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Tour Rundown: Ground control to Major Tom, Coastal Carolina’s other pro

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Another playoff series comes to an end in professional golf. The Korn Ferry Tour held its championship at Victoria National, the spiritual hub for aqueous masochists. The Champions Tour journeyed north of the border for its only 2019 event in Oh, Canada! The LPGA went way out west to Portland, and the European Tour sallied in Switzerland.

Even with American football in the offing, the golf is plenty interesting, with plenty at stake for the other 99.9 percent. As always, we’ll run it down like a fifth-string back, trying to make the 53-man roster. Here goes!

Ground Control To Major Tom: Lewis wins big in Indiana

Tom Lewis must have seen an opening in his schedule and figured, why not go to America’s heartland and play the KF Tour for the first time…and win the Tour Championship…and get a PGA Tour card in the process? Pretty common plan, wouldn’t you say? Lewis was an unstoppable force at Tom Fazio’s playground for fish.

He began 68-66-66, then dropped a sublime 65 on the field in round four. For those counting, that was the low round of the day, matched only by Kramer Hickock. For Hickok, it jumped him six spots, into third place, guaranteeing him a PGA Tour card beginning this fall. Second spot went to Argentina’s Fabian Gomez, who parlayed a 66 of his own into a runner-up spot. As for Lewis, that filthy 65 gave him a five-shot margin of victory over Gomez, and a chance to sit down and rewrite all of his future plans. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

No Montana for Hannah: Green picks Oregon for 2nd tour win of 2019

Hannah Green probably feels two percent bad about spoiling a great story for golf, and 98 percent like a wrecking ball for holding off Yealimi Noh at the Portland Classic. Noh had Monday-qualified and led after each of the first three rounds. She and Green walked the 72nd fairway in a tie for the lead. An hour prior, Noh held a four-shot advantage over the Aussie, but bogeys from Noh at 14 and 16, paired with birds from down under at 15 and 17, established equality. On 18, Noh came undone for yet another bogey, while Green made par to secure the victory.

The bitter lesson should prove to be quite valuable for Noh; for Green, a follow-up to her unanticipated Women’s PGA win in June establishes her as a legitimate threat for 2020. 2019’s stud, Brittany Altomare, sneaked into third place with a closing 69.

Coastal Carolina’s Other Tour Pro: Soderberg ticks off the Omega Masters

Dustin who? Sebastian Soderberg won a wild, five-man playoff that included Rory McIlroy, for his first-ever Euro Tour title. Much like Noh, Soderberg had a shot to win in regulation, but he three-whacked the 17th for bogey. He joined McIlroy, Andres Romero of Argentina, Lorenzo Gagli of Italy, and Denmark’s Kallie Samooja in an overtime quintet.

Samooja looked to have the best of the approach shots at the 18th, tucking his iron inside seven feet. After Gagli plunked in the water, and Romero missed a bomb birdie putt, McIlroy’s effort strayed a wee bit left. Soderberg drained a 20-feet bird to eliminate the triumvirate, then watched as Samooja opened the putter blade a bit too much, pushing his chance to stay alive to the side. Although DJ has a few more wins than Soderberg, at least the Myrtle Beach college can now lay claim to two tour winners. The Grand Strand, indeed!

I Got A Rock: Unlike Charlie Brown, Short grateful for pond gravel in Alberta

Wes Short, Jr. took dead aim at the left side of the 18th green on Sunday. His approach drifted right, toward a watery demise. It connected, dead solid perfect, with a lone stone and bounded onto the putting surface. That’s the best kind of fun. Raised from the dead, Short two-putted for birdie and held off Scott McCarron, despite an eagle from the later at the home hole.

We’ll get back to Short, but we simply cannot get inside McCarron’s head. Just when we think he wants to dominate the old-guys tour, he bogeys 16 and 17 to fall off the pace. Just when we think he has no grit, he eagles the last. What gives, Scott? Back to Short. In 2014, when he was just a baby senior, Short won in Quebec by one shot over Scott Dunlap. So, for all you bettors, if Short is in contention, in Canada, and someone named Scott is in the hunt, bet Short.

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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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

    Sep 5, 2019 at 7:11 am

    Kalle Samooja is from Finland not Denmark.

  2. aaron

    Sep 3, 2019 at 8:51 am

    “Noh had Monday-qualified and led after each of the first three rounds”

    Noh she didn’t. Green was tied first in round one, solo first round 2. Noh took the lead in round 3.

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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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Morning 9: Red lights for slow play? | Thorbjorn still suspended | Rory on Solheim slow play

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

September 19, 2019

Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Red lights for slow play at Wentworth this week
Golf Digest’s John Huggan…”A lot of the time players are unaware that they are out of position,” said John Paramor, the European Tour’s chief referee. “So we felt that we would like to find a method that would tell them when they are. So we are trialing this week a system where they will have that information on five tees [Nos. 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16]. The previous group’s time will be recorded when they walk off the green. Then that time will be deducted from that of the next group, who will then be able to tell if they are within time.”
  • “Specifically, each monitor will operate a color-coded system, similar to a traffic light. If the number shown is red, then that group can expect to be monitored by the rules team very soon thereafter. If it is green, the players are in good shape and in position with the group ahead. Amber means the group is only slightly out position, but the players should be aware that they are going to have to move a little quicker.”

