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Tour Rundown: Day wins in Monday finish, Li lassos win

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The weather around the world was nearly as tempestuous as Rhein Gibson, as chinooks and draughts impacted play from Dubai to San Diego to the Bahamas. When the dust had settled, one champion defended her title, two others won for the first time, and a fourth overcame one of the world’s best. Oh, and a playoff was halted by darkness. Time to round up all the week’s events in another Tour Rundown.

Farmers Insurance playoff takes six holes and two day

On Monday, Alexander Noren and Jason Day concluded play as darkness fell with the tournament title undecided after a quintet of holes. Ryan Palmer joined the duo at 10-under at the end of regulation, but made par on the first extra hole to drop from the chase. Noren and Day each birdied the par-five closer three times in overtime, and made pars at the 16th and 17th. The playoff concluded on Monday during the anti-climactic first hole as Jason Day secured the win with a tap-in birdie.

Jason Day’s Winning WITB

The playoff trio

Noren began the day in first place, and held firm through the front nine. His 3 birdies and 2 bogeys gave him a look at his first PGA Tour title. Two bogeys on the inward nine dropped him to 10-under. Playing partner Ryan Palmer also struggled to find daylight on a challenging fourth day, but was able to birdie the 72nd hole to join Noren and Day atop the podium. Day turned in 4-under 32, but like the others, struggled coming home. He had 2 bogeys and 0 birdies on the home side, good enough to join his counterparts in extra holes, and eventually secure the win.

That other story

Tiger Woods returned to competition, and his performance could be judged a success. He made the cut on the number, shot four rounds between 70 and 72, and tied for 23rd, 7 shots behind the leading trio. Woods was all over the course off the tee (some things never change!) but ground his way to success as he has done so often. The showing was a positive sign in the return of the game’s greatest.

Li lassos second European Tour title in Dubai

Haotong Li held the No. 60 ranking on the OWGR list heading into the Dubai Desert Classic. That’s going to change. Not entirely unfamiliar to Euro and USA golf fans thanks to his third-place finish at last year’s Open Championship, Li lacked a signature victory over a respected foe. He checked both boxes on Sunday.

How Li came back AGAINST RORY FREAKING McILROY

If you paid attention to the Euro-centric announcers on Golf Channel’s feed, Li was doomed when he made bogey to McIlroy’s birdie at the 1oth hole on Sunday. Even after McIlroy made bogey at the next, Li’s inability to convert a makeable birdie putt kept the margin at 1. Meanwhile, Tyrrell Hatton was making noise with birdies of his own a few holes ahead, and the wags anticipated a McIlroy vs. Hatton duel, with Li an afterthought. Let’s end this, now: Li bogeyed the 12th, then made four birdies over the final six holes, winning by 1 over Roars for his first European Tour win outside China. Xièxiè and wan an.

How Rory, et al., let Li Escape

Truthfully, Rory should have put this thing away. He played even-par golf over the final 9 holes, when 2-under would have done the job. He didn’t put any pressure on Li when he had him on the ropes (Li bogeyed two of the opening three holes on the inward half, before steadying the ship). Assuming it’s part of the process, if this loss translates into a green jacket in April, it will be worth it. Watch out for Tyrrell Hatton: this lad can flat out play. The Englishman played flawless golf on Sunday, with 6 birds against 12 pars. Like McIlroy, he couldn’t get it done at the end, parring his final 4 holes to finish third alone, 2 behind Rory and 3 back of the champion.

Lincicome opens LPGA Tour season with wind-swept victory

Brittany Lincicome has won two LPGA majors, a Canadian Open and five other tour events. Odds are, she never won in more wind than Sunday at Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Lincicome entered the week as defending champion, but was overlooked for most of it, thanks to an opening 74. Then came the weekend.

