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Tour Rundown: Incredible finishes on Champions, European tours

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As darkness fell in Antalya, the the first event in the European Tour playoff series came to a conclusion. Light stanchions had been illuminated for two playoff holes, when the final putt missed. In Japan, the Asian swing of the LPGA came to a conclusion. And the old guard of the PGA Tour Champions stood its season-ending event in Phoenix in the most dramatic fashion of all. Snows fell, then evanesced, in my home area, reminding me that played golf is precious, and televised golf that matters, is a commodity. On, then, with our Tour Rundown for Monday, November 11th. Take special care, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, to pray for peace.

Hatton outlasts the world at TAO on European Tour

An entire-season of storylines materialized at the Maxx Royale on Sunday. It happened, dramatically, over the final hour of the tournament. Kurt Kitayama, the reborn American golfer, reached the clubhouse first at 20-under par. He was soon joined by Erik Van Rooyen, Victor Perez, Tyrrell Hatton, Benjamin Hebert, and Matthias Schwab, the 3rd-round leader. Schwab had an opportunity to win it all in regulation, but was unable to make birdie at the last. The sextet returned four times to the 18th hole, to decide matters. Van Rooyen was eliminated in round one, with bogey. The French duo, Hebert and Perez, dropped away on the 2nd go-round, also with bogey. Kitayama went by the wayside on the 3rd cycle, when par was no longer good enough. On the 4th return in extra time, Schwab made bogey and Hatton was the champion.

Where Schwab lost: His greenside pitching. In regulation and on the 4th playoff hole, the Austrian had an opportunity to get a greenside pitch within birdie range, but bombed it 25 feet past both times. Schwab consquently 3-putted after the second miscue, costing himself a chance on a 5th playoff hole.

How Hatton won: He pitched in for birdie on the first playoff hole, when it was birdie or go home. He also outlasted the other golfers, allowing them to make mistakes. They did, and the experienced winner rode off with a trophy, pride, and prize.

Suzuki claims TOTO for home country on LPGA

Ai Suzuki has a decision to make. The young professional from Japan has officially earned membership on the LPGA Tour for 2020. Will she opt-in and match her skills with the world’s best? Suzuki stood tied for 1st after round one, then atop the board by herself after a 2nd-round 65, the low round of the week. Perhaps the most important stretch of the week was the first 7 holes on Sunday; she played them in 4-under par. The fiery start served notice that a 63 would be needed to catch her. In a post-round interview, Suzuki admitted that her inability to speak English probably drops her chances of joining the tour in 2020, to 20%. Some day, she acknowledges, but not quite yet.

How Suzuki won: One bogey. Say it out loud…O-N-E-B-O-G-E-Y all week. The 11th hole on Friday, during round one. Beyond that, 18 birdies.

How the others lost: More bogeys. Hyo Joo Kim (2nd place by 3 shots) had a solitary bogey as well, but she added in a double, and one birdie fewer. Minjee Lee (3rd place by 6 shots) made 3 bogies on Sunday alone! Suzuki wasn’t indomitable; she simply played error-free and made birdie putts when they beckoned.

After Montgomerie walks off, Maggert walks OFF to win Schwab Cup Championship

Colin Montgomerie holed his final shot of the 2019 PGA Tour Champions campaign from 100-odd yards away. The eagle 3 jumped him up from T7 to T4, and certainly eased the pain from the bogey he had just made at the 17th hole. Who knew that this was the warm-up for what would happen in the playoff? Let’s set the scene, and then let your mind take over. Jeff Maggert and Retief Goosen tied at 21-under par, 2 shots clear of 3rd place Woody Austin. As the two men headed to the 18th tee to settle matters, calculations were made. If Goosen were to win the playoff, he would win the week and the year. If Maggert were to emerge victorious, the week’s bauble and booty would be his, but the season-long Schwab Cup would go to Scott McCarron. The combatants parred the 18th, then birdied it a second time, to move the drama needle. Off to the 17th hole they went. After Goosen reached the green with his approach, Maggert stepped up and 2-hopped his wedge into the cup. These guys are STILL good, living under par.

How the field lost: Not enough birdies. Sounds silly, but Maggert set a high bar with 63 on opening day. It was matched, by Miguel Angel Jimenez in round 3. Maggert followed his Oakmont Miller with 65-69-66. It took a 64 from Goosen on Sunday to catch the Texan.

