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Morning 9: Hovland hoists a trophy in Mexico (again) | Not hampered by borrowed driver | Lydia Ko

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
November 8, 2021
Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Hovland hoists a trophy in Mexico (again)
AP report…”Viktor Hovland won again on the PGA Tour, this time without a clutch finish. The Norwegian star was too dominant to give anyone else a chance Sunday in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.”
  • “Hovland seized control with three birdies on the front nine, and never let Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas or anyone else get closer than three shots the rest of the way.”
  • “He closed with a 4-under 67 for a four-shot lead over Carlos Ortiz of Mexico, making him the first repeat winner since Mayakoba began in 2007.”
2. Not hampered by borrowed driver
Adam Stanley for PGATour.com…”Wednesday afternoon at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, Lee, who finished T2 last week at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, was in the middle of a speed-training session. He was getting up to about 185 m.p.h. ball speed but Viktor Hovland, who was next to him, wanted to see how much more speed Lee could generate with his driver – which is about an inch longer.”
  • “Lee stepped on one, and the shaft shattered.”
  • …”Enter James Hahn, who had another Ping G-425 driver to nearly the same specs as Hovland’s usual gamer.”
  • …”Kenton Oates, who is a PGA TOUR rep for Ping, said the driver Hovland put into play on Thursday was the same model, same loft, and had the same swing weight – with a slightly different shaft – as Hovland’s usual driver…”
  • “It’s a little bit shorter, it’s a different shaft, but honestly, almost helped me this week because it’s a little shorter,” said Hovland. “It probably goes 10 yards shorter, but I just felt like I could really hit it a little lower and a little straighter. So I’m hitting that thing really well.”
3. Ko wins in Saudi Arabia
Our Ron Montesano…”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.”
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4. Pieters takes Portugal Masters
Montesano again…”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.”
5. KFT Q-School delayed
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School is extending into at least another day.”
  • “Inclement weather scrapped third-round play on Saturday at The Landings Club, forcing officials to implement a Monday finish. The third round will now begin at 8 a.m. ET Sunday on both the Marshwood and Magnolia courses while the final round will start at the same time Monday morning.”
  • “The last tee times on those days will be 10:12 a.m.”
  • “I’ve never been so pumped to get a text regarding golf in my life,” said Blayne Barber, who was likely not alone in rejoicing that no golf would be played Saturday in 40-degree temperatures, 15-20 mph winds and heavy rain.”
6. Steven Alker notches first Champions win
AP report…”Steven Alker had to qualify for his first PGA Tour Champions event three months ago and kept playing all the way to the Charles Schwab Cup final.”
  • “Alker capped off his amazing run Sunday when he closed with a 4-under 68 for a two-shot victory in the TimberTech Championship, easily moving into the top 36 players who advance to the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.”
7. Viktor Hovland’s winning WITB
Driver: Ping G425 LST (9 degrees @8.4)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 TX
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei Blue AV Raw 85 TX)
Irons: Ping i210 (3-PW)
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD DI Hybrid 85 X (3), KBS Tour V 120 X (4-PW)
Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro (50-SS, 56-SS), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 WedgeWorks (60)
Shafts: KBS Tour V 130 X
Putter: Ping PLD DS 72
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Grips: Golf Pride MCC
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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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