Let us know what you think about the site, we would love to hear from you:

Login Here

   Sign Up Now »
Email Address
Password
Keep Me Logged In
Forgot Password?
You are currently logged into Facebook. You can use your facebook account to login or signup
Login/Sign Up

Sign Up Now

   Login Here »
Email Address
Password
Confirm Password
Username
Phone Number
Captcha Image
By signing up you agree to our Terms Of Use
You are currently logged into Facebook. You can use your facebook account to login or signup
Login/Sign Up

Forgot Password

Email Address

19th Hole
News and Opinion

Golf Blogs

Date CreatedMost Popular

Sean Donnelly
Wyndham Championship Victory Provides Stenson With Base For Recovery
Aug 21, 2017 10:43 AM
 
This blog reflected on Friday that Henrik Stenson has been one of the biggest let-downs of the 2017 campaign thus far. For although the 41-year-old’s pre-Wyndham Championship record of two top-threes and a further three top-10s in his first 16 starts of the season was nothing to be sniffed, it was striking that he had already missed twice as many cuts as in the entire 2016 season. A T13 finish at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow the previous week further confirmed a failure to card a single top-10 at major championship level for only the second time in the last five years. Indeed, very fact that Stenson contested the Wyndham Championship against a weak field just days after the PGA Championship was a direct consequence of his relative underperformance. Kevin Kisner, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner and Ryan Moore are all high-quality golfers, but none are major champions and none rank inside of the world’s top-20. Indeed, the Swede travelled to Greensboro positioned 75th on the FedEx Cup points list, and although that ranking would have been sufficient to ensure his participation in the first two play-off events, he was not guaranteed a starting spot at the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club or the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake. For a golfer who finished 2016 ranked fourth in the world after claiming one of the greatest major championship victories in modern memory to miss-out on participation at two of the PGA Tour’s showpiece events would have been nigh-on unprecedented and a serious blow to the competitions’ prestige. The Swede posted a final-round six-under 64 that included birdies on four of his final six holes. https://t.co/QAdPXmxQpi— Golf World (@GolfWorld) August 21, 2017 It was, after all, only four years ago that Stenson became the first player ever to win both the European and PGA Tour Order of Merit awards. Against this backdrop, it was difficult not to draw satisfaction from the spectre of the Stockholm-native producing some of the best golf that he has played since the turn of the year en route to a single-stroke victory away from Ollie Schniederjans at 22-under-par for the tournament on Sunday. A remarkable, bogey-free 8-under opening round of 62 immediately put Stenson in with a strong shot of claiming his first PGA Tour title in over a year in North Carolina. While his scoring contracted with consecutive 4-under rounds of 66 across Friday and Saturday, he started the final round with a 1-shot lead away from Simpson, Kevin Na and Schniederjans. A peerless bogey-free, 6-under final round – punctuated by a sensational four birdies in a five-hole stretch of the back nine – ensured that lead remained intact at the end of Sunday, and in addition to climbing back-up to No.6 in the world rankings, Stenson earned $1,044,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points. He is now nailed-on to reach the Tour Championship. It is important not to overstate the significance of Stenson’s breakthrough; the exceptionally low-nature of the scoring in Greensboro speaks to the fact that the field and course he overcame are nowhere near FedEx Cup-level. However, the confidence generated by this victory will do the Swede a world of good and a confident, fit and firing Stenson has the capacity to be a serious contender for the play-offs. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
McIlroy Taking A Risk in Mounting FedEx Cup Defence
Aug 20, 2017 6:09 AM
 
