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Tour Rundown: Reed, Hur, Hoag, and more

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Playoffs? Let’s talk about the playoffs. They began on the PGA Tour in New Jersey, and will commence next week on the Korn-Ferry Tour. We bade farewell to the British Isles at the Ladies Scottish Open, then saw timely, tremendous performances on the European Challenge and Mackenzie tours, and also at the US Women’s Amateur. Tour Rundown sources golf a bit differently this week, but trust us: every shot counted and every winner smiled.

Patrick Reed jumps in front of FedEx Cup playoffs at Northern Trust

I have this need to see Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau pair up at the Presidents Cup in December. Before we had a winner on Sunday, we had a combusted internet divided between bile for Reed and rancor for DeChambeau. Who knew golf could elicit such vitriol? Reed opened Sunday with a 2-stroke edge on Mexico’s Abraham Ancer. Neither golfer distinguished himself on the outward nine, combining for 5 bogies by the turn. Jon Rahm jumped up to -16, the number that would win for Reed, midway through the homeward half, but faded away quickly, with back-to-back bogies at 14 and 15. Rahm tied for 3rd with Harold Varner III. Behind them, Reed and Ancer found their games, each playing the back nine in 2-under par. Ancer needed birdie at the last to tie Reed, but could not convert from 43 feet away.

In the newfangled FedEx Cup playoff structure, Brooks Koepka preserved his regular-season margin, but just barely. Reed vaulted Jenn Suhr-style over 48 golfers, moving from 50th to 2nd. Just behind him are Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and Jon Rahm, who moved from 10th to 5th. The playoffs move to Chicago this week, to storied Medinah Number 3.

Mi Jung Hur wins Scottish Open by 4 from 6

Mi Jung Hur (once known as MJ) spaces out her LPGA Tour wins. Every 5 years or so, to be precise. She first won in 2009, then paused until 2014 to secure another victory. Her 3rd title came this weekend, at the Renaissance Club in Gullane, at the Ladies Scottish Open. Hur was the class of the field on Sunday, her 66 tied only by Scotland’s Kylie Henry, who improved 15 shots from her Saturday 81. The Jutanugarn sisters (Moriya and Ariya) were in the mix, but could not close the gap. Moriya had the overnight lead on Saturday, but followed a 1st-hole birdie with double bogey-bogey on her subsequent two. Her 71 was not nearly enough to catch Hur. Moriya tied for 2nd spot, 4 back of the winner.

Tied for runner-up was Six. That’s right, 6. Jeongeun Lee6, winner of the 2019 US Open, was considered the player to beat at the dawn of the day. Weather and a cold putter kept her from challenging the champion. Lee6 was unable to secure her 2nd victory of the season, but she did move from 6th (ha ha) to 2nd in the Race to CME Globe points standing, albeit a good way behind Jin Young Ko.

Bo Hoag and 24 others earn PGA Tour cards for 2019-2020 in Portland

I’m a ’70s kid, so I can’t help thinking about Sorrell Booke’s Boss Hog character on Dukes of Hazzard whenever I see Bo Hoag’s name. Probably has little to do with a cantankerous southern kingmaker, a fictitious one at that, so let’s move on. Bo Hoag is 31 years old, and has been chasing the dream since leaving The Ohio State University in 2011. On Sunday, the dream came true. Hoag won the Portland Open over local favorite Scott Harrington, a Portland native. With the victory, Hoag jumped from 31st to 7th on The 25 money list, securing playing privileges on the game’s biggest stage next season.

Hoag played a stellar round, posting 6 birdies against 0 bogies for 65. A gutsy putt for 4 at the par-5 closer gave him a critical, 3-shot lead over Harrington, who stood in the fairway behind him. The Portlander also capped his round with birdie, but hopes of a tie with eagle had vanished. 3rd place went to Norway’s Kristoffer Ventura, already a Korn Ferry Tour winner this season. In 4th and 5th spots, Chris Naegel and Vince India made valiant runs to get inside the top 75 for the playoffs, but came up shy of their goal. Over the next three weeks, golfers will vye for 25 more PGA Tour cards at the playoffs. Two seasons ago, Keith Mitchell missed out on a regular-season card on the-then Web.Com Tour, earned one in the playoffs, and was a PGA Tour winner in 2019. Yep, dreams are there for the dreamers.

