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Morning 9: Rory wins Match | Return of the Kim | Rahm hasn’t heard from Tiger

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as the PGA Tour moves over to the Florida swing, while Anthony Kim looks set to make his stunning return in Jeddah.

1. Return of the Kim (presumably)

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach…”Anthony Kim, who last played in a professional golf tournament nearly a dozen years ago, will apparently return to competition at this week’s LIV Golf League event in Saudi Arabia.”

  • “Kim, 38, is expected to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah tournament, scheduled to start Friday at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City. Kim is expected to play as a wildcard, meaning he will compete in the individual competition, but his scores won’t count in the team event.”
  • “LIV Golf League CEO and commissioner Greg Norman teased Kim’s comeback in a post to X on Monday, in which he shared a video from LIV Golf’s account that appeared to feature Kim walking down a fairway.”
Full piece.

2. Rory comes out on top in The Match

ESPN staff…”The Match IX introduced a mixed-gender format that saw Rory McIlroy and Max Homa represent the PGA, while Lexi Thompson and Rose Zhang represented the LPGA.”

  • “McIlroy came out on top in his second appearance at the made-for-TV charity golf event, winning 10 skins between 12 holes and the sudden-death closest-to-the-pin competition to earn $2.4 million for charity.”
  • “I’ve played pretty well tonight and hit some pretty good shots,” McIlroy said. “Hopefully that carries over into the next few days as well.”
  • “Thompson finished second with two skins that secured $200,000 for charity. Homa and Zhang did not win a skin.”
Full piece.

3. Supermarket delivery driver wins ‘life-changing’ sum with T2 finish at Kenya Open

BBC report…”Joe Dean, the world number 2,930 and part-time delivery driver, has won a “life-changing” prize of £170,000 by finishing runner-up at the Kenya Open.”

  • “The Englishman, who scraped on to the DP World Tour through qualifying, finished joint second behind Darius van Driel in Nairobi.”
  • “Dean, who works a delivery driver for Morrisons supermarket, carded a closing four-under-par 67 to finish 12 under.”
  • “It’s got to be [life changing]. It’s what people dream of,” said Dean.
Full piece.

4. Why Sami didn’t get a drop

Brentley Romine for NBC Sports…”The two shots happened three days apart, but some people watching the Mexico Open couldn’t help but notice the commonalities between Sami Valimaki’s wayward drive on the 72nd hole that ended up nestled against a metal boundary fence and a provisional drive by S.H. Kim on the same hole Thursday that settled in a similar lie.”

  • “However, while Kim received a free drop, Valimaki did not…
  • “Here is the explanation from the PGA Tour rules committee:
  • “In Sami’s case, it was clearly unreasonable for him to play a stroke. The exception to Rule 16.1 applies.”
  • Here’s that verbiage: There is no relief under Rule 16.1 when playing the ball as it lies would be clearly unreasonable because of something from which the player is not allowed to take free relief (such as when a player is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush), or when interference exists only because a player chooses a club, type of stance or swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances.
Full piece.

5. Rahm: Tiger hasn’t talked to me since I joined LIV

Our Matt Vincenzi…”When Jon Rahm joined LIV golf, it sent shockwaves throughout the world of professional golf and changed the landscape of the game as we know it.”

  • “The reigning Masters champion took a large sum of money to start his own team on LIV, “Legion XIII”.
  • “While speaking with ESPN’s Marty Smith, the Spaniard revealed that he reached out to arguably the two biggest names in golf after his decision, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.”
  • “Rory was supportive of Rahm and has even said he wants to make sure Rahm can continue to play on the European Ryder Cup team as well.”
  • …”When Rahm was asked if he’d heard from Tiger, he shared that he had not.
  • “Tiger? No, not really, I mean, Tiger, I texted him and the people that try to reach out, you know, the process, when I signed and I just let him know, ‘Hey, you know, this is a personal decision.’ I think he’s [too] busy enough to be talking to me.”
Full piece.

6. Who our betting expert is tipping this week

Check out the full piece to see who else should be on your card, but Matt Vincenzi likes Cameron Young this week at 22-1…”Cameron Young has yet to break out with a PGA Tour win, but PGA National is a good course for the former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year to showcase his elite driving ability. In his past 24 rounds, Young ranks 1st in Total Driving.”

