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Tour Rundown: Cink runs away with Heritage | Ko breaks three-year drought

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A week after a major championship can have a bit of a hangover feel to it. When one ends with the welcoming of a first-time major winner, as we have had the past two weeks, it’s a double blessing. Patty Tavatanakit claimed the ANA Inspiration by two with her distance and consistency, while Hideki Matsuyama captured our attention with stellar execution and respectful dignity. In other words, this week had a lot to live up to, and it did precisely that.

Let’s roll up and run down the tour action that we saw the third week of April.

PGA Tour: Cink runs away with Heritage

Stewart Cink has made a habit of winning now and then for the past 24 years. He has a major title on his resume, and has represented the USA nine times in international team matches. In his third year on tour, Cink won on Hilton Head Island for the first time. He repeated in 2004, then waited 17 years to claim a third Heritage title, by four shots over Harold Varner III and Emiliano Grillo.

Despite a height of six feet four inches, Cink has never been a long hitter. As a result, a course like Harbor Town suits his game more than does a 7500-yard track. After 11 years away from the winner’s circle, Cink claimed the Safeway Open last fall by two strokes. That win, over Harry Higgs, was not an easy one. In complete contrast, this week in South Carolina was complete dominance by Cink.

The Georgia Tech Bulldog opened with a pair of 63s, to move past first-round leader Cameron Smith, who opened with 62. Scores in the low 60s went away on the weekend, and Cink was able to close with 69-70, and embrace victory. Collin Morikawa stood second to Cink after 54 holes, but showed surprising weakness on Sunday. the 2020 PGA titleist and 2021 WGC-Workday winner ran out of birdies on day four, and limped home with 72 for T-7.

LPGA Tour: Ko breaks three-year drought with seven-shot margin

There was a time when Lydia Ko did the things she did this week, on the regular. Three wins in 2014, followed by five in 2015 and four the next season, gave us a sense of what might be generational dominance. As she reached age eighteen, the wins vanished. Ko went two years without a victory, but claimed a playoff triumph in 2018. Throughout 2021, traces of the old/young Ko returned, and it became a matter of time until she won again. Two weeks ago, she chased Patty Tavatanakit to the 72nd green at ANA Inspiration, and settled for a runner-up finish.

After this week’s resurgence, the principal question is: how far back has Lydia Ko returned? A seven-shot, runaway victory over the tour’s top talent is more than just a comeback; it’s a statement. Nelly Korda, Inbee Park, and Sei Young Kim tied with Leona Maguire for second, a touchdown and extra point behind. They played well, but mull these numbers turned in by Ko on the week: one bogey in 72 holes (hole eleven on Thursday); three bogey-free round; 29 birdies in 72 holes, with no fewer than six on any of her four scorecards. Yup, that’s a statement. Should be a fun 2021, if Lydia Ko finds the road all the way back.

European Tour: Catlin wins Austrian Open playoff over Kieffer

Talk about a buried lede. While it’s true what the headline says, it’s barely the story. There was a playoff, but we’ll get to that. John Catlin had two previous wins on the European Tour, while Max Kieffer came close in 2013, losing a playoff for the Spain Open. In regulation time, Kieffer staked an early advantage, playing the first seven holes in six-under, highlighted by an eagle at the 4th. Bogey at 9 and 11 slowed his roll, but he rebounded with birdie at 13 and 15, to reach minus-fourteen on the week. Catlin was flawless over his 18 holes, pairing seven birdies with eleven pars, for day-low honors and his own place at the 14-deep table. Both surged past third-round leaders Martin Kaymer (70 for solo third) and Alejandro Cañizares (74 for t-seventh) and gained a spot in a playoff. That’s when the fun began.

The 18th hole at the Diamond Country Club, near Vienna, is a par three over water, with a solitary bunker on the right edge of the green. Catlin and Kieffer reached the green in regulation the first three (yup, there were more) turns through. Par and par were followed by birdie, and back to the tee they went for a fourth time. On the fourth occasion, Catlin found the sand, but went up and down for par. Kieffer once again found the putting surface, but was unable to coax his putt for two into the hole. On tour the fifth, Catlin once again found sand, but Kieffer did him one better. In this case, it was three worse.

