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5 things we learned Saturday at the U.S. Women’s Open

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We learned that 2020 was as kind to the the golfers at Champions Golf Club, as it was to the rest of humanity. We learned that sadism still has a place on the tournament set-up committee of the USGA. We learned that there is little to no hope of the fourth round finishing on schedule on Sunday. All in all, December in Houston is proving to be little better than July in Houston, just the opposite end of the weather spectrum.

It was a rough go on Saturday for the world’s finest female golfers. Just two golfers broke par on the day, and it’s a certainty that the high-ringer score would be much more impactful than the low one. In fact, two holes (1 and 15) recorded zero birdies on the day. It’s almost humorous that Chella Choi had an ace at the 180-yard 12th. That there was even one moment of perfection on such a foul day, is little consolation.

We did learn five things on this Saturday of the 75th U.S. Women’s Open, and here they are.

1. Ji Yeong Kim2 posted a round for the ages

Four birdies. Zero bogies. Fourteen Pars. The only things that Ji Yeong Kim2 didn’t do on Saturday were win the tournament (that chance comes tomorrow) and birdie 1 or 15 (no one else did, either.) To make complete sense of her round, is impossible. To understand its value, consider that Kim started the day on the other side of the draw, the one that teed off on the back nine. At dawn, there were 33 golfers ahead of her. At dusk, only two. Kim2 is tied with Moriya Jutanugarn for 3rd place, two back of Amy Olson (second place) and three behind third-round leader Hinako Shibuno. Hae Ran Ryu was the only other golfer to shoot below par on Saturday, and she managed just one stroke below the dais.

2. How about them amateurs?

There are still three amateurs inside the top 15, a tremendous feat. One of them is not Linn Grant. For the second time in her young career, Grant entered the final 36 holes with a chance at victory. For the second time in her young career, Grand shot herself out of contention, with a woeful day-three showing. In complete contrast, Kaitlyn Papp maintained a semblance of composure, returning only three strokes to Old Lady Par. She rests in a tie for 5th, just four shots out of first. Sweden’s duo of Maja “House of” Stark and Ingrid Lindblad sit tied for 15th at +2. They won’t win on Sunday, but one of them could claim low amateur, should Papp falter.

3. Hinako Shibuno preserved her lead, just barely

Hinako Shibuno was unable to increase her three-shot advantage on Saturday. In fact, the Cypress Creek course took most of it back. Shibuno made three bogies and one birdie on day three, moving to four-deep, just one shot ahead of North Dakota’s Amy Olson, the day-one leader. After making 10 birdies over the first two days, Shibuno showed that she can hold on when the well dries up. Another 74 might be enough to win tomorrow. It would keep her under par for the week, but I don’t think that it will get the job done. Shibuno will have to be sharper to claim a second career major title.

4. The golf course got away again

It’s not Shinnecock Hills yet, but it might be by tomorrow. The sayers of the USGA had to have an idea that weather would play a role in the event. What were they thinking, that 1974 Winged Foot was a nice throwback? That bogey golf would keep viewer interest up in December? The USGA had an opportunity to showcase women’s golf at a time of year when it is an afterthought, and failed miserably. Let’s hope that the Olympic Club in 2021 offers a manageable set-up, or at least a plan B. After all, Olympic has a proven record of providing awkward event conclusions.

5. Prediction time

It’s a super-safe bet that Danielle Kang will not call me anytime soon to be her life coach. My unwavering support ends today, after Kang super-struggled to a 79. What I do know is this: there is no clear favorite to win on Sunday, but there are so many players for whom a victory would represent a lifetime achievement. There’s Lydia Ko, trying to regain her teenaged dominance. How about Moriya Jutanugarn, who would love to step clear of her sister’s long shadow? Amy Olson, for one, who has been here before and misfired, and would love to put those memories away in a closet. I’ll take Yealimi Noh for the win, however. Noh played well last week at the VOA, and will have enough good shots and putts left to hold on while the golfers around her falter.

 

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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.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ethan

    Dec 13, 2020 at 1:24 am

    Questionable takes.

    4: The idea that golf should be showcased with -16 or more under par over four round courses or else its a failure is a sad idea of golf. The ability to overcome hard golf courses and post the lowest score should be celebrated.

    The men’s US Open this year was hyped up of people waiting to see people face a difficult course and for scores to be high. The LPGA and USGA should not be criticized differently.

    5: Kang is 1st in the CME race and 3rd on the money list year. Support should stay strong.

