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Tour Rundown: 63 and victory for Im | Kruising Ko | Spanish overtime

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Four events capped the first full week of October, as professional tours surged toward either a conclusion or a seasonal break. The European, LPGA, and Tour Champions all have playoffs and capstones in view, while the PGA Tour moves ever closer to its holiday recess for 2021-22. Still, there is something about fall golf that captivates the ardent fan. Visits to parts of the world not normally seen are cherished, and the winners are no less grateful for the laurels that come their way. With those thoughts in mind, as leaves begin to turn color across the northern hemisphere, let’s run down a four-pack of events and celebrate golf, in this week’s Tour Rundown.

PGA Tour: Im claims second title on heels of 63

Korea’s Sung-jae Im added a second tour title to his resume this week. He closed with 63 to edge past Matthew Wolff by four shots. Im began day four in fifth position but lit the scoreboard with four birdies through his first seven holes. He then etched birdie into five consecutive slots on his scorecard, from nine through 13, and surged to a four-shot victory.

Matthew Wolff, also in search of a second tour title, turned in minus 3 to keep pace with Im. Deflating bogeys found the Oklahoma State Cowboy on 10 and 13, and a pair of closing birdies at 15 and 16 served only to separate Wolff from Marc Leishman, Rory Sabbatini, and overnight leader Adam Schenk in the race for second position.

LPGA:  Founders Title is appropriate for Kruising Ko

An astonishing thing is taking place on the LPGA Tour these days. Jin Young Ko is playing golf at a level not seen in many a month. She is on a run of 14 consecutive rounds in the 60s, which ties her with Annika Sorenstam for best ever. Sorenstam wasn’t one of the LPGA Founders, it just seems that way. She was one of the best ever, and this places Ko in rare company. Ko opened with 63 in the hills of New Jersey this week, closed with 66, and secured a four-shot victory of her own, for her third win of the campaign and 10th of her career.

Feeling just a bit hijacked was Germany’s Caroline Masson. Masson closed with 64, posted three other rounds in the 60s, but was swept away by Ko’s brilliance. It wasn’t a large gap that separated the two stalwarts. It was one stroke per round, it seems, those brief yet vicious chess moves that make a close match seem not quite so. If Masson had any place to look, it would be to the three bogeys on her Saturday card. After two, one-bogey rounds to begin the week, Masson was poised to go low on Saturday. She had five birdies on her card, but without those bogey stumbles, might have positioned herself for a better run at Ko.

Despite the rain, the champion was solid on Sunday. If nearly eight minutes of highlights aren’t too many for you, settle in and have a ko, err, a go.

European Tour: Spanish overtime duel caps Spanish Open

Sometime Friday, I glanced at the leader board in Madrid, and saw Jon Rahm at 130 after two rounds. It appeared that the Basque would bring another home-Open title to his country, but I was wrong. It was a Spaniard who won, and he defeated another Spaniard on the first extra hole of the tournament, but neither goes by the surname Rahm. Confused? Not for long.

While Rahm fell away with 141 over his closing 36 holes, into a worn-out tie for 17th, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Adrián Arnaus surged. RCB hails from the Canary Islands, while Arnaus is a Barcelona boy by way of Texas A & M university. The pair reached 19-under par in different ways: Cabrera-Bello overcame an opening double to record four birdies, while Arnaus had a pair of eagles over his closing 18 holes. Their totals brought them two shots beyond a trio of third-place finishers, and set them on a course for overtime.

It was over quickly, as Cabrera-Bello made a swift birdie that Arnaus could not match. The victory was the fourth European Tour title for the Canarian, while Arnaus still seeks his debut championship on the big tour.

PGA Tour Champions: Mickelson gets off the bagel for 2021

Despite winning a minor event on the regular tour, back in May, Phil Mickelson had not followed up his two-win debut campaign on Tour Champions 2020 with a 2021 title. Something about Jacksonville and the Timiquana Country Club fit him like a glove, and Mickelson opened with 66 to take the lead. His Saturday 67 kept him at the front of the field, but Mickelson wasn’t pleased. A super-low round was lurking, and he wanted to be the fellow to grab it.

