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Tour Rundown: Saki’s rout | From W to Z | Magic for Maja

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The world’s golfing viators feel their seasons winding down, just as folks in the northern hemisphere sense that summer is coming to a close. This time of year brings not the magical moments that the majors bring. Instead, it feels real, because touring competitiors save and lose their jobs, gain promotions, just as we do. 2022 has been a lightning rod of a year for professional golf. It’s only two-thirds over by calendar standards, but playoffs have arrived and the end is nigh for complete fan focus.

With that in mind, let’s turn our attention to five events that held our gaze on the world’s tours, and congratulate Saki Baba and Monet Chun on reaching the finals of the USGA Women’s Amateur. Baba turned in a timeless performance to defeat the pride of Canada, and win a second USGA title for Japan.

PGA Tour: FedEx Cup Playoffs Round One: FedEx St. Jude goes from W to Z

Will Zalatoris and Cameron Young, past teammates at Wake Forest, have waged a spirited battle to determine which one would earn a PGA Tour title first. This tussle was not reserved for regular tour events. The two have finished top-three in all four majors, and had come up just shy of the champion’s flag. That ended this week, as Zalatoris claimed a first professional win on the top shelf of the world’s tours.

The FedEx Cup playoffs elaborate over three weeks in August. Stop one was in the company’s hometown of Memphis, and Sepp Straka gave a heck of a performance over 75 holes. The Austrian-by-way-of-Georgia was near the lead for the entire event. His opening 64 stood him two back of the leaders, and his Friday 66 brought him closer. He and JJ Spaun played the final round together. Spaun had a day to forget, tumbling 41 spots from the top with a 78. Straka hung tough, and had a putt to win on the 72nd hole. It missed, and he entered a playoff with Zalatoris.

On Will’s side of the drama, his opening 71 gave him ground to make up, and he did so over the next 53 holes. 63, followed by 65 and 66, brought him event with Straka at 15-under par, three clear of third place. The two marched off to a playoff that lasted three holes. Play loosened, as the strain of the week became clear. At the third playoff hole, both hit from the drop zone on the par three 11th after less than stellar tee shots. Zalatoris was able to get up and down for bogey, and that was enough to defeat his overtime opponent.

LPGA/Ladies European Tour: Handa World Invitational is magic for Maja

One of those Why Don’t We Do This More Often events took place in Northern Ireland this week, at a castle, no less. The LPGA and Ladies European tours joined together to host an event over the same course as a simultaneous, DP World Tour event. It may have been a crowded affair, but it was interesting and exciting with room to spare.

Amanda Doherty of the USA played stellar golf over the first two days, and surged into the lead at 134. Her weekend rounds could only match par each day, and the young American dropped away from the lead, into a tie for 8th position with compatriot Lauren Stephenson.

Surging up the charts over the final 36 was Sweden’s Maja Stark. Lurking five behind Doherty at the midway mark, Stark posted 69 on saturday to move within two shots. On Sunday, Stark went into orbit, racing past all challengers with a sublime 63. Ten birdies over the par-73 course at Galgorm Castle sent Magic Maja five shots clear of runner-up Alisen Corpuz of the USA. The victory was Stark’s fifth on the European circuit, but first with LPGA sanctioning.

DP World Tour: Handa World Invitational a battle of two Scotsmen

The top of the board had full occupancy as day four began at the Handa World Invitational. American John Catlin was among the leaders, but he could not keep pace and slipped to a tie for 13th with a last-day 73. What ensued, was a battle of two Scots, with Ewen Ferguson and Connor Syme waging a contest for bragging rights and baubles.

To be sure, there were others involved. Spain’s Borja Virto closed with 68 to tie for second position, three behind the leader. Italy’s Renato Paratore posted 64 on day four, to tie for fourth with two others. Ferguson and Syme caught our attention, and not unearned  was it. Ferguson’s week began with a two-eagle round of 61, and as all aficionados know, keeping the lead over four days is not often an achievable task. His stumble came on Friday, with 70, but he followed with 68-69 into the weekend.