  2. Nick

    Dec 12, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    I don’t know if the course got away from them. Cypress is a long, hard golf course. The USGA does not play preferred lies, so everyone has to play the same course. I’m pretty sure Jackie Burke would tell the players to suck it up and go play.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Dec 15, 2020 at 11:09 pm

      I’m not certain that “preferred lies” has anything to do with everyone playing the same course. The rules of golf dislike LCP because there are no mud balls on sand-based courses. Golf on farmland is a different animal, so not playing LCP actually made Saturday more random and less like playing the same course. Does that make sense?

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Morning 9: Saudi Ladies Intl. attracts star names | Rory defends Reed | Full LIV schedule

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 31, 2023

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. as we gear up for another big week at Pebble Beach.

1. Ko, Thompson, Kang headline Saudi Ladies International

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…“The Aramco Saudi Ladies International has announced that 13 major winners will be included in this year’s field, highlighted by World No. 1 Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, In Gee Chun, Danielle Kang and defending champ Georgia Hall.”

  • “The event, which is the presented by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, takes place Feb. 16-19 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club and features an upgraded purse of $5 million. More LPGA stars are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.”
  • “The 120-player field will feature 60 Ladies European Tour players, 50 from the top 300 in the Rolex Rankings and a maximum of 10 sponsor invites. The winner will receive $750,000.”
Full piece.

2. Full LIV schedule finalized

The official press release…”The first official season of the groundbreaking LIV Golf League will feature 14 events in seven different countries showcasing some of the top championship courses in the world, including a return to five venues that hosted tournaments as part of the 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Series. Centurion Club outside London, England (July 7-9), Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, New Jersey (August 11-13), Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago, Illinois (September 22-24), Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami, Florida (October 20-22) and Royal Greens Golf & Country Club near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (November 3-5) will welcome back many of the sport’s biggest stars for the landmark season in the league’s official launch. In addition, fans in the U.S. will see LIV Golf’s innovative league at Orange County National in Orlando, Florida (March 31-April 2) and at Trump National Golf Club, Washington D.C. (May 26-28).”

  • “These seven venues, alongside the seven previously announced dates and locations complete the 2023 LIV Golf League schedule: Mayakoba’s El Camaleón Golf Course on Mexico’s Riviera Maya (February 24-26), The Gallery Golf Club in Tucson, Arizona (March 17-19), The Grange Golf Club in Adelaide, Australia (April 21-23), The Serapong at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore (April 28-30), Cedar Ridge Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma (May 12-14), Real Club Valderrama in Andalucía, Spain (June 30-July 2) and The Greenbrier in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia (August 4-6).”
  • “We received tremendous feedback globally from fans throughout our beta-test year, with one resounding theme: LIV Golf’s team format, innovations, and festival-like events are delivering a one-of-a-kind golf experience,” said LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman. “Last year helped lay the foundation for the future of golf at extraordinary courses that have hosted some of the world’s top competitions. LIV Golf’s schedule features fantastic venues and championship sites for our official league launch that will carry the sport into a new era.”
Full piece.

3. Get ready for Marcus Byrd

Adam Woodard for Golfweek…”Get familiar with the name Marcus Byrd, golf fans. You’ll see a lot of him over the next month.”

  • “Last week Byrd was announced as the 2023 Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption for the PGA Tour’s upcoming Genesis Invitational, Feb. 16-19 at Riviera Country Club, and he celebrated by winning the APGA Farmers Insurance Invitational on Sunday at Torrey Pines.”
  • “Byrd was the first-round leader after he opened with a 1-over 73 and then cruised to a five-shot win after a 3-over 75 in the final round. A former star for Middle Tennessee State and 2019 Conference USA Golfer of the Year, Byrd finished atop the standings for the APGA’s Farmers Insurance Fall Series back in November and now has three APGA Tour wins.”
Full piece.

4. Mize at the Masters

Doug Stutsman, Special to The Augusta Chronicle…”The 1987 Masters Champion has confirmed that the 2023 Masters — his 40th consecutive — will be his last.”

  • “Mize, an Augusta native who lives in Columbus, Ga., hinted last April that 2023 could be his final competitive appearance, but after missing the cut with a Friday 78, he remained noncommittal about his future.”
Full piece.

5. Tour pro’s “legendary” eBay purchase

Our Jason Daniels…”Last week we were live from the PGA Show, reporting on all the goings-on at the annual gearhead junkie extravaganza.”