When Rory McIlroy departed Quail Hollow Golf Course having signed for an impressive 3-under final round 68 to secure a solid T22 finish at the final major championship of the season two weeks ago, it seemed an opportune moment for the 28-year-old to call time on a frustrating campaign and focus on recuperating ahead of the start of the 2018 season. The player himself conceded that he has never fully recovered from the rib he sustained en route to a runners-up finish at the South African Open in February. Add-in an equipment change and a wedding and it is little wonder the Irishman invoked the adjective “transitional” when reflecting upon his 2017 season after the PGA Championship. “I have got this next week off to assess what I need to go forward. I don’t know what I’m going to do”, McIlroy said. “You might not see me playing again until next year. You might see me in a couple of weeks’ time. It really depends. “I just haven’t allowed it the time to fully heal. I wanted to play the season. I feel like I’m capable of playing well and winning and putting rounds together. But, if I want to challenge on a more consistent basis, I need to get 100% healthy.” In this context confirmation that the world No.4 is set to mount a defence of his FedEx Cup title beginning at the Northern Trust Open at Glen Oaks next week has come as a surprise to many commentators. McIlroy seemed to have his priorities straight in suggesting that he would take the rest of the year off to focus on recovering to full physical fitness ahead of “the next big thing on my radar”, The Masters at Augusta in April. Highlight of the day so far: @McIlroyRory "You've got to be kidding me!" pic.twitter.com/YV4opopHmK — Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) August 11, 2017 As this blog argued a fortnight ago, McIlroy has nothing to prove beyond adding to his total of four major championship titles; he has already won everything that there is to win, and even a sensational FedEx Cup triumph last autumn didn’t spare him from relentless criticism for the heinous sin of failing to win a major in any of his last 11 attempts (a sequence through which he has carded a remarkable seven top-10s). It is, of course, far easier for armchair pundits, such as myself, to take a step-back from the hum-drum routine of competing for regular Tour events and adopt a broader perspective on grandiose concepts such as legacy and longevity. McIlroy is an extremely driven, elite-level athlete whose entire existence is organised around the task of winning golf tournaments, and it surely galls him to witness rivals such as Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth occupy the media spotlight he once dominated. Indeed, the player gave eloquent expression to this impulse at Quail Hollow, stating: “I feel like a sense of … not duty [to play], but I’ve missed a lot of time already. If I’m capable of playing, I feel like, ‘Why shouldn’t you?’ But then at the same time, if you are not capable of playing at your best, why should you play? It’s a Catch-22.” Ultimately, Rory knows his body better than anyone and has based his decision to partake at the FedEx on expert medical advice. Nevertheless, it is difficult to shake the feeling that the world No.4 has allowed a basic competitive instinct to cloud his assessment of far more important, longer-term strategic goals: namely the quest to become only the sixth golfer in the history of the sport to complete a career-slam at Augusta in April. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Mahan rises from the ashes at Wyndham
Aug 19, 2017 10:47 AM
 
Golf, as players of any level can attest, is a most capricious game. One errant tee-shot into thick rough, one odd bounce off a fairway divot into water, or one ball-rotation too many on a lightening-fast putting-green can shift the dynamic of an entire round. Tournaments are frequently decided on such fine margins, sometimes even the future course of careers (just ask Jean van de Velde). But even allowing for such unpredictability, the precipitous decline in Hunter Mahan’s fortunes since claiming his sixth PGA Tour title at The Barclays during the 2014 FedEx Cup play-off series surely ranks as one of the most remarkable storylines in the history of professional golf. From the moment the California-native beat Jay Williamson in a play-off in order to claim his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Travellers Championship in June, 2007, he seemed destined to establish himself as one of Tiger Woods’ principal rivals at the elite-level of the game. Within five years of turning pro, Mahan had broken the world’s top-40 and earned selection as one of Paul Azinger’s wild-cards for the 2008 Ryder Cup squad, going unbeaten through four matches. Hunter Mahan (-10) has gone from the dreaded no-status bubble to firmly in the @WyndhamChamp mix: https://t.co/JuDj9sLjHi pic.twitter.com/xfgkNZyuje— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) August 19, 2017 By the end of 2012, he had five PGA Tour accolades to his name; he had ranked inside of the world’s top-5, and had twice triumphed at WGC-level. It seemed only a matter of time until he made his major championship breakthrough. But after tying for ninth at the 2015 Masters, Mahan’s game went into a tailspin. The Oklahoma State graduate missed twice as many cuts (6) as he made top-10s (3) in 26 starts in 2015; he missed 16 cuts in 23 starts in 2016; and arrived in Greensboro for the Wyndham Championship this week with 12 missed cuts in 21 starts since the beginning of the year. This form has caused his world ranking to plummet down from a career-high of fourth back in February 2012, to 809th. Many commentators have consequently judged the 35-year-old’s career to be over. It is in this context that the remarkable nature of Mahan’s opening 36-holes at the Wyndham must be understood. Consecutive 5-under rounds of 65 across Thursday and Friday have moved Mahan to within three shots of the joint half-way leaders, Ryan Armour and Webb Simpson, and if he can maintain that level of scoring across the weekend, we may well be poised witness the greatest golfing comeback victory of all time. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Stenson Ignites with 62 in rare Wyndham appearance
Aug 18, 2017 10:54 AM
 
