I’ve come up with a new sort of parlay for the betting golf fan. Choose a winner between consecutive tee times, or any two tee times on the sheet. Guess on which time I’ll never lay money? You’ve got it: the final group. Way too much pressure. My first field notes come from South Africa, where the 9:05 time on Sunday posted 14-under par. Contrast that with the 9:15 time (the three leaders) and its 5-under par total. That’s three shots separation per golfer. How did this catch my attention? You’ll have to read Tour Rundown this week to find out. Hint: data comes alive in the DP World Tour section. Enjoy!
PGA Tour Match Play: Burns saves best for last at WGC Dell
Cameron Young had to like his chances, heading into the final match of the Dell Match Play. He had just made birdie on three of his final four holes, including the 19th, to stun Rory McIlroy in their semifinal match. His final match opponent, Sam Burns, would be extended to 21 holes against Scottie Scheffler, giving Young a bit of time to rest and prepare for the final tilt.
The final match began well for Young. His birdie at the second hole gave him a one-up advantage, and his two at the fourth would have given him another win, except that Burns matched his birdie. Burns’ bogey at the second was his last mistake of the day. He notched consecutive birdies from the fourth to the sixth to go from one-down to two-up. He added five birdies in six holes, from eight to thirteen, to post seven-under through those holes. Burns’ 6 & 5 victory in the final match was one-sided because of his brilliance, not for Young’s flaws. Young was two under through the 13 holes, but was no match for Burns.
The victory was the fifth in three years for Burns. Once the finest collegiate player in the land, Burns spent four years learning the professional way of winning, before bursting out in 2021. Expect to see both Burns and Young on Team USA in the fall, for Italy’s first Ryder Cup. They seem to have what it takes to win at head-to-head play, as does Scottie Scheffler, who lost to Rory McIlroy in the third-place match. Hopefully, match play will be back on the PGA Tour in 2024.
LPGA Drive On Championship: Boutier wins playoff for third LPGA victory
Low scores at Superstition Mountain were the rule of the day, as first established by Japan’s Ayaka Furue. She had seven birdies on the day, posted 65, and moved all the way from 19th to 3rd position. One more birdie would have brought the unthinkable at day’s start: a spot at the playoff table. As it was, the European duo of Celine Boutier (France) and Georgia Hall (England) reached 20-under par with scores of 68 and 65, respectively. Boutier began the day with the lead, but was the only one of the top three to hold position. Hae Ran Ryu and Moriya Jutanugarn held 2nd position together, but each shot 71 and dropped to a seventh-place tie.
In the playoff, Boutier drew on the recent memory of the last-hole, ten-feet birdie putt that she drained in regulation, to force her way into overtime. Despite a birdie of her own at the closer, that put the bow on a back-nine 30, Georgia Hall was unable to match, and Boutier lifted the Drive On trophy above her head.
DP World Tour JW Open: 64 is magic number for Bachem at Steyn City
Alexander Knappe began day four with a one-shot advantage over a trio of golfers. Knappe’s rounds of 68-66-65 had moved him ahead of the consistent (Gavin Green with 66-67-67) and the explosive (Joakim Lagergren at 65-73-63.) Knappe stood three under through nine on day four, and found himself in a battle with others who were lighting up The Club at Steyn City. Principle among them was Germany’s Nick Bachem, the third member of the trailing trio. Bachem showed no sign of easing off the accelerator.
Bachem caught countryman Knappe by the ninth hole, thanks to an outward 32. He followed that demonstration with a twin 32 on the inward half, to reach 24-under on the week. Knappe fell away with a double bogey at the par-three 12th hole. By then, Bachem had added two more birdies and Knappe sensed urgency in his purpose. Two bogeys coming home dropped him to 13th place on the week.
As for Bachem, he and his 9:05 partners (Gavin Green with 70 for t6 and Ewen Ferguson with 68 for t4) were the spotlight group in the afternoon. Hennie du Plessis (68) and Zander Lombard (65) of the host country of South Africa reached 20-under to share the runner-up position. After just ten starts in the 2023 season, Nick Bachem can now call himself a DP World Tour champion.
PGA Tour Corales: Wallace claims first PGA Tour title in Dominican Republic
England’s Matt Wallace rode a four-birdie streak over the closing holes to a one-shot win over Denmark’s Nikolai Højgaard. Højgaard began the final round in a tie at the top with the USA’s Sam Stevens, but opened the final round with bogey. He steadied his horse with three birdies in four holes, then ran into a dry stretch of seven consecutive pars. By the time he rebounded with two birdies over the closing four holes, matters had changed atop the standings.
Wallace was also out in two-under par, then caught fire at the par-four 14th hole. His birdie there was followed by three more, elevating him to 19-under par. Needing eagle at the last. Højgaard was able to edge past Tyler Duncan and Stevens into solo second, thanks to his closing birdie three. Duncan reached 17-under at the 13th hole, but lost steam with six consecutive pars to the finish. Stevens posted three-under on the day but needed more birdies against a tightly-packed, energetic leaderboard.
Wallace was seen as England’s next big thing in 2018, when he won three times on the DP World Tour. He hit a four-year dry spell, partly due to being too hard on himself. Now, in his early 30s, he might attain the success that many had advanced his way.
PGA Tour Champions Galleri Classic: David Toms opens and closes March with victories
There was a moment when Retief Goosen had birdied 75% of his holes on the day, on the thirteenth tee, when I thought he might find a way to win the whole thing, from nearly 25 places from the top. Goosen stood nine-under on the day, and 13-under for the week. Unfortunately for the South African, his tank was on empty. The final six holes brought him four pars and two bogeys. He finished at 11 under on the week, good for solo third.
David Toms is a cool customer. He knew that there were plenty of birdies across the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills, and he wasn’t the least bit fazed by Goosen’s torrid start. Toms, the leader after each of the first two rounds, had three birdies and a bogey going out on Sunday. Coming home, he added four birdies for 65 and a 16-under total. His efforts brought him a four-shot win over Stephen Alker, who closed with 67 to slide past Goosen by one into second spot.