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Tour Rundown: Henderson, Rahm, and Perez hoist trophies

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Four tournaments featured during January’s middle week. The LPGA and the Champions Tour opened their seasons, while the DP World Tour celebrated its first individual event, on the heels of last week’s Hero Cup team competition. The PGA tour moved stateside, after two bucolic weeks in Hawaii, and reached the California desert to inaugurate a five-week stretch in the American southwest.

LPGA: Henderson opens 2023 with a title

Brooke Henderson, the pride of Smith Falls (and most of) Canada, made an equipment switch in the off season. Moving from Ping to Taylor Made, the 12-time champion is now a 13-time champion, thanks to a four-shot win in Orlando. Henderson led from start to finish, after opening 67-66. Her final two rounds were 69-70, and they were good enough to hold off Maja Stark and Charley Hull by a quartet of strokes.

No golfer was able to stitch a pair of low weekend rounds together. Nasa Hataoka posted 66 on Saturday; another on Sunday would have put her one beyond Henderson’s 16-under tally. Instead, the Japanese star stumbled to 74. 68 was the low number on Sunday, just two better than the winner’s total. No comebacks were in the cards on day four, and Henderson wasn’t giving anything back to the field.

PGA Tour: Rahm proves again that he’s the best in the game right now

Jon Rahm gave a clinic on how to hold onto a lead without having your best game at La Quinta. The grand Basque played the inward half on Sunday in one stroke under par, but it was that birdie at the 16th that put his final challengers away. Davis Thompson and Taylor Montgomery, among others, threw everything they had at the big Iberian, but Rahm refused to wilt. Montgomery faded away to solo fifth, while Xander Schauffele put the finishing touch on a stellar 62 that vaulted him into a tie for third with Chris Kirk.

The show came down to the final pairing of Rahm and Thompson. At the last, Rahm found himself in a fairway bunker off the tee. His approach was crisp, settling inside twenty feet, below the hole. Fighting adrenalin, Davis Thompson flew his approach beyond the hole at the 18th, into a swale. His birdie pitch had the proper pace, but was two inches wide right. He tapped in for par and finished at 26-under par, alone in second place. Rahm calmly putted twice from about 18 feet, and clinched his second victory in three weeks.

One day, when Davis Thompson wins his first tournament, he may do so with lessons learned from the day when he nearly eclipsed the game’s biggest name.

DP World Tour: Perez makes case for Ryder Cup team with Abu Dhabi win

Victor Perez began the week with a 71, and found himself a stout, six shots behind leader Jason Scrivener. Each day, Perez chipped away at those in front of him, ultimately clawing to one shot behind Francesco Molinari with one round to play. Molinari, buoyed by his Continental team’s win last week at the Hero Cup, looked for all the world a winner. His final-round 71 undid his fine work, relegating him to a tie for fifth with Alex Noren.

Among the top three golfers, none distinguished himself over the closing holes. Sebastian Soderberg reached 17-deep with three holes to play, but could not find one more birdie. Min Woo Lee stood one behind Perez on the 17th tee, but made bogey at the par three. His closing birdie moved him into a tie for second, but no higher. Even Perez stumbled home. His birdie at 17 was followed by a bogey at the last, but with a two-shot advantage, bogey was enough.

You might wonder why we haven’t mentioned Perez’ inexplicable bunker shot on penultimate hole. Trust us: you have to see it (below) to believe it. The win was Perez’ third on tour. It doesn’t qualify him as a lock for the European side of the Ryder Cup, but it does firmly seat him in the equation. If he keeps up this level of play, he’ll feature in Rome in late September of this year.

PGA Tour Champions: Stricker rides 60 to 12th Champions title

If you ever wondered how good these guys are, lesson one is in the books. After a few-months layoff, Steve Stricker rebounded from a first-round 68 with 12 birdies on Saturday. No, he didn’t make any bogies. Yes, he made six pars. That round of 60 gave him a three-shot advantage over Darren Clarke. Sure, Clarke had a chance on Sunday, as did a bunch of other guys. Stricker made sure that their chance was short-lived, and closed with 65 to eliminate all suspense.

Over the course of 54 holes, the champion made exactly one bogey in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. That blip came on the fifth hole on Thursday (round one) and didn’t set well with the pride of Wisconsin. Stricker played the next 49 holes without a misstep, and finished the week at 23-under par. Tied for second at 17-deep were Clarke, Steven Alker and his new Sub 70 clubs,  Ken Tanigama and Mike Weir. Alker’s day-three 63 was low for the orbit, but was never going to gain ground against that Stricker 65. The TC resumes in two-weeks time in Morocco.

