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Tour Rundown: A Canadian triumphs in California, a win for Min Woo, playoff VICtory

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The PGA Tour played storied Pebble Beach, easily a month earlier than most of us would like to see. Windy and cold are not ideal conditions for northern California, but the California Swing has only so many open dates. The women of the LPGA and men of the European tours were together in Australia, for the concurrent Vic Opens. Such an advanced notion: to have women and men compete for identical prize money, on the same golf course, at the same time. Finally, the Korn Ferry Tour found itself immersed in its Latin America trajectory, high in the Andes in Bogota.

Pro golf is back, blending its young surprises with its old certainties, as it always does. Tour Rundown, for the 2nd time in February, gives us the inside scoop on all the happenings across the golfing globe.

Vic Open-Women: Playoff decides VICtor at 13th Beach

This one was gut-wrenching. No other way to describe the sight of a leader’s vertical tumble from the top spot to a tie for 16th in 10 holes. Rather than highlight that descent, let’s consider the remarkable 4-hole playoff that was ultimately claimed by Hee Young Park. Once a winning score of single-digits-under-par became a possibility, the scramble began. Leona Maguire and Linnea Strom missed the playoff by one; 3 more were 2 shots back at -6. Back to the Korean trio of Park, So Yeon Ryu, and Hye-Jin Choi. Only Ryu failed to birdie the 18th in regulation; 4 there would have won the event outright. She was the first to depart from extra time, with par at the second go-round in overtime. Park and Choi each birdied the closing hole 4 times on day four, compelling them to a fifth tip (4th in extra holes.) Showing the strain, Park was only able to summon a par at the closer; it was enough, as Choi made bogey and gave up the ghost.

Back to the unfortunate collapse of fellow Korean Ayean Cho. Her first 7 holes were bumpy, with 2 birds, 2 boges, and 3 pars. No more difficult than the remainder in the field, but what happened next was unfathomable. Over the final 11 holes, she made 0 birdies, 4 pars, 5 bogies and 2 doubles. Playing that stretch in 9 over par, she tumbled from 12-under par to 3-below. Links golf, combined with wind and strategic bunkering, makes disaster proximate. The hope is that the bruises will be quick to heal, yet impart the necessary lessons of how to take each shot for itself, and never allow one shot to take us too high or too low.

Vic Open-Men: It’s about MINWOO time at 13th Beach

For once, the commentators were on the money. They spoke during the telecast of the awareness and control that the wunderkind from Australia exhibited all week. Since he was 16, since he won the USGA Junior, everything and too much was predicted for Min Woo Lee. This week, he got it done. As when Greg Lemond finally conquered the shadow of Bernard Hinault, with no help from Hinault himself, Lee had to withstand a 4th-day surge from Popeye himself, Ryan Fox. Fox was flawless on the final day, pairing four birdies with two spectacular eagles. His 3 at the par-five last sounded a warning, and when Lee made bogey at 17, his first since the penultimate hole the day before, his lead had shrunk to one slim putt … or wedge … or anything! As champions do, he gathered himself and finished in style. Birdie at the last brought him his first important win as a professional. Let’s hope it serves as a springboard toward multiple wins, and not the soul-searching agony of Why am I so good and not winning? that Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Paula Creamer and many others have felt, in recent years. As for Fox, let’s hope that 2020 is a year to remember, for the right reasons, for the affable and powerful Kiwi.

