Tour Rundown: Drama at the Senior Players, an unexpected LPGA champion

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Tour Rundown: Drama at the Senior Players, an unexpected LPGA champion

The United States Golf Association presented its first new Open championship since 1980. The debut of the USGA Senior Women’s Open was played at storied and seldom-seen Chicago Golf Club, near the windy city. Everyone hoped for a signature championship, and a signature champion, and the ladies did not disappoint. The professional tours teed it up in Scotland, Illinois, Ohio and Illinois again. Run, run, run it down now, in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Laura Davies dominates inaugural Senior Women’s Open

There were impressive performances this week across the world, perhaps the best such week of the season. None was more impressive than dame Laura Davies’ 10-shot victory at the first-ever US senior women’s open championship. Davies played cautious golf the first two rounds, always in the mix but never at risk. With 2 rounds under her belt, the English champion and hall of fame golfer took the Chicago Golf Club apart over the final 36 holes, leaving the field in the dust. Davies was a shot off Elaine Crosby’s first-round 70, but found herself tied for the lead at the midway point.

Chicago Golf Club played to a par of 73 for the championship, and Davies chopped 7 strokes off that figure, thanks to 6 birdies and 1 eagle. Her last bogey of the tournament came on the 4th hole that day. Oddly enough, it was a 6 at the par-five hole, a rarity for the long hitter. Eschewing tees as she has her entire career, Davies’ driving clubs played shots from turf-fashioned mounds to the fairway, all week long. Her challengers included Juli Inkster, who finished second at 6-under, and countrywoman Trish Johnson, who claimed third at 4-under.

As important as Davies’ signature victory, was the presence of the grand ladies of the game. Nancy Lopez, Joanne Carner, and Pat Bradley represented the Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wrights, and Patty Bergs before them. Raise a glass to the first of what will become a storied championship for senior women golfers.

Put it in the history books! Laura Davies wins the inaugural !

— USGA (@USGA)

Michael Kim claims first PGA Tour title

It’s probable that Michael Kim doesn’t care that he put on the second-best performance of the week, after Davies’. The former UCal and USA Walker Cup golfer began to fulfill the promise he offered, with a first PGA Tour win, in stunning fashion. The John Deere Classic was used to seeing Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson in the mix, yet Kim’s win might be the most talked-about for years to come. The 25-year old celebrated his birthday on Saturday, then went out on Sunday and shot 66, for an 8-stroke margin of victory. Four golfers tied for 2nd spot, including Francesco Molinari. Any other week, that foursome would have gone to extra holes, but this was Kim’s week, and runner-up money was their sole compensation.

Consider this for a moment. Of the 72 holes that Kim played, he made birdie on 30 of them. 42 percent of the time, his score was going lower. When your birdie-to-bogey ration is 10-1, you know that you’re in for something special. Of the runners-up, three were in desperate need of mid-career validation, while the fourth looks to take the next, major step in his career. Sam Ryder, Bronson Burgoon and Joel Dahmen have 0 victories and an average of 30 years of age. We know how much a win for any of the three would mean. As for Francesco Molinari, he has represented Europe in the Ryder and Seve Cups, and won on the European and USA PGA Tours. What’s the next step? Carnoustie or Bellerive, thank you very much.

Leader by NINE. ???? is on fire.

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR)

Stone storms Scotland for Open title on European Tour

Brandon Stone is a very good golfer. He had two prior European Tour wins, both coming on home soil, in South Africa. Some might call that misleading, as those events don’t attract as strong a field as, say, the Scottish Open. Of late, Stone had struggled with his game, but he went out on Sunday, etched 8 birdies and 1 eagle on his scorecard for 60. Oh, and he won the Scottish Open. He beat guys like Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler, Thomas Pieters and Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter. Dream came true.

For the longest time on Sunday, viewers wondered if Eloquent Eddie Pepperell would double his career victory total, if Trevor Immelman would return to the glory he once knew, or if some other story would be written. For a few hours, that story was Aaron Rai. He opened birdie-eagle to take the lead at 14-under. It would take six more birdies for him to win, but he made four bogies and tied for 9th. Third round leader Jens Dentorp had his say, but three bogeys of his own dropped him to a tie for third. The Stone Express was so sudden; for most of the day, he was “making a nice move” or “having a good day of it.” Then, he birdied 14 and 15, and eagled 16 to stun the … well, pretty much the EVERYONE. On to Carnoustie!

One of the best ever rounds.