The chore for Syme was to chase the sprinter down. He was one of two golfers to post four rounds in the 60s this week, but for most of the day, he was not up to the task of catching the leader. Syme’s first ten holes were a struggle, with bogeys (three) outnumbering birdies (two). It was only the final quartet of holes (where he played three-under par) that Syme was able to make Ferguson concentrate a bit more.

The victory was Ferguson’s second of the year and career, and came five months after his initial win in Qatar.

Korn Ferry Tour: Pinnacle Bank is second of season for Shelton

Remember what we said about the Real quotient of late-season golf? It was evident on the Korn Ferry Tour this week. The PBC was the final, pre-playoffs event on the schedule, and that meant that the top 25 golfers on the money list come Sunday evening, would depart for the PGA Tour in a few months. Kevin Roy goes to the show for the first time in his journey, and Michael Kim returns after a six-spot climb in Nebraska. The heartbreak for Brandon Harkins and Ryan McCormick, who each came up a few thousand dollars shy of glory, is eased by a second opportunity to ascend, during the three-week playoff series.

Back to the heartland of America. Shelton was out in 31 on Sunday, to thrust his name into contention for win number two in 2022. Attempting to chase him down were the aforementioned Kim, Ben Taylor of England, and a bask of other crocodiles. It was Taylor who would come closest to an overtake, His Saturday 62 was the week’s low round, but his Sunday back nine harvested just one birdie. In the end, he would finish at 16-under par, in solo second.

Shelton was up to the task. A toe-stub bogey at ten was followed by birdies at 12 and 15. The later pushed Shelton to 17-under par, and he would navigate his way to port in even par, to secure a slim, one-shot win over Taylor.

PGA Tour Champions: Boeing Classic is charming third of 2022 for Jiménez

Billy Andrade was recognized recently with the 2022 Payne Stewart award for charitable work. On Sunday in Washington, he faced a challenge for a different sort of prize. The Rhode Island native was matched with Spain’s sartorial Miguel Ángel Jiménez over the final 18 holes at Snoqualmie. Each stood at 134, but only one would lift the champion’s bounty.

Unfortunately for Andrade, this day would not be his. birdies were offset by bogeys, and he dropped two slots, into a tie for third place. Jiménez fared much better. His five-under 67 was enough to hold off a charging David McKenzie of Australia. The later scribbled six birdies and twelve pars on his final-round scorecard, but his 66 was only enough to earn solo second. The day belonged to the Canarian, who doubtless celebrated his third win of the season with a fine cigar and a nice glass of Spanish Rioja.

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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 Rundown: Canadian Thanksgiving arrives early at Sanderson Farms | Fox, Hull

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Out in Mesquite, Nevada, on October 1st,  Martin Borgmeier won the Pro Long Drive 2022 Open Division championship with a blast of 426 yards. Quite the achievement for the German long-drive specialist, and certainly something that flies not quite on the pro golf radar. You have to wonder when the world tours will figure out a way to leverage the sideshow and main events and create even greater content for golf fans. For now, we have four events to run down from the past two weeks, and we’ll explain all about that as we move through four of the world’s great tours. Let’s have an October Rundown, whaddayasay?

PGA Tour: Canadian Thanksgiving arrives early at Sanderson Farms

It seems like forever since we’ve seen overtime in professional golf. We watched the Packers and the Patriots do battle in an extra session on Sunday evening, but golf has gone a few weeks since a good, old-fashioned, playoff. Thanks to Sepp Straka and Mackenzie Hughes, we were gifted some bonus golf in Jackson, Mississippi.

Both Straka and Hughes finished round four at 17-under par. Straka began the day two shots behind Mark Hubbard, with Hughes starting one back of the lead. Hubbard struggled on day four, ultimately finishing in a tie for fifth after 74. Straka notched six birdies on his scorecard, against one bogey, to move up two spots in the standings. Hughes posted four birdies of his own, against a solitary hiccough, and away the pair went to the 18th tee. After pars the first pass through, the duo returned to the final tee deck for a second crack at a resolution.