Full piece.

2. Thorbjorn stays suspended
BBC Staff report…”Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen will remain suspended from the European Tour until his court case is finished.”
  • “The 29-year-old Ryder Cup winner made his second appearance in court on Wednesday, charged with sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft.”
  • “Olesen, of Chelsea, south-west London, has also been charged with assault by beating.
  • “…Olesen, who has been granted unconditional bail, did not enter a plea at a short hearing on Wednesday at Isleworth Crown Court.”

Full piece. 

3. Why Rory re-joined the European Tour…
From a Press Association report…”Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I’m looking out for me,” McIlroy said during the DP World Tour Championship in November, before describing the European Tour as “a stepping stone” ahead of the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.”
  • “However, following a meeting with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, McIlroy took up his membership before the May 1 deadline and can begin earning points for the 2020 Ryder Cup when qualification begins with this week’s BMW PGA Championship.”
  • “Asked what led to the change of heart, McIlroy said: “My wife. She said to me, ‘what are you trying to do, or what sort of point are you trying to make?’.”

Full piece.

4. Rory on Solheim slow play
Martin Dempster at The Scotsman quoting McIlroy…”I think it’s a start,” said the world No 2 of a GPS tracking devices being used to monitor each group’s position on the course, with the data to be displayed on five tees to inform players where they stand in relation to the groups around them.”
  • “Get all the latest news, analysis and expert opinion with an online subscription Subscribe Today”
  • “Look, it’s not a great thing for our game. I don’t want to single out particular people, but I watched a lot of the Solheim Cup at the weekend, and it was really slow. As much as you want to sit there and watch and support the European girls, it’s just hard not to get frustrated with it. If I’m a fan – and I am a fan of golf – I want the best for the game. It’s hard because there’s different scenarios where you have to take your time. It was tough conditions up there. It was windy. It was tough.”
5. The PGA Tour is also using GPS slow play tracking…
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”The PGA Tour began using GPS tracking devices this year at “numerous” events, including The Players in March, as well as information provided by ShotLink.”
  • “We’ve used ShotLink data for some time to work with players over the years and maybe show them areas of their game where they might take a little more time,” said Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s chief of operations. “These [GPS] devices are the last missing piece. How long does it take to reach a tee, how fast do they walk. These are things that we can now see.”
  • “The Tour announced last month a plan to review its pace-of-play policy using data generated by ShotLink and Dennis explained that players have been asked at various events this season to test the tracking devices, which are simply placed in a player’s golf bag.”

Full piece.

6. Vice captain Karlsson 
Via RyderCup.com…”European Captain Padraig Harrington has named Robert Karlsson as his first vice captain for The 2020 Ryder Cup against the United States at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin next September.”
  • “The 50-year-old Swede twice represented Europe in The Ryder Cup – including partnering Harrington twice in foursomes at Valhalla in 2008 – and he will return to the backroom team in the biennial contest having been vice captain to Thomas Bjørn at Le Golf National in 2018″
7. Distinguished service
Via the PGA.com staff…”Barbara Nicklaus, one of the game’s most successful ambassadors and admired advocates for the healthcare of future generations in addition to being the wife of the greatest champion in golf history, has been named recipient of the 2019 PGA Distinguished Service Award.”
  • “Nicklaus, 79, will be honored Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the PGA of America’s 103rd Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida. Since 1988, the PGA Distinguished Service Award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf.”

Full piece. 

8. Jack discusses the Concession 
And in news related to her husband…the Golden Bear recently discussed the most famous gimme in pro golf history…
  • USA Today, Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio...”Jacklin left his putt two feet short, while Nicklaus ran his attempt five feet by the hole. But Nicklaus drained his comebacker and then extended his hand in a gesture that was criticized by a few at the time but heralded by many more ever since.
  • “I knew going down the 18th hole as long as I didn’t lose the hole, we would retain the cup. Jacklin had a 25-footer and I had a 17- or 18-footer. He ran it up close and I ran it five feet by the hole and thought ‘Oh what an idiot,'” Nicklaus said. “I had a downhill left-to-right slider that I made, and I knew the match was essentially over from the standpoint of losing. I didn’t think of all this at the same time, but Tony had been the first hero that England had had in a long time. If he would’ve missed that putt, the British press would’ve barbecued him.”
  • “Instead of Jacklin facing a knee-knocker to earn the first tie in Ryder Cup history, Nicklaus bent over and picked up his opponent’s marker and conceded the putt. The two finished equal and the matches ended up 16-16. “

Full piece. 