How Maggert won: Well, let’s call it a walk-off eagle. Unlike many other times on tour, when he didn’t have the grit to close a tournament, Maggert did not falter on this day. He birdied the 72nd hole to reach the playoff, then birdied the 74th to remain alive. With Goosen inside 10 feet for birdie, Maggert would have had a tap-in for his 3, had fate not intervened.

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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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The most impressive listing from the GolfWRX Classifieds (03/02/21) – Brand New Nikes

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

The golden rule of golf is “if you don’t play good, at least you can look good” and these Nike Air Zoom Victory Tours will have you looking as sharp as Collin Morikawa’s iron game. Check out the full listing here:  ***SUNDAY FUNDAY! …Nike NRG Shoes Size 13***

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

You can also follow along on Instagram: GolfWRX Classifieds

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Morning 9: Morikawa wins WGC, thanks Tiger | Another week, another Korda win | Tiger tributes abound

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.
March 1, 2021
Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Morikawa wins WGC, thanks Tiger
AP report…”PGA champion Collin Morikawa shook off an early mistake and played a steady hand on a Concession golf course known for calamity, closing with a 3-under 69 for a three-shot victory in the Workday Championship.”
  • “Morikawa picked up a few short-game tips from major champions – Mark O’Meara on his putting, Concession member Paul Azinger on the chipping — and he says it carried him to another big win.”
  • “And there was a tribute to Tiger Woods, his golf idol growing up.”
  • “We don’t say ‘Thank you’ enough,” Morikawa said, referring to how much Woods has raised the profile and prize money in golf. He also mentioned his grandfather dying a month ago and began to get emotional.”
2. Another week, another Korda win
AP report…”Nelly Korda seized control with three early birdies and finished with 12 straight pars for a 3-under 69 to win the Gainbridge LPGA on Sunday, giving the Korda family two victories to start the season.”
  • “Her older sister, Jessica, won the season-opening Tournament of Champions last month in Orlando.”
  • “Korda won for the first time on American soil – her other three LPGA wins were in Australia and twice in Taiwan – and the first time with her parents watching. Her father, Petr Korda, is a former Australian Open tennis champion.”
3. Grace wins in Puerto Rico—weeks after his father’s COVID-19 death
Adam Woodard for Golfweek…”On Sunday afternoon, he did the same, holing-out for eagle on the par-4 17th and then making birdie from the sand on the par-5 18th to reach 19 under and claim the trophy at the 2021 Puerto Rico Open at Grand Reserve Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.”
  • “All wins are emotional, but this one hit close to home for Grace. Just weeks ago, the 32-year-old South African lost his father to a bout with COVID-19.”
4. Forensic experts discuss: Was Tiger asleep at the wheel? 
The question is being asked, and it’s only right to address it here. Maybe you don’t like it. Hell, as someone who grew up as a die-hard Tiger Woods fan, who watched more rounds in Sunday Red than I can remember, I don’t relish anything in the negligence family. However, we must examine the facts and the (incomplete) information before us.
  • Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY…”The available evidence from the recent car crash involving Tiger Woods indicates that the famed golfer was not paying attention to the road and drifted off of it before crashing his car, three forensic car accident experts told USA TODAY Sports.”
  • “The same experts also say the evidence does not indicate he lost control of his vehicle because of excessive speed on a curved downhill road that is known for speeding cars.”
  • “They arrived at this theory based on several factors, especially the way Woods’ vehicle appeared to keep going straight ahead instead of staying on the road as it curved right.”
5. Several players wear red/black in support of Tiger
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Tony Finau made the grandest entrance, wearing a red mock golf shirt, black pants and his Nike hat backwards — the way Woods often arrives at tournaments.”
  • “I was pretty inspired,” Finau said. “I heard earlier quite a few guys were going to do it. I for sure felt like it would just be a nice touch. We’ve enjoyed so many Sundays watching Tiger do his thing. Red and black, that’s what Tiger does on Sundays, so to just join in and just let Tiger know we’re supporting him in the best way we can. We’re still playing as we miss him out here, but it was just cool to be part of that today.”
  • “At the Puerto Rico Championship, the opposite field event this week won by Branden Grace, the entire grounds crew wore red for Woods. Phil Mickelson, who was playing the PGA Tour Champions event in Arizona, said he bought a shirt locally to wear to pay tribute to Woods.”
6. Sutherland wins Cologuard Classic
Todd Kelly for Golfweek…”On Sunday, when Weir birdied the eighth hole at the Cologuard Classic, the second PGA Tour Champions event in 2021, he took a four-shot lead. It started to look like the drought would finally be over.”
  • “But on a chilly and windy day, Sutherland, who started the final round two shots back of the lead, made his move on the back nine at the Omni Tucson National Resort.”
  • “He birdied the 10th and 12th and then chipped in for birdie on the par-3 16th, the only birdie on that hole on Sunday. When Weir bogeyed the 16th, there was a tie for the lead with two to go.”
  • “On the par-5 17th, Sutherland made a short birdie putt to take a one-shot lead. Both striped their drives on the 18th hole and after Sutherland stuffed his approach to about 10 feet, he made a par putt to clinch the win at 15 under.”
7. Tiger tweets appreciation 
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Tiger Woods, in a tweet Sunday night, said it was “touching” to see so many players wearing his trademark Sunday red for the final round of the WGC-Workday Championship, just days after a serious car accident left him hospitalized and needing emergency surgery.”
  • “It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the tv and saw all the red shirts,” Woods wrote in the tweet. “To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.”
8. Nelly Korda’s winning WITB
Driver: Titleist TSi1 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 S
3-wood: Titleist TS2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Red 6 S
Hybrids: Titleist TSi2 (21), Ping G410 (25)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 S
Irons: Titleist T100 (5-PW)
Shafts: Aerotech SteelFiber I95
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 ( 50-08F, 54-10S, 58-08M)
Shafts: Aerotech SteelFiber I95
Putter: Scotty Cameron Prototype Concept 2
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Ball: Titleist Pro V1 (2021)
9. Collin Morikawa WITB
Driver: TaylorMade SIM (8 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Titanium (15 degrees @13.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX
5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX
Irons: TaylorMade P7MC (4-6), TaylorMade P730 (7-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (52, 56-14F @55), TaylorMade MG2 (60)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: TaylorMade Spider FCG
Ball: TaylorMade TP5
Grips: Golf Pride Z-Grip Cord
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Tour Rundown: Four winners make for a full TR!

