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Tour Rundown: Hovland’s 3rd tour title, 2nd in Riviera Maya | Original Ko

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Three rounds of 61 were posted this week on three of the world’s major tours. Each of those golfers held the lead at one point, yet none of them came away with a trophy. Lots of different ways to unpack that slice of information, but the easiest way to understand it is is this: you need more than 18 great holes to win a tournament, but you only need a few bad holes to lose one. With most of the fall behind us, our attention once again turns to warmer climates. From Mexico to Florida to the middle east to Iberia, winners were crowned and cups raised aloft. Let’s run it all down together in this week’s edition of Tour Rundown, with bonus coverage from last week.

PGA Tour: WWTC in Mayakoba is Hovland’s third tour title, second in Riviera Maya

Víctor Tierrasanta has a ring to it, doesn’t it? Viktor Hovland (holy land in Danish) might consider just such a name switch, after his third PGA Tour title in a Hispanic land. Hovland successfully defended his 2020 win at El Camaleon, winning by four shots over Mexico’s favorite son, Carlos Ortiz. Matthew Wolff started the week off with fireworks, posting 61 with 10 birdies. He held the lead through Friday evening but came apart a bit on Saturday with 74. His Sunday 65 moved him twelve rungs up the leader ladder into a tie for fifth.

Hovland played his strongest golf of the week through the middle rounds, which are beginning to define winners as they never have before. The 36 holes that come at the center of an event show who can bring their best golf on consecutive days. Hovland went 65-62, then closed with 67 that could have been lower, had he been pressed. Two sloppy bogeys on the inward half kept him out of the mid/low 60s for a third consecutive day, but it was more than enough to distance him from playing partner Talor Gooch (74 for T11) and keep Ortiz and others at bay. After Ortiz, Justin Thomas came third at -18, with Scottie Schefler in 4th at -17.

Ladies European Tour: ASLI at Royal Greens to the Original Ko

Lydia Ko is the OG Ko, having earned that moniker at a young age when she took over women’s golf for a time. As she grew into the professional sport, she kept winning. The winning stopped, but the desire never ebbed. This week, Lydia Ko reclaimed the game that made her the role model for many, winning on the Ladies European Tour by a healthy five shots. Atthaya Thitikul, one of the generation of young Thai golfers, claimed a second-place finish that was not nearly as close as it appeared if a five-shot margin can be considered close. Down by four to begin the day, Thitikul went out on Sunday in 32 and lost ground to Ko. The Kiwi Ko posted eagle at the ninth hole to turn in 31, extending her advantage. Two more birdies, at 10 and 13, expanded the gulf to seven. A game Thitikul scratched three closing birdies onto her card to secure a five-shot advantage of her own (over third-place finishers Carlota Ciganda and Alice Hewson) but there would be no chasing down the champion.

European Tour: Portuguese Masters in Vilamoura finally to Pieters

The tournament at Vilamoura went from the other tournament with a 61, to the tournament that no one seemed prepared to win, to a fifth tour title for Thomas Pieters of Belgium. To recap, Italy’s Nino Bertasio opened with a round of ten-under, survived Friday with 69, stumbled on Saturday with 74, and rebounded on Sunday with 67 to finish in a tie for fifth position. France’s Mathieu Pavon coasted through the first nine holes on Sunday, turning in three-under 32. His birdie at ten increased his lead, but his triple-bogey eight at the par-5 12th brought him crashing to earth. From there on, it was birdie-bogey-birdie-par-bogey-par for 70, and a minus-17 finish. Pavon will regret the back-nine par-5 holes, which he played in 4 over par on the weekend.

Enter Nicolai Højgaard, who played the first 17 holes in magnificent fashion on Sunday. He stood minus-eight on the 18th tee, 18-under for the tournament. Knowing that he needed one more birdie, he flew too high, creased the sun, and made bogey. Højgaard finished in a tie for second with countryman Lucas Bjerregaard, whose 67 brought him into a tie with Højgaard and Pavon for second stage on the podium. The stage was set for third-round leader Pieters to snatch a victory, and his birdie at the 17th gave him a two-shot cushion at the last. He converted a long putt for par at the last for a 68, a 19-under total, and his first win since 2019.

