When destiny and angels collide, the outcome rests in the hands of the big D. The winged ones put a guiding, comforting hand on your shoulder, but it’s fate that wins the day in golf. A Lim Kim was fated to win the 75th playing of the USGA Women’s Open, while Amy Olson gave a heroic effort on day five, all the while bearing the burden of a lost, loved one. There wasn’t much about the postponed national championship that resembled the expected and the anticipated As the mud settled, it was a dramatic conclusion to the year’s final major championship.
Hinako Shibuno entered Monday’s delayed final round in first place, where she had been for the better part of three days. Shibuno needed an early birdie to plant a flag and stake a claim, but her first sub-par score would not come until the 13th hole. By that point in the round, she had returned four strokes to par, was even on the week, and would ultimately finish in solo 4th position. Top four in a major is a career feat for professionals, and an undreamed-of occurrence for mortals. For Shibuno, after her surprising 2019 British Open title, the non-victory certainly had to sting a bit.
Moving up the leader board was two-time major champion and world number one Jin-young Ko. Ko spent the better part of 2020 ensconced in safe harbor, at home in Korea. She rode the viral wave in the company of family, finding practice and competition opportunities nearby. In her return to the world stage, Ko tied for 34th at Pelican, then moved up to 5th at the VOA, two weeks ago. This week, she surged in the final round with a marvelous 68, three under on the day. Ko’s progress should make her a lock to win the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples this week, but a playoff for a third major title escaped her grasp by one stroke.
Back to the angels. Amy Olson hails from North Dakota, and won the 2009 U.S. Girls championship. Eschewing the lure of large-school college golf, Olson remained in her native state at North Dakota State, where she excelled in the classroom and on the course. She turned professional after graduation, and has competed on the LPGA Tour for just over seven complete seasons. Without a victory, but with a pair of top-ten finishes in major events, Olson took the opening round lead with a stellar 67. That number would prove on Monday to be fated, as it was the low round for the week, on either of the Champions Golf Club courses. Four of them were posted, one in each round, and Olson owned one of them.
On Saturday evening, Olson’s beloved father-in-law passed from this world. Her husband was travelling from home to Houston when he received the news. Olson spent much of Sunday in tears, preparing for a round that would never begin. Perhaps fate and the angel conspired that day, to make the course just unplayable enough as the day unwound, to delay competition and give Olson time to gather.
On Monday, Olson went out in the final threesome, with Shibuno and Moriya Jutanugarn. Three bogeys at holes 2 through 4 were quickly countered by birdies at 5 and 6. Olson reeled off nine pars to the 16th, where an adrenaline-laced hybrid overshot the green, resulting in her fourth bogey of the day. A birdie at the last returned her to 2-under on the week, in a tie with Ko. Her admirable score of 72 outdistanced her playing companions, but there was one golfer that she could not overtake.
A Lim Kim was not a recognizable name, a considered name, a feared name, at any point during the week. Although the 25-year old Korean had signed for 68 on Thursday, her subsequent rounds of 74 and 72 had returned her to a place outside of apparent contention. In that interim, Shibuno had posted 67 on Friday to assume the lead position, while Ji Yeong Kim2 would return a 67 of her own on day three, to make a hasty leaderboard move, inside the top then. Kim2 would tumble away on Sunday, to an 80, and a tie for 30th place.
The fourth 67 was presented by destiny to A Lim Kim on Sunday. Birdies at 5, 6 and 8 brought her out of the cloud cover, into the center of the campaign for the Mickey Wright medal. Bogeys past the turn, at 10 and 11, returned the lead to Olson. Then, the most unexpected thing happened, Beginning at the 16th hole, the one that would prove to be Olson’s undoing, A Lim Kim birdied home. She rolled an iron three feet past the cup on the par-three hole, then dunked the putt, dead center. On 17, from the fairway’s middle, she ripped an iron and quickly looked away, knowing it had found its line. The ball rolled to a stop, 16 inches from the hole. At the 72nd hole, her wedge approach settled eight feet away. Her putt never wavered and, when it dropped, she punched the air and smiled with her eyes, behind the mask that she wore for the entirety of the competition.
