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Tour Rundown: Im stands alone, extra time needed elsewhere, Langer a winner at 62

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After a World Golf Championship week (which means, little competition elsewhere), things were back to busy as February 29th arrived. Five tours were in action last weekend, from New Zealand, to Oman, to Mexico, to the USA. There was a lot of water in the mix, and it dashed many a triumphal effort. Such is the touring game, where forced carries are part and parcel of the demands of victory. Without delay, let’s rundown our quintet of quarrels, and find out who finished on top, and who else missed by just a little.

Sungjae Im stands alone after The Honda Classic

The eyes of the European Tour were on southeast Florida, watching Tommy Fleetwood. Hoping that the Tour’s hair god would find a way home, to his first U.S. PGA Tour triumph. It was not to be. Needing birdie at the last, Fleetwood dipped more than a toe in the pond and settled for third place, two behind the winning total. In second spot, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes had just followed his Saturday 66 with a Sunday 66. That’s one stellar weekend around the PGA National course. And ahead of him was Im.

The Korean golfer made a name for himself in 2018, when he won twice on the now-Korn Ferry tour, earning promotion to the major league. He kept his card last season and signed a contract on Sunday for another two years. That’s a prerequisite of victory. Im made birdie at four of his first five holes on day four, entering the conversation on who might lift the championship chalice. A pair of back-nine bogeys seemingly took him out of contention, but he returned with bravado, making unearthly birdies at 15 and 17. When the ripples in lake despair, hard by the 18th green, had quieted, Im indeed stood alone with victory number one in one hand, and the championship chalice, secure in the other.

El Bosque Mexico ends on playoff’s first hole

Chile’s Mito Pereira posted three birdies on his day. Beyond that, he did nothing that was expected of a player who had won, just three weeks past. He made bogeys, four of them, and added an unfortunate double to the card. Unbelievably, that disastrous 75 dropped him just one shot from the three-man playoff that decided this week’s Korn Ferry Tour event. Pereira, Dylan Wu, and Matt Atkins finished in a tie for fourth at 11 under. Settling at 12 under were David Kocher and Chad Ramey of the USA, and France’s Paul Barjon.

Ramey’s move had been the most Icarus-like: he reached eight under on the day, two clear of the chasers, then bogeyed 15 and 16 to fall back to earth. Kocher and Barjo each made birdie at 16 and joined the overtime triumvirate. At the first hole, the par-5 first, Kocher made birdie four to claim the title. Barjon had par, which wasn’t enough. Let the record show that Raney had, well, a line. No number. Must have picked up or something. His run had ended, but his second-place tie was economically and spiritually valuable. As for Kocher, victory is worth even more. A move to third spot on the money list, from 27th, is monumental. Confidence and a chance at the PGA Tour in 20-21, is inspirational.

After its Meso-American swing, the KF Tour returns to the continental USA in two weeks, at Lake Charles, Louisiana. 20 tournaments lead into the Tour Championship, where the last of the 20-21 PGA Tour cards will be passed out. Let the tee shots fly and the putts roll true!

Oman Open to Finland’s Valimaki in extra time

Adrien Saddier of France is feeling chuffed. He posted a 69 on Sunday to reach 12 under, and had hope that a penultimate-hole bogey might not cost him a chance at the title. Then came Brandon Stone, who made a 20-foot birdie putt, straight uphill, to reach 13 under. Well, second-place money would suit Saddier well, in any case. Along came Sami Valimaki, who melted a 20-feet birdie of his own, to also reach 13 under and relegate Saddier to the third spot. Off went the South African and the young Norsemen, into a playoff for the Oman Open.

On paper, Stone might have been the safer bet in the playoff. Three times a winner on the European Tour, his final round was a balanced one, with three birdies just enough to offset two bogeys. In contrast, the younger, more mercurial Valimaki was a comet flare: he overcame a double bogey and three bogeys on day four, with seven marvelous birdies. His six-hole stretch, from seven to 12, was emblematic of the unpredictable excitement that he brought on Sunday: birdie-birdie-double-birdie-bogey-birdie. And after two playoff holes, the pair was still tied. On the third go-round at 18, Stone’s reliable draw got throaty and overcooked beyond the final green. He failed to get up and down for par, then watched as Valimaki sneaked in a 30-inch putt for par. With the victory, the first-year member of the European Tour ignited what might be a memorable career.

