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Tour Rundown: Taylor takes title | Kobori edges Shin | Hoshino Masters Qatar

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There’s nothing quite like an unanticipated gift. Mine (and yours) came courtesy of the PGA of Australia’s Players Series. Kazuma Kobori was the winner in Norwest NSW, but the story was just behind his victory.

Things got a little wild in Scottsdale, as they always do. Colombia’s Korn Ferry event saw two scores in the 50s and neither belonged to the victor. In Qatar, a door opened on Sunday for a slew of pursuers, and the winner escaped by one shot.

Four tournaments seems like the right number for a rundown, so let’s not delay any longer. Welcome to the February 12 edition of Tour Rundown.

PGA of Australia Players Series: Kobori edges Shin by one

Jenny Shin really had no idea that the Webex Series Sydney was a men’s event. Perhaps she looked at the yardage of the Castle Hill Country Club or maybe it was some other reason. In any event, there was Shin, posting rounds of 63-67-68-67 and reaching 23 under par. Only New Zealand’s Kobori exceeded her effort, and he was fortunate to do so.

Both golfers were 5 under par on the day through 10 holes, but Shin stumbled and tripped at 11 and 12. She went double and single bogey to give back three shots. The final six holes saw Kobori play cautious golf, closing in one-under the rest of the way. Shin fought back bravely, making three birdies coming home.

2023 saw Lexi Thompson play great golf at the Shriners, and Shin’s performance at Castle Hill served notice that 2024 will be a marvelous year of golf for all tours. Kazuma Kobori will no doubt earn a battlefield promotion to the DP World Tour with his third victory of the wraparound season. All credit to him for balanced play down the stretch and over the week.

PGA Tour: Taylor adds Phoenix title to resume

When last we checked in with Nick Taylor, he was tending to good friend and fellow Canadian pro Adam Hadwin, who was decked by a security guard after Taylor won the Canadian Open in June. Taylor blazed across TPC Scottsdale on Thursday, posting 11 birdies and seven pars for a round of 60. Friday saw him battle weather and go 10 strokes higher. He rebounded over the extended, two-day third round with 68. As they say, it’s not how you start but how you finish.

Sunday was a long day in the valley of the sun. Taylor was paired with Sahith Theegala and Andrew Novak in the 2:15 trio, but the news of the morning was all Charley Hoffman. Despite beginning play three groups ahead of Taylor, Hoffman was but one shot in arrears. The top of the leaderboard was jammed with potential, and Hoffman wasted no time getting out front. Four birdies over the first 11 holes brought him to the top. A bogey at 12 slowed the train, but an eagle-birdie-birdie run over the next three holes made him the man to beat.

Nick Taylor turned in a symmetrical card of five pars-two birdies-par-birdie on each nine. Knowing that he needed birdie at the last to gain overtime, Taylor bailed right and found rough. His approach ended ten feet from the hole, and his putt for the tie was true. In the playoff, both golfers made birdie at 18 the first time round. On the second tour, Hoffman went way left but carried the water. He ended up in the church pew bunkers and reached the putting surface, some 30 feet distant. Taylor once again headed right, with nearly the same approach as regulation. He once again found safety, ending 11 feet from the hole. Hoffman’s effort for three was close, and it was left to Taylor to three-peat Sunday birdies at the closer, for the win. Was there any doubt?

DP World Tour: Hoshino is Master of Qatar

Rikuya Hoshino has played professionally since 2016. The majority of his competition and victories have come on the Japan Golf Tour. Hoshino began to play more internationally in 2023 and nearly pulled off a huge upset at the 2023 Australian Open in December. He gained a spot in overtime against Min Woo Lee but was unable to defeat Australia’s international star.

This week in Qatar, Hoshino and everyone else were staring up at Denmark’s Rasmus Højgaard. The Dane had rebounded from an opening 73, with middle-round cards of 66 and 67. Unfortunately for Højgaard, another 73 awaited on Sunday. Two bogies in the opening four holes set his plans back, and he struggled to retain form. A one-under, back nine brought him back to a top-10 finish.