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No matter how much the current crop of golf stars matters, the legends matter more. Annika Sorenstam made an LPGA tournament appearance (she was explicit in stating not a comeback) and Tiger Woods survived a frightening automobile accident. Those two stories stole our attention for different reasons, as we deservedly cheered both on.

Other stories unfolded as the week progressed, with four champions emerging from rigorous tests. It’s time to chase down the week’s story lines in another edition of Tour Rundown. Adjust your mirrors and have a look back with us.

World Golf Championship: Workday at The Concession

The new site for the opening WGC replaced the tree-lined fairways of Club de Golf Chapultepec. The Concession was a visual shift for the golfers and the viewers. Gone were the narrow corridors and overhanging arbor. In their place was a wider Nicklaus course, with some swamp and sand, and a few palmettos that would make a difference. After 72 holes, the story line was easy to see in reverse: the three young’uns stole the week.

On Thursday, we watched as Young’un number one, Matthew Wolff, hit his ball with his practice putting stroke, then withdrew from the event after opening with 83. On day two, we watched Viktor Hovland, Young’un number two, play a gorgeous round of golf through 17 holes. Seven birdies danced with ten pars, as the Norwegian comet moved quickly up the leader board. Just as precipitously, Hovland tumbled down the slope after measuring eight strokes on the par-four ninth, his closing hole. Those palmetto bushes came into play twice as bad swings, bad fortune, and bad decisions conspired to annul four of his hard-earned birdies. To his credit, Hovland would remain in the story line across the weekend, tying for second place with Billy Horschel and Brooks Koepka.

Young’un number one, Collin Morikawa, was the class of a classy field at The Workday. Morikawa avoided quads on day two and jumped into second place, behind Koepka, with 64. Over the weekend, Koepka was unable to return to the 60s, and reached 15-deep for his second-place tie. Morikawa burst from the tape on Saturday with six birdies on his opening nine. A pair of unsightly bogies on the two, back-nine, par fives, shrunk what should have been a sizable lead. On Sunday, the Californian played steady golf on the day, countering a hole-two bogey with four birdies coming home. Both Horschel and Hovland needed perfection on day four, and it lay just beyond their reach. Each counted a pair of bogeys on the inward half, giving Morikawa the cushion he needed for his first WGC title and fourth PGA Tour victory in a brief career.