9. Bhatia ready for the big time
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”At just 17 years old, Bhatia bears the fresh face and thin frame you might expect of a typical high school senior. His golf game, however, is ready for the big time. At least that’s the assertion of Bhatia and his close-knit team, as the teen sensation gets ready to make his pro debut this week at the Sanderson Farms Championship without ever setting foot on a college campus.”
  • “Bhatia’s game is well-regarded in the amateur ranks. He won the prestigious Jones Cup, was ranked No. 5 in the world and just this month helped the U.S. to a Walker Cup victory at Royal Liverpool. Bhatia received social media well-wishes Wednesday from former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, whose academy in South Carolina has been a frequent destination for the bespectacled southpaw as he honed his game.”
  • “Bhatia’s fast track to the pros has not been an overnight decision. When he made his PGA Tour debut in March, missing the cut with rounds of 74-72 at the Valspar Championship, he told reporters that he and his parents had talked about his option to skip college since he was in the eighth grade.”

 

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Morning 9: Secrets of wedge stamping | Woods’ GF dismissed from wrongful death suit | Golf art masterpiece

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

September 18, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
5 USC!
Adam Woodard at Golfweek hyping the Trojans! 
“There’s no denying the NCAA Championship-level talent on hand this week at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M.”
  • “Since its inception in 2014, the event has boasted the best field in women’s Div. I golf. But if you ask preseason No. 1 USC, this week’s competition at Royal Golf Club is no more difficult than one of its pre-tournament qualifiers.”
  • “If you ask (Gabriela Ruffels), probably the biggest driver in her improvement is having to compete at home every week in qualifiers,” head coach Justin Silverstein said of his 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion.
  • “Silverstein’s squad returns eight players – five of whom were Golfweek All-Americans – from last season’s team that won seven events. Just how good are the Trojans on paper…”

(Find out in the) full piece.

6. Knee injury for Rose
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”Rose withdrew from Wednesday’s pro-am at the European Tour’s flagship event citing a knee injury.”
  • “Last Thursday I slipped and jarred my knee,” Rose said in a statement. “Since then I have been getting treatment on the injury and I have been working hard with Justin Buckthorp and my medical team away from the course in order to ensure I am able to play in this week’s BMW PGA Championship. I am doing everything I can to be fit to play on Thursday.”

Full piece.

7. Who needs an equipment makeover?
I don’t agree with the premise, but it’s a witty piece nevertheless! E. Michael Johnson at Golf Digest rounds up players in need of an “equipment makeover”
“Henrik Stenson…It’s hard to knock a former major winner who also sits at No. 31 in the world ranking, but it’s time for Henrik Stenson to retire some clubs in his bag, notably the Callaway Legacy irons and Callaway Diablo Octane 3-wood (above). We know he has the strongest level of comfort with that fairway wood. But it dates back more than a decade (it debuted in 2008), and the Grafalloy Blue shaft in it goes back another five years to 2003. It’s one thing to have a “trusty” club in the bag. It’s another to have something that leads people to believe you might have stolen it from the USGA Golf House Museum. As for the irons, Stenson used this model to win the FedEx Cup … in 2013. We applaud loyalty, just not this much.”
“Bubba Watson…”I hate changing equipment,” Bubba Watson told Golf Digest in 2013. When it comes to his irons, that’s a bit of an understatement. The two-time Masters champion has used his Ping S55 irons since the 2012 BMW Championship (save for a few weeks with a different set). This after using the company’s S59 irons since 2004. So change comes slowly for Bubba. There are reasons, however. For starters, Watson is the ultimate “feel player,” noticing the slightest of differences. His specs are also not typical. His S55s are a half-inch longer in length with an extreme heel grind on the 3- through 5-irons. They’re also one degree upright, and the grips are massively oversized with 10 wraps of tape on the top and 12 wraps on the bottom. Still, having the same irons for seven seasons would seem to indicate it’s time for a change-even if you don’t like it.”
8. The craziest thing you’ve ever done for golf? 
Ryan Barath frames his trip to Sweetens Cove for the Oil Hardened Classic…
  • “Let me start by saying that I’m not a “Bag Tag Barry” or really a bucket list course kinda guy. Yes, I have courses I want to play, but at the moment the highest on the list starts and ends with the Old Course at St. Andrews – because, simple – it’s St. Andrews. Beyond that, my “hoping to play” list pretty much the standard classics.”
  • “But it doesn’t mean that I haven’t gone WAY out of my way to play, especially when you think about the recent 1600-plus mile journey I just took to Sweetens Cove to play in the First Annual “Oil Hardened Classic” run by Eternal Summer Golf Society.
  • “Sweetens has been on my radar since I first heard about it, and if you are at all interested in course architecture I’m sure it has been on your radar for a while too…”

Full piece.

9. The golf art you didn’t know you needed
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Phil Mickelson’s foray into social media the past year has produced its share of art works. But the masterpiece-or should we say, Masters piece-that made the digital rounds on Monday takes that phenomenon to a new level.”
“Matt Landers is a painter specializing in oil canvasing. A fact we only know thanks to this thing of beauty…”

 

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