Taylor Moore gets his first career Tour win!
Taylor Moore outlasts Jordan Spieth, Adam Schenk at Valspar for first Tour win
PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Taylor Moore was never really the star attraction Sunday at the Valspar Championship until he had finished hitting all the right shots and posed with the trophy for his first PGA Tour title that sends him to the Masters.
Adam Schenk and Jordan Spieth provided enough compelling theater for so much of the day, locked in a battle on the back nine of the Copperhead course at Innisbrook.
When it was over, all they shared was misfortune.
Moore surged into the mix with a 9-iron to 5 feet for birdie on the 15th hole and a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, followed by two tough pars for a 4-under 67.
That turned out to be a winner when Spieth hit his tee shot into the water on the 16th and Schenk, going for his first PGA Tour victory, hit a drive on the final hole that settled next to a large pine tree. He made bogey and finished one shot behind.
Moore, who grew up outside Oklahoma City, was on the practice range anticipating a playoff when he realized he had won at 10-under 274.
“I might have been under the radar to some people watching, but I felt like I was in the golf tournament from the time I teed off today and was just excited to control what I could control and get it done,” Moore said.
The victory sends him to the Masters in three weeks, a welcome addition to his schedule.
Spieth was tied for the lead when he sent his tee shot into the water on the 16th and managed to stay in the game by getting up-and-down from 163 yards to salvage bogey. On the par-3 17th, which yielded only two birdies all day, Spieth hit 4-iron to 6 feet — only to miss the birdie putt.
Tommy Fleetwood was part of a three-way tie early on the back nine until he took bogey on the par-5 14th. Spieth didn’t realize anyone else was in the mix.
“I thought it was me and Adam. I thought it was down to us two,” Spieth said. “I was thinking it was Tommy one back of us with a few holes to go and so I thought we could still kind of control it from the last group. Then I saw 10 (under) was posted walking off 16 green.”
The real heartbreak belonged to Schenk, whose wife flew down to Florida for the final round a month before she is due with their first child. Schenk holed a 70-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole. He made tough par saves on the 16th and 17th holes to stay tied.
On the 18th, however, he pulled his tee shot to the left. It was roughly the same line as Moore had hit his tee shot earlier, only Schenk’s ball rolled through the gallery and stopped next to a pine tree.
“Wish I could have lightly hit somebody and stayed where I had a chance to get to the green, but it did not, and I didn’t deserve it,” Schenk said.
His only shot was hitting an inverted gap wedge left-handed, and it was a dandy, shooting across the fairway into the rough. His third shot came up just short of a ridge and rolled onto the fringe 40 feet away. The par putt to force a playoff hit the hole, but had too much pace and hopped out.
Schenk, playing for the 10th consecutive week so he can take time off when his son is born, closed with a 70.
“It stinks to get so close,” he said.
Spieth missed a par putt on the 18th that was worth FedEx Cup points and money, signed for a 70 and tied for third with Fleetwood.
No one was paying all that much attention to Moore until the 29-year-old who played at Arkansas started hitting one quality shot after another. He stuffed his approach to 2 feet on No. 12 for a birdie. He effectively won the tournament with a great swing with a 9-iron on the 15th and his big putt on the next hole.
Moore got up-and-down for par with a long bunker shot on the 17th, and he two-putted from about 70 feet just off the green at the 18th.
The victory for Moore was worth $1,458,000 and moved him to No. 9 in the FedEx Cup standings. Along with the Masters, he gets in the PGA Championship. He moved from No. 103 to just inside the top 50 in the world.
Scottie Scheffler shows why he's #2 in the WORLD!
Scottie Scheffler on top of golf world after dominant Players Championship win
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Scottie Scheffler was going to win the golf tournament.
No drama remained in this 49th Players Championship. Scheffler, like a surgeon, had drained every ounce of drama out of the final round before he made the turn. The thing was all over but the trophy ceremony and the $4.5 million winner’s check being handed to him.
Yet there Scheffler was standing in the middle of the 18th fairway alongside his caddie Ted Scott holding a five-shot lead and he was still as stone-faced as he’d been all day around TPC Sawgrass.
It wasn’t until Scheffler, who had to punch out from the pine straw to the fairway after an errant drive on the last, hit his third shot onto the 18th green that he exhaled. He took his hat off, crouched over and had some words with Scott, smiling for the first time all day.
“Let’s win this thing by five,’’ Scheffler told Scott.
So, he did.
Scheffler calmly got up-and-down from the fairway for par and finished 17-under par, five shots clear of runner-up Tyrrell Hatton and seven-shots better than Viktor Hovland and Tom Hoge. His 3-under-par 69 bettered his final-round playing partner, Min Woo Lee, by seven shots.
It’s been 392 days since Scheffler broke through for his first PGA Tour victory, at the 2022 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Sunday marked his sixth win in that dizzying span, last April’s Masters being one of them.
Not only did the win elevate Scheffler back to No. 1 in the world rankings, but he now owns the impressive distinction as only one of three players to hold a Masters green jacket and a Players Championship title at the same time.