How Lincicome came from nowhere to defend her title

Eight birdies and 1 bogey is always an acceptable round. Only Carlota Ciganda was better (65) and her round came on the heels of an 81. Lincicome and the rest of the field withstood the reduction of the event from 72 to 54 holes, thanks to winds that moved golf balls and blew visors around the course. Those winds cancelled a large part of play on Friday. Come Sunday, there was the defending champion, backing up her Saturday 67 with another stellar round. Lincicome’s 67 was the low round of the day, giving her two of the low third rounds of the event. That usually results in a desirable finish.

How Feng and company failed to keep pace

Shanshan Feng played 2-under golf on Sunday… and was left in the dust by the champion. Her undoing was a lack of birdies: 3 on the day against 1 bogey. Amy Yang began the day in the second spot, played nearly an identical round to Feng (4 birdies and 1 bogey) and could only watch as Lincicome raced by. Feng and Yang tied for third at 9-uner, 3 behind the winner. Only Wei-Ling Hsu matched Lincicome and Ciganda’s birdie total on the day, but Wei-Ling needed perfection, and 2 bogies undermined her effort. Still, the second-place finish was the best in her LPGA career.

From British Columbia to the Bahamas, Web.Com Tour title for Svensson

Adam Svensson eaked out a 1-shot victory over last week’s winner, Sungjae Im. The triumph made the Web.Com Tour 2-for-2 in first-time winners in 2018. More of a grind than a fireworks display, the conclusion to Wednesday’s fourth round offered a glimpse inside the challenge of winning.

How Svensson raised the winner’s chalice

No one was more consistent that the Canadian. Three rounds of 68 plus one of 67 brought him to 17-under par. On Wednesday, Svensson stood a clean 5-under par through 16 holes. He drained a sizeable putt of some 25 feet for par on 16, a putt that would have motored at least 6 feet past had it missed. Although he slipped with bogey at the penultimate hole, the former Barry (Florida) University golfer had enough mental presence to par the 18th for the title.

How Im came close to his own double

Sungjae Im will be an interesting cat to watch in 2018. So many golfers burst from the gate with brilliance, but the continuation of it is often capricious. Im had 3 bogeys on his final-day scorecard, but 4 birdies and 1 eagle kept him in the thick of the chase. Im went birdie-birdie at 14 and 15, but could not summon one more stroke of brilliance, to reach a playoff. His 16-under finish kept him atop the money list.

And Gibson?

The aforementioned Rhein Gibson finished solo third at 15-under, losing the lead and a chance at victory on the final two holes. The latter slip-up stemmed from a possibly-incorrect ruling, wherein his caddie picked up a ball that Gibson had kinda-sorta declared unplayable. The official assessed a 2-stroke penalty at the par five, and Gibson made a valiant birdie-for-bogey. He also might have thrown a headcover at the caddie. And the caddie might have vindicated himself through researching decision 26.1/9. Goes to show that not just the NFL and NBA refs are in the hot seat.

Peterson collects first Asian Tour title in Myanmar

Paul Peterson won the Czech Masters in 2016, for his first, big-time victory. The former Oregon State golfer has made a career overseas, alternating between the European and Asian tours. On Sunday, Peterson charged from third to first in Myanmar, holding off a harder-charging Satoshi Kodaira of Japan, for a 2-shot triumph.

How Peterson collected his first Asian Tour title

A quick start boosted Peterson into the lead in Round 4. After routine pars at the first 2 holes, the journeyman went birdie-eagle-birdie to seize the lead. The remainder of the round was a bumpy ride, with 4 birdies and 3 bogeys. Despite Kodaira’s heroices, the effort was enough to claim victory.

How Kodaira nearly grabbed the prize

At the start of the day, everyone was chasing France’s Lionel Weber. The leader played the front nine in 2-over, but left the chase for good with a quadruple-bogey 8 at the 13th hole. Weber would ultimately drop a tie for 21st. As Peterson fought to maintain his composure, Satoshi Kodaira was making a mad dash to the top. Beginning the round in 18th spot, Kodaira balanced 8 birdies with 10 pars, for a sublime 63, the low round of the week. Kodaira’s comeback fell two shots shy of a playoff, but his tie for second with countryman Tomoyo Ikemura was consolation enough.

