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19th Hole
News and Opinion

Golf Blogs

Date CreatedMost Popular

Sean Donnelly
Willett and Rahm poised for Sunday shootout at BMW PGA Championship
Sep 22, 2019 7:23 AM
 
When Danny Willett ended a three-year trophy drought by claiming his sixth career European Tour titleat the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last November, he seemed strongly placed to re-establish himself at the elite-level of the world game. As has been comprehensively documented, the 31-year-old endured a torrid time after claiming his maiden major championship triumph at The Masters in the spring of 2016. A vicious combination of serious injury and loss of form conspired to knock him back outside of the world’s top-300and he arrived at Jumeriah Golf Estates for last year’s Tour Championship at No.276 in the world. His victory appeared to signal a readiness to push back towards the top-10 ranking he held as recently as April 2016. This revival has not worked-out to plan; for although Willett has succeeded in climbing back inside of the world’s top-60 in 2019, and impressed in tying for eighth at the Canadian Open and tying for sixth at The Open during the early summer, he has struggled to attain the level of performance required to contend consistently for title at the highest level of the world sport. Eagle at the last for Jon Rahm to reach -11 #BMWPGA pic.twitter.com/qQdqmxm9So— Golf Monthly (@GolfMonthly) September 20, 2019 Indeed, Willett arrived at Wentworth Golf Club to contest the BMW PGA Championship this week off the back of registering his eighth missed-cut in 19 starts in 2019at the Omega European Masters a fortnight ago. It has been heartening, therefore, to observe the Sheffield-native recapture something approximating his best level in Surrey over the past three days. Willett drew level with world No. 6, Jon Rahm at the summit of the 36-hole leaderboard on Friday after carding six birdies and an eagle en route to a 7-under 65. Crucially, he maintained that momentum in the third-round, matching Rahm’s total of six birdies and two bogeys to sign for a 4-under 68. The pair will tee-off for the final-round in a share of the lead at 15-under-par. "I wouldn't say I'm back to my best”, Willett reflected in an interviewthe Telegraph’s James Corrigan on Saturday. “We're still working on the moves and there's still shots in there that I don't like. But the body is night and day to where it was, the ability to travel around the world and play golf is back and I'm just in a much better place with everything. It's now enjoyable to be playing it and feeling good about yourself in front of the crowds. I am confident about giving them what they paid for now.” Rahm, who claimed his first victory of the season at the Irish Open in July, would move top of the European Order of Merit were he to win on Sunday and will tee-off as heavy favourite for the title. However, Willett is benefitting from the absence of meaningful pressure this week and is well placed to capitalise should Rahm fail to reach his best level on Sunday. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
BMW PGA Championship: Rahm and Willett lead, McIlroy makes cut
Sep 21, 2019 10:31 AM
 
Say what you want about Rory McIlroy, but don’t say he’s dull. From the highs of Sawgrass and East Laketo the devastating lows of Augusta and Portrush, the Northern Irishman’s season has been wanting for drama. The bizarrely tumultuous character of his opening 36-holes at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth over the past two days has served only to reinforce this dynamic. Three-under through five-holes of his opening-round, McIlroy appeared set to maintain the form that has propelled him to three titles and the PGA Tour Player of the Season awardin Surrey. Few could have predicted the car-crash that would follow; back-to-back bogeys on holes No. 8 and 9 stymied his momentum heading into the turn and he required 42-strokes to complete a disastrous back-nine capped by a bogey, bogey-double finish. The 30-year-old was ultimately obliged to sign for a 4-over 76 and, 11-shots shy of Matt Wallace’s overnight lead, he consequently looked in serious danger of missing just his third cut of the season. 6 majors. 24 wins on tour.Molinari. Lowry. McIlroy. #BMWPGA #RolexSeries pic.twitter.com/NTzGE8NfyN— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 19, 2019 The drama surrounding McIlroy did not let-up on Friday. Having played Wentworth’s final two-holes in three-over on Thursday, the world No.2 arrived on the 17th hole of his second-round knowing that two pars would guarantee him a place in the weekend draw. A simple five-five would suffice. The four-times major winner delivered a straightforward par on 17 before carving an approach to the last right. A chip from a treacherous position left McIlroy with two putts from 40ft to make the cut. He left the first 6ft short, proving how a sense of drama is never far from this golfer’s scene. McIlroy converted confidently from there; his 69 and one-over-par aggregate means 36 more holes. Unburdened of the pressure associated with contending for the title, don’t be surprised to see him surge up the leaderboard over the weekend. "Look, I've done it before, so it's not out of the realms of possibility that I can do that," McIlroy said. "I just need to play better. I need to put the ball in the fairway a bit more and I felt like I did that today." "It was just a bit of a survival mode out there," he added. "It would have been easy to get frustrated today but just hung in there and just wanted to be here for the weekend and thankfully I am." At the business end of a star-studded leaderboard, world No.6, Jon Rahm and former Masters winner, Danny Willett lead the way at 11-under-par. Willett carded six birdies and an eagle to sign for a 7-under 65 on Friday to draw level with Rahm (who registered a 65) and the Sheffield-native is confident his game is nearing the level that propelled him into the world’s top-10 three-years ago. "I'm probably not back to my best," said Willett, who won the DP World Tour Championship in August. "I'm still working on the moves and there's still shots in there that I don't like. "As a whole, the body is night and day to where it was and the movements are good. The ability to travel around the world and play golf now is back there and I'm just in a much better place with everything, really. Hopefully an exciting weekend to come." The final 36-holes of this tournament will provide a rigorous examination of Willett’s recovery. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Matt Wallace seizes Wentworth lead, establishes early Ryder Cup marker
Sep 20, 2019 2:28 AM
 
