Golf Capital – Short names, big wins for Law and Na.

@hamishneal

 

Kevin Na got one up over the ‘bomb and gouge brigade’ to claim the Charles Schwab Challenge whilst England Bronte Law claimed a maiden victory on the LPGA tour a week out from the US Women’s Open.

 

charles-schwab-dodge-challenger-kenny-harms-kevin-na

 

Opening drive

 

Kevin Na’s brilliant eight-under 62 on Friday paved the way for the American’s four-shot triumph at the Colonial Country Club to win his second PGA Tour event in ten months. Na’s 13 under finish saw him clear of Tony Finau with Andrew Putnam and recent winner CT Pan tied for third. This week the PGA Tour heads to Ohio for the Memorial at Muirfield Village.

 

The PGA Tour was in Forth Worth Texas whilst the LPGA Tour was in Williamsburg for the Pure Silk Championship which was won by England’s Bronte Law. Stockport native Law’s first professional triumph comes at the age of 24 after an impressive amateur career and saw her on top since the first round of the event. It was an impressive bounce-back after Law lost in a playoff in the recent event in San Francisco.

 

Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger won the Made in Denmark at the glorious Himmerland track to claim the fifth European Tour title of his career. However it took some doing for Wiesberger, even after finding water in the last hole, his bogey saw him prevail over Robert Macintyre. Wiesberger’s earlier tally of seven birdies plus an eagle saw him finish at 14 under ahead by one after 73 holes. Scot Macintyre was ranked 265 in the world three weeks ago and has now nearly halved that to be at 123 following his second place finish which came after a T2 at the British Masters. From Denmark to Belgium the Belgian Knockout takes place at the Rinkven International Golf Course this week on the ET.

 

Greens in regulation

 

This week sees the second major of the elite women’s game take place the US women’s Open. Last year’s title culminated in a four-hole playoff in Alabama won by Ariya Jutanugarn. 12 former winners are in Charlestown for the tournament to be played at the Country Club of Charleston. Interestingly the venue hasn’t hosted a top flight event with the last tournament of significance to take place here the US Women’s Amateur six years ago. So much of the intrigue will be linked to most of the players seeing the course for the first time in tournament play before they contend for the USD5.5 million event but it is also notable that despite the USD1 million going to the winner (which is the biggest of any major in women’s golf) it is well short of what 2018 US Open Brooks Koepka pocketed in the men’s event – USD2.16 million.

 

 

Tap in

 

Kevin Na’s third PGA Tour win came with an interesting prize. As well as the USD1.3 million prizemoney, a tartan jacket the winner also claimed a 1973 Dodge Challenger car, and immediately gifted it to his caddie Kenny Harms whom he has known for 11 years. Aside from the grand gesture of the restored vehicle Na’s win was nice given he ranked 125th in driving distance on tour heading into the event and freely admits he can only contend on “seven or eight” courses during the season due to his lack of power hitting.

 

This week

 

 

US Women’s Open – Charleston, South Carolina

 

Brooke Henderson

A recent winner Henderson missed this event last year due to family matters with one of her grandfather’s passing away. Her record in this major isn’t strong but she is in form after her T2 result in Virginia.

 

Charley Hull

Hull, possibly buoyed by Law’s win, has a solid chance here having finished T13-T4 in her last two outings. This goes with her Ladies European Tour win in January in the UAE, however she is winless on the LPGA since November 2019.

 

Jin Young Ko

A major winner in 2019 at the Ana Inspiration already Ko also won in March and has been incredibly consistent this year with only two finishes outside of the top 17 and the ‘worst’ of those was a T29 in Thailand.

 

The Memorial – Dublin, Ohio

 

Tiger Woods

The five-time winner here won the Masters last time out and has elected to play this in preparation before the US Open at Pebble Beach.

 

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.

March 13 Justin Thomas T35 was the best of the TPC Sawgrass four.

March 20: Went off a week early with Kisner but in the Valspar Jon Rahm was T6 as the best result.

April 4: Matt Jones’ T30 was the best of the four options last week after Rahm’s T6 finish the week prior.

April 11: Xander Schauffele. T2 at his second Masters appearance is impressive a show for the future.

April 17: Brooke Henderson won in Hawaii with Matt Fitzpatrick the best at the RBC Heritage at T39.

May 15: Brooks Koepka won the PGA with Schauffele aiming for a top five finish before faltering like so many on Sunday to eventually finish T16 and 11 shots off the winner.

May 22: Matt Wallace was the best of a rough weekend finishing T41 in Denmark after a promising start.

