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5 things we learned: Thursday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

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This week’s PGA Tour event caps the first month of professional golf’s return. The Rocket Mortgage Classic is in its second year, and offers a classic course in an urban setting. Detroit Golf Club is a quintessential, Donald Ross golf course. The holes bend gently this way and that, appointed by bunkers cuffed with manageable rings of rough. The greens vary in size and shape, but typically trick even the professional into attempting to delicate an approach. With only a one-year sample size, it’s hard to predict who will play well this week in Detroit. Put your money on golfers with history at a similar club, or success on traditional golf courses. That’s my primer for year two at the RMC, meaning it’s time for five things we learned on Thursday.

5. Doc Redman is at home at DGC

Redman was the second most surprising participant in last year’s event. The 2017 US Amateur champion posted 62 in last year’s Monday qualifier, and advanced to the tournament proper, where he finished solo 2nd. If not for Nate Lashley, who missed qualifying on Monday, received a sponsor’s exemption, then won the tournament, Redman would have been the story of the week. The former Clemson golfer began this year where he left off 2019, although no one saw it coming through ten holes. Remand paired one birdie with one bogey, holding steady at even par as he reached the 11th hole. From that point forward, it was 4th of July fireworks. Doc parred the 14th hole, missing an 11-feet birdie putt. Why focus on 14? It was his only par over the closing stretch. Three consecutive birdies from 11 through 13, and four more, from 15 to 18, brought him to 7 under on the day, into a tie for first at 7-under par. Redman has yet to shoot above 68 at DGC.

4. Stallings and Kisner join Redman at the top

Scott Stallings, like Redman, played the course in traditional order. Kisner, in turn, began on the inward half and finished at the par-three ninth. Both golfers closed with three birdies over their final four holes, to reach seven deep. Like Redman, Stallings had eight birdies and one bogey; Kisner was clean on the day, with seven birdies and eleven pars. Unlike Redman, neither Stalling nor Kisner had a particularly memorable, first go-round at Detroit in 2019. Each made the 36-hole cut, but neither finished inside the top 45.

3.  Seven golfers lie in wait

The Big Bang Theory, aka Bryson DeChambeau, reached minus-seven with one hole to play. He drove the ball in perfect position at 18, then inexplicably missed the green with wedge in hand, and dropped back to minus-six with a bogey. He is joined by Chase Seiffert, Peter Malnati, JJ Spaun, Emiliano Grillo, Chris Stroud and Matt Wallace. Beyond Bryson, Wallace is the most accomplished of the septuplets. He has 4 European Tour victories, and came within an eyelash of qualifying for the 2019 Ryder Cup team. Spaun led the field with nine birdies on the day, but he also had three bumbles along the way. Spaun tied for 13th in 2019, so his affection for the course is viable.

2. Mr. Rocket Mortgage is tied for 11th

Rickie Fowler, the PGA Tour pitchman for the tournament host, acquitted himself well with seven birdies for 67. His mid-round hiccough came at the 18th (his 9th), where he never saw the fairway, played chunk-and-run around the putting surface, and ultimately tapped in for 2 feet for double bogey. Fowler isn’t first on my list for Best Player To Never Win A Major, but he is the top guy for Should Win More With The Talent He has. In my mind, he’s an affable Sergio Garcia, save for the fact that Sergio has a major title on his record. This seems like the type of event that Ricky could win, but 2nd and 3rd-round lapses are his specialty. It will take 36 holes of solid play to keep him close to the top.

1. The predictions are in

Most likely to go from Triple A to the Majors: Chris Kirk. Two weeks ago, he won on the Korn Ferry tour. He sits at -5 after round one.

Least likely to have two golfers inside the top 50: Norway. Siri, search Kristoffer Ventura and Viktor Hovland.

Least likely Norwegian to be born in Puebla, Mexico: Ventura

Most likely to go low on Friday: Brendan Todd. Gassed away a win last week in the final round. Made double on a par five on Thursday. Watch out.