 

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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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Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2023 Farmers Insurance Open

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Driver: Titleist TSR3 (10 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Black 65 TX

3-wood: Titleist TSR3 (16.5 degrees, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue TR 8 X

7-wood: Titleist TSR2 (21 degrees, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 9 TX

Irons: Titleist T100S (4), T100 (5), Titleist 620 MB (6-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour $-Taper 130 X

Wedges: Vokey Design SM9 (46-10F, 50-12F, 56-14F, 60-04L)
Shafts: KBS TOUR $-Taper 130 X (46), KBS Hi Rev 2.0 125 S (56-60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron T-5.5 prototype

Ball: 2023 Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

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Morning 9: Ryder in front at Torrey | McIlroy-Reed showdown in Dubai? | Anthony Kim return talk

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 27, 2023

Good Friday morning, golf fans.

1. Ryder leads Farmers by 3

AP report…”Sam Ryder extended his lead to three shots in the Farmers Insurance Open with a 4-under 68 in challenging wind in the second round Thursday on Torrey Pines’ South Course while Jon Rahm had an eagle and three straight birdies late in his 5-under 67 on the easier North Course to get under the cut line.”

  • “Ryder survived both the Santa Ana wind and the tougher South Course with just one bogey to reach 12-under 132 and take a three-stroke lead over Brendan Steele, who shot a 70 on the South Course. Tano Goya was two more shots back after a 67 on the North Course.”
  • “The Santa Ana wind blowing out of the desert and down the mountains raked the course most of the day, with gusts up to 30 mph. It sent leaves, branches and even a tumbleweed onto greens, and cardboard trash cans tumbling down hillsides.”
Full piece.

2. Rahm rallies for Farmers cut

Ryan Young for Yahoo…”For a long time on Thursday, it looked as if Jon Rahm’s hot streak was over.”

  • “Thankfully for the Spaniard, his quest for a third win in three starts is still alive.”
  • “Rahm snuck past the cut on Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open, thanks largely to a huge eagle on his back nine after struggling through the first round and a half at Torrey Pines in San Diego.”
  • “He’s at 4-under for the week, eight shots back of the lead, with the projected cut at even par.”
Full piece.

3. In Dubai, potential McIlroy-Reed showdown shaping up?

4. Reed-McIlroy frostiness thawing?

James Corrigan for the Telegraph…”Without McIlroy’s generous advice, Reed would have been at Majlis Course six hours before he needed to be.”

  • “I woke up at 5am and was on my way to get a car to get here for my 7.40am tee-off time,” Reed explained. “I hadn’t seen that play had been suspended while they got all the water off the course after the storms. But when we were on steps of the hotel where we are both staying, Rory came up and said ‘you don’t have to go yet, we aren’t playing for a while’. ‘Ok, thanks,’ I said.”
  • “So, I went back to bed. It’s nice to think that this means that it’s all good again between me and Rory, but I was with my caddie and coach at the time, so he might have been telling them. Yet I’ve taken it as a little victory. It was nice to move on from all that today. I’ve seen they’ve labelled it ‘Teegate’, as if it was an assassination or something. It was built out of all proportion.”
Full piece.

5. Talking an Anthony Kim return in the New York Times

Our Matt Vincenzi…Despite having not played in over a decade, the golf world has an obsession with former PGA Tour star, Anthony Kim.

“Kim shined at the 2008 Ryder Cup, earning 2.5 points in the event which was tied for the second-best performance on the U.S. side. “AK” played with Phil Mickelson in fourball and was the first man out in Sunday singles matches where he defeated Sergio Garcia 5&4. At the time of the Ryder Cup, Kim was the number 10 ranked player in the world as a Tour rookie. He went on to win three times on Tour from 2008-2010.”

  • “After a New York Times piece on the fascinating story of Anthony Kim, he’s found himself back in the headlines.”
  • “According to Kim’s former caddie Eric Larson, the now 37-year-old hasn’t ruled out a return to the game. Larson had a recent phone call with Kim and asked if he’d be open to a deal with LIV Golf.”
  • “Larson told the New York Times, “He goes, ‘I don’t know. I really don’t know.’” Larson said. “I said, ‘Come on, man, get the old clubs out. Go out there and have some fun.’ And he starts laughing at me. He goes, ‘That’s what everybody wants me to do!’”
  • “Also in the piece was a quote from AK’s longtime swing coach Adam Schriber who said Kim still has “the same swing you remember”, after playing with him twice over the past two years.”
Full piece.
7. PGA Show

  • Check out all our photos from Orlando, below.
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Morning 9: Teegate | Rahmpage | JT on Saturday finish | PGA Show

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 25, 2023

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. It’s day 1 of the PGA Show in Orlando. Stay tuned to the front page, forums, and our social channels.

1. Teegate

Brian Keogh for the Irish Independent…”Patrick Reed threw a tee at Rory McIlroy in disgust after the world number one appeared to ignore his efforts to say hello at the Emirates Golf Club, according to reports.”