Suffice to say, 2017 has not gone the way Henrik Stenson would have hoped at the beginning of the year. The Swede finished the 2016 campaign ranked fourth in the Official World Golf Rankings; he posted a sensational record of two tournament victories, four runners-up placings and a further five top-10s through 22 starts on all Tours, missing just two cuts; and, most importantly, he shook-off 18 years of unwanted history by claiming his maiden major championship title by three strokes away from Phil Mickelson at The Open at Royal Troon last July. The triumph has already gone down as one of the greatest final rounds in the 145 year history of the Open Championship; a two man, 18-hole shootout of a calibre sufficient to rival that of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus a few miles down the Ayrshire coast at Turnberry 39 years earlier. Remarkably, third-place J.B. Holmes wound-up a full 11 strokes back from Mickelson and Lefty’s final score of 17-under would have been sufficient to win all but four of the 145 Open Championships since 1871. Stenson finished 2016 strongly, posting runner-up placings at the Rio Olympics and the WGC -HSBC Champions event en route to claiming the European Player of the Year award. But since winning the European Tour’s coveted the Race to Dubai title for a second time last November, he has struggled to rediscover his best form. What a start for @HenrikStenson!Highlights from his 62: pic.twitter.com/8Mpfl3VKMg— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 18, 2017 Now, Stenson’s record of two top-threes and a further three top-10s in 16 starts since the turn of the year is nothing to be sniffed at; he sits 75th in the FedEx Cup standings and 14th in the Race to Dubai table. However, he has already missed twice as many cuts as he did in the entire 2016 season, including at The Masters and the US Open consecutively, and a T13 finish at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow last week means that he has failed to card a single top-10 at major championship level. In this context it was heartening to witness the Swede produce his best round of the season at The Wyndham Championship on Thursday. He hit nine of 14 fairways and landed 16 greens in regulation en route to signing for a bogey-free 8-under 64, tying Matt Every at the top of the overnight leaderboard. Although the world No.8 is by far the strongest player in the field, the very fact he is competing at such a low-profile event is a reflection of the uneven nature of his performances over the past eight months. Here’s hoping that Stenson can maintain such form through the weekend in Greensboro and set himself up for a strong end to 2017 by claiming his first title of the year. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Solheim Cup Could Hinge on Lexi Thompson’s Fitness
Aug 17, 2017 11:03 AM
 
Perhaps the greatest feature of the German language is the fact that it seems to have words for everything. Kummerspeck (literally ‘grief bacon’), for instance, is the phrase invoked when someone comfort eats after a traumatic event in their lives such as a break-up; Innerer Schweinehund (Inner pig dog) is the label for an instinctive laziness in human beings, while Treppenwitz (Staircase joke) is the name given to the phenomenon of thinking of the best jokes, lines, and comebacks just after the moment you needed it to come into your head. But perhaps the greatest such German expression is schadenfreude, the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another. US golf fans could be forgiven for having indulged in a little schadenfreude on Wednesday evening when news broke that European Tour star Suzann Pettersen has been ruled out of Solheim Cup owing to a back injury. The 36-year-old triggered chaos and tears at the meeting of Europe and the United States two years ago after refusing to concede a tiny putt mistakenly picked up by Alison Lee. Following an initial insistence that she had done nothing wrong in the aftermath of a European defeat, Pettersen issued a lengthy statement of apology the next day. Due to ailments and health concerns, both Suzann Pettersen and Lexi Thompson have limited their #SolheimCup prep: https://t.co/OXlpfEWqbf pic.twitter.com/yfsuc3G7OS— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) August 15, 2017 There was consequently huge speculation regarding the treatment that would be meted out to the Norwegian in Des Moines this week. On Tuesday, for instance, Juli Inkster, the USA’s Solheim Cup captain, determined it necessary to implore the home crowd not to abuse Pettersen. The injury, of course, has removed any fears the tournament organisers may have harboured that the home fans might damage the competition’s reputation by being overly aggressive in their reception of Pettersen. However, it has also deprived an already under-strength European side of a key asset and diminished the competitive balance of the tournament. “It’s been a lot of juggling, to put it mildly,” admitted Annika Sorenstam, Europe’s captain. “I was just glad that Suzann called me on Saturday. I had a plan, I called it plan A. Then we started a plan B. “Needless to say, we have had a lot of plans back and forth. When Suzann and I spoke this morning, I kind of threw out plan A and now we’re sticking to plan B.” But before US fans grow too complacent ahead of the opening team session on Friday morning, it is worth pointing out that the participation of the host’s own star player, Lexi Thompson, is also in doubt. The 22-year-old is battling a virus that has severely limited her preparations for the event and there is some suggestion that Inkster could yet be moved to call in a replacement. “I’m a little worried about her,” the captain reflected on Wednesday. “Everybody else seems to be in good shape.” As this blog pointed out last month, Thompson is on course to join Sorenstam in becoming only the second player in LPGA Tour history to record a scoring average below 69 over the course of a full season; indeed, in 14 starts since the beginning of the year, the world No.2 has posted a victory at the Kingsmill Championship and a further five runner-up showings, including at the ANA Inspiration back in March. No team could forfeit a player of Thompson’s quality without suffering for the loss and it may well be the case that the sense of schadenfreude derived from Pettersen’s withdrawal is short-lived. What’s the German for Solheim Cup upset? [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Oosthuizen’s Unique Career Slam Embodies Consistency
Aug 16, 2017 11:04 AM
 
