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Tour Rundown: Kokrak spoils Spieth’s party, LPGA Match Play winner, Senior PGA surprise

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I’m packing for a nifty, three-day trip as I type. Fear not, you’ll read about it here in the next few weeks. This week features a five-pack of tour events, including the first LPGA match-play battle in, where else, the gambling capital of the USA. The Champions Tour features its second major title, and the PGA, KF, and European tours were also battling for supremacy. Knowing that different events finish up at different Sunday hours is every golf fan’s gift. Time to run down this week’s quintet, in our #GolfWRXTourRundown for Memorial Day weekend.

PGA Tour: Charles Schwab at Colonial

How to explain the inability of a former wunderkind to close out a tournament? Jordan Spieth did win in Texas in April on the PGA Tour. So we wondered: With a third-round lead at Colonial, with rounds of 63-66-66 behind him, what could possibly stop him? He could, turns out. Spieth stumbled out of the gate with bogey at 2, 3, and 4. He would play even-par golf the rest of the way, and that trio of slips would haunt him at round’s end.

Jason Kokrak, a first-time winner on tour last fall at Las Vegas, was the beneficiary of Spieth’s spill. Kokrak did nothing spectacular on Sunday, but he didn’t have to. The Ontario native struggled early as well but found a way to make a few more birdies than his counterpart. In the end, his lead was such that he could afford bogey at the 15th and 16th holes, and still win by two. Third place went to the compass of Hoffman, Kizzire, Poulter, and Muñoz, tied at 10 under, two back of Spieth.

LPGA Tour: Bank of Hope Match Play at Shadow Creek

What do you call the woman who defeats the giant killer? In the run-up to the final match at Shadow Creek, Sophia Popov had defeated Inbee Park, Patty Tavatanakit, and Shanshan Feng. Two long-standing champions and the winner of this year’s first major. That’s not a shabby trifecta for the 2020 British Open champion. Popov was not unheralded by any means, but she was not recognized as the favorite in any of those three matches.

On the other side of the draw, Ally Ewing compiled an even more incalculable sequence of triumphs. In her round of 16 match, she took down equally under-the-radar Jenny Coleman, but that’s where the spotlight turned on. In the quarters, on-fire Danielle Kang succumbed to Ewing’s game. In the semifinals, Ewing dispatched Ariya Jutanugarn, nearly everyone’s choice to triumph. That win set up a final between a medium shot and a way-long shot.

As often happens in match play events, the week’s lesser golf is played in the final match. Blame sheer exhaustion, both mental and physical, as both combatants have played more holes and dealt emotionally and mentally with more scenarios, than any others. In the Sunday afternoon tilt, Ewing was able to scribble four birdies on her card for the 17 holes of the match, against two for Popov. Three holes were won by Ewing, while Popov was able to claim but one. The German-born Popov posted six 5s on her card, including the final three holes, while Ewing had seven of her own. The match ended on the testy, watery 17th, a par three that extracted double bogey from both contestants. Had Popov but made a four, the match would have gone to the dramatic 18th hole.

As it was, the two shook hands on the penultimate green, and Ally Ewing made a bit of history with a victory at this first match-play event since 2012 on the LPGA Tour.

PGA Tour Champions: Senior PGA at Southern Hills

It’s hard to imagine how a fellow who toiled for years on the PGA Tour with a solitary title to his name, could win two Champions Tour titles in the space of a month. Alex Cejka conquered a restored Southern Hills golf club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and won the Senior PGA by four shots over recent tour winner Tim Petrovic. Cejka began the final round in a tie with Steve Stricker, the man he dispatched in a playoff at the Regions Tradition three weeks ago.

This time around, Stricker imploded, tumbling to 11th place after a final-round 77. Stricker played marvelously last week at Kiawah Island, and repeated the performance through 54 holes in Tulsa. Round four was when the engine ran out of gas, and the 2022 USA Ryder Cup captain had nothing left to generate energy.

Beyond Cejka, the story of the week was PGA professional Bob Sowards. The Ohio native works as a club professional and has qualified for the PGA Championship 10 times, most recently in 2020. This week, he stunned the touring brethren by opening with 67 for the lead. He also closed with that figure. In between, Sowards etched 75-70 on his scorecard, and the resulting 1 under total tied him with John Riegger for fifth position.

