfers who kept their card, lost their card, got into the FedEx Cup playoffs, just missed the FedEx Cup playoffs. This column is not about them. It is about J.T. Poston and his first PGA Tour win. Poston’s Twitter handle is JT_ThePostman. On Sunday in Greensboro, he delivered every bit of the mail. Poston began the final round 3 shots in arrears of leader Ben An. An was in control most of the day, until stumbling to an unexpected bogey at the par-five 15th hole. He bounced back immediately with birdie at the 16th, but needed one more birdie coming home to catch Poston. Bogey at the last dropped An to 3rd place. Webb Simpson, a local lad and former winner of this event, began the day in a funk. Bogeys at 2 of the first 3 holes dropped him off the pace. Simpson rebounded with 7 birdies the rest of the way, to ease past An, into 2nd spot at -21. It was Poston’s start that made the difference. 3 birdies and an eagle led to an outbound 30. 3 birdies against 0 bogeys coming home, gave him 32 for 62 on the day. He sweated the final pairings, but no putts would drop against him. The win elevated Poston from 83rd to 27th, almost a guarantee through to the Tour Championship.

Women’s Open Championship to the unlikely Shibuno

Bullet-Point powers, activate! Five things that Hinako Shibuno was NOT supposed to do this week:

  1. Play a heathland course. Shibuno arrived in England, expecting links conditions;
  2. Play the back nine with 18 birdies and 0 bogeys the entire week (yet she did!);
  3. Post a score in the 60s each of the four tournament days  (only one in the field to do so);
  4. Make a double bogey on her 3rd Sunday hole and not vanish (she did, yet she didn’t);
  5. Win by 1 stroke with a birdie on the 72nd hole. Oh, she most certainly did!

Shibuno was no stranger to winning, doing so twice on the Japan LPGA Tour. This was different. It was the LPGA and Ladies European Tour combined. It was a major championship. It was a world stage. And with one massive week, she catapulted herself into the eyes of Japan’s Olympic selection committee. She earned an LPGA card, and she most likely jumped into the world’s top 40 golfers. Snap. A moment, if you will, for Lizette Salas. The American did all that she could have done to win this tournament. She posted 65 with 8 birdies. Wonks might say that her bogey at the par-3 6th hole kept her from a playoff, but that isn’t so. As with Stenson-Mickelson in 2016, 2 deserving golfers were left with only 1 trophy.

Ellie Mae Classic to refocused Blair on Korn Ferry Tour

Zac Blair makes no secret about his love of classic golf course architecture. He shares his thought on the subject on discussion boards, and is in the process of building The Buck Club in Utah, an homage to the great golf holes of yesteryear. Along the line, the love took over from the task, and Blair’s game went a-wandering. In 2019, he rededicated himself to his game, and the work paid off on Sunday. Blair played a mistake-free round at tricky TPC Stonebrae, and won the Ellie Mae Classic by one shot over a surging Brandon Crick. Both Crick and Maverick McNealy had viable shots at the title, but they could not avoid the big number. Crick had a bogey and a double on his outbound nine. McNealy, who led much of the day, had 2 bogies and 1 double on his card. Blair’s error-free golf on Sunday forced the field to take chances. McNealy needed birdie at the last to tie, but made bogey instead. Crick birdied 4 of his final 5 holes, in an effort to overtake the winner. He came up one chirp shy of extra time. Blair moved to 31st on the year-long points chase, positioning himself well for a return to PGA Tour with a top-five finish next week in Portland.

1932byBateman to Canada’s Taylor Pendrith on Mackenzie Tour

Taylor Pendrith had amassed a pile of points without a win on the PGA Tour Canada season. He found himself in 5th position, the final one to earn a pass to the Korn Ferry Tour for season performance. On Sunday, Pendrith earned a victory for himself, and pride for Canada, with a 3-shot victory over the USA’s Lorens Chan. Pendrith began the day in 10th place, but opened with a 4-under 32 to enter the fray. He returned 3 more birdies on the inward half, setting the stage for the 17th hole. On the par five, the long-hitting, Kent State alum made eagle 3 to seize control of the tournament. Chan matched Pendrith’s back-nine 30, but needed much more to contend. 3rd round leader Will Gordon, he who opened 64-64, made double bogey on the hole that Pendrith eagled. For Gordon, that 4-stroke differential was the difference between T3 and playoff. With the win, Pendrith switched spots on the Order of Merit with Dawson Armstrong. Four events remain on the 2019 tour schedule.