AT&T Pro-Am: Maple leaf flies over Monterey peninsula

Nick Taylor won his first PGA Tour event at the age of 22, in 2014. 6 years later, he took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the AT&T at Pebble. On his heels was a fellow who knows a thing about winning in Monterey, and happened to be the defending champion. Holding off Phil Mickelson would be a bit different from winning the Sanderson Farms when the fall circuit didn’t have the same cache it does today. Through 9 holes, Taylor appeared to be the master, with Mickelson as his apprentice. Taylor rode 3 birdies and 1 eagle to an outward 32, to preserve his lead. As he turned back toward the clubhouse at 11, things began to unravel. Consecutive bogeys at 11 and 12, followed 2 holes later by a wretched double bogey at 14, should have been the end of his lead. Fortunately for Taylor, Mickelson never found his groove on Sunday. Lefty tossed a 3-under start in the trash bin, with double at 8 and bogey at 9. As Taylor was unraveling, Phil made bogeys at 12, 14, and 16. His last birdie came at 10, and he was fortunate to tie for 2nd with Kevin Streelman. Taylor made birdies at 15 and 17, and clinched his 2nd tour title by 4 shots. Streelman could bask in the glow of winning the Pro-Am title for the 2nd time in 3 years, both times with the NFL’s Larry Fitzgerald.

Country Club de Bogota Championship: Myth becomes reality as Mito conquers Bogota

Mito Pereira is not a household name, not in Santiago (his home city in Chile) nor at Texas Tech University, his alma mater. He is a Korn Ferry Tour winner, however, after his dramatic, 72nd-hole eagle concluded a Sunday 64 and broke him out of a tie at -18 with Ben Kohles of the USA. John Vanderlaen of Connecticut escorted a 1-shot lead into day four, but his closing 73 was so far off the quality of golf being played in the Andean capital, that he was fortunate to tumble just 5 places, into a tie for 6th. Local hero Camilo Villegas was in the hunt through 36, but closing rounds of 69-69 were average, and he tied for 4th. As for Pereira, he wasn’t alone in the rave that was Sunday at CCBogota. Patrick Fishburn jumped from 18th to 4th with a 64, while Kohles moved from 6th to almost-1st with a 65. The conclusion looked like extra holes for so long—until Pereira added his 2nd eagle of the day, accompanied by 4 birdies, to sneak past the runner-up, into first position.

 

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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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GolfWRX Spotlight: Golf Drawn’s custom golf art

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I recently converted an extra bedroom in my house into a home office (golf-themed, of course). In my search for stuff to put up on the walls, I came across a company that was doing something different. They had a booth at this year’s PGA Show showing off some of their unique work, and when I dug in a bit more, I realized it was a really innovative product for the golf community. So, I reached out to the people at Golf Drawn to see if they could help me create a piece for my office.

Golf Drawn is a custom design and illustration service that specializes in creating original, hand-drawn course routing designs of your favorite club. Any club. That’s the best part. They can draw any course in the world using the wonders of satellite imaging.

Goat Hill Park

Brooklawn on Wood Canvas

Streamsong

“We began just as we still do now, by drawing up folks’ home tracks,” said Anthony Malky, Owner and Creative Director at Golf Drawn. “Whether it was a par three, municipal course, top-100, or whatever. Our whole deal was that we would draw any course….and we still do. There’s yet to be one that we couldn’t execute.”

If you’ve spent any time looking around for golf art or memorabilia, you realize how big a deal that actually is. The top-100 courses get all the love. Golf Drawn is filling a void out there and providing custom art focused on your favorite local course.

“We receive the course request from you and get to work on creating the design,” said Malky, “Once the design is complete, we send you proofs, and then you choose background color, labeling, frame and any additions.”

Popular additions to the framed prints include images of the scorecard table, compass to show direction of the course routing, alternative club logos, etc…

And Golf Drawn can then put that routing design or logo on a tee-shirt, sticker or other items if you like as well. Every new design requires a one-time design fee to get the work completed. But once that design is done, it is free to put on any framed print or tee in the future for anyone. Tee-shirts are becoming a rather popular item on the website.

If a course has been renovated or simply no longer exists, Golf Drawn has worked directly from old photos or original course plans to recreate the old track you remember. And, of course, Golf Drawn can do the famous courses as well. It’s a great way to commemorate a favorite round, hole in one, or once in a lifetime score.

My local club is Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. They already had a design drawn of Colonial, so it wasn’t hard to customize what I wanted and finish the order. I added the columns logo to the top left corner and script location on the bottom right.