Most likely to move inside top five from way back: Tyrrell Hatton. This guy is freakishly good. Might be best on European Tour.

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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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Morning 9: Does this PGA Championship deserve an asterisk? | Harding Park history | Tiger update | PGA Champ odds

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1. Feinstein: No * for the PGA champ
This year’s winner won’t deserve this (*) next to his name, writes John Feinstein…“The player who wins this week’s PGA Championship at Harding Park will be a major champion just as surely as that tree [that falls in a forest with nobody around] made a sound.”
  • “There are some wondering if the absence of spectators caused by the COVID-19 virus will somehow make this PGA not as major as normal majors played in front of thousands of spectators. There are others, noting the absence of players like three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, 2018 Open Championship winner Francesco Molinari and frequent major contender Lee Westwood-not to mention John Daly and Vijay Singh, past PGA champions who now compete as senior citizens-as somehow meaning that an asterisk should be placed next to the champion’s name come Sunday evening.”
  • “They are wrong-completely wrong and totally wrong. How’s that for redundancy?...It’s there to make a point. Almost no major golf tournament is played with a perfect field-or under perfectly fair conditions.”
2. Harding Park’s deep roots
Excellent writing by PGATour.com’s Sean Martin looking at the underappreciated golf history of a venue (and a city)…“San Francisco’s municipal gem is home to an important championship on an annual basis, and while the San Francisco City Championship isn’t considered one of golf’s Grand Slam events, it is one of the game’s most unique.”
  • “The tournament affectionally referred to by locals as simply “The City” has been held every year since 1916. Its endurance through the World Wars allows it to claim the title of golf’s oldest consecutively-played championship. Its former competitors range from World Golf Hall of Famers to taxi drivers, NFL quarterbacks to airport baggage handlers. The doctors and lawyers who are members at the Bay Area’s prestigious clubs play alongside bartenders. It’s not unusual to see a player turn to alcohol to steady his nerves or to witness a former U.S. Golf Association president carry his own clubs through a downpour.”
  • “San Francisco is a city that prides itself on its diversity. Its amateur golf championship is no different.”
  • “The tournament, conducted on San Francisco’s public tracks in the wet and cold of Northern California’s winter, attracts only the most passionate participants.”
  • …”San Francisco’s golf heritage is underappreciated, often overshadowed by its neighbors to the south, who are the beneficiaries of interminable sunshine. But the City by the Bay can boast of major champions and world-famous courses, as well.”
3. Bubba hires a coach…sort of
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…“Watson was seen working with Claude Harmon III, son of Butch and instructor to Brooks Koepka, on the practice putting green after his third round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Saturday at TPC Southwind.”
  • “I’m really good friends with Claude and Brooks and them, so my manager and Claude are really good friends. So my manager (Jens Beck) said, ‘Hey, you should definitely talk to him.’ And all it is is it’s about, ‘Hey, man, do you see anything that me and Teddy are missing?’ ” Watson explained. “There’s no range stuff, if that makes sense. I know people don’t understand that. I’m trying to score better. I feel like my physical part is there and how do you score better. That’s why I asked him.
  • “I call him my life coach is what I call him.”
4. Observations from Tiger’s Monday practice
Via Geoff Shackelford, one of the few fortunate souls on the ground at Harding Park, and he sees a focused and free-swinging Woods…
  • “Not that I’m saying he’s come to some events unprepared, but there was definitely an urgency to the Monday proceedings at Harding Park. Getting comfortable on the green was the primary focus, particualrly given that his swing, ball-striking and body all appear ready to go. “
  • “Short game consultant Matt Killen went nine holes with him and they discussed his putting at times. “
  • “He played one of his approach shots as if a real putt, but with Joe LaCava giving his read first, then consulting the green reading charts, before putting.”
  • …”Flexibility appeared excellent despite the cool conditions. No 80% swings as we’ve seen in run-ups or early week of majors.”
5. Daly among COVID-19 WDs for PGA Championship
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”A total of 156 players will tee it up this week at TPC Harding Park in the first men’s major championship since Shane Lowry left Royal Portrush with the claret jug 13 months ago. But the alternate list has gotten an extensive workout to keep the field full, with more than a dozen players withdrawing for various reasons.”