As tough Ryder Cup selections go, European captain, Thomas Bjorn’s decision to overlook Matt Wallace for a wildcard spot for the 2018 event at Le Golf National was at the more painful end of the spectrum. Wallace, after all, had won three-times in 2018 and had vastly outperformed the flagging veteran, Sergio Garcia in the qualifying race. Nevertheless, Bjorn elected to prioritize experience over form in his selections and Garcia ultimately played a crucial role(3 points from 4 matches) in helping the Europeans to an emphatic 17½ points to 10½ victory over the USA. Wallace’s response to this disappointment? To work even harder. ‘I’ll be practising day and night to make sure I don’t miss out on the next one,’ the Londoner declared in response to Garcia’s selection. ‘Next time I’ll be on that plane.’ It felt significant, therefore, that the 29-year-old struck two crisp blows to three feet at the difficult opening hole when the qualifying process for next year’s team began at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Thursday. Nor did he relent thereafter, following up that opening birdie with four more and an eagle for a 7-under bogey-free 65. He will consequently take a single stroke lead into the second-round beginning on Friday morning. Reflecting upon his performance in a post-round press-conference, Wallace professed a belief that he is starting to reap the benefits from his decision to split with long-time caddie Dave McNeilly last month. Rory McIlroy has revealed he negotiated a deal with the European Tour to retain his membership after being initially unable to play the required number of events.— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) September 18, 2019 "It was the hardest decision I've had to make in my career. He's done so much for me," said Wallace, who has carded five top three finishes this year, including an outright 3rd at last week's KLM Open in the Netherlands. "Sometimes you need to make those hard decisions to go forward. I felt like it was the right one and it is producing some good stuff at the moment. "I played the first seven or eight holes as good as I possibly could and showed my all-round game by grinding out the last few holes. "I'm very happy. Whenever you can get off to a start like that it builds your confidence and just follows on from last week in Holland." Nevertheless, Wallace has a lot of work left to do in his quest to end a year-long European Tour trophy drought at Wentworth with Spaniard Jon Rahm and Swede Henrik Stenson positioned dangerously on six-under. Former world No.1, Justin Rose is a shot further back on minus-five. Wallace need not concern himself with the competitive threat posed by Rory McIlroy, however; after a strong start, the world No.2, shot a calamitous back-nine 42 to slip 11-strokes behind the overnight lead. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
McIlroy eyes return to world No.1 spot ahead of BMW PGA Championship
Sep 19, 2019 1:44 AM
 
