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19th Hole
News and Opinion

Golf Blogs

Date CreatedMost Popular

Sean Donnelly
Two eagles underpin 63 for CJ Cup leader Thomas
Oct 19, 2017 9:30 AM
 
Well, that didn’t take long did it? Much of the build-up to the 2017/18 PGA Tour-season opening Asian Swing was dominated by discussion over whether it was wise for the recently crowned 2016/17 Player of the Year, Justin Thomas, to launch into the new campaign so early. Memories were evoked, for instance, of Jordan Spieth’s overloaded schedule during the 2015/16 wrap-around calendar. The Texan had played in South Korea, China, Australia, Abu Dhabi, the Bahamas, Hawaii, and Singapore by the time the PGA Tour season properly restarted with the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. 29 on the front for @JustinThomas34 ...WITH A BOGEY! pic.twitter.com/axLHaADDyL— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 19, 2017 When he teed it up at the Northern Trust Open, he was already complaining of physical and mental exhaustion; he finished the season majorless and behind Jason Day and Rory McIlroy at the summit of the world rankings. It was a lesson Spieth clearly learned from ahead of his enormously successful 2016/17 campaign. Between the end of the Presidents Cup and the beginning of the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur last week, Thomas had less than a seven-day break. The uncharacteristically sloppy nature of his performance en route to a T17 finish in a tournament he won in each of the last two years seemed to lend weight to the contention that the 24-year-old should have taken more time off. Indeed, despite hitting over 70 per cent of fairways and greens in regulation in Malaysia, Thomas only managed 21 birdies on a relatively easy course and lost more than stroke on the average of the field when putting. It is in this context that the emphatic nature of Thomas 9-under opening round 63 at the CJ Cup in Korea this afternoon came as something of a surprise. Starting on the back nine, the world No.4 eagled both par-5 holes to make the turn in 29 at Nine Bridges Golf Club. He cooled off on the front nine, but birdied his final hole for the 63, hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation. "It was a weird day," Thomas said. "It started off with a really badly played bogey and then I went on a seven-hole stretch where I kind of went unconscious and that was pretty much most of my round." Thomas’ PGA Tour rivals might well come to be regard this performance as an ominous omen for the season ahead. He will start the second round three shots clear of 6-under, Chez Revie. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Tiger Woods tweets video of driver swing
Oct 18, 2017 10:11 AM
Tags: Tiger Woods   News   pga tour  
 
Ever heard of Chinese water torture? It’s essentially a process in which water is slowly and repeatedly dripped on to a person's forehead, allegedly making the restrained victim insane. Avid PGA Tour fans might be able to identify shades of the technique when reflecting upon the protracted nature of Tiger Woods’ return to professional golf. For the third time in eight days, Woods posted a video to Twitter of himself taking a golf swing -- in his Sunday red, no less. And hitting a driver. The 41-year-old underwent a complex ‘fusion’ surgery in April in an attempt to resolve a recurring lower-back problem that has essentially rendered the last two years of his career a write-off. KABOOM BABY! @TigerWoods Y’ALL! pic.twitter.com/hoToPtYYqT— Rick Shiels PGA (@RickShielsPGA) October 15, 2017 Speaking to the media in his capacity as vice-captain for Team USA at the Presidents Cup two weeks ago, Woods refused to clarify whether he has been conferred medical clearance to return to the course and confided that his practice sessions were restricted to 60-yard pitch-shots. On 7 October, however, he uploaded a video of himself hitting a full shot to social media. Three days later, he posted video from a clinic he held with PGA Tour player Kevin Chappell at the Tiger Woods Invitational in California, a charity event that supports his foundation. Other video surfaced from that day in which Woods hit numerous full shots as part of the clinic. Then came yesterday’s clip of Woods hitting a driver in his Sunday Best. This footage is significant owing to the fact that golfers recovering from any sort of long-term injury generally stagger their recuperation by resuming training with pitching and chip-shots before gradually progressing through the bag and hitting the longer clubs. The technique further looked impressive: characterized by an evenly-balanced swing-plane, torsion across the core and lower-black, and a full and fluid follow-through. In other words, it’s not the kind of swing one would associate with a golfer who has just returned from a six-month injury lay-off. Still, it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves; to temper excitement, one need only cast their minds back 12 months ago to when Tiger made his first comeback at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. The hearts of golf fans across the world were set racing as he carded a tournament-leading 17 birdies across 72-holes, a stat that more than mitigated a disappointing third-from bottom finish. Few could have foreseen the Bahamas event being regarded as the peak of his return; since then, things have only gone downhill. For less than a week on from missing the cut on the occasion of his PGA Tour comeback at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in late January, Woods was forced to withdraw from the Dubai Desert Classic owing to a back-spasm after signing for a five-over-par 77 which left him outside the top 120. He has not played since, and a string of high-profile public humiliations (including an arrest for Driving Under the Influence in June) have made talk of a PGA Tour return appear more romantic than ever. There are positives to be drawn from this latest clip for sure, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Paul Casey’s Barren Spell Drags On To A New Season
Oct 17, 2017 1:07 AM
Tags: Paul Casey   CIMB Classic   News   pga tour  
 
