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19th Hole
News and Opinion

Golf Blogs

Date CreatedMost Popular

Sean Donnelly
Brooks Koepka optimistic for US Open despite missed cut at Palmetto
Jun 13, 2021 6:14 AM
 
There were high hopes for Brooks Koepka heading into last week’s Palmetto Championship at Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina. While the 31-year-old’s progress has been stymied significantly by a recurring injury to his right knee, an issue that necessitated surgery in March, the fact remains that, when fit, he has looked close to his indominable best. In February, Koepka ended an 18-month trophy drought with an exceptional, single-stroke victory at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix. Two weeks later, he finished as a narrow runner-up to Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession club. He then rebounded from a disappointing missed-cut at The Masters (an event for which he clearly wasn’t physically fit) with a tied-second place finish at the US PGA Championship at Kiwah Island last month, and has repositioned himself firmly back inside of the world’s top-10. Faced against a field containing just two other members of the world’s top-10, Dustin Johnson and Tyrrell Hatton, there was good reason to feel optimistic regarding Koepka’s chances of contending for a second victory of the season in order to arrive into next week’s US Open at Torrey Pines on a high. Ultimately, however, such positive predictions never came to pass. The four-time major winner started poorly in South Carolina with a 1-over opening round 71 to slip seven shots off the overnight lead. While he began his second round brightly with two birdies inside of his opening three-holes, his performance deteriorated markedly on the back-nine and he signed ultimately for a Friday total of 73 to miss the halfway cut mark by two strokes. The former world No.1 hit nine of 14 fairways for his second round at Congaree but landed just 10 greens in regulation and was six of eight scrambling. Strikingly, the Palmetto marks the occasion of his third missed cut in his previous four starts. Man of the ppl so I’m sitting with my ppl… https://t.co/2bVQgoAFOW— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) June 7, 2021 Nevertheless, Koepka professed an impressive optimism in his post-round comments to the assembled press corps on Friday. “I'm playing really good,” Koepka reflected of his technical performance. “I like the way I'm striking the ball. I like the way I'm putting the ball too. Just seemed to be a little bit of speed control.” More importantly, perhaps, the two-time U.S. Open champion said his knee is feeling fine ahead of next week’s event at Torrey Pines. “It's good,” he said. “It's in a really good spot. I like where it's at. I've done enough rehab, strength's coming around. I mean, I can almost squat down to read a putt like normal. Didn't do it too much this week just because I don't want to screw it up for next week.” [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Rickie Fowler’s struggles deepen following US Open qualifying failure
Jun 10, 2021 10:26 AM
 
There were no shortage of big name casualties following last week’s Final Qualifying event for the US Open in Ohio. A fortnight on from tying for fourth at the US PGA Championship, for instance, the European Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington played himself to within touching distance of the main draw but missed out by a stroke upon parring each of his final four consecutive holes. A similarly anguishing fate was to befall former US PGA Champions Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley, while former world No.1, Luke Donald also missed out. But undoubtedly the highest profile absentee from 17 June event at Torrey Pines will be Rickie Fowler. The 32-year-old, who tied second at the US Open in 2014, shot a six-under second-round 66 to finish a stroke outside a playoff for the final four of 16 spots. He consequently formed part of a crowded 12-man group playing-off for the 2nd alternate spot, a contest won ultimately by Ben Taylor, who holed out for eagle on the second playoff hole. "I'm obviously disappointed," Fowler reflected. "I should have made it outright fairly easily. Not playing that well (at Brookside) and to be close to a spot is a bummer. But I love where my game is at and where it's going. Looking at the big picture, there's a lot of good things ahead." So much respect for @RickieFowler for taking time after the longest day in golf for these young fans. #USOpen #PGATOUR pic.twitter.com/sPJzBs71jQ— Jim (@jdawso2) June 8, 2021 The consequences of this disappointment can scarcely be overstated. Winless in over two years and with just a single top-10 finish to his name through 13 starts in 2021, Fowler slipped outside of the world’s top-100 for the first time in early March and his failure to qualify for 84th Masters last month ended a run of 41 consecutive major championship starts. The five-time PGA Tour winner showed signs of life in tying for eighth at last month’s PGA Championship; however, he was, ultimately, only present at Kiwah Island courtesy of a sponsor’s exemption and last week’s failure in Ohio means he will miss his first US Open in 11 years. Nothing signals that a player has fallen away from the elite level of the PGA Tour like an absence from major championships and Fowler, who was a nigh-on permanent member of the world’s top-10 between 2014 and 2019, has now missed out on two majors in the space of three months. His hopes of contesting the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s in July remain far from assured and, barring a revolution in form, it is unlikely he will be considered for wildcard inclusion by US Ryder Cup captain, Steve Stricker. Ever since becoming the first golfer in history to top-five at every major in a single season without winning one seven years ago, Fowler was tipped for major championship success. But the longer his present struggles endure, the more it seems we must understand his breakout season as belying a worrying psychological brittleness as much as prodigious technical talent. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Premier Golf League organisers insist 2023 launch is 'entirely plausible'
Jun 9, 2021 4:39 AM
 
