As the winds and the cold reached the northeast USA, the tours kept rolling across the globe. PGA Tour Champions held court in California, while the PGA Tour debuted in Bermuda. The LPGA touched down in Taipei, and the World Golf Championships held the final championship of the year in Shanghai. Brendon Todd became the comeback kid, as Rory McIlroy re-asserted his claim on world number one. Nelly Korda defended her inaugural tour victory, while Colin Montgomerie won the penultimate event of the PGA Tour Champions season and playoffs.
True, the Bills are 6-2 (behind only the Patriots in the entire AFC), but there is still golf to consider. Let’s run it down together, shall we?
WGC-HSBC Champions victory moves McIlroy waaaaay up
Rory McIlroy said nothing as the PGA Tour members controversially voted him as their player of the year. Smart guy. He let his golf clubs speak for him this week. The Northern Irishman opened with consecutive 67s over the first three rounds, to establish a 1-shot lead over Louis Oosthuizen. King Louis would fall away on day 4, placing 3rd alone, 2 shots out of first. A 4th consecutive 67 would have brought McIlroy to -20 and first place alone. Instead, he tallied 68, and was caught by Xander Schauffele, whose 66 was marred by a solitary bogey.
The pair returned to the dramatic 18th hole, where McIlroy laced a picture-perfect drive. Schauffele tugged his left, and found a ring of rough ’round the solitary fairway bunker. He was forced to lay up, but did pitch his 3rd close for a birdie attempt. McIlroy thundered an approach onto the green, and two-putted for birdie. When Schauffele missed, the victory belonged to Rory. It was his third unique WGC championship, elevating him to a select company of those who hold all three trophies. McIlroy also jumped to 5th on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings, and to 2nd in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup series.
Bermuda welcomes Brendon Todd back to the PGA Tour winner’s podium
Brendon Todd almost set an untouchable standard on his way to victory. Todd birdied holes 2 through 8, to reach 7 deep by the 9th tee. He added birdies at 10 and 11 to touch -9, and talk of a sub-60 round became commonplace. Of greater importance to the resurgent Pittsburgher was his massive lead over a trio of golfers, now competing for 2nd-place money. Todd closed with a birdie at 15 and a bogey at 18. His 62 gave him a 4-shot margin of victory over Harry Higgs, this week’s candidate for Where Did He Come From status.
Todd had struggled recently with self-described “full-swing yips.” Work with a teaching pro, along with an unlikely, recovered stutterer, provided keys to overcoming his concerns. Higgs stood even with Hank Lebioda and Aaron Wise in the closing moments, but a dazzling eagle at the 17th gave the tour rookie his highest finish to date.
Swinging Skirts to Korda after Houdini-esque escape maneuver
Nelly Korda appears to move with ease, along every fairway and green. So calm is her gait, that it’s hard to tell that she just holed out for eagle (as happened on Saturday) or made three bogeys in four holes, as happened late Sunday. The young Floridian calmly stepped to the 18th tee, then birdied it for the 4th time in as many days. That saved stroke returned her to the top spot, albeit tied with Caroline Masson and Minjee Lee.
Masson had 68 on Sunday, making up 4 strokes on Korda. Lee had a 69 of her own, in search of her 2nd victory of the 2019 campaign. The triumvirate marched to the 18th tee, where the defending champion played the hole flawlessly. Driver and hybrid brought her to the par 5 in two, and she 2-putted for a 5th birdie on the week. Neither competitor could match her, and Korda was a 3-time champion on the world’s biggest tour.
Invesco QQQ is Monty’s 1st Champions triumph in two years
Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer were not the two golfers one expected to find in the 3rd playoff of the week in professional golf. Perhaps Retief Goosen, the Saturday leader, or a reborn Fred Couples? What about upstart Tommy Tolles? Tolles did his best, with a 66 that came up one stroke shy of the playoff. Goosen had an early bogey on each nine, and like Tolles, needed one shot fewer on the week. He tied for 3rd at -13. Meanwhile, at the top of the leader board, England’s Montgomerie birdied 4 of the opening 5 holes, then added 2 more birdies and 1 eagle on the inward half, for 63 and -14.
Langer began the day in 2nd position, and made 5 birdies against zero bogeys on the day. If not for Monty’s heroics, the German would have wrapped up another title. As with the other two, overtime events, this one took but one bonus hole. Langer got himself into trouble and made double bogey at the dramatic 18th. Monty escaped with par and the title. Interestingly, the two last met in a playoff in the 2002 Andalusian Masters. Lightning abbreviated the overtime, and the two agreed to share the title. Not the case this week.
Brooks Koepka withdraws from Presidents Cup with knee injury; replaced by Rickie Fowler
Brooks Koepka has officially announced his withdrawal from the U.S. side for next month’s Presidents Cup, having been unable to fully recover from a knee injury which he re-injured at last month’s CJ Cup.
In a statement released on Koepka’s social media, the world number one stated
“Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the USA Presidents Cup team because of my knee injury. I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete.
Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100% in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal.
I’m sorry I won’t be able to represent the Red, White, and Blue this time around and I wish my teammates nothing but the best as they work to retain the Presidents Cup for the USA.”
View this post on Instagram
Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the USA Presidents Cup team because of my knee injury. I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete. ? Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100% in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal. ? I’m sorry I won’t be able to represent the Red, White, and Blue this time around and I wish my teammates nothing but the best as they work to retain the Presidents Cup for the USA.