In truth, she might have logged four consecutive birdies. A long birdie effort at the 15th, downhill and gaining speed, pulled up one turn shy of a three, in the heart of the cup. In the end, the USGA had a deserving champion and a spate of worthy contenders. The players and this writer second-guessed the manner in which round three was conducted, something that has become commonplace at national championships. Champions Golf Club proved to be a worthy venue for an Open championship, and should be featured more often. As A Lim Kim returns home to Korea with a treasured trophy, we look ahead to 2021, and a 76th Open championship at California’s Olympic Club.
Morning 9: Smith reels in first-round lead | Ko going low again | IOC won’t require vaccs
Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1 Career-low 62, first-round lead for Cam Smith
AP report…”Cameron Smith birdied the difficult 17th and 18th holes at Harbour Town to shoot a 9-under 62, his career low on the PGA TOUR, and take a one-shot lead over Stewart Cink at the RBC Heritage on Thursday.”
- “Cink finished his 63 around lunchtime and no one appeared likely to beat that score in overcast, breezier afternoon conditions. Yet Smith played his best down the challenging stretch.”
- “The Australian chipped in for birdie on the par-3 17th, then stuck his approach to the lighthouse finishing hole within 5 feet to take the lead. Smith surpassed his previous low of 63, accomplished three times on TOUR.”
2. Lotte Championship: Another low one from Ko
AP report…”Lydia Ko went low again, shooting a 9-under 63 at Kapolei Golf Club on Thursday to take a 3-stroke lead midway through the second round at the Lotte Championship.”
- “Ko, a two-time major champion who’s seeking her first win since 2018, is 24 under par her last three rounds. She nearly caught Patty Tavatanakit with a final-round 62 last week at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration.”
3. Austrian Open: Canizares ahead
AP report…”Alejandro Canizares defied chilly and windy conditions to shoot a 5-under 67 Thursday for a one-stroke lead after the opening day of the Austrian Open.”
- “The Spaniard carded an eagle and four birdies to sit in front of a quartet of players, which included former No. 1 Martin Kaymer and John Catlin, a two-time winner in 2020.”
4. Hideki’s first interview since Masters win
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…“In his first interview since winning the Masters and returning home to Japan, Hideki Matsuyama said becoming the first from his country to win the coveted Green Jacket…was almost too overwhelming to think about as he navigated the course Sunday.”
- “I was filled with nerves from the first hole to the last…I never felt there was a time for me to let up even a little bit and relax.”
- “…Matsuyama, who spoke Sunday of inspiring kids back home, said in his press conference in Japan that he hopes his daughter will be among them…”
- “Now comes the question of what’s next. More history? Perhaps. Asked about capturing the remaining three major titles, he said he’ll have to draw up some new goals…”
5. “Fried” Zalatoris marches on
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Coming off his runner-up showing at the Masters Tournament, the 24-year-old Zalatoris got right back on the saddle Thursday for his first round of the RBC Heritage. He carded five birdies as part of an opening 3-under 68, which had him five shots off the early lead set by Stewart Cink.”
- “I thought I did a nice job today of kind of staying patient knowing that I probably wasn’t going to be as mentally fresh,” said Zalatoris, who despite his world ranking (27) and dream showing at Augusta National remains a special temporary member on the PGA Tour, with only a victory qualifying him for this year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs.”
6. IOC won’t require vaccinations
Tom Schad for USA Today…”The International Olympic Committee has said it will not require athletes to be vaccinated prior to competing this summer, though IOC president Thomas Bach has strongly encouraged athletes to take them.”
- “(We’ve) made it clear from the very beginning that we would not impose any obligation for vaccination,” Bach said last month. “And we have also from the very beginning stated that we will work with the (national Olympic committees) to get as many as possible of the participants being vaccinated – but always within the relevant national guidelines.”
7. $600 million win?
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Hideki Matsuyama’s victory at Augusta National has taken the golf world by storm, and it could pave the way for monstrous endorsement deals for the 29-year-old, according to a Sports Marketing Expert.”
- “Speaking to Sportico.com, Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at Baker Street Advertising, revealed that the win could earn Matsuyama up to $20 million a year in endorsements over the next 30 years, thanks to the longevity in careers golfers enjoy.”
- “Barring any career-ending injury or scandal, I’d say a Masters win is easily worth $600 million for Matsuyama. He’ll be an icon in his golf-mad country.”