It hasn’t gone away, you know. Ever since COVID-19 upended the temporal and economic architecture of professional sport, the spectre of a breakaway Premier Golf League has haunted the PGA and European Tour’s most senior administrators. Details regarding plans for an F1-style golfing super league emerged first at the beginning of 2020. Proposals indicated that 48 players would compete in an 18-event season offering a total prize fund of £183m (€212m). Five-time major winner, Phil Mickelson labelled the idea “intriguing” and met with the PGL’s key figures at the Saudi International last January. 15-time major winner, Tiger Woods confirmed he had been approached and conceded, "We're still looking at it", while the former world No.1, Justin Rose admitted coyly that: "There are a lot of incentives for the guys to be interested." One by one, it seemed, golf’s biggest personalities were being drawn away from the sport’s traditional competitions, or were at least willing to use the PGL as what Mickelson referred to crudely “leverage,” in negotiations with the PGA and European tours. Premier Golf League: Revolutionary £250m series scheduled to begin in 2023 https://t.co/lndlOX3Hjx— Iain Carter (@iaincartergolf) June 7, 2021 Then in February last year, the world No.1, Rory McIlroy delivered a body-blow to the project, stating conclusively that he had no interest taking part. World Nos. 2 and 3, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm swiftly followed suit and, as recently as March 2021, PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan curtly informed a compulsory player meeting at the Wells Fargo Championship that any player who commits to partake in the PGL will face instant suspension and a lifetime ban from the PGA Tour. However, speculation has been mounting in recent weeks that the PGL may be back on the cards; indeed, the chief executive of the project, Andy Gardiner told BBC Sport last week that: "The team is ready to go. "We've used the last eight months to bring in externals to check through every single piece of the model to make sure the events of the last 12 months with Covid haven't changed our thinking. "The January 2023 date right now is entirely feasible. We will see how the conversations go with the community that we want to embrace." That "community", of course, includes the PGA and European Tours, who late last year formed a new strategic allianceto combat the economic threat posed by the PGL's proposal. Whether those measures provide leading players with an incentive sufficient to spurn the advances of the insurgent competition remains to be seen; however, it is clear that this tug-of-war at the elite-level of professional golf is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Jon Rahm recapturing best form despite Memorial disappointment
Jun 7, 2021 10:42 AM
 