  • “For those on tour, though, it’s not always about the shiny new sticks, with some preferring to stick with what works even if that means searching high-and-low for replacements.”
  • “Last week 2011 US Amateur champion Kelly Kraft, who beat Patrick Cantlay at Erin Hills, turned up at the Farmers Insurance Open with a bag full of 2013 Callaway Legacy Black irons, something he bought on the second-hand market.”
  • “During the Farmers Insurance Open, Johnny Wunder, the Tour Content Manager for Callaway Golf, posted a photo of said clubs on his Instagram account, commenting: “@kellykraftgolf went and bought these on eBay…and I respect the hell out of him.”
Full piece.

6. Trump throws weight behind LIV

Alan Blinder for the New York Times…“Former President Donald J. Trump’s golf courses will host three tournaments this year for the breakaway league that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is underwriting, deepening the financial ties between a candidate for the White House and top officials in Riyadh.”

  • “LIV Golf, which in the past year has cast men’s professional golf into turmoil as it lured players away from the PGA Tour, said on Monday that it would travel to Trump courses in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia during this year’s 14-stop season. Neither the league nor the Trump Organization announced the terms of their arrangement, but the schedule shows the Saudi-backed start-up will remain allied with, and beneficial to, one of its foremost defenders and political patrons as he seeks a return to power.”
Full Piece.

7. Lowry splits with caddie

Brian Keogh for the Irish Independent…”Shane Lowry is urgently searching for a new caddie in Ryder Cup year after an amicable split with Brian “Bo” Martin last weekend.”

  • The Offaly man teamed up with Martin at the Portugal Masters in 2018 and after ending a three-and-a-half-year drought at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in 2019, the bearded duo formed a tight bond with the highlights their six-stroke win in The Open Championship at Royal Portrush in 2019 and last September’s bogey-free BWM PGA Championship win at Wentworth.
  • The split with Martin was confirmed by Lowry’s management company Horizon Sports Management last night and the Irish Independent understands the pair had been considering the move for several weeks, believing their near four-and-a-half-year relationship had lost its “spark” or “chemistry”.
Full Piece.

8. Rory defends Reed

Michael Schmitt for Planet Sport…”Reed, who has been at the center of several rules controversies throughout his career, found himself embroiled in yet another one at last week’s Dubai Desert Classic.

  • “During the third round, Reed’s drive on the 17th hole at Emirates Golf Club got stuck in a tree and required binoculars to be identified. The ball was eventually found after a long search, allowing Reed to avoid playing a third shot from the tee, but several onlookers questioned whether the ball really could have been identified via binoculars, considering there were several other balls stuck in the same tree.”
  • “I felt it was fine,” McIlroy said. “If it had been anyone else in the field it would have been a nonissue, but because of certain things in the past, people bring stuff up, which is maybe unfair in some ways. But again, it is what it is. I’ve stood and defended Patrick in some of the controversies. I don’t feel like he was trying to get any advantage.”
Full Piece.

9. JT weighs in on jogger-gate

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Morning 9: Rory conquers in Dubai | Homa’s comeback win | Reed in fresh rules controversy

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 30, 2023

Good Monday morning, golf fans. after a weekend in which golf lovers were spoiled with entertainment.

1. Rory wins in Dubai

AP report…”Rory McIlroy overcame a final-round charge from Patrick Reed to win the Dubai Desert Classic in a tense Monday duel between players who were involved in a pre-tournament spat.

  • “World No. 1 McIlroy rolled in a birdie putt from around 15 feet at No. 18 for a 4-under 68 that left him a stroke clear of Reed, who shot 65.”
  • “McIlroy captured the title for the third time and has started a year with a win for the first time in his career.”
  • “It was a battle all day. Honestly it has been a battle all week,” McIlroy said. “I really feel like I haven’t had my best all week, but I managed my game and played really smart.
Full piece.

2. Homa wins Farmer from five back

AP report…”The L.A.-area native came from 5 shots off the lead to win the Farmers Insurance Open by 2 strokes over Keegan Bradley on Saturday at Torrey Pines, where Jon Rahm imploded early and missed a shot at winning his third straight start and moving to No. 1 in the world.”

  • “Homa reeled in Sam Ryder, who was trying for a wire-to-wire win, and then held off Bradley and Collin Morikawa for his sixth PGA Tour victory and fourth in his home state. He took the Genesis at Riviera in 2021 and has won the Fortinet Championship in Napa in consecutive years.”
  • “Homa closed with a 6-under 66 to finish at 13-under 275. He made a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 18 and pumped his right fist before greeting wife Lacey and infant son Cam just off the green.”
Full piece.

