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5 things we learned Friday at the Masters

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36 marvelous holes of a crunchy, tasty, firm, diabolical Masters tournament are in the books. 54 golfers survived the cut, and 15 of them sit within five shots of the lead, currently 7 under.

If you want excitement, watch Viktor Hovland this weekend. We don’t mention him below, but he deserves a tip of the cap for not going away. He was outside the cut line until he made birdie at 13 and eagle at 15. He’s six back, and if he can get rid of the crazies and the loonies, he might shoot 62 on Saturday or Sunday.

It’s time to learn the five things that we picked up today and position yourself for a glorious weekend. Let’s gooooo!

1. “Part humor, part roses, part thorns.” Justin Rose posts even par on Friday

Perhaps there lies a hidden connection between the lead singer of the 80s hair band Poison and the champion golfer, perhaps not. The internet attributes the quote “My life has been part humor, part roses, part thorns” to Bret Michaels, and Justin Rose certainly would agree that round the second at the 2021 Masters offered a bit of each. Rose began with bogey for a second consecutive day, and despite a birdie at the second, turned in 3 over par. Like Thursday, he found his way back to safety on the inward half, with birdies at the 13th, 14th, and 16th.

If there is a secret to winning the Masters, it is to make your mistakes early and your birdies and eagles late. Rose has played the back nine in 30 and 33 strokes over the first two days. If he can find a way to play the outward half in par on Saturday and Sunday, well, he’ll have a second major championship to go with his 2013 U.S. Open trophy.

2. Is The Bermuda Triangle too obvious?

If 11 through 13 represents a corner, then holes 4, 5, and 6 geometrically stand out as a three-sided polygon. Through the first two days, that three-hole sequence stands out as a place where Augusta dreams meet an early reckoning. Many golfers reached the fourth tee on the heels of two or even three birdies, only to run headfirst into a sea of mighty discontent. The trio ranked first, second, and fifth most difficult on day two, and featured the longest par 3 and the toughest par 4. A case could be made that five plays longer than 11, despite measuring 10 yards less.

There’s no telling how the ghost of Herbert Warren Wind would christen the 915-yard stretch of fairway in today’s era. Wind summoned a hymn in the middle of the previous century when he famously baptized the early part of the back nine as Amen Corner. In an era of technological onslaught, the tournament directors seem to have solved part of the puzzle by creating a second implausible stretch of golf on their wondrous course. If anyone should happen to play four through six at even par or better on the weekend, expect their names to take up residence on the first page of the leaderboard.

3. Farewell until May or next April

Sadly, there was a cut on Friday afternoon, and it came at +3 after much deliberation. The briefly-defending champion, Dustin Johnson, had a rare day of poor driving, and it cost him. Bogey at 15 and 17 put him over the limit by one slim stroke. His former workout buddy, Brooks Koepka, made every effort at a Tiger-esque recovery from recent knee surgery, but the bionic man could not make enough putts to reach the weekend. Joining DJ and BK on the sideline were the perplexing Rory McIlroy, the peripatetic Bernhard Langer, and Green Jacket-bearers Danny Willett, Mike Weir, and Sergio Garcia. Representing the geezers on the weekend is two-time Masters winner and second-low Basque, José-María Olazabal, who touched down at +2.

4. Tyrannosaurus Zalatoris is quite the story

We don’t expect the nickname to stick, but it beats Lavoris, a 1970s-era mouthwash. The young lion bided his time on the front nine, playing even-par golf until the 9th, where he went right-right and bogey. On the inward half, the rights became centers, and Zalatoris notched five birdies and four bogeys for 31 coming home and a Saturday pairing with the leader, the aforementioned Mr. Rose.

Ironic is the failure to birdie either par-5 hole on the second nine. Neither tee ball was what one might call ideal, and the Zed resisted any temptation to go for the green in two. He laid up safely, took his medicine, and made par at both holes. Anytime you shoot 68 or better at Augusta National, you’ve made your share of just about everything. Win, lose, or draw this weekend, the experience of teeing off in the last group on Saturday is a huge step for the Young Turk.

