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Tour Rundown: Tavatanakit takes ANA, Spieth ends victory drought

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It’s a splendid fortnight in golf. The first weekend of April brings the first major championship of the year, on the LPGA Tour. It also shines a light on the finest female amateurs in the game as they compete at the Augusta National Golf Club. The PGA and Korn Ferry tours make their final stops before a week off for the men at Augusta. Spring has touched down in most of the lower 48 of the USA, and we are ready to run down more results in this week’s Tour Rundown.

LPGA: ANA Inspiration welcomes Tavatanakit as 2021 champion

Patty Tavatanakit should make the UCLA faithful forget about recent close calls. She is a major champion on the LPGA Tour, and the former Bruin closed out her first win on tour in style. The 21-year old tapped in for par at the 72nd hole for an 18-under total. Tavatanakit was the only golfer to post four rounds in the 60s this week, and she held off a ravenous Lydia Ko, who came charging fast and nearly caught the third-round leader.

Once upon a time, Lydia Ko was the darling and the face of the LPGA Tour. Her teenage years were spent raising trophies and causing all to wonder, how many will she win? From 2012 to 2016, Ko won 14 times on tour; since then, she has one victory, which came three years ago. Ko changed everything in her game, from caddie to instructor to clubs. Now, in 2021, she appears poised to challenge for a place on the podium that once seemed so familiar.

Ko posted five birdies and an eagle on the front nine and turned in 29. Two more birdies at 10 and 11 brought her to nine-under on the day and had fans thinking 59 and another major title. Alas, Ko’s raging run slowed, and she managed one more birdie coming home, at the 15th. She reached 16-under par, but Tavatanaki gave little evidence of capitulation.

The former UCLA Bruin from Thailand debuted on the LPGA Tour in 2020. Her first campaign was one of learning and patience, and she entered the week ranked 103rd in the world, and 17th in the Race to CME Globe. In her first tour around the Mission Hills course, PattyT posted a total of four bogeys on the week. She counter-balanced them with two eagles on the week, one coming at the second hole on Sunday. No bogeys came her way on day four, and she added two birdies to the eagle and remained composed throughout the round. It’s a rare feat for a veteran to play bogey-free golf under the bright klieg lights of a major championship. To do so, essentially, as a rookie, is nearly miraculous.

Amateur: Augusta National Women’s Amateur to Japan in extra time

The first playing of the ANWA, in 2019, featured a two-woman showdown between winner Jennifer Kupcho and runner-up Maria Fassi. The two did battle the entire third day, until Kupcho separated on the back nine, for a four-shot win. The 2021 edition tossed a different twist into the young history of the event: a playoff. Tsubasa Kajitani of Japan made par at the 18th hole, the first in extra time, to defeat the USA’s Emilia Migliaccio, who stumbled with a bogey.

The first 36 holes of the event took place at the Champion’s Resort, in nearby Evans, Georgia. Five players tied for the 30th spot, necessitating a five-for-one playoff at plus-seven. Emilie Paltrinieri made birdie on the first extra hole to earn a spot in the final 18 holes, at Augusta National. On the other end of the leader board, Rose Zhang and Ingrid Lindblad shared the lead at one-under par. Nearly every one of the thirty competitors had a shot at the win, especially when Zhang and Lindblad struggled on day three.

Lindblad had five bogeys on the final day but nearly snuck into the playoff with a birdie at the 17th. She was unable to make three at the final hole and tied for third with five others at plus-two. Zhang had a tenuous lead until the 13th hole, where she hit two balls in hazards and scratched a triple-bogey eight onto her scorecard. She bounced back with birdie at the difficult 14th but made bogey at 17 to join Lindblad in third position.

Making moves on day three were Kajitani (even par) and Migliaccio (two under). Migliaccio was bidding to become the second consecutive Demon Deacon from Wake Forest to win but missed a four-foot birdie at the last, which would have won the tournament in regulation time. Kajitani stood two-under on the day on the 17th tee in first place and proceeded to make double bogey at the penultimate hole. Her par at the last matched her with Migliaccio, and then they waited for the field to decide their fate.