3. Reed’s palm tree problem

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Two swings essentially cost Patrick Reed a spot alongside Rory McIlroy in the last group for Monday’s final round of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.”

  • Both resulted in unplayables, at the sixth and 17th holes, as Reed settled for a 3-under 69 and now find himself in a logjam at 11 under and four shots back of McIlroy.”
  • “A little frustrating,” Reed told reporters afterward. “Felt like I actually hit the ball a little better today. Had one loose swing there on 8 that made me take an unplayable. But then I got on 17, I felt like I hit a perfect drive, looking at the line I was looking at. If anything, I was hoping it might have been a hair more right. I hit it so solid, might just go through [the fairway], next thing you know, we find it in the palm tree.”
  • “Unlike the par-4 eighth hole, where Reed yanked his drive well left and ended up carding double bogey, he appeared to have cut the corner nicely at the dogleg-right, par-4 17th. But what could’ve been a 40-yard pitch or so for his second shot turned into a 50-yard third shot from the rough; television cameras showed Reed’s drive hitting one of a cluster of palm trees and not coming down.”
Full piece.

4. Rough stuff for Rahm

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Starting the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open just two shots back of leader Sam Ryder and playing alongside Ryder in the final threesome, Rahm bogeyed his first hole before adding a costly double bogey at the par-4 fifth and going out in 3-over 39. A bogey to open his back nine then put Rahm six shots off the pace at 6 under, and he went on to shoot 2-over 74 and tie for seventh.”

  • “I got a lot of bad breaks today,” Rahm said.
  • “Rahm’s double came after he yanked his drive well left and then badly missed the green left with his approach shot.”
  • “But that wasn’t even the worst of it.”
  • “Rahm proceeded to hit not one but two chips heavy, leaving both in the rough. His third chip wasn’t great, either, though Rahm saved himself from carding triple by sinking a 9-footer.”
Full piece.

5. Homa’s post-win presser highlights

Assembled by Golf Digest’s Tod Leonard…

  • On how soon the Farmers champ will be changing diapers….“It will happen. The sun will come up tomorrow and my son will need a diaper change many times before that. So I will be changing diapers, I will enjoy every second of it as I always do. It’s going to feel even better than normal. If he screams at me, I will just be smiling ear to ear. Yeah, these tournaments are hard, man, but it puts you in the best mood ever when you come out on top. He can poop away, and I’ll just be here for him.”
  • On the experience of wearing a mic on Friday and speaking to the CBS broadcasters while he played the South’s 13th hole. It was a first for an official PGA Tour event…“I’m very excited about the idea. I’m sure if we could tweet things how other people want to do it, how other players want to do it. If they don’t want to do it, I’ll keep doing it; it didn’t bother me. I thought it was great for the fans to look into, push that envelope for the fans. …
  • “It was great. It was cool to win after doing it. You always hear people say, ‘Oh, Tiger [Woods] would never do this, [Jon] Rahm would never do this, all they care about is winning.’ I get that, but you can do both. It was definitely nice to win doing that yesterday.”
Full piece.

6. Ryder on close call

Kevin Prise for PGATour.com…”It wasn’t the ideal final few holes – Ryder finished par-bogey-par – but he remained optimistic in his post-round comments. He graciously met the media and expressed confidence that he belongs in this position and will return accordingly.”

  • “There was definitely a lot of new pressure, but it was fun,” Ryder said in the Saturday twilight on the Pacific coastline. “I was trying to just enjoy it. It was a good experience for me, and I think it’s only going to feed me. My attitude was that no matter what happens, there are going to be positives to take away.
  • “It’s hard to swallow right now, but that’s what I’m telling myself. I’ll be able to build on that. And I really feel like playing with some of the best players in the world, I hit a lot of really good shots.”
Full Piece.

7. Homa’s secret weapon?

Adam Schupak for Golfweek…”Homa began working with Julie Elion, who is best known in the golf world for working with the likes of Phil Mickelson and helping Jimmy Walker win a major, late last year and the results have been immediate.”

  • “The confidence is becoming more steady. I’ve been working with a sports psychologist, Julie, who has – I mean the last two months have opened my eyes to a lot of things,” he said in his winner’s press conference. “Having a plan each day mentally. I didn’t go into a single round this week thinking about a technical goal or a statistical goal, it was I’m going to learn something today, I’m going to put in place what I’ve been working on, and today that’s what I did. I did a great job of it.”
Full Piece.