The other two?
Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
“He’s had an amazing 15-month stretch of golf,’’ Hatton said. “He’s very impressive, incredibly consistent. [I] played with him last Sunday [at Bay Hill] and it was clear like he didn’t have his best that day, but he still hung around and had a chance there right at the end (Scheffler finished tied for fourth). It’s a pretty tough thing to do to be up there when you don’t have your best golf and still give yourself a chance to win.’’
Scheffler on Sunday made his move on Lee and the rest of the field, separating himself when he chipped in for birdie on No. 8 to move to 14-under par, good for a four-shot lead at the moment.
He has a running bet with Scott for an undisclosed sum of cash on how many chip-ins he’ll have this year. The agreed-upon number was 10. Scheffler’s chip-in on No. 8 on Sunday was his 11th already.
And it’s only March.
“I think he chipped in three times this week and when he got his 11th, he was like, ‘Do I get a bonus for this?’ ’’ Scott said. “I’m like, ‘No, you are. You met your quota.’ ’’
It was a chip-in on the third hole at Augusta last April that propelled Scheffler to win his first career major championship.
“It definitely got me going,’’ Scheffler said. “I played great after that. It definitely kick-started me a little bit. I mean, this chip-in was a little bit easier than the one at Augusta.’’
Jordan Spieth, one of the game’s best short-game wizards, said, “He’s got great hands. He’s got every shot. I think that Teddy made a very bad bet. I think Teddy will probably reevaluate considering we’re not even midway through March.’’
Scheffler, who’s remarkably unaffected by any and all chaos around him, has the perfect disposition to handle what he went through Sunday and to handle the No. 1 ranking. As the decibels rise, he’ll carry on as he always does — unaffected.
“He’s obviously used to being in this position now, he’s done it so many times already,’’ Aussie Cam Davis, who finished tied for sixth, said. “I think he’s just got the attitude for it. It just looks like he’s calm, just doing his business, not really worrying what everyone else is doing and churning out birdies, which is what you need to do out here.
“Obviously, he’s got his system down and figured out and I think the closer everyone else can get to finding theirs and sticking to it regardless of what’s going on the better chance we’ll have of keeping up with him.’’
Perhaps the only thing that was more impressive than what Scheffler did on the golf course Sunday was the fact that his 87-year-old grandmother, Mary DeLorenzo, kept up with him walking the golf course with a walker.
“I mean, it’s pretty impressive she’s walking so many holes out here,’’ Scheffler said. “She’s a trooper. I really don’t know what to say. She’s had a rough last year with Grandpa passing away, and we have an uncle that’s pretty sick. I’m just happy that we’re able to kind of enjoy all this together.’’
Kitayama Surges to victory!
Wild finish as 30-year-old underdog stuns McIlroy in maiden PGA win
30-year-old Kurt Kitayama has claimed his first-ever PGA Tour win with a stunning victory at the $20m USD Arnold Palmer Invitational, beating Rory McIlroy by one shot in a stunning boilover.
Kitayama turned professional in 2015, but in his 50th tournament the American finally claimed his maiden victory in sensational fashion, with a host of the world’s top players breathing down his neck throughout the final round.
A clutch 14-foot birdie putt on 17 gave him a one-shot lead entering the final hole at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando Florida.
From 191 yards in the rough, Kitayama landed a sensational approach shot onto the green.
He only needed to two-putt for victory, but his 47-foot attempt was almost perfectly struck – ending up teetering on the edge of the cup.
Even McIlroy was left in disbelief as he watched on, shaking his head that the ball didn’t fall.
Remarkably, Kitayama had suffered a triple bogey on the ninth hole while leading, before fighting back to win, making him the first player since 1983 to win despite a triple bogey or worse in the final round.
His even-par final round saw him finish nine-under overall.
The victory earns him $3.6m USD, nearly as much as his previous career earnings of $4,194,548 USD. It also rockets him up 33 spots on the FedExCup hunt into sixth place ahead of the Players Championship this week.
Harris English was tied with McIlroy one shot back on eight under, with world number two and defending champion Scottie Scheffler, 2020 champion Tyrrell Hatton, Jordan Spieth, and Patrick Cantlay all one shot further back. Australia’s Jason Day was equal tenth on five under overall.
“It was really hard. I’m going to sleep really well tonight. It’s everything I kind of mentally prepared myself for,” said Kitayama.
“I’ve always dreamed of winning on the Tour and to finally do it, it’s pretty amazing.”
McIlroy said: “Disappointment, obviously. I feel like I gave myself a great chance … It was a battle all day, I felt like I hung in there really well but just came up one short.”
HDCC Happenings 03-2-23
March Greetings Heather Downs Patrons,
Rain, rain, go away! The recent rains have delayed play at Heather Downs CC. We hope to get dried out this weekend and hopefully get some play out next week. The month of March will bring all types of weather, so stay patient and we hope to see you real soon.