PGA Tour Champions: TimberTech in Boca Raton is first Champions Tour win for Alker

The song Southern Cross is an appropriate descriptor for Steven Alker’s journey through professional golf. On Sunday, the New Zealand-born professional saw the Crux constellation for the first time, ending a seven-year lull on top of the podium. Alker last lifted a loving cup in Cleveland in 2014, when he won on the Korn Ferry Tour (back when it was called the Web.Com Tour.) He is also the owner of the longest playoff-win record, an 11-hole affair at the same event. Now a member of the senior corps, Alker began a remarkable run of tournaments with a Monday qualification at the Boeing Classic. He tied for 7th there, and continued to make the following week’s field with top-ten finishes. His unanticipated run qualified him for the post-season series, and he made good on his opportunity this week at Broken Sound.

Tim Petrovic grabbed the headlines with his Saturday 61, but a Sunday 74 undid all his good work, and dropped him to a tie for fourth. Charging on Sunday was Jim Furyk, who made a run at Aker with a 71. Six closing pars did Furyk in; birdies were needed today. Charging harder was Miguel Ángel Jiménez, whose 66 followed only Mike Weir’s 65 for low round of the day. Jiménez began the day with a bogey at the par-5 opener, but from that point on, it was full steam ahead for the birdie engine. In the end, Alker’s clean inward half of three birdies and six pars was the recipe for an initial tour title and a new life in the senior game.

Last Week’s Two Winners

When fewer than three major events are played across the globe, Tour Rundown takes a hiatus and recalls those winners the following week. On October 29, England’s Bronte Law edged Mexico’s María Fassi by one shot in the first Moonlight Classic, on the Ladies European Tour. Played over the Faldo course at Emirates Golf Club, the women competed after dark, beneath the glow of a spot-lit layout. Law made eagle at the 16th, to Fassi’s birdie, and the pair parred out for the final margin.

On the 31st, Australia’s Lucas Herbert took advantage of Danny Lee’s back-nine misfortune and reached 15 under par at Port Royal in Bermuda. His par at the last took the top spot over from fast-finishing Patrick Reed, who moved up 15 places on the final day. Overnight leader Taylor Pendrith stumbled to 76, tumbling to a fifth-place tie. Lee overcame a double-single-single, three-hole stretch of bogeys to close with birdies at 15 through 17. Had he dropped another at the last, he would have caught Herbert. Instead of a second career win for Lee, or a first for Pendrith, it was Herbert who secured his inaugural PGA Tour title at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship.

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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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19th Hole

‘OMG’ – Pro golfers go wild over Tiger Woods’ swing video

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If you are a fan of golf, there’s a good chance you have seen the most recent video of Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball on the range posted to his twitter account yesterday.

As ecstatic as golf fans are about seeing Tiger Woods effortlessly swing a club again, players on Tour seem to be just as fired up about Tiger’s video.

Here we’ve rounded up some of the best tweets from Woods’ fellow PGA Tour players:

The PGA Tour is in a great place, with many young superstars on the rise and interest in the game at all time high. Even still, yesterday was a reminder that nothing moves the needle in the sport of golf like Tiger Woods. If more evidence is needed, the video Woods tweeted currently has 6.8 million views in under 24 hours.

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Brooks Koepka signs with Srixon/Cleveland

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Srixon and Cleveland Golf have today announced that Brooks Koepka has joined its tour staff.

As part of the new deal, the four-time major champion will play a Srixon driver, Srixon irons, Cleveland wedges, a Srixon golf ball, as well as carry a Srixon Staff bag.

The 31-year-old began working with Srixon’s Tour Department earlier this year and played the brand’s ZX7 irons throughout the 2021 PGA Tour season.

On joining Team Srixon/Cleveland, Koepka said

“I am very excited to join my good friends Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Hideki Matsuyama as a Srixon and Cleveland Golf Tour Staff member. I’ve been an equipment free agent for the past few years, so it will be fun to be involved with a company on a daily basis and be able to contribute to the development of their future equipment.

“I put the ZX7 Irons in play in January and it is the best iron I have played on Tour. I look forward to kicking off our new partnership this week in Las Vegas!”

Speaking on the Koepka signing, Rodney McDonald, Vice President of Tour Operations at Srixon, said

“We’re extremely proud to have Brooks come on board as our newest Staff member. He’s one of the best players in the world and brings his major championship pedigree and validation to our brands. We’re excited for Brooks to join the Srixon and Cleveland Golf family and look forward to supporting him out on tour.”