The start of a new golfing season inevitably brings about a raft of new resolutions, aims, ambitions and targets for the players populating the top-level Tours. Be it winning majors and pushing for automatic Ryder Cup inclusion or simply retaining one’s playing card, most PGA Tour and European Tour professionals will have laid out a concrete set of objectives for the 12 months ahead. In the context of a golfer such as Paul Casey, it is not difficult to guess the ambition that tops the list. Sure, ‘win a major’ will be on there somewhere – the former world No.3 surely stands as one of the three or four best practicing golfers who has yet to triumph at the highest level of the sport. ‘Earn Ryder Cup inclusion’ will be listed, too. Paul Casey's @CIMBClassic:Round 1: +5Rounds 2-4: -19Golf is a funny game. pic.twitter.com/Php0BfN9SQ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 15, 2017 Indeed, Casey would have qualified for automatic selection to Darren Clarke’s 2016 squad for Hazeltine were in not for the fact that he failed to complete and adequate number of events on the European circuit. Now that the European Tour’s new, reforming CEO, Keith Pelley, has relaxed eligibility criteria, he is well placed to contend for selection for the 2018 event at Le Golf National in Paris. But top of Casey’s ‘to do’ list at the beginning of the 2017/18 season must surely be to simply win a tournament. Remarkably, the 40-year-old remains winless since claiming his 17th professional title by a stroke away from Simon Dyson at the KLM Open back in the autumn of 2014. In more than 75 subsequent top-tier starts over the previous three years, he has simply been unable to get over the line for title No.18. This circumstance is rendered all the more agonising as a consequence of the fact that, since taking up full time PGA Tour membership in 2015, Casey has been producing some of the best golf of his career and has been a consistent top-10 presence across all levels of the sport. He carded 10 top-10s, including four top-3s in 2015; he posted eight top-10s including three top-3s in 2016 and just recorded his ninth top-10 finish in 22 starts in 2017 at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia last weekend. Casey produced some exceptional golf in Kuala Lumpur and the fact that he completed his closing 54-holes in 19-under served only to render his uncharacteristically sloppy 5-over opening round 77 all the more frustrating. On form, Casey remains one of the most accomplished technical performers in world golf; what he lacks in distance he more than makes up for in terms of shot-variety and iron-play. However, his persisting inability to press-home strong final round positions is developing into a serious cause for concern and the longer such droughts go on, the harder they become to break. Here’s hoping Casey makes some headway on that 2017/18 ‘to do’ list soon. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Tyrrell Hatton snatches dramatic victory at the Italian Open
Oct 16, 2017 7:57 AM
 