 

Image via golfdigest.com

Golf Capital – Brooks’ Double among New York rabble

@hamishneal

 

Brooks was here… To use a well-worn phrase from the seminal 1994 movie Shawshank Redemption. Brooks (Koepka) was here and he conquered the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. Koepka prevailed by two strokes after finishing at eight under two clear of good friend Dustin Johnson having lead by seven strokes at various stages of the tournament. He now holds both the US Open and the Wanamaker trophy plus has won four majors in his last eight starts.

 

I guess the only question is, if Brooks was here, and is Brooks ‘Who is Red?’ Answers on a postcard.

 

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Opening drive

 

Koepka, who led by a touchdown for the first time during the second round at the Farmingdale venue, gave back five shots from the 11th hole on the back nine on Sunday during the windswept conditions but still won his fourth major such was his dominance in the first 54 holes. No seven-shot leader after three rounds in the history of the PGA Tour had gone on to lose and this remains the case as Koepka survived Johnson’s final round 69 with his fellow American finishing at six under. All this came after Floridian Koepka opened with a seven under round on Thursday to shot the lowest first round by a defending champion.

 

Johnson’s result means he has the career grand slam… of a runner-up finish in every major. Third place was shared by American duo of Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth with England’s Matt Wallace

 

One sole statistic might signify how dominant Koepka is currently in the elite tournaments. Amongst active PGA Tour players these players have won more majors; Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. That’s the list.

 

Greens in regulation

The verdict might be out on whether the move of the PGA Championship to May is successful (I’m ambivalent, let’s wait until the end of the season) but one thing was confirmed NEW YORK SPORTS FANS ARE THE WORST. The yahooing and hollering was off the scale as fans turned on Brooks Koepka (what has he ever done to them?) at the end of the tournament. Things well and truly got out of control. One can imagine what might have happened if Matt Wallace from England or Sung Kang of Korea had the temerity to mount a larger challenge on the final few holes. New York should be barred from hosting golf majors most certainly for say the next decade. I’ll extend that ban to the nearby state of New Jersey so the Commander in Cheat’s course can’t host the 2022 PGA Championship.

 

Tap in

 

With plenty of focus on majors in the USA in recent weeks (the Women’s US Open starts on May 30 by the way) the European Tour has been busy announcing more dual-field events with now the inclusion of Golfers with Disability at two of the marquee Rolex Series Events.

 

With the newly established World Rankings for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) to compliment the additions of the Scottish Open and Dubai Finale to the calendar for these elite players. Whilst the Dubai event finishes on the Saturday the coverage for these events will also be included in the world broadcast feed so all those receiving the coverage will be able to watch the denouement of these tournaments, as was the case during the Australian Open coverage late last year.

 

However, whilst the ET continues to be at the forefront of inclusive golfing events they also (on the quiet in the same period) confirmed they would return to Saudi Arabia in 2020 after the inaugural Saudi International men’s event was held there in March. I find it hard to contrast the range of these two decisions. Truly baffling.

 

This week

 

Charles Schwab Challenge – Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth

 

Jon Rahm

 

With form reading 2-5 here it’s hard to see the Spaniard not challenging and his recent major performances

 

Kramer Hickok

 

The former roommate of Jordan Spieth hasn’t had the same career trajectory but the DAP Championship winner on the web.com tour from last year was T17 at the Byron Nelson closing with rounds of 66-66 last time out.

 

Made in Denmark – Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort, near Gatten

 

Matt Wallace

 

The defending champion, albeit on a different course, is ranked a career-high 25 after his placing in the PGA which followed a T2 at the British Masters.

 

Dimi Papadatos

 

The Australian has finished T4 in Challenge Tour events in Denmark and has finished T21-MC-T15 in his last three starts with two rounds in the 60s at the British Masters in tricky conditions.

 

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.

March 13 Justin Thomas T35 was the best of the TPC Sawgrass four.

March 20: Went off a week early with Kisner but in the Valspar Jon Rahm was T6 as the best result.

April 4: Matt Jones’ T30 was the best of the four options last week after Rahm’s T6 finish the week prior.

April 11: Xander Schauffele. T2 at his second Masters appearance is impressive a show for the future.

April 17: Brooke Henderson won in Hawaii with Matt Fitzpatrick the best at the RBC Heritage at T39.

May 15: Brooks Koepka won the PGA with Schauffele aiming for a top five finish before faltering like so many on Sunday to eventually finish T16 and 11 shots off the winner.