New Zealand Open is Kennedy’s second

Golf’s great tales tend to take one of two trajectories: the great and final stand against all comers, or the heroic comeback from a distance. Brad Kennedy’s march to victory falls among the later, even though some might debate if a 2-shot recovery counts as a distance. Beginning the final day a pair of putts in arrears, Kennedy’s site was fixed on Joohyung Kim and Lucas Herbert, the leaders. Neither went away. After making 2 bogies over the first 54 holes, Kim struggle on day 4, adding 4 of the pests to his scorecard. He mustered a one-under 70, but it kept him 5 shots out of the top spot, in solo 4th. Sneaking past him, into 3rd, was Aussie Nick Flanagan, who survived a 30-putt round with excellent ball striking. His 66 brought him to -17.

Lucas Herbert, a recent, first-time winner, was closer to the task. He also had a wretched round with the flat stick, tallying 31 rolls just a day after notching 27. Those 4 putts made all the difference. His 67 was, for all the world, a winning round on appearance. In reality, it brought him to the runner-up spot. The deterrent to title number two for him, was Kennedy’s final-round magic. The 2011 New Zealand Open champion began the week with a 24-putt round, then lost his way on the greens for a spell. It all came back on Sunday: 26 putts paired with 15 greens in regulation, to total 63 strokes on the card. Kennedy sailed past the field, to the top of the platform. His 21-under par was 2 shots clear of Herbert, whose runner-up finish must have felt equal parts exhilarating and deflating.

The Open Championship was contested over two courses in Queenstown. Golfers split their first rounds between The Hills and the composite course at Millbrook Resort. The final two rounds are played across the Millbrook course. Hills comes in at par 72, and is regarded as the easier of the two venues. Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg became the first woman to compete in the event. She missed the cut but reached her goal of beating at least one other competitor.

Langer wins Cologuard Classic in  62nd year

The wise ones tell us, a day will come when Bernhard Langer no longer wins. Age, they tell us, eventually weakens the body, if not the spirit. Generational athletes defy this notion, if for just a time. The NFL has its Tom Brady, and the Champions Tour has Langer.

On Sunday, in Tucson, Arizona, the grand German champion stood on the tee, in command of a three-shot advantage. He was not in the final grouping, but they were aware of what he had accomplished on this day. With a tip of his cap to Father Time, Langer made bogey at the final hole. He shot 65 on the day, not 64. He won by a pair of shots over Woody Austin, a competitor seven years his junior, in a league where seven years measure much more than a number. There’s no telling how Langer’s fellow touring pros view him, but they all had to stop for a moment and applaud his effort. The victory was his 41st PGA Tour Champions win. Does he have Hale Irwin’s 45 senior victory total in sight? Of course.

On Sunday, Langer came out firing, with birdies on the first 3 holes. He added a pair toward the end of the half and turned in 31. On the home nine, he notched four birdies against a par of 37. Telling was his mastery of the par-five holes on the day: he birdied all five of them. If there’s a loss in distance anywhere, it’s not in his bag. Overnight leader Brett Quigley had a second tour win in site for 2020. He was two strokes to the good on the day, when he turned for the clubhouse. Bogey at 10 and a double at 12 turned day into nightmare, and Quigley was relegated to a tie for third with Rod Pampling. Austin, as so many others have done, played brilliantly in coming up short to the Teutonic titan. He had an ace at the fourth hole, but his bogey at the 14th, despite his 66, was one that he could not afford in a title chase.

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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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WRX Retrospective: Interesting photos from the 2019 Masters

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As of now, we know the 2020 Masters is going to have to wait until November. The tournament will be as exciting as it will be interesting since it will be the first modern glimpse into Augusta National beyond April.

It has also given us the great opportunity to look back with hindsight 20/20 (that was very much an unintended pun) at our pictures from 2019 to showcase some of the most noteworthy and interesting, including some potential foreshadowing of the week that was to come.

2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson isn’t one to change putters too often, but he must have been searching for something last year when testing out this TaylorMade Spider.

This was Viktor Hovland’s last Masters as an amateur. He won low amateur honors and went on to capture the same distinction at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

TaylorMade always does a wonderful job with major-themed accessories and bags. 2019 was no exception.

Little did we know at the time this was taken, this man would be leading heading into Sunday’s final round. How the tables turned so quickly.

Callaway’s collab with Seamus Golf lead to these flower-themed headcovers.

We can’t forget that Tuesday practice day was rained out and the course was closed at 10 a.m. to both players and spectators. It wasn’t the warm spring kickoff many had hoped for!

Although it was short-lived, it was a rainy Tuesday for all, including caddies.

The weather broke on Wednesday and the view up the 10th hole never gets old.

Did you realize two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson’s Flightscope has a custom pink paint job?

Inexpensive snacks and beverages are always a highlight of any Master’s visit.

The 2019 Masters featured pre-bulked Bryson, who also happened to have a custom FlightScope X3. He looks like a veritable stick!