8. Lefty aims dig at the Tour in Twitter return

9. Winning WITB: Max Homa

Driver: Titleist TSR3 (10 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Black 65 TX

3-wood: Titleist TSR3 (16.5 degrees, C1 SureFit setting)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue TR 8 X

7-wood: Titleist TSR2 (21 degrees, C1 SureFit setting)

Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 9 TX

Irons: Titleist T100S (4), T100 (5), Titleist 620 MB (6-9)

Shafts: KBS Tour $-Taper 130 X

Wedges: Vokey Design SM9 (46-10F, 50-12F, 56-14F, 60-04L)

Shafts: KBS TOUR $-Taper 130 X (46), KBS Hi Rev 2.0 125 S (56-60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron T-5.5 prototype

Ball: 2023 Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Full Piece.
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Tour Rundown: Silverman finds silver lining, Homa claims 6th win, Rory wins in Dubai

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This week’s installment of Tour Rundown was, literally, a weeklong affair. The Korn Ferry Tour concluded its Bahamma Breeze with a Sunday-Wednesday event. The PGA Tour went Wedneday to Saturday, to avoid an NFL playoff conflict. And the DP World Tour, owing to some urgent rains in the desert, was pushed to a Monday finish. In all, eight days of competition are featured below. That, friends, is a record for Tour Rundown. Beginning January 22nd and concluding January 30th, we bring you this week’s elongated Tour Rundown. Let’s have some man-bun fun!

Korn Ferry Tour: Silverman finds silver lining and claims Great Abaco Classic

Canada’s Ben Silverman stood atop the 18th tee with a three-shot advantage over closest pursuer Cody Blick. Let’s amend that to the 72nd tee. After a week’s effort, Silverman was a par-five hole away from claiming his first professional win in six year. Fifteen minutes later, Silverman wrote down a seven on his card, while Blick scratched a four on his. In nearly an eye’s blink, the two were tied and headed for a playoff. What chance did Silverman have?

Plenty, it turns out. The pride of the Maple Leaf gathered himself, kept the ball in play, and made par on the first playoff hole. When Blick found penalty trouble on two occasions, he could find no fewer than seven shots, and the tournament’s trophy belonged to Silverman. The winner admitted that he had gotten into his own head before closing the deal, Thinking that the tournament was his, focus went away and strokes slipped. After all was completed, Silverman had become the first sponsor’s exemptee to win on the Korn Ferry Tour in five year, and he was also the recipient of an honorary membership from the Great Abaco club.

PGA Tour: Homa claims sixth win and stakes claim to California Kid for the 2020s

Tiger Woods has been a front-runner throughout his storied career. Max Homa is a capitalizer. Homa has developed an innate sense for when the leaders are on the ropes, and it is then that he makes a move. Homa has won six times on tour, and five of those six wins have seen him follow a day-three in the 70s with a day-four in the 60s. His other win saw twin 65s on the weekend.

At dawn’s light, chatter around Torrey Pines centered on Jon Rahm winning yet again, or Sam Ryder holding on to win a PGA Tour title, to go with his Canadian and Korn Ferry tour tropies. Both Rahm and Ryder collapsed to 74 and 75 respectively, and the barn door was wide open for an unexpected winner. Collin Morikawa, Sahith Theegala, and Sungjae Im played themselves into the top five, but none could make enough birdies to reach the teens-under-par on the week. Making an impressive move was the ageless Keegan Bradley, who reached 11-deep with four birdies on the inward half. His attempt at a fifth fell short at the closing par-five hole, and it was Homa’s birdies at 16 and 18 that moved him two shots clear of Bradley.

DP World Tour: Rory opens calendar year with win for first time at Dubai

Rory McIlroy claimed a third title at Emirates Golf Club, but he did not make it easy on himself. Borrowing a page from Ben Silverman’s book (see above) McIlroy got into trouble off the 72nd tee at the Dubai Desert Classic. Unlike Silverman, McIlroy was able to lay up, pitch to about 25 feet, and drain the birdie putt for 19-under par. In doing so, he held off the charge of the ersatz Patrick Reed, who reached 18-under with birdie at the last.

McIlroy flirted with water at the last, but his errant drive found the last patch of dry rough. He wisely took his medicine and played to the fairway. His wedge was propre distance, but a bit wide left. His putter was spot on, however, and the last turn of the orb took it to the bottom of the hole, and victory. Lucas Herbert also closed fast, with 66 on day four, to assume the third position on the podium.

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