  • “That list includes 1991 winner John Daly, whose withdrawal was announced Sunday. Daly will miss the PGA for the first time since 2013, and he subsequently tweeted that the decision was based on safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic…”
6. Lynch: (75% of) everything to play
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…“That fact should be borne in mind by those journeying to San Francisco this week to commence a major championship season that ought to have already concluded last month in England. Our compromised calendar kicks off with the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park and wraps with the Masters three months hence, with the USGA’s delayed showcase in between. (The R&A opted to sit out the year after realizing it had missed the two-week window that represents a British summer.)”
  • “In short, as bastardized as 2020 has been, there is still 75% of everything to play for.”
  • “The three majors that will (hopefully) be played this year will count on someone’s résumé just as much as the 451 contested previously. But some players may need to hit a reset button on that reality before action gets underway Thursday. Consider what Rory McIlroy said last week about the PGA Tour events staged since the resumption of play two months ago.”
7. It’s time for…
…the best player without a major debate…or so say multiple outlets as we have finally arrived at a major championship at the latest point in a calendar year in golf history (?)…
Here a the top 2 from Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…
“Xander Schauffele…”While he hasn’t won in 19 months, he’s a big-time player on golf’s biggest stages. Three of his four PGA Tour titles came in the 2017 Tour Championship, the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions and the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions. Was a stud in the 2019 Presidents Cup. He also lost in playoffs in the 2019 HSBC Champions and the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions. In the majors? He has five top-6 finishes in 11 starts, including four of the last seven played. He tied for second in the 2018 Open Championship, tied for second in the 2019 Masters and tied for third in the 2019 U.S. Open. He finds fairways, finds greens and quickly finds a way to get the ball in the hole. Great temperament, too.”
“Jon Rahm…In brutal U.S. Open-like conditions and facing one of the strongest fields in memory at this year’s Memorial, Rahm became the fifth youngest player to become No. 1 in the world with his win at Jack Nicklaus’s Dublin, Ohio, gem. It was his fourth PGA Tour title to go with six victories on the European Tour – all before turning 26. The Spaniard is a bull who doesn’t have a weakness in his game, or as Phil Mickelson said, is a great driver of the ball, has plenty of firepower, is a great iron player, strong putter, superb around the greens. Anger management issues have plagued him but he has gotten a better hold of his inner rage of late, though mini outbursts remain. Mickelson said it wouldn’t take long for Rahm to become a top-10 player after he turned pro in 2016 – and Rahm became just that in 2017. Now it seems it’s just a matter of time before he adds a major championship triumph to his already impressive resume.”
8. PGA x BetMGM
How things have changed. Remember when PGA Tour players were barred from wearing betting or DFS company logos on course…it’s a different world now…PGATour.com staff reporting…
  • “The PGA TOUR announced today that BetMGM has signed a multi-year content and marketing relationship to become an Official Betting Operator of the PGA TOUR.”
  • “By joining the TOUR’s Official Betting Operator program, BetMGM will have rights in the United States to use PGA TOUR marks, rights to advertise within TOUR media and TOUR partner platforms, plus content and video rights allowing BetMGM Sportsbook platforms to create pre-game and post-game betting programming, as well as distribution of highlights to users who have placed bets.”
  • “BetMGM is part of a premium brand that is deeply connected to golf through sponsorship of various PGA TOUR players and tournaments,” said Norb Gambuzza, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President, Media and Gaming. “Through the power of the BetMGM brand and resources, this new relationship will help accelerate our sports betting strategy, and enable the TOUR to reach new fans and further engage current fans who enjoy betting on golf.”
9. PGA Championship odds
Our Gianni Magliocco…It’s PGA Championship week, and following his win at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Justin Thomas has been installed as the joint favorite alongside defending champion Brooks Koepka to claim the year’s opening major.
“European duo Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy are next in the betting, while Tiger Woods, who resumes his quest for major number 16, has been chalked up as a 28/1 chance to get his hands on the Wanamaker Trophy.”
“Check out the full list of 2020 PGA Championship odds (As of August 3rd) courtesy of BetOnline.ag”
Brooks Koepka 10/1
Justin Thomas 10/1
Jon Rahm 12/1
Rory McIlroy 12/1
Bryson DeChambeau 14/1
Dustin Johnson 20/1
Xander Schauffele 20/1
Patrick Cantlay 25/1
Collin Morikawa 28/1
Tiger Woods 28/1
Webb Simpson 28/1