Tyrell Hatton began 2017 riding the crest of a wave. Having started the previous year ranked outside of the world’s top-100, he posted a remarkable nine top-10 finishes in addition to claiming his maiden European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last October in order to finish the campaign ranked inside of the world’s top-25. The Buckinghamshire-native, who qualified for the 2010 Open Championship as an amateur, was consequently tipped by many commentators as the young European golfer to watch in 2017. He started the season impressively, posting top-17 fishes in each of his first five starts, including a T3 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and two T4s at the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. BACK-TO-BACK!@TyrrellHatton wins the #ItalianOpen pic.twitter.com/6EaAkpExL2— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 15, 2017 A missed-cut at The Masters, however, stymied Hatton’s progress and he went on to miss five cuts in a row between the US Open at the start of June and The Open in late July. A seventh missed cut at the US PGA Championship (making it four MCs in four starts at the majors) in August caused him to slip outside the top-30. This form mitigated a sink or swim circumstance for Hatton: either he would capitulate, continuing missing cuts and the end the year back outside of the top-50, or rally and remind everyone just why he started the year ranked as one of the best 25 golfers in the world. The fight-back began with a T3 finish at the European Masters on the occasion of his first start after Quail Hollow; it accelerated with a T8 the British Masters at Close House Golf Course in Newcastle in early October and culminated in a successful defence of his Alfred Dunhill Links title a fortnight ago. On Sunday, things got even better for Hatton: he holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to move to 21 under and eclipse joint clubhouse leaders Ross Fisher and Kiradech Aphibarnrat in order to claim his third European Tour accolade at the Italian Open in Monza. The 25-year-old started the final round two shots back from countryman, Matt Wallace, and carded a sensational run of five birdies in his last seven holes coming into the clubhouse. That a closing round 63 was not enough for Ross Fischer to take the title is perhaps the finest testament to the outstanding quality of Hatton’s display. With this victory Hatton has soared to a new career-high rank of No.17; he leads the Race to Dubai, up from 11th; and is strongly positioned to qualify automatically for a Ryder Cup debut at Le Golf National next autumn. That he elected to celebrate his Italian Open triumph with a Burger King is further a fine testament to his sense of perspective. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Pat Perez begins 2017/18 campaign with a bang in Malaysia
Oct 15, 2017 9:30 AM
 
Google the phrase ‘journeyman athlete’ and the following definition pops-up: “an athlete who is technically competent but unable to excel.” Were the term to be included in an academic dictionary, the name Pat Perez may well be invoked as the section-ending example. Perez arrived at the TPC Kuala Lumpur to begin his 2017/18 season at the CIMB Classic this week ranked 31st in the Official World Golf Rankings; he posted a solid record of four top-10s through 24 starts during the 2016/17 campaign and recorded an impressive 15th place finish in the FedEx Cup. Yet, prior to 2016 Perez looked destined to go down in golfing history as one of the many PGA Tour professionals who failed to translate an outstanding array of technical gifts into consistent top-level success. He won once through the course of his first 376 starts on the PGA Tour at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic, 12 years after turning professional way back in 1997. It felt like the then 40-year-old's career was shaping up to be one big "What if?" But after undergoing shoulder surgery before beginning the 2016-'17 season, something has clicked for the Arizona native, and it's brought out the best golf of his life when he needed it most. He claimed his second PGA Tour title by two strokes away from Gary Woodland at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba last November, and after ascending to a career-high world ranking atthe end of the 2016/17 season, he has started the new campaign by claiming his third top-level title by four strokes away from Keegan Bradley at the CIMB Classic. Perfect Pat! Pat Perez wins the @CIMBClassic! It's his 3rd PGA TOUR victory and moves him into 2nd in the #FedExCup standings.#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/tE0FIj6JxV — PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 15, 2017 This was a vintage performance from Perez, who seized the second-round advantage in Malaysia and simply never looked back. 6, 7 and 8-under rounds across Thursday, Friday and Saturday made sure he started Sunday four strokes clear of last month’s Tour Championship winner, Xander Schauffele, and a 3-under front-nine was sufficient to ensure a level-par back-took the title with room to spare. "I knew I had to stay on the gas here because guys are playing so good and you can go low any day, I was expecting someone to shoot 63 or something like that," said Perez, who finished with a score of 24-under 264, two strokes shy of Justin Thomas 72-hole CIMB record of 26-under. "I'm just such a different person than I was 17 years ago, even like, five years ago," he said. "I'm learning how to play the game, I'm learning how to play my own game, stay within myself, that kind of stuff. I'm a late-bloomer." Response to Perez’s achievement must, of course, be tempered by recognition of the fact that the CIMB Classic is a far-cry from the US Open, just as the TPC Kuala Lumpur is antithetical to Augusta. However, he did overcome the world Nos.3 and 4, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas to take the title and, ensconced in the world’s top-30, he looks well placed to push for Ryder Cup inclusion next autumn. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Xander Schauffele picks-up where he left off at the CIMB Classic
Oct 14, 2017 10:22 AM
 