It is a reflection of the personality-driven nature of contemporary sports media that Louis Oosthuizen remains one of the lesser discussed members of the PGA Tour Since claiming his maiden major championship title by a full seven strokes away from Lee Westwood at the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews, the quietly-spoken Mossel Bay-native has amassed a further six European Tour titles; he has twice represented South Africa at President’s Cup-level and, in January 2013, he ascended to a career-high position of 4th in the Official World Golf Rankings. Indeed, Oosthuizen has amassed a hugely impressive 13 titles across all Tours in 15 years on the professional circuit and is already assured to go down as one of his country’s greatest ever golfing exports. But as impressive as his CV already read prior to last weekend’s US PGA Championship, it is possible that his T2 finish at Quail Hollow will come to be regarded as his crowning achievement. For in finishing two shots back from two shots back from champion, Justin Thomas, at 6-under for the tournament, Oosthuizen did more than secure his fourth top-10 in a strong 2017 season, he also became only the seventh player in the history of the sport to finish as a runner-up in all four major championships, joining Craig Wood, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, and Phil Mickelson in what is surely professional golf’s most bizarre and most elite club. The 34-year-old’s first near miss came at the 2012 Masters when he was defeated by Bubba Watson on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff despite shooting a hugely impressive 3-under final round of 69. In June 2015, he finished a single shot back from Jordan Spieth at the US Open at Chambers Bay, while the following month he posted a 3-under Sunday score of 69 in order to force himself into a three-man play-off at The Open Championship at St Andrew’s only to lose out against 2007 Masters champion, Zach Johnson, by a stroke. Just finished my career grand slam second's .. "I'll rise up" pic.twitter.com/083aRityWn— Louis Oosthuizen (@Louis57TM) August 14, 2017 On Sunday, he completed the set. One could be forgiven for assuming that Oosthuizen departed Quail Hollow last weekend with his shoulders slumped, head-down, ruminating on an agonising sequence of near-misses that would be enough to break any athlete’s heart. But instead, the South African opened-up and satirized his disappointment on social media, taking to Twitter to post a video of himself lip-syncing to a song called 'Rise Up' that quickly earned thousands of retweets and likes. Clearly Oosthuizen cannot be faulted for attitude, and if he maintains the standard of performance he produced in North Carolina last week in the medium term, he is guaranteed to continue contending for the sport’s biggest prizes. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
2017 Is A Write-Off: McIlroy Must Rest-Up & Focus On History
Aug 15, 2017 4:21 AM
 