Miguel Angel Jiménez, the crafty Spaniard, must certainly have given a thought to his homeland’s Open championship, being played concurrently across the Atlantic. Jiménez followed a 70 with 65; perhaps he would be the caballero to post the round of which Mickelson spake. Others lurked as well, including tournament host Jim Furyk, In the end, Steve Flesch would drop one slot down the chart with 71 on Sunday, to claim third. Jiménez would submit a clean card of 68, with four birdies, and nearly tie Mickelson with a bomb at the last. Mickelson would not find his fountain of youth near St. Augustine, but he would find Champions victory number three with a 68 of his own.

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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, Weekend Edition: 16 more equipment photos from the Shriners Open

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The photos and associated stories GolfWRX captured this week at the 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas were terrific — and we had plenty of ingredients to offer a second course of our “interesting photos.”

That Las Vegas is one of the most photogenic cities in the world helped, too.

Below are some of our favorites we didn’t add to our Tuesday “Interesting Photos” article.

Links

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General galleries

Here are a few of the most interesting shots from the Shriners.

Danny Willett – WITB & Prototype Toulon Daytona putter – won Dunhill Links last week at St Andrews – (see photos here)

Anirban Lahiri – WITB – (see photos here)

James Hahn – WITB & Cameron H-19 CT putter (see more photos)

Garsen – Quad Tour 17 grip – (see photos here)

Bettinardi putters – (see photos here)

Jason Kokrak – PXG Gen 4 Blacked out irons- (see photos here)

Matt Kuchar back to old faithful irons – (see photos here)

Rickie Fowler – WITB – (see photos here)

Pat Perez a testing SIK putter – (see photos here)

Spotted: 2022 Callaway Apex UW- (see photos here)

Check out all the galleries and discussion in the forums

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Morning 9: Brooks with high praise for Bryson | Rahm’s new reality | Rose on Ryder Cup snub