There was an aura of finality surrounding Rory McIlroy’s 2019 season in recent weeks. The dramatic nature of the Northern Irishman’s final-round victory over Brooks Koepka at the Tour Championship in August, allied to his conferral with the PGA Tour’s Player of the Season award three-weeks ago appeared a fitting way to cap what has been one of the most consistent seasons of his career. Indeed, symptoms of physical and psychological fatigue were manifest when McIlroy succumbed to a narrow play-off defeat against opposition ranked opposition ranked No. 2,287, 300, 513 and 735 in the world respectively at the European Masters in Switzerland a fortnight ago. But with the 2020 Masters Tournament still a solid six-months away, McIlroy cannot yet afford to enter into a period of hibernation. Indeed, with two Rolex Series events and the WGC-HSBC Champions slatedfor the next eight weeks, the world No.2 will be required to summon extra reserves of energy and motivation in an attempt to finish the season as strongly as he started it. Add it to the shelf.Congratulations on winning Player of the Year, @McIlroyRory. pic.twitter.com/iHyB1QH5fF— THE PLAYERS (@THEPLAYERSChamp) September 11, 2019 This final push begins at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in Surrey on Thursday, a tournament he won in 2014 before finishing as a runner-up 12-months ago. When asked about his prospects of regaining the world No 1 ranking for the first time in four years, McIlroy, who has already won three times in 2019, said: "I don't know if that's realistic, but it's definitely to get closer. I've got an opportunity over the next few weeks where there's a lot of World Ranking points in Japan and China and Dubai at the end of the year. "So my goal is to get closer, just to try to keep progressing and get a couple more wins. I feel like I'm playing well enough. The most I've ever won in a season is five, so I'd love to at least equal that and try to better that. "So yeah, it's just keep going and try not to let my foot off the pedal and finish the year the way I started it, on a very positive note. Then I can really enjoy the off-season, or whatever off-season we have in December and January, reset and go again." McIlroy admitted he had to "drag myself off the couch" last week to get in some practice after taking a break following his play-off defeat at the European Masters, which was his seventh event in a punishing eight-week schedule, and he has recently voiced criticism regarding the PGA Tour’s decision to condense the major calendar into a four month stretch over the summer. Wentworth will provide a good indicator of how mentally and physically primed McIlroy is for the final two months of what has been an outstanding season. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
2019 BMW PGA Championship betting tips: Back Casey for the title at 14/1
Sep 18, 2019 2:11 AM
 
The European Tour elite travel to Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey to contest the old world circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, in the fourth of five annual Rolex Series events. Here follows our top-three tips for the tournament. Outright winner: Paul Casey (14/1) It is difficult to contest Rory McIlroy’s status as heavy, 8/1 favourite to win this one. Just three-weeks have passed since the 30-year-old claimed his third PGA Tour victory of the calendar yearat the Tour Championship at East Lake, a triumph he followed-up with a narrow play-off defeat at the European Masters in Switzerland, and he boasts a sensational record of 14 top-10 finishes in 17 startsin 2019. The value in backing the Northern Irishman is further enhanced when one accounts for the fact that he won the BMW PGA Championshipby a stroke away from friend and countryman, Shane Lowry in 2014, and finished second to Francesco Molinari at Wentworth last year. That said, McIlroy has also missed four cuts in his total 10-startson the Surrey track and 2014 and 2018 are his only two top-10 finishes at the event. This changeable record, allied to the obvious fatigue McIlroy exhibited in tying for second against a weak field in Switzerland last time out, suggests his odds as a front-runner may be short. Beyond, Rory, there is no shortage of potential winners to pick from in what is a stellar field featuring Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed and Shane Lowry, among others. A case can be made for backing any one of these elite names; however, I like the look of Paul Casey at 14/1. The world No.13 claimed his third title in 16-monthsat the Porsche European Open in Hamburg two-weeks ago and prefaced that start with a T3 finish at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, so he arrives in Surrey in good form. "I'm over the moon" @Paul_Casey completes the journey from 14-year-old volunteer to winner of the European Open pic.twitter.com/teoBGHmFys— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 8, 2019 The value in backing Casey is enhanced when one accounts for the fact that he has enjoyed something of a love affair with Wentworthover the course of a lengthy and decorated professional career. The 42-year-old won the BMW PGA in 2009, three years after he won the World Match Play on the West Course courtesy of a thumping 10&8 victory over Shaun Micheel in the final. Top-10: Bernd Wiesberger (40/1) Wiesberger has been enjoying an extraordinary season. In addition to claiming European Tour titles Nos. 5 and 6 at the Danish and Scottish Opens in May and July respectively, he has climbed back inside of the top-40 of the world rankingsand is in with a real chance of winning the Race to Dubai. The Austrian finished fifth on the occasion of his last start in Hamburg and looks excellent value to contend this week. Outsider: Robert MacIntyre (90/1) The Scot has been enjoying a dream debut season on the European Tour, featuring three runners-up finishes and a further top-10. Up to No. 96 in the world rankings, the 23-year-old is good value to make an impact at Wentworth. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Garcia snaps winless streak at KLM Open
Sep 17, 2019 1:40 AM
Tags: European Tour   Sergio Garcia   News   KLM Open    pga tour  
 
