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Tour Rundown: Woodland wins in overtime on Super Bowl Sunday

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On the weekend of the big football game, golf offered up excitement across the globe. Playoffs decided events in Australia and Arizona, while an unanticipated comeback from an unknown quantity claimed a European Tour title in Malaysia. On the heels of the “Iggles” big victory in Minnesota, let’s have our own championship Tour Rundown for the first weekend of February.

Woodland claims third PGA Tour title in overtime

Four-point-five years had passed since Gary Woodland won in Reno. His game had improved, but the victories did not follow. On Sunday, one of the tour’s most natural athletes returned to the winner’s circle, dispatching Chez Reavie on the first extra hole.

How Woodland Won

Playoffs are passe on tour these days; four consecutive weeks of them will do that to a fan base. Woodland finished a solid forty minutes before Reavie, thanks to a 9-birdie round of 64 on Sunday. A 10th would have finished things in regulation, but Woodland’s 10-feet effort broke off harmlessly. In the playoff, Woodland drove into the church pew bunkers on the left, but drew a clean lie. He was able to reach the front fringe, and his 2-putt par from 25 feet topped Reavie’s bogey five.

See the clubs Woodland used to win on Sunday

How Reavie went down fighting

The 2001 USGA Public Links champion played in Sunday’s final threesome, but drew little inspiration from his partners. Bryson DeChambeau and Rickie Fowler struggled on the fourth day, leaving Reavie to find his own motivation. A poor iron shot into the 16th led to bogey, but the 36-year old responded with two closing birdies, the latter on the strength of a cross-green bomb of a putt. In the playoff, Reavie had the upper hand off the tee, but played a sloppy iron that spun off the green, leaving him a tricky chip. He was unable to get up and down to extend the playoff. Ollie Schniederjans and Brendan Steele tied for third at 15-under par and 3 strokes out of the playoff.

Scott Langley surges for first Web.Com Win

Panama provided a warm welcome for the left-hand brigade. Eric Axley led entering round four. Edward Loar ended in a tie for second, and Langley came out on top. No lead is safe, on any tour, at any time. Birdies and double were exchanged like currency, leaving nothing certain until the final green.

Langley’s Road Map

The 28-year old alum of The First Tee and the University of Illinois had a scorching back-nine on track, with four birdies in his first six holes. A double bogey on the 16th brought him back to the field, but he was able to hold off Rafael Campos and Loar by two strokes. Three birdies on the outward half stood Langley at 7-under on the day, so if ever a double bogey was not the end of the world, this was it.

How the chasers came up short

The buried lede was this: if you’re going to make a double bogey, make lots of birdies. Axley had two of them, and not enough birdies to remain in the hunt. Loar had birdies at 1 and 3, but a late double was his undoing. Campos had a passel of birdies of his own, but three bogeys meant that his comeback effort would come up a bit shy. The daunting, closing trio of holes at Panama Golf Club offered only one birdie (Campos at 17) to the entire top ten on Sunday.

Sharma blazes past field for second Euro Tour title

Shubhankar Sharma was a little-known quantity from India before Sunday. He had won in South Africa in December, but was not on anyone’s radar in Malaysia. In round four, he played the golf we all dream about, posting 10 birdies and nary a bogey, on his way to a 62 and a 2-stroke win over the third-round leader, Jorge Campillo. Sharma tallied 23 birdies on the week, so it’s safe to say the best was left for last.

How Sharma shook off Campillo

In case you missed it, 10 birdies! At dawn’s first light, Sharma was barely inside the top 20. He finished an hour ahead of the final trio, who had to wonder if the scoreboard had been taken over by jesters. Despite not making birdie at the easy opening hole, Sharma matched 31s on each side to separate himself from the field.

Campillo comes up just shy of a playoff

In truth, it wasn’t as close as it looked. Campillo opened with eagle 3 for the second consecutive day, but had to birdie the final 2 holes to move a stroke ahead of Ryan Fox and countryman Pablo Larrazabal, for solo second spot. Not much that one can do, when golf like Sharma’s is played. Fox had the shot of the week, for an albatross (double-eagle) on Saturday’s first hole, and followed it up on Sunday with an eagle at the opening hole.

Hawkes edges Endycott at Oates Vic Open

In a battle of young pros, third-round leader Simon Hawkes held off Harrison Endycott, emerging triumphant on the first playoff hole. Hawkes had a chance to win in regulation with eagle at the last, but his birdie was enough to cinch a spot in the playoff.

How Hawkes took down Endycott

Simply put, he closed with birdie in regulation to tie, then made birdie on the only playoff hole for the win. Hawkes had 5 birdies against 1 bogey on the final day, enough to dispatch all pursuers save one.

Endycott edged close to victory, but …

He came close, there is not doubt, but Endycott beautiful 66, built by 6 birdies and 12 pars, was just not enough. In the playoff, he and Hawkes both got into bunker trouble, but the runner-up was unable to extract himself efficiently, and settled for par and the second-place check.

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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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tom54

    Feb 5, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Maybe Mr Montesano was busy watching Super Bowl pregame instead of Phoenix Open because Chez Reavie was paired with John Rahm and Fowler, not Fowler and DeChambeau. He was correct that both his playing partners did not play that well in his group. Certainly thought Rahm and Fowler would have done better but that’s why we tune in.

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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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