In the playoff, Migliaccio missed the 18th green right and was unable to save par from a dicey position. Kajitani tapped in for par, and the seventeen-year-old lifted the champion’s trophy in delight.

PGA Tour: Valero Texas Open is Spieth’s 12th tour title

Four years ago, Jordan Spieth won the Open Championship in England. It was his third unique major championship, and many expected that he would soon add a PGA Championship to his tally. The Texan went into a tailspin brought on by a chase for more distance (and a previously undisclosed injury), and players like Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas jumped up and claimed his place among the winners.

Spieth went through many trials during the ensuing three years, struggling with all facets of his game. He showed signs of a return to his lofty, mid-2o10s stature in early 2021, but was unable to put four rounds together for a title. That changed this week in his home state, as Spieth took the 54-hole lead, then held off a fast-charging Charley Hoffman for a two-shot victory.

When he needed it most, Spieth’s drive came through. Averaging less than fifty percent fairways hit on the week, Spieth nailed 71 percent of the short grass on day four. His lone bogey came at the fourth, where he missed right and was forced to pitch into the fairway. Seven birdies on the day made up for the one miscue, and the UTexas alumnus posted the second-lowest score on the day, a 66.

Hoffman was perfect on the day, posting six birdies and zero bogeys to match Spieth’s number. He simply ran out of holes, but the runner-up finish casts the Californian as an interesting foil for this week’s Masters. Hoffman typically plays well at Augusta National, and riding a wave of great play at the Valero portends possible success for the San Diego native. Spieth would like nothing more than to add a second green jacket to his 2015 model, and his play this year certainly places him in the top five of pre-tournament contenders.

Korn Ferry Tour: Emerald Coast Classic playoff goes to Jaeger

Andrew Novak played the Sandestin course like no other this week. He didn’t win, but goodness, he amassed a passel of birdies. Novak staked himself to a three-shot lead over David Lipsky, courtesy of 14-under play over the first three days. On Sunday, the North Carolina native and Wofford College alumnus scribble six birdies on his scorecard. Unfortunately for Novak, a pair of front-nine doubles and three bogeys joined those birdies. His plus-one was not the kind that anyone wants, and Novak ended the week in solo third position.

No one escaped Sandestin without a bogey on Sunday. Stephan Jaeger, a Korn Ferry Tour legend, posted a 66 and reached 14-under par, one better than Novak. Jaeger once shot 58 on the Triple-A tour, and had completed five prior victories on the prep circuit. David Lipsky had spent years honing his game in Europe, and joined Jaeger at 14-deep with a pair of closing birdies. The duo returned to the watery finishing hole, and each reached the green in regulation. Jaeger was able to two-putt for par, but Lipsky needed three putts to get home. Jaeger earned a return trip to the PGA Tour with his sixth career triumph on the developmental circuit.

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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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Tour Rundown: Matsuyama’s triumphant return | 4 means 1 for Ko

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A scary week lies ahead, culminating in a time of remembrance and spooky fun in the USA and some parts of the world. A round of golf is a treat to steal as the colder temperatures return to the northern portions of North America. A pair of golfers returned home this week to claim championships, after a season of play on foreign soil. Two other champions were recognized as four events featured in this week’s Tour Rundown. Grab a mug of warm cider, a donut, and pull up a chair as we recall the mighty efforts on display as October marches toward its conclusion.

ZOZO Championship on the PGA Tour: Matsuyama returns to triumph

There is much to be written when the wandering child returns home a decorated hero. Such is the case for Hideki Matsuyama, first male major champion from Japan and 2021 Augusta Spring Invitational (aka The Masters) titleist. When Odysseus returns and triumphs on home soil, it is even more cause for celebration. Such is also the case for Matsuyama-sama, who eclipsed a strong field with strong and versatile golf to claim his seventh career PGA Tour title, and first since spring in Georgia.