In the end it just wasn’t to be for Rory McIlroy. The 28-year-old started last week’s US PGA Championship as the bookmakers’ narrow favourite to claim a third title in eight starts at Quail Hollow and to consequently draw level with players of the calibre of Phil Mickelson, Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson on a career-record of five major titles. However, consecutive 1-over rounds of 72 across Thursday and Friday ensured that he started the weekend a full 10 shots back from the surprise 36-hole leader, Kevin Kisner, and while he can draw confidence from the quality of golf that he produced en route to a final round 68 (securing a solid T22 finish at 1-over), the Northern Irishman departs North Carolina under a cloud of uncertainty. “Right now I can feel my left rhomboid going into spasm,” McIlroy reflected when asked about the state of his recovery from a serious rib injury sustained at the South African Open in February. “It’s sort of the way it has been for the last few weeks. I have upped my practice coming into these events because I wanted to feel like I was in a good place in my game. But right now it’s a tough one because I go out there and play and shoot decent scores, but when I come off the course, I feel my left rhomboid going into spasm. The inside of my left arm goes numb. “I have got this next week off to assess what I need to go forward. I don’t know what I’m going to do. You might not see me playing again until next year. You might see me in a couple of weeks’ time. It really depends.” The significance of this statement should not be underestimated. For although all four of the season’s major championships have been completed, McIlroy still has the European Tour’s Race to Dubai title to play for (an event he has won twice in the last five years) as well as the PGA Tour’s lucrative FedEx Cup play-off series (an event he won last year). The lure to continue playing will be strong. The next significant tournament McIlroy is slated for is in two weeks at the Northern Trust Open at Glen Oaks on Long Island, and sponsors, tournament hosts and media interests will all be seeking to persuade the Down-native to delay his recovery period until the winter in order to attempt to salvage some positives from a deeply underwhelming 2017 season. The player himself admitted as much, stating: “I feel like a sense of … not duty [to play], but I’ve missed a lot of time already. If I’m capable of playing, I feel like, ‘Why shouldn’t you?’ But then at the same time, if you are not capable of playing at your best, why should you play? It’s a Catch-22.” Such a desire to compete is perfectly understandable. McIlroy is an extremely driven, elite-level athlete whose entire existence is organised around the task of winning golf tournaments. Thus as frustrating as these past eight months have been for Rory’s supporters, they have been doubly painful for the player and he must be galled to see the media spotlight that he once dominated refocus on Jordan Spieth. Highlight of the day so far: @McIlroyRory "You've got to be kidding me!" pic.twitter.com/YV4opopHmK— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) 11 sierpnia 2017 But if he’s being smart and honest with himself, where McIlroy needs to go is home to rest until he’s completely healthy. Outside of the majors, he has nothing to prove: he has won everything that there is to win, and even a sensational FedEx Cup triumph last autumn didn’t spare him from relentless criticism for the heinous sin of failing to win a major in any of his last 11 attempts (a sequence through which he has carded a remarkable seven top-10s). In claiming two PGA Championships, a US Open and an Open Championship by the age of 26, McIlroy transcended the standard metric by which the performances of professional golfers are assessed. He already ranks alongside players such as Ernie Els and Bobby Locke as one the game’s historic greats and the only means through which he can enhance that status now is by adding more major titles. McIlroy earned over $30 million in endorsements alone last year and Forbes ranked him the sixth richest athlete in the world; money and regular tour wins have consequently long since ceased to be of great significance. What matters now are majors and McIlroy’s place in history: his next big start is not the Northern Trust Open in a fortnight’s time, but The Masters in April where he will bid to become on the seventh player ever to complete golf’s career slam. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Justin Thomas Makes Major Breakthrough At Quail Hollow
Aug 14, 2017 5:02 AM
 