5. And our pick for the win is…

Not Justin Rose. He is a viable candidate for a suitcoat fitting, but the confidence that borders on arrogance is just not there. Not Will Zalatoris. We’d love to see the “not since Fuzzy” thing about first-year players not becoming first-time champions go away, but it isn’t happening in 2021. Not Jordan Spieth, who reached 5 under with late heroics, nor Marc Leishman, who reached 5 under with early, mid, and late-round heroics. Our prediction for the win is a bald man of Woosnam-esque stature, who swings from the side favored by Phil Mickelson, and Mike Weir, both Masters champions. He is (drumroll, please)…

Brian Harman. It’s simply his time.

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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 Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Championship

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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

IMG_9688.jpeg

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

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #1

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #2

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #3

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #4

2021 Wells Fargo – Tuesday #5

Bettinardi putters & covers – 2021 Wells Fargo

Ping i59 irons – 2021 Wells Fargo Championship

New Ping Glide Forged Pro wedge – 2021 Wells Fargo

Behind the scenes on the PXG truck – 2021 Wells Fargo

PXG Gen 4 0311 T & 0311 ST irons – 2021 Wells Fargo

Jason Day testing a SIK putter with LA Golf shaft – 2021 Wells Fargo

Scotty Cameron T2 putter – 2021 Wells Fargo

KH Lee’s Odyssey putter – – 2021 Wells Fargo

Patrick Cantlay’s Cameron T-5 – 2021 Wells Fargo

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A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: April, May

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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 …

No.

Roam if you …

No.

You’ve got a fast car…

Closer.

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.

May

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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Tour Rundown: Valspar Classic gets some side Burns action and more

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Another five-tournament week makes a writer feel spoiled. So much to talk about this first weekend of May. The European Tour continued its three-week stay in the Canary Islands off Africa, while the PGA Tour Champions nearly turned into a sponge in Texas. The LPGA Tour went overseas to Singapore, while the Korn Ferry tour touched down in Alabama. Finally, the PGA Tour dipped its toe in Florida’s gulf coast, at the fabled Copperhead course at Innisbrook.

Take a breath and dive on into this week’s action as we offer another edition of Tour Rundown on GolfWRX.Com.

PGA Tour: Valspar Classic gets some side Burns action

Sam Burns was that stellar college standout who got hosed by the USGA. They do it every fifteen years or so. Dude was a lock for the Walker Cup squad, until he wasn’t fitted for a kit. Can’t explain it, but the kid didn’t let it get him down. On Sunday, Burns stared down major champion Keegan Bradley and claimed his first PGA Tour event at the Valspar. Burns had been oh-so-close in California, finishing one stroke shy of the Genesis Invitational playoff ‘twixt Finau and Homa, and this time around, he secured his hold on victory with gutty play.

Burns’ card wasn’t clean on Sunday. He had three bogeys, including one at the last. By then, the outcome was decided, and his winning margin was reduced from four to three. Bradley was one of those also hosed by the USGA, when the decision to disallow the anchored putter came down half a decade ago. He had struggled since his breakout years in 2011-12, and the loss of his belly putter put a nail in his tire. Bradley won again in 2018, but has not found the podium’s top spot since then.

The leaders were each three-under par on the day when they reached the final six holes. Bradley lost his ability to make birdie, and tripped over a double and a bogey coming home. Burns wasn’t perfect, but he did balance his bogies and birdies, and won by three strokes.

LPGA Tour: Women’s World Championship sails off with Hyo Joo

XiYu Lin has the best profile picture for golfers on twitter (is that a manhole cover?), and she almost snared an important professional title this weekend in Singapore. The birdie machine (6-7-7 over three rounds) stopped churning them out on Sunday (just two) and Janet from The Good Place settled in a third-place tie with Patty T and Inbee Park. Actually, that sounds like a fun talk show: Xi, PT, and Inbee. I’m going to put out some feelers and get back to you.

Oh, right, the golf. On day four in Singapore, Hannah Green surged just enough with a minus-three 69, after consecutive rounds of 66, to move ahead of our talk show/podcast/dinnertime theater trio to 16 deep and what looked like a second big win in her career (she did win the 2019 PGA Championship, before all this viral craziness.) What absolutely gutted the talented Aussie was her finish: bogey and bogey. After a ripping eagle two a the 14th, along with three more birdies, the Ozzie came in for the kill, but tripped and stumbled coming home. Although second-place money from a bank spends well, it’s titles that drive these golfers.