With light dwindling, both players found the fairway. From 164 yards, Hughes sent an iron skyward, landing it about fifteen feet right of the hole. Straka’s approach, from a bit closer, drew a bit past the stick and released to the side fringe, about 25 feet distant. Straka’s putt had great weight, but drifted left at the end. Hughes lined up his putt and delivered a dagger to the center of the hole. Canadian Thanksgiving had, indeed, arrived ahead of schedule.

DP World Tour: Dunhill Links is Fox’s second win of 2022

There’s is something Hoganesque about the career trajectory of New Zealand’s Ryan Fox. The 35-year old didn’t claim a major-tour title until his 32nd year, and that came in the Super Six (a great event if there ever was one) in Perth, in 2019. Fast forward to 2022, post pandemic, and Fox claims a second DPWT title, this time in United Arab Emirates, in February. Now it’s October, where the trees are bare of all they wear. Fox finds himself in the Kingdom of Golf, in the auld towne itself, St. Andrews. On Saturday at Kingsbarns, Fox posted a stellar 65, but still found himself chasing the leader, Richard Mansell. On Sunday at the Old Course, Fox had his stumbles, but found seven birdies around the loop to post a 64. When Mansell closed with 76, Fox had an unexpected, one-shot triumph over England’s Callum Shinkwin and Sweden’s Alex Noren.

LPGA: The Ascendant is second stateside win for Charley

England’s Charley Hull claimed her first LPGA win in 2016, at the Tour Championship. No one anticipated that six years would pass before trophy number two found its way to her hands. On Sunday, Hull stared down Lydia Ko, Xiyu Lin, and a host of other birdie machines, and eaked out a one-shot win at The Colony, in Texas.

Hull had taken over the lead on Friday, on the strength of a 64. Her two-shot advantage over Lin went away on Saturday, when she posted her highest round of the week, a 71. Knowing that low was the order of the day on Sunday, Hull began her march early. Four birdies in the first seven holes gave her the lead, but a bogey at the eighth brought a halt to thoughts of an early coronation. Hull regrouped on the inward half, ran off three birdies from 12 through 14, followed by another at 17. It was a good thing that she did.

Intent on chasing her down, Hiyu Lin closed in furious fashion. A birdie at 13 was followed by a birdie-eagle stretch at 16-17, and the lead was but one. Needing birdie at the last, Lin could only manage par, and the title went home with Hull.

PGA Tour Champions: PURE Insurance Championship to Flesch

Tour Champions was off this week, before resuming its schedule in Jacksonville, Florida. Last week, the PURE Championship along the Monterey Peninsula in California hosted junior amateurs from across the country. The First Tee saw these representatives paired with the senior professionals, and both sides of the age meter put on quite a show. Paul Stankowski and Ken Duke, both journeymen with a few titles on their resumes, shared the lead after 36 holes. With everyone at Pebble Beach for the final round, the playing field was level.

Making runs at the title were Ernie Els (64 for -10), Steven Alker (69 for same) and Stankowski (70 to tie the first two.) Facing a seven-feet birdie putt at the last for 68 and minus-eleven was portsider Steve Flesch. We wouldn’t be writing about him if he didn’t make it, and the lefty drained the curving putt to lock up another Tour Champions title.

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Team USA retains 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow

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The host team from all across America recovered from a lackluster Saturday. It put on a singles show on Sunday, winning 6.5 of 12 points from Team World. The final tally at the 2022 Presidents Cup was 17.5 to 12.5 for the Red, White, and Blue. There were two sides to this presidential coin, however. Days one and two saw Team World dig an inescapable hole, dropping eight of ten points. Days three and four saw the two teams play essentially even. Despite a few premature obituaries from some of our celebrated golf pundits, the Presidents Cup is alive and well. 2024 sees the tournament reach Canada for the first time, at the Royal Montreal Golf Club. Chances are that it will feel like a home game for the USA, unless the locals spike the poutine. That event is two years off, however, so let’s have one last look at the Sunday Singles, courtesy of my Saturday evening predictions.