  • “The former Masters champion, who has moved to LIV Golf but continues to play DP World Tour events until an arbitration case being held in the UK in a fortnight decides on the Tour’s ability to suspend the rebels, saluted McIlroy’s caddie Harry Diamond without incident, according to the Spanish golf portal TenGolf.com.”
  • “Reed, whose defamation case against analyst Brandel Chamblee and Golf Channel was dismissed Friday by a federal judge in Florida, then approached McIlroy, who was on his hunkers at the time, looking at the ground.”
  • “Reed stood near McIlroy a few seconds with the intention of saying hello but McIlroy did not even turn his head towards him.”
  • “Reed insisted in saluting McIlroy but after getting no response, he gave up and walked away but not before putting his hand in his pocket and throwing a tee in McIlroy’s direction in disgust.”
Full piece.

2. JT praises Saturday finish

Colby Powell for Golf Channel…”Reviews about a Saturday finish on the PGA Tour are mixed, but Justin Thomas loved the change when it was implemented for the first time at last year’s Farmers Insurance Open.”

  • “It was incredible, I got to watch football on Sunday,” Thomas said. “I was ecstatic about it. Even so much so that I pushed the Tour that we do it during the entire playoffs because I love football and I love watching football.”
  • “While the Tour didn’t suddenly move every early-season tournament to a Saturday finish, the move seems to have stuck at the Farmers, which is played the same week as the NFC and AFC Championship games.”
Full piece.

3. Remembering JD at the Farmers in ’04

Max Schreiber for Golf Channel…”It had been a very bumpy road for Daly since his improbable victory at St. Andrews’ 1995 Open Championship, battling through more divorce and additional alcohol rehab.”

  • “But at the 2004 Buick Invitational, he ended a nine-year winless drought in typical Daly fashion.“
  • “Ranked No. 299 in the world at the beginning of the week, the two-time major champion, despite a final-round 75, found himself in a playoff with Chris Riley and Luke Donald.”
  • “On the first playoff hole, Daly hit a 100-foot bunker shot that landed just feet from the hole and he tapped in for birdie. Riley and Donald then missed both their birdie putts from inside 6 feet and Daly was once again back in the winner’s circle.”
Full piece.

4. Rahm approaching a Woodsian feat

Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…”The 28-year-old has won four of his last six events, including his last two starts on the PGA Tour at last week’s American Express and the season-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks prior. This week Rahm is in the Farmers Insurance Open field at Torrey Pines in San Diego and is looking for a rare three-peat.”

  • “If Rahm is able to win again, it’ll be the 19th time since 1997 that a player has won three straight Tour starts. But wait, what’s so rare about something that’s already happened 18 times over less than 26 years? According to stats guru Justin Ray, Tiger Woods accounts for 14 of the 18 trifectas.”
Full piece.

5. Enhancements to the PGA Tour’s Betting Integrity Program

PGATour.com staff report…”The PGA TOUR today announced two new agreements that will enhance monitoring capabilities as part of an expanded PGA TOUR Integrity Program. A new partnership with U.S. Integrity, paired with an extension of the TOUR’s existing relationship with Genius Sports, will provide the organization with best-in-class bet monitoring services through 2024.”

  • “U.S. Integrity is proud to partner with the PGA TOUR and assist with maintaining the integrity of its golf competition across the world,” said U.S. Integrity’s CEO and Co-Founder Matthew Holt. “U.S. Integrity’s mission is to provide conflict-free, best-in-class insights and compliance solutions to our clients. We are looking forward to working with the premier golf tour in the world, featuring the biggest names. All our partners are committed to the highest integrity standards, and they are no exception. These types of partnerships help ensure sports betting integrity and strengthen the unique and proprietary anomaly-detection tools we have developed at U.S. Integrity.”
  • “The PGA TOUR Integrity Program, established January 1, 2018, covers all facets of competition and operations on the Tours overseen by the PGA TOUR, including players and their support teams, all tournament staff and volunteers, all PGA TOUR employees and the PGA TOUR Policy Board.”
Full piece.

6. On notice

The AP’s Doug Ferguson…”The 28-year-old Spaniard has won four his last six starts worldwide over the last three months, including his two PGA Tour events this month on courses — Maui mountain, California desert — that couldn’t be more different.”

  • “He won in Spain by six shots and the DP World Tour Championship by two in the fall. He started the new year on the PGA Tour by closing with a 63 to overcome a seven-shot deficit against Collin Morikawa at Kapalua, and then holding off a spirited challenge from Thompson in The American Express.”
  • “Next up is the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, one of his favorite places even before he won the U.S. Open. Rahm won his first PGA Tour event at Torrey in 2017, and twice in the last three years he has missed a playoff by one shot.”
Full piece.

7. PGA Show

Full Piece.
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