It is a testament, ultimately, to the outrageously high standards Jon Rahm has set for himself through the course of five short seasons on the PGA Tour that the opening months of 2021 had some commentators questioning his readiness to compete for a major. Just a year has passed since the 26-year-old ascended to the summit of the Official World Golf Rankings upon claiming his fourth PGA Tour title at The Memorial Tournament in Ohio. Significantly, he consolidated that achievement with a sensational play-off victory over Dustin Johnson at the BMW Championship the following month. While victory at last season’s deferred Masters ensured DJ would finish 2020 in the world No.1 spot, Rahm teed-off for the new campaign within touching distance of the summit. But by the time Rahm finished eighth at last month’s US PGA Championship at Kiwah Island, some pundits were already beginning to question his durability at the elite-level of the sport. While a form book reading T7-T7-T13-T5-T32-T9-T5-T5-MC-T34-T8 through 11 starts would be the envy of the 99% of the PGA Tour, a number of commentators highlighted his struggles on the putting surface as a consequence of a precipitous decision to swap his TaylorMade clubs for a lucrative new contract with Callaway. Surreal TV moment as six-stroke leader Jon Rahm learns he tested positive for COVID and Jim Nantz tries to make sense of it without knowing what Rahm's been told pic.twitter.com/WvD6LmAlxs— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) June 5, 2021 Of course, such reservations were not entirely unfounded; Rahm would hardly be the first golfer to suffer a decline in form after swapping to a new club manufacturer. But too often overlooked in such coverage was the fact that he remained consistently competitive on Tour; he was not missing cuts with regularity, and while his putting had declined significantly from the levels established in 2020, the strength of his tee-to-green performance ensured he could continue to grind until his putting stroke adjusted to the new equipment. Putting, after all, is by far the most transient and capricious element of the sport; no player is hot with the flatstick 100% of the time and much of what distinguishes top-10 players from their elite-level competitors is the fact that they possess a consistency in driving and approach play sufficient to put them in a position to capitalise on weeks when the putting game does click. And click it did for Rahm on the occasion of his Memorial Tournament defence at Muirfield Village last week. The world No.3 converted 21 birdies and an eagle to open-up a six-stroke 54-hole lead away from Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay, gaining over 2.5 strokes to the average of the field while putting in the process. In the event, of course, Rahm was gallingly denied a deserved coronation when he was forced to withdraw from the final-round owing to a positive COVID-19 test. But as tournament host, Jack Nicklaus observed, the Spaniard was the tournament victor in spirit and the accuracy of his performance with the flatstick bodes positively for his chances of claiming a long overdue maiden major championship title at one of the season’s two remaining majors. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Cantlay defeats Morikawa in play-off to win the Memorial Tournament
Jun 7, 2021 6:21 AM
 
When the history of the 45th Memorial Tournament comes to be written, the narrative will hinge inevitably upon the regrettable fate of Jon Rahm. The Spaniard signed for a sensational eight-under 64 on Saturday to open-up a six-stroke lead over second-place, Patrick Cantlay and Collin Morikawa heading into the final-round. With 21 birdies and an eagle to his name through his opening 54-holes at Muirfield Village, he looked odds-on to secure a second consecutive victory at the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event. But no sooner had Rahm submitted his scorecard on Saturday evening than he was informed he had tested positive for COVID-19 and, despite having no symptoms, would be required to withdraw from the event. The 26-year-old responded to the disappointment with admirable equanimity and good grace, but it is difficult to overstate the distorting impact his withdrawal had on the event. As it turned out, Cantlay was the principal beneficiary of Rahm’s misfortune. The former world amateur No.1 trailed playing-partner, Morikawa by a stroke as the pair entered into the final two holes; however, he drained a clutch birdie putt on the 17th to restore parity at the summit of the leaderboard and both parred the 18th to sign for 1-under closing round 71s and 13-under totals. Morikawa gained the advantage off the tee when the pair returned to the 18th, splitting the fairway with a perfect drive while Cantlay blocked his tee shot into the right rough. But Morikawa was unable to back up his drive with a decent second and tugged his approach into the lush grass to the left of the green, while Cantlay was able to gouge his ball into the greenside bunker, from where he splashed out to 12 feet after his rival's pitch had run an uncomfortable distance beyond the pin. Again, Cantlay's putter was on the mark as he judged the right-to-left par putt to perfection, but Morikawa's putt to extend the play-off slid past the cup on the left to leave Cantlay receiving the congratulations from tournament host, Nicklaus. "It's always special coming off the 18th green and shaking his hand," said Cantlay, who also won at Muirfield Village in 2019. "We have a great connection and we are, I would say, good friends at this point, and so that makes it just a little more special. So he's taken me under his wing and to do it at his place with the advice and encouragement that he's given me over the years is very special for me." A knack for Jack’s Place @Patrick_Cantlay has won @MemorialGolf for the second time.It's his fourth career victory. pic.twitter.com/BvKRSt0Knl— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 6, 2021 "It was such a weird situation, so unfortunate," Cantlay added in a gracious reference to Rahm’s withdrawal. "Everyone, me included, knows it would be totally different today if that hadn't happened." With this victory, Cantlay returns to the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings and appears dangerously placed heading into the final two majors of the season. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Koepka-DeChambeau feud undermines the culture that makes golf great
Jun 6, 2021 5:53 AM
 