So how did this all begin? Anthony Malky grew up in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. He caddied at Oakmont Country Club for over a decade…and even got to play the course on some Mondays. He loves golf, just like we all do. And he started drawing courses as a hobby.

“I began drawing up the clubs that meant a lot to me,” Malky said. “After some time, at the urging of others I made an Instagram. I had a ton of course designs done and figured might as well post them for folks. From there, the Instagram took off, that turned into a website…then the custom orders started coming.”

Fast forward a couple of years, and Golf Drawn now has an entire wholesale catalog of unique products, over 250+ club accounts, and products stocked in shops around the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. That is pretty impressive for a business that does everything in-house with a fully customizable product. And keeping prices low has always been a goal for Malky, as he remembers a time when he wanted to buy golf art himself but found everything to be overpriced and low quality.

Sticker Variety Pack

“We’ve tried to keep our prices, minimums at wholesale, all low and cost effective,” Malky said.  “That was part of the initial start too, allowing people to get their course drawn up, framed, etc. for a price that anyone could pay. Not some outlandish design fee or commission type setup.”

Prices per print with framing included

The supply is working hard to keep up with the demand. Golf Drawn is still a small operation and Malky does all of the designs himself. There is a team that helps with operations and a few sales reps across the country, but the business definitely remains small. That is intentional. Malky believes that allows Golf Drawn to offer a personal, high-level service to each individual customer. And it allows the company to remain focused on the reason they got started in the first place.

“It’s always been about shedding light on and propping up courses and places that otherwise wouldn’t be,” Malky said.  Giving attention to and making that local municipal course look as good as a top-10 track. Getting the par-3 course by your house designed, framed and up on a wall, highlighted in a way that many people have only seen the big courses like Pebble, Pinehurst, Oakmont. It’s always been about highlighting the places and the memories that mean so much to people.”

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Report: 2020 Open Championship set to be cancelled; R&A releases statement in response: “continuing to work through options”

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This year’s Open Championship will be cancelled outright by the R&A due to the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from Golf Digest.

Per the report, an unnamed source has divulged to the publication that the championship will next take place in 2021 with St. Andrews hosting the event. Royal St. Georges, due to host the 2020 Open Championship, would instead host the 2024 edition.

According to Golf Digest’s source, insurance has played a pivotal role in the decision making. As with Wimbledon, the Open Championship has an insurance policy that protects itself against a global pandemic if the event is cancelled by a specific date.

On Wednesday, the R&A officially announced that the 41st Curtis Cup would be played in 2021 while the organization also moved the British Amateur and British Women’s Amateur from June to August.

Though unconfirmed, this would mark the first major championship of 2020 to be cancelled outright, with the Masters and PGA Championship having been officially postponed.

*UPDATE*

On Thursday morning, in light of the speculation surrounding this year’s Open Championship, Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, released a statement where he said the R&A are “continuing to work through our options for The Open this year.”

“We are continuing to work through our options for The Open this year, including postponement. Due to a range of external factors, that process is taking some time to resolve. We are well aware of the importance of being able to give clear guidance to fans, players and everyone involved and are working to resolve this as soon as we can. We will give a further update as soon as we are in a position to do so and thank everyone for their support and understanding in this challenging situation.”

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Report: Woods-Mickelson Part 2 likely to happen in May and will feature two other sporting superstars

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Earlier this week, Phil Mickelson teased “The Match” Part 2 on his social media, and according to a report from CNBC the exhibition, though unconfirmed, is likely to take place in May and will include both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

On Monday evening, golf journalist Robert Lusetich stated that the potential “The Match” Part 2 would likely involve NFL legends, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in a two on two contest.

Now per CNBC’s report, who claim that “a person familiar with the negotiations” confirmed the story to them, the contest is organized by AT&T’s WarnerMedia and the PGA Tour, and would likely take place in May with the proceeds going towards coronavirus relief charities.

The report also claims the event would likely not be a pay-per-view contest, with plans also in place to feature big names throughout the PGA, NFL, and National Basketball Association.

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