Koepka will make his debut as a member of Team Srixon/Cleveland at Capital One’s The Match on November 26th against Bryson DeChambeau. 

 

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Tour Rundown: Morikawa wins twice on Sunday | Race to CME goes to JYK

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This is it. Really, this is it. This is really it. The soon-to-be-renamed European Tour is done. The PGA Tour is done. The LPGA is done. I’m done. Happy American Thanksgiving. It’s colder than the Canadian one, but a good cold breeze is bracing. It also reminds us to get inside, so that we don’t get sick, or frostbite, or some other malady. It also reminds us to be thankful for things like … shirts that don’t tear when you shoot 74 in the final round and fall from first place to another level of frustration (hypothetically speaking, of course.)

Anyhoo, anyhow, anyway, join us one last time for a running of the tours, which is much, much safer than a running of the bulls.

European Tour: Morikawa wins twice on Sunday

I remember that summer of 2019, when Collin Morikawa and two other college stars made their debuts on tour. The guy with the powerful, funky swing won right away. The other guy, the Nordic one, seemed destined to win soon enough (he would win in February of the next year.) Even though Morikawa won in 2019, pundits assessed him to be third in line to the throne. Two years have passed, and there is no line. the Iron Throne belongs to Morikawa.

The Californian from Cal-Berkeley owns two major titles, six worldwide wins, and his first Order of Merit. I’ve always liked that title. Way better than Race To The Cup or any other moniker out there. I’m bringing it back. Morikawa had a good hold on the European Tour’s season-long race, thanks to his Open title in July and his WGC last February. He came to Dubai with great focus, answering few to none of the pointed questions aimed his way. In contrast, and to his credit, Matt Fitzpatrick wasn’t giving up.

The Englishman wasn’t defiant, but he was gritty. He insisted that, as we all know, the tournament and the season were not over until the flagstick was replaced. Fitz did his part with a 66 on Sunday, moving all the way up to a tie for second with Alexander Bjôrk. At that point, sadly, Fitz was finished. He needed a win.

Who topped him? Morikawa, of course. His Sunday 66 at the Earth Course included five birdies on the inward half, when he simply decided to say By the way, I’m the best of 2021. Here’s my third win to prove it. Morikawa’s swing has zero moving parts that should not be moving. It is modern, but classic, if that is possible. If he chases zero distance over the next fifteen years, and simply plays well from tee to green, he should win five more majors and a few more Orders of Merit around the world.

LPGA: Race To CME goes to JYK

Remember last week when Nelly Korda became Rolex Rankings number one again, despite not playing? Pretty sure that’s about to change again. Jin Young Ko steamrolled the field at Tiburón in Naples. The Original JYK was nine-under on day four, breaking out of a four-way tie for the lead at dawn’s first light.

Nelly? She had 69 for T5. Celine? 68 for T3. Nasa? She gave Jin everything she could handle. Hataoka signed for 64, and her 6th-hole bogey was her only blemish on the day. She matched Ko birdie for birdie, posting nine of her own on the final day. She made up strokes on three of the final four holes. Trouble was, Young Ko did not wilt. She turned in 30 and added three more chirps on the inward half, putting things away at the 17th with her last of the day.

The title was her fifth of 2021, and her 12th overall. Ko hit 63 consecutive greens this week, and is on a runaway-train path to the LPGA Hall of Fame, and it will be a pleasure to watch her do just that.

PGA Tour:  RSM Classic crowns Gooch by a smooch

Talor Gooch knocked on a number of doors this fall, most recently the Fortinet and the CJ Cup. At both events, he finished top-five, but could not break through for the “V.” At Sea Island, Gooch went into the final round with a one-shot lead over Sebastián Múñoz. Feeling balanced, Gooch went out and bookended his opening 64 with the same closing number. He made a pair of birdies on the front, then turned on the juice and recorded four more coming home. No bogeys found his card this day.

Mackenzie Hughes, the 2016 champion at the RSM, went out in 30 to pick up three strokes on Gooch. Feeling his own brand of juice, Hughes posted four more birdies on the back nine, but also stumbled to a bogey at the par-three twelfth hole. He missed long and left, and failed to get up and down for par. When Gooch made three at the same hole, minutes later, the road to victory got easier.

Two unofficial events (Hero and QBE) will take place in December, and the Tour will return to action on January 6th, for two consecutive weeks in the Hawaiian islands.

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