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.
16-under! ? @BrookeHenderson walks in a birdie on the 15th hole to extend her lead in Orlando
Watch the finish now on NBC! pic.twitter.com/wRuWZJvaJj
— LPGA (@LPGA) January 22, 2023
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.
Clutch shot on 18 from @JonRahmPGA ?
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 22, 2023
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.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) January 22, 2023
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.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) January 22, 2023
Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2023 Farmers Insurance Open
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
More Max Homa WITBs
- Max Homa WITB 2022 (July)
- Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2022 Wells Fargo Championship
- Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2021 Fortinet Championship
- Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2021 Genesis Invitational
- Max Homa WITB 2021 (January)
- Max Homa WITB 2020
- Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2019 Wells Fargo Championship
- Max Homa WITB 2017
- Max Homa WITB 2013
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