Countryman Hiroshi Iwata caught the golf world’s attention with his opening 63, which featured a birdie-birdie-eagle finish. Iwata would ultimately tie for 18th position, under the bright lights of expectant home fans. Lurking with a Thursday 64 was Matsuyama, who followed with 68-68 to seize the lead, then closed with a two-eagle 65 on Sunday. The tournament was in doubt until the closing stretch: Matsuyama stood at 14 under on the 17th tee, while Cameron Tringale checked in at -12. Matsuyama’s bogey on the penultimate green would have been excruciating, had Tringale not made one of his own.

Needing a miracle at the last to force a playoff, Tringale added another bogey, falling into a tie with Brendan Steele for 2nd, at ten-under par. Able to breathe, Matsuyama posted a mighty eagle to finish at 15-deep, five clear of his pursuers. Yuriwaka had returned home to defeat the would-be pirates, to the delight of all.

BMW Championship on the LPGA: Four mean one for JYK

On Thursday morning, Nelly Korda was the top-ranked golfer on the Rolex Women’s WGR. On Monday morning, she will switch places with Jin Young Ko, the Korean champion who has been on an absolute tear since early July. Ko won in Texas, Oregon, and New Jersey, before returning home to Busan for the BMW Championship. Her goal on Sunday, she said, was to play with no regrets. Eight birdies later, including two, three-birdie tears, brought her to 22-under par and a tie with overnight leader (and countrywoman) Hee Jeong Lim.

For Lim, the week had to seem like a dream. She played 72 holes with 22 birdies and 50 pars. She made zero mistakes. And still, she found herself in overtime with her decorated colleague. After a bumpy first round, Ko was brilliant, nearly beyond compare. She had 21 birdies over the closing 54 holes … make that 22 birdies over the closing 55 holes. The playoff between the two mighty Koreans concluded quickly. The new world number one ripped her approach inside three feet at the first extra hole, then banged the putt home for the 200th-ever triumph for Korean golfers on the LPGA Tour.

Mallorca Open on the European Tour: It’s a Balearic Winther Wonderland!

Knowing that two 62s were posted this week, both by Jeff Winther, one would have advanced the notion that low scores would be in abundance on day four. Knowing that the aforementioned Winther clung to a delicate, one-shot advantage after 54 holes, one might have concluded that Winther would still need something in the high to mid 60s to have a chance at the title. Looking in the rearward mirror after Winther’s final round 70, in which he amassed 16 pars, one bogey, and one birdie, one might have guessed that the Dane had remained winless on the European Tour. That, dear readers, is why they play the tournaments on turf, and not paper.

Jeff Winther did nothing that he needed to do on Sunday, yet he still won. Laurie Canter posted the low round on this Sunday, but that 64 only moved the Englishman to the top five. Sebastian Soderberg had his fellow norseman on the ropes on Sunday, but closed with plus-two over the final half-dozen holes to finish an excruciating shot out of a playoff. Pep Angles and Jorge Campillo tried to emulate their country’s Open championship win by countryman Rafa Cabrera-Bello, but they came up one shot shy as well. The three-week, Spanish Salsa came to a close with a maiden Tour win in the loving arms of Winther.

DEC on the PGA Tour Champions: Playoff Says … 42 for Bernhard

Steve Flesch was the overnight leader in Richmond, but Sundays in the chase haven’t been kind to the southpaw. He lost a playoff earlier this season to Darren Clarke, and could not overcome a four-pack of bogeys on day the last. His one-over 73 brought him home at -12, two shots out of a playoff, in third place by his lonesome. Not a bad week of work, but, oh, what might have been!

It was left to Doug Barron (68 for 202) and Bernhard Langer (69 for same) to settle matters in extra time. Both playoff participants made birdie four at the last in regulation, and it was to that dramatic hole that they did return for the overtime session. All that was needed was one playing; the ageless Langer made another 4 at the par-five closer to secure his 42nd career Champions Tour title. Langer now trails Hale Irwin’s 45 career senior titles by just three. Is that number within reach? You betcha! Irwin’s final title came at the age of 62. Langer has won just once each of the past two seasons, but he has notched two runner-up finishes in each. If he can maximize his in-contention starts, he might reach Irwin at the top.

