Golf Capital: Shibuno, Ruffels, Garcia and contrived leaderboards

@hamishneal

A golfing fairytale in Buckinghamshire plus a great Australian triumph in the USA have been two highlights in the last few weeks in golf. This week the PGA Tour brings us a contrived finish to the TOUR Championship and FedEx Cup. Time to fly around the world of golf.

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Opening drive

 

We’ve been off the grid at Golf Capital HQ so here are the highlights of the last few weeks in golf:

– 20-year-old Japanase rookie Hinako Shibuno prevailed in the Women’s British Open at Woburn Golf Club on a day when expected runs from more recognised players in the game failed to hit the mark. Shibuno, who had yet to even compete in a professional event outside of her home nation, eventually saw off American Lizette Salas to claim victory.

– JT Poston broke through for his first PGA Tour triumph in winning the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina. An incredible statistic from the win was that Poston went bogey-free for all 72 holes. The first time since a PGA Tour winner has done so since Lee Trevino in 1974.

– The truncated PGA Tour playoffs (aka FedEx Cup series) started with Patrick Reed winning the Northern Trust Open before Justin Thomas won the second leg of the series in Illinois.

– There was only one European Tour event with Thomas Pieters winning the Czech Master. It was his first trumph in here years

– In the two LPGA events since the Women’s British Open Mi Jung Hur won the Ladies Scottish Open. Hur was one of a quartet of players sharing the lead until a stunning back nine saw her notch six birdies.

-On the course but away from scores and leaderboards Bryson deChambeau cemented his position as the ‘face of slow play’ taking 2 minutes and 20 seconds for a putt he missed.

-The squads were confirmed for the major team’s events – the Solheim Cup and President’s Cup with some Captain’s Picks still to come.

 

Greens in regulation 

 

To expand on one of the significant events of the golfing month it’s time to doff our cap to Australian Gabi Ruffels. Ruffels, 19, claimed victory in the US Women’s Amatuer tournament held in Mississippi. Ruffels took the lead for the final time at the 35th of the 36 holes with a birdie on the par three 17th  to defeat Swiss opponent Albane Valenzuela. Many may know of Ruffels family connections with tennis star father Ray and Ryan also a golfer but it was her two caddies, yes two, who formed a key part of the win.

 

Junior college player Blair Stockett took the bag for the final on the Sunday after head coach of the Mississippi State program Justin Silverstein who was caddie to start the tournament had to leave to attend a family funeral. Despite this upheaval in her re-tournament plans the change didn’t phase Ruffels.

 

The win means Australian golfers have now claimed all four USA individual junior and amateur titles, male and female, since 2012. Going back further Nick Flanagan also won the 2003 amateur crown. Quite a record in the last few years

 

Tap in

 

It’s time to ban Sergio Garcia. The 2017 Masters champion flew into an unacceptable rage for the second time in six months at the recent WGC event and yet over three weeks has passed without any major comment from either tour he plays on – the PGA or European Tour. After hacking away at a course in the Middle East in February footage emerged of Garcia this time pulverising a tee box at the TPC Southwind course in Memphis last month. Garcia eventually finished T40, some 15 shots off winner Brooks Koepka, but that was after he had taken a large divot out of the tee box at 16 during his final round. For a 39 year-old to display those sort of actions on a regular basis now without punishment just reinforces his petulant behavior. If not a ban Garcia should at least he subject to losing tournament earnings and have any points wiped from world rankings?

 

If golf can apply penalty shots to Lexi Thompson the day after she had signed for her score in a major why can’t they enforce some sort of ‘ban/fine’ on Garcia?

 

Whilst a golf club getting hurled into a lake or pond can perhaps cause injury to wildlife and the ecosystem Garcia’s actions to wreck the cause definitely cause an impact to other players and course staff.

 

This week

TOUR Championship, East Lake, Atlanta

Last week I took Tony Finau in a ‘One and Done’ PGA Tour tipping competition for my final pick of that season (I didn’t make the virtual top 30.) Now I don’t know if he can overcome the staggered handicap score (see above leaderboard) but he can shoot the lowest for the 72 holes to claims his first big win

 

Mexican Abraham Ancer can also do the same ahead of the President’s Cup in a few months.

 

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.

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.

July 10. One of this week’s picks Eddie Pepperell was T43 in Scotland.

July 17. Henrik Stenson finished T20 at the Open after a promising first few days was somewhat undone by a five under round on Sunday.

July 31 Nelly Korda finished T9 at the WBO.

 

Image via pgatour.com