They say a picture says 1,000 words, but in the case of Tiger Woods, we had no idea how many words would be written come Sunday.

A peek into the bag of Gary Woodland, who would go on to become the U.S. Open Champion only a few months later.

Special shoutout to Gary Woodland’s caddy Brennan Little, who hails from St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, and is obviously a big Toronto Blue Jays fan. He was also on the bag for Mike Wier’s win in 2003.

Although the relationship was short-lived, Sergio used some very cool custom Toulon putters while on staff with Callaway Golf.

The eighth green is one of the most interesting and mounded on the course, there’s not a bunker to be found but danger lurks everywhere.

Undulations at No. 1 are a sight to be seen at ground level.

The iconic, understated clubhouse of ANGC.

The tucked-away first tee spike cleaner is something every course should have.

And of course, the iconic 12th, where so much would be decided come Sunday.

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2020 Open Championship canceled; PGA scheduled for August, U.S. Open for September, Masters for November

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The R&A has officially scratched the 2020 Open Championship due to the current Coronavirus pandemic in a statement today.

While this seemed poised to be the professional golf schedule news of the day, shortly thereafter, the Augusta National Golf Club, European Tour, LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour, The R&A, and USGA released a joint statement regarding the fate of the other three major championships as well as play on the LPGA and European Tour. 

First, the canceled major: The 149th Open Championship will now take place in 2021 from 11-18 July, and the R&A will transfer over tickets and hospitality packages purchased for the Championship to next year’s event.

St. Andrews, which was due to host the 150th Open Championship next year, will instead host the event in 2022.

In a statement published on the R&A’s website, Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said

“Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open. We care deeply about this historic Championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart. We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world but this pandemic is severely affecting the UK and we have to act responsibly. It is the right thing to do.

“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible.

“There are many different considerations that go into organising a major sporting event of this scale. We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organisations to stage the Championship and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities to deal with. In recent weeks we have been working closely with those organisations as well as Royal St George’s, St Andrews Links Trust and the other golf bodies to resolve the remaining external factors and have done so as soon as we possibly could. We are grateful to all of them for their assistance and co-operation throughout this process.

“Most of all I would like to thank our fans around the world and all of our partners for their support and understanding. At a difficult time like this we have to recognise that sport must stand aside to let people focus on keeping themselves and their families healthy and safe. We are committed to supporting our wider community in the weeks and months ahead and will do everything in our power to help golf come through this crisis.”

Shortly therafter a joint press release from the Augusta National Golf Club, European Tour, LPGA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, The R&A and USGA was circulated by email, which revealed the PGA Championship is now slated for August, the U.S. Open for September, and the Masters for November.

From the press release.

USGA: The U.S. Open, previously scheduled for June 15-21 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, has been officially rescheduled for September 14-20 and is confirmed to remain at Winged Foot. 

The R&A: The R&A has decided to cancel The Open in 2020 due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, and the Championship will next be played at Royal St. George’s in 2021. The Open was due to be played in Kent, England, from July 12-19, but it has been necessary to cancel the Championship based on guidance from the UK Government, the health authorities, public services and The R&A’s advisers. 

PGA of America: The PGA of America is announcing today that the PGA Championship is now scheduled to take place August 3-9 and will remain at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California.  The PGA Championship was originally slated for May 11-17 but was postponed on March 17.

Augusta National Golf Club: Augusta National has identified November 9-15 as the intended dates to host the 2020 Masters Tournament, which was previously scheduled for April 6-12 and postponed on March 13.

Additionally, the release noted the Ryder Cup will still be contested September 22-27, at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin.

For those updating their schedules at home, the release also included this handy summary.

  • TO BE CONFIRMED: June 15-21 (formerly U.S. Open week) – potential PGA TOUR event
  • CANCELED: July 13-19, The Open Championship, Royal St. George’s GC, Sandwich, Kent, England
  • TO BE CONFIRMED: July 13-19 (formerly The Open Championship week) – potential PGA TOUR event
  • TO BE CONFIRMED: July 27-August 2 (formerly Men’s Olympic Competition week) – potential PGA TOUR event
  • CONFIRMED: August 3-9 – PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, California
  • CONFIRMED: PGA TOUR’s season-ending event/FedExCup Playoffs
    • August 10-16 – Wyndham Championship, Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina
    • August 17-23 – THE NORTHERN TRUST, TPC Boston, Norton, Massachusetts
    • August 24-30 – BMW Championship, Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Illinois
    • August 31-September 7 (Labor Day) – TOUR Championship, East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Georgia
  • CONFIRMED: September 14-20 – U.S. Open, Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York
  • RECONFIRMED: September 22-27: Ryder Cup, Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin
  • CONFIRMED: November 9-15: the Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia
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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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