Relive ‘s final round in four minutes.

— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour)

Senior Players Championship to Singh in overtime

It’s hard to close out a golf tournament. Jeff Maggert had 3, maybe 4 opportunities on Sunday to do so. He didn’t. Bart Bryant and Scott McCarron, the latter the defending champion, came down with a case of ennui and played par golf from the final twosome. Jerry Kelly and and Brandt Jobe found their games on Sunday, shooting scores in the low 60s to come oh so close to the top spot. Along the way, a tall Fijian, name of Singh, shuffled his way into contention, hung around long enough to reach a playoff, then won the title with birdie on the second extra hole.

It went like this: Maggert hits a bad approach and make bogey, letting Singh back in. Singh hits a bad drive and has to scramble for miracle par, opening door for Maggert, who doesn’t step through. Maggert has legitimate birdies chances on last hole of regulation and first hole of playoff, but cannot convert. For a while, it was like watching Lionel Messi take a penalty kick! On the second playoff hole, Singh stuffed his approach to a few feet and made the putt for his first senior major title.

We have a playoff . converts another par save while ‘s birdie putt to win slides by the hole.

— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour)

Suwannapura ousts Lincicome in extra holes at LPGA’s Marathon Classic

When you make the media scramble for a highlight reel, it’s safe to say that your victory was unexpected. Much like the Champions Tour, questions all day at the Marathon Classic centered on Brooke Henderson, Brittany Lincicome, and NOT on Thidapa Suwannapura. Henderson had another chance to put the field away and claim a title, but a combination of too much power and putting that needs improvement, kept her off the podium’s top spot. She finished one shot out of the playoff, with bogeys at two of her final four holes, and pars on the closing two holes, both par 5s (pssst…those felt like bogeys, too.)

Lincicome had a clean card on Sunday, making 4 birdies to shoot 67 and finish at 14-under. When Thidapa bogeyed 16, the last thing anyone expected was eagle and birdie on the final pair, but that’s what came off. To sudden death did Thidapa and Brittany go, and once again, the young Thai golfer had a birdie putt at 18, this time to win the title. She was spot on with her putt and the week’s most untouted champion had her coronation.

Watch highlights from ‘ final & victorious round at the !

— LPGA (@LPGA)

Tour Rundown: Drama at the Senior Players, an unexpected LPGA champion

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Tour Rundown: Drama at the Senior Players, an unexpected LPGA champion
1. R&A driver crackdown

Pictured: R&A officials looking for non-conforming drivers. 

  • Tim Rosaforte reports…”Thirty players, including seven major champions, arrived at the 147th Open and received a letter from the R&A notifying them to bring their respective drivers to the equipment standards office located on Carnoustie’s practice ground by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
  • “Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Brooks Koepka all confirmed that their drivers all passed the COR test (coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect) administered by the R&A.”
  • “The PGA Tour has been testing club for approximately five years but has not done random testing to this point.”
2. The great golf ball mojo debate
A concerned questioned asked Golf Digest if there’s a point at which new golf balls begin to underperform.
  • The reply: “Play it ’till you lose it, says Frederick Waddell, senior manager of golf-ball product management at Titleist. As long as the ball looks good to your eye, it’s ready for the next tee, he says. You’re not going to wear the ball out by playing it round after round, and you won’t decrease its ball speed or lower its spin rate. That said, if it hits something like a tree or cartpath, give it a close look. Shear or scuff marks about the size of a dime or greater will likely affect the dimples and compromise its aerodynamics.”
  • Missed opportunity to recommend a new sleeve of Pro V1s every round, Frederick! But really, he’s right, and credit to Waddell for an honest answer.
3. Firm & fiery Carnoustie awaits
Tales of 400-yard drives are everywhere as the players get in their pre-Open practice
Tiger…”Right now, the fairways are faster than the greens. I am sure they will probably speed the greens up a touch, but I’m sure this will be one of those weeks where the fairways are a little quicker than the greens.” …
  • “That’s what is going to be important, how hot you want the ball coming into the fairways,” Woods said. “You can really make the ball roll 60, 70, 80 yards, but is it really worth it or not? It is a risk-reward golf course and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast.
  • Ryan Lavner writes…“With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?”
  • ‘”The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”‘
4. More Harringtonia
A stellar look at the conclusion to the 2007 Open at Carnoustie from John Huggan.
  • “By his own admission the then 35-year-old Irishman arrived on the 72nd tee feeling “cocky and over-confident.” Having made nothing but 4s and 3s to that point, Harrington was expecting to “bust” his drive down the middle, just as he had all day.”
  • “It was at the top of his backswing that panic set in. Where there had been certainty, suddenly there was apprehension.”
  • “I didn’t prepare myself well enough to hit the shot I needed to hit,” he says. “That drive is one of the hardest in golf. And I stood on the tee thinking it was going to be a breeze. So when a small bit of doubt appeared, it was soon enough a big doubt.”
  • “Happily, of course, the now three-time major champion’s journey up the 18th had a very different ending 15 years on from his amateur dramatics. After two visits to the Barry Burn, Harrington got up-and-down from short of the water for a double-bogey 6. That was good enough to get him into a four-hole playoff with Sergio Garcia, from which he emerged both bloodied and victorious.”