In the end, it took a little longer than expected for Justin Thomas to claim his maiden major championship title. Ever since tying for 78th on the occasion of his PGA Tour debut at the 2009 Wyndham Championship as a 16-year-old, the Kentucky native had been regarded as one of the hottest young properties in American golf. He won six times for the Crimson Tide during his time at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and claimed the prestigious Haskins Award as ‘outstanding collegiate golfer’ as a freshman in 2012. Like many players, Thomas initially struggled to transfer his exceptional collegiate-level form on to the professional stage. He failed to card a single top-10 finish through his first two full seasons on the PGA Tour and largely resided in the shadow of his close friend, Jordan Spieth. A single stroke victory away from Adam Scott at the CIMB Classic in November 2015, however, proved transformative. He went on to retain that title the following autumn and claimed PGA Tour titles numbers three and four at the SBS Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open in Hawaii back in January. That form catapulted the 24-year-old into the world’s top-10 and he arrived at Augusta for The Masters in April trading among the bookmakers’ favourites to claim the green jacket. However, Thomas struggled to maintain his impressive wrap-around form into the major season. He missed three cuts in his first five starts after winning in Hawaii; he failed to contend at either The Masters (T22) or The Open Championship (MC); and while he impressed with a T9 finish at the US Open at Erin Hills, it cannot be overlooked that he started the final round within a stroke of the 54-hole leader, Brian Harman, and played himself out of contention with an error-strewn 75 on the Sunday. The trophy's as big as he is!@JustinThomas34 is your 2017 PGA Championship winner. pic.twitter.com/zYBc0NwrNS— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 13 sierpnia 2017 This failure to replicate his Hawaii Swing performances at the top-level of the PGA Tour was taken by many commentators as a worrying sign of psychological weakness. Reflecting on Thomas’ final round capitulation at Erin Hills, for instance, the Guardian’s Ewan Murray noted an “ominous trend” in the young golfer’s fledgling career whereby, “when things start to go wrong, he is not particularly adept at stemming the flow.” Thomas thus arrived for the season’s final major at Quail Hollow having slipped back to 14th in the world rankings; he was winless in over seven months, and had posted three missed-cuts in his last four starts. In this context, it is unsurprising that he traded longer than 40/1 to claim the title. Such pricing seemed stingy on Thursday evening. Thomas carded six bogeys en route to a 2-over opening-round 73 and sat 5 shots back from the joint overnight leaders, Kevin Kisner and Thorbjorn Olesen. A 5-under second round 66, however, catapulted him back into contention and a hugely 2-under 69 in tough conditions on Saturday ensured he began the final round within 2 shots of the 54-hole leader, Kisner, at 5-under. There was to be no repeat of Erin Hills this time around. Thomas started shakily, bookending his first birdie of the day on the par-4 second with bogeys on the first and third; however, he birdied the seventh and ninth in order to reach the turn at 1-under for the day and shed another stroke on the tenth in order to enter into a five-way tie for the lead. The momentum shift in Thomas’s favour came on the 13th, where he chipped in for a birdie to move to eight under par. He maintained that position until the penultimate hole, where a glorious tee shot set up a 14ft birdie chance. Thomas converted, delivering a fatal blow to the already struggling Matsuyama in the process. Thomas took to the 18th with a two-stroke lead, with even a drive into a bunker insufficient to halt his victory march. By this juncture the rest were scaling an ice mountain in slippers. Thomas’s fourth round was of 68 shots, he finished two clear of Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed and Louis Oosthuizen in a tie for second and it is difficult to shake the feeling that this won’t be the last time we see the Kentucky top a major championship leaderboard. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Late Bloomer, Kisner, On Brink Of Breakthrough
Aug 13, 2017 8:46 AM
 
Kevin Kisner was never the kind of golfer one would describe as a prodigy. Sure, the South Carolina-native exhibited exceptional ability as a youth player; nobody represents the University of Georgia and joins players of the calibre of Chris Kirk, Richard Scott, and Brendon Todd on the 2005 NCAA Division I Championship team without possessing serious talent. But unlike Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth, say, Kisner was never commonly talked about as a major champion in the making, and he was certainly never the kind of player that equipment manufacturers were fighting over for sponsorship rights. Indeed, it would not be overly harsh to characterise 33-year-old’s first decade in the professional game as distinctly average. Friendly reminder:@K_Kisner thrives under pressure. pic.twitter.com/7ZBvYlVphb — PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 13 sierpnia 2017 In the nine years that followed his ascension from the amateur ranks back in 2006, Kisner managed only two tournament victories – the 2010 Mylan Classic and the 2013 Chile Classic, both on the Webb.com Tour – and never rose higher than 235th in the Official World Golf Rankings. Indeed, he failed to earn enough in winnings to retain his PGA Tour playing card in both 2011 and 2012 and finished the 2014 season ranked outside of the top-230 having carded twice as many missed-cuts (8) as he had made top-10s (4) through 26 starts. As recently as two and a half years ago, therefore, Kisner looked unlikely to amount to anything more than a regular journeyman-professional: an athlete who is technically competent but unable to excel. In 2015, however, something in Kisner’s game clicked. He shot four rounds of 67 or lower en route to claiming his maiden PGA Tour title by six strokes away from Kevin Chappell at the RSM Classic in November and finished the season with four further runners-up placings through 30 starts. That form Propelled the Georgia University graduate up as high as 17th in the Official World Golf Rankings, and while he endured a winless 2016, he outscored Sean O'Hair, Jon Rahm, and Jordan Spieth by a single stroke in order to claim his second PGA Tour accolade at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational in May. Kisner thus arrived at Quail Hollow for the season’s final major this week ranked 25th in the world, with a tournament victory, a runners-up placing (at the Arnold Palmer Invitational) and three further top-10s in 18 starts since the turn of the year. But despite this strong form, most bookmakers priced him in triple-digits to claim the Wannamaker trophy; after all, in 11 previous major championship starts, he had never managed a top-10 finish. The PGA Championship, however, is a tournament with a rich history of surprise winners – David Toms, Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel jump to mind ­– and Kisner’s 1-over third round 72 was sufficient to provide him a single-shot lead away from Chris Stroud and Hideki Matsuyama going into Sunday. Kisner’s development over the past three seasons embodies the cliché about golf being a sport for ‘late bloomers’; a victory on Sunday would be a testament to the 33-year-old’s perseverance. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Matsuyama Surges Ahead Of Quail Hollow Moving Day
Aug 12, 2017 6:08 AM
 