Kieffer’s tee ball came up short of the fronting wall, and found water. His pitch from the drop zone landed pin high, and spun back into the water. His second pitch, his fifth shot, landed twenty feet beyond the flag, then spun even harder, once again back into the drink. Exasperated, Kieffer took the juice off his third pitch, landed on the green, then made the putt for an inglorious eight. Dumbfounded by his good fortune, Catlin pitched out of the sand, took two putts for bogey, and claimed his third European Tour title.

Korn Ferry Tour: Uihlein claims second stateside win at MGM Resorts

Peter Uihlein might qualify as one of the top professional golf stories of the last decade. After a decorated amateur career, in which he won the US Amateur and shined for the USA side at the 2009 Merion Walker Cup matches, Uihlein landed in Europe, where he played the Challenge and Main tours for seven years. Uihlein won twice in the old country, then returned to the USA for the 2017-2018 season. He has remained in his home country ever since, amassing a number of top-twenty finishes on the PGA and Korn Ferry tours, including a win at the 2017 Nationwide Children’s Hospital championship.

This week, the 31-year old returned to the winner’s circle in Las Vegas, claiming the title by four strokes over a former European Tour rival from the states, David Lipsky, and Jamie Lovemark. Uihlein opened with 68, and stood two shots out of the first-round lead. He improved a stroke on day two, but lost a shot to the lead, as Adam Svensson jumped up with 64. The Canadian struggled on the weekend, finishing with 72-78 for a 22nd-place finish. Uihlein established himself on day three with another 68, one shot ahead of Jamie Lovemark, a fellow US Amateur champion. The two would match wits on day four, and the front nine would write the story.

Uihlein was clean through nine, posting four birdies and five pars. Lovemark had three birdies of his own, but stumbled with four bogeys on four other holes. As Lovemark faded, Lipsky arrived. The 2010 Big Ten champion, an amateur contemporary of Uihlein, gained a stroke on the eventual winner on the outward half. He was all pars from 10 through 14, then gained two more strokes at 15 and 16. After a fifth birdie at the 11th, Uihlein’s played the final seven holes in plus-two, bringing the final margin to four shots and making the final result closer than it appeared.

Champions Tour: Stricker secures sixth senior title at Chubb

Steven Charles Stricker can be forgiven for a dearth of Champions Tour titles over the past 24 months. As captain of the 2021 (nee 2020) USA Ryder Cup side, Stricker has played a majority of weeks on the regular tour, scouting the talent. When Covid-19 pushed the team matches a year, Stricker was compelled to extend his stay with the young-uns a bit longer. This week, the Wisconsin native logged in to the west-coast Florida stop on the experienced tour, and came away with a one-shot victory.

Fred Couples led the show for two rounds, posting 63-69. He continued his downward trend on Sunday with 71, and dropped five slots, to a tie for sixth position. Fellow super-senior Bernhard Langer started strong, with 65-68, but experienced day the last struggles of his own, and tied Couples for sixth after a 70 of his own. Sweden’s Robert Karlsson stood equal with Couples after 36 holes, and provided Stricker’s most formidable challenge on the final day.

On Sunday, Stricker found his finest form, posting five birdies against zero bogies for 67. Karlsson also signed for a quintet of birdies on Sunday, but stumbled with a pair of bogies, at the 7th and 14th holes. Those missteps flipped the two golfers’ positions, and the Mayor of Madison escaped with a one-shot win.

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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. Derek

    Apr 19, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    Georgia Tech Bulldog…. Yikes

  2. Osugolfguy

    Apr 19, 2021 at 10:17 am

    This wouldn’t be that big of an error if he hadn’t thrown it in unnecessarily. There’s no reason to call him a Bulldog, so if you’re going to do that, you better get it right

  3. GMatt

    Apr 19, 2021 at 9:01 am

    Georgia Tech Bulldog???? Perhaps these “journalists” could actually do their research and get it right…… You self respecting Yellowjacket would ever permit someone to refer to them as a Bulldog and the same definitely goes for a UGA alum would be insulted by being called a Yellowjacket….

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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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