Connect with us

News

Tour Rundown: Solheim Cup, Tour Championship, KFT

Published

on

Lots of twin things happened this week. Twins won on a tour in consecutive weeks for most likely the first time in recorded history. Twins rounds on the weekend proved to be the key for at least one winner. And the Korda sisters aren’t twins, but they represented the USA in the Solheim Cup. Maybe it’s a reach, but it’s early September and the story leads are thinning out. It’s Tour Rundown time again, so find your BFF, or your twin and read up together. #MoreFunWithFriends

Solheim Cup claims EGOT for best performance of the year

It figures that a course called Inverness would bring out the best in team professional golf competition. The recent restoration of the iconic Toledo club by Andrew Green set the stage for the performance of many lifetimes. Despite having three acts on the dais, no one expected an EGOT from this biennial event. And yet, the women of Europe and the USA gave us performances usually reserved for Emmy, Globe, Oscar, and Tony winners: they gave us their hearts, their soul, and their blood, sweat, and tears. What more could we ever hope to have, especially during these still-trying times?

After one day, the visitors from across the Atlantic let it be known that they would go quite noisily into the weekend. A 5.5 to 2.5 advantage told the host team that Saturday had better be different, or Sunday would be a formality of a singles competition. Rise to the occasion did the Red, White, and Blue. The home side won 4.5 of the 8 points on offer, and reduced the 3-point margin to a 2-point disadvantage. This, friends, is why singles are reserved for Sunday. Much like wrestling, you walk alone onto the mat, under the gaze of all in attendance, and have only yourself and your singlet. It is raw, it is forceful, and it is unforgettable.

The early portion of the day belonged to the blue of Europe. Three matches were won by Maguire, Sagstrom, and Boutier, while a fourth was halved. The old world stood two mere points from declaring one more piece of luggage on its return flight to the Union. At 4:30 EST, Nelly Korda held off Georgia Hall and notched the first point for the Red flag. At that same moment, it seemed, every other match went to all-square or red as well. Could a comeback take root?

It did, and it almost flowered. Meghan Kang had a six-up lead on Sophia Popov, and such a trouncing would send reverberations throughout the Inverness 18. Somehow, Popov dropped it to five, then four, then three. She ultimately lost by 3 & 2, but who is to say if her delaying the inevitable somehow allowed Matilda Castren to secure a 1-up win over Lizette Salas, and allowed Emily Pedersen to reach 3-up with three to play against Danielle Kang. Those two points made the difference, as Europe retained the Solheim Cup, and won for the first time on USA soil since 2013.

These team events were created to be exhibition matches, but they have (d)evolved into much more than that. They are a source of pride, and they hold their finish not for a moment, but for two entire years until the matches resume. Thus are explained the tears of Kupcho, Harigae, Popov, who suffered one-sided losses to their opponents. Thus is explained the exhaustion of Thompson and Nordqvist, who battled to a draw through 18 draining holes. And thus is explained the jubilation of a dozen women from Europe, who answered the call and realized the dream.

The Ryder Cup has been served notice: after the Curtis Cup and Solheim Cup competitions, the male professionals have much to live up to.

PGA Tour’s Tour Championship belongs to the Cantlifornia Cid

There was an age when Patrick Cantlay was the next and great thing in American golf. That time has returned, and not a moment too soon. As Team USA prepares to move into Ryder Cup competition, its current darling (two-time major champion Collin Morikawa) is struggling, at the same time its sinew set feuds on. Along comes Patrick Cantlay, with a win last week over DeChambeau, and another this week over Spain’s Jon Rahm, to collect his first two, playoff titles, and his first-ever FedEx Cup.

In that yet-to-be-accepted format of starting the top players with an advantage, Cantlay posted just the fourth-best score on the week, and he was tied at that. However, given his bonus strokes as top horse in the race, his 269 was just enough to edge the U.S. Open titleist (Rahm) by one. Cantlay stood outside the top six who automatically qualify for Team USA, but he figured to be an automatic pick to all. With everything on the playoff line, the winner closed birdie-bogey-birdie to edge Rahm’s 72nd-hole birdie.

In an era of Twitter-this and Bluster-that, Cantlay’s demeanor is a contradictory throwback to an era when clubs did the talking. It’s a style befitting a spot on recent European teams, not the ones sporting RWB. Here’s hoping that his disposition and comportment rub off on his teammates and give us the Ryder Cup we all deserve.