Correct ~ Match One: Justin Thomas vs. Si Woo Kim

Si Woo says See-You to JT and Team World gets to 8-11

Did I know that Justin Thomas would demonstrate ignorance by conceding himself a putt? Nay. I just had a feeling that this battle of Players Champions would fall to the South Korean juggernaut. Thomas was two-up at the turn, but lost 10 and 11 to fall back to even. To their credit, both players went for broke, and the final seven holes saw five outright wins. Kim banged home a birdie at the last to eke out a 1-up victory.

Incorrect ~ Match Two: Spieth vs. Davis

Cam Davis dispatches Spieth and it’s now a two-point affair

This was the must-have match for Team World, and Cam Davis came out like he understood the plan. Wins at the first two holes had Jordan Spieth on the ropes, but the Texan responded like Spieth. His putter ignited with volcanic heat, and he proceeded to make nearly everything he looked at on the frog hair. Spieth squared the match at the fifth, fell behind at the eighth, and squared again at the ninth. On the inward side, he turned out the lights. A birdie-birdie-birdie-par run from 11 to 14 gave him a 4-up lead, and he sealed the deal with a par at the 15th.

Correct ~ Match Three: Burns vs. Matsuyama

Burns and Hideki trade 14 birdies and end up tied. 9.5 to 11.5

Well, it was only eight birdies, and Hideki even won a hole with a bogey. In the end, he almost pulled a Jordan Spieth out of his hat, with a chip-in at the last. The ball stayed out and the match stayed even. Do you know how hard it is to predict a tied match? Pretty hard!

Incorrect ~ Match Four: Cantlay vs. Scott

Another massive upset, as one-major beats none-major and Team World is just one back.

Adam Scott’s point was also a necessary one, but pars weren’t going to get it done against Captain Cantlay. The American went out in one-under par, and somehow built a two-up advantage over Scott’s even par. How does match play work again? Oh, right, like that. On the back nine, Scott did his level-best to strike, but he is no longer the Adam Scott of old, the major champion. Cantlay’s golf was equally uninspired, and the match ended at 3 & 2, after both players made par at the 16th.

Correct ~ Match Five: Scheffler vs. Muñoz

Colombia’s pride does some accordion-inspired Vallenato all the way to a personal Encanto, and the
game is tied!

Scottie Scheffler had a whale of a 2022. His first win and first major win, and the world number-one ranking all reached his doorstep. To allow him a week of exhaustion is just fine, but let’s not minimize the effort put forth by SebMu. The Colombian watched his opponent win three of the first six holes and jump out to a two-up lead. Muñoz won eight, nine, and ten, to flip the script. From there on out, he was rock-solid and claimed a much-needed point for the visiting side.

Correct ~ Match Six: Finau vs. Pendrith

Tony Two-Step takes down Maple Leaf One to stem the international tide. It’s 12.5-11.5 for the hosts.

It was a rotten week for the Maple Leaf. Pendrith couldn’t do much as a partner to anyone, and he had no answer for Finau’s finesse over the closing stretch of holes. Finau followed up a successful individual season with a strong team performance. He’ll look back on 2022 and smile.

Incorrect ~ Match Seven: Schauffele vs. Conners

Corey Conners vindicates Taylor Pendrith, and Team Canada scores one for the globe. Tied again.

These guys played some rotten golf over the first nine holes, at +2 and even par. They followed that up with more rotten golf on the inward half, posting matching even-par totals. It was an uninspired match that fell to the USA side. A point that could have kept Team World in the equation, somehow got away. Hopefully Conners will learn and grow, and be a grizzly bear in Montreal, in two-years time.