Sergio Garcia has generated plenty of headlines over the past year; but as this blog reflected last month, most of this attention has been directed his way for the wrong reasons. For in addition to completing a second consecutive winless season on the PGA Tour and slipping outside the top-40 in the Official World Golf Rankingsfor the first time since 2010, the 2017 Masters winner has been involved in a series of high-profile, on-course temper tantrums that have led many pundits to fear that his mentality has regressed to the adolescent state of 1999. First, there was the ransacking of multiple bunkers and greensat the Saudi International in February; then came the controversy arising from a fixture with Matt Kuchar at the WGC-Match Play in April. Next, he threw a club at his caddie at The Open at Royal Portrushin July and, most recently, he gouged a tee boxafter a loose drive during the final-round of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis. Headlines such as “Sergio Garcia continues to be mired in controversy” and “Latest Sergio outburst raises further questions about conduct" reflect the impact these recent outbursts have had on his reputation. The Ryder Cup stalwart consequently travelled to The International Course in Amsterdam to contest the KLM Open last week in desperate need of an up-tick in form. Sergio Garcia won the KLM Open on Sunday for his 16th European Tour title. pic.twitter.com/lbhQSKJSb4— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) September 15, 2019 Fortunately, for all lovers of elegant, precision-focused, shot-making golf, he found it, recovering from four bogeys over the course of a tumultuous final round to shoot a three-under 69 and secure for a one-shot victoryover Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard, an 18 year old making just his seventh European Tour start Sharing a two-shot lead with Callum Shinkwin after 54 holes, Garcia's first seven holes were an adventure, carding four birdies against three bogeys. The unpredictable nature of the final-round is illustrated vividly when one accounts for the fact that after leading by two-shots upon arriving at the fifth tee-box, he was a shot behind Hojgaard by the time he arrived at the eighth-tee following consecutive bogeys. But where Shinkwin’s scoring deteriorated sharply on the back-nine, Garcia’s performance went up a gearas he carded three birdies and a single bogey on the inward stretch to close out an important victory. The win marks the third straight year Garcia has won an event on the European Tour, the most consistent winning-run of his career on the old world circuit. “It was honestly amazing to have my brother, Angie my wife and little Azalea [Garcia’s daughter] here, it’s very special,” Garcia told europeantour.com. “Amazing. We had a great week and it’s great to win again. I played well all week under pressure. It wasn’t easy, there were a couple of tough moments today but I hung on tough, that’s the most important thing. “I want to thank all my sponsors for their support and everything they do for me and the year just got a little bit better.” Garcia will seek to sustain the momentum generated in the Netherlands when he travels to Wentworth Golf Club in England to contest the BMW Championship on Thursday. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Niemann makes history following maiden PGA Tour victory at Greenbrier
Sep 16, 2019 1:49 AM
 