 

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Morning 9: Winner, and new world No. 1… | Rounding up other tour action | Tiger arrives at TPC Harding Park

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1. Winner, world No. 1 again
Good fortune, timely play down the stretch were key for Justin Thomas when everyone else (ultimately) was stumbling…PGATour.com’s Sean Martin on JT’s FESJ victory…”He started Sunday in fifth place. Never before has he won after starting the final round so low on the leaderboard. He also trailed by four, matching the largest final-round deficit he’s overcome on the PGA TOUR.”
  • “The victory kept him on an elite pace. Since 1960, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have reached 13 wins at a younger age. Thomas is 27 years, 3 months and 4 days old.”
  • “Thomas shot 13-under 267 (66-70-66-65) for four rounds at TPC Southwind, good for a three-shot victory over Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Daniel Berger and Tom Lewis.”
  • “Thomas got into position with a stellar 31 on the front nine. He missed just one green (he hit the fringe) and had birdie putts within 25 feet on all nine holes. He bogeyed the 12th hole but birdies on 15 and 16, the former made possible by a fortuitous bounce, were the difference.”
2. Kang wins in LPGA’s return
AP report…”Danielle Kang was away from the LPGA Tour for six months during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not to suggest she was without competition.”
  • “She lost track of the games she played with her brother, Alex, who has spent two seasons on the Korn Ferry Tour, and boyfriend Maverick McNealy, in his rookie year on the PGA Tour. She played the back tees and forward tees, moved about to different courses in Las Vegas and felt her game improving.”
  • “It paid off Sunday when Kang closed with a 2-under 70 and held on for a one-shot victory over Celine Boutier in the LPGA Drive On Championship at Inverness, the first LPGA Tour event since February.”
3. MC, MC, MC, MC, MC, MC, WIN
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…“Seth Reeves had played six events since the Korn Ferry Tour restart in June – and missed six cuts.”
  • “But after making his first weekend since March, the 29-year-old Georgia Tech product, ranked No. 1,068 in the world, fired a closing 7-under 64 to win the Pinnacle Bank Championship by a shot Saturday at The Club at Indian Creek in Omaha, Nebraska.”
  • “The victory is Reeves’ first since turning pro in 2014. It’s also his first top-10 finish since he notched a pair of top-5s in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to earn his PGA Tour card, which he lost after one season. He’s now projected to climb to 18th in KFT points.”
 
