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.
Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (05/05/21): Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond
At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.
We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of 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 we all love – buy and selling equipment.
Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond driver shafted with a Fujikura Speed 661.
To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Callaway triple diamond Epic Speed driver
Interesting photos from Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Championship
This week, the PGA Tour is at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Wells Fargo Championship. GolfWRX was on-site Tuesday to spy a glimpse into the bags of some of the world’s top golfers where the field is getting ready to play starting Thursday for the $8.1 million purse, with the winner going home with just over $1.45 million dollars and the important 500 FedEx Cup points.
Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.
New Ping irons and wedges spotted
It’s a big week at the Wells Fargo for Ping, with the official tour launch of the new i59 irons and Glide Forged Pro wedges. We are still seeking out the full tech, and potential release info, but you can join the discussion about the new gear in the GolfWRX forums: Ping i59 irons – 2021 Wells Fargo Championship
That’s one way to make a site line
Although he is still one of the better ball-strikers on tour, Lucas Glover’s difficulty with the putter has been well documented. We spotted him on the putting green at Quail Hollow making an improvised site line on his Scotty Cameron Newport 2. Those Sharpies are good for more than just signing autographs!
Very unique hosel on this Odyssey
This Odyssey widebody putter has its plumber’s neck hosel very close to the center of the topline to reduce toe hang and offer a one-of-a-kind view in the address position.
Bettinardi prototype high toe mallet
This Hexperimental Proto from the folks at Bettinardi looks like the milled steel lovechild of their Studio Stock 17 and a Queen Bee 11. It combines the high-toe look with a bumpered mallet.
Jason Day working with a new putter
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the Bryson effect is real. This week, it looks like Jason Day has moved to a SIK putter paired with an LA Golf putter shaft after a very long run with a TaylorMade Spider.
Speaking of Jason Day and new gear…
The new SIK putter was seen in the bag with no backup in sight and a new wedge (under plastic). Super bonus points for the Augusta National pro shop (only for Members and guests) accessories bag Day is using—that’s serious golf drip.
Wyndham Clark PXG irons confirmed
After some speculation about their existence, we now have confirmation that the irons being used by Wyndham Clark are a yet-to-be-released PXG Gen 4 0311 ST (Super Tour) blade. You can see more pictures of the iron here: GolfWRX Forums In hand Gen4 0311 ST irons
Xander’s got a lot of headcovers in there
Xander Schauffele must be on the lookout for some new fairway woods, because he had five different options under headcovers on the range at Quail Hollow. Maybe he has a few of those Triple Diamond Epic Speeds under there? GolfWRX Spotted: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond fairway wood
Rickie working on a lot, including his tempo
Rickie had a lot going on at the range on Tuesday and one of the more interesting things of note was an iron shafted with a Fujikura MCI tempo trainer.
Dufner with new Cobra putter
The search for a putter seems to be nonstop for Jason Dufner at the moment and after some time with an oversized Cobra mallet, it looks like he has moved onto something a little smaller and with a bit more toe hang.
Smiling assassin Sungjae Im
If you were inside the top 25 on the FedEx Cup and playing as well as Sungjae is right now, you’d probably be smiling too.
Rafa is rolling one very nice Scotty Cameron
When it comes to Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, the “Timeless” Newport 2 style stands alone and Rafa’s custom looks really good from here.
You can check out all the pictures from Tuesday of the Wells Fargo in the links below
A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: April, May
As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge, because I want to taste the brine. Here you’ll find the fourth installment of “A Golfing Memoir” as we trace a year in the life of Flip Hedgebow, itinerant teacher of golf. For January, click here. For February, click here. For March, click here.
‘Cause I would walk 500 …
Roam if you …
You’ve got a fast car…
The drive from that part of Florida to pretty-rural, upstate New York, crossed a lot of station boundaries. Flip Hedgebow alternated between song lists he’d saved on that app, to the old-school radio embedded in the dashboard of the car, and back once again. Some days, he’d drive and sleep at night. Other times, he’d reverse the play, in order to confuse fate. Life hadn’t been a straight line for him. So, he reasoned, neither should a seminal trip from one end to the other.
cirE “Flip” Hedgebow hadn’t controlled much for a fair portion of life, so when his turn came to take the wheel and guide the nose, he did it for all that he could. Before leaving the sunshone state, the pro searched the in-between for esoteria, places he couldn’t imagine wanting to see, that might equal parts enliven and delay his journey to his summer home. In the clarity of the rear-view mirror where, you know, objects may appear … they were places he could not imagine having missed in his earthly stay.