Three months is a long-time in golf. After all, it was only back in mid-July that Joaquin Niemann travelled to TPC River Highlands to contest the Travelers Championship ranked No.141 in the FedEx Cup standings; he was consequently in serious danger of losing his PGA Tour playing card for the 2019/20 campaign. 12 weeks on, the 20-year-old’s future appears markedly more secure following a six-shot victory over Tom Hogeat A Military Tribute at Greenbrier Golf Club in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia on Sunday. In addition to becoming the first Chilean ever to win on the PGA Tour, Niemann has secured a two-year playing exemption and is strongly placed to fulfil the potential demonstrated so richly in his ascent to the summit of the world amateur rankings in 2017/18. Up to a new career-high ranking of No.50in the world, he has further earned a guaranteed starting spot in next season’s Masters Tournament at Augusta and is in with a serious chance of earning a call-up to Ernie Els’s International Team for the Presidents Cup in December. A birdie on the last for a six-shot victory. Joaquin Niemann (Chile) becomes the third player born outside of the United States to win their first PGA Tour title before the age of 21.pic.twitter.com/xxX8lHUvQG— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) September 15, 2019 This was an exceptional performance from Niemann who teed-off for the final-round with a two-stroke lead away from Tom Hoge and Richy Werenski. The Chilean’s 1-under front-nine ensured the tournament remained up for grabs as the final-pairing reached the turn; however, he seized decisive control of the leaderboard following a spectacular run of three birdies in his first four holes on the back-nine. He added further gloss to his winning margin with another three birdies between the 16th and 18th to sign for a 6-under closing-round of 64and a 21-under total of 259. "I just never thought this moment was possible,'' Niemann reflectedafter collecting his trophy at the clubhouse. "I can't wait to go back home and celebrate with all of my friends.'' "The emotions in that moment on the last couple holes was just crazy," he added. "I was just thinking on the first win I made when I was a kid and I was dreaming on this moment. So just making those putts on the last three holes was unbelievable. I couldn't resist it.” The emphatic nature of Niemann’s back-nine performance cannot but have caught Els’s eye. While eight players already qualified for the International Team that will play the U.S. team in December at Royal Melbourne in Australia, Els will choose the four remaining team members the week of November 4; in this context, Niemann appears to have timed his maiden PGA Tour victory to perfection. "Being on the Presidents Cup is just a dream,'' Niemann said. "It's a really good team this year. There's a lot of good players fighting for those spots. This win definitely helps.'' In light of Sunday’s performance, one struggles to envisage Els leaving the new world No. 50 out of his squad. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Niemann takes 2-shot lead at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier
Sep 15, 2019 5:50 AM
 
Much media response to last week’s PGA Tour Player of the Year award announcements understandably focused on Rory McIlroy’s triumph over Brooks Koepka in the senior’s category. As this blog noted on Thursday, the controversy over McIlroy’s victory has cut to the core of one of the longest-running debates in professional golf: do we, as fans, attach too much importance to major titles? Perhaps equally contentious, however, was the Tour’s decision to confer Sungjae Im with its Rookie of the Year award. For as impressive as Im has been in recording seven top-10s in 26 starts this season (including three top-5s), while finishing tied 19th in the FedExCup standings, there is a strong case to be made that Joaquin Niemann’s 2018/19 form has outstripped that of Im. The Chilean was the number one ranked golferin the World Amateur Golf Ranking for 44 weeks, from May 2017 to April 2018 before inaugurating his professional career with a T6 finish at the Valero Texas Open last spring. He earned Special Temporary Member Status on the PGA Tour for the rest of 2018 with a T6 finish at the Memorial Tournament, his third top-ten in only five starts on Tour. Niemann earned a PGA Tour card for the 2018–19 season, after a fourth top-10 finish (T5 at The Greenbrier) in eight tournaments, becoming just the third golfer in the history of the sport after Jordan Spieth (2013) and Jon Rahm (2016) to bypass the Web.com Tour Finals and earn a PGA Tour card after starting the season without any status. Will Joaquin Niemann earn his first PGA Tour win this weekend?He's tied for the lead at 13-under par at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier: https://t.co/LIrNQj9Gco pic.twitter.com/v9OLYfZlFG— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) September 13, 2019 The 20-year-old’s progress has scarcely let-up through the course of his first full season as a PGA Tour professional, posting four top-10s in 23 starts in the process of breaking into the top-100 of the Official World Golf Rankings, and he is rapidly closing-in on a maiden PGA Tour victory at the Military Tribute at Greenbrier Golf Club in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia this week. The Santiago native teed-off on Saturday in a three-way share of the 36-hole lead alongside Scottie Scheffler and Robby Shelton; however, a solid round consisting of a bogey and three birdies, including a 4-foot putt on the par-5 17th, proved sufficient for him to open-up a two-shot solo lead at the summit of the 54-hole leaderboard. "I just feel like I'm almost a member here," said Niemann, who finished T29 on the occasion of his amateur debut at Greenbrier in 2017 before tying for fifth as a professional last year. "I just like being out here. Always when you play on a course that you know already it helps a lot. I think this is the course I have played more on tour." "I'm just really happy the way I've been playing," he added. "This course is really good for me." Niemann has hit45 of 54 greens in regulation and landed 29 of 42 fairways off the tee through 54-holes at Greenbrier; if he sustains that level of accuracy in his approach play on Sunday, a maiden PGA Tour title seems assured. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Kevin Chappell cards 11th sub-70 round on PGA Tour
Sep 14, 2019 5:03 AM
 