8. Cam Smith WITB
A look inside the bag of the RBC Heritage leader.
Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Yellow 60 6.5 TX
3-wood: Titleist TSi2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Elements Platinum 8F5 X
7-wood: Titleist TSi2 (21 degrees)
Shaft: UST Elements Red 8F5 (X)
Irons: Titleist U500 (4), Titleist T100 Black (5-9)
Shaft: KBS Tour 130 Custom Matte Black X
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-08M), WedgeWorks 60T
Shafts: KBS Tour 130 Custom Matte Black (46), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Onyx X100 52, 56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron 009M Prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Interesting photos from the RBC Heritage – Part 3
The first round of the RBC Heritage gets underway today and with that, we have an unprecedented part 3 of our most interesting pictures from the event. As a refresher, the field of 134 is battleing on the tight treeline Pete Dye designed course, for the $7.1 million purse with $1.28 million going to the winner.
In part one of this week’s “most interesting photos”, we covered putters, for part two we covered some of the action around the course, and for part 3 we have a little bit of both.
Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.
Snedeker with that “new driver” look
The 2012 FedEx Cup champ is quietly one of the biggest driver testers on tour, and he was looking thirsty at a couple of TaylorMade SIM2 drivers on the range. Also noted his Miura CB-301 irons.
Build your own training aid
Path board – check, digital level – check, alignment rod – check, extra club – check. Why spend all kinds of money when you can just build your own simple training aid?
Its armlock – but backward
Matt Kuchar brought the arm-lock style to the PGA Tour and it looks like he might be changing course again since he was spotted testing a “reverse” arm-lock Bettinardi on the practice green of Harbour Town links. This is a reverse style because the grip rests against the trailing arm versus the lead one.
Maybe graphite is the new steel
We’re not sure whose caddie this is, but the interesting thing in this photo is the graphite shaft in the putter. Although Bryson wasn’t the first, he certainly has opened the door for more players testing and putting ultra-stiff graphite shafts into their putters for stability.
Si Woo, and Charles Howell talking putters
Everyone knows Charles Howell loves to talk gear, and here he is chatting with Si Woo Kim about a couple of putters—just imagine the nerd level conversation being had.
Na continues to test the new Callaway Epic
Kevin Na is one of the last holdouts on tour with an original Epic driver in the bag, and again this week we spotted him testing one of the new Epic Speed drivers. Considering his chances this week based on the course length, it will be interesting to see if he officially made the switch.
Maverick’s unique Toulon
Maverick McNealy’s slant-neck San Diego has a very different shape from the retail version and looks to be both longer heel to toe and also shallower—it reminds this writer of the classic Ping Anser 4.
Davis Love III has a full bag of familiar sticks
Davis Love has won the RBC Heritage 5 times (yes, 5) and this past champion has a full bag of Titleist gear including 718 AP2s and SM8 Vokey wedges. You can get all his full WITB here: Davis Love III WITB RBC Heritage
Who has 2 thumbs and loves to test putter? Matt Wallace
Matt Wallace was working with a number of Toulon putters Tuesday, and although they all had something a little different to offer, the one thing that stayed the same is his preferred 2-Thumb grip.
The grind doesn’t stop for Furyk
Did you know Jim Furyk is 3rd all-time on the PGA Tour career money list with over 71 million buckeroos banked. Crazy right? So imagine the drive it takes to continue to work your butt off week in and week out on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour to find every edge.
Speaking of edge, Jim was seen on the range working with Callaway tour reps on a Callaway Epic Speed triple diamond to hopefully gain a few mph of ball speed. Gotta respect the grind.
Morning 9: Sports book cometh to TPC Scottsdale | Zalatoris’ unique position
Good Thursday morning, golf fans. A smattering of odds and ends this morning as the golf mediaverse nurses its collective Masters hangover.
1. A sports book is coming to TPC Scottsdale
David Purdum at ESPN…“The PGA Tour is putting a retail sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale, one of golf’s most raucous environments.”
- “The PGA Tour announced Wednesday that DraftKings will operate the first-of-its-kind sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale and become the exclusive sports betting partner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.”