Korn Ferry Tour Championship is a tale of highs and lows

Joseph Bramlett has battled his way around the tours for over a decade. Perhaps, only in his dreams did he expect to shoot 30 on the final nine of a Korn Ferry Tour Championship — including a five-birdie run — to clinch the tournament title and a return ticket to the PGA Tour. That’s precisely what happened on Sunday in Indiana. Bramlett stood on the 14th tee, on the heels of two consecutive birdies, precisely six shots in arrears of tournament-leading Trey Mullinax. Five holes later, the former Stanford golfer had made up six shots and earned a four-shot win over the former UAlabama star. Third place went to Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa, one back of Mullinax at 15 deep.

Throughout the week, Trey Mullinax had held the spotlight. He opened with 63 over the water-laced Victoria National layout, and maintained first spot until the bittersweet end. At 14 and 15, his iron game betrayed him from perfect fairway lies. At 18, it was an errant driver that nearly cost him solo second. Despite the home-stretch troubles, Mullinax will join Bramlett next year on the PGA Tour. A win in his portfolio would have been nice, but the consolation prize will comfort almost as nicely.

Let’s remember that the gilded story of the week was the performance of Mr. Bramlett. He has visited the PGA Tour before, and here’s a raised glass to his taking up longer residence this time around.

European Tour Italian Open: Twins win in back-to-back weeks

Just two of the top eight failed to break par each day at Marco Simone near Rome. One of the two, Masahiro Kawamura of Japan, finished in a tie for fifth. The other, Nikolai Hjøgaard, won by a single shot. And he did so on the 72nd hole. And he is the twin of last week’s winner, Rasmus Hjøgaard. That’s pretty exciting, huh?

For the second time in his European Tour career, Adrian Meronk had a chance at victory. Unlike the 2020 Dunhill, when he gave up a final-round lead, Poland’s top golfer stood tied with Nikolai Hjøgaard as the Dane played the final hole. Meronk had posted a sparkling 66 on Sunday, highlighted by an eagle-birdie-birdie, back-nine stretch. His closing run of five pars proved to be precisely what undid his challenge. Nikolai Hjøgaard was brilliant for three days, then held on for dear life over the course of the final round. Faced with the prospect of an initial tour title, each bogey was countered by birdie, and vice-versa. At the closing par five, he zipped a wedge approach to about 30 inches and converted the putt for four and a one-shot win over Meronk and Tommy Fleetwood, who had also made birdie to reach minus-twelve.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

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.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

News

Ryder Cup Rundown: Saturday Afternoon Fourballs

Published

on

Evidently, either clubs or apparel, or perhaps the entire Team Europe Europe plane, were delayed en route to Sheboygan; one, some, or all finally cleared customs on Saturday afternoon. Better late than never, goes the saying. That’s one way to look at the fourballs that finished in the gloaming along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin side. The other is to say that Team USA broke even, and preserved its six-point advantage, ahead of Singles Sunday.

Attempting to figure out which interpretation is proper, is akin to determining how this putt by Jordan Spieth failed to fall.

Match 13: Rahm/Garcia vs. Koepka/Spieth

The oversized-in-every-way Koepka lost twice to Spain’s modern armada on Saturday, and he did so with two different partners. He and Jordan Spieth fell to Europe’s dominant 2021 partnership by 2 & 1. They played well enough to tie, for sure, and if luck had fallen their way, well enough to win. Sometimes it’s more about luck and rub of the green, than it is about skill. Saturday’s second match sure felt that way.

That’s not to take much away from Rahm and García. Rahm’s two late birdies brought Team Europe from even to two holes up, and García put the finishing touch on the masterpiece with a gritty par on the diabolical 17th. The pair was four-under on the day. That number normally doesn’t win fourball matches, but when you are finishing a second-consecutive, 36-hole day, and you’ve carried your side, it’s good enough. Do Rahm and García have enough in the tank to win singles points on Sunday? They have no alternative. Europe needs both points to have a shot at a comeback.

Match 14: Lowry/Hatton vs. Finau/English

The coronation of the firm of Finau and English was put on hold by Shane Lowry’s earth-shaking putt for par. After sitting out foursomes both days, Finau and English faced Lowry once again, albeit with a different partner. After licking his wounds from a 4 & 3 spanking the day before, the 2019 Open champion returned with renewed vigor. The golf wasn’t the greatest in match 14, and one hole was unbelievable halved in bogey. Hey! It’s the Ryder Cup, and the pressure is torrid. Team Europe won two holes in this match, and none after the 11th. Team USA won just one hole, and it came at number 13. Bizarre? You bet, but just one more unequalled tale to emerge from the world’s greatest team golf event.