The petty feud that has captured the imagination of the world’s sporting public ramped-up a notch last week when fans were reportedly removed from the Memorial Tournament for heckling Bryson DeChambeau by shouting "Brooksy", the nickname of his rival, Brooks Koepka. While the long-simmering tension between the US Ryder Cup duo has largely played out over social media, DeChambeau experienced the real-world ramifications of the conflict at Muirfield Village. Asked about the distracting taunts, DeChambeau told reporters it was unacceptable for spectators to disrupt play. "I don't care what they say. Like if they say that, it's not a big deal to me, it's flattering," said the 27-year-old American, who carded an even-par 72. "But I'll also say that if they say it during a back stroke that's different." He sidestepped questions regarding whether he had asked security to escort any spectators shouting "Brooksy" from the course, as reported by journalist Zak Jackson. Capping off a long day with @MichelobULTRA! Thanks for all the support today. Also, we’ve got something for you… pic.twitter.com/kwtwXg3Kqb— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) June 4, 2021 To compound matters, Koepka, who did not compete at The Memorial, posted a video to Twitter last Friday eveningoffering 50 cases of free beer to any fans whose time was "cut short" at the tournament. To observe that the former world No.1 appeared to be incentivising the heckling would be an understatement. The bad blood between DeChambeau and Koepka goes back several years. In January 2019, Koepka was one of several golfers to criticise DeChambeau for slow play. The animosity stepped up last year when DeChambeau, famous for his work in the gym, joked about Koepka’s physique. Koepka responded by tweeting: “You were right @b_dechambeau I am 2 short of a 6 pack!” along with a photo of his four major trophies. DeChambeau had not won a major at the time but has won last year’s US Open since. Relations between the pair sunk to a new low at the US PGA Championship at Kiwah Island last month, when leaked video of an unaired Golf Channel interview hit social media, highlighting the visible contempt Koepka holds for his rival. Since then, public and media interest in the conflict has grown exponentially and events in Ohio last week will serve only to ensure the spectator sideshow continues to run and run. There can be little doubt that by drawing media and sponsor attention to a sport notoriously lacking in charismatic personalities, the Koepka-DeChambeau conflict is commercially beneficial to the PGA Tour. However, the spectre of one player appearing to encourage fans to disrupt the performance of a colleague is an anathema to the gentlemanly ethos that underpins golf’s traditions. Officials revelling presently in the increased media interest the feud has generated might wish to pause to consider the potential long-term ramifications of condoning such behaviour before they allow it to continue unsanctioned. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
The Memorial: Rory McIlroy pulls out of pro-am and press conference due to "personal reasons"
Jun 3, 2021 1:55 PM
Tags: Rory McIlroy   News   Naomi Osaka   The Memorial   pga tour  
 
There must be something peculiar polluting the rarefied air of professional sports people presently. For just two days after tennis star Naomi Osaka pulled out of the French Open following a controversy concerning media obligations, Rory McIlroy withdrew from Wednesday's pro-am and cancelled his press conference ahead of The Memorial at Muirfield Village. For context, the world of international tennis was plunged into controversy on Monday when women’s world No.1, Osaka withdrew from the French Open after having initially been fined for not attending her pre-tournament press conference, while tournament organisers also threatened to disqualify her from the event. Osaka explained on social media that she would not be playing at Roland Garros and needed some time away from competitive tennis to deal with mental health issues. Featured Groups for this week's @MemorialGolf:Patrick CantlayBryson DeChambeauJordan SpiethRory McIlroyViktor HovlandAdam Scott Jon RahmCollin MorikawaXander SchauffeleJustin ThomasPatrick ReedHideki Matsuyama pic.twitter.com/c87bXz8ZON— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 1, 2021 “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris. I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” Osaka wrote on Instagram. “If the organizations think they can keep saying, ‘do press or you’re going to get fined,’ and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are the centerpiece of their cooperation then I just gotta laugh,” she concluded. Then, just two days later, the world No.8 golfer, McIlroy threw the build-up to The Memorial into disarray when he withdrew from the pre-tournament pro-am and his Wednesday press conference citing ‘personal reasons’, according to Golf Channel reporter Rex Hoggard. The circumstances surrounding the McIlroy’s decision remain unclear and doubts remain regarding his participation in the tournament proper. The 32-year-old, whose wife gave birth to the couple’s first child last summer, endured a difficult start to 2021. In addition to missing his third cut in nine appearances at the US Masters in April, he slumped outside of the world’s top-10 for the first time in over a decade and remained winless since the autumn of 2019. In an effort to regain competitiveness, McIlroy began working with the renowned swing coach, Pete Cowen, as well as the celebrated sports psychologist, Bob Rotella, who had previously helped Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke to major championship success. Within six weeks of reshuffling his backroom team, he returned to the winners’ circle at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow and looked to have rediscovered the form and confidence that elevated him to the summit of the world rankings as recently as last spring. In this context, McIlroy’s sudden withdrawal from Wednesday’s press duties at The Memorial is as surprising as it is concerning. Here’s hoping he is prepared to tee-it-up for the opening round on Thursday morning. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Thomas targeting return to form at The Memorial
Jun 3, 2021 8:47 AM
 
When Justin Thomas signed for weekend scorecards reading 64 and 68 to claim his first victory of the season at the Players Championship in March, the subsequent trajectory of his 2021 campaign appeared highly optimistic. The 28-year-old endured a difficult start to the year after he was recorded muttering a homophobic slur in frustration at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January. Roundly criticised by fans and pundits and dropped by influential sponsors, his form understandably dipped in the wake of the controversy. Thomas missed his first cut in 14 starts on the occasion of his next appearance at the HSBC Championship event in Abu Dhabi and arrived at the Players Championship in March off the back of an indifferent T13-MC-T15 run. Suffice to say, he wasn’t trading among the favourites to end a seven-month trophy drought at Sawgrass. However, the emphatic nature of Thomas’ single-stroke victory at The Players, a triumph that restored him to within touching distance of Dustin Johnson at the summit of the Official World Golf Rankings, indicated he was ideally placed to renew his push for a long-overdue second major championship title during the summer. Justin Thomas cut a check out of his own pocket and handed it to Big Mike Visacki this week to continue to pursue his golf career. pic.twitter.com/xAKoFZN8ID— Rick Gehman (@RickRunGood) May 30, 2021 Strikingly, this elite-level resurgence has not transpired. The 14-time PGA Tour winner only once broke 70 en route to a tied-21st finish at The Masters in April, while back to back 75s ensured he missed the cut at the US PGA Championshipat Kiwah Island a fortnight ago. Thomas, consequently, arrives at Muirfield Village to contest The Memorial this week with his game in "pretty average" shape, by his own admission. "To be honest, the state of my game is not great," said Thomas. "I think my play recently has shown that. I've not had a very good calendar year, I would say, really just a good weekend at The Players. I played well at a couple of events early in the year, but I just haven't really had any results to show. "I've been struggling a little bit with my swing and I haven't been near as consistent as I have been in the past, but I feel like I'm not as far off as the results show and then there's some days where I feel really far off. "I just kind of need a little spark to get something going, but unfortunately, everything feels pretty average." With rivals of the calibre of world No.3, Jon Rah, bidding to disrupt Thomas’ return to the winners’ circle, the Kentucky native will need to be at his best to win at Jack’s place. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Kokrak holds off Spieth to win Charles Schwab
May 31, 2021 7:13 AM
 
In the end it was not to be for Jordan Spieth. The 27-year-old’s return to form since slumping outside of the world’s top-90 as recently as January has been one of the standout stories of the golfing year. He surged back into contention with tied-fourth and tied-third place finishes at the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am respectively in early February, and capped his renaissance by ending a gruelling, four year trophy drought at the Valero Texas Open in early April. Restored to the world’s top-30 and back contending regularly for elite PGA Tour honours, Spieth appeared on the cusp of recapturing the form that propelled him to three major titles in three seasons between 2015 and 2017. Indeed, he tied for third at the Masters in late April, and while he disappointed in tying for 30th at the US PGA Championship last weekend, he looked ideally placed to claim a second victory in five starts when three-rounds in the 60s earned him a single shot lead heading into the final round of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on Sunday. As it transpired, however, Spieth was unable to get the job done; denied, at the last, by the newly installed world No.22, Jason Kokrak. New trophy, new jacket, old truck for Jason Kokrak.pic.twitter.com/ZuAJ9aSakc— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) May 30, 2021 Starting the day one ahead, Spieth saw his advantage doubled with a par at the par-five first when Kokrak opened with a bogey after taking two attempts to get out of a greenside bunker. The former world No 1 bogeyed his next two holes to fall back into a share of the lead and missed a five-footer to save par at the fourth, where Kokrak also dropped a shot, only for Kokrak to edge back ahead with a 20-foot birdie at the fifth. The final pairing stayed neck-and-neck for much of the back-nine, only for Kokrak to edge one stroke ahead after the 17th. Spieth hit his final tee shot into the right rough and his second shot was disastrous, sailing past the hole and the green to the left and dropping into the water hazard. Spieth eventually got the ball in the cup for a bogey, while Kokrak hit his third shot to less than four feet from the hole. He knocked in the par putt to seal a second career PGA Tour victory, following on from his breakout triumph at the CJ Cup last October. "I don't know if it motivated me or not but I told myself like the last time - just stay patient, one shot at a time," the 36-year-old Kokrak said. "That sounds like everybody else, but you know, you can't get ahead of yourself in this game. This game doesn't owe you anything, and you know, you take each shot for what it is, whether you make a bogey or a par or a birdie." [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Tiger Woods taking 'most painful' rehab one step at a time
May 29, 2021 6:51 AM
 
There was, appropriately, no shortage of adulation for Phil Mickelson following the 50-year-old’s achievement in becoming the oldest golfer ever to win a major at the US PGA Championship at Kiwah Island last weekend. Eighteen-time major winner, Jack Nicklaus, for instance sent his congratulations in a video shared to Twitter. Collin Morikawa, last year's PGA Championship winner, tweeted, "Age is just a number, congrats @PhilMickelson Amazing to see and very motivating for the future...can't wait for 2047." Legendary NFL quarterback, Tom Brady, meantime, posted a congratulatory message for Mickelson on his Instagram Story, sharing a photo of the champion's victorious moment on the TV screen and writing, "Amazing congrats @Philmickelson. The thrill of victory and inspiring for us all." But for all the torrents of praise Mickelson rightly received from fellow elite sportsmen, celebrities and fans, one message of congratulations stood out more than any other. "Truly inspirational to see @PhilMickelson do it again at 50 years of age. Congrats!!!!!!!," Tiger Woods wrote on Twitter, to which Mickelson responded, "Thank you. I'm pulling for your quick return." Woods, of course, is presently recuperating from serious leg injuries sustained in a life-threatening car accident in Los Angeles in February. While it may have been expected he would reach out to congratulate an old friend and rival on such a seminal victory, his use of the word ‘inspiring’ has aroused excitement and optimism among fans – after all, an ‘inspired’ Tiger is one who is eyeing an eventual return to the PGA Tour. Tiger Woods makes rare appearance for young girl battling cancer https://t.co/qwFPS3Mwy6 pic.twitter.com/QbbtoaC2fk— New York Post (@nypost) May 25, 2021 "This has been an entirely different animal," Woods said of his recovery in a brief interview with Golf Digest. "I understand more of the rehab processes because of my past injuries, but this was more painful than anything I have ever experienced." Woods has previously undergone five back operations, including spinal-fusion surgery in April 2017. "My physical therapy has been keeping me busy," he added. "I do my routines every day and am focused on my number one goal right now: walking on my own. Taking it one step at a time." Woods revealed the "incredible" amount of goodwill messages he had received from around the world. The American said: "I have had so much support from people both inside and outside of golf which means so much to me and has helped tremendously." One can only hope Mickelson’s victory helps spur Woods’ return to the course. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau feud reignites at US PGA
May 26, 2021 9:58 AM
 
When Brooks Koepka confirmed in the lead-up to last week’s US PGA Championship that he remains six months away from recovering full fitness, it seemed safe to assume that his troublesome knee would the primary source of any discomfort he might need to endure around Kiwah Island. The 30-year-old was the dominant force on the PGA Tour between 2017 and 2019, winning back-to-back US Opens (2017, 2018) as well as consecutive US PGA Championships (2018, 2019) to consolidate his position at the summit of the world rankings. However, persistent ligament injuries limited him to just 17 starts in 2020, and while he ended an 18-month trophy drought in spectacular fashion at the Phoenix Open in February, he was required to undergo a second knee surgery in March and many doubted whether he would recover even a basic level of fitness in time to contest the PGA. As it turned out, Koepka more than just made the trip to Kiwah Island – were it not for the inspired performance of veteran, Phil Mickelson, he would have departed South Carolina with a third US PGA Championship title to his name. But perhaps the most entertaining takeaway from the world No.7’s tournament was the most recent flareup in his long fractious relationship with Bryson DeChambeau. The honesty with which Brooks Koepka displays his hatred for Bryson DeChambeau is really beautiful to watch. pic.twitter.com/HzEgiLaVHt— Josh Moon (@Josh_Moon) May 25, 2021 The bad blood between DeChambeau and Koepka goes back several years. In January 2019, Koepka was one of several golfers to criticise DeChambeau for slow play. The animosity stepped up last year when DeChambeau, famous for his work in the gym, joked about Koepka’s physique. Koepka responded by tweeting: “You were right @b_dechambeau I am 2 short of a 6 pack!” along with a photo of his four major trophies. DeChambeau had not won a major at the time but has won last year’s US Open since. Now, the relationship has sunken to a new low after leaked video of an unaired Golf Channel interview hit social media on Monday night, appearing to confirm the contempt Koepka holds for his rival. Before the start of the interview, which took place after Friday’s second round at Kiawah Island, Koepka can be seen staring at someone off camera and rolling his eyes. Once he starts answering a question from Golf Channel reporter Todd Lewis, DeChambeau walks past and a comment appears to be uttered in Koepka’s direction. Koepka closes his eyes in frustration then says: “I fucking … I lost my train of thought hearing that bullshit. Fucking Christ.” The interview breaks off and Lewis chuckles before saying: “We’re going to enjoy that in the TV compound.” Koepka flashes a weary smile and says: “I honestly wouldn’t even care.” Ultimately, the tension between Koepka and DeChambeau is nothing new; however, the leaked footage provides fans with a fascinating insight into just how deep the animosity really runs. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Mickelson claims triumph for the ages at US PGA Championship
May 24, 2021 4:16 AM
 
When Phil Mickelson won the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National on the occasion of his PGA Champions Tour debut last June, it seemed his time competing at the elite-level of the professional game had come to a decisive end. Winless in over a year across all tours, the five-time major champion had missed eight cuts in 18 starts on the PGA Tour in 2020 and was, consequently, careering outside the top-100 of the Official World Golf Rankings. Thus, as much as he impressed in, for instance, tying for second at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational last August, the reality was that he had ceased contending regularly at the highest level of the PGA Tour. Many fans and pundits concluded, as a consequence, that the Champions Tour may provide a greater sense of fulfilment for a player of Mickelson’s pedigree and renowned competitive instinct. This perception was endorsed when, four months later, he won his second seniors event in as many starts at Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Virginia. A run of four missed cuts and zero top-10s through his opening 10 PGA Tour appearances in 2021 did little to alter this understanding of the overall trajectory of his career. The scale of Mickelson’s accomplishment in claiming a sixth major championship title at the US PGA Championship at Kiwah Island last week – eight years after winning his fifth – can only be understood properly in that wider context. In addition to surpassing Seve Ballesteros in terms of majors won, and drawing to within one of luminaries such as Arnold Palmer and Bobby Jones, he has established himself as the oldest major champion in the history of golf and has thus succeeded in further burnishing his reputation as one of the sport’s historic greats. Mickelson teed-off for the final round with a single shot lead over his distinguished playing partner, the two-time US PGA Champion, Brooks Koepka and, by the time the pairing reached the second tee-box, they had swapped positions as Koepka met Mickelson’s bogey at the first with a birdie of his own. However, Koepka would go on to double-bogey the second, enabling Mickelson to retake the lead courtesy of a birdie, in a topsey-turvey opening that set the tone for a thrilling final round. Truly inspirational to see @PhilMickelson do it again at 50 years of age. Congrats!!!!!!! — Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) May 23, 2021 Koepka lurked until costly bogeys at 10 and 11, the former affording Mickelson a four-shot advantage. Louis Oosthuizen had emerged as the key threat but Mickelson was in territory of only being able to throw this championship away. Oosthuizen found alligator-ridden waters with his approach to the 13th. No wonder he looked skywards. Mickelson signed ultimately for a closing 73 a two-stroke triumph for the ages. “I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t,” Mickelson said. “I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little bit harder effort to maintain physically or maintain the skills, but gosh, is it worth it in the end. “I just love this game of golf. I love what I do and I love the challenge of competing against such great players.” [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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