Incorrect ~ Match Eight: Young vs. Im

Cameron Young wins because he and I are both Demon Deacons, and that is all that needs to be said.
13.5-12.5

Easily my least-logical and most-emotional prophecy was … almost correct. Young rolled out of bed on the fourth tee and found himself three down, after three consecutive bogeys. From there, the legend of Sleepy Hollow gritted his teeth and ground his way back to even, by the eighth hole. A dogfight ensued, with Im winning two holes, and Young but one, down the home stretch. Still, #GoDeacs.

Incorrect ~ Match Nine: KH Lee vs. BillyHo

OK, back to cloudy logic. Billy Horschel is a grinder, and he finds a way to split his match with KH
Lee. 14 to 13 with two matches left.

Sorry, no video on this one. Go figure. Horschel was plus-two on the day when he conceeded the 17th hole to KH Lee, and his match went to the Korean by a tally of 3 & 1. Lee was one-under on the day, so by this juncture, we can conclude one of the following: Quail Hollow was an absolute bear on day four, or the teams were absolutely exhausted.

Incorrect ~ Match Ten: Homa vs. Tom Kim

There is a reason that this match is so late. Homa and Kim find three eagles and ten birdies around
the course, and TK delivers a TKO and squares the matches.

Max Homa has remade his persona. From Captain Twitter, the Californian just might become the next Captain America. Homa had a taste of international team play at the 2013 Walker Cup at National Golf Links of America. Now, the lad looks like he is here to stay. A team without Homa is like a day without … victories. Tom Kim tossed everything he had at the Burbank bombardier, and it just wasn’t enough. It was another one of those last-hole losses that doomed the visiting squad.

Incorrect ~ Match Eleven: Morikawa vs. Pereira

Morikawa has a PGA Champinship, while Pereira came oh-so-close at Southern Hill. The tables turn
and the pride of Chile outlasts the two-time major winner. For the first time, Team World takes the
lead.

Another upset special that didn’t pan out. We finally saw some electric golf on Sunday. Morikawa had three birdies, one eagle, and five pars on the outward half, and poor Pereira could just stand there and shake his head. Mito was one-under himself, but was three-down in the match. He went four-down at the 10th to another Morikawa birdie, and the end was in sight. The match finished 3 & 2 for the American, as he notched his sixth birdie on the day at hole 16.

Incorrect ~ Match Twelve: Kisner vs. Bezuidenhout

Kisner, the match-play specialist, faces the grittiest, South African golfer ever. The Christiaan with two As makes one ace in the final match, ties Kisner, and wins the Presidents Cup for Team Globe.

Another one with no video, so we’ll try to paint you a picture. You know, a thousand words are worth a picture, or something like that. I think that we’ve read the last of Kevin Kisner is a match play god and he should be on international teams. He might be that at the Dell, but he ain’t that with a team USA kit on. Bezuidenhout played even-par golf through 17 holes, essentially daring Kisner to out-duel him. Didn’t happen, and CBez snared a point for Team World.

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Five Things We Learned: Day Three of the 2022 Presidents Cup

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A funny thing happened on the way to the rout: orange pylons went up and the route to the rout was closed for repairs. Team World said, in its collective language, NOT TODAY. With eight points up for grabs, and the potential for Team USA to win the match with one day left, Team World won six of eight matches and closed the gap to four points. Can I get an Amen, or a holla, or at least a dab? In Friday’s installment of #FiveThingsWeLearned, it was suggested by an astute and prescient writer that this may not be a done deal. Well, heading into Sunday, it ain’t. Let’s get to the five things we learned on Saturday, in Charlotte, at Quail Hollow, of the 2022 Presidents Cup.

1. Scott and Matsuyama finally put on their green capes, errr, jackets

Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama had been all but invisible through 48 hours of the Presidents Cup. In their morning match with the formidable pairing of Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young, Scott and Matsuyama jumped out to a 2-hole deficit through eight holes, and looked to be on their way to another loss. The de-facto team leaders decided that enough was enough, and turned things around. The International pair won five consecutive holes from 9 to 13, and seized a three-up lead that they would not relinquish. Gobsmacked, Morikawa and Young had no answer, and a point went to the visiting side.