Kevin Chappell was not much talked about in the lead-up to the Military Tribute at Greenbrier Golf Club in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia this week. After all, the 33-year-old is making just his third competitive start since undergoing microdiscectomy surgery to remedy a persistent back problem last fall and remains winless since claiming his maiden PGA Tour victoryby a stroke away from Brooks Koepka at the Valero Texas Open two years ago. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that Chappell’s world ranking has plummetedfrom a career-high No.23 in mid-2017 to No.226 as of the beginning of this week; indeed, the player himself professed to regarding wrap-around events such as the Military Tribute at Greenbrier as stepping stones on the way back to full fitness. It came as something of a surprise, therefore, when Chappell signed for a spectacular, 10-under second-round of 59 at Greenbrier on Friday, becoming only the 11th golfer in PGA Tour history to complete 18-holes in fewer than 60-strokes. He will consequently begin the weekend within three-strokes of the joint 36-hole leaders, Joaquin Niemann, Scottie Scheffler and Robby Shelton who sit tied atop the leaderboard at 13-under-par. Scottie Scheffler's swing is _____.The PGA Tour rookie just carded a second-round 62 at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier. pic.twitter.com/xbXzqQAZNh— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) September 13, 2019 Chappell made a non-descript start to his second-round, carding a routine par on his opening hole, No. 10; however, that would transpire to be the only par he would make through the first 10-holes of his round. A spectacular run of nine consecutive birdiesfollowed between holes No.11 and No.1, and, remarkably, the UCLA graduate required just 10-putts to complete his front-nine. Two further birdies were to follow at the par-4 5th and par-4 7th holes as Chappell became only the second player to shoot 59 on The Old White TPC following Stuart Appleby’s final-round card at the 2010 tournament. Indeed, the only nervous moment for the former Jack Nicklaus Award-winner came on the par-3 eighth hole when his lag putt from 54 feet came up 7 feet short. However, he coolly converted his par attempt and had an 11-footer for birdie on his final hole to become just the second player to shoot 58 in a Tour event, but the attempt was short. “I made [the birdie] on seven to get to 11 under par for the day and I just told my caddie I wanted to shoot 57,” said Chappell, who is making his first Tour start since last year’s Mayakoba Golf Classic. “I just tried to keep the mindset to attack.” “Ten months ago I was on the couch and couldn’t walk. So many people had so much to do with getting me back out here and getting me competitive,” he said. “I haven’t accomplished the goal yet, there’s a long weekend to go, but this is a step in the right direction.” If Chappell can sustain such scoring across the weekend, one struggles to envisage his march to a second PGA Tour title being halted. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
McIlroy's Player of the Year Triumph shows what the pros value most
Sep 13, 2019 2:50 AM
Tags: Brooks Koepka,   Rory McIlroy   News   pga tour  
 