Buckley wins in playoff on Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada in Alberta

The Mackenzie Tour doesn’t have playoffs, but it does give super-sweet hockey sweaters to the 5 golfers that graduate to the Korn Ferry Tour. Hayden Buckley made his case for a jersey with a 1st-hole, playoff win over Sam Fidone. Entering the final day in 1st place, Buckley played his worst golf of the week. He had a 5-shot lead on the 4th tee, but that margin dissipated over time. 70 strokes gave Fidone a chance at the win, and he almost stole the cup. Birdie at 15, paired with Buckley’s 3rd bogey of the day, gave the lead to Fidone. His subsequent bogey at 16 tied them once more, and on to extra holes they went. Buckley made par in overtime at the 18th, and Fidone’s bogey made him the runner-up.

Buckley sits in the 5th spot on the tour’s Order of Merit, with 3 tournaments remaining on the schedule. The leading 3 golfers (Paul Barjoh, Jake Knapp and Lorens Chan) sit comfortably atop the OOM, and can anticipate promotions to the penultimate stage for next season. Taylor Pendrith and Buckley have a bit more work to do during the final 3 events, to secure their elevation to the KFT. Stay tuned this week in Manitoba.

Australia has its 1st US Women’s amateur champion in Gabriela Ruffels

Oh, that we might all be as fortunate as driven as Gabriela Ruffels. 3 years ago, she gave up a love of tennis for a passion for golf. Her dedication, guts and natural ability translated to an electric finish for the 2019 US Women’s Am. Ruffels and Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland did battle through 36 holes of the final match at Old Waverly golf club in Mississippi. The first 18 holes was a story of spurts. Ruffels won the 8th through 11th holes to take a 3-hole advantage. Valenzuela came right back, winning 4 holes from 12-16 to retake the lead. A birdie for Ruffels at the 18th sent them all square to lunch.

The day’s 2nd 18 holes saw less fireworks, albeit the same number of lead changes. Valenzuela held an advantage for 3 holes, until Ruffels tied her at the 25th. Back and forth again, until Ruffels made birdies at the 33rd and 35th holes to jump ahead. With everything on the line, both competitors stuffed their approach shots close at the 36th hole. Ruffels putted first, drained her birdie, and lifted the winner’s tower. For Valenzuela, 2019 was her 2nd runner-up finish in the tournament.

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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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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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Morning 9: PGA Tour commish wants to slow down slow play discussion | Greg Norman: Roll back the ball | Langston

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

August 21, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. Let’s slow down the slow play discussion
Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…”Monahan, in a gathering with members of the media Tuesday morning at East Lake Golf Club, said the Tour is on the right path toward resolving any issues regarding pace of play.”
  • “He feels everyone’s pain, he has seen the ire on social media and heard from the mouths of top players after recent episodes of excruciatingly dawdling play. He’s just not going to lead a sprint to any resolutions.”
  • “We’ve been working on this, and we can be criticized for taking too long,” Monahan said to a few chuckles from the listeners.
  • “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,” he added. “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.”

Full piece.

2. Greg Norman: roll it back to pre 96!

 

(h/t to Geoff Shackelford for the spot & Golf.com)
3. No risk, plenty of reward
Will players going to approach East Lake differently owing to the staggered scoring?
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain. The only question is how to make up those strokes.”
  • “Don’t expect drastically different gameplans, especially in the early rounds, though. East Lake isn’t a course that offers a lot of risk-reward opportunities. Instead, it’s a straightforward layout that rewards repetitive execution.  Plodding along with pars and taking advantage of the occasional birdie opportunity is the best way to succeed here. Professional golfers are a conservative bunch by nature, and they aren’t convinced that slamming on the gas pedal for 72 holes is the best strategy at the season finale.”
  • “I don’t think I’m really going to change my game plan too much,” Conners said. “I’m going to try to make a lot of birdies. Starting in this position, there’s really nothing to lose. You can’t be silly, but if I can put four really good rounds of golf together, I have a chance. I think everyone feels like they have a chance.”
  • “Since 1983, there have been 19 victories by players who trailed by 10 or more strokes after any round. Nine players won when trailing by 10 or more strokes with 54 holes remaining, while seven players did so with two rounds left to play.”

Full piece.

4. Inkster losing sleep
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Juli Inkster joked that making her two U.S. Solheim Cup captain’s picks are so difficult this year, she wished she didn’t have any picks at all, but the truth is that she would like more.”
  • “Inkster said Tuesday at the CP Women’s Open that she wished she had three picks.”
  • “Two picks don’t really do much for me,” Inkster said. “If I had four picks, it would be great, but I do think we need one more pick in there.”
  • “Inkster’s automatic qualifiers will be determined with Sunday’s finish to the CP Women’s Open. She’ll announce her two captain’s picks on Monday. European captain Catriona Matthew made her four captain’s picks last week. Inkster said another pick would help her with pairings.”