 

Image via pga.com

Golf Capital – Shifting majors, shifting coaches

@hamishneal

 

From the elitism of Augusta the new date of the PGA Championships brings us to the open nature of the municipal (public) course at Bethpage Black for the second men’s major of 2019. Since out last edition we’ve seen Canadian star Brooke Henderson continue to break records, some surprise winners on the PGA Tour plus a breakthrough victory in Southport at the British Masters.

Bethpage-Black-Warning-Signgolfnewsnet

 

Opening Drive

The second men’s major of 2019 has came up quicker than usual with the PGA Championship’s new May date which is aimed to accommodate the shift in the PGA Tour’s end-of-season Fed Ex Cup. The irony of moving a major to accommodate an event which isn’t a major which itself was moved to not clash with another sport (the ubiquitous NFL) is not lost on many golf purists. However of any season for the change to happen the move could start with a bang given it comes only a month after Tiger Wood’s won the Masters. Now I don’t think he will win another PGA Championship this year but more on that later.

 

 

Greens in regulation

 

In the period since we last posted Jorge Campillo has been a star on the European Tour winning in Morocco before leading during the final five holes in China prior to the playoff victory for Mikko Korhonen. That was followed by Marcus Kinhult’s maiden victory on the European Tour in the British Masters, in a field which included defending champion Eddie Pepperell – who was in a tie one-stroke back from Kinhult’s 16 under mark with fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and Scot Robert MacIntyre.

 

Since the Masters Chinese Taipei’s CT Pan won the (eck) plaid jacket after he claimed the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic in Louisiana went to Max Homa before the Byron Nelson at the terrific Trinity Forest course in Dallas went to Korean Sung Kang.

 

Homa’s win (which took some time to be confirmed given he was struck by a one-hour delay due to storms) was particularly popular given the Californian was struggling for a period (he made only $18,008 on tour two years ago) and only just made it back onto the Tour this time around from the second-tier Web.com finals. This came after Homa birdied the last four holes at the Portland Open in the second round JUST TO MAKE THE CUT. If he didn’t that wouldn’t have seen him make the Web.com finals. Small margins and all that.

 

Brooke Henderson and Minjee Lee won for the eighth and fifth time respectively on the LPGA Tour with wins in Hawaii and Los Angeles since our last post before Sei Young Kim triumphed in Daly City near San Francisco. Kim, 26, also won her eighth tournament with the win over Bronte Law and Lee Jeong-Eun6 at Daly City.

 

Tap in

 

In the past few weeks one of golf’s brightest stars two-time major winner Lydia Ko has changed coaches again. On this occasion the 22-year-old Kiwi has dumped Ted Oh, this comes having already let go David Leadbetter and Gary Gilchrist before that. Ko, who last won 13 months ago in San Francisco before that was guided by Kiwi Guy Wilson who she choose to end her association with when he turned professional.

 

This week Ko has suggested she will remain coach-less for at least a short period “as a way to clear my mind and simplify things” but assuming she makes another appointment before the end of the year that will be four coaches in six years if we don’t include Wilson. This can’t be sustainable long-term, even for a player who has previously indicated will quit top line golf when she turns 30.

 

This week

PGA Championship – Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, New York

 

Brooks Koepka

The defending champion from last year in St Louis is bidding to hold two major titles at once having claimed the 2018 US Open as well. Was second at the Masters behind Woods and takes a serious approach to retaining the Wanamaker Trophy.

 

Xander Schauffele

Another of the trio to finish behind Woods in second at the Masters (the other was Dustin Johnson.) Schauffele has won two elite events in the last eight months (a WGC plus the Tournament of Champions) plus he contended before finishing second at the Open.

 

Patrick Reed

The 2018 Master champion’s prior career triumph was the 2016 Barclays at this very course. However, the polarizing Reed, hasn’t placed inside the top ten since Novembers so that’s a concern but course form for a major can be crucial.

 

Ryan Moore

Ten years ago Moore was 10th when playing here at Bethpage plus he has another top ten to his credit when playing in the PGA Tour playoffs here. Moore didn’t play in the Masters but was third in the Texas Open the week prior.

 

 

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.

March 13 Justin Thomas T35 was the best of the TPC Sawgrass four.

March 20: Went off a week early with Kisner but in the Valspar Jon Rahm was T6 as the best result.

April 4: Matt Jones’ T30 was the best of the four options last week after Rahm’s T6 finish the week prior.

April 11: Xander Schauffele. T2 at his second Masters appearance is impressive a show for the future.

April 17: Brooke Henderson won in Hawaii with Matt Fitzpatrick the best at the RBC Heritage at T39.

 

Image via golfnews.net