  • “PGA National isn’t the longest course, but with water lurking everywhere, it helps to hit approach shots with higher lofted clubs. Bombers such as Rory McIlroy, Keith Mitchell, and Brooks Koepka have thrived at the course in the recent years, and Young could look to replicate their play style here.”
  • “Young has had a strong start to his 2024 season, finishing in a tie for 8th at TPC Scottsdale and a tie for 16th at Riviera. In those two starts, he gained significant strokes on the field both off the tee and on approach. He also finished 16th in his debut at the Honda Classic in 2022. With two additional top-13 finishes at Bay Hill, the 26-year-old has shown he likes playing in Florida.”
  • “With the fields in 2024 weaker than in recent seasons, Young is one of the best players teeing it up this week and has the talent to come out on top.”
Full Piece.

7. 2024 Cognizant Classic photos

  • Check out all of our galleries from this week’s event!
Full Piece.
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Morning 9: Anthony Kim speaks | New TGL team | ANWA contenders

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, as we gear up for the Valero Texas Open.

1. McIlroy: Tour-LIV split unsustainable

Reuters report…”The split in the men’s game between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf League is unsustainable and will not benefit anyone in the long term, Rory McIlroy told Golf Magazine on Tuesday.”

  • “The four-time major champion said it was disheartening as a competitor to see the best golfers play in separate tours for most of the year.”
  • “There needs to be a correction. I think what’s happening is not sustainable right now, so something needs to happen to try to bring it all back together so we can all move forward so we don’t have this division that’s sort of ongoing,” McIlroy said.
  • “They keep going down those different paths and I just don’t see how that benefits anyone in the long run. … I think [it’s] a shame for the overall game of golf.”
Full piece.

2. Anthony Kim speaks

Some excerpts from his interview with David Feherty…

Did he watch golf in his time away?

  • “I have an interesting relationship with golf. I don’t think I ever loved it. What’s very weird to me now is that I’m falling in love with the game. That’s such a weird spot for me because golf was filled with pressure and lots of different emotions for me because my family had to go through a lot to give me this opportunity to play golf. So with that added pressure, I was willing to risk a lot more, that was my nature. I was aggressive on the golf course, aggressive off the golf course and that led to my demise.”

On battling his demons

  • “I had no self-worth until I became a father….I started turning my life around about a year and a half ago.”

On becoming a father

  • “She’s my everything. Obviously my relationship with my wife is unbelievable, can’t thank her enough and owe so much to her. But a lot of the inspiration comes from Bella (daughter), I feel so blessed to be a dad, I wasn’t expecting to be able to have a child.
  • “I lost faith in myself, on top of that the doctors said I wouldn’t be able to have a child because of all the things my body has been through. That was very disappointing, that made me feel even smaller than I had felt originally. But this blessing happened and now I’m getting to experience this.”
Full piece.

3. Anna returns to Augusta

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The 17-year-old Davis, who turned 18 on March 17, arrived on the Plains shortly after the first of the year, enrolling early and joining a Tigers squad that was already one of the best in the country; the midseason addition of Davis only amplified this program’s expectations. The SoCal native’s Instagram handle, @superannadavis, is aptly chosen. Super Anna ascended to the pinnacle of junior golf by winning the Girls Junior PGA and Augusta National Women’s Amateur, both before her junior year of high school. She’s since been tabbed for several national teams, junior and amateur, and fared well in an extensive LPGA apprenticeship – eight starts, half of them majors, and four made cuts – before the start of her somewhat surprising foray into college golf.”

  • “It’s fairly obvious to our team that a traveling spot has been taken by our new player,” Auburn head coach Melissa Luellen said back in February. Davis has now logged five starts for the Tigers, her most recent producing her best college finish to date, a T-2 at Georgia’s Liz Murphey Collegiate, and giving her a ton of momentum as she heads down U.S. 78 to Augusta for her third ANWA.”
Full piece.

4. ANWA contenders

Gabby Herzig for the Athletic…”LSU’s Ingrid Lindblad will be hard to ignore as the 2024 tournament favorite. The world’s No. 1 amateur is coming off a stunning 10-shot victory at the Clemson Invitational, where she also became the winningest female golfer in SEC history. Hailing from Sweden, Lindblad is looking for sweet revenge: She missed the 36-hole cut at the 2023 ANWA after posting top-3 finishes in each of her previous appearances.”

  • “Besides Lindblad, we have our eye on 15-year-old Asterisk Talley — one of the youngest competitors in the field. Named after the Greek word for “little star,” Talley is coming off a historic victory of her own. Just down the road from Augusta, Talley won perhaps the most elite junior golf tournament in the world, the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. Anna Davis, the 2022 ANWA champion, captured the same title last year and is back in the field at ANWA.
  • “Avery is another potential contender. With T4 and T29 finishes in her last two starts, she’s found comfort on both golf courses. But as the 20-year-old multitasks — still strolling through the department store, scanning carefully for her Champions Dinner outfit — one comment about her previous competitive rounds at Augusta is particularly telling.”
Full piece.