Amidst the inevitable glut of ‘season review’ articles that spring-up across the golfing internet around this time every year, one personality occupied more column inches than any other when it came to recapping the 2016/17 PGA Tour campaign: Justin Thomas. This circumstance, of course, is entirely understandable. Thomas won five times last season, including at both FedEx Cup Play-Off level (the Dell Technologies Championship) and at a major championship (the US PGA), and ascended as high as No.4 in the world rankings after almost doubling his total career-earnings courtesy of claiming the $10 million FedEx prize cheque last month. In the fullness of time, however, golfing historians may yet come to reflect on the 2016/17 season as the campaign in which Xander Schauffele came to golfing maturity. Schauffele, who won five times as an amateur out of San Diego State University, only turned professional in 2015 and only earned his PGA Tour playing card courtesy of a 15th-place finish at the Web.com Tour Finals last November. #CIMBClassic Latest: Pat Perez (-13) takes a slender lead into the weekend in Kuala Lumpur with Xander Schauffele (-12) hot on his heels. pic.twitter.com/hUg3G52EMc— The Caddy's Review (@TheCaddysReview) October 13, 2017 The quality and consistency of his performances over the past 12 months, however, have belied that tender pedigree. The 23-year-old rose to national prominence after shooting a bogey free 6-under-par 66 en route to a top-5 finish on the occasion of his major championship debut at the US Open at Erin Hills in June; the following month, he claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory by a single stroke away from Robert Streb at the Greenbrier Classic. He then catapulted himself to the fringe of the world’s top-30 by shooting four rounds in the 60s en route to claiming the Tour Championship at East Lake by a stroke away from Justin Thomas. Celebration of Schauffele’s achievement was inevitably tempered by a semblance of doubt regarding his ability to sustain his 16/17 form over the long-term. After all, he would not be the first talented collegiate golfer to excel during his maiden campaign on the PGA Tour before fading into relative obscurity. The early signs, however, are extremely encouraging. Schauffele has inaugurated his 2017/18 campaign alongside defending champion, Thomas at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur this week and a 17-under, 65-67-67, 54-hole scorecard leaves him within four strokes of the leader, Pat Perez, in outright second going into the final round, 11 shots clear of Thomas. The California-native thus looks extremely well placed to potentially begin the new season with a trophy; his performance augurs extremely well for the year ahead. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Thomas Pieters Begins Decisive Campaign Positively In Malaysia
Oct 13, 2017 4:29 AM
 
After the gruelling, 90-hour off-season that followed Team USA’s emphatic President’s Cup triumph last week, the 2017/18 PGA Tour season has restarted with vigour at the CIMB Classic at the TPC Kuala Lumpur. World Nos.3 and 4, Hideki Matsuyama and defending champion, Justin Thomas, head-up an uncharacteristically strong wrap-around field in Malaysia and each started solidly with 5-under and 2-under rounds respectively, albeit they both sit some way back from the 13-under, 36-hole lead set by Pat Perez ahead of their second rounds. But perhaps the most compelling narrative to emerge from the first two rounds played in Kuala Lumpur is the progress of one Mr Thomas Pieters. The 25-year-old shot six birdies en route to an impressive 4-under opening round of 68 and sat 9-under for the tournament by the time he reached the turn on Friday. He looks extremely well placed to contend for what would be a maiden PGA Tour title on the weekend. The fact that Pieters still remains in search of a debut victory on US soil is likely to come as a surprise to those American golf fans who witnessed his rise to stardom at the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine 12-months ago. We can watch this over and over again @Thomas_Pieters @CIMBClassic pic.twitter.com/tBzrss5lIR— Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) October 12, 2017 The Belgian only narrowly beat Luke Donald to the final captain’s pick after claiming his third European Tour title of the season just a day before Darren Clarke confirmed the wildcards, and his low-profile in the US was attested to by the fact that the home support neglected to ‘boo’ him until the singles session. However, Pieters quickly emerged as one of the few positives European fans could salvage from the scraps of the wreckage of Hazeltine. He partnered partnering four-time major champion, Rory McIlroy, to three consecutive victories in team-play across Friday and Saturday, and he rounded off an astonishingly accomplished debut with an emphatic 3&2 singles victory against world number 21, J.B. Holmes, to finish the week as Europe’s top points scorer. Pieters consequently began 2017 feted as the rising force of European golf, and while he has achieved impressive results – he finished outright second to world No.1, Dustin Johnson, at Riviera in February and managed to tie for fourth on the occasion of his Augusta debut at the Masters in April, for instance – he missed seven cuts in 18 starts across all Tours and is winless in over a year. Indeed, Pieters’ stagnation ­­– his ranking has slipped from 23rd as of 1 January 2017 to 33rd as of the beginning of this week ­– has been set in sharp relief by Jon Rahm’s remarkable ascent to the top-5 of the world rankings since turning pro last June. The 22-year-old Spaniard won at both PGA Tour and European Tour level this year and has decisively displaced Thomas as the Great White Hope of European golf. All this has conspired to leave the Genk-native in a somewhat anomalous position; in the spotlight, for sure, but also slightly overlooked. His opening 36-holes in Malaysia suggests he remains determined to wrest the spotlight back from Rahm in 2018. [Photo Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
We are witnessing the twilight of Ernie Els’ career – enjoy it
Oct 12, 2017 11:24 AM
 