With Højgaard’s tumble, opportunity knocked for players like Hoshino, France’s Ugo Coussard, and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson. Jamieson charged hard after a third-hole bogey. Six birdies, added to an eagle two at the 16th, brought him to 65 on the day and -12 for the week. Jamieson improved 15 rungs on the day, finishing solo third. Coussard also posted one bogey on Sunday, but more than countered it with four birdies. His closing 69 eased him past Jamieson, and gave him a chance at victory.

Hoshino stood 2 under on the day when he reached the 16th tee. Summoning his best play, he turned in birdies at the next two holes, to reach 14-under par. With a shot in the hand, Hoshino played the par-five 18th conservatively. A 3.5-foot putt found the heart of the hole, and Hoshino had ascended to a new level of triumph.

Korn Ferry Tour: Despite scores in the 50s, mid-60s win the week

The Country Club de Bogotá has two courses: the Pacos and the Lagos. The Pacos is the easier of the two, and Cristobal del Solar made his case for greatness on Thursday. The Chilean went full off on day one with a score of 57, highlighted by nine birdies and two eagles. Unfortunately for CDS, he had to play the Lagos course the next three days. 57 was followed by 69, then 75, and Mr. 57 found himself on the outside, looking in. On Sunday, del Solar solved the Lagos course, coming home in 63 for a solo fifth-place finish.

Aldrich Potgeiter followed Thursday’s 57 with a 59 of his own. A recent, KFTour winner in the Bahamas, Potgeiter moved into first position as del Solar wobbled. That was it for the South African Potgeiter, however. Weekend rounds of 73-71 dropped him to a 20th-place tie. Since lightning in a bottle wasn’t the answer this week, what was? In the end, Kevin Velo had it.

Velo didn’t score below 64, but he didn’t score above 67. He reached 22 under par, but so did Brian Campbell. The two Americans went to an extra hole, and Velo made quick work of his opponent. Despite not seeing the fairway on the bonus hole, Velo found the green in two and two-putted for birdie. Campbell was unable to match that number, and the San Jose State alum was a Korn Ferry Tour winner.

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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 Photo Galleries

Wedge Stamping Caviar: Gold Medal Edition

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Pop open a tin of the finest beluga, GolfWRXers…But really, it’s less jelly-like substance, more richness of intrigue than salt-cured roe at Wedge Stamping Caviar as we present to you some of the finest instances of hammer-and-stamp work on the PGA Tour we spotted this week at the WM Phoenix Open.

Grab your mother-of-pearl spoon and dig in — with restraint, please. And be sure to check out the rest of our photos from the WM Phoenix Open when you’re done.

Michael Phelps, the most-decorated athlete in Olympic history, has 28 medals stamped on his 54-degree wedge, including his record 23 golds. Legendary achievement. Legendary wedge stamping. 

Former Alabama coach Nick Saban has an entirely appropriate stamping on his Ping Glide 4.o wedge. 

Left-hander Nicolo Galleti looks to be firing himself up with his “C’mon” stamping on his Ping Glide Forged Pro wedge. Orange paintfill on the initials is a nice touch as well!

“The other Tiger” S.H. Kim has continued the tradition of stamping his wedges — now new Vokey SM10’s — with his nickname. 

Classic stamping, traditional white paintfill for Matt Wallace. If it ain’t broke…

“The Classic,” this time on a Callaway wedge with a little extra sauce in the paintfill for Mr. de Chassert. 

With all due respect to the Vokeys pictured, it’s Nico Echavarria’s PXG wedge that grabs the attention, owing to his Colombian flag-colored paintfill and “ECH” stamping. 

When you have a last name that’s only a handful of letters, it’s an easy decision to have it stamped on your wedge, as Grayson Sigg has done here with on his Fourteen RM4. 

Akron, Ohio, native Justin Lower is nothing if not loyal to the franchise that drafted the “kid from Akron.” 

“The Classic” with a little extra sauce here as Billy Horschel has the bent loft (62 degrees) of his wedge stamped near his initials. 