As even the most casual golf fan is likely aware, the PGA Tour yesterday conferred Rory McIlroy with its coveted Player of the Season accolade for the 2018/19 campaign The decision has provoked no end of controversy among players pundits and fans. For although McIlroy produced by far the most consistent run of resultsacross the course of the year, winning three times and registering 11 further top-10 finishes in 17 starts, he failed to contend meaningfully for any of the season’s four major titles and infamously capitulated during the opening-round of his home Open at Royal Portrush. World No.1, Brooks Koepka, by contrast, defended his US PGA Championship accolade at Bethpage Black and finished tied-second at the Masters, outright second at the US Open, and outright fourth at The Open. The four-time major-winner also beat McIlroy in a direct Sunday shootoutto claim his third accolade of the season at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis in late July (though Rory returned the favour at East Lakelast month). The race is over.@McIlroyRory has been voted the 2018-19 Player of the Year by his peers. This is the third time he has received the Jack Nicklaus Award. https://t.co/Z9G1mNT2KM — PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 11, 2019 That said, McIlroy claimed the two most prestigious non-major titlesin 2019, The Players Championship and the Tour Championship (as well as the Canadian Open, which Koepka also contested), and it is noteworthy that the PGA Tour awards the same number of World Ranking, FedEx Cup and Hall of Fame points for the Players Championship as it does for any of the four majors. This is entirely logical when one accounts for the fact that the Players consists of the strongest field of any eventon the PGA Tour (there are no septuagenarian past champions, for example, eliminating 15% of the field) and is played on an extremely difficult course that favours no particular style. Koepka, meantime, had 10 finishes out of the top 20 in the 20 events he completed over the course of 2019 (McIlroy had only two) and finished fourth in the Byron Nelson Award for lowest-adjusted scoring average, three spots behind winner, McIlroy (69.057). The Player of the Year controversy has consequently cut to the core of one of the longest-running debates in professional golf: do we, as fans, attach too much importance to major titles? Indeed, it is revealing that Koepka is the first player in 28-years to win the PGA of America’s Player of the Year award without also claiming the PGA Tour’s equivalent accolade. The difference? Where the PGA of America's honour is awarded on the basis of a points criteria, the PGA Tour’s accolade is determined by an anonymous vote among all those players who contested 15 or more events over the course of a season. McIlroy’s triumph consequently suggests that professionals place a higher premium on consistency over the course of a season than on a capacity to peak four times in a year for the majors. The Northern Irishman highlighted this fact in comments to the mediaafter being conferred with the Nicklaus Award on Wednesday. “Brooks has had an incredible year, an incredible three years, really”, McIlroy reflected. “But I think it speaks volumes about what PGA Tour players feel is important. Players just don’t feel only four weeks are important. “We play for more than just what the narrative suggests. I wanted to try and bring my best every single week I played. The top 10s, the consistency, the work that I put in — the greatest compliment you can receive is that your peers feel you’ve done something pretty special.” Whatever one’s perspective on the relative weight of major events to non-major events, it is indisputable that McIlroy has been the most consistent player in the world over the past nine-months; he is richly deserving, therefore, of the recognition he has received from his peers. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
McIlroy named 2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year, shocks golfing world
Sep 12, 2019 2:04 AM
 
When Brooks Koepka was conferred with the PGA of America’s Player of the Year award two-weeks ago, it was taken as a giventhat he would also go on to claim the PGA Tour’s coveted end-of-season bauble. For although the PGA of America's honour is determined based on a points criterion, whereas the PGA Tour relies on a more capricious anonymous player voting system, 28-years had passed since the winner of the former did not go on to claim the latter title, too. Indeed, McIlroy acknowledged the inevitability of such an outcome after beating Koepka as part of the final pairing out on Sunday at the Tour Championship last month. “He’s had a great season,” McIlroy reflected at East Lake. “He's won another major, he's won three times. And I know it's going to sting because he most likely will win the Player of the Year, but he didn't win the FedEx Cup.” Heck, the Northern Irishman even admitted to having voted for Koepka to claim the PGA Tour award. Hence his surprise upon entering PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan’s office on Wednesday afternoon only to be greeted by 18-time major champion, Jack Nicklaus bearing the Player of the Year award. It marked the occasion of McIlroy’s third such victory in a decade on the Tour. Rory McIlroy was VERY surprised when Jack Nicklaus told him he won PGA Tour Player of the Year. https://t.co/BO9DdURfa1— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) September 11, 2019 “On behalf of the PGA Tour, my congratulations to Rory McIlroy on being voted the 2019 PGA TOUR Player of the Year by the Tour’s membership,” Commissioner Monahan reflected. “While there are a number of honors one can receive in this game, PGA Tour Player of the Year has to be among the most satisfying as it comes directly from his peers. Rory’s season was a model of consistency punctuated by milestone victories and ultimately the FedExCup in Atlanta.” Of course, there will be those who quibblewith the legitimacy of this outcome. McIlroy, after all, failed to meaningfully contend for any of the seasons four majors, while Koepka defended his US PGA Championship accolade at Bethpage Black and finished tied-second at the Masters, outright second at the US Open, and outright fourth at The Open. The world No.1 also beat McIlroy in a direct Sunday shootoutto claim his third accolade of the season at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis in late July. That said, McIlroy claimed the two most prestigious non-major titles in 2019 (The Players Championship and the Tour Championship); he only twice finished out of the top 20 in the 17 tournaments he finished, whereas Koepka had 10 finishes out of the top 20 in the 20 events he finished; and McIlroy also won the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average over the course of the season; Koepka was fourth. In terms of overall consistency, there can be no disputing the fact that 2019 has been McIlroy’s season; ultimately, the debate over the outcome of the Player of the Year award comes down to a subjective, moral assessment regarding the relative worth of the majors over events like The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup. Clearly, McIlroy’s PGA Tour colleagues do not draw as sharp a distinction between the majors and the elite regular Tour events as do some of the more polemical commentators in the US golfing media. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Palmer at 90: A Retrospective
Sep 11, 2019 2:09 AM
Tags: Arnold Palmer   Phil Mickelson   News   pga tour  
 
