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Mahan Triumphs in Travelers Playoff

Hunter Mahan achieved his first PGA Tour victory at the Travelers Championship after beating Jay Williamson in a one hole playoff that thrilled spectators and viewers with quality shot making.

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The final pairing at the final round of the Travelers Championship featured two men with a lot to play for. Jay Williamson, a former PGA Tour player who lost his playing privileges, was one round away from earning back his playing rights and a two year exemption on the PGA Tour. Hunter Mahan, the young man from Orange, California who was a junior and amateur standout, was looking to prove that he could capitalize the golfing potential so many had dubbed him with.

With so much pressure and so much to play for, odds were good that either Mahan or Williamson would succumb to the nerves inherent in obtaining an elusive tour victory. However, the opposite seemed to happen – both players seemed to thrive under the pressure. Williamson began the day with a one shot lead, and from the beginning both players made it clear they were playing to win. Throughout the day, the two traded birdies like heavyweight fighters trying hard to knock their opponent out, only to have them charge back.

Both players played near perfect front nines, with Mahan making the turn one shot ahead of Williamson. However, Williamson quickly caught fire on the back with birdies on 11, 13, and 15. Mahan matched him with consecutive birdies at 11, 12, and 13. However, bogies at 16 and 17 gave Williamson a one shot lead. Both players arrived at 18 and found the fairway with their tee shots. Williamson was away and hit a fantastic approach to twelve feet. After a brief conversation with his caddie John Wood who reassured him of their strategy, Mahan did not hesitate and put his 9 iron approach to six feet inside of Williamson’s ball, on the exact same line. Mahan said, "We had a good yardage and just went with it. I went right at it. I mean, there’s no reason not to. I figured he was going to make birdie. He just kind of had that putt. So was just going to be aggressive with it and luckily made a great swing." Williamson pushed his putt just slightly to the right and Mahan went to school on the putt and payed close attention. Mahan’s putt was center cut and after 72 holes the two players were tied.

If the first time through the 18th hole wasn’t dramatic enough, the players found a way to improve on their performance. After finding the fairway, Williamson managed to put his approach to six feet. However, Mahan again managed to get inside Williamson putting his approach to three feet for a tap-in birdie. Williamson missed his putt again, and Mahan converted for his first PGA Tour victory. For Mahan, this victory is especially important, since his very first victory on Tour changes his career and season from this point on. However, Mahan said just knowing he can win was the biggest benefit, "Just you know the fact that — the fact that I know I won out here means a lot. I mean, it’s just knowing that you can win and actually winning is two different things. And to win it the way I did is just amazing to me. To have to birdie in a playoff especially after he hit that shot in there is mind-boggling."

For Williamson, who pulled out many resilient par saves on the back nine to stay in contention, the victory was surely bitter-sweet.  Although he wasn’t able to find his first victory, his $648,000 runner up check dwarfs the $150,000 he has earned thus far on the Nationwide Tour. However, more importantly, his prize money this week gives him special temporary member status on the PGA Tour for the rest of the year – meaning he won’t need to tee it up on the Nationwide Tour next week, and he will be in the field at next week’s Buick Open. "hopefully my performance today will help me maybe get some exemptions down the road. Hopefully I handled myself well and did the types of things that tournaments would want me in their events for, so we’ll see," Williamson said.

Pos Player R1 R2 R3 R4 Tot
1 Hunter Mahan 62 71 67 65 -15
2 Jay Williamson 66 66 67 66 -15
3 Nick O’Hern 67 70 66 66 -11
4 Vijay Singh 68 71 66 65 -10
5 Fred Funk 70 65 67 69 -9
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Morning 9: Gooch: Masters deserves asterisk | LIV’s new streaming deal | Mosquito mayhem

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, as the PGA Tour moves over to the Florida swing, while Anthony Kim looks set to make his stunning return in Jeddah.