 

5. Well done, Lucas!
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on Lucas Glover’s return to the Tour Championship
  • “For the three-time Tour winner, rock bottom came in 2015 when he was forced to play the Korn Ferry Tour’s finals events to regain his status.”
  • “That was a pretty bad year,” Glover said on Tuesday at East Lake. “I didn’t do anything very well. That was about as low as it got, that first journey back to the Korn Ferry finals.”
  • “By comparison this season has been an unqualified success. He’s made 20 of 25 cuts, posted seven top-10 finishes and heated up at the perfect moment with a tie for seventh last week at the BMW Championship to qualify for East Lake for the first time since 2009.”

Full piece.

6. The forgotten history of Langston
Elliot Williams at The Washingtonian…”In 1927, golfers petitioned Uncle Sam to build a course for African Americans. While they eventually prevailed, the replacement wasn’t much of an upgrade. Located atop an abandoned city dump in Northeast DC, Langston-named after John Mercer Langston, Howard University’s first law school dean and the first black man from Virginia elected to Congress-opened in 1939 with grass missing and just nine holes. (The other nine were added in 1955.) There were no shelters for bad weather, and the course was surrounded by disused tires and a sewage ditch. Trash and all, though, Langston was still home.”
  • “Over the years, it also became a see-and-be-seen destination. Heavyweight champion Joe Louis played an amateur tournament at Langston in 1940, drawing 2,000 fans. Lifelong golfer David Ross met Muhammad Ali one day on a putting green: “His limousine pulls up, and . . . he said to me, ‘I’ve never picked up a golf club before,’ and he reached out and got my putter.”
  • “By the 1970s, black people could comfortably play at many courses. As the demographics of the city changed around it, Langston did, too. Today newcomers-often white and in their twenties-play just as often as the old-timers. The course, however, is again in shambles. The National Park Service says it will open up operations to bidders this year and will strike a new contract by October 2020. But a similar plan to renovate was under way two years ago and ended abruptly. Longtimers hope the limbo will soon be in the past-and that after 80-some years, the course conditions will finally befit its loyal players.”

Full piece. 

7. Bobby’s missing medal
A segment of a fascinating story from Helen Ross at PGATour.com
  • …”The medal, which is slightly larger than a silver dollar, is the one Jones received when he won the 1927 Southern Open. On the front is the crest of the Southern Golf Association while the back is engraved in 14-carat gold with the words: Open Championship, Atlanta, March 1927, Won by Robert T. Jones Jr., 281 strokes.”
  • “What the younger Jones didn’t know is that serious golf collectors had wondered where it was ever since his grandfather donated all his championship medals to the United States Golf Association. The medal was the only first-place award not in the collection.”
  • “One day, Jones and his wife, Mimi, who happened to be wearing the medal, walked into a reception. A good friend, Sidney Matthew, the Tallahassee, Florida lawyer who is one of the foremost experts on all things Bobby Jones, immediately took notice.”

Full piece. 

8. A Tiger-inspired generation
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“The world that Woods took by storm two decades ago is far different from the one he looked to reconquer last year, and different still from the one that watched him slip into a green jacket this spring. Gone are the scores of journeymen who once cobbled out a decent living on Tour without much time for practice. Same for the single-skill specialists, the ones who shined so brightly in one area as to make up for glaring deficiencies elsewhere.”
  • “This is the Tiger Effect. The one he bore and the one he’s had to overcome.”
  • “Out on Tour in 2019, you need to have the entire package. Fairways are lined not with players who spend more time at the buffet table than the gym, but instead by physical specimen who have honed their craft by combining two workouts for every round played. The era of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy is upon us, with athletes taking to golf rather than golfers gleaning athletic skills to boost their skill set.”

Full piece.

9. Youngest CWO competitor ever
BBC report on 12-year-old Michelle Liu…”As well as practicing alongside LPGA players, Liu met Henderson, 21, on the driving range on Monday and said she had a picture taken with the defending champion, who became the first home winner last year.”
  • “Liu qualified for the event, which started in 1973, via the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship in July.”
  • “I know there is a lot of great players in the field here so I definitely say it’s going to be pretty hard,” she added.

 

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