5. TGL’s New York Golf Club’s additions

The New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro…”New York is about to have another sports franchise for which to root, beginning in 2025.”

  • “New York Golf Club’s four-player roster in the newly formed six-team TGL (which stands for Tomorrow’s Golf League) is set to be unveiled on Tuesday.”
  • “The Post has exclusively learned that the New York team, owned by Mets owner Steve Cohen and his Cohen Private Ventures, will include Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, Westchester native Cameron Young and former U.S. Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick.”
Full piece.

6. Tiffany Joh becomes new U.S. national coach

Beth Ann Nichols for Golfweek…”Team USA just got a whole lot more fun. Tiffany Joh, a former LPGA player who lifted the spirits of countless players during her 11-year stint on tour, has accepted a new role with the U.S. National Development Program as a coach. She’ll work alongside head coach Chris Zambri on both the men’s and women’s side to help identify and support American golf talent.”

  • “Joh, who currently works as an associate head coach at USC, will move from her native California to Pinehurst, North Carolina, following the completion of the Trojans’ spring season. A two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion, Joh is the first USGA champion to be hired by the USGA in the organization’s 130-year history.”
Full piece.

7. Photos from the Valero Texas Open

  • Check out all of our galleries from this week’s event!
Full Piece.
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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2024 Valero Texas Open

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GolfWRX is on site this week at the Valero Texas Open.

The event has been around since 1922, making it one of the oldest on the PGA Tour calendar. Over the years, it’s been held at a variety of courses across the Lone Star State, but it’s found its home at TPC San Antonio in recent years. Some of the biggest names in golf have taken home the title here, including Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, and Ben Crenshaw.

GolfWRX has its usual assortment of general galleries, WITBs and special pull-out albums. As always, we’ll continue to update the links below as more photos come in from TPC San Antonio.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

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Tour Rundown: Jaeger is meister | Korda wins again

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We’re getting to that time of year that all fans of golf embrace. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur begins this week, followed by the Masters at the end of the fortnight. Tours offer a full set of events, although they will take a break the week of the first men’s major of the year. The world’s tours played events this week in Texas, Singapore, Arizona, Mexico, and California. Nearly all of these competitions came down to the final stroke, on the final hole. This combination of stout play and building drama is what we weather winter for. With that season in the rearview mirror, let’s embark on another spate of Tour Rundown recollections.

PGA Tour @ Houston Open: Jåger is meister of Houston

Stephan Jåger had performed feats of magic before against the fires of competitive golf. In 2016, on the Web.Com (now Korn Ferry) Tour, he posted a first-round 58 and stayed true to that arrow to win his first tour event. On his Wikipedia page, his surname is spelled both Jåger and Jaeger. To honor his ancestry, we’ll go with the former.

This week, the stakes were higher, as he chased a first victory on the PGA Tour. Marvelous opponents sprinted with him, including former Houston Open winner Tony Finau, and the world’s top-ranked player, Scottie Scheffler. Just as eager as Jåger, were Alejandro Tosti, Thomas Detry, and Taylor Moore. Each figured in the event’s conclusion.

It’s easier to write that each of those six men posted rounds between 66 and 68 on Sunday, and that all finished within one shot of the rest, than it is to recall precisely how they did so. Finau dropped ten shots (62-72) from Friday to Saturday, or he would have added another Houston Open title to the shelf. Scheffler (the 15th), Tosti, (the 18th), and Detry (the 14th) all made a bogey over the concluding holes, or they would have joined Jåger in a playoff. As for Moore, he could have done little more than make one more birdie. His pitch to the last nearly went in, finishing inside two feet from the extension of glory.

Jåger did all his work on Sunday over the front nine. His four birdies and one bogey brought him to 12 under on the week. He proceeded to secure nine pars on the inward half, including a 20-feet save at the 13th. Only at the 17th did he putt for birdie from inside 15 feet, and that effort was too strong. Yet, he did all that he had to do, to conclude an event at the podium’s summit, and hoist a PGA Tour trophy for the first time.

LPGA @ Ford Championship: Korda wins again, so watch out!