1. Gooch: Majors sans LIV golfers deserve asterisk

Brad Clifton and Rohan Clarke for Australian Golf Digest…In an ominous portent to Augusta National, Gooch said: “If Rory McIlroy goes and completes his [Career] Grand Slam without some of the best players in the world, there’s just going to be an asterisk. It’s just the reality. I think everybody wins whenever the majors figure out a way to get the best players in the world there.”

Full piece.

2. “The Match is good again”

Brody Miller’s take for the Athleltic…”Monday night’s version offered a potential vision for this to stay around. Here’s how.”

  • “For starters, the mixed-gender format works. It is a chance to watch golf with a perspective we’re not used to. Women’s golf is booming. The women’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach was a huge moment for the game, seeing these elite women play a historic course we’ve known for decades. And getting to watch these four play a skins game against one another provides context, and context makes golf better.”
  • “Second, the people. The Match needs to be about highlighting certain personalities. Otherwise, it’s just watching mostly forgettable golf with awkward pauses in between as they get from hole to hole. Homa was put on Earth to be in settings like this. His witty digs and dry narrations made this all flow. He made me legitimately laugh out loud multiple times. He constantly needled McIlroy and playfully pretended to flex on Zhang when he tied her on a hole. On one shot out of a bunker, he jumped in the air and confusedly yelled, “I don’t know, fore? Fore?” Multiple times he begged and pleaded for his competitors to give him short putts so he didn’t have to embarrass himself.”
Full piece.

3. $10 million question

James Corrigan for The Telegraph…”He might well be re-emerging as a freak show this week, who could be taking a $10 million insurance gamble to rejoin the circus, but be sure his return would have been big news whether there was a Saudi-funded breakaway league or not.”

  • “Indeed, the myth of Anthony Kim has continued to build with so much fascination over the last decade that any tournament promoter worthy of their publicity department would crave his presence.”
  • “When he burst through those country club gates, Kim – or “AK” as he soon became known – was America’s ‘can’t miss kid’, the country’s first since Tiger Woods. At the time, there was no Dustin Johnson, or Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler or Justin Thomas, or, of course, the next generation led by Collin Morikawa.”
  • “When Kim played in the Texas Open in 2006, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Adam Scott had largely been seen off by the monstrous domination of Woods. Although there was a young Ulsterman by the name of Rory McIlroy threatening to storm the hegemony, here was a 20-year-old with the skill and swagger to at least promise a vibrant future.”
Full piece.

4. Nicklaus, pros keen on PGA National decision

Tom D’Angelo for the Palm Beach Post…”Steve Rintoul, the Tour’s vice president for rules and officiating and the chief referee for the Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches, believes that stretch from the fourth hole to No. 17 without a par 5 was as grinding as any on Tour. So he contacted the man who re-designed the course in 2000 and asked what he thought of converting the 10th hole from a par 4 to a par 5.”

  • “And Jack Nicklaus agreed with the move.”
  • “His reply was, ‘I always thought it was a better par 5 than a par 4,’ ” Rintoul said. “Now we got his blessing.”
  • “Then, after talking with several Tour pros who have either won Cognizant or played the event regularly, the move became official.”
  • “Nobody said, ‘Well, that’s a bad idea,’ ” Rintoul said. “It was an easy sell.”
  • “Now, for the first time since the event moved to PGA National in 2007, it will have three par 5s and become a par 71. The 10th will be lengthened by about 25 yards, playing at 530 yards, and the fairway line will be shifted a bit to the left by about eight yards at the dogleg.”
Full piece.

5. Mosquito mayhem

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…“There could be a record amount of mosquito repellant used on the Korn Ferry Tour this week in Argentina.”

  • “The city of Buenos Aires and its surrounding areas have been dealing with multiple mosquito invasions since the start of the new year, according to the Buenos Aires Times. The most recent swarm hit less than a week ago following another bout of flooding, and multiple videos online show hordes of the flying insects invading city streets, structures, subway stations and more. One video showed what looked like a dark cloud of mosquitoes flying over a road.”
  • “Olivos Golf Club, where the 117 Visa Argentina Open will begin on Thursday, is located about 25 miles north of the capital’s center. Some players who have arrived in Buenos Aires have already reported run-ins with the mosquitoes. Another, Thomas Walsh, posted a video of himself hitting a shot on the range while wearing protective netting over his head and upper body.”
Full piece.