- “Three locations at TPC Scottsdale are being discussed for the “19th hole” sportsbook, which will be open year-round and include in-person betting windows. The goal is to open the sportsbook by the Super Bowl in 2023.”
2. Zalatoris’ unique position
Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…“Despite all the heady stuff going on in his world, Zalatoris remains level-headed. His meteoric rise – he was ranked 1,514th in the Official World Golf Ranking in April of 2019, was 483rd in April of 2020 and now rests at 27th after nearly becoming the first rookie to win the Masters in 42 years – hasn’t changed his good nature and calm demeanor.”
- “He’s still the same guy who was Monday qualifying for Korn Ferry Tour events two years ago, the same guy who won his lone pro title at the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes on the Korn Ferry Tour last July.”
- “Then again, he’s not the same guy inside the ropes and he might just be on the USA Ryder Cup team. Since winning in Colorado, he’s made 22 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour and finished in the top-10 10 times and the top-25 18 times. He tied for sixth in the U.S. Open and fell one shot shy of Hideki Matsuyama in the Masters – the only two majors he’s played as a pro.”
3. More thoughts on the possible coming surge in golf, equipment sales in Japan
Mike Stachura for Golf Digest…“Because as challenging as closing the deal on becoming the first Japanese-born male golfer to win a major championship clearly was during Sunday’s frenetic finish, now the shy, workman-like Matsuyama stands at the forefront of what one long-time Japanese golf business observer called “an epoch-making event.” Japan may comfortably stand as the world’s second largest golf market, accounting for a fifth of the global golf business all by itself, but it is long removed from the country’s golf boom of the late 1980s and ’90s. With the last decade seeing flat revenues and declining play and players, Matsuyama’s win is an opportunity to inject new life in a nation that has been waiting for a golf moment like this for more than half a century.
- …”Over the last 25 years, the number of golfers has decreased by nearly half, from more than 12 million to now around 6.5 million. The country’s 2,500 golf courses of a generation ago, while likely overbuilt, have seen several hundred shuttered. Sales of golf gear in Japan still account for well more than $2 billion annually, but those numbers have largely been unchanged for the last decade. According to the World Golf Report, a joint research project of the global golf business produced by Golf Datatech and the Yano Research Institute in Japan, Japan accounts for 22 percent of the world’s golf economy, second to the U.S. at 45 percent. Still, golf equipment sales, which rebounded somewhat in the second half of 2020, finished the year down 5 percent, and over the last five years, they are down 1 percent while worldwide sales were up 11 percent.”
4. Boo’s comeback bid
Brian Wacker for Golf Digest…”Boo Weekley hit a small bucket of balls on a driving range last week, yellow ones to be precise. He was wearing a mesh trucker’s cap, wrinkled tan shorts and a faded, loose-fitting gray t-shirt with the image of a large deer head and a tree screened on the back between the words “Save a tree, Harvest a buck…”
- “In January, Weekley underwent surgery to have his left hip replaced after it was discovered that the cartilage that serves as a cushion between the hip socket and the femur, or thigh bone, had worn out, leaving the two bones in excruciating contact with one another. Had it been a decade ago, it would have been career over for the former three-time PGA Tour winner. Advances in modern medicine being what they are, the man born Thomas Brent and nicknamed after a fictional character (Yogi Bear’s sidekick Boo-Boo) instead has a chance to author one final chapter in a career that most would find hard to believe.”
5. LPGA hoodie
Brittany Romano for Golf Digest…“Piggybacking off the WNBA’s wildly popular logo hoodie launched last fall, Michelle Wie has teamed up with the LPGA to release a golf version that is expected to create a lot of buzz. The tie-dye hoodie officially launches next week, but we got a sneak peek of the LPGA logo sweatshirt when Warriors guard Damion Lee was seen wearing it while traveling. The image was tweeted by the LPGA Twitter account and the hoodie almost instantly sold out on the LPGA merchandise site. The hoodie is expected to be restocked over the weekend”
6. Matsuyama’s pre-Masters putter change
Our piece for PGATour.com…”As Hideki Matsuyama brushed in his winning putt at Augusta National on Sunday evening, the setting Georgia sun glistened off his 2012 Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Tour Prototype as he carried the wand with him off the famed Georgia course’s 18th green.”