A sensitive golf fan cannot help but experiencing some sense of melancholy when reflecting upon the list of those players who have needed to cash-in on their one-time PGA Tour exemption for being among the top 50 in career money at the start of each season. After all, the very fact a player ranks inside the top-50 of that particular list is a testament to years of consistent, high-quality golf; they are automatically going to be a loss to the Tour. However, there was something particularly sad about today’s news that Ernie Els has had to utilise his top-50 status to earn a PGA Tour playing card for the 2017/18 season. Alongside Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Els has been one of the most significant personalities at the elite-level of professional golf for the last 20-30 years. . Nicknamed "The Big Easy" – a beneficent reference to his imposing physical stature (he stands 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) and characteristically fluid golf swing – Els has amassed as massive 71 career victories of which four are major championships: the U.S. Open in 1994 at Oakmont and in 1997 at Congressional, and The Open Championship in 2002 at Muirfield and in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Indeed, the former world No.1 is one of only six golfers to twice win both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship and he has won the World Match Play Championship a record seven times. Education of Samantha Els: Growing up as the globetrotting daughter of @TheBig_Easy, you learn a lot about life. https://t.co/FnJIqtWf1b pic.twitter.com/TKy8qzZ9Ej— GOLF.com (@golf_com) October 12, 2017 At 47, however, Els’ career is drawing to a natural conclusion. He missed 12 cuts and failed to register a single top-10 finish in 22 starts in 2017 (though he impressively made cuts at three of the four majors) and has failed to meaningfully contend for a trophy at any level of the sport in the guts of five seasons. Indeed, the Springbok is winless since claiming his 28th European Tour title at the 2013 BMW International Open by a stroke away from sitting European Ryder Cup captain, Thomas Bjorn, and he has managed just a single top-10 finish in more than 70 starts over the previous three seasons. Reflecting on Els’ underwhelming late-career fortunes ahead of this year’s Masters tournament, friend and fellow South African, Charl Schwartzel confessed to feeling “sorry” for the veteran, stating: "I just really feel sorry because I can see his mind is still thinking and believes -- he practices now harder than he used to -- that he's still as good as he was 10 years ago. Somehow he's just not able to do it now. Maybe the simple answer is just age. I don't know. I've heard him talk about it. I can see it almost hurts him. It's frustrating and I think humiliating for him, too. He's this fun guy and he will be out here until he can't be out here anymore.'' At 501st in the Official World Golf Rankings, Els is clearly on his way out: golf fans everywhere should enjoy the Big Easy while they still can. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Can Justin Thomas Maintain His Momentum At The CIMB Classic?
Oct 11, 2017 11:57 AM
 