European Tour: Made in Himmerland at Himmerland

It was back around 2019 that Bernd Wiesberger established himself as a threat each week he pegged his tee. Three victories on the European Tour that year made him rue the missed Ryder Cup opportunity. Then, 2020 happened and the Austrian went a year without a title (and nearly a year without competition). 2021 sees him rounding into form, and he will give European captain Padraig Harrington much to consider after his performance this week in Denmark.

Wiesberger was the it guy all week long at the Himmerland golf club. The Tyrolean seized the round-one lead with 66, improved on Friday with 65, and held the top rung for the next 36 holes. Although Italy’s Guido Migliozzi closed fast with 63 on day four, Wiesberger gave him little room for improvement with a 64 of his own. With his eight-under effort, the Venetian edged the trio of Jordan Smith, Richard Bland, and Jason Scrivener by one for second position.

Korn Ferry Tour: Evans Scholars Invitational at The Glen Club

I’ve known Cameron Young since he was a high school golfer at Fordham Prep. My Buffalo-area guys would meet his downstate mates at the state championships each spring. When he went off to Wake Forest, my alma mater, it gave me even more reason to maintain interest. It’s ironic, then, that I had no idea that he won his first Korn Ferry Tour event last week, so fixated I was with the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

Young caught our attention again this week with a second consecutive triumph, this time in Illinois. The son of Sleepy Hollow professional David Young started round four lit with birdie at each of the first three holes. Whether it was malaise, or uncertainty, or something else, the former Demon Deacon settled into a mundane stretch of holes, and saw his lead reduced to two strokes. As champions do, Young reached deep and found overdrive. He made birdie at 17 and 18 to re-establish a five-shot margin of victory over runner-up Adam Svennson of Canada. The second triumph all but secured a 2021-2022 PGA Tour card for Young, where he will join former college teammate Will Zalatoris, in the big leagues.

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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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Morning 9: Tiger talks injury rehab | Spieth, Sergio surge at Colonial | COVID-19 vaccines at Muirfield Village

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Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Woods: Injury rehab “more painful than anything I have ever experienced”
Our Gianni Magliocco… “in an exclusive interview with Golf Digest, Woods went into detail on his injury and recovery, as well as the outpouring of support he has received in the wake of his accident.”
  • “Speaking on his post-accident injuries, Woods told the publication”
  • “This has been an entirely different animal. I understand more of the rehab processes because of my past injuries, but this was more painful than anything I have ever experienced.
  • “My physical therapy has been keeping me busy. I do my routines every day and am focused on my No.1 goal right now: walking on my own. Taking it one step at a time.”
2. Spieth recalibrates putting stroke
Sean Martin for PGATour.com…”Few could find fault with Jordan Spieth’s putting stroke, but the former FedExCup champion said a “somewhat significant” change was needed before this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge.”
  • “It worked. Spieth was impeccable with the putter en route to a bogey-free 63 that gave him a two-shot lead after Thursday’s morning wave at Colonial Country Club.”
  • “I just needed to do a bit of adjustment in my stroke feel on some bad tendencies I got into,” Spieth said. “Cameron (McCormick, Spieth’s instructor) … was able to really pinpoint a way to get a stroke feel that left me just a little more comfortable over it.”
3. …and is tied for the lead
Golf Channel’s Mercer Baggs…“Jordan Spieth is making his ninth appearance in the Charles Schwab Challenge. He’s won once (2016), never missed the cut and only three times in 32 previous rounds shot over par.”
  • “Meanwhile, he’s shot 65 on seven occasions and 64 once. And, now, he has a 63 to his credit.”
  • “Spieth made seven birdies and no bogeys on Thursday at par-70 Colonial Country Club to take the early lead in Ft. Worth, Texas.”
4. Sergio surges
Golf Channel’s Mercer Baggs…”Garcia matched the closing 63 he had at Colonial when he got the first of his 11 PGA Tour wins 20 years ago at age 21. He was 5 under on the four-hole stretch right in the middle of the round. He birdied hole Nos. 8-10 before an eagle at the 620-yard 11th, where he blasted out of a greenside bunker on the course’s longest hole.”
  • “It was quite breezy. It was gusty, so it wasn’t easy to pull some of the clubs,” Garcia said. “There were some tough holes out there, but I was able to hit really good shots on those holes, and a couple up-and-downs when I needed them.”
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5. Memorial Tournament to offer COVID vaccines
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”As tournament officials inch closer to full capacity on the PGA Tour, the Memorial has taken the unprecedented step of offering COVID-19 vaccinations next week at Muirfield Village.”
  • “The Memorial, which plans to have somewhere between 50 and 100 percent of full capacity, will offer fans Johnson & Johnson vaccines, June 4-6, to fans on-site at Muirfield Village.”
6. NCAA
Todd Kelly for Golfweek….”Chiara Tamburlini earned her first point of the week for Ole Miss on Wednesday in the final of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship against Oklahoma State.”
  • “It opened the floodgates to a national championship, the first women’s title in school history. Tamburlini’s 6 and 5 win was the largest margin of victory in the women’s final.
7. Best friend showdown ahead
LPGA report…”With a win apiece on Thursday’s Day Two of group play at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek, best friends and Solheim Cup teammates Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas will face off on Friday for a berth in the Round of 16.”
  • “Kang never trailed en route to a 2-and-1 victory over Madelene Sagstrom, a hard-fought win that saw Kang lose a 3-up lead through 13 holes. Sagstrom birdied Nos. 14 and 16 to pull within one, but Kang finished with par on the difficult par-3 17th to win the match.”
  • “I think we were trying to minimize as much mistakes as possible. We were making a lot of mistakes out there from beginning to end,” said Kang. “She made some good birdies coming in and all I kind of tried to do was keep it steady as much as I can, but there was just so many bogeys out there for us and so many mistakes.”
8. Brooks-Bryson novelty markets
Our Gianni Magliocco…”The Brooks-Bryson rivalry looks like something you’d expect more from YouTube personalities rather than professional athletes, and one bookmaker is certainly hoping it escalates into even more.”
“BetUS.com sees the feud between the two getting even wilder and has created several novelty markets, with Brooks favored to beat Bryson if the two ended up in a ring together.”
Check out the odds for some of the wacky markets below.
WHO WINS A BOXING MATCH?
Brooks Koepka        -150
Bryson DeChambeau   +110
WHO WINS ENDURANCE RACE?
Brooks Koepka        -120
Bryson DeChambeau   -120
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Morning 9: Slow play penalty and a loss | Phil on Ryder Cup chances | Brooks-Bryson