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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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Equipment

U.S. Open Tour Truck Report: #7woodSZN, mini drivers, fresh grooves, and tinkering

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A nearly 7,700-yard, par-71 track featuring penal rough off the fairway and green, Torrey Pines’ South Course presents a difficult, demanding examination for players at this week’s U.S. Open. From every television, computer, and mobile device screen this truth is being conveyed to the point that, as is often the case in the leadup to U.S. Opens, a certain fatigue sets in.

However, it’s worth pointing to the obvious in order to highlight the fact that some players are making changes to their setups to accommodate the long approaches into par-4s and the need to maximize descent angle into — what are expected to be — thoroughly baked out greens.

Additionally, we’re hearing a ton of players are putting 7-woods in play primarily for the purpose of advancing the ball from the rough — not exactly “a get out of jail free” card, but hopefully a key to slip out of one’s cell.

Let’s get into the specifics.

Titleist

Jordan Spieth is testing a 21-degree TSi2 fairway wood, which is a game-time decision to add to the lineup in place of his 818 H2 hybrid.

Both Lanto Griffin and Matt Jones are adding TSi2 (21-degree) fairway woods in place of their utility irons.

Adam Scott is going with four woods this week. He’s adding a 13.5-degree TSi2 fairway wood. The Australian is also putting a Vokey 60A wedge in play (switching from a 60-06K). With four degrees of bounce, the wedge works well on tight lies.

Titleist Tour Rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck: “The rough is really, really difficult this week. And the greens are starting to firm up. So we have a lot of players evaluating TSi fairway wood options. The TSi 21-degree 7-wood has been very popular. Players are really liking what it does out of the rough and then into the greens – really high launch angle and landing very softly has been really effective.”

Max Homa put a new Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5, which is a similar profile to the 11.5 model he played earlier in the year. Homa likes the feel, forgiveness, and ease of alignment in the smaller profile.

Vokey

Not surprisingly, the majority of players asking for fresh grooves this week.

Vokey Tour Rep Aaron Dill on wedges this week: “This golf course is a beast. As you would imagine, rough is long and thick, but it’s a really cool different style of golf course where you’ve got a couple different types of grasses and just the way they put it together, it makes it extremely challenging. Because of this rough, because of the fairways, because of the greens, you would think that you’d want a little bit more bounce because of just how juicy and thick and healthy this rough is. But the reality is the more bounce you get, the slower it moves through that tall grass.”

“And so we see a lot of guys gravitate to something with less bounce: T grinds, A Grinds, L Grinds, Low-bounce K’s. Adam Scott switched to a 60A this week. He dabbled a little bit with it at Augusta National this year, but this is that week where it really fits the conditions. He wants that speed. He wants that comfort. He wants to be aggressive, so it’s great fit for him. Guys like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth are bringing in fresh 60’s this week. So these guys are prepared. They’re ready to go. But again, very difficult golf course. You’ve got to have fresh grooves and you’ve got to have a little bit less bounced to maneuver through this tall grass.”

(Photo via Titleist)

Callaway

Phil Mickelson was spotted with a TaylorMade 300 Mini Driver (Fujikura Ventus Black shaft) in practice rounds. He’s also reportedly testing a 5-wood with a Fujikura Ventus Red 9 X shaft.

Akshay Bhatia is testing a Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X shaft in an Epic Max LS driver.

Patrick Rodgers is testing a Callaway Epic Speed 7-wood (Graphite Design Tour AD DI 9 TX).

Henrik Stenson has new Jaws MD5 Slate wedges in the bag (52-10S, 58-08C).

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

TaylorMade

Dustin Johnson looks to be returning to a TaylorMade TP Bandon putter (now outfitted with an LA Golf shaft) after rolling it with his Spider IB Limited at the Palmetto Championship. He’s sticking with the prototype LA Golf shaft in his driver, which makes sense, considering he now owns part of the company.