Ninety hours. Give or take a few minutes, that's how long the PGA Tour off-season lasted, from the final putt of the Presidents Cup to the opening tee shot at last week’s Safeway Open, the inaugural event of the 2017/18 campaign. Of course, the wrap-around period is generally characterised by weakened fields and far-flung, low-profile golf courses as the sport’s biggest beats take a well-earned winter rest. It is generally not until the end of January that we really see the top-level of the sport start moving again. In this context it is striking to note the presence of one Mr. Justin Thomas in the field list published ahead of this week’s CIMB Classic at the TPC Kuala Lumper. After all, just three days have passed since the 24-year-old was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year for 2017. #FedExCup champion.5 wins. 12 top-10s.@JustinThomas34 is officially the 2017 PGA TOUR Player of the Year. https://t.co/MQKcANSXyH pic.twitter.com/5Dwl5XpAY8— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 4, 2017 Thomas won five times through the course of a sensational 2016/17 season, a run which started when he successfully defended his CIMB Classic crown by three strokes away from Hideki Matsuyama last October. He claimed back-to-back titles at the SBS Tournament of Champions and Sony Open in Hawaii in January in order to ascend into the world’s top-10 and arrived at Augusta for The Masters in April trading among the bookmakers’ favourites to claim the green jacket. A quieter mid-season followed and weak finishes at The Masters, US Open and Open Championship caused the Guardian’s Ewan Murray to emphasise an “ominous trend” in Thomas’ game whereby, “when things start to go wrong, he is not particularly adept at stemming the flow.” However, he fulfilled years of seemingly untapped potential (he won just once in his first 70 starts on Tour) by claiming his maiden major championship title by two-stokes at the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in August and beat collegiate rival and close friend, Jordan Spieth, by three strokes at the Dell Technologies Championship in September en route to winning the FedEx Cup play-off series. He finished the season ranked fourth in the world behind the players he beat to the FedEx Cup – Dustin Johnson, Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama, respectively – and must surely now be eying the No.1 spot. In this context, one struggles to envisage Thomas being an enthusiastic participant at the TPC Kuala Lumper. As much as the player surely has some form of emotional attachment to a tournament that, more than any other, helped to kick-start his career, he surely also has better ways to celebrate winning the Jack Nicklaus Award than by taking an 18-hour flight to Malaysia to swing a golf club. One can only hope an element of burn-out such as that which afflicted Spieth in early 2016 does not start to set in. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Brendan Steele Starts 2017/18 Campaign on a High at Safeway Open
Oct 10, 2017 11:58 AM
 
There’s no rest for the wicked, eh? After a gruelling, ninety-hour off-season, the PGA Tour inaugurated the 2017/18 campaign with the Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort Golf Course in the Napa Valley. Inevitably the wrap-around period yields events characterised by weakened fields as most of the biggest golfing beasts take a well-earned rest during the winter break; however, the Safeway produced some compelling fare with world No.454 Tyler Duncan, taking a single shot lead into the final round despite making just his second ever PGA Tour start. Strikingly, three players ranked inside of the world’s top-60 sat within four strokes of Duncan’s 54-hole lead; No.60, Emiliano Grillo, world No.59, Brendan Steele and five-time major winner and world No.30, Phil Mickelson. It was not surprising, therefore, that the rookie capitulated during the final round, shooting a 4-over 75 to finish in a tie for fifth at 11-under, four shots off the winning total. Ultimately, it was Brendan Steele who took the title. What a way to start the season!@Brendan_Steele goes back-to-back @safewayopen! #QuickHits pic.twitter.com/2n8SQv0zUH— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 9, 2017 The 34-year-old was widely tipped as one to watch in Napa. After all, just 12 months had passed since he ended a five year PGA Tour trophy drought with a single shot victory away from Patton Kizzire at the same event and the strength of his 2017 form is attested to by the fact that he never relinquished a spot in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup play-offs -- until the final day of the BMW Championship, where he failed to reach the Tour Championship by falling outside that number. Steele placed himself firmly in contention in Napa with 7 and 5-under rounds of 65 and 67 across Thursday and Friday, and while a level-par 72 appeared to have stymied that progress – causing him to slip two shots back from the leader – he rallied impressively on Sunday. The 2011 Valero Texas Open champion was three-under by the time he reached the turn during the final round, and when bogeys on the twelfth and fourteenth holes threatened to derail his title pitch, he birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes -- holing a 3-footer on 18 – to take the title by two strokes away from Tony Finau. In addition to becoming a three-time PGA Tour champion, Steele has surged back inside of the world’s top-50 and has automatically jumped atop the first FedEx Cup points list. Expect him to be at East Lake in September. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Tyrrell Hatton holds off Ross Fisher to retain St Andrews title
Oct 9, 2017 12:28 PM
 