Check out the rest of our photos from the WM Phoenix Open.

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Putters Aplenty: Flatsticks in focus at the WM Phoenix Open

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This week was a great week for putters. Heck, Michael Phelps and Zac Blair’s custom Camerons established that fact by themselves. But there were plenty of other interesting flatsticks on display.

You never know exactly what you are going to get with the equipment photos from a PGA Tour event. Depending on who is where when, field size, what’s happening in the product release calendar, where the event is in the season, and of course, the weather, there are numerous variables at play.

One thing that’s a relative constant, however, is WM Phoenix Open week is a good week for gear photos. And this year was no different. We’ve already rounded up all of our photos in a table of contents here and our Tour Reporter, Andrew Tursky has provided a curation of his favorite shots with context only he can deliver.

Hence, another edition of Putters Aplenty.

Ryo Hisatsune

According to our always-in-the-know tour photographer, Hisatsune purchased this putter off the Scotty Cameron Gallery website. One of us!

Ben Taylor

The LSU alum does his work on the greens with a Scotty Cameron T-11 Proto putter with a SuperStroke 3.0 XL grip.

Garrick Higgo

Left-hander Garrick Higgo utilizes the new L.A.B. Golf DF3 putter, a TPT putter shaft, a SuperStroke Pistol GT 1.0 grip.

Billy Horschel

Billy Ho is putting in Phoenix with a PLD Anser with tungsten plugs in the heel and toe of the putter for added stability.

Michael Phelps

A custom Cameron fit for the king of gold medals! Phelps told our Andrew Tursky that the flatstick was too beautiful to putt with and he wanted to hang it on a wall. Cameron told Phelps he better use it!

Lanto Griffin

Griffin continues to roll it with his Sik Flo C putter.

Zac Blair

Leader in the clubhouse for most interesting putter this week, Zac Blair, a certifiably Cameron crazy, arrived in Phoenix with this custom Circle L Cam with a Tiffany Blue paintfill. Our Brian Knudson wrote about the putter here.

Sungjae Im

Long-time Scotty Cameron user Sungjae Im has upgraded into a new T-5.5 putter with a single siteline.

Charley Hoffman

The WM sponsee remains loyal to his T-8 Prototype Cameron with unique alignment markings on an equally unique crown.

Adriene Dumont de Chassart

The Belgian represents the Odyssey contingent this week with his new Ai-One #7 putter.

Check out more in-hand photos of putters from the WM Phoenix Open in our galleries here.

 

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Morning 9: Tiger to play Genesis | ANWA field highlights | Caddie recovery zone

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, as day one of the WM Phoenix Open gets underway.

1. Woods to play Genesis

ESPN report…”Tiger Woods has committed to next week’s Genesis Invitational for his first competitive rounds in 2024.”

  • “Woods announced on social media Wednesday that he would play in the tournament that he hosts and benefits his TGR Foundation.”
  • “Excited to be a playing host next week,” Woods wrote.
Full piece.

2. “Advisers could face 20 years in Saudi Arabia prison if they comply with U.S. investigation”

That’s the headline in Tim Schmitt’s Golfweek item…”the Kingdom has threatened to imprison not only bankers but also consultants it has worked with if they choose to cooperate with the United States government as it continues to investigate the agreement. Back in November, the PIF sued its advisers in Saudi court to block any submission of information to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.”

  • “Both the Department of Justice and U.S. Senate have held a keen interest in the talks between the Tour and PIF, the financial backers of LIV Golf, over the last seven months. On Feb. 6, the committee held a hearing in Washington, D.C., that featured PIF consultants Paul Keary (Teneo Strategy), Michael Klein (M. Klein & Co.), Rich Lesser (Boston Consulting Group) and Bob Sternfels (McKinsey).”
Full piece.

3. Cam Smith on LIV decision

Our Matt Vincenzi…”While speaking with The Daily Mail prior to his start at LIV Las Vegas, Cam Smith called joining LIV “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made”.