Back to #KoreaStrong, aka Hyo Joo Kim. Her Sunday scorecard looks for all the world like a Numbers Are Nifty tease: four pars, two birdies, par, two birdies, par, two birdies, three pars. Move the birdie at six to the fourth, and you’d have the most balanced, binary thing ever. No one was stopping the Hyo Joo Express on day four in Singapore. Her two pars at 17 and 18 must have felt like birdies 9 and 10 on the day, after Green’s derailment. The win was her first since 2016 on the LPGA Tour, and first since 2020 on any circuit.

European Tour: Tenerife Open to Burmester

If it begins with a “T” consider “DB.” Feeling the rhyme today. Dean Burmester began the week on Tenerife (aka paradise) with 63, and closed it with 62. Them’s some numbers! His win on Tenerife was his second on the European Tour, following a 2017 win at the Tshwane Open. Burmester began round four with a one-shot deficit to Kalle Samooja and Nicolai Von Dellinghausen (don’t even get me started!), but quickly swiped right toward birdies, and won going away by five.

#BirdiesForBurmester at one and two were followed by three more at five through seven. NVD had two birds and two bogies, and gave back five strokes to the South African. Samooja remained near the lead when he turned in three-under par, but his back-nine 37 submerged him in a third-place tie that he desired not at all. In contrast, NVD went out with a pair of bogies and birdies each, but came home in minus-three, including eagle at the last. His tenacity bumped him one stroke ahead of the third-place tie, into solo second.

A snazzy little note to close out the Burmester report: he birdied the 1st and the 18th all four days. Both par five holes, it’s true, but that’s a heck of a way to start and finish each round. Raise a toast to this week’s winner, and look ahead to 72 more holes on Tenerife at the Canaryd Islands Championship next week, at the Golf Costa Adeje layout.

Korn Ferry Tour: RWB was bound to win at the Huntsville Championship

What happens when France, Chile, and the USA go into a playoff? Red, White and Blue is your winner, no matter how it shakes out. Billy Kennerly of the state shot 63 on Sunday, and reached 15-under 265 in regulation. A bit later, Mito Pereira of South America’s Thinland posted 66 for the same number, and France’s Paul Barjon signed for a 69 for … you guessed it, 265. All three made par at the 18th in regulation, and that was where they headed for the three-wayoff to decide the winner in sudden death.

Each had four the first time through, with Kennerly lipping out for the win, so they returned to the tee a second time. Barjon and Pereira repeated, but Kennerly was unable to match and dropped away with a bogey. For giggles, the golfers moved to the par-five tenth hole and sparks flew. Pereira made a stellar birdie … and lost to Barjon’s eagle! What makes those numbers that much more curious is that all three playoff participants had played the hole in five in regulation. Pars on a long hole certainly don’t predict low numbers in a playoff.

Barjon began the day with a three-stroke lead, but gave back most of it with a double bogey at the first. He was plus-two through nine, but came back to the clubhouse in minus-three. Brandon Wu and Cameron Young were in the mix after three rounds, but neither could break 70 on day four, and both fell away from the challenge. The KFT moves to Tennessee for the next fortnight, beginning in south Nashville, then moving east to Knoxville.

PGA Tour Champions: Insperity Invitational is Weir’s first win in 14 years

Harder to type that figure or read it? Hard to believe it had been 14 years since Mike Weir sipped champagne at the Fry’s Electronic Open. The irresistible search for distance led to injury, and Weir slipped forever into the one-major-seven-other-wins category. Last May, Weir turned 50 and embraced the PGA Tour Champions as an opportunity to contend once again. This week, he and his fellow competitors waited out a Friday rainout and played 36 holes on the weekend to decide a champion at the Insperity Invitational near Houston.

Running neck and neck all week with the pride of Canada was old nemesis John Daly. Seemingly reborn with his son’s rise in the junior ranks, Daly drained a curling putt for eagle at the 13th, to assume a two-shot lead. Moments later, Weir nearly dunked his approach for albatross at the same hole, and converted his three-feet putt for a matching eagle. Daly arrived at 18 first, found the fairway off the tee, and caught a gust of wind on his approach into the green. Helpless, he watched his ball drop shy of the putting surface, into the fronting water. His double-bogey six created the final, two-shot margin of victory for Weir, who reached the green in regulation and took two putts for the win.

 

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