Every flash of crimson along the route reminded him of her. Of Agnes Porter. Or what her real … hold off a moment. It’ll come. Of Agnes Porter the younger. She had taken a series of lessons with him as the moon of his time in Florida waned. Her motivation for the instruction was unclear, but the money spent well, and the time spent was much more than unpleasurable. It would be Hollywood-romantic to suggest that epiphanies arrived after their meetings, that clarity emanated from their encounters, but this wasn’t Hollywood and, as far as Flip could tell, it wasn’t romantic. Men are always slower and duller to the task.
Her golf swing was athletic from the get-go. Equal parts sport training and anger, the hands, arms, hips and shoulders moved in proper sequence, cadence, and space. It might have been a hockey club or a baseball bat that settled these early lessons for her, or martial arts, or something else. Who knew? He didn’t. And didn’t ask. Time served on the lesson tee had informed him that necessary information was always volunteered; never chased.
They had sat on tee chairs after lessons, discussing the swing and the grandeur of the game. Once, they had moved their conversation to the club patio, but had not advanced beyond dialogue. No dining, no drinks. Agnes the younger had revealed that her grandmother’s name was not Agnes Porter; it was an identifier that she had chosen while emigrating to the shores of the USA. Such a common thing, to leave your nomenclature behind in your original language, to embrace the sounds of the adopted soil. That had been decades before, when the elder was the younger, and the younger, not even.
A thoughtful observer would have identified more than an instructional connection between the two. It was certainly Agnes Porter’s intention to move the interaction farther along. Flip Hedgebow, whose percentages of jaded, obtuse, distracted, and torpid added to full capacity, had an extra percentage point left over, that suggested to him that something more might be present, and that he didn’t wish to risk its departure. He would wait for that information, as he did so often on the lesson tee.
“Perhaps I’ll see you upstate. Grandmother Agnes always finds her way back north during the summer months, and I always find my way to her. I love my mother, but I have this connection with the prior generation. Sometimes that happens.”
Five words, including a contraction. The remainder of the utterance, like mist over the morning river. Was there a difference between maybe and perhaps? From his perspective, there certainly was. And thus did Flip Hedgebow ruminate for hundreds of miles, into the thousands, on what might be. He knew what certainly would be: a new balance sheet, different bosses, a clientele for whom the word posh was more likely a curse or an insult, and less probably a tenet or commandment. He liked the contrast between his two places of employment. It preserved the balance, and allowed him to move through life with equilibrium and harmony.
It had allowed him to move through life thus. As he said good-bye to young Agnes on the eve of his departure from the Swelter (nee Sunshine) state, she leaned in closer and left him with six complicated words, one a contraction: Agnes Porter isn’t my name, either.
The omnipresent creek at the base of the foothill had impacted the founder of the small, unique resort in upstate New York. Upstate was the best place to identify where Klifzota sat. It wasn’t truly western, but it wasn’t southern tier, nor central. It was away out there, where the osadnik from Polonia had found his slice of idyllic country living. His family had farmed the land for a few generations, before an enterprising daughter had turned barn and family home into a retreat for the city folk from western New York’s two main cities. Not all city folk, understand?
Klifzota’s foothill was neither tall nor wide enough to feature downhill skiing, as found farther south and west. Landing on the series of avenues that her ancestors used to move heavy equipment around the property, she established a series of footpaths and walkways for contemplation and less-vertical exercise. In the winter, out came the snowshoes and other devices, fit to traverse what would eventually be groomed trails. Eschewing romance for hard work and the family name, she nonetheless could not step out of its path. It arrived one day in the guise of a forty-something man with two children. His name translated from German as avoid the farmer, which suited her just fine. He was unattached, she was smitten, and the newly-blended family now a momentous decision: what to do with the meadow.