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
October 7, 2021
Good Thursday morning, golf fans.
1. Brooks with high praise for Bryson
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”Asked at the Shriners Hospitals for Childrens Open how the event came together, Koepka said, “You’ll have to ask Bryson.”
  • “He did, however, have some complimentary words for the man he has feuded with for much of this year, marveling at DeChambeau’s ability to hit the ball great lengths and also be competitive in last week’s Long Drive Championship.”
  • “I think it’s going to change the game of golf forever, personally,” Koepka said. “But if you’re going to hit it that far and you find a couple fairways, it’s tough to beat. It does get very difficult when you got wedge into hole where guys got 6-iron. Your odds are going to be in your favor. That’s what he’s done”
  • “…So the fact he’s able to do that, the fact he did at the Long Drive, I don’t think anybody really thought he was going to get that far, but the fact he did was quite impressive,” Koepka said. “I think you’re just going to continually see that type of distance come from the kids that are in college or high school now that will be out here in five, six years.”
2. Emulating Seve 
Reuters report…”World No. 1 Jon Rahm is hopeful that he can emulate compatriot Seve Ballesteros by becoming only the second three-time winner of the Spanish Open when he tees off on home soil on Thursday.”
  • “Rahm, 26, is aiming for a hat trick of titles at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, having previously won in 2018 and 2019. The 2020 event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • “It would be very unique. I know names like Ollie (Jose Maria Olazabal), he couldn’t win it… I would hope to be able to get to a third not only to tie Seve but to win it three times in a row,” Rahm said.”
3. Things have changed for Jon Rahm 
AP report…“His U.S. Open triumph and rise to No. 1 golfer in the world has turned him into a star transcending sports in the country, on the same level as the likes of Rafael Nadal, Pau Gasol and Fernando Alonso.”
  • “…It took 30 seconds from the time I arrived at the hotel and went for a walk before someone recognized me,” said Rahm, who this weekend will try to defend his Spanish Open title.
  • “He is making his first visit to Spain in nearly two years, and finally seeing up close the impact of his sporting deeds.”
  • “It’s hard to realize it when you are not living here,” he said on Tuesday. “My parents tell me about it, my friends tell me about it, but you don’t really get it until you can see it for yourself.”
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4. Mickelson on RC assistant experience
Golf Channel’s Max Schreiber…”The 51-year-old, who this week will become the first-ever reigning major champion to make a PGA Tour Champions start, said on Wednesday at the Constellation Furyk & Friends that he was happy contributing in a new way.”
  • “I had a blast not having the pressure and the anxiety that you have as a player,” Mickelson said. “I really enjoyed the week. Obviously, we had a really strong team and the guys played really well and it was fun to be a part of that and see it from a different view than what I’ve been used to. I would have obviously loved to have been a player, but conversely, the experience of not having that kind of pressure was also very enjoyable.”
5. Kevin Nat playing in the Shriners, unfortunately 
Golfweek’s Riley Hamel…”Kevin Na’s first PGA Tour win came back in 2011 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He then went on a seven year winless drought before breaking through in 2018. He’s now won a golf tournament in three of the last four years, including the 2019 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.”
  • “On Tuesday, the two-time champion announced on Twitter he had withdrawn from this week’s field at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. Although he was seen practicing throughout the day, his absence this week is due to a rib injury.”
6. Long, slow goodbye of the Dinah Shore
Larry Bohannon for the Desert Sun…”Make no mistake, the tournament most recently known as the ANA Inspiration had its problems, not the least of which was the looming loss of All Nippon Airways as a sponsor after 2022. As an international airline, ANA was hemorrhaging money like all airlines in the pandemic era, and no fans at Mission Hills the last two years because of COVID-19 didn’t help the event or its sponsor.”
  • “The conflict with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur was a bigger problem than the LPGA or tournament officials first believed. Augusta National, home of the Masters, is the 800-pouind gorilla of golf, and the minute the Georgia club announced the ANWA for dates that conflicted with the LPGA major, smart people in golf knew a date change for the LPGA would be necessary. Augusta National could hold a cornhole tournament and people would watch.”
  • “Crowds that seemed smaller and smaller each year also were a problem. After the LPGA brought ANA to the event, saving the tournament for 2015, a high-ranking LPGA official looked at the sparse crowds during the third round of the tournament and wondered if desert fans understood how hard then-commissioner Mike Whan had worked to keep the tournament in the desert.”
7. Rose on Ryder Cup snub
Our Andy Lack…??”For the first time in over a decade, British professional golfer Justin Rose was not a part of this year’s European Ryder Cup team.”
“In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph‘s James Corrigan, the 24-time world-wide winner reflected upon European captain Padraig Harrington’s decision to go in another direction.”
  • “In the final tournament before the selections were made, Rose finished sixth at the BMW PGA Championship, and closed on Sunday with an eagle on the par-five 18th hole. “When I walked off that last hole I felt good about things, but I quickly got the vibe it wasn’t so good. There was a weird atmosphere on that Sunday afternoon. In the players’ lounge, all the vice captains were around Padraig and yeah, I got a bit of a strange feeling,” Rose remarked.”
  • “The Englishman continued, “I was discovering I’d dug myself a hole deeper than I realized and I’m not going to lie, I was gutted. It was interesting, maybe I could have done more in that final run of tournaments, but it was a slightly awkward time for me as well in terms of not playing [the European Masters] and in Italy.”
8. Eyes on the prize for Nelly Korda
Golf Channel’s Amy Rogers…”Nelly Korda has a chance to make history with four events remaining in the LPGA Tour season.”
  • “Korda, the No. 1 ranked player in the world, leads nearly every points race and statistical category as the season winds towards its finale at the CME Group Tour Championship. Should she maintain the form that earned her three wins, a major championship and an Olympic gold medal over the first half of the year, she could add her name to the record books.”
  • “Ahead of the Cognizant Founders Cup, Korda sits atop the money list, the Rolex Player of the Year standings and the Race to the CME Globe points list. Korda has an opportunity to become the first American since Stacy Lewis, in 2014, to win multiple season-ending awards. That year, Lewis won the Vare Trophy (lowest scoring average), Rolex Player of the Year and the money title.”
9. Shriners photos
GolfWRX has an assortment of photos from the 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, including in-hand photos of equipment, shots from the range, exclusive looks at new shafts, 17 WITBs, and more.
  • With the meat of the 2022 season far off on the horizon and the equipment launches for the year ahead still months away, the antsy and searching of the PGA Tour are keen to experiment.
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Morning 9: Big changes to Dinah | Brooks vs. Bryson | Birth, rebirth for Rickie?