LPGA: Gainbridge

The Gainbridge moved from Boca Raton to Orlando this year, and caught the attention of at least one champion. Annika Sorenstam has lived in the Lake Nona community for years, and decided that this year’s playing might be a good time to make an appearance, not a comeback (but just in case she ever wanted to consider a comeback, this was a great site). It was a turbulent week for the Swede, as she endured an inaccurate ruling on Thursday, a flirtation with the cut on Friday (she made it) and two banal weekend rounds that relegated her to a 74th-place finish among the 74 who made the cut.

On the other end of the leaderboard, many in the sub-thirty set were making noise. Lydia Ko (also a Lake Nonoan) had the halfway lead at 134, with Patty Tavatanakit and Nelly Korda a shot back at 135. Also close were In-Gee Chun, Chella Choi, and Lexi Thompson. Each had a chance to win over the weekend, but only one did. Tavatanakit and Jin Young Ko made Saturday moves with 66s, and Angel Yin did them one better with 65. Korda assumed the lead with a 68 as Ko dropped to a 72 on day three.

Sunday’s promise of a duel in the sun fizzled early. Korda jumped from the block with birdies on three of the first six holes. Saturday’s heroes lost their footing, with Yin, Chun, and Tavatanakit all moving into the 70s and out of contention. Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson jumped into a second-place tie with scores of 69 and 68, respectively. After her fierce start, Korda locked in on 12 consecutive pars, and won her fourth LPGA title (and first since 2019) by three shots.

PGA Tour: Puerto Rico Open

Puerto Rico’s Open is an interesting event. Until Viktor Hovland won at Mayakoba in 2020, none of its winners had been able to secure a subsequent tour title. It provides opportunity for those not in the WGC, to rediscover their game and bring it along the PGA Tour trail. Branden Grace found himself in an unwanted space this season, dealing with the recent passing of his father. Five years had passed since his inaugural PGA Tour win, at the Heritage in 2016. On Sunday, specifically in the last 45 minutes of the event, Grace discovered his own version of grace.

Homeland hero Rafael Campos was in contention all week long, and ultimately settled into a tie for third with fellow, 54-hole leader Grayson Murray, at 16-under par. Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas surged on Sunday with 65, but a 14th-hole bogey was his undoing. Grace played a game of cat-and-mouse on Sunday, with three birdies and no blemishes through 16 holes. Not spectacular, but not damaging, either. On seventeen, the Pretorian took advantage of a following wind and drove into a greenside bunker at the par-four trace. His bunker shot touched down, released, and rolled properly into the hole for eagle. At the closing hole, where Vegas had made birdie some time before, Grace found a greenside bunker in two, and hit another marvelous pitch from the sand, to within three feet. His putt dropped, he assumed the lead, and earned a second tour title for his efforts.

PGA Tour Champions: Cologuard Classic

If Puerto Rico is a place for ignition of careers, the Champions Tour is filled with stories of redemption. Mike Weir came to Tucson in search of that precise medicine, and he nearly filled the prescription. Unfortunately for him, the least-likely guy to have five CT wins (Kevin Sutherland) chose Sunday to make a charge and enter the fray.

At the beginning of the week, a carrot was dangled in front of Phil Mickelson: no player in golf’s history had ever won the first three starts, on any tour. Lefty had two of them in the pocket, and this week’s course was precisely where he had won his first tour event, as an amateur, decades back. Well, Lefty played like a righty this week, so that story fizzled.

Through two rounds, Mike Weir played like the lefty that won the 2003 Masters and had plenty of game, before injuries and an ill-timed attempt at designing golf courses derailed his train. Sunday was a tale of two cities for the Canadian. The first eight holes were business as usual: three birdies for a four-shot lead. The final ten holes brought three bogies, the kind of finish that bleeds slowly and painfully. Two of those bogies came in the final three holes, just as Kevin Sutherland posted birdies at 16 and 17. The about-face was so sudden, it was hard to consider plausible. In the blink of an eye, Weir’s chance at victory had drifted away on the wind, as Sutherland lifted a Champions Tour trophy for the fifth time.

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