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Bubba Watson shows off an unreleased pair of Air Jordan 4 Retro “Red Thunder” shoes

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Bubba Watson had fans envious with a recent social media flex of a hyped pair of Retro Jordans in a classic “Red Thunder” colorway, which debuted in 2006.

It’s cool to see a pair of non-golf Jordans given to the accomplished lefty, signifying a milestone in his relationship with the Jordan brand — and perhaps MJ himself.

Watson has been wearing Air Jordans more often than not on the golf course throughout most of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

A photo we snapped of Bubba wearing a pair of the Air Jordan 5 Retro Low Golf “Grape” on tour this year.

Bubba Watson is an official ambassador for the Air Jordan brand, adding to the company of a select few golfers working with MJ like Pat Perez.

We first saw Bubba having an exclusive relationship with the Jordan brand in November 2020, where he flexed off his early access to a pair of the Air Jordan 5 Retro Golf “Lucky and Good”.

Bubba Watson dancing on TikTok with the Air Jordan 5 Golf “Lucky and Good.”

The Florida native has been seen wearing Jordans on the green that “aren’t for sale to the public” — like this yet-to-be-released model seen in July 2021.

“I know MJ pretty well and we wear the same size so I get a lot of his old shoes,” Bubba told a local Detroit news station when asked about the pair above, which he wore during the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July.

This recent tease of the Air Jordan 4 Retro “Red Thunder” is part of the Jordan brand’s highly anticipated holiday season collection and is set to be released sometime in December 2021 at a retail price of $190.

 

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Pat Perez and his lavish obsession with Air Jordans

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If you follow Pat Perez at all on his social media, his love for the Air Jordan brand will become apparent pretty quickly.

This love affair, which has evolved into the Phoenix native having a dedicated Jordan shoe room full of over 1,000 pairs, had humble beginnings: the first Jordans Pat got his hands on were a beat-up pair out of a trash can in high school.

“To go from pulling a pair of cement gray Jordan IVs out the trash when in junior high—unable to afford such a luxury—to MJ telling me last summer in Monte Carlo that he would make that for me in a golf shoe…never in my wildest dreams.”

Double P is now living his wildest dreams as he has become an unofficial bridge (but official brand ambassador) for Air Jordans in the golf world: He gets early access to unreleased Jordan golf shoes, most recently the Air Jordan 4 Bred in a golf version back in July of 2021.

Based on the comments on his IG post, these will likely sell out and trade at a premium on the multi-billion dollar sneaker reselling market.

Pay more attention to Pat’s feet on tour, and you’ll see he wears Jordans more often than not.

Here are some pictures we snapped on the PGA Tour this year. Perez is wearing Air Jordan 5’s in black metallic and wolf grey.

Pat’s collection off the golf course will inspire insane levels of envy in any serious sneaker collector. Living in his vast collection are several pairs of rare shoes worth five to six figures apiece.

He recently flexed a Friends & Family only release of the Board of Governors Jordan 1’s.

At only 88 pairs with none currently on the market at the moment, these are estimated to have a resale value of $20,000-$40,000 based on a Friends & Family release of the same model in a similar colorway.

StockX listing of the Jordan 1 Retro Fragment Friends and Family at $34,000+.

Pat’s favorite shoe is the Jordan IV, specifically the Wahlburg IV, which recently sold at Sotheby’s for nearly $33,000.

The 45-year-old is all about sharing his passion: he recently gave away part of his collection to his Instagram audience.

We don’t blame you if you’re starting to consider an upgrade of standard spikes to Jordan golf shoes after hearing about the level at which Double P loves and flaunts the iconic brand.

Additionally, you can even make money owning and trading Jordan golf shoes. For example, the Jordan 11 “Concord” golf shoe retailed at $220 in 2019 and now trades consistently between $350-$700 per pair on StockX.

And we wouldn’t be surprised if Pat Perez comes out with a shoe that will appreciate in value in a similar fashion.

You can learn more about this market at Six Figure Sneakerhead, a top educational resource for sneaker resellers worldwide.

Featured image: Double P holding a pair of 1999 Air Jordan 4 White Cement in front of his massive Air Jordan collection

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