Much of the build-up to the 99th edition of the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow this week was understandably focused on two big-name protagonists, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. The logic underlying this editorial outlook, of course, was sound. After all, a victory on Sunday would be sufficient to render Spieth the youngest golfer ever to complete the coveted career-slam (a cool seven months earlier than the current record holder, Tiger Woods). McIlroy, meantime, possesses a peerless 1-MC-2-10-8-1-4 record through seven starts at Hollow, and T4 and T5 finishes at The Open and the WGC-Bridgestone suggested that the 28-year-old was rediscovering his best form in time to salvage a deeply underwhelming season with a fifth major title. But as this blog argued on Wednesday, the predominant focus on Spieth and McIlroy obscured the seriousness of the threat posed by Hideki Matsuyama, a player one can persuasively argue is the form golfer on the PGA Tour. This is the best 36-hole position of Hideki Matsuyama's major championship career. #PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/Tz1zdPRTkc— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) 12 sierpnia 2017 After all, it was just last week that the Ehime-native overcame a two shot final round deficit in order to claim a remarkable sixth triumph in 20 starts courtesy of a course-record equalling 9-under 61 at Firestone. That win ensured Matsuyama joined Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, the only two players ahead of him in the Official World Golf Ranking, as a three-time PGA Tour winner this season after registering his second WGC title following the WGC-HSBC Champions victory in the fall. Since the Tour Championship at the end of the 2016 season, Matsuyama has six worldwide wins, adding two on the Japan Tour and the Hero World Challenge. And his three runner-up finishes in that span includes a T-2 at the U.S. Open. The Ehime-native started solidly at Hollow, recovering from a score of 3-over through five holes in order to sign for a 1-under 70. On Friday, however, he clicked, posting five birdies through his final seven holes en route to carding a bogey-free 7-under 64. , That performance has drawn the world No.3 level with Kevin Kisner – a player who has yet to card a top-10 finish at major championship level – atop the half-way leaderboard at 8-under. Thus although players of the calibre of Jason Day (-6) and Rickie Fowler (-3) remain within touching-distance of the lead, it seems clear that the fate of Matsuyama’s quest to become Japan’s first ever major champion remains in his own hands. At 2-over and 3-over respectively, McIlroy and Spieth look set to be relegated to mere footnotes when the history of the 2017 PGA Championship comes to be written. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Can Dustin Johnson Rediscover His Mojo At Quail Hollow
Aug 11, 2017 9:36 AM
 
This might be considered a controversial statement, but I am just going to go right out and say it: Dustin Johnson has lost his mojo. That’s right. Lost. It. Sure, he still sits atop the Official World Golf Rankings; however, his advantage has narrowed considerably since he acceded to that position after claiming his first PGA Tour victory of the 2017 season at the Genesis Open back in February. Truth is, the 33-year-old just hasn’t been himself since slipping on the stairs of his Augusta rental home less than 72 hours before the opening round of The Masters. In hindsight, it is difficult not to reflect upon DJ’s withdrawal from The Masters as the constitutive moment in the golfing year. For context, it is worth casting your mind back to 6 April and recalling just how indomitable Johnson seemed in advance of the opening major of the season. In the nine months that followed his major championship breakthrough at the US Open at Oakmont last June, the South Carolina native won five times, including three WGC titles and a FedEx Cup event. Indeed, his single hole victory over Jon Rahm at the WGC-Dell World Match Play Championship back in March marked the occasion of his third victory in a row on the PGA Tour (following on from the WGC-Mexico and the Genesis Open) and, despite a record of just two top-10s in seven Masters starts, he traded as Vegas’ 7/1 favourite to claim a maiden green jacket. 439 yards.@DJohnsonPGA just hit the longest drive on TOUR since 2013.#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/bNnA6lzQlq— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 3, 2017 Then came the slip, and Johnson has since struggled to recaptured his best form. Sure, he finished T2 at the Wells Fargo Championship on the occasion of his first start after the Masters; however, a 3-over second round 75 meant that he was always playing catch-up to surprise winner, Brian Harman. In eight starts since withdrawing at Augusta, Johnson has managed just three top-10s and he arrives at Quail Hollow for the season’s final major with a form-book reading MC-MC-T54-T8-T17. "I've been working hard on the game. I feel like it's finally coming back into form," he told reporters on Tuesday. "Last week I felt like I got some things worked out in the swing that were just holding me back a little bit. "Right now, I feel it's close to when I was playing really well before Augusta." Of course, there are factors mitigating in the 15-time PGA Tour winner’s favour this week. George C Cobb’s sprawling, 7,600-yard track clearly favours big-hitters and he finished his WGC-Bridgestone defence strongly last weekend, posting Saturday and Sunday rounds of 68 and 66 respectively. Nevertheless, it is extremely difficult to justify backing a player in Johnson’s form at odds as short as 8/1, especially when one accounts for the fact that he has missed two cuts and failed to finish higher than 29th in three previous visits to Quail Hollow. For the first time since making his breakthrough at Oakmont last summer, the world No.1 is beginning to look vulnerable. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Matsuyama Dangerously Poised For Quail Hollow
Aug 10, 2017 2:42 AM
 
