Golf Capital – MacLaren short-changed despite back-to-back wins, plus the glory of Lofoten

@hamishneal

 

England’s Meghan MacLaren won back-to-back Women’s New South Wales Open titles on Sunday as Open Champion Francesco Molinari blasted to a two-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour. South Africa’s Justin Harding won his first European Tour event at the Qatar Masters as Kiwi amateur Kazuma Kobori won the NZ PGA Championship on his home track at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club.

 

Meghan Maclaren of England with her trophy

 

Opening drive

 

A stunning eight-under 64 in his final round saw Ryder Cup hero Francesco Molinari set a clubhouse standard relatively early in the final round which the chasing pack failed to match at Bay Hill. The event, which was dominated by Europeans with six inside the top nine, finished in odd circumstances with Molinari eleven groups back and five shots back after the third round before he prevailed over England’s Matt Fitzpatrick and the chasing pack.

 

After her Women’s NSW Open wins in Coffs Harbour last year this year’s title defence for Meghan MacLaren came at the Queanbeyan Golf Club. A great effort to go back to back finishing at 12 under saw MacLaren home by three strokes over Sweden’s Lynn Carlsson and Kiwi Munchin Keh. MacLaren, 24, went eagle-par-birdie over the last three holes to secure the win.

 

It’s just the shame the Women’s NSW Open doesn’t share the same prizemoney or stature as it’s Victorian counterpart where the men’s and women’s events are equal in prizemoney and played on the same course at the same time.

 

Northamptonshire native MacLaren pocketed only AUD22,500 for the victory in Queanbeyan. Jake McLeod’s NSW Open win in November netted him AUD72,000. MacLaren would have to win this tournament TWO MORE times to surpass what McLeod earnt in November. It should also be noted the NSW Women’s Open is co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour and the NSW Open on the men’s tour is not linked to any overseas tour. Something for the golfing bodies and tournament backers of the event to consider for the future, and across the tours for that matter. If the Men’s and Women’s NSW Opens’ can’t be run simultaneously maybe could they at least offer equal prizemoney to match the inclusive standard the Vic Open has set?

 

In Christchurch Kobori’s victory seemed likely after the third round when he lead before eventually finishing at 21 under after a final round three under 69. Kiwi David Smail finished second one shot ahead of Victoria’s Cameron John but collected the first=place prizemoney of NZD125,000 by virtue of Kobori’s amateur status.

 

The Qatar Masters, a European Tour event, went to Justin Harding after he finished at 13 under, two strokes clear of nine (!) players including overnight leader Oliver Wilson. Cape Town resident Harding has been a prolific winner with seven Sunshine Tour victories since 2010 plus two Asian Tour triumphs last year but this is his first ET triumph.

 

Greens in regulation

 

The Kenya Open is elevated to European Tour status as the ET leaves the Middle East for the next few weeks (yes it will eventually get back to Europe.) Nairobi’s Karen Golf Course hosts the tournament which has a somewhat surprising history with the 52-year-old event having the likes of major winners Ian Woosnam and Seven Ballesteros among the victors. After the recent tournaments in New Zealand the Australasian PGA takes a break until the PNG Open in May with the ALPG Tour this week in New Caledonia before a return to Queensland for the AVEO Brisbane Invitational. The LPGA resumes later this month in Arizona.

 

Tap in

 

Tiger Woods is back and it’s the ‘fifth major’ this weekend in men’s golf with The Players taking place on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass with great viewing including the ‘Island Green’ on 17. However, that, and any golf for the next few weeks is going to be hard to top compared to the spectacular viewing of Lofoten Links. This three-minute video from No Laying Up which I saw late one night about a week ago on my smartphone was so good the next day I went and watched in on the big television.

 

‘In the middle of the night, at the edge of the world.’ Enjoy.

 

 

This week

The Players

 

Justin Thomas

Since the start of 2019 Thomas has five finishes of top nine or better and was T11 at this track last year.

 

Francesco Molinari

Twice last year after winning (at the BMW Championship and Quicken Loans National) Molinari contended again finishing second or tied second at his next event so the Open winner has the ability to stay in form.

 

Jordan Spieth

Believe it or not Spieth is now ranked 47, his worst ranking since August 2013. Once T4 in this event early in his career the American must be due to turn around his form.

 

Keith Mitchell

Speaking of in form. After winning the Honda Classic Mitchell ranked 161st only two weeks ago maintained his form to finish T6 at Bay Hill.

 

2019 record:

Feb 13: Nelly Korda win and Paul Dunne third.

Feb 20: Ledioda missed the cut and in Mexico Ancer (T39) was the best of the three.

Feb 27: Best two were Brooke Henderson (T15) after taking an eight on one of the par fives in her opening round and Harrison Endycott T17.

March 6: Matt Millar T23 in NZ was the best result in the tough weather on the South Island.

 

Image via TheLeader.Info

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