6. Pettersen adds Reid as vice captain

Sky Sports report…”European Solheim Cup skipper Suzann Pettersen has added Mel Reid as a fourth vice-captain for this year’s contest against Team USA in Virginia.”

  • “Englishwoman Reid – a vice-captain to Catriona Matthew in 2019 – will join Dame Laura Davies, Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Martens as deputies when Europe look to retain the trophy in Gainesville between September 13-15, live on Sky Sports.”
Full Piece.

7. LIV’s new streaming deal

Golf Monthly’s Jonny Leighfield…”The LIV Golf League has announced a new broadcast deal with streaming platform, Caffeine to show its live Friday action.”

  • “As well as opening-day coverage being available on the LIV YouTube channel, LIV Golf Plus, and the CW app, fans of the 54-hole competition will now have another option to watch Jon Rahm and co. battle it out.”
Full Piece.

8. ICYMI…Overton set for Cognizant start

Tom D’Angelo for Palm Beach Post…”It’s been a long road back for former U.S. Ryder Cup member Jeff Overton, but the Palm Beach Gardens resident will have a short drive this week to continue that journey.”

  • “Overton was one of three players to earn a spot in this week’s Cognizant Classic in the Palm Beaches when the 40-year-old Monday qualified with a 6-under 66 at the Tesoro Club.”
  • “It feels great, but it will feel even greater if I can continue this thing,” said Overton, who was sidelined from the game for five years with a serious infection after back surgery in 2017.
Full Piece.

9. 2024 Cognizant Classic photos

  • Check out all of our galleries from this week’s event!
Full Piece.
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Morning 9: Rory wins Match | Return of the Kim | Rahm hasn’t heard from Tiger

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as the PGA Tour moves over to the Florida swing, while Anthony Kim looks set to make his stunning return in Jeddah.

1. Return of the Kim (presumably)

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach…”Anthony Kim, who last played in a professional golf tournament nearly a dozen years ago, will apparently return to competition at this week’s LIV Golf League event in Saudi Arabia.”

  • “Kim, 38, is expected to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah tournament, scheduled to start Friday at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City. Kim is expected to play as a wildcard, meaning he will compete in the individual competition, but his scores won’t count in the team event.”
  • “LIV Golf League CEO and commissioner Greg Norman teased Kim’s comeback in a post to X on Monday, in which he shared a video from LIV Golf’s account that appeared to feature Kim walking down a fairway.”
Full piece.

2. Rory comes out on top in The Match

ESPN staff…”The Match IX introduced a mixed-gender format that saw Rory McIlroy and Max Homa represent the PGA, while Lexi Thompson and Rose Zhang represented the LPGA.”

  • “McIlroy came out on top in his second appearance at the made-for-TV charity golf event, winning 10 skins between 12 holes and the sudden-death closest-to-the-pin competition to earn $2.4 million for charity.”
  • “I’ve played pretty well tonight and hit some pretty good shots,” McIlroy said. “Hopefully that carries over into the next few days as well.”
  • “Thompson finished second with two skins that secured $200,000 for charity. Homa and Zhang did not win a skin.”
Full piece.

3. Supermarket delivery driver wins ‘life-changing’ sum with T2 finish at Kenya Open

BBC report…”Joe Dean, the world number 2,930 and part-time delivery driver, has won a “life-changing” prize of £170,000 by finishing runner-up at the Kenya Open.”

  • “The Englishman, who scraped on to the DP World Tour through qualifying, finished joint second behind Darius van Driel in Nairobi.”
  • “Dean, who works a delivery driver for Morrisons supermarket, carded a closing four-under-par 67 to finish 12 under.”
  • “It’s got to be [life changing]. It’s what people dream of,” said Dean.
Full piece.