Match 15: Hovland/Fleetwood vs. Scheffler/DeChambeau

There’s currently a two-man race to determine the most-maligned European team member. If you’ll pardon our forthright opinion, it’s Rory McIlroy. He has proven to either be star-crossed or unpartnerable, depending on how you look at things. McIlroy appears to have a case of Tiger-itis, when it comes to international team events. He’s lost three matches thus far, in the company of Ian Poulter (twice) and Shane Lowry (once.) Is that germane to this match? Only in that it take the spotlight off Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood. This pair tied a match on Friday afternoon, and Hovland lost twice in foursomes. He’s a rookie, though, and not expected to carry the weight of a Union, as is McIlroy. As for Fleetwood, has he jumped the shark? He has no individual major yet, and his regular-event winning has waned.

Now that we’ve done our best to take credit away from the American duo, let’s return what is rightly theirs. Scheffler and DeChambeau each made birdie on two holes of a four-hole stretch (14-17) while their counterparts made none, turning a one-hole deficit into a 3 & 1 victory. That was some play by Team Texas, and they might have made folks forget about that other Texan (Patrick Reed) who was not named to this year’s side. Lots of talent in that Lone Star state, it seems.

Match 16: Poulter/McIlroy vs. Johnson/Morikawa

It seems that everyone wants to play against Poulter and McIlroy, who have yet to find form. Likewise, no one wishes to draw Johnson and Morikawa, who have yet to lose it. The outclassed visitors won a single hole in this match, the awkward fifth hole. Neither made birdie at the short, two-shot sixth, making putts for birdie (Johnson) and eagle (Morikawa) unnecessary. Poulter has never looked more appropriate for the Champions Tour, and McIroy has never appeared more uninspired. It’s unlikely that either will find form in time for Sunday’s singles matches, as no roborant awaits, and that’s a shame. It would be exquisite to have day three matter, but at this juncture, its appearance is more a formality.

 

 

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

News

Ryder Cup Rundown: Saturday Morning Foursomes

Published

on

A funny thing happened between 2018 and 2021: Europe forgot completely how to play foursomes golf. The format that gave the Old World its greatest triumphs has seemingly slipped away from its consciousness. For the second consecutive day, Team USA won three morning matches where each player hit half his normal complement of shots. This wouldn’t matter if the European squad had countered in fourball matches, but they didn’t, or haven’t yet. They’ve one afternoon left to turn the tide, or their flight home will be about one bottle of ketchup lighter — the official weight listed for the trophy on the @RyderCup website.

Here’s our rundown of the third band of matches at Whistling Straits.

Match Nine: Rahm/García vs. Koepka/Berger

Sporting of the Spaniards to spot the Seminoles the morning’s first three holes, wouldn’t you say? For an hour, fans of Team USA seemed certain that the powerful Iberian pairing had finally met its match. Wins on holes 1 through 3 and 5, countered only by a lost-hole 4, gave the RWB a three-up lead. What had happened overnight, many wondered. Wonder no longer. Serigo and Jon countered with thrusts of Toledo steel, winning seven of the next twelve holes, to dispatch the hopeful Floridians. Papa Padraig has to wonder why his other pairings cannot match their intensity and efficiency. Unlike Friday, when he split them up in the afternoon matches, Harrington decided to keep el duo together for afternoon fourballs.

Match Ten: Casey/Hatton vs. Johnson/Morikawa

And the band played on. The match that we all want to see, but won’t, is Johnson and Morikawa (or Johnson and anyone, really) against the Spaniards. If only the English pair had played like the English fought against the Spanish armada, it might have won against the invincible Americans. Each of the first eight holes were won: six by the American and two by the Europeans. That 4-up lead didn’t last, however, as Casey and Hatton countered. They won three holes to reduce the lead to one, including the sublime hole-out by Casey from the wastesands. In the end, the Americans parried with a 15th-hole birdie and two more pars, and held on for a 2 & 1 victory.

Match Eleven: Hovland/Wiesberger vs. Thomas/Spieth

This may have been the oddest pairing of the morning, one that punters everywhere would have avoided like ranch dressing on chicken wings. Match rookies Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger against the featured American team? It almost worked. After six holes, Team Blue had a three-up lead, but then gave it all back. By the eleventh tee, Team Red had leveled the match. The Blues grabbed the eleventh to reclaim the lead, but ran out of gas in the home stretch. The final five holes were won, one by the Euros and four by the Yanks. After struggling on Friday morning, Thomas and Spieth appear to have found their stride and caught a second wind.