Shihai-tekina is the Japanese expression for ‘dominant’; one need not be an expert on the country’s media landscape to guess that phrase was commonly invoked in reporting on Hideki Matsuyama’s emphatic 5-stroke victory away from Zach Johnson at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last weekend. The 25-year-old hit 29 of 56 fairways while averaging 329 yards off the tee at Firestone; he landed 54 of 72 greens in regulation (75%) and averaged just 1.648 putts per green. Most remarkably, he overcame a two shot final round deficit in order to claim a remarkable sixth triumph in 20 starts courtesy of a course-record equalling 9-under 61. That win ensured Matsuyama joined Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, the only two players ahead of him in the Official World Golf Ranking, as a three-time PGA Tour winner this season after registering his second WGC title following the WGC-HSBC Champions victory in the fall. Since the Tour Championship at the end of the 2016 season, Matsuyama has six worldwide wins, adding two on the Japan Tour and the Hero World Challenge. And his three runner-up finishes in that span includes a T-2 at the U.S. Open. Put simply, Matsuyama has been Shihai-tekina for a long time now, and he travels to North Carolina for this week’s US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow strongly placed to redress the one significant flaw on his already glittering PGA Tour resume – the absence of a major championship title. Much of the build-up to the PGA Championship has naturally focused on the bookmakers’ two favourites, Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Spieth, of course, has attracted attention owing to the fact that a victory on Sunday would make him the youngest player ever to complete golf’s career slam; McIlroy, meantime, leads the betting by virtue of a sensational record at Hollow featuring two victories and a play-off defeat. However, it is striking just how little media attention has been devoted to one of the game’s form players: there is a lot to recommend backing Matsuyama to break his major duck at odds of around 9/1 this week. For starters, he's got some useful history at Quail Hollow with progressive form reading T38 in 2014, T20 in 2015 and T11 in 2016 (he was also third at the Wyndham Championship on his last start in North Carolina). Furthermore, his rank of 22nd on the PGA Tour for driving distance suggests that he is better placed than Spieth (T96) to hold his own against big-hitting former conquerors of Hollow such as McIlroy, J.B. Holmes and Rickie Fowler. The value in backing the Ehime-native is further enhanced when one accounts for the fact that, just as seven of our last eight major champions have been first-time winners, 15 of the last 18 US PGA Champions had managed at least one PGA Tour title in the season leading up to their major triumph. A final-round 61. Hideki Matsuyama enters the clubhouse at (-16) and a five-shot lead at @WGC_Bridgestone. pic.twitter.com/HQXxythH4O — PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 6, 2017 Finally, it is significant to note that Matsuyama is something of a ‘form golfer’. Beginning in October last year, for instance, and he went on a run of 1-2-1-1-2, and his present form reads T2-T14-T14-1. Admittedly this constitutes of a significant drop-off, but it is worth noting that his T2 came at the US Open at Erin Hills two months ago, while his second T14 was at The Open Championship. Dustin Johnson (three wins in a row leading up the Masters) and Spieth (two wins in his last two starts) have further demonstrated that elite golfers are well capable of winning in bunches. If Matsuyama hits top-gear at Hollow, it will take something special to beat him. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

GolfSmash Bloggers

Sean Donnelly
Blog Posts: 582
crudbay
Blog Posts: 90
OfficialGolfSmash
Blog Posts: 38
CLTheGolfer
Blog Posts: 33
Matt Martin
Blog Posts: 10
MattRistine
Blog Posts: 6
Darren DeYoung
Blog Posts: 6
Anyagolf
Blog Posts: 4