4. Why Sami didn’t get a drop

Brentley Romine for NBC Sports…”The two shots happened three days apart, but some people watching the Mexico Open couldn’t help but notice the commonalities between Sami Valimaki’s wayward drive on the 72nd hole that ended up nestled against a metal boundary fence and a provisional drive by S.H. Kim on the same hole Thursday that settled in a similar lie.”

  • “However, while Kim received a free drop, Valimaki did not…
  • “Here is the explanation from the PGA Tour rules committee:
  • “In Sami’s case, it was clearly unreasonable for him to play a stroke. The exception to Rule 16.1 applies.”
  • Here’s that verbiage: There is no relief under Rule 16.1 when playing the ball as it lies would be clearly unreasonable because of something from which the player is not allowed to take free relief (such as when a player is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush), or when interference exists only because a player chooses a club, type of stance or swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances.
Full piece.

5. Rahm: Tiger hasn’t talked to me since I joined LIV

Our Matt Vincenzi…”When Jon Rahm joined LIV golf, it sent shockwaves throughout the world of professional golf and changed the landscape of the game as we know it.”

  • “The reigning Masters champion took a large sum of money to start his own team on LIV, “Legion XIII”.
  • “While speaking with ESPN’s Marty Smith, the Spaniard revealed that he reached out to arguably the two biggest names in golf after his decision, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.”
  • “Rory was supportive of Rahm and has even said he wants to make sure Rahm can continue to play on the European Ryder Cup team as well.”
  • …”When Rahm was asked if he’d heard from Tiger, he shared that he had not.
  • “Tiger? No, not really, I mean, Tiger, I texted him and the people that try to reach out, you know, the process, when I signed and I just let him know, ‘Hey, you know, this is a personal decision.’ I think he’s [too] busy enough to be talking to me.”
Full piece.

6. Who our betting expert is tipping this week

Check out the full piece to see who else should be on your card, but Matt Vincenzi likes Cameron Young this week at 22-1…”Cameron Young has yet to break out with a PGA Tour win, but PGA National is a good course for the former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year to showcase his elite driving ability. In his past 24 rounds, Young ranks 1st in Total Driving.”

  • “PGA National isn’t the longest course, but with water lurking everywhere, it helps to hit approach shots with higher lofted clubs. Bombers such as Rory McIlroy, Keith Mitchell, and Brooks Koepka have thrived at the course in the recent years, and Young could look to replicate their play style here.”
  • “Young has had a strong start to his 2024 season, finishing in a tie for 8th at TPC Scottsdale and a tie for 16th at Riviera. In those two starts, he gained significant strokes on the field both off the tee and on approach. He also finished 16th in his debut at the Honda Classic in 2022. With two additional top-13 finishes at Bay Hill, the 26-year-old has shown he likes playing in Florida.”
  • “With the fields in 2024 weaker than in recent seasons, Young is one of the best players teeing it up this week and has the talent to come out on top.”
Full Piece.

7. 2024 Cognizant Classic photos

  • Check out all of our galleries from this week’s event!
Full Piece.
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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2024 Cognizant Classic

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GolfWRX is on site this week at the Cognizant Classic —FKA the Honda Classic.

The first leg of the PGA Tour’s traditional “Florida swing,” the Cognizant Classic continues to be contested at PGA National’s Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, host course of the 1983 Ryder Cup and 1987 PGA Championship. The course is known for its famed “Bear Trap,” a three-hole stretch of holes that take their name from Jack “The Golden Bear” Nicklaus, who redesigned the course in 2002.

The Bear Trap includes No. 15 (a par 3), No. 16 (a par 4), and No. 17 (a par 4). All three holes involve water and have led to several big numbers from Tour players over the years.

Check out an assortment of general galleries, WITBs, and pullout albums below.

We’ll continue to update the galleries as more photos flow in from Florida!

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

See what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums.

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