As we move towards the first day of Spring, Heather Downs is gearing up for what we expect to be a fantastic year. We have several new programs that are starting in April and May. Playing opportunities, driving range offers, instructional programs and new food offerings at Bogey’s Bar and Grill are just a few of the improvements we have made for the upcoming season. Please read below to see each of the programs.
Friday Fish Fry
Heather Downs CC will be hosting a weekly Friday Fish Fry from 5pm-8pm at Bogeys Bar & Grill. Grab the family and make it over for a nice dinner. The cost is only $12.95. Chef Chuck will be cooking up a fresh Alaskan Pollock dinner with all the fixings. Spread the word and we hope to see you on Friday nights during Lent.
Employment Opportunities/Help Wanted!!!
Heather Downs is now accepting job applications for the upcoming season. We are looking for candidates for Banquet servers and kitchen staff, Pro Shop staff, Bartenders, Beverage Cart Attendants, Player Assistants, Cart Attendants and Maintenance staff. We are seeking friendly and energetic applicants who enjoy working with the public. Stop by the course to fill out an application or you can click here and find one on our Contact Page.
2023 Golf Leagues
Heather Downs CC is now booking golf leagues for the 2023 season. Are you happy with your current league? Are you looking for a new course for this year? Maybe it’s just time for a change. Whether you are an individual, have a partner or you’re forming a small group looking to start a league, Heather Downs can help you. We offer several nice incentives and benefits for our league members throughout the season. The course layout at Heather Downs speaks for itself, the Bogey’s Bar & Grill offers a great staff and a tasty menu for pre and post-round F & B needs, the pace of play is never an issue and the location is perfect for anyone in a 20 mile radius. Give us a call today at 419-385-0248 or click here and we’ll discuss the many benefits Heather Downs CC will offer your league in 2023.
2023 Golf Outings
Prime dates and times are still available for 2023 golf outings. If you are interested in hosting a company or group outing this season, Heather Downs is ‘Where You Belong’. We offer one of the best golf courses in town, a beautiful clubhouse and banquet facility, and the staff and know how to make your event, one to remember. Call PGA Director of Golf, Dan Sutton at 419-385-0248 to schedule your outing today or click here to make an outing request.
Free Junior Golf Clinic & Spring Junior Academy
Heather Downs will be hosting a Free Junior Golf Clinic on Saturday, April 15th for all junior golfers in the area. This clinic will include lessons on putting, chipping, the irons and the driver. Juniors age 10 and under will meet from 9am-10:30, ages 11 and older will meet from 11am-12:30. Instruction will be led by PGA Director of Golf, Dan Sutton and Assistant Professional, Darren Axon. Although this clinic is free, please call the pro shop to register at 419-385-0248. This clinic is a prelude to the Spring Junior Academy which runs from Saturday April 22nd-May 13th. Call the pro shop for additional information or click here to view the flyer and registration form.
Monday Senior Scrambles
The HDCC Senior League will be held every Monday mornings at 10am starting Monday April 3rd. The format will change from week to week and include 2 Man, 3 Man and 4 Man scrambles. The cost is only $30/week. Bring a friend or come on your own. We’ll pair you up. No long term commitment, just ‘Pay as you Play’. Call the pro shop for more information or click here.
The Hackers Golf League
Heather Downs will be hosting the Hackers Golf League again this season. The Hackers League will be held on Tuesday evenings at 6pm. The cost is only $25/week. Bring a friend or come on your own. We’ll pair you up. No long term commitment, just ‘Pay as you Play’. Click here or call the pro shop for more information.
Ladies and Couples Golf Leagues
Heather Downs will be hosting two great leagues for ladies and couples this season. The HDCC Ladies League will be held every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 6pm starting May 2nd and May 4th at 6pm. This league is a fun ‘Girls Night Out’. The format rotates between stroke play and scrambles. This league is also perfect for busy ladies in that it is ‘Pay as you Play’. No need to commit, just show up whenever you can. The cost is $25 which includes golf, cart and prizes. Grab a friend or a golf buddy and we’ll look forward to seeing you on Tuesdays and Thursdays this season. Click here for more info.
The HDCC ‘Nine & Dine’ Couples Leagues are scheduled to tee off on Sundays at 4pm and Monday at 6pm starting April 30th and May 1st. This league is also ‘Pay as you Play’. Just show up when you and your significant other feel like playing and join other couples for a round of golf and a bite to eat afterwards. The format changes from week to week and will include stroke play, match play, scrambles, shambles, scotch twosomes and more. The cost is $50/couple each week which includes green fees, carts and prizes. After the round, join us at the Bogey’s Bar and Grill for drinks and a sandwich. Call the pro shop to register or click here for additional information.
Ladies and Adult Golf Academy
Heather Downs is offering the several new golf clinics this season. The Ladies Golf Academy is set to tee off on Tuesday, April 18th and the Adult Golf Academy is scheduled for Monday, April 17th.