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
October 6, 2021
Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. I’m back from a few days at GolfWRX HQ for a video shoot that fortunately did not include me as the on-camera talent.
Happy to be filling up my coffee mug again and digging into the M9 with all of you.
1. Big changes to the Dinah
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”The LPGA and IMG are set to announce Chevron as the event’s new title sponsor, Golfweek has learned, signing a six-year contract with the global giant.”
  • “…The Chevron Championship will stay at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills for 2022 in its traditional spot ahead of the Masters, and ANA will stay on as a partner for next year. The purse will increase 60 percent from $3.1 million to $5 million…”
  • “After 2022, however, several more significant changes are in store.”
  • “The event will move away from Mission Hills, its only home since the event’s founding. The tour is looking to potentially relocate the tournament to the greater Houston area, home to roughly 8,000 Chevron employees and contractors.”
  • “There are also plans in place to move the tournament dates to later in the spring in 2023, allowing the event to be shown on NBC…”
2. Brooks vs. Bryson
Our Andy Lack…”The long speculated about and anticipated “Match” between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau has finally been announced.”
  • “Per a release sent out on Tuesday, the fifth edition of “The Match” will take place on November 26th, the day after Thanksgiving, at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will begin at 4 PM ET. For the first time in the Match’s history however, the event will only be 12 holes.”
  • “Both players will be mic’d up and Turner broadcast hosts Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson are expected to provide commentary. Despite not being a competitor on the course this go around, Phil Mickelson is still expected to be involved in some capacity.”
3. A birth and rebirth for Rickie?
Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…”After a six-week mini-fast in which he lost 5 pounds of body fat by cutting down carbs and fruit, eating healthy and working out, all the while laboring hard on his game and attending to his wife’s wants and needs, Fowler will make his first start of the season Thursday in the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin.”
  • “He’ll do so coming off his two worst seasons since he turned pro more than a decade ago. Last season, Fowler, 32, whose most recent of nine worldwide victories came in the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, had just one top-10 in 18 starts and didn’t make the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009. He has dropped to 125th in the official world rankings, his worst ranking since 2009. In the past two campaigns, he’s amassed only eight top-10s in 56 starts while missing 18 cuts.”
  • “Life comes at you fast at times and you deal with it best you can,” Fowler said Tuesday at TPC Summerlin.”
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GolfWRX may earn a commission of “Recommends” products.
4. Asian Swing further reduced
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The LPGA announced Tuesday that the Toto Japan Classic, scheduled for Nov. 4-7 at Seta Golf Course in Shiga Prefecture, has been canceled “due to continuing health concerns and significant travel restrictions caused by the worldwide pandemic.” The latest cancellation means that three of the four Asian-based LPGA events will not be played, a year after all four were canceled.”
  • “The Buick LPGA in Shanghai (Oct. 14-17) and Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA (Oct. 28-31) had previously been scrapped for a second straight year, leaving just the Oct. 21–24 BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea as the only tournament left on the calendar following this week’s Founders Cup and the LPGA’s final two events in Florida, the Pelican Women’s Championship on Nov. 11-14 and CME Group Tour Championship on Nov. 18-21.”
5. Your Nicklaus-Jacklin award winners…
Rob Sauerhaft for Golfweek…”The inaugural winners, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia, exhibited character, leadership, rock-solid decision making and dazzling play at Whistling Straits. “There’s immense pressure in playing for your teammates, and representing your country,” said Azinger, who had a front-row seat to the matches as the television analyst for NBC/Golf Channel. “Every decision is scrutinized and second-guessed. Both DJ and Sergio played awesome golf. And let’s not lose sight of the tremendous impact they had on their playing partners and all their teammates.”