4. Werenski wins Barracuda
AP report…”Richy Werenski holed a flop shot from the fairway on the par-4 16th for a five-point eagle and birdied the last for a one-point victory over Troy Merritt on Sunday in the Barracuda Championship.”
  • “Werenski won for the first time on the PGA TOUR, scoring 13 points in the final round on Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood Course — the first-time venue after 21 years at Montreux Golf and Country Club. The 28-year-old former Georgia Tech player won the event three years after losing to Chris Stroud on the second hole of a playoff.”
  • “It’s huge,” Werenski said. “I’ve been playing well for I feel like the last couple of months, but to get a win, I mean, that’s huge. I got a couple seconds and everything, so it just helps my confidence a lot. Now I know I’m good enough, and now we’re going to go make a good move for the FedExCup Playoffs.”
5. Furyk wins Champions debut
AP report…”Jim Furyk turned 50 when golf was shut down and made the most of it when the PGA Tour Champions returned, closing with a 4-under 68 to win the Ally Challenge on Sunday when Brett Quigley bogeyed his last two holes.”
  • “Furyk became the first player since Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2014 to win in his first start on the 50-and-older circuit.
6. Grace tested positive for COVID-19 Saturday…while tied for second at Barracuda
Branden Grace became the eighth PGA Tour player to test positive for COVID-19 and he withdrew from the Barracuda Championship on Saturday.
  • “Last night, I was tired and thought it had to do with the altitude. This morning, I notified the PGA Tour about my symptoms before going to the golf course,” Grace said in a statement. “I wanted to get tested out of respect for my peers and everyone involved with the tournament. While it is unfortunate given my position on the leaderboard, the most important thing is our health.”
7. Woods has arrived at TPC Harding park
ESPN’s Bob Harig reports El Tigre is on the ground and preparing for the first major of the oddity that is the 2020 professional golf season…“Woods arrived early for the PGA Championship on Sunday but had to wait awhile to get on the course at TPC Harding Park.”
  • “He wasn’t permitted on site until he had passed his COVID-19 test, along with caddie Joe LaCava and his eyes and ears Rob McNamara.”
  • “Woods showed up to hit balls just before 1 p.m. local time, set out for the back nine and then continued to the front side where he played those holes with former PGA champion Jason Dufner.”
8. Holmes, Howell III out of PGA
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine...”J.B. Holmes and Charles Howell III each announced their intentions to pull out of the year’s first major on Saturday, both citing “injury,” according to the PGA of America.”
  • “Holmes has played just one full round since the PGA Tour’s restart, carding a 73 before withdrawing from the Workday Charity Open with a shoulder issue. Howell III tied for third last week at the 3M Open.”
  • “They will be replaced by Wyndham Clark and Brian Stuard, respectively.”
Full piece. 
9. JT’s winning WITB 
Driver: Titleist TS3 (9.5 degrees, B1 setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60 TX (44 7/8″)
3-wood: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw Blue 85 TX
5-wood: Titleist 915 Fd (18 degrees @18.75, C3 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 9.2 Tour Spec X
Irons: Titleist T100 (4), Titleist 620 MB (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Raw SM7 (46-10F @47.5, 52-12F @52.5), Vokey SM8 (56-14F @57), Titleist Vokey Design WedgeWorks (60T @ 60.5)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (46), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (52-60)
Putter: Scotty Cameron X5.5 Tour Prototype
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord
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Tour Rundown: WGC to new world No. 1, Werenski, Kang, and more

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Six tournaments in one week! We can all be forgiven for thinking (for just a moment) that things are as they were. The world’s golf tours have taken an uber-conservative route to the restart, and the extreme effort has allowed competition to continue. From England to Ohio, from Tennessee to Michigan, from Nebraska to California, golf was played, champions lifted trophies, and most of the competitors walked away thinking what if and if only. That’s our game, and here’s the rundown of this week’s six-pack. Check out these abs!

World Golf Championship #2 to Thomas 

Justin Thomas did that thing over the closing holes at Memphis that great champions do: he broke away. World Golf Championships have the perquisites that make contenders sweat. Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis, even the four-time major champion Brooks Koepka, sweated away a chance at victory on Sunday at TPC-Crosswinds. Not Thomas. His three-stroke victory was his second in a WGC event, following a 2018 triumph at the Bridgestone at Firestone. The victory was Thomas’ second of the campaign, his first since the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Brendon Todd was the 3rd-round leader, with visions of a third title in the wraparound season in his view. Five bogies and zero birdies on Sunday dashed his hopes. Tom Lewis, an unheralded Englishman, threw his hat in the ring when he reached 11-under par at the 15th. A missed wee putt for birdie on 16 was his undoing but, just in case, he proceeded to three-putt the 17th to drop another shot. He ultimately ended in a tie for 2nd with three others. Next came Berger, who also reached -11, but needed one more over the closing two holes. Berger made bogey at the watery 18th, and glance at victory went elsewhere. He tied for 2nd, as well.