Each Academy is a seven week program which includes four weeks of instruction, one on-course playing lesson and two 9 hole rounds. During the Academy, instruction will include lessons on the woods, iron play, short game, chipping, putting, sand shots, the rules of golf and golf course etiquette. The Ladies and Adult Golf Academy are offered at different dates throughout the season. Click here for additional information or call the pro shop to register. Sign up individually or bring a friend. Class size is limited, so sign up soon.
Is it time for a little Spring Training?
If you are searching for an answer to your golfing blues, call PGA Director of Golf, Dan Sutton or Assistant Professional, Darren Axon to get you game up to par. Individual lessons are offered seven days a week. We focus on making improvements to your swing mechanics and we will teach you how to become your own golf coach. Set some goals for your golf game this year and call us to help you turn your game around and lower your scores. Click here for additional information or to make a Lesson Request.
For information on these programs plus a bunch more, go to www.heatherdowns.com.
That’s all for this week. Until next week, hit ‘em straight.
Chris Kirk returns to Glory at the Honda Classic
Chris Kirk wins Honda Classic in playoff; 1st title since 2015
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Chris Kirk waited nearly eight years to win a PGA Tour event again. Waiting one more hole on Sunday was no problem.
Kirk stuck his approach to the par-5 18th to tap-in range, and his birdie on the first hole of a playoff lifted him past Eric Cole for the victory at the Honda Classic on Sunday.
Cole had a chance, playing his third shot from the sand to just outside of 10 feet for a birdie that would have extended the playoff. But it lipped out, and Kirk nudged his ball in for his fifth career win -- his first since prevailing at Colonial in 2015.
"I was obviously very, very nervous today having not won in so long," Kirk said. "Coming down the stretch, I felt good."
And he'll be the last Honda winner. The car company is ending its title sponsorship of the event after 42 years, with a new sponsor set to be in place -- the PGA Tour hopes, anyway -- in the coming weeks.
They finished 72 holes tied at 14-under 266, Kirk shooting 69 on Sunday, Cole shooting 67.
Kirk earned $1,512,000 for the win, and is now eligible to play the Masters again for the first time since 2016. Cole earned $915,600 for the runner-up finish, a check that more than doubles what the 34-year-old has earned in 14 previous tour starts.
"I loved it. It was a lot of fun," Cole said. "I can't wait to get back and do it again. I didn't have my best stuff today, and I was proud of how hard I fought."
Kirk went to the par-5 18th with a one-shot lead. His tee shot found the fairway. His second shot found the water, leading to bogey. Cole made par, giving Kirk new life in the playoff.
"Bad swing at the wrong time. ... Thank God it worked out," Kirk said.
Kirk hadn't held a trophy since 2015. That's not to say he hasn't done any winning in that span.
He walked away from the game in May 2019 because of alcoholism and depression. He dealt with anxiety and struggled with handling pressure, even though he had a penchant for making it seem like no big deal on the golf course -- he was a four-time winner, plus made a big putt to help the U.S. win the Presidents Cup at South Korea in 2015.
The tour gave him a major medical extension for the time he missed, meaning he had a set number of tournaments to do well enough to regain his full status. He got it back by the slimmest of margins at the Sony Open in 2021.
And now he's a champion again.
"I just have so much to be thankful for," Kirk said. "I'm so grateful for my sobriety, I'm so grateful for my family, I'm so grateful for everyone that has supported throughout the past three or four years."
Tyler Duncan, ranked No. 360 in the world coming into the week, shot 66 on Sunday and was third at 12 under. Monday qualifier Ryan Gerard, playing the weekend for the first time on the PGA Tour, shot 67 and finished fourth at 10 under.
Gerard's career earnings on tour went from $0 to $411,600. His plans for the next few weeks might be changing based on this finish.
"I've got to go book some flights and hotel rooms, swipe the credit card," said Gerard, who came into the week ranked 472nd in the world. "We'll see what happens."
Defending champion Sepp Straka (68) was in a group tied for ninth at 9 under, with all four of his rounds in the 60's. Also in that group: Shane Lowry, who had a chance to win the Honda last year and finished with an even-par 70.
"I played lovely, and I just couldn't get it going," Lowry said.
Justin Rose Wins Pebble, BUT will he continue on this winning track?
Justin Rose ends four-year drought with win at 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Justin Rose is starting to make an early case for the 2023 Ryder Cup.
The former World No. 1 ended a four-year winless drought Monday with his three-shot win at the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am after a wild week of the weather delayed the PGA Tour’s annual stop on the Monterey Peninsula.
Rose completed his final-round front nine before play was called due to darkness Sunday night and began Monday morning with a two-shot lead at 15 under. The 42-year-old Englishman cruised to three birdies over his final nine to sign for a 6-under 66 and finish at 18 under for the tournament, three clear of Brendon Todd (65) and Brandon Wu (66), who finished T-2 at 15 under. Keith Mitchell (68) and Peter Malnati (69) finished T-4 at 14 under.
“I think overall, if I had to think about one thing it was just knowing I’m trending, just sometimes when you’re trending you kind of try a little too hard,” said Rose of the win, the 11th of his PGA Tour career. “I let my good golf come forward.”