Growing up on a country farm, she understood the worth of all things natural, and the eternal harm that would come from disruption. There were two areas of the farm where things had caused this irreversible harm, and she would permit no others. In the end, the family settled on golf. The game and the course they built preserved the harmony of the corridors. The equipment shed replaced the cattle barn, and a small lodge with some touches grew up adjacent to the country home that they expanded into their operations center. They purchased a few homes along the perimeter of the property, in anticipation of the needs of future generations of family, and guests. It was in one of these that cirE “Flip” Hedgebow took up residence each April. He remained there annually until the course closed, just after harvest season ended and Halloween beckoned. Then, he would don his southern costume and resume the guise of Florida Man. That would be then, though; this was soon to be now. What else would be now, he wondered.
Unlike Florida, Flip’s duties seldom included lessons. Klifzota was a public-access course, where the regulars came to the game after playing some other sport. Many were baseball devotees, and they learned to tilt at the hips and change the plane of their swing. Others were hockey aficionados, with powerful legs and super-charged swings. They alone had compelled the owners to continually assess the proper width of the fairways, given the lateral nature of their shot patterns. When Canadians discovered Klifzota, the hockey influence approached something primordial.
Flip kept a golf cart at his house on the hill. The course sat in a bit of a valley, between the large, eastern hill and the shallower, western one. The house rested on the western hill, adjacent to the other properties owned by the descendants of the original osadnik. It was efficient, and that was all Flip needed. He was rarely there. His shift began at six each morning, when the dewsweepers would arrive for their breakfast nine. Sometimes they played 18; most days, they regretted that decisions, swearing a full round off for a time. Carts were brought from the cattle barn across the road, floors were swept, coffee was brewed, and the till was tended. Flip ate his own first meal in his office, just off the counter. By noon, there was usually enough of a break in the action for him to catch some sleep. If he was super-tired, he would grab a key for one of the unoccupied rooms in the motel and sneak away there, while his assistant tended to affairs. Super-tired was code for hung over, which was at times a necessary result of duty.
Klifzota wasn’t a summer camp, but at times, it felt like one, with Flip cast as the head counselor. After his lunch and nap, he would tend to the local leagues during the weekday afternoons, ensuring that their times were posted, their bets recorded and monies collected, and their results tabulated and posted. This brought him to supper, when the action truly commenced. Each evening, Flip gathered his fill of local news (chatter in the dining room and bar area) and worldwide affairs (the screen in the bar), and ate and drank with the league golfers and overnight groups. The locals had adopted Flip as their own; he was able to approximate their values system and, in truth, it was much closer to his own than the one he feigned in Florida each winter. It was this other, this affected persona, that allowed him to interact seamlessly with the golf groups that arrived throughout the season. No matter their place of origin, their values system, he was able to decode their language, mannerisms, and hierarchies, and insinuate himself in, temporarily. Like all travelers in a strange place, the guests needed an anchor, and Flip was that anchor. If they returned annually, they were no longer travelers, but distant kin.
It was these foothills that brought cirE Hedgebow closer to that other “F” word that he had successfully kept at arm’s length since he struck out on his own: family. Down south, he was hired help and he knew it. Florida could be a transient state, especially for someone in the golf industry. Up north, where life became more traditional americana, it wasn’t quite Rockwell, but only because old Norman never made it over to Wyoming county. That daughter who married the farmer-hater? Their children married and had children of their own, and they all stayed to develop the resort. Little squabbling among them meant a lot of cooperation and much advancement and success for Klifzota. This jaded-in-a-positive-way ambience gave Flip a family to which to belong, to which he owed nothing, but to which he would gladly give everything.
As May crept toward Memorial Day weekend, an email arrived in his inbox, that would set the summer’s events into motion. Try as he might to control things, when Agnes Porter the younger, or whoever she truly was, entered his life, his deft command of the wheel loosened and weakened. Her plans to visit had transitioned from casual toss to anticipate arrival. Sometime in June, she wrote, more early than late. She would be down east for Memorial Day, and would follow the sun in the days that followed. The count of the clock would divulge the impact of her reappearance on his story.
Artwork by JaeB
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