Finally, it was mighty Koepka, who stood on the 16th tee with the lead. He bombed driver right…into the trees. Five shots later, he had an unthinkable bogey on an easy par five hole. He responded with grit, making birdie at the par-four 17th. Needing one more shot, the Florida man bit too much water off his tee ball, and splashed away his hopes. Guess what? Yep, tie for 2nd, along with the ageless Phil Mickelson.

As for Thomas, birdies at 16 and 17 not only brought him tour victory number 13, but also stamped him as one of the favorites for the upcoming PGA Championship, in San Francisco. The 2017 winner of the event would doubtless love another major title, and TPC Harding Park should fit his game well.

Barracuda title to…not Merritt? 

Moved away in 2020 from the uber-dramatic Montreux course, to the oxymoronic Old Greenwood course in high California, the Barracuda Championship listened in as a miced-up Troy Merritt made an attempt to become the first to win a PGA Tour event while on full audio. Chasing him down was Austria’s Matthias Schwab, who reached 38 points on the week, helped immensely by a 14 points in the final round. Oh, didn’t we mention that Barracuda week means modified Stableford? Here’s a primer:

Par equals zero points. Birdie gets you two points. Eagle counts for five, and a double eagle/albatross is worth a whopping eight points. Going the other way, bogey is minus one point, and anything worse deducts three points from your tally. For one week all season, the higher the reckoning, the better. Got it? Gooood.

Back to the action. Aaron Wise came in early with 19 points on Sunday. He moved inside the top ten, thanks to that effort. More importantly, he let the field know that a high score was on the course, waiting for the taking. Remember Schwab from before? He stood at 38, until he made bogey at the last, dropping into a tie at 37 points with Argentina’s Fabián Gómez. It was left to Miced-Up Merritt to close the door on a third tour win.

Richy Werenski had other ideas. While Merritt made 10 pars to close his round at 38 points, the former Georgia Tech golfer blazed through the back nine. Birdies at 12 and 14 were followed by a preposterous pitch at 15, that barely cleared a bunker, then rolled into the hole for an eagle 2 and five points. With victory in his sight, Werenski buried a 12-feet putt at the last for one more birdie, jumping to 39 points, to claim his first PGA Tour title.

Just my opinion, but why would you move a tournament predicated on low scoring, to a course where the final four holes averaged over par (that means negative point values)? Double Eagle was always in the mix, at the 18th at Montreux. Werenski was the exception to the norm in 2020. Here’s hoping that it’s one and done for this course. #MoreMontreux

DriveOn signals LPGA’s return and a win for Kang

Speaking of geography lessons, is there ever a better one than the LPGA? The flags of the top six finishers this week were USA, France, Australia, Japan, England and Scotland. Three of those flags began the day in a tie for the lead at five deep, but just one was able to add two more strokes and finish atop the pyramid at seven under par. Here name? Danielle Kang, and what better place to earn tour victory number four, than the recently-restored Inverness Club, site of previous major championships.

Kang, Celine Boutier of France, and Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England fashioned a strong final group on Sunday. After 10 holes, Kang stood three-under on the day, and held that advantage over Shadoff, and a four-shot margin against Boutier. Then, things got complicated. The Englishwoman went away in a stunning, three-hole stretch. Bogies at 13 and 14, followed by a double at 15, dropped her to solo fifth and frustration. Next came Boutier, who made birdies at 11, 12, and 14, just as Kang stumbled with bogey at 13. Just like that, Boutier and Kang were tied once more.

And just like that, part two: Boutier dropped a shot at 15. Kang once more had the lead. Pars all around over the closing triumvirate of holes meant that Boutier would have to wait longer for her first stateside victory. As for Kang, the title was her first since October, and perhaps, a portent of things to come as the season begins to heat up. Australia’s Min Jee Lee closed with 70, and moved from sixth spot to third. Japan’s Yui Kawamoto finished fourth alone.