Koepka has now been replaced in the U.S. team by Rickie Fowler who will be making his third appearance at the Presidents Cup.
The 2019 Presidents Cup takes place at Royal Melbourne from December 12-15.
Morning 9: Long-term extension for Whan | Rory bemoans major calendar again | Captain Tiger’s Koepka backup plan
1. If BK can’t play…
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport considers the decision facing captain Tiger Woods should Brooks Koepka be unable to play in Australia.
2. “Long-term extension”
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…“Mike Whan doesn’t intend to leave the LPGA anytime soon…With his contract set to expire late next year, Whan confirmed with GolfChannel.com Tuesday that he has signed a contract extension.”
3. Ko playing hurt
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins…”Jin Young Ko has had a dominant season on the LPGA, winning four times in 2019, including two major championships. She is the No. 1 player in the world, and she broke Tiger Woods’ record of consecutive tournament holes without a bogey, 114 to Woods’ 110. Moreover, she already has won Player of the Year honors. Yet Ko has arrived at the last event on the LPGA’s calendar, the CME Group Tour Championship facing her biggest challenge this season.”
4. BBC loses Masters TV rights
Guardian staff report…”The BBC will not show any live golf next year for the first time since 1955 after the broadcaster lost the rights to live coverage of the Masters. Sky Sports will be the sole broadcasters of the tournament from Augusta.”
5. Major calendar worries Rory for casual fans
Golfweek’s Alistair Tait…”Rory McIlroy has reiterated fears that casual golf fans may be turned off the game because the major championships are crammed too tightly together.”
6. Lexi’s perspective
“Remember, she was 12 when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007. She was 15 when she finished runner-up at the Evian Championship. She was 19 when she won her first major at the Kraft Nabisco.”
AP report…”After turning pro in May, the Colorado native disappeared from the leaderboard for several months. She had only one significant check, a fifth in the Marathon Classic worth $52,798.”
8. Leaning on the Patricks?
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin on the origin of the Patrick Reed-Patrick Cantlay friendship, which could prove significant for the American side in Australia…”He decided to phone a friend from his amateur days. Cantlay was a high-schooler when he played a practice round with Patrick Reed at one of the country’s top amateur events, the Western Amateur. Now Cantlay wanted to team with him at TPC Louisiana.”
9. A rooftop bar overlooking St. Andrews?
Our Gianni Magliocco…”On Tuesday, U.S.-based investment firm, AJ Capital Partners, announced plans to renovate the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel beside the Old Course at St. Andrews, which is set to feature a new rooftop bar overlooking the Old Course’s iconic 18th hole.”
Morning 9: Brandon Matthews is a good man | The art of the painful comeback | Are the Rules still too complicated?
1. Singular stuff
Pretty impressive stuff from Brandon Matthews. Via Julie Williams at Golfweek…”Matthews, 25, entered a sudden death playoff with Ricardo Celia on Sunday after both reached 11 under for 72 holes.”
2. Back-to-back for Brendon Todd
AP report…”Two tournaments, two victories…They didn’t make Brendon Todd forget about the dark years, when he had the full yips so bad he didn’t know where the ball was going and made only two cuts in 35 events he played over three years.”
3. The art of the painful comeback
Shane Ryan on the incredible resurgence of Brendon Todd…
“The dark days couldn’t have been far from his mind.”
4. Love’s Plantation Course redesign
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin on Davis Love III’s work giving the Plantation Course a facelift…
5. Are the Rules of Golf still too complicated?
The Golf.com team debated that question (among others) in Tour Confidential…
6. Wanna buy a golf course?
Todd Kelly at Golfweek…”The Spring Valley Golf Club in Elizabeth, Colorado, is going up for auction Tuesday, Nov. 19, according to businessden.com. The course is located about 40 miles southeast of downtown Denver.”
7. Financial security for LPGA pros
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols with some perspective…”Sunday’s unprecedented payday at the CME Group Tour Championship – $1.5 million to the winner – could be a life-changing day for one of the 60 players at Tiburon Golf Club. Unlike previous years, anyone in the field can claim the big prize. The total purse for the week is $5 million.”
8. Dinner at DL3’s
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”As far as The Man Out Front is concerned, the best Tuesday night meal of the golf year isn’t the Champions Dinner at Augusta National. That may be the most coveted invite, but The Forecaddie can attest that it doesn’t get much better than the RSM Classic’s pro-am draw party hosted in a tent in the backyard of former U.S. Ryder Cup captain and World Golf Hall of Famer Davis Love III.”
9. ICYMI: The greatest shank
Our Gianni Magliocco…”While the claim of greatest shank ever is undoubtedly subjective, you’ll do well to find a hosel rocket which proved more effective than Joachim Hansen’s during Saturday’s round at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.”
Paulina Gretzky’s Halloween Bash featured Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka as you’ve never seen them before
Tiger Woods’ winning WITB: 2019 ZOZO Championship
Top 5 drivers of all time: 400cc and under
DeChambeau makes history with 14 graphite shafts on PGA Tour (inside info from LA Golf Shafts)
Forum Thread of the Day: “Best players iron on the market now?”
Top 5 golf grips of all time
Rory McIlroy’s winning WITB: 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions
Top 10 “modern classic” fairway woods of all time
Justin Thomas’ winning WITB: 2019 CJ Cup
The Wedge Guy: Do you know why you miss short?
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