A five-time member of Team Europe at the Ryder Cup, Rose has struggled to get in the mix over the last few years. Before Monday his last victory came at the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open, but Rose has been rounding back into form so far in the early goings of the 2022-23 PGA Tour season. The 2013 U.S. Open champion has finished inside the top 30 in five of six starts but did post a T-9 at the Cadence Bank Houston Open. With the European squad fractured due to key members joining LIV Golf, the re-emergence of Rose could be key come time for the matches this fall in Italy.
“One thing I have realized is obviously I haven’t been playing enough great golf,” he explained, “but when I do play half decent I do give myself chances to win.”
This Players Success has gone unmatched & continues on for more!
Bernhard Langer hoping to continue making history at Chubb Classic
Bernhard Langer has already amazed the golfing world with an extended run of success unmatched on the PGA Tour Champions.
And he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
“I believe I have a few more wins in me,” Langer said.
With 44 career victories on the senior circuit, the 65-year-old needs just one to tie Hale Irwin’s mark. Considering Langer’s won at least two Champions tournaments in 10 consecutive seasons, it’s likely only a matter of time before the record changes hands.
It also wouldn’t be much of a stretch to circle next month’s Chubb Classic as a likely setting for Langer to make history. He’s won the Naples, Florida, event a record four times at three different courses, including last year’s wire-to-wire victory at Tiburon Golf Club’s Black Course, which also allowed Langer, then 64, to break his own mark for the oldest tour champion. He did so again in November after turning 65 when he captured the TimberTech Championship in Boca Raton.
While the prospect of unseating Irwin atop the all-time victory list is “very much on the radar screen now,” Langer said he doesn’t feel any additional pressure being on the precipice of achieving that goal.
“I just try to be the best I can be and play the best golf every day that I can,” he said. “…Deep down, I think I know I can still win tournaments, even though there’s a lot of younger guys.”
Langer said when he first joined the Champions tour, he regularly finished among the top 10 in driving distance; last year he was 63rd. Now he tries to make up for that shortcoming with accuracy, putting, and course strategy, strengths that give him an advantage at a venue like Tiburón’s Black Course, which Langer said is one of the tightest on the Champions Tour.
“Tiburon is not a golf course necessarily for the big bombers that spray it around because if you hit it offline you’re going to be in the jungle and you’re going to take a penalty drop,” Langer said.
Langer opened the 2023 Champions season at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii. Tied for fourth place entering the final round, he ran into trouble on the 5th hole after hitting a shot into the water and finished tied for 10th.
“Top 10 is not bad but I’m always hoping for better,” he said.
Langer will play next at the Trophy Hassan II, set for Feb. 9-11 in Morocco, giving him one opportunity to tie Irwin’s record before the Chubb Classic.
A longtime resident of Boca Raton, Langer said playing at the Chubb feels like a home game for him, one that he can drive to and have family and friends on hand to support him.
“There you usually play on wonderful golf courses at a good time of the year and the field is always strong as well,” he said. “When you win there, you know you’ve beaten the best.”
As for the future, Langer said as long as he’s healthy, has fun playing, and can remain competitive, he’ll remain a full-time participant on the Champions tour.
“As long as those three things are there, I’m going to probably continue,” he said. “If one or two of those have gone missing, then it’s probably time to pack it up.”
Making arguments with another win!
Best in the world? Jon Rahm makes argument with another win at 2023 American Express
Is Jon Rahm the best golfer in the world?
The computers at the Official World Golf Ranking may say no, but it’s difficult to argue for anyone other than Rahm at the moment. With four wins in his last six worldwide starts, including a one-shot victory at The American Express on Sunday, Rahm seems to be moving from a great player to a dominant one.
Chased all day by rookie Davis Thompson and a flock of other players, Rahm managed to steady a shaky back nine with a birdie on the 16th hole to regain sole possession of the lead on the Pete Dye Stadium Course at PGA West. Solid pars on the final two holes gave Rahm a 27-under winning score for his second win in The American Express in the last six years. It also was the Spanish star’s second victory on the PGA Tour in three weeks and his ninth overall PGA Tour title following his win at the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
“Body’s been feeling great. My swing’s been feeling really, really good. And it shows, right?” said Rahm, who is expected to move from fourth to third in the new world ranking on Monday. “Even when I’m saying I may not be as comfortable as I would like, I’m shooting 64s because everything is just firing when it needs to.”
Rahm, who started the day tied with Thompson, shot 68 on Sunday to earn the $1,440,000 first-prize check from the $8 million purse. Rahm also moved to No. 1 in the year-long FedEx Cup points race, the first time he has ever led that race at any time during a year.
Rahm was so happy and comfortable with the win that he could even take a jab at himself.
“I’m just going to say that I’m glad I came back and won the putting contest this year. That’s all I can say,” Rahm laughed, a reference to a viral comment he made at the 2022 American Express that the event was nothing but a putting contest.