It almost got away but didn’t is Horsfield’s song at European Tour’s Hero Open

You can’t really say that Sam Horsfield looked like the winner this week, but neither can you say that he didn’t. Horsfield was always in the mix, after opening 68-63 to own the halfway lead. Each of those rounds was punctuated by an eagle, and he certainly appeared comfortable on the Forest of Arden course. Next came the doubts of Saturday, when the Englishman made three bogies and a double on his inward half, to give nearly all of his sizable lead away. What could Sunday possibly bring? That’s when the interest level rose.

Horsfield came out as a man on a mission, with five birdies against one bogey, over the first ten holes. The closing eight were a holding pattern, as he added one more of each, to finish on 68 for the day, and 19-under on the week. Playing partner Rasmus Højgaard of Denmark could not keep pace, and dropped to a tie for sixth. The man on even more of a mission than Horsfield, was Belgium’s Thomas Detry. The 27-year old piled 9 birdies onto his card on day four, yet came up one shot shy of the top. Detry’s problem was not the material in the book, but the cover. He bogeyed 1 and he bogeyed 18. While the former served to ignite his desire, the later doused the flame of victory, and kept him from earning European Tour victory the first.

Oh what might have been is theme for PBC on Korn Ferry Tour

If it’s Sunday on the Korn Ferry Tour, Taylor Pendrith is lurking, somewhere. For the fourth time this season, the Ontario native cavorted with victory, only to come up shy of the final dance. Pendrith has four top-three finishes on the season, and currently sits in second spot on the tour money list. He won’t receive a promotion to the PGA Tour in the fall, but he certainly gained enough of a taste for victory to eventually break through this year.

If not Pendrith, then who? Answer: Seth Reeves. The Georgia Tech alum went haywire on Sunday, signing for 64 and winning in the most unlikely manner. How unlikely? Consider that Reeves stood at 74 on Thursday evening, and had dreams of … simply making the cut. He did that on Friday, with 67, then came back on Saturday with 66, to move inside the top 30. Certainly a decent week, but not the stuff of dreams. After opening par-par-bogey, Reeves could be forgiven for considering an early flight to the next destination. At that unlikely moment, destiny intervened. Birdies at four, six and seven aroused his interest, and another pair at 10 and 11 served to caffeinate his day. Third-round leader Ryan Ruffels was struggling, and no one had risen up to seize control.

What did Reeves do next? How does eagle at 15, followed by birdie at 18 sound? Finishing on -11, Reeves had to wait and see if his tally would be matched or exceeded. Five golfers came to the last with a chance to tie him. Pendrith made par. The aforementioned Ruffels, wobbling from bogies at 16 and 17, made par. Australia’s Nick Voke and China’s Carl Yuan also made par, as did Tyson Alexander. And just like that, Seth Reeves had his first Korn Ferry tour title, and a load of confidence nearly equal to Pendrith.

The Ally Challenge sees a winning debut on the Champions Tour 

Many thought that Ernie Els would be the fellow to debut with victory on the 2020 Champions Tour. The Big Easy came close, but it was Jim Furyk, in August of this year, who achieved the rare distinction. The 2003 US Open titleist went toe to toe with Retief Goosen and Brett Quigley, and came out on top. Quigley held the overnight lead at 11-under par, thanks to a wondrous, Saturday 64. Furyk nipped at his heels, while Goosen lurked in the gloaming. On Sunday, the Goose sizzled with seven birdies and an opening eagle, to insert himself fully into the conversation. Unfortunately for the South African, bogey waited at the 4th, 10th and, crushingly, at the 18th, and he would settle for a second-place tie with Quigley, at minus-twelve.

It was Quigley who suffered the greatest heartbreak of the day. Tied with Furyk through 52 holes, coming off a birdie at 16, the Rhode Islander lost shots at each of his final holes. Coupled with additional bogeyed at 10 and 12, the inward half was a plus-two affair for Quigley, precisely the number of strokes he needed to forge a tie with Furyk.

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