Western Amateur heads north of the border with NHL’s Garrett Rank

It is an unlikely story, but one that makes complete sense. What better way to stay fit, than to skate around a rink, all night long, with no one to hit you? Ontario’s Garrett Rank does just that, as an NHL referee. During the off season, he can be found in the world’s best amateur golf events. Rank had finished runner-up in the USGA Mid-Amateur championship (2012) and had won his own country’s mid-am on multiple occasions. On Saturday, Rank won his first major amateur event in appropriate fashion. The Western Amateur demands 4 rounds of stroke-play qualifying, then eliminates all but the top 16 golfers. Those 16 play four rounds of match play to determine a champion. Rank qualified in the 5th spot, at 6-under 274. Davis Thompson won the medal at -13, but was defeated in the 2nd round of match play. It was Daniel Wetterich who raced through the upper bracket of match play. He won on the 17th hole twice, and the 16th hole once, to reach the final. Along the way, Wetterich defeated top junior Ricky Castillo, a probable Walker Cup selection, in the semifinal. In the lower bracket, Rank was extended in every match. He won on the 18th green in round 1, then the 17th green during each of the subsequent rounds. In the final match, Rank won 7 of the 16 contested holes, defeating Wetterich by 3 & 2. Rank entered the week listed #66 in the world. It’s likely that his own ranking will improve a good deal when the WAGR updates its rankings on Monday.

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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.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Caroline

    Aug 5, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Hinako Shibuno maybe the sweetest winner ever on the LPGA tour…what a fantastic young lady…all you young ladies out there working hard to play professional golf…take a minute to watch the way Hinako Shibuno handles the spot light…not only a very good player but someone who shows how much joy this great sport can be.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Aug 10, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      Comment from DOUG: I saw the old list. Zac is now 10th and on his way back to the PGA Tour come September. Thanks, Doug.

      rm

  2. Doug

    Aug 5, 2019 at 11:03 am

    “Blair moved to 31st on the year-long points chase…”

    The app takes a bit of time to update for the week (assuming you wrote some of this last evening?). He’s 10th now and has secured his spot in The 25, as all the twitter folks were saying. He was 31st going into the week.

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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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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stresses that the Tour won’t be “overly reactionary” in attempts to solve slow play issue

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Days after the European Tour announced their 4-point plan to tackle slow play in the game, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has stated that the Tour will not be reactionary to their counterparts across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to USA Today, Monahan spoke to media at East Lake Golf Club on Tuesday and acknowledged the ire of golf fans around the world. But the commissioner stressed that while the Tour is currently in the process of combating the issue—there is no quick fix.

“We’ve been working on this, and we can be criticized for taking too long. But there’s been more than 1.2 million shots hit this year, and we’re talking about a few instances – and granted, they’re instances that are extreme – and we’re going to go down a path and we’re going to address that.

And I feel really good about where we’re going to get to, but it takes longer than you want, and you can’t be overly reactionary. I tend to have a fair amount of urgency around everything I do, and sometimes you can’t execute the urgency you want. You have to stay on the path you’re on.”

Per the report, PGA Tour officials have held numerous meetings with the Player Advisory Council and the Policy Board and one rule change which we know will be coming into effect for the 2020 season is that only the top-65 and ties instead of the top-70 and ties will play the weekend next season. While teams in Florida have also reportedly been analyzing ShotLink data going back to 2003 to identify trends and solutions to solve the issue plaguing the sport.

But while the European Tour have gone about things their own way, Monahan says that their new ideas will not influence the PGA Tour’s future decision making on the situation in any way.

“I wouldn’t say we’re going to be influenced in any way. I think everybody looking at this, talking about it is a good thing, and they’ve obviously decided that that’s the right thing for the European Tour. And when we’re ready to talk about what we’re going to do, I’ll be excited to talk to all of you about it.”

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