A dramatic finish to the new event in Minnesota on the PGA Tour saw the leaders trade eagles on the 18th before one of the two tours rookie in contention prevailed and Jon Rahm sounded a warning before this month’s Open. Whilst another high-scoring event in the MidWest of the USA saw many of us pondering as to how relevant par was this weekend
Spain’s Jon Rahm came from five shots down on Saturday evening to claim his second Irish Open (2017 was the other) and first win of 2019 as he finished at 16 under to win the Irish Open at Lahinch. Ranked number 11 heading into the weekend Rahm, 24, has moved back into the top ten at eight and is the second highest ranked golfer (Bryson DeChambeau at 6) not to have won a major which is a positive sign for the prolific Rahm who has won three tournaments per year in each of the last two years.
England’s Andy Sullivan couldn’t match Rahm’s final round 62 to finish T2 with Bernd Wiesberger but it was Rafa Cabrera Bello who really disappointed after gaining a three-stroke lead early in his round before he recorded a two over 38 on the back nine and Rahm raced home with 31 strokes on the back nine to nab the latest Rolex Series event.
In Minnesota the 3M Open went to Matthew Wolff in dramatic fashion. Wolff’s final round 65 was capped with an eagle at the last to deny Bryson DeChambeau who had also eagled the last. In addition to this Collin Morikawa lipped out as he tried to force a playoff. The trio had started the day tied for the lead at 15 under par. Wolff’s win saw him finish at 21 under and gives him a PGA spot for the next two seasons plus entry to the 2020 Masters.
Wolff’s form figures (T50, T80 and missed cut) hid his potential given he recently claimed the NCAA individual College title after Oklahoma State won the team’s event in 2018. Wolff, 20, joins Tiger Woods and Ben Crenshaw as the only three players IN HISTORY to win the college crown in the same year they won on the PGA Tour. Notably Morikawa has also only played a five PGA events… How ancient must runner-up Dechambeau feel at 25 with all these youngsters zipping past him!
The high-scoring theme continued on the LPGA in mind-bending fashion as winner Shanshan Feng posted 29 under going 64-67-65-63 at Thornberry Creek. A stunning 22 players scored at 20 under or better at the Oneida course in Wisconsin. Incredibly it wasn’t a tournament record with Sei Young Kim winning at 31 under last year. Feng, 29, has now notched 10 LPGA wins in her career and saw off Ariya Jutanugarn who fired one shot ‘worse’ than Feng on Sunday with an eight under 64.
Greens in regulation
Aside from Jon Rahm’s triumph the other main ‘victors’ at Lahinch were Austrian Bernd Wiesberger plus English duo Robert Rock and Paul Waring who all qualified for next week’s Open at Royal Portrush. This week the links action moves to Scotland. Near the site of last year’s Scottish Open at Gullane the Renaissance Club hosts this year’s Scottish Open at it’s North Berwick home. Last year South Africa’s Brandon Stone won the title and despite local knowledge been the accepted wisdom as to the path to victory only two Brits (Justin Rose and Luke Donald) have won the event since 2011 and it’s 20 years since Colin Montgomerie’s triumph as the last Scot to win the tournament.
After some new events in recent weeks the John Deere Classic in Illinois takes place at TPC Deere Run in Silvis. The LPGA stays in the MidWest with the Marathon Classic taking place in Ohio at Highland Meadows. Thai golfer Jasmine Suwannapura broke through for her first LPGA win beating Brittany Lincicome in a playoff last year.
With the men’s Open coming up later this month the R&A have confirmed next month’s Women’s British Open will see a rise in prizemoney up to USD4.5 million. From the total prize-fund USD675,000 will go to the winner which is up from the USD490,000 Georgia Hall claimed last year. This now elevates the British event to the second-highest paying major across the five played for in the women’s game. In the week the USA claimed the Women’s World Cup in France with the surrounding and recent court cases that team has had against their own federation this is another positive step but still well short of the USD1.89 million which will go to the Portrush winner.
Scottish Open, The Renaissance Club, North Berwick
The British Masters winner in 2018 backed that up with a T2 at that event this year plus he was T4 in Ireland. Has great form in Scotland finishing in second here last year.
The American contended in the Open last year before finishing T2 behind Francesco Molinari and has already won in 2019 claiming the WGc Match Play title in March
Not this week but after the tournament at Lahinch where he opened with 66-67 and eventually finished T19 Mexico’s Abraham Ancer looks an intriguing chance at Portrush. He’s won the Australian Open already in November so has proven adept at winning in conditions he might not have a lot of experience in.
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.
May 29: Tiger Woods at T9 in Dublin was the best of the weekend four.
June 5: Shane Lowry finished T2 in Canada. This column going well in Canada or with Canadians.
June 13. Brooks Koepka. Solo second, couldn’t quite make it three US Opens in a row.
June 19. Paul Casey continued his good form with a T5 finish in Cromwell but six shots off the winner.
June 26. Mackenzie Hughes finished T21 in Detroit a better result than some of the higher ranked other players with Dustin Johnson missing the cut.
July 3. Shane Lowry finished T34 at Lahinch after a positive start to the tournament.
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