2. If not for Thomas and Spieth, these matches are tied

Say what you will or won’t about the American duo, they get the job done. Four matches, four outright wins. On Saturday, with Team World rallying, Spieth and Thomas knocked off Sungjae Im and Corey Conners by 4 & 3 in the morning, then returned after lunch to dispatch Hideki Matsuyama and Taylor Pendrith by the same tally. In case folks aren’t paying attention, foursomes and four-ball are in no way, shape, or form, similar. They require different skill sets and partner interactions, but you’d never know it with these two guys. Unless both get knocked off on Sunday, however, Team World won’t have a chance to steal a cup.

3. Patty Ice and Professor X disappear on day three

Inexplicably, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele sat down in Saturday’s morning foursomes, despite a 6 & 5 foursomes skunking of Scott and Matsuyama on day one. Head-scratcher, am I right? The pair returned in the afternoon to face the Kim brothers (not really, just playing) Si Woo and Tom, but could not recapture their earlier spark. And yet … the American pair had a two-up lead at the 11th hole, when Tom Kim buried a massive putt for eagle to thrust a dagger home. Si Woo won two more holes coming home, and then Tom etched a birdie into the 18th green to steal a one-up win from the USA stalwarts. Wow, just and simply wow.

4. A new Cam has begun

Forget the mullet and the 1970s, B-Movie stache guy. Cam Davis is a guy on the move. After receiving a morning smack-down with Si Woo Kim, at the hands of Tony Finau (sorry, Michael Kim) and Max Homa, Davis regrouped with Aussie mate Adam Scott. Locked in a tight match with the SEC duo of Billy Horschel and Sam Burns, Davis closed eagle-birdie-birdie, and turned a one-down situation into a one-up victory. Instead of being down 6-12, Davis’ squad now has but 4.5 points to make up on Sunday.

5. How the Sunday Singles will shake out

Match One: Justin Thomas vs. Si Woo Kim

Si Woo says See-You to JT and Team World gets to 8-11

Match Two: Spieth vs. Davis

Cam Davis dispatches Spieth and it’s now a two-point affair

Match Three: Burns vs. Matsuyama

Burns and Hideki trade 14 birdies and end up tied. 9.5 to 11.5

Match Four: Cantlay vs. Scott

Another massive upset, as one-major beats none-major and Team World is just one back.

Match Five: Scheffler vs. Muñoz

Colombia’s pride does some accordion-inspired Vallenato all the way to a personal Encanto, and the
game is tied!

Match Six: Finau vs. Pendrith

Tony Two-Step takes down Maple Leaf One to stem the international tide. It’s 12.5-11.5 for the hosts.

Match Seven: Schauffele vs. Conners

Corey Conners vindicates Taylor Pendrith, and Team Canada scores one for the globe. Tied again.

Match Eight: Young vs. Im

Cameron Young wins because he and I are both Demon Deacons, and that is all that needs to be said.
13.5-12.5

Match Nine: KH Lee vs. BillyHo

OK, back to cloudy logic. Billy Horschel is a grinder, and he finds a way to split his match with KH
Lee. 14 to 13 with two matches left.

Match Ten: Homa vs. Tom Kim

There is a reason that this match is so late. Homa and Kim find three eagles and ten birdies around
the course, and TK delivers a TKO and squares the matches.

Match Eleven: Morikawa vs. Pereira

Morikawa has a PGA Champinship, while Pereira came oh-so-close at Southern Hill. The tables turn
and the pride of Chile outlasts the two-time major winner. For the first time, Team World takes the
lead.

Match Twelve: Kisner vs. Bezuidenhout

Kisner, the match-play specialist, faces the grittiest, South African golfer ever. The Christiaan with two As makes one ace in the final match, ties Kisner, and wins the Presidents Cup for Team Globe.

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