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Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1 Slow play penalty and a loss
Amy Rogers for Golf Channel…“It was a penalty, not a birdie, that determined the outcome of Carlota Ciganda’s match against Sarah Schmelzel on Day 1 of the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play.”
  • “Ciganda, the No. 17 seed, and Schmelzel, No. 48, were tied as they pushed their match to the closing par 5 at Shadow Creek Golf Club. Surprisingly, Ciganda, a four-time member of the European Solheim Cup team, never led during the match – until it was all over. Ciganda birdied the 18th to – seemingly – earn a 1-up win.”
  • “However, following the conclusion of play, the LPGA Tour notified Ciganda that she had been assessed a slow-play penalty at the 18th. Per the policy, Ciganda, who exceeded her allotted time for total strokes taken on the hole, was assessed a loss-of-hole penalty. That awarded Schmelzel the hole and subsequently the match.”
2. Phil on Ryder Cup chances
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”But the 12-time participant said Wednesday that he expects to have to do more in order to be part of the 12-player team that will take on Europe in late September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.”
  • “If I’m the captain, I’m not going to want a guy that plays well one week in an entire year,” Mickelson said at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. “And so just because I played really well last week and won a big championship, that does not warrant a spot on the team by any means.
  • “But I know at least I have an opportunity over the course of the next three months to play at a high level consistently and maybe be in a position to add something to the team.”
3. Bryson-Brooks
ESPN report…”Not able to contain their feud to the golf course, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau traded barbs Wednesday on social media.”
  • “After some tongue-in-cheek banter on social media following the announcement that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson would be taking on DeChambeau and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on July 6 in The Match, Koepka entered the fray.”
  • “Sorry bro @AaronRodgers12,” Koepka tweeted, seemingly for Rodgers having to be paired with DeChambeau.
  • “DeChambeau responded, directly to Koepka: “@BKoepka It’s nice to be living rent free in your head!”
4. Still digesting
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…“Really it hit me in the last two days what just happened,” Mickelson, 50, said Wednesday from Colonial Country Club, where he is a two-time past champion (2000, ’08).”
  • “The last 72 hours have been a whirlwind. After his media obligations he flew home to San Diego see wife Amy, and the two stayed up until 6 a.m. ET Monday morning, savoring the victory.”
  • “Now he’s in Texas for the Schwab, a commitment he said he never considered not honoring.”
  • “I’m excited to play here because I’ve been playing well,” said Mickelson, part of a threesome with Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger. “I want to try to carry that momentum into a tournament that I’ve enjoyed many times and fortunate to win a couple of times on a great golf course.”
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5. The Match
Via the Golf Channel Digital team…”Bryson DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers are set to join the next iteration of “The Match.”
  • “The reigning U.S. Open champion and NFL MVP will face PGA champion Phil Mickelson and Super Bowl champ Tom Brady, it was announced on Wednesday.”
  • “The fourth edition of the made-for-TV event will take place July 6 at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Montana. They will play a modified alternate-shot match-play format.”
6. UK participation surges
BBC report…”Golf in the UK and Ireland has been told by the R&A to “seize” its chance to build on a surge in participation.”
  • “An extra 2.3 million adults played in the UK and Ireland in 2020 despite disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
  • “The numbers playing on a nine or 18-hole course in the UK increased by 2.1 million players to 5.2 million – the highest figure recorded this century.”
  • “In Ireland, participation also grew markedly, with an increase of 219,000 on-course players to 540,000.”
7. Reed at home
Golfweek’s Tim Schmitt…”when the nine-time PGA Tour winner gets back home with wife Justine and kiddos Windsor-Wells and Barrett, he insists he checks his dastardly persona at the door.”
  • “The other side of Team Reed where we have Justine as the wife and the two little ones, puts perspective on just life in general. I’m fortunate enough to play a sport for a living and to travel the world, see the world but then at the same time, at the end of the day, I go out and play golf and always you can control is what you do on the golf course,” he said in advance of this week’s Charles Schwab Classic in Fort Worth.
  • “If you go home, it doesn’t matter if I shoot 63 or 73 or 83. When you walk in the door. … you’re their hero. Daddy’s home. They don’t care what happened on the golf course, they are just happy to have me back.”
8. Mickelson’s legacy: Longevity
AP report…“It’s really difficult when you’ve had as much success as I had over a long period of time to charge your batteries, day after day, and go back out and say, ‘Man, I want to do this again,’” Nicklaus said.”
  • “That’s where Mickelson stands alone.”
  • “The list of 24 players who have reached No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986 does not include Mickelson, who is more accomplished than all but one of them. He has never won a PGA TOUR money title. He has never been PGA TOUR Player of the Year. He is not among the most elite group in golf with the career Grand Slam.”
9. Photos from Colonial
GolfWRX is live this week from the 76th edition of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.
  • Marvin Leonard’s dream plays to a par 70 at 7,209 yards, and this year’s tournament features a strong field for the week following a major championship. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Collin Morikawa, Louis Oosthuizen, and Justin Rose are all putting a peg in the ground in Fort Worth.
  • Speaking of Justin Rose, it looks like Rosey has benched his Mizuno MP-20 irons and returned to TaylorMade P730’s with a few Srixon ZX U irons in the mix as well.
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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from the Charles Schwab Challenge