- “While most viewers who have seen the Masters champion in action over the past two years likely assumed from the finish and shaping it was the same flatstick Matsuyama has been stroking putts with all season, Japan’s first men’s major winner actually only put this particular putter in play at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play two weeks ago.”
- “Matsuyama consulted with Scotty Cameron TOUR rep Drew Page and had a Lamkin Deep-Etched Cord Full Cord installed as well as a stepped putter shaft.”
- “And while Hideki’s exact specs are under lock and key, Page and company dialed in the same loft, lie, and head weight as the Newport 2 GSS Timeless Matsuyama has played since the 2020 BMW Championship.”
7. Simpson’s strengths
Justin Ray of the 15th Club writing for PGATour.com…“While Simpson has flashed strong approach play consistently over the last several seasons, it’s far from the only reason he is among the best players in the world. Simpson essentially does everything well.”
- “Let’s look at the top 20 players in Strokes Gained: Total from last season on the PGA TOUR. As you might expect, many players see their biggest advantages come from one, or two, particular sets of skills. For example, Collin Morikawa ranked 14th on the PGA TOUR last season in Strokes Gained: Total. Seventy-two percent of his strokes gained came from approach shots alone. Matsuyama, who ranked 17th in Strokes Gained: Total, also made more than 70% of his gains with his approach play.”
- “On the flipside, Matt Fitzpatrick, who ranked 16th in Strokes Gained: Total, gained 76.5% of his strokes on putts and shots around the green. Patrick Reed followed a similar trend, gaining 70.7% of his strokes in the same manner.”
- “That brings us back to Simpson, and the balance within his game. Of those top 20 players in Strokes Gained: Total in 2019-2020, only one player gained more than 40% or more of his strokes on approach shots – and 40% of more of his strokes on putts and shots around the green combined: Simpson.”
8. Billy’s apology for returning club to bag with great authority.
I apologize to Augusta National, the Members of the Club and to the patrons for any conduct that may have crossed the line. I am always trying to improve and do better; as a golfer, husband, father, or as a human being. Thank you @TheMasters for a memorable week!
— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) April 11, 2021
Best driver 2021: By club fitters for you!
Rickie Fowler makes dramatic iron change
Lee Westwood WITB 2021 (The Players)
Best fairway woods of 2021: By club fitters for you!
Justin Thomas’ winning WITB: 2021 Players Championship
Sergio Garcia WITB 2021 (The Players)
‘Shut it!’ – Paul Casey puts disrespectful spectator in his place
Lee Westwood won’t have ‘secret weapon’ caddie on the bag for 2021 Masters
Bryson DeChambeau’s winning WITB: 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational
Billy Horschel’s winning WITB: 2021 WGC-Dell Match Play
Lydia Ko WITB 2021 (April)
Lydia Ko what’s in the bag accurate as of the Lotte Championship. Driver: PXG 0811 X Proto (9 degrees) Shaft: Mitsubishi...
Corey Conners WITB 2021 (April)
Corey Conners WITB accurate as of the RBC Heritage. Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 degrees @8, standard) Shaft: UST Elements Gold...
Cam Smith WITB 2021 (April)
Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10 degrees) Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Yellow 60 6.5 TX 3-wood: Titleist TSi2 (15 degrees) Shaft: UST...
Stewart Cink WITB 2021 (April)
Driver: Ping G425 Max (10.5 degrees, CG shifter neutral) Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 6 TX (45.25 inches) 3-wood:...
19th Hole3 weeks ago
‘Shut it!’ – Paul Casey puts disrespectful spectator in his place
Whats in the Bag3 weeks ago
Billy Horschel’s winning WITB: 2021 WGC-Dell Match Play
Whats in the Bag3 weeks ago
Joel Dahmen’s winning WITB: 2021 Corales Puntacana
Tour News2 weeks ago
Valero Texas Open Tour Truck Report: Stenson back in Diablo, Rickie’s limited-edition driver, latest AutoFlex-er
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Jordan Spieth’s winning WITB 2021 Valero Texas Open
19th Hole2 weeks ago
Dustin Johnson unveils Champions Dinner menu (and it’s not sandwiches)
Whats in the Bag3 weeks ago
Scottie Scheffler WITB 2021 (March)
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Abraham Ancer WITB 2021 (April)