A collection of golf news, notes, and thoughts from the week. Americans Billy Horschel and Lexi Thompson had contrasting wins plus a top ten player calls it quits from the top tier.
Horschel’s triumph, his first since the Tour Championship in 2014, came after Day missed his par putt in the playoff which clinched Horschel the Byron Nelson and a spot back inside the world’s top 50 (44.) Day had a wild back nine – pitching in on 15 before hitting a spectator on 16 and then missing a birdie putt on that hole – so it may not be surprising he wasn’t as composed in the playoff. Hopefully Day will maintain his composure in bigger events coming up.
Following his refusal to play the WGC event in Mexico due to security concerns (in the end he didn’t qualify) I’ve not been a huge fan for the Floridian but from a playing point of view the 30 year-old who was once ranked as high as 12 in the world has experienced a turnaround and after missing three consecutive cuts was an outsider here but has now found some form. Horschel’s wife opened up about her issues with alcoholism subsequent to the victory so I’m prepared to give Horschel a pass for his over-doing about security in Mexico when given his personal situation he could sensibly have taken off the last 12 months or so, or wound back his playing schedule stating it was family issues, and be done with it. I disagree with his assertions over perceived security issues in Mexico but at least he was honest and, under duress, the fact he’s picked up this win Texas is a nice story.
Speaking of recent family issues. Queenslander Day’s preparations for tournaments had resulted in some withdrawals but he’s now looking good (bar a couple of errors on Sunday) ahead of the season’s second major. (By the way read this if you haven’t already – it’s the definitive piece on Day and his family.) The US PGA tour stays in Texas for the Dean and Deluca Invitational this weekend in Fort Worth where Jordan Spieth is the reigning champion.
It’s not a major but Lexi Thompson has saluted on the LPGA Tour with little hint of controversy this time winning by five strokes in the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg . There were five rounds of 65 as the best score across the tournament and Thompson, 22, had three of them. Danielle Kang, who finished fourth, and Thailand’s Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras (T18) had the other two with Thompson’s third-round 69 her other score for what was 22 year-old’s eighth triumph on the LPGA tour.
On the Asian Tour Rattanon Wannasrichan lead from start to finish with two-stroke triumph in the Thailand Open in Bangkok. Waannasrichan, 21, vaulted up the rnakings from 404 to 239 with the win. In Sicily Alvaro Quiros won The Rocco Forte Open via a play-off but he scratched around all day and left the door ajar for Zander Lombard before the South African missed a simple putt on the second playoff hole. Spaniard Quiros had a five-shot advantage heading into the final day before a poor back-nine saw him roll back to the pack dropping four shots combined on 15, 16 and 17. It was the 34 year-old’s first win since 2011.
Player performance notes
Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me related to capital investment if that’s your thing. One of the European Tour’s big events for the season the PGA Championship, won by Chris Wood last year, takes place at the Wentworth Club. It’s also the first leg of the new Rolex Series – the new seven-tournament format replacing the old final series.
Under 20: Alex Noren. The Swede was eighth in this tournament two years ago and finished 10th last time out at The Players. A winner four times last year, including the British Masters.
20 to 50: Tommy Fleetwood. A winner already in 2017 Fleetwood hias the best greens in regulation stats on tour plus he was second last time out in China. That’s enough to show he can overcome a poor last two goes at this tournament.
50 to 100: Haotong Li. China’s Li rose to a career high ranking of 128 after finishing third in Sicily last weekend. Li’s played here before (T27) so will be used to the venue.
50 to 100: Thorbjorn Olesen. A winner of one of the key end of season events, the Turkish Airlines Open, Olesen also triumphed in the recent GolfSixes as half of Team Denmark. He did miss the cut here last year but will be better for the experience.
100 to 200 Andrew Johnston Last year’s final round at the tournament was hard work with only six players breaking 70, including winner Wood, but ‘Beef’ fired 67 and was only four strokes from the top. London native Johnston is not playing well but a return to a familiar venue should help.
100 to 200: Soomin Lee. The South Korean has recorded three consecutive top tens in Asia and this is a step up but the 23 year-old will have benefitted from his appearance here last year. We are also hoping for a Garcia-type inspiration Quiros got with his win after Lee’s compatriot Si Woo Kim won The Players.
Greens in regulation
In Western Australia it was a second victory of the season for Central Coast golfer Dimitrios Papadatos. His victory in the WA PGA Championship nearly didn’t happen as he almost elected to travel to the UK and miss the event at the Kalgoorlie Golf Club. Victory by a stroke “as the red dirt swirled” as reported by pga.org.au means Papadatos is in good form as he now focuses on Europe Sectional Qualifying for the US Open at Walton Heath in Surrey from May 29. It is one of 12 sectional qualifying sites but only one of two not in the USA.
The premature retirement of recent Australian Open winner, 25 year-old Ha Na Jang, from the top flight LPGA tour came out of the blue with the current world number ten choosing to devote more time to her family. Whilst not as lucrative, Jang still intends to play on the Korean tour but it will not offer the opportunities for notoriety which had come her way after four wins in the space of 12 months, including the victory in Adelaide. Jang was involved in one of the more bizarre off-field incidents of recent years when a luggage mishap involving her father and fellow South Korean golfer In Ghee Chun. The latter was temporarily usurped by Jang for a spot in the Korean Olympic team but Chun eventually recovered to play in Rio and Jang missed out. Funny game golf.
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