  • “I’m so happy… 14 events out here, four majors, a couple of events at home where I can give back to the fans there, and that’s me. I feel like there’s a lot of time there to become a better golfer.”
Full piece.

4. Rahm: “When they slap you with a large amount of money in your face, your feelings do change”

ESPN report…”But he now concedes that the money being offered was hard to turn down and the fact that he is guaranteed to be able to play in the Masters helped make up his mind.”

  • “Winning the Masters was a huge step towards maybe thinking about it,” Rahm told Golf.com’s Breakthrough. “Being exempt from majors, knowing that most likely you can play the Masters for life and the U.S. Open at least until 2031, you know, I’m set with two of those, right, so it was a big determining factor.”
  • Rahm reportedly received more than $300 million to join LIV Golf, and while he says he meant what he said in 2022 that he was already wealthy enough to enjoy a great lifestyle, the sums being offered eventually were too tempting.
  • “When I said that, I fully meant it and it was true. Now, when they slap you with a large amount of money in your face, your feelings do change,” Rahm said. “I try not to be a materialistic person, but I do owe it to my family as well to set them up for success the best I can, and having kids I think changed that quite a bit. So the money is a part of it, I’m not going to lie.”
Full piece.

5. Olazabal

James Corrigan for the Telegraph…”Jon Rahm has been told by fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal that “actions must have consequences”.  Olazabal has also speculated that if the two-time major winner is ineligible for the Ryder Cup then Europe could still be competitive.”

  • …”Yet Olazabal, the former captain, who Rahm admits has had an influence on his career, is not as certain. “I respect everyone who has gone to LIV Golf,” Olazabal told the Golf sin Etiquetas podcast. “The other part that bothers me is that if you make a decision, it must have consequences. You can’t expect to have the same rights as PGA Tour and DP World Tour players.”
  • “As for changing the rules for Ryder Cup Europe… I don’t know what to tell you. If you miss players like Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton, you could be left naked for one or two Ryder Cups. And? What if you suddenly get three Ludvig Abergs, the Hjogaard [twins]? Turns out we might be able to compete.”
Full piece.

6. ANWA field highlights

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”This year’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur is the strongest ever.”

  • “Each of the top 43 eligible amateurs in the final World Amateur Golf Ranking of 2023 have accepted invitations to compete in the fifth edition of the premier women’s amateur event, which will be played April 3-6 at both Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, and Champions Retreat Golf Club in nearby Evans, Georgia.”
  • “Among this year’s participants are two past champions, Tsubasa Kajitani (2021) and Anna Davis (2022), as well as world No. 1 amateur Ingrid Lindblad, who will be making her fourth career start after top-3 finishes in 2021 and 2022.”
Full Piece.

7. Colt Knost trading in mic for caddie gig at WMPO

Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Taylor Montgomery must like his gravy lumpy because he has chosen Colt Knost to be his caddie this week at the WM Phoenix Open.”

  • “Knost, known as The Big Gravy, was a tour pro of nearly 15 seasons before retiring and becoming one of the best TV foot soldiers for CBS and host of the popular podcast “Golf’s Subpar.” Asked whether he lost a bet, Knost texted, “Haha no. I’ve known Taylor since he was in college. Just trying to help the kid out.”
Full Piece.

8. Caddie recovery zone

Golf Digest’s Luke Kerr-Dineen…”The wear-and-tear that caddies go through isn’t something we think about often. But this week at the 2024 WM Phoenix Open, caddies will get something of a helping hand in the form of a caddie recovery zone. The designated recovery zone is a portion of the clubhouse decked out with a slate of Hyperice products, from Normatec Leg Compression boots to the Hypervolt Massage Gun. Those have become go-to products for the tour players they loop during their intensive post-round recovery routines.

Full Piece.

9. WMPO photos

GolfWRX is on site this week at the Greenest Show on Grass AKA the biggest party on the PGA Tour — the WM Phoenix Open.

  • General galleries, abundant WITBs, and, of course, limited-edition WMPO-inspired swag are all assembled for your viewing pleasure below.
Full Piece.
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