A collection of my golf thoughts reviewing the weekend’s action plus a look to the week ahead which includes the second leg of the Finals Series on the European Tour for the men which takes place in South Africa at Sun City.
Australia’s Rod Pampling scrambled well late to win in Las Vegas on the US PGA Tour as Dane Thorbjorn Olesen won the opening leg of the Race to Dubai series by three strokes.
Pampling’s win was his first on the US tour since 2006 when he won the Bay Hill Invitational and the result was put down to some great scrambling late in the fourth round when, among others, Ryder Cupper Brooks Koepka was in the chasing pack. The 47 year-old’s two-stroke triumph gets him into the three majors held in the USA in 2017 plus a two-year exemption on tour. However all of these guarantees came with two huge doses of luck. Firstly Pampling had a confirmed PGA tour card because the last event in the second-tier Web.com tour was canned due to the weather and the Queensland-born player then got into the field as a paperwork error added 12 players to the entry list in Las Vegas meaning 144, and not the usual 132, players featured in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Good luck comes in threes doesn’t it?
Denmark’s Olesen has now won in four countries on the European Tour (including a co-sanctioned event in Perth, Australia) but it seemed like he might throw away his chance in Turkey when, despite having a seven-shot advantage, pressure started to tell in three-putting the ninth on his final round. However three subsequent birdies on the back nine helped and he won by three finishing at 20 under.
After a win in Malaysia China’s Shanshan Feng went back-to-back winning the Japan Open by a single stroke finishing on 13 under. South Korean Inbee Park is the defending champion for the LPGA event in Mexico this weekend. However, the Olympic gold medalist, will not be playing the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico City due to rehab for her thumb injury. The men’s US tour is also in Mexico with the OHL Classic at Mayakoba tournament at the El Camaleón Golf Course won last year in a playoff by Graeme McDowell.
Player performance notes:
Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The Nedbank Golf Challenge is the second tournament of the three-leg final series of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai to be held in Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, north-west of Pretoria.
Under 20: Henrik Stenson. The Open winner didn’t play in Turkey but does lead the Race to Dubai from Masters champ Danny Willett by €252,163 and he won the Open from in front.
20 to 50: Branden Grace. Form and class helps here and Grace is the highest-ranked local player at 15 in the world and finished T4 in the event last year.
20 to 50: Alexander Levy. A player we thought would go well last weekend took until the final round to really get going shooting an equal round best of six under.
20 to 50: Louis Oosthuizen. The 2010 Open winner is the highest-ranked South African in the final series standings and major winners have won this event 13 times.
20 to 50: Chris Wood. The Englishman was third in this event won last time by Marc Leishman (who is playing in Mexico this weekend) with Stenson in second. He spent time on a drip in the days before the event and still only finished ten shots from Leishman, who did blitz the field.
50 to 100: George Coetzee. The best performing South African in Turkey last week finished T5 and did win nearby in 2014 in the Jo’burg Open.
50 to 100: Haotong Li. China’s Li was just behind Olesen and shot an equal best six under for the final round so produced when it counted even without winning.
50 to 100 to 150: Victor Dubuisson. The Frenchman was T4 in the event last year which had a smaller field and his course experience will be invaluable.
Greens in regulation
Geelong’s Ben Eccles is the reigning titleholder as the main Australasian PGA tournament kick off this weekend with the NSW Open played at the Stonecutters Ridge Golf Course in the western Sydney suburb of Colebee. Eccles will be absent from this event though as he is one of only two Australians still aiming for qualification for the European Tour via Q-School after finishing T9 in the event in Alicante last weekend. Eccles, and Tasmanian Ryan McCarthy, will play the final event of the series in Girona, Italy this weekend.
San Diego’s Petco Park, home to Major League Baseball team the San Diego Padres held a unique golf event last week with the venue re-designed to form a nine-hole golf course. Hugely popular the event, which is in it’s second year sold-out of tee times in two hours. Yes it was a promotion for the company behind it, Callaway Golf, but it also showed a way to make golf more accessible and perhaps could see other sporting venues innovate in their off-season or downtime.
Image via golfaustralia.com.au