 

5. Jim Nantz…a scribe!
Nantz picks up the pen for Golf Digest (his “favorite publication”). He touched on a few subjects, including the eternally overlooked work of PGA Professionals.
  • “As I begin my latest endeavor around golf, I can’t help but remember with deep appreciation my first employer. From 1975-’79, I worked for PGA professional Tony Bruno. For five years I watched, lost in admiration, as Tony ran the golf shop at Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, N.J. Tony put in 80-hour weeks doing what nearly 29,000 men and women club pros do every day: Keeping the game alive with a smile.”
  • “You learn pretty quickly that golf pros never have a bad day, at least not in front of their audience. They laugh along with the members’ bad jokes, they remember everyone by their name (plus their children’s names), listen intently as each player takes you shot by shot through their round, be it a 79 or a 97. They give lessons, manage tournaments, run the junior program, make sure the golf carts are operational, sell a shirt, custom-fit folks for their equipment. Trust me, there are countless nuances to being a golf professional.”
6. Fanny’s back!
Adam Scott has lured the legendary caddie out of retirement. Looper for the likes of Nick Faldo and Henrik Stenson, Fanny Sunesson, the first woman caddie to carry a bag for a major championship for one week only. Scott parted ways with his longtime caddie David Clark recently.
7. Ben Sharpe
The former TaylorMade CEO sat down with Digest for an assortment of softball questions now that he’s president of Toptracer–a technology that expands beyond just a shot trail on golf telecasts.
  • A taste…“At TaylorMade I’m proud of what we did there and pushed the boundaries in terms of what’s possible with the products we put out. This experience is similar, in that the group I’m with now, we’re pushing boundaries to help people have more fun and to bring a wider audience into what we do. The difference is that the potential we have here, the opportunity, we don’t think we realize how big this thing could be. Our product could be everywhere.”
  • “At TaylorMade there’s a finite number of products you could sell in a year, and you’re dependent on the market. What we can really do here is make new markets, and we’ve already installed our product into all the continents in the world and it’s growing fast. The whole gameification of the sport and the digital community is where everybody’s at now. To be able to provide ways in which we can give relevant and exciting content as well as playing the game and helping them get better, having that element of fun front and center in everything we do, that’s the exciting thing here.”
8. Trashing Tiger/Phil
Is this a trend? A strain of get-off-my-lawnist thinking? Several scribes have sounded off in criticism of the Tiger vs. Phil exhibition.
The latest: Tim Dahlberg of the AP...who unloads with the “1999” burn.
  • “Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in a prime-time television special playing 18 holes for – and let’s pause for a moment here – a cool $10 million. Put it under the lights in Las Vegas with some cool celebrities following inside the ropes, and it becomes must-see TV.”
  • “Back in 1999 anyway.”
  • “A concept past its time is heading to prime time, at least according to hints dropped by both Woods and Mickelson. The two say they are deep into negotiations to play a winner-take-all match with $10 million on the line.”
  • “The best part for both players? Neither will have to reach into his own pocket to pay the other off. “I would hope for a sponsor,” Mickelson said last week at the Scottish Open.”
  • “That takes some of the drama away from the match, mostly because $10 million isn’t life-changing money for either man. Woods has won $111,878,724 in official money in his career, while Mickelson is not far behind at $87,533,019, and both have made many times more in endorsements.”
9. Impressive impressions
Yes, this video is everywhere, but shame on you if you haven’t seen Conor Moore’s impression of the game’s stars ahead of The Open. We do rarely get humorous, satirical content in the golf world, so when we do, well, it’s like a perfect yardage to an accessible pin: you’ve gotta capitalize/watch the darn video!
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