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 76th edition of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.

Marvin Leonard’s dream plays to a par 70 at 7,209 yards, and this year’s tournament features a strong field for the week following a major championship. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Collin Morikawa, Louis Oosthuizen, and Justin Rose are all putting a peg in the ground in Fort Worth.

Speaking of Justin Rose, it looks like Rosey has benched his Mizuno MP-20 irons and returned to TaylorMade P730’s with a few Srixon ZX U irons in the mix as well.

Patrick “Captain America” Reed is getting hooked up with an appropriate new putter cover from Scotty Cameron.

Erik Compton was spotted testing an Axis1 Rose putter.

The winner of the Charles Schwab Challenge will add this restored 1946 Dodge Power Wagon to his garage.

…past winner Kevin Na was spotted checking out the interior.

A look at the action of American Idol’s Bobby Bones.

Have you tried this putting training aid/drill?

Rose complemented the iron switch with a new bag as well.

What time is it? 5:57, unofficially.

Patrick Rodgers demonstrates respect for Hogan’s Alley by conducting his extended putting practice atop a towel to preserve the green. Well played, pro.

Always fun to chuck in with equipment free agent Ryan Palmer…

Maverick McNealy can’t quit his Nike VR Pro irons.

Sharing McNealy’s love of lead tape is Scottie Scheffler.

Who will be added to the Wall of Champions this year?

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Check out all our photos from the Charles Schwab Challenge below.

Tuesday

Wednesday

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