As low as Rahm’s scoring was with rounds of 64, 64, 65 and 68, he still finished one shot off the tournament scoring record for a 72-hole event that Patrick Reed set in 2014.
Thompson, the first- and second-round leader, fought his driver much of the day but was tied with Rahm on the back nine. A critical missed birdie putt on the 14th hole and an 8-foot Rahm par putt stopped Thompson from taking the lead outright. When Thompson parred the 16th after a poor drive into a bunker and Rahm birdied the hole, Thompson fell one shot behind.
“I had a great week. Competing against the best in the world is my dream, and I did that today and proved that I can hang with them. It was a lot of fun,” the 23-year-old Thompson said. “A lot of nerves and I hit a lot of quality golf shots under pressure, which was really cool.”
Rahm was impressed with the rookie who played college golf at the University of Georgia.
“First time in this situation, teeing off with the lead on Sunday in a PGA Tour event, I think he did a great job,” Rahm said. “He played good golf. It was just, I would say, two bad swings at the wrong time. And that was 5 and 16.
“One could say it was two holes where he was maybe trying to hit it a little bit hard, trying to get some extra distance,” he said. “One cost him at least one shot and the one on 16 cost him half a shot. And that was the difference at the end.”
Rahm and Thompson added some drama in the closing holes. Thompson’s 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole hit the pin and bounced a few inches away.
“I usually always leave the stick in from a long distance. I feel like it helps me with my speed,” Thompson said. “I’ll probably play the “what if” game in my head for a long time, unfortunately.”
Rahm then hit his drive into a fairway bunker on the par-4 18th, but when his next shot found the middle of the green, with Thompson already over the green, Rahm pumped his fist in victory.
Xander Schauffele had the round of the day among the leaders, a 10-under 62 that included a rare albatross on the par-5 fifth hole. Schauffele finished tied for third at 25-under with Chris Kirk, who like other chasers on the day made his move early but couldn’t seem to make a critical putt down the stretch in a round of 64.
A final-hole birdie for a 66 allowed Taylor Montgomery to finish alone in fifth at 24-under.
Rahm jumped to a quick lead Sunday with kick-in birdies on the first and second holes, but then made six straight pars, showcasing a wedge game he said was as good as he’s had in a tournament.
“The amount of tap-ins that I’ve had these four days is unlike anything I’ve ever had,” Rahm said. “If I had to put a MVP to something, it’s that 56 and that 52 degree wedges were key.”
Thompson made a birdie on the fourth hole but then started a day-long battle with his driver by hitting a lake on the par-5 fifth hole on the way to a bogey.
“I had a few tee shots off line. I mean, didn’t really give myself a chance to go for it on 5 and 16 due to poor tee shots. As well as I played the par-5s all week, I kind of didn’t really do that well today,” said Thompson, who had five eagles on par-5s in the first two rounds combined.
Rahm then started making par after par despite hitting good putts.
“I can tell you there’s a few, I mean, on 5, 7, 8, 10, 15, 17 and 18, all of those putts were good,” Rahm said. “All of them looked like they were dead center with two feet to go and just at the end they just missed.”
The par for Thompson on the 16th after a drive into a bunker hurt more because Rahm was short of the green in two, chipped up to 8 feet and then made the birdie putt that gave him the lead for good. The birdie on the 16th came moments after another big 8-foot putt, this one for par on the 14th hole. Rahm missed the green long and chipped onto the green, then watched Thompson miss a 10-foot birdie putt for the lead before making his own clutch putt for par.
For Schauffele, the third-place finish was important coming off a withdrawal from the Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks ago with back pain.
“It’s a good week back. I’ve never had to withdraw from a tournament,” Schauffele said. “Bit scary for me and my team. Fortunately, I have a really good team that put me back into playing shape pretty quickly. So a lot to build on this week. Definitely looking forward to the next few events.”
Schauffele’s albatross on the fifth came on a 4-iron from 226 yards and sparked his rise up the leaderboard.
For Rahm, the win was the continuation of a great stretch of golf. But it isn’t where he hopes he can take his golf in the coming months or coming years.
“In my mind I feel like I can get a lot better,” Rahm said. “I feel like that’s the mentality I should have. Again, I work very hard to do what I do. I could find mistakes in every single round I’ve played. Very few times I would say I’ve played a flawless round.”
LPGA season off to a rocky start — no locker room access, practice facilities restricted at TOC
ORLANDO, Florida – There’s no locker room for players here at the LPGA’s season-opener, an event designed to celebrate those who have hoisted trophies over the past two years. Don’t be surprised to see players at the Hilton Grand Vacation Tournament of Champions changing their shoes in the parking lot.
Lake Nona Golf and Country Club has a men’s locker room that would’ve been more than suitable for the 29 players in the field. LPGA players can use the bathrooms and showers in the women’s facility, but there’s no place for them to store anything while they’re on the course. That area is also not private.