Match Twelve:  Westwood/Fitzpatrick vs. Cantlay/Schauffele

The fourth match of morning the second featured much less exchange of won/lost holes. Only 10 of the 18 were claimed by either team. The Europeans led by one after six, but the Americans won four of the next five to gain a three-hole advantage. Back came the Englishmen, with wins at 12 and 16. Trouble was, the Californians also won hole 15, and the match was finished at the 17th green. Ryder Cups are won by hot putters, and no one is putting better than Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

News

Ryder Cup Rundown: Day One Afternoon Fourballs

Published

on

Team Europe needs to bow its collective heads and figure out how to win a partner match. The side has one outright victory in eight matches, and at this point, halves won’t get the job done. Give the home squad four more points today, and the Cup that Samuel Ryder himself offered up might as well be inscribed with the Red White and Blue as champion for 2021.

Always good at second-guessing the decisions of the wise, we’re fine with getting everyone on the course on day one, but some pairings should not be disassembled. For Europe, why break up García and Rahm? For the USA, pick either one of Johnson/Morikawa and Cantlay/Schauffele. Well, at least those break-ups give us something about which to write.

One pair that won’t be matched at all this year, gave us the greatest excitement in 2018, the last time these matches were played. Remember Moliwood? We sure do. Read on for more about Friday afternoon’s four-ball matches.

Match 5: Wiesberger/Casey vs. Johnson/Schauffele

When Dustin Johnson is the elder statesman on Team USA, you know that a generational shift has happened. Johnson seems to have become, at least for 2021, what the Americans needed: a horse to send out first, to which to hitch the wagon, and let all the other explorers follow with great confidence. Johnson won his second match of the day, with a different partner, by a 2 & 1 margin that never seemed that close, throughout the round. When Johnson is on, he is the most impressive driver of the golf ball we have ever seen. Longer and straighter than anyone, he puts himself in position to attack any hole location. With Olympic champion Xander Schauffele as his running mate on Friday afternoon, Johnson was at his best, and Team RWB grabbed its fourth point of the day, ensuring at least a half of the opening slate.

Match 6: Rahm/Hatton vs. DeChambeau/Scheffler

If the next match hadn’t already been determined by the time Tyrrell Hatton pulled out some last-hole heroics, how the tide might have turned! Scottie Scheffler partnered fellow Texan Bryson DeChambeau as if both had multiple international caps between them, only to have their outright victory snatched by the Englishman’s late magic. The 18th at the Straits course is beguiling and muscular, but Hatton stared it down and earned the visiting team its first credits for the afternoon slate. Alas …

Match 7: McIlroy/Lowry vs. Finau/English

4 & 3 for Team USA, from Tony Finau (who learned to win again) and Harris English (who debuted this afternoon in Ryder Cup play.) For the extremely-amateur psychologists among us, this match was a delight. The fellow who should be leading Europe at this juncture (McIlroy) seems uninspired and uninspiring. Harrington’s second Captain’s pick (Lowry) lost just as his third one (Poulter) did in the morning round. If I were Harrington, I’d pair Poults and Lowry on Saturday and say Boys, get the job done. There’s not much else to try.

Finau and English absolutely owned the middle of the golf course. They made birdies at 6, 8, 9 and 10 to wrestle away Europe’s trifling, one-hole lead (earned at the fifth with a McIlroy eagle.) They added one more at the 13th to make victory seem inevitable, then road the par train for two more stops. For Finau, Fall 2021 has to have been the most satisfying and relieving stretch of his career. For the European side, more questions than answers.

Match 8: Cantlay/Thomas vs. Hovland/Fleetwood

Successful Ryder Cup pairings captivate us in a way that can partly never be explained. Seve and Xema (José María Olazábal) were the finest ever, and no matter which side you cheered on, you knew something special would ensue. The same happened in 2019, when Tommy Fleetwood partnered Francesco Molinari to four victories in France. Sadly, Molinari is not on the European side this year so it was up to Viktor Hovland to spark the bearded Englishman on to victory. For a time, the magic was there. The Euros won four holes on the outward half, to seize a three-up lead and give hope for an entire point. In the end, they gave all of them back and the unshakable Patrick Cantlay found a way to get Justin Thomas on the scoreboard. From the ninth hole on, the visitors managed just one birdie between them, and that won’t get any job done, especially one on the world stage. Time to get those putters working.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending