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
McIlroy targeting return to No.1 spot at WGC-Match Play
Mar 26, 2019 3:00 AM
 
Six months is a long time in golf. After all, just 26-weeks have passed since the atmosphere surrounding Rory McIlroy’s future at the elite-level of the PGA Tour was one of perpetual gloom and doom. Having failed to contend during the FedEx Cup Play-Off series, the Northern Irishman limped to an indifferent T54-T20-T21 finish to the season in the HSBC Champions, Nedbank Open and DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Winless at major championship level in four full seasons, his game was perceived widely to be in a state of decline as he struggled to contend with the level of scoring established by Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose at the summit of the Official World Golf Rankings. Put simply, there was a cogent case to be made that McIlroy’s best days were behind him and that the second-half of his career would be a narrative of gradual decline. As the former world No.1, David Duval reflected in the aftermath of the 29-year-old’s T50 finish at the US PGA Championship in August: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: McIlroy, D.J. betting co-favorites at 10-1 #Golf https://t.co/CUeuEPg1Mc — Golf Talk (@Golf_TT1) March 26, 2019 "He needs to go home. He needs to stop playing right now. He's hurt and I am watching his golf swing deteriorate. If only I could go back and tell myself 18 to 20 years ago when I started having those problems, 'Stop, get healthy.' "He could do himself a big service. He's always had a little bit of a hitch with the driver in terms of flattening out a little but it is getting a lot more pronounced right now." Fast forward six months and we are looking at a very different picture. In six starts since taking-up full-time membership on the PGA Tour, McIlroy has carded six top-10 finishes, including a runners-up finish to Dustin Johnson at the WGC-Mexico Championship in February and an emphatic single-stroke victory away from Jim Furyk at The Players Championship a fortnight ago. Inevitably, this form has had a profoundly positive effect on the Northern Irishman’s confidence and competitive standing (he is back up to No.4 in the world, having begun the year at No.11), and he travels to Austin for the WGC-Match Play Championship this week knowing that if he wins and other results go his way (proving Dustin Johnson doesn’t reach the semi-final and Justin Rose doesn’t finish 2nd or 3rd), he will return to the summit of the world rankings. Such an outcome would provide McIlroy with a potentially decisive psychological boost in his quest to become only the sixth golfer in the history of the sport to win a career slam by claiming the Masters title next month. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Johnson frustrated at Valspar Championship, but Masters hopes are high
Mar 25, 2019 12:29 PM
 
In the end it was not to be for Dustin Johnson. Making his first appearance at the Valspar Championship in a decade, the world No.1 began the final-round within a single-stroke of defending champion, Paul Casey and was widely fancied to supplant him at the summit of the leaderboard. After all, Sunday afternoon capitulations such as those which occurred at the Travelers Championship last June or at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February have earned Casey something of a reputation for mental fragility. Johnson, meantime, arrived at Innisbrook Resort off the back of a run of two victories (at the Saudi International and at the WGC-Mexico) and three top-10s in seven starts in 2019 and had justifiably displaced Justin Rose at the summit of the Official World Golf Rankings. Indeed, the 34-year-old stated in the lead-up to the Valspar that his game is the closest its been to the level he achieved in advance of the 2017 Masters when he claimed the Genesis Open, WGC-Mexico and WGC-Match Play titles consecutively before slipping and injuring his back on the eve of the tournament at Augusta. Dustin Johnson is best known for his length and power off the tee, but it's his improvement throughout his short game that he credits for helping him become a better player.https://t.co/ucQY6Q58uf— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) March 24, 2019 “Now is the closest I’ve been to that. I mean, back then that was probably the best form I’ve ever been in, and getting injured it’s taken a while to get back to that form,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I played very well in that stretch, but I wasn’t as comfortable as I was then, kind of throughout the whole bag. But it’s getting, it’s definitely the closest I’ve felt to that stage of my career.” On Sunday, however, it just didn’t happen for DJ. Back-to-back bogeys on the par-4 third and par-3 fourth holes immediately put the world No.1 in the position of needing to play catch-up; on a day when swirling winds and crispy greens rendered pars a coveted commodity among the tournament leaders, this was an invidious circumstance. Unable to capitalize on high-percentage opportunities on the par-5s or curl in a putt elsewhere, Johnson failed to make a single birdie for the first time since the final round of the 2017 WGC HSBC-Champions and signed for a 3-over 74, finishing in a disappointing tie for sixth, three shots shy of Casey. “I felt like I had a tough time judging the wind today for some reason,” Johnson said. “It kept switching directions a lot. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots that didn’t end up in good spots. “I hit good putts, they just didn’t go in the hole. I didn’t feel like I played bad. Felt like I was swinging well, and I still feel like I’m swinging well. I’ve still got a lot of confidence in the game, but just, yeah. Tough day, tough conditions and wasn’t spot on.” Sunday was a disappointment for Johnson, but with two victories to his credit already this season, he is guaranteed to be a serious contender at Augusta. Indeed, it would take a brave man to back against him triumphing at the WGC-Match Play this week. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Casey retains Valspar Championship, lays down Masters marker
Mar 25, 2019 6:09 AM
 
As preparations for major championship titles go, they seldom tend to get much better than this. Paul Casey etched his name into the history books on Sunday by becoming the first player ever to defend the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Florida; perhaps even more significant, however, is the manner in which this victory has established him as a firm front-runner for the Masters in two-weeks’ time. This was a vintage performance from Casey, who executed a stunning recovery shot from a bunker on the 18th fairway to rescue a par that provided him with a single stroke victory away from the American Jason Kokrak and the South African Louis Oosthuizen. The Englishman had not won since ending a nine-season PGA Tour trophy-drought at Copperhead 12-months ago, and given he had carded three runners-up finishes in the interim, this victory felt long overdue. Casey began the final-round with a single stroke-lead away from the in-form world No.1, Dustin Johnson and demonstrated remarkable psychological resilience to overcome two three-putts in tricky, blustery conditions and post a 1-over closing-round 72 for an eight-under-par total. What touch from @Paul_Casey.Will he defend his title @ValsparChamp?#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/lgIcOEMdvH— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 24, 2019 To put this achievement into context, Johnson was unable to shoot lower than 74 on Sunday and finished in a tie for sixth. “This feels b----- cool,” Casey said. “It was messy but this course is so difficult. I did make errors, obviously the two three-putts, but it’s 72 holes. It was tough as I came out here today thinking that if I beat the world No 1 then I’d win the tournament. But it was a very different scenario as Dustin struggled. This is the first time I have successfully defended a title and it’s great.” It was, indeed, anything but straightforward for Casey, who appeared to have squandered his shot at the title after bogeying Copperhead’s devilishly difficult par-3 17th hole to slip back into a tie for second with playing-partner, Kokrak. One could not help but recall memories of him squandering a four-shot 54-hole lead at the Travelers Championship last June or capitulating in the final-round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am last month. But when Kokrak nervily butchered a relatively simple up-and-down to bogey the last, Casey made his tremendous 133-yard recovery shot from a wretched lie to 20 feet, from where he two-putted for the £900,000 first prize. “I didn’t think of the times I’d come close in the last year, as this was a very different challenge,” Casey said. “I was the defending champion, I know how to win around here and my scoring average had been strong here the last couple of years. This was an important one and I did it. “To get another victory, it is very much the icing on the cake and fills that void and that makes me even happier. Last year’s win was so big. It felt like my first victory as a professional and I’ve felt so different since then, with new confidence. I’m getting older but I feel like I’m getting better.” Casey has every reason to feel confident; back up to No.11 in the world, he has three top-three finishes and a victory to his name through just eight starts in 2019 and now has to be counted among the frontrunners to claim his maiden major championship title at the Masters at Augusta next month. It would be a fitting major breakthrough for one of the best practicing professionals who has yet to win one of the sport’s four most coveted titles. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Reed to consult swing coach following nightmare at Innisbrook
Mar 24, 2019 10:47 AM
 
Reflecting on the evolution of Patrick Reed’s career since claiming his maiden major championship triumph at The Masters last April, the 19th Hole framed this week’s Valspar Championship as a golden opportunity for the 28-year-old to rediscover his best form. After all, Reed travelled to Innisbrook Resort off the back of a deeply underwhelming T50-T47 run through his previous two starts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and The Players Championship at Sawgrass; furthermore, the Texan had not carded a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since finishing fourth at the US Open at Shinnecock last June. Put simply, Reed’s progress had stalled badly in the second-half of the 2018 season, and he required a serious uptick in form to have any chance of defending his Masters crown at Augusta next month. Copperhead appeared to provide an ideal venue on which the six-time PGA Tour winner could rediscover his winning touch. For although Reed had never previously triumphed at the Valspar, he had twice finished as a runner-up on the E. Lawrence Packard-designed track (2015, 2018), posting one other top-10 finish (T7 in 2016), and ranks sixth in the all-time strokes gained stats at Copperhead, picking-up an average of 1.83 strokes to the median score of the field. To put things delicately, this didn’t work-out to plan. Patrick Reed missed the cut this week, but as @WillGrayGC reports, he stuck around to get another session in with David Leadbetter: https://t.co/uO1nimzeEG pic.twitter.com/PdaFmivcNp— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) March 23, 2019 For just a week after signing for a 6-over closing-round 78 at The Players Championship at Sawgrass, Reed carded three bogeys and three double-bogeys en route 6-over opening-round 77 at the Valspar. The Texan’s performance scarcely improved much on the Friday either, as he combined four bogeys with two doubles for a 4-over 75. Unsurprisingly, he wound-up missing his first cut since the US PGA Championship by nine-strokes at 10-over par. Indeed, it is a testament to the seriousness of Reed’s current travails that he was spotted on the range on Friday morning collaborating with the renowned swing guru, David Leadbetter in an attempt to arrest his collapsing form. Remarkably, this impromptu swing consultation was arranged at the behest of the player’s wife, Justine. “Justine asked me, ‘Hey, would you be prepared to just have a little look at Patrick? He’s struggling at the moment, he’s sort of lost a little bit. Could you do that for us?’,” Leadbetter revealed to the Daily Telegraph. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m here, sure I’ll do it. Absolutely.’” For his part, Reed did not think his wife’s intervention unusual in the slightest. “The great thing is we’re basically on the same wavelength, her and me,” Reed said. “Because of that, before I even finished my opening round I didn’t even have to tell her, ‘hey, is there any way we can get someone in to just take a peek?’.” Indeed, Reed is adamant his relationship with regular swing coach Kevin Kirk, the fellow Texan with whom he has worked since he turned pro in 2011, will not be affected by his dalliance with Leadbetter. Nevertheless, it is clear that the 28-year-old needs to change something in his game if he is to have any chance of retaining the green jacket at Augusta in three weeks’ time. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Paul Casey primed to defend title at Valspar Championship
Mar 23, 2019 1:02 PM
 
There is a fine line separating arrogance from confidence in professional sport. In most cases the principal factor determining the manner in which the media represent an athlete’s public statements is results. If a golfer talks-up his chances of winning a tournament and goes on to win it, he is confident; if he talks-up his chances of success and misses-the-cut, he is arrogant. Such is the capricious nature of contemporary journalism. Paul Casey has been treading on the delicate, razor-wire separating arrogance from confidence for some time now; indeed, the 41-year-old was talking-up his chances of claiming a long overdue maiden major championship title at The Masters even before arriving at Innisbrook Resort to defend his Valspar Championship crown this week. Now that he has seized a share of the 6-under 36-hole lead at Copperhead, he is even more comfortable discussing his Masters credentials, telling Sky Sports that Augusta is already ‘in the crosshairs’. “We talk about the PGA Tour and FedEx Cup but you know my feelings, there’s one tournament I write down at the top of the list every year when I start writing my goals for the year and that’s the Masters”, Casey said. “I’ve won it before, I want to win it again."Paul Casey is in prime position after 36 holes of the @ValsparChamp: https://t.co/Bzk0XgHBnF pic.twitter.com/nD9ZCfp9YA— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) March 22, 2019 It’s the one I believe I can win, I’ve got a great opportunity to. I’ve played wonderful rounds of golf round there before... and I need some luck, guys like Rory (McIlroy) and Dustin, these guys are so strong on their games, who can beat them? “But it’s a great chance I have round that venue and I love it to death. It’s been in the crosshairs for quite a while and we’ve been doing work this week for the second week in April.” Casey has good reason to feel optimistic regarding his chances of contending at Augusta. In a dozen previous starts on the Georgia track, he has five top-10 finishes, including a run of finishing no worse than sixth from 2015-17. Furthermore, the quality of the Englishman’s opening two rounds at Copperhead suggest that his form is coming to boil at an ideal point in the season. Casey arrived at Innisbrook off the back of a frustrating missed-cut at The Players Championship; however, he had carded three top-threes in his previous four starts and immediately went about recapturing his best form with a 1-under opening-round of 70. It was on Friday, however, that the world No.15 really caught fire, dropping four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth-hole en route to a 5-under 66. Starting on the back nine, Casey birdied the 10th, 11th and 14th to reach the turn in 32 and also birdied the first before holing from 27 feet for an eagle on the fifth. The 41-year-old Ryder Cup star dropped his only shot of the day on the ninth after finding sand off the tee and with his approach to the green, but was happy to bounce back after a missed cut in the Players Championship last week. “I feel really good about it because last week was rubbish,” Casey told PGA Tour Live. “For whatever reason I struggled a little bit round Sawgrass and that frustrated me, annoyed me, (ahead of) coming in here trying to defend my title which I’d love to do because I’ve never defended a professional title.” It would take a brave man to back against him doing so on Sunday. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Donald shows flashes of best form at Valspar Championship
Mar 22, 2019 1:23 PM
 
Luke Donald was not much talked about in the lead-up to the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort this week. Seven-years have passed since the former world No.1 last tasted victory on the PGA Tour and a vicious combination of injuries and loss of form have conspired to knock him down as far as No.919 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Indeed, Donald was restricted to just 10 starts across all Tours in 2018, missing seven cuts, and Thursday marked the occasion of just his second competitive appearance in a barren six-month stretch dating back as far as the Alfred Dunhill Links. It was tremendously heartening, therefore, to observe the former PGA and European Tour golfer of the year rediscover a semblance of his best form en route to signing for a 4-under opening-round of 67 at the Valspar Championship, drawing to within a single stroke of the surprise overnight leaders, Joel Dahmen, and Sepp Straka. Luke Donald is in a three-way tie for the lead at the @ValsparChamp as Friday's second round begins. https://t.co/XB1bAlTwgk— Golfweek (@golfweek) March 22, 2019 Donald hit nine of 13 fairways on Thursday, and despite landing just eight greens in regulation, he carded five birdies and would have departed the course with a share of the lead were it not for a disappointing bogey from a tough spot in a bunker some 30 yards short of the pin on the 18th. Crucially, the Englishman exhibited the kind of precision ball-striking, intelligent course management, and deft touch around the greens that underpinned his ascent to the world No.1 spot in 2011-12, recalling memories of his victory in a four-man play-off at the Valspar seven-years ago. “I can’t believe it has been that long since I won on US soil, but hopefully I can get back to being 100 per cent healthy and get back to winning ways,” Donald reflected. "It makes your back feel better, actually, when you make a few birdies and hole a few putts. It's good for the soul. And it's been a while since I had a really good round like that, and it does feel good. I felt very relaxed out there, which is somewhat unusual. The last year or two hasn't really been that way." Indeed, Donald is playing on a major medical extension in 2018-19 and has 15 starts to earn enough FedExCup points to regain full membership on the PGA Tour. It is imperative, therefore, that he maintains form and fitness if he is to secure regular playing privileges at the highest-level of the professional game, a circumstance that has impacted the most mundane aspects of his domestic life. “I have to be diligent, even on everyday postural stuff, like how I clean my teeth,” he said. “There’s no picking up kids or lots of trampolining.” Two years have passed since Donald confided in a Sunday Telegraph interview that he came close to quitting golf owing to the extent of his frustration with injuries; no one, therefore, can begrudge the former Ryder Cup star his present success. It has been hard-earned. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Reed seeking to lay down Masters marker at the Valspar Championship
Mar 21, 2019 1:34 PM
 
As player-course combinations go, there aren’t many better fits than Patrick Reed and the Copperhead Championship course at Innisbrook Resort, home to this week’s Valspar Championship. The 28-year-old has twice finished as a runner-up on the E. Lawrence Packard-designed track (2015, 2018), posting one other top-10 finish (T7 in 2016), and ranks sixth in the all-time strokes gained stats at Copperhead, picking-up an average of 1.83 strokes to the median score of the field. Put simply, the Texan’s power off the tee, allied to his penetrating iron-play and solid putting game on Bermuda greens renders him an ideal-fit for the South Florida course. It is a testament to the depth of Reed’s present slump in form, therefore, that six players are trading shorter than him to win the Valspar Championship title on Sunday, and there are serious concerns regarding his performance levels as he prepares to defend his Masters title at Augusta next month. Indeed, Reed has not managed a top-10 finish in 10 starts since posting a T7-T2 run through the WGC-HSBC Champions and DP World Tour Championship events last October, and has not seriously contended for a trophy on American soil since finishing fourth at the US Open at Shinnecock last June. Is it time to pay attention to Patrick Reed this season?One PGA Tour caddie thinks so. Valspar Championship winner picks and betting odds: https://t.co/mGwzA2FCqN pic.twitter.com/9PD74OTPiD— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) March 20, 2019 Inevitably, this slump in form has exerted a profound deleterious impact on the 28-year-old’s world ranking; indeed, he has fallen from No.7 in the world following his triumph at The Masters last April to No.16 as of the beginning of this week, and he arrives at Innisbrook off the back of a T50-T47 run through his last two starts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and The Players Championship at Sawgrass. Despite these travails, however, Reed has been firm in asserting that he is better mentally prepared to compete for The Masters than he was this time a year ago when he outscored Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to claim his maiden major championship title by a single stroke in a thrilling finish. “Honestly, I feel like my mindset and state of mind that I’m in right now is better than it was last year at this point” Reed reflected during a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon. “I’ve hit golf shots and have done things on the golf course that I feel a little bit more comfortable this year doing than I did last year at this point, but I just need to go out and continue playing to put four rounds together. … I feel like I’m really close.” “I think the biggest thing is just I’m going to go in with hopefully the same kind of mindset that I had last year and really just take it all in stride. Even though there’s going to be more going on this year than there was last year because last year I was able to kind of fly in under the radar at the beginning of the week, this year having all the extra activities, extra things going on, it’s going to be a lot of fun.” Reed’s rhetoric is certainly compelling; however, it is essential he begins substantiating such claims with improved results. The Valspar Championship would be an ideal place to start. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
2019 Valspar Championship Betting Preview
Mar 20, 2019 1:05 PM
 
The PGA Tour’s Florida Swing concludes with the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbour this week; here follows our top-three tips for the title. Outright winner: Sergio Garcia (12/1) Three players trade shorter than Sergio to win this week and none are particular convincing at such tight odds. On form, Dustin Johnson is entirely worthy of his favourite status as a 5/1 shot. The 34-year-old has won twice and carded three top-10s in seven starts in 2019, leapfrogging Justin Rose into the world No.1 spot, and he was the only player to break 70 in all four rounds at Sawgrass last week. Nevertheless, Johnson has not teed it up at Copperhead since missing the cut on the occasion of his last appearance at the Valspar in 2010, and the target-based nature of the course mitigates the advantage he typically derives from his length off the tee. Jon Rahm is not a great deal more attractive at 9/1. He's No. 1 in Power Rankings.He's popular in Expert Picks.The analysts love @TheSergioGarcia this week. https://t.co/Lc8rqtBAmT— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 20, 2019 The Spaniard has demonstrated exceptional consistency in notching five top-10s through seven starts in 2019; however, he blew a single shot 54-hole lead en route to a T12 finish at The Players last weekend and has not won a golf tournament since claiming the Spanish Open last April. Rahm’s value is further diminished when one accounts for the fact that he has never previously contested the Valspar. Jason Day appears slightly more attractive as an 11/1 shot for this one but not enough to bite. The Aussie recovered from a neck-injury to finish eighth at Sawgrass last week and finished fifth and fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. Nevertheless, the 30-year-old is winless since claiming the Wells Fargo Championship last May and has course form figures reading MC-MC-61-51-20-43. In this respect, Sergio Garcia looks particularly eye-catching as a 12/1 option. The Spaniard finished in outright fourth at Copperhead 12-months ago, in what marked the occasion of his sixth career top-10 finish at Innisbrook Resort, and he has nine top-10s to his name in his last 12-starts. Top-10: Patrick Reed (25/1) Patrick Reed has not managed a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since finishing fourth at the US Open last June; furthermore, in eight starts since the turn of the year, he has not finished higher than T13. Nevertheless, there is value in backing the reigning Masters champion to contend this week; for in addition to the fact that he has not missed at cut since the PGA Championship, he has finished a 2nd 2nd and 7th the last three times he has played the Valspar. Indeed, Reed ranks sixth in the all-time strokes gained stats at Copperhead. Outsider: Ryan Moore (60/1) Moore missed the cut at Copperhead 12-months ago; however, he had previously finished fifth ('15), third ('16) and T18 ('17) on the Florida track and showed flashes of his best golf en route to a T20 at Sawgrass last week. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Furyk rolls back the years at The Players Championship
Mar 19, 2019 2:06 PM
 
This time two-weeks ago Jim Furyk ranked outside of the world’s top-160 and was unsure whether he would even qualify for The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. But after a sensational, 15-under-par performance that left him alone in second behind Rory McIlroy, the 48-year-old has surged up as high as second in the 2020 US Ryder Cup points qualification standings; he has secured a starting spot in the upcoming WGC Match Play event, and even has a return to the Masters within reach. Two weeks is a long time in golf then, eh? Furyk tied for ninth two weeks ago at the Honda Classic, and then watched the Arnold Palmer Invitational to see whether his season-long FedExCup point haul would be enough to get him into his hometown event. Ultimately, the veteran snuck into the 144-man field by a razor-thin margin of just over half a percentage-point but produced a Sawgrass performance that enabled him to capitalise fully on his good fortune. The former world No.2 winner moved into contention with a stunning, 8-under second-round 64; 36-holes later he found himself in outright possession of the clubhouse lead after a closing-round 67 that left him at 15 under for the tournament. • 48-year-old Jim Furyk makes a run at the Players• Tiger insists he's on "the right track"• Another rules controversyWhat you missed over the weekend: https://t.co/ZMy3jVoQY4 pic.twitter.com/hfzJ2mBept— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) March 18, 2019 Fittingly, Furyk polished off one of the finest performances of his late-stage career with a thrilling birdie on Sawgrass’ notoriously difficult 18th, lasering a 7-iron to within 3-feet of the cup before tapping-in to seize a single shot advantage. Only McIlroy’s two late birdies on 15 and 16 denied Furyk a shot at the 18th PGA Tour victory of his career, leaving the veteran alone in second for his best finish on Tour since a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open. "A shot here, a shot there, maybe could have been a little different," Furyk said. "But ultimately, left it all out there. It was also nice to get in contention, to get under the heat, to have to hit shots under a lot of pressure, and then to respond well to that and hit some good golf shots. It'll be a confidence boost going forward. It is difficult to overstate the scale of Furyk’s achievement in contending so fiercely at Sawgrass, despite ceding many years and even more yardage to the other major title-chasers: McIlroy (age 29); Jon Rahm (24); Jhonny Vegas (34); Tommy Fleetwood (28); and Eddie Pepperell (28). Indeed, Furyk has not finished in the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings since 2016 and has spent most of the last two seasons on the side-lines owing to age-related injuries. It seemed logical to regard his captaincy of the US Ryder Cup team in Paris last autumn as a kind of PGA Tour farewell before making a belated transition to the senior ranks. After last week’s performance, however, one would hesitate to back against Furyk appearing at the Masters – he sits only seven world ranking places outside the automatic qualification spots. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
McIlroy puts talk of mental fragility to bed at Players Championship
Mar 18, 2019 1:21 PM
 
This was a long time coming. Rory McIlroy arrived at TPC Sawgrass for The Players Championship last week off the back of five top-six finishes in five starts in 2019; furthermore, in 24 starts since claiming his 14th PGA Tour title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last spring, he had featured in nine final-round final-pairings without managing to claim a victory. Of course, this lengthy sequence of near-misses persuaded some, more opportunistic commentators that McIlroy had lost his ability to close-out high profile victories under pressure; however, such perspectives were never persuasive given the Northern Irishman’s pedigree as a multiple major championship winner and former world No.1. The reality was always far more complex, and when a golfer of McIlroy’s calibre consistently places himself in title contention on Sunday afternoons, it is inevitable that victories will come. On Sunday, the breakthrough finally arrived at Sawgrass; back up to No.4 in the world, McIlroy looks extremely well-placed to join Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan as only the sixth player in the history of the sport to claim all four major championship titles by winning The Masters next month. Such a great week at @theplayerschamp! Proud of the way I battled Saturday and Sunday. Thanks for the support on a very special St. Patrick's Day! pic.twitter.com/i8oy5C8sla— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) March 17, 2019 This was a vintage performance from McIlroy who began the final day level with Ryder Cup teammate, Tommy Fleetwood a single shot behind Jon Rahm’s 54-hole lead, but who wound-up chasing Jim Furyk’s sensational 15-under total established via a 5-under closing-round of 67. The 48-year-old former Ryder Cup captain was one of the last players to qualify for the strongest field in golf and he came extraordinarily close to springing one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport. Indeed, McIlroy needed to battle-back from a nightmare double-bogey at the par-4 fourth-hole in order to reach the turn at 1-over for the day, and surged back into contention for the title courtesy of back-to-back birdies on holes 11 and 12. A careless bogey on the 14th threatened to derail his title charge, and McIlroy looked to be in serious trouble after driving into a bunker on the par-4 15th-hole. However, he produced a spectacular 6-iron recovery shot from 180-yards to set-up a 15-footer for birdie which he duly converted to retake a share of the lead before, two-putting for birdie on the par-5 16th to take a single shot advantage. Two pars playing his way back into the clubhouse ultimately proved sufficient to claim what has the potential to be one of the most significant victories of his career; he signed for a 2-under 68 and a 16-under total. “I stayed patient,” McIlroy reflected. “My previous experiences this year helped me to play really well down the stretch. All those earlier chances helped me today. On the 18th tee I just said to myself, ‘One good swing.’ This is very special.” “I think I can make the next 10 years even better than the previous 10 years,” the four-time major champion concluded. “That’s what my motivation is.” His triumph on Sunday sends out an ominous message for the rest of the Tour. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Rahm seeking to lay down major marker at Sawgrass
Mar 17, 2019 9:44 AM
 
It is a testament, ultimately, to the extraordinarily high standards Jon Rahm has established for himself since turning professional back in the summer of 2016 that the last 10 months of his career have felt like something of a lull. The Spaniard, who took-up full-time PGA Tour membership after finishing as Low Amateur at the 2016 US Open at Oakmont, claimed his maiden professional title at the Farmers Insurance Open in January 2017, and won twice more on the European Tour before the year was out: at the Irish Open in June and at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November. He further consolidated his elite status in the first half of the 2018 season, defeating Andrew Landry in a play-off at the CareerBuilder Challenge to establish himself firmly inside of the world’s top-5. It seemed just a matter of time until the Spaniard claimed a maiden major championship title. But despite top-5ing at both The Masters and US PGA Championship last summer, Rahm failed to add to his haul of six professional titles and finished the season on the brink of falling back outside of the world’s top-10. Indeed, his victory at the Tiger Woods Foundation-hosted charity event, the Hero World Challenge last November appeared to illustrate vividly Rahm’s frustrating inability to close-out big tournament victories, even when performing at the top of his game. The final round of the Players will be a battle between European Ryder Cup teammates.Jon Rahm leads by one shot over Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood at TPC Sawgrass: https://t.co/253RaFE5pz pic.twitter.com/52liy8NVRz— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) March 17, 2019 It has been tremendously gratifying, therefore to witness the 24-year-old recapture something approximating his best form at The Players Championship at Sawgrass this week. Rahm arrived at the Pete Dye designed track off the back of five top-10 finishes in six starts in 2019 and immediately thrust himself into contention for the title courtesy of 3-under opening-round 69. The Basque-native went a further shot lower on Friday, signing for a 68, before seizing a single shot lead at the summit of the 54-hole leaderboard courtesy of a sensational, 8-under 64 on Saturday. He will consequently tee-off for the final-round with a slender advantage away from Ryder Cup teammates, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm at 15-under for the tournament. This was a vintage performance from Rahm, who hit nine of 14 fairways and 14 greens in regulation in the process of signing for the best scorecard of the week so far; remarkably he required only 30 strokes to navigate his way around Sawgrass’ devilishly challenging back-nine. “I don’t know what my scoring average has been on Saturday over the last two years but I think I’ve beat it by quite a bit,” said Rahm. “It was a great day. I didn’t miss many shots out there. The only bogey today I made was at the 6th and it was after a good shot that landed a foot from the hole. So it was one of those days.” He will require some beating come Sunday afternoon. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

Sean Donnelly
Fleetwood seizes control at The Players, McIlroy two back
Mar 15, 2019 3:23 AM
 
Last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill marked something of a milestone in the evolution of PGA Tour golf: it was the first elite tournament ever contested on US soil in which each of the top-five finishers hailed from Europe. The opening-round performances of Ryder Cup teammates, Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy at The Players Championship on Thursday suggest that we could be set to witness a similar scenario play-out at Sawgrass this week. Fleetwood established an early marker for the tournament, signing for a 7-under 65, and as conditions and scoring began to worsen in the mid-to-late afternoon, he seemed assured of taking the outright lead into the Friday morning session. However, he was ultimately reeled-in by the four-time PGA Tour winner, Keegan Bradley with Rory McIlroy another two strokes back in a tie for fifth courtesy of a bogey-free 65. Tiger Woods had only one par on the back-nine as he returned an erratic 70, but Justin Rose's bid to reclaim the world No 1 ranking from Dustin Johnson got off to a bad start as he stumbled to a 74 which included a triple-bogey at the first and a double-bogey at the fifth. There were no such problems for Rose’s countryman, Fleetwood, however. The 28-year-old squandered a convertible birdie opportunity on the par-5 eleventh, his second-hole, but recovered with a sensational up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the twelfth before parring his way to the turn at 1-under. It was on the back-nine that Fleetwood’s scoring really took-off. He birdied the par-4 first and par-5 second consecutively before dropping his fourth shot of the day on the par-4 fifth-hole. A par followed on the sixth before he closed his round with a stunning run of three consecutive birdies into the clubhouse. Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar making the island green at TPC Sawgrass look easy today. pic.twitter.com/87lSn7GgjG— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) March 14, 2019 The three-time European Tour winner hit 10 of 14 fairways on Thursday; he landed 16 of 18 greens in regulation and led the tournament for strokes-gained from tee to green, ranking 14th for strokes-gained putting. If he can sustain that level of performance across the weekend, he will be difficult to stop. "I played really well all day apart from I hit a poor tee shot on 14 and got away with it," Fleetwood told Sky Sports. "The course doesn't make you feel very comfortable at all, you are always a semi-bad shot from struggling to make par. It's one of the courses that's the ultimate test in golf. "I've played well here in the past and if I drive it well that's a massive key for me. Driving is a strength for me normally and if you put it in play all the time in general you have a big advantage." One player who might fancy his chances of disrupting Fleetwood, however, is McIlroy. The Northern Irishman arrived at Sawgrass off the back of five consecutive top-6 finishes and clearly enjoyed the chance to be more aggressive on a course playing softer and longer than when the PGA Tour's flagship event was played in May. Able to unleash his driver far more often than in his previous appearances, the former world No.1 cruised to the turn in 33 before adding further birdies at the second and fifth. He ultimately signed for what was just his second-ever bogey-free round at The Stadium course; his first win of the season is just around the corner. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
0 Comments

GolfSmash Bloggers

Sean Donnelly
Blog Posts: 1150
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