Matilda Castren can’t imagine something like this playing out on the PGA Tour. Grant Waite, a former winner on the PGA Tour, was on the range at Lake Nona on Tuesday working with his student, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and confirmed that he never played in a PGA Tour event that didn’t have access to a locker room.
Castren was as shocked about the locker room situation as she was about the player fact sheet that came out on Jan. 14, laying out restrictions for when players had access to practice facilities at Nona. In the memo, players were informed that they “may not use the practice facilities more than one hour prior to their practice tee times. Use of the practice facilities is not available unless playing a practice round.”
Castren inquired with an LPGA rules official about the situation on Monday and was told that it was non-negotiable with the tournament, but that the LPGA wouldn’t be strictly policing it.
“The guys would never agree to an hour of practice each day,” Castren said.
Published By: Golf Week USA
Date Published: 1/17/2023
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Jon Rahm wins 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions after Collin Morikawa's historic collapse
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Like a raging bull, Jon Rahm charged from behind to steal the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Rahm made nine birdies and an eagle on Sunday to shoot 10-under 63 at Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course and rally from as many as nine strokes behind during the final round to edge 54-hole leader Collin Morikawa by two strokes.
A year ago, Rahm shot 33-under but was pipped by a stroke by Cameron Smith, his second runner-up finish at the TOC, and this time his birdie count was almost as plentiful as the pineapples that used to grow on the hillside layout. He signed for a 72-hole aggregate of 27-under 265.
“To come back this year and shoot a very low score again, I mean, I’m what, 60-under par in these last two tournaments?” he said. “It would have been tough to shoot that low twice and not win it. So I’m glad I had the chance and I’m glad I did it.”
The 28-year-old Spaniard took advantage of Morikawa’s series of back-nine blunders to earn his eighth PGA Tour win. Morikawa, a two-time major winner who was bidding for his first win since the 2021 British Open, tied the largest 54-hole collapse in PGA Tour history after he entered the final round with a six-shot advantage. It was a shocking turn of events as Morikawa played the first 67 holes bogey-free and tacked on three front-nine birdies on Sunday to extend his lead to as many as nine. But he bladed a bunker shot over the green at 14 that led to his first bogey of the tournament, chunked a pitch at 15 and added a third straight bogey at 16.
“The game felt so easy for so long and now no matter what he does it seem like it doesn’t work out,” said PGA Tour Radio’s Mark Wilson.
Morikawa joined a dubious list of nine players who have squandered a 54-hole six-shot lead in Tour history: the first to do so was Bobby Cruickshank at the 1928 Florida Open, while the most-recent was Scottie Scheffler at last year’s Tour Championship.
“Sadness,” Morikawa said of how felt after shooting a final-round 72. “I don’t know. It sucks. You work so hard and you give yourself these opportunities and just bad timing on bad shots and kind of added up really quickly.”
Rahm held a share of the first-round lead with Morikawa after carding a 64 but shot himself in the foot on Friday, shooting 71 and was mad enough with his putting performance that he kicked a trash can on his way to scoring. He was being left in the dust on Saturday, making just one birdie on the front nine when his caddie Adam Hayes stepped in and gave him a pep talk.
“He had hit a real poor shot for him on nine,” Hayes said. “I could tell he wasn’t that focused. I said to him whatever you do on the next 27 holes be uber committed and really clear on picking your start lines, picking your finish lines and be really committed to a number and that’s what he did. He hardly missed a shot after that.”
Rahm reeled off five birdies to shoot 67, but trailed by seven and figured, “we’re going to need a small miracle.”
Then he made a bogey at the first hole on Sunday. “I was going to need somewhat of a larger miracle,” he said.
The epic comeback began with a birdie at the second as Rahm’s putter heated up — he ranked first in Strokes Gained: putting for the week — and made five birdies in all on the front. Still, he trailed by six at the turn before what looked to be a walk in the park for Morikawa turned into a Stephen King horror movie. Rahm’s rally was aided by a 5-under stretch thanks to three consecutive birdies starting at No. 12 and an eagle at 15.
“You need a combination of both. Me having a really good day, which I did, and Collin not having his best,” Rahm said.
Counting his success on the DP World Tour, Rahm has registered three wins in his last four official starts, and the victory in Maui could be the launching pad to a big year.
“I feel like since August I’ve been the best player in the world,” Rahm said. “Earlier in the year clearly Scottie was that player, then Rory was that player, and I feel like right now it’s been me.”178
Article By: Golf Week
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Max Homa 'came out of retirement' to rate golf swings on Twitter on Christmas, and it was hilarious
For golf fans, Max Homa is arguably the best follow-on Twitter.
He interacts with his fans often and is quite funny. He also opens up on his life, talking about his experiences as a husband, as a father and as a player on the PGA Tour.
On Christmas Day, he provided a treat to the golf world, coming “out of retirement” to rate his followers’ golf swings. He asked whether anyone wanted him to roast their swing on Christmas Day. Thousands of fans responded to the tweet, and Homa, a five-time winner on Tour, got to work.