It appears that the mystery condition that derailed Nelly Korda in 2023, has run its course or been eliminated. Korda won for the second consecutive week on the LPGA circuit, and she did so in the manner that we’ve grown to know: efficiency. One week past nearly tossing a victory away, Korda was flawless on Sunday at Seville, in Gilber, Arizona. Her seven birdies and eleven pars led to a Sunday 65, and a two-shot margin of victory over England’s Hira Naveed.

Heretofore unknown at the top tier of women’s golf, Naveed posted 65-66 on the weekend to slide past a quintet of contenders, into second spot. Naveed signed for 16 birdies over the final two days, but a pair of bogeys separated her from a chance at Korda. Behind her, in third position, were Carlota Ciganda, Mi Hyang Lee, Frida Kinhult, Maja Stark, and a resurgent Lexi Thompson.

Nelly Korda began the week with birdies at four of her opening five holes. On days one and three, she posted but a single bogey over the play of the course. Friday was a bit topsy-turvey, with a trio of bogeys offset by a dramatic eagle at the fifth. When it looked as if things were slipping away, Korda closed with birdie on day two, to gain momentum at the halfway point. Her swing is efficient and consistent, and when her mental game and putting join the full move, little can stop her. The Ford Championship was her eleventh on tour, and her third of the young season.

DP World Tour @ Indian Open: Nakajima nearly romps to win

Keita Nakajima set a record of 87 consecutive weeks as the top-ranked amateur in men’s golf. He won four times on the Japan PGA tour and built a five-shot advantage over the first 54 holes of the Indian Open. When he turned in minus-three on Sunday, his advantage swelled to near-double digits. It was a coming-out party for a potential, future champion.

Things turned sour on the inward half. Don’t worry: we did not misleed with our sub-header; Nakajima won. After four solid pars to begin the trek home, the leader made a sloppy, double bogey at the 14th hole. The hole owned Nakajima all week-he played it in a combined plus-five shots to par.

The leader rebounded with birdie at the next but closed with three consecutive bogeys for an inward 40 and 73 on the day. No matter: Nakajima won by four shots over India’s Veer Ahlawat, Sweden’s Sebastian Söderberg, and the USA’s Johannes Veerman. Ahlawat managed 71 on Sunday, to move up four slots. Söderberg and Veerman posted 67 to each ascend 11 spaces.

PGA Tour Americas @ TotalPlay: JJR wins at home

By all accounts, the merger of the PGA Tour LA and PGA Tour CA was a positive thing. Gone are the qualifying for two tours, and the uncertainty of a season-long circuit for golfers striving to reach the Korn Ferry tier. This week, the PGA Tour Americas moved to the Atlas Country Club in Guadalajara, Mexico. Those in attendance were treated to a wondrous performance by a son of the nation, José de Jesús Rodríguez. A man with a stress mark in each of his three names is specially-written, and specially gifted, after all.

Rodríguez was marvelous over the first three rounds. Scores of 68-65-67 brought him to the pole position, heading into the event’s final lap. Sunday saw an early bogey (3) and a late one (17), and a lot of grit and determination in between. Jesús Montenegro of Argentina closed within one of the leader, but 13-deep was the farthest he could advance. Derek Hitchner and Joey Vzich of the USA matched 71s on Sunday to finish at 12-under par, in a third-place tie. The title, after a 72nd-hole par, belonged to José de Jesús Rodríguez, aka El Camarón Rojo, and all of Mexico celebrated with an olé!

PGA Tour Champions @ Galleri Classic: Goosen gets gift and glory

It’s easy to recall Retief Goosen’s twin U.S. Open titles, in 2001 and 2004. He displayed an icy disposition under pressure as those around him wilted. It’s difficult to forget his collapse at Pinehurst in 2005, as he was on the cusp of a third U.S. Open title, and a place among the game’s greats. Although three more tour titles would come his way, he was never again the same player in major events.

The senior circuit, aka PGA Tour Champions, is a second chance at many things, for many players. For Goosen, it represents an opportunity to rebuild competitive scenarios, and rekindle the fires that burn within the competitive soul. For much of the Galleri Classic this week, Goosen and others watched as Steven Alker and Ricardo González dueled in the desert. In the end, neither player stood ahead of the field.

Both Alker and González posted late bogeys. González made three of them, from holes 14 to 17, while Alker finished bogey-bogey. Each golfer concluded his week at twelve shots under par, one agonizing shot behind Goosen. How did the two-time, U.S. Open champion reach the magic number? He avoided old man bogey. Three birdies and 15 pars on day three were enough to place the South African champion in contention, and he simply held firm, as those around him fell. The win was Goosen’s third on the senior circuit, and his first since 2022.

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