With the PGA and European Tours going through something of a late-season lull, the 19th Hole decided to reflect upon the career of one of the game’s greats, Arnold Palmer on the occasion of what would have been his 90th birthday. Hey, even Phil Mickelson has gone and gotten all bleary-eyed and sentimentalon social media given the day that’s in it. Few have transformed their sport as profoundly and enduringly as the late Arnold Palmerdid golf. When the Pennsylvania-native turned professional as a 25-year-old in 1955, golf, on both sides of the Atlantic, stood as a bastion of socio-economic conservativism; the preserve of upper-class, white males who showed little interest in broadening the sport’s appeal. Though some vestiges of such antiquated exclusiveness cling on, Palmer’s principal achievement was to throw the keys to golf’s country club out into the public and to help the game grow into the commercial behemoth that it is today. BunkeredOnline : Yeah, you're cool. But you're not "Arnold Palmer, wearing a Green Jacket leaning on a red Cadillac in front of the Augusta National clubhouse" cool.The 'King' would have been 90 today. Never forgotten. pic.twitter.com/DRVoaScmsV pic.twitter.com/I7Zm1yHgNa— Golf2Win (@Golf_2_Win) September 11, 2019 Between 1958 and 1964, the man affectionately nicknamed, 'The King', won seven major titles. Six of these of honours were claimed during a remarkable a five-year period between 1960 and 1964, when he firmly established himself as a star of world sport and cultivated an amiable, high-profile rivalry with Jack Nicklaus. Augusta was a particularly happy hunting ground for Palmer – four of his majors came at the Masters – and only an agonizing run of three runners-up placings at the US PGA Championship denied him the coveted career-slam held by Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Tiger Woods and Nicklaus. Indeed, Palmer’s commitment to the majors is one of his greatest legacies. In the post-war era, the Masters, the US Open, The Open Championship and the US PGA Championship lacked the prestige and financial resource that make them so attractive to the world’s leading players today. The fact, therefore, that Palmer, the most popular golfer of the period, rarely missed a major through his peak years played a vital role helping to invest those competitions with the status that they enjoy today. Palmer’s commitment to The Open is particularly noteworthy given how many of his PGA Tour contemporaries neglected to travel to Britain to contest golf’s oldest major owing to the huge costs entailed by transatlantic flight. But for all the significance of Palmer’s achievements inside the ropes, his greatest legacy arguably derives from his role in popularising the sport among the general public. The son of a country club greenskeeper, the 62-time PGA Tour winner’s good looks, charisma and everyman persona enabled him to capitalize on the start of sport’s television age by becoming a walking billboard for American businesses. Palmer endorsed a range of products and services, from Cadillac, United Airlines and Hertz Rental Car to Penzoil and Xarelto, and, no matter where he played, he was invariably flanked by hordes of fans on both sides of the gallery, affectionately nicknamed "Arnie's Army". In an era when many fans and pundits complain of the lack of personality and charisma exhibited a corporate sponsor-led and rigorously PR-trained PGA Tour elite, Palmer’s human qualities stand out all the more starkly. More than any other player, Palmer spearheaded golf’s integration into the commercial mainstream of international sporting culture in the post-war era; for that, he was always deserving of his grandiose sobriquet, "The King". [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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