Here’s a look at some of the best responses.(Click here)
Article By: Golfweek USA.Today
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Lynch: Greg Norman would rather run his mouth than run the numbers, and it’s easy to see why
With his carefully curated image of a man swaggering across the global stage disrupting industries, dictating terms and settling scores, Greg Norman exhibits a delusion common among courtiers who imagine themselves in the vein of those for whom they labor. But far from earning comparison to MBS, or even with Yasir al-Rumayyan, the Crown Prince’s bagman at Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Norman increasingly calls to mind another legendary figure from the region: Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf.
Al-Sahhaf is better remembered as “Comical Ali,” a derisive moniker he acquired while serving as Saddam Hussein’s spokesman during the Iraq War two decades ago. His every utterance defied ample evidence to the contrary, most memorably his insistence that American troops had been slaughtered outside Baghdad, even as U.S. tanks rolled through the very neighborhood in which he stood. The hapless shilling for middle eastern autocrats and a refusal to acknowledge reality seems eerily familiar today, although Norman lacks the levity provided by Al-Sahhaf’s obvious lunacy.
After a year during which it made a splash, LIV’s novelty value is diminished and the time is nearing when it will sink or swim. Thus Norman is grasping for positives with the same determination he did on many a Sunday night at major championships.
This week, he gamely presented the fact that Justin Thomas took a meeting with LIV—and didn’t immediately squat on the concept—as evidence of the league’s success, while omitting that the conversation took place some time ago and that Thomas has since been vocally loyal to the PGA Tour. The contortions continued when Norman said that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy “have no idea what they’re talking about” and accused them of being childish for saying he had to be replaced as CEO, before adding that the door to LIV remains open for them, much as a drowning man’s arms are open to anyone who wishes to toss him a life vest.
Despite reports that he could be replaced by former TaylorMade CEO, Mark King, Norman insists his position is secure. “I have got the full support from my chairman. One hundred percent. One thousand percent. There has never been one thing to suggest otherwise. I’m totally confident,” he said, with the blithe assurance he often displayed on Saturdays. But security is scarce in LIV’s well-fed food chain, and Norman knows it.
At the league’s recent season finale in Miami, the chief operating officer, Atul Khosla, was wheeled out to talk about plans for a broadcast rights deal and corporate sponsorship of teams. This week, he was shown the door, leaving a business landscape largely unchanged from when Sean Bratches quit as chief commercial officer seven months ago: no TV deal, no traction with fans, no audience for live streams, no sign of mass player defections, no sponsor interest. Still, Norman’s perfunctory statement confirming Khosla’s departure took care to trumpet LIV’s “successful inaugural season.”
Article By: Golfweek USA.Today
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LIV Golf planned for all-star board members such as Michael Jordan, Condoleezza Rice and top-level business executives
LIV Golf doesn’t just want big names on the course.
According to a New York Times report, the Saudi Arabia-backed circuit “considered assembling an all-star board of business, sports, legal and political titans” including the likes of NBA legend Michael Jordan, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as well as business executives Ginni Rometty (former IBM chief executive), Randall Stephenson (former AT&T chairman) and Mark Parker (Nike executive chairman).
“I didn’t know I was on the list, and I have never been approached,” Stephenson said to the Times. A board member for the PGA Tour, Stephenson said he’d decline if LIV asked, noting that “it would be a quick conversation.”
A player handbook said a LIV board would include 10 members, but the Times reported nine of those identified as targets had never been approached.
The findings came from a larger Times article that analyzed hundreds of confidential documents from Project Wedge, a proposal conducted for Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The PIF is governed by Yasir al-Rumayyan, who also serves as chairman of the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation, English Premier League team Newcastle United and Saudi Aramco, the state-owned petroleum company which serves as a sponsor for the Ladies European Tour.
With the PIF as its monetary backer, LIV Golf has long been criticized as a way for the Kingdom to sports wash its human rights record. Saudi Arabia has been accused of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Not to mention, members of the royal family and Saudi government were accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.
Experts told the Times that Saudi Arabia’s $2 billion investment shows the Kingdom “has aspirations beyond the financial.”
“The margins might be thin, but that doesn’t really matter,” Simon Chadwick, a professor of sport and geopolitical economy at Skema Business School in Paris, said to the Times. “Because subsequently you’re establishing the legitimacy of Saudi Arabia — not just as an event host or a sporting powerhouse, but legitimate in the eyes of decision makers and governments around the world.”
McKinsey & Company, a longtime Saudi adviser dating back to the 1970s, analyzed the finances of a new golf league and deemed LIV to be “a high-risk high-reward endeavor.” The Times also reported a McKinsey document that detailed 12 top players targeted by LIV. Only four – Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson – have signed so far.
A day after Tiger Woods unloaded on LIV’s leadership and called for CEO Greg Norman to lose his job, LIV recently announced part of its schedule for 2023, where 12 teams and 48 individuals will compete for a total of $405 million in prize purses. Rosters for the new season, the first as the re-branded LIV Golf League, have yet to be finalized.