  • “At Whistling Straits, Johnson and Garcia delivered record-setting performances. DJ tallied a perfect 5-0-0 record, becoming the first U.S. Team member to do so in 42 years and only the fifth player ever. Sergio went 3-1-0 and was one of only two European team members with a winning record.”
6. Sahith’s new driver
Sean Martin PGATour.com…“It’s a longer driver. I’m like, if I’m going to hit it off line, I might as well hit it a little bit farther and funny enough I’m hitting it way straighter,” he said after his first-round 64 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. “So that helped a little bit, seeing something new. Still getting comfortable with the driver, only had it a month now. But it’s been really nice to see some of the work paying off and being in more fairways.”
  • “…Several changes were made to Theegala’s Ping G425 LST driver to dial in the cut he likes to play off the tee and eliminate the dreaded double-cross.”
  • “Ping’s Korn Ferry Tour rep, David Bray, installed a new shaft in Theegala’s driver – True Temper’s Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 6.5 – and made it 45.25 inches long, 0.75 inches longer than Theegala’s previous shaft. The shaft was “tipped” 1.5 inches – Bray said he usually tips players’ drivers about an inch — to control the spin and dispersion of Theegala’s shots, as well. “Tipping” a shaft means removing length from the clubhead end instead of the grip end. This makes the shaft stiffer and also increases its resistance to twisting.”
  • “Braylso added hot melt to the toe of the club to promote a fade. Also known as “rat glue” by gearheads — owing to the similarity between the properties of the substance and the material found in glue traps — hot melt is injected into clubheads via a hot glue gun with a long nosel.”
  • “The changes dropped about 500 rpms off Theegala’s tee shots, to about 2,500, and an increase of 3-4 mph of ball speed.”
  • “He hits a high ball to begin with. This just controlled the spin for him,” Bray said. “He likes to cut the ball, so he’s going to have more spin, but this is more penetrating. It’s not ballooning on him. I would say he probably picked up 3-4 more mph because he was hitting it more in the center of the clubface than the heel misses he had before.”
7. Team golf coming to Champions Tour
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Do we really have to wait two years for the next Ryder and Solheim cups? Well, the Presidents Cup is less than a year away, but so is a new creation for the golf calendar: the World Champions Cup, which pits three teams of senior-aged golfers. How about these three captains: Jim Furyk for Team USA, Darren Clarke for Europe and Ernie Els for the International squad. Not too shabby at all. All three have been captains within the past five years in international competition and continue to thrive as winners this season on PGA Tour Champions.”
  • “It’s a continuation of long rivalries,” said Peter Jacobsen, who is serving as chairman of the inaugural competition, which is scheduled for November 2022. “These guys are beyond interested in rekindling those competitive flames. For them to be able to do it as seniors is going to be very special.”
8. Rose starts strong
Golfweek’s Adam Woodward…”It’s not easy to win a golf tournament, let alone at the Division I level as a freshman. Rose Zhang begs to differ.”
  • “The Stanford freshman has now won the first two starts of her collegiate career, claiming The Molly last week and now the Windy City Collegiate Classic on Tuesday at Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette, Illinois.”
  • “Zhang, the 2020 U.S. Amateur and 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, shot rounds of 72-70-70 to finish at 4 under, one shot clear of Florida junior Jackie Lucena and three of Texas freshman Bohyun Park. The trio were the lone players to finish under par on the individual leaderboard.”
9. Shriners photos
GolfWRX has an assortment of photos from the 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, including in-hand photos of equipment, shots from the range, exclusive looks at new shafts, 17 WITBs, and more.
  • With the meat of the 2022 season far off on the horizon and the equipment launches for the year ahead still months away, the antsy and searching of the PGA Tour are keen to experiment.
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