A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw a rookie victorious in the playoff finale as Xander Schauffele saluted in the TOUR Championship, a maiden solo triumph on the European Tour for Lucas Bjerregaard, a week of Presidents Cup build-up plus the LPGA heads down-under.
One of the four I picked for last week triumphed in Atlanta with Schauffele claiming the playoff finale by a stroke over Justin Thomas, another column favourite, who won the FedEX Cup title. Schauffele, 23, grossed just under USD150,000 on the web.com tour in 2016 so it has been a meteoric rise for a player that finished just outside the top 25 on the second tier tour last year to become the first tour rookie to triumph in the TOUR Championship. Schauffele, who started the week in 28th place in the FedExcup, finished third in the playoffs and did well to go up-and-down on 17 when it looked as if Thomas might reel him in. Thomas’ bonus victory goes with his major crown from earlier this year and has him set-up well for this week’s President’s Cup in New Jersey.
In Portugal Dane Bjerregaard shot an equal best of the day six under to romp home at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in the Algarve. Having won the new GolfSixes format earlier this is the first solo win at the elite level for the 26-year-old who entered the day leading by one stroke but won by four. This is the first solo triumph at the elite level for the Frederikshavn native and he will be looking to emulate his GolfSixes teammate Thorbjorn Olesen who last year won twice in the space on a month when he claimed the Turkish Open before winning the World Cup of Golf.
Player performance notes
Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes that interest me related to capital investment if that’s your thing. Close House in Newcastle hosts the British Masters and the event was won last year by Swede Alex Noren when it was staged in the south of England at The Grove in Hertfordshire.
Under 20: Sergio Garcia. The Masters champion is steadily improving after he missed the cut in the PGA Championship. He was T35 in his first FedEx Cup playoff event for the year before he was T12 at the BMW Championship and T10 on the weekend in Georgia.
20 to 50: Tyrell Hatton. After missing six of seven cuts the Englishman was third in the European Masters last time out and he was T9 last year in this tournament when coming off having won the tri-course event at St Andrews.
20 o0 50: Eddie Pepperell. Oxfordshire’s Pepperell comes into this event with three consecutive top fives and is on the best run of his career.
50 to 100: Lucas Bjerregaard. Last week’s winner gets a chance to go in again as the Lee Westwood Colt Course isn’t a usual tour venue so no particular player has tournament experience at the venue and the Dane is fourth for driving distance so will get the chance to put the ball where he wants it.
50 to 100: Lee Slattery. A blip last time out when he was T65 at the Portugal Masters Slattery performed well earlier this month when he was sixth in the European Masters and second in the Czech Masters prior to that.
100 to 200: Aaron Rai. A three-time winner this year on the European Tour’s second-tier Challenge Tour Rai, 22, is bypassing a push to win the second-tier money list crown to play in England. Wolverhampton’s Rai was tenth in Denmark in August and is fourth in driving accuracy this season on the ET.
Greens in regulation
The USD250 million Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey hosts the Presidents Cup which sees the USA looking to extend their dominance with the Internationals (sans Europe) not having won since their only triumph in the tournament in 1998 (there was a tie in South Africa in 1993.) The Internationals, captained by Nick Price have lost all six attempts events in the USA. South Africa Louis Oosthuizen performed best for the Internationals gaining 4.5 points two years ago in South Korea when USA won 15.4-14.5. Veterans Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson both topped te USA’s car with 3.5 points. Such is the Americans depth Johnson didn’t make the team this year and Mickelson is only in as one of two captain’s picks from Steve Stricker in the team of 12. Foursomes and fourballs are the focus on the first three days before twelve singles games on Sunday.
The Presidents Cup isn’t the only international flavor in golf this week with the LPGA Tour heading to Auckland for the New Zealand Women’s Open. Windross Farm Golf Course, located about 30 kilometres south east of Auckland’s city centre, hosts one of the four events added to the LPGA’s calendar this season. Kiwi Lydia Ko has won three of the last four editions of this tournament but the fact the event is now linked to the big time means a sterner test for Ko, who hasn’t won in her last 29 starts. Major winner Brooke Henderson and two winers’s from the LPGA this season, Katherine Kirk and Brittany Lincicome will take their place in the field.
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