For most of the last six months, 2017 looked set to be a season to forget for Tyrrell Hatton. The 25-year-old posted nine top-10s and a maiden European Tour victory in order to climb just shy of 100 places up the Official World Golf Rankings to a career-high of 24th in 2016 and started the new campaign impressively with top-17s in each of his first five starts, including a T3 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and two T4s at the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. A missed-cut at The Masters, however, stymied Hatton’s progress and he went on to miss five cuts in a row between the US Open at the start of June and The Open in late July. A seventh missed cut at the US PGA Championship (making it four MCs in four starts at the majors) in August caused him to slip outside the top-30. At that point it seemed as though Hatton’s season would go one of two ways: either he would capitulate, continuing missing cuts and the end the year back outside of the top-50, or rally and remind everyone just why he started 2017 ranked as one of the best 25 golfers in the world. "It's a winning formula. I think he should play with me every week" @TyrrellHatton on having actor Jamie Dornan as his amateur partner again pic.twitter.com/5Egm0eL7PX — Alfred Dunhill Links (@dunhilllinks) October 8, 2017 He shot three rounds in the 60s en route to a T3 finish at the European Masters on the occasion of his first start after Quail Hollow; he seized the first round lead before tying for eighth at the British Masters at Close House Golf Course in Newcastle a fortnight ago, and, last Sunday, he shot a final-round 66 in order to retain his Alfred Dunhill Links title by three shots from Ross Fisher. This was a vintage performance from Hatton. The Englishman began the day with a 5-shot lead, held off the late challenge of Fisher, whose brilliant 61 set a course record, and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson to become the first player ever to retain the crown. "Obviously I'm very happy," added Hatton, who took a share of the previous course record of 62 when winning the tournament last year. "This week was the first time I had ever defended a title or had the chance to try and do it. "You know, it felt like it was a lot harder this year, well, winning this year, than it was last year. I'm so happy that I managed to get over the line." With this victory Hatton has soared to a new career-high rank of No.22; he moves to 1,452,783 Race to Dubai points and 11th position, up from 33rd; and is strongly positioned to qualify automatically for a Ryder Cup debut at Le Golf National. Not a bad week’s work. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Mickelson Leads Pursuit of Duncan at Safeway Open
Oct 8, 2017 11:10 AM
 
It’s a struggle to imagine that Tyler Duncan slept too well on Saturday evening. The 28-year-old completed his first 54-holes of this week’s Safeway Open in 13-under in order to ascend to the top of the leaderboard by a single stroke, and if the pressure of carrying a lead into the final round of a PGA Tour event is not enough, one must bear in mind that this is only the second time Duncan has ever featured at the top-level of professional golf in America. The Indiana-native competed in the 2015 U.S. Open as a sectional qualifier, but since then he has plied his trade solely at Challenger and Webb.com Tour level. He presently ranks 454th in the world and has yet to rank higher than 484th. It seems likely, therefore, that Duncan will feel just a hint of pressure when being pursued by players of the calibre of world No.60, Emiliano Grillo, world No.59, Brendan Steele and five-time major winner and world No.30, Phil Mickelson, all of whom sit within four shots of the leader. "I feel OK now, but I'm not sure it's sunk in yet," Duncan reflected. love that @ReenaSibayan caught golfer Phil Mickelson taking this selfie with Clinton, Bush & Obama at the Presidents Cup today pic.twitter.com/x5ixHLIvrh— Terrence T. McDonald (@terrencemcd) September 29, 2017 "But it probably will after dinner when I'm laying in bed. I'm sure I'll be nervous tomorrow, but I am looking forward to it." Duncan can, at least, draw confidence from the exceptional quality of the golf that he has produced in order to put himself into this position. He carded six birdies and an eagle en route to a 7-under opening round 65 and followed that up with a cool 5-under 66 on Friday. During the third session, he bounced-back from a run of three bogeys in his first eight holes in order to sign for a solid 1-under 71 as the scoring of most all the field contracted. Mickelson is undoubtedly the most high-profile and most threatening pursuant. The 47-year-old, who has not won since claiming his fifth major at The Open four years ago, carded seven birdies en route to a 4-under 68 on Saturday and has seven consecutive rounds in the 60s in the event after finishing eighth last year. "Well, I am going to win, It's a matter of time," Mickelson said. "I don't know if it's tomorrow. I don't know if it's in China, but it's going to happen. It's going to happen soon because I'm starting to play well enough to do it." Duncan, for one, will be hoping that the veteran can show a bit more patience. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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