Sergio Garcia has a new TaylorMade Spider X Chalf in the bag.

Quick rundown of Matthew Wolff’s setup: SIM (9 degrees), P770 3, P750 4-PW, Spider X, TP5 Pix

Collin Morikawa put a MG2 Hi Toe (60-10) in play.

Robert MacIntyre changed up his flatstick and is going with a TP Bandon 3.

Ping

Reportedly “half of the tour staff” are putting 7-woods in play, according to our source at Ping. Bubba Watson and Mackenzie Hughes included.

Watson’s 7-wood specs: Ping G425 Max (23.5 degrees). 40.5-inch Fujikura Black 9 X shaft in custom pink (tipped 2 inches, D2+).

Cole Hammer is testing a Graphite Design Tour AD HD 7 TX shaft in his driver.

Others, free agents

Hideki Matsuyama is testing a Graphite Design Tour AD UB 9 X shaft in a SIM2 Max 3-wood.

Rikuya Hoshino is testing Graphite Design Tour AD UB 9 X in a Srixon ZX5 driver.

Shane Lowry has a new Cleveland RTX Full-Face 58-degree wedge in play.

Zack Sucher is putting a 16-degree Srixon ZX hybrid in play.

The king of stout shafts, Jhonny Vegas is testing a Fujikura Ventus Black 100 X shaft in his 5-wood.

Richard Bland has a spread of TM wedges: MG (46 degrees), MG Hi Toe (54, 60 degrees).

Cameron Champ put TaylorMade wedges in play: (MG Hi Toe 56, 60 degrees).

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree

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GolfWRX is live from Congaree Golf Club for the Palmetto Championship. This one-time replacement for the RBC Canadian Open is the third PGA Tour event contested in South Carolina this season.

Palmetto State native Dustin Johnson headlines the field (and has been doing plenty of putter testing). Brooks Koepka and Jason Dufner will be teeing it up as well. John Pak and Davis Thompson will both be making their professional debuts.

General galleries

Tuesday

Wednesday

Special galleries

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Tour News

John Pak, college golf’s top player, signs with TaylorMade

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Editor’s note: We filed this piece for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report.

With a buddy on the bag and fresh off receiving the Jack Nicklaus Award in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, celebrated amateur and Florida State standout John Pak is making his professional debut at this week’s Palmetto Championship at Congaree — and he’ll do so as a TaylorMade staffer, the company announced today.

College golf’s top player, Pak has played TaylorMade gear and a Titleist ball since his amateur days. And as we found out from Ryan Ressa, TaylorMade’s player development manager, who has worked with Pak since he was in his early teens, it’s not surprising Pak will continue with the same bag setup and ball combination as he joins the professional ranks.

The Scotch Plains, New Jersey, native is an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of guy when it comes to his equipment, which is a trait Ressa sees among many of the game’s best. (Another TaylorMade staffer Tiger Woods, for one, comes to mind).

Ressa and TaylorMade have had a relationship with Pak for nearly a decade, and it’s Ressa’s job to not only make sure Pak is in the right equipment for his game but is also navigating the matrix of amateur competitions, college, and the decision to turn pro successfully.

According to Ressa, Pak, and other junior standouts, need new equipment, or at least a fitting, roughly every six months as their bodies and swings change.

Even so, while he’s transitioned into new fairway wood models as they’ve become available, the DNA of Pak’s bag has stayed largely the same.

“Jon is a very simple guy when it comes to equipment, and he doesn’t do a lot of tinkering outside of driver shafts,” Ressa said. “Deep down, he’s a great competitor. He just loves to compete and is focused on getting the ball in the hole. He’s stayed really, really consistent with the look of his irons, the loft of his wedges, and his bag setup. He’s been easy to work with and only needs one or two visits per year to get squared away.”

Read the full piece here.

Check out the full WITB here. 

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