Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – DJ wins again plus the first majors of 2017

@hamishneal

 

A collection of golf news, notes, and thoughts from the week as Dustin Johnson continues to dominate with the first majors of 2017 for the women and men in the coming fortnight.

 

Opening drive:
Johnson’s triumph, his third for 2017, came with the world number one seeing off Spaniard Jon Rahm to win the WGC Match Play event in Austin. Johnson was knocked out of the quarter finals in this event last year and since then has been in the form of his life to rise to the top of the men’s tour. Rahm, like Johnson, was unbeaten in pool play going 3-0 before his run to the final, ultimate losing having clawed back a big deficit when down by four with six holes to play.

 

Whilst Rahm’s late rally had Johnson in a spot of bother, there were no such problems in California for Mirim Lee. The South Korean went into the final day of the Kia Classic leading by one before signing for a final round 65 to win by six from compatriot So Yeon Ryu and American Austin Ernst. Lee, now a three-time LPGA Tour winner, heads to the ANA Inspiration (the first women’s major of 2017) after the win in Carlsbad with her first win since 2014 on the LPGA Tour.

 

Aside from the Match Play for the men there was a further PGA event with three veterans DA Points (40 years of age), Retief Goosen (48) and Bill Lunde (41) filling three of the top four places in the Puerto Rico Open played in Rio Grande. Bryson DeChambeau, 23, was the odd one out and finished T2 with Goosen and Lunde two strokes behind Points who got home at 20 under largely on the back of his opening round eight under 64. Interestingly Points last PGA Tour win came in 2013 when he won the Houston Open – this weekend’s tour event.

 

Player performance notes:
Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me related to capital investment if that’s your thing. This weekend it’s the first women’s major of 2017 – the ANA Inspiration with the tournament played to Rancho Mirage in California.

 

Under 20: Ariya Jutanugarn. Both Jutanugarn and defending champion Lydia Ko enter the tournament the top two players in the world haven’t had a great start to 2017 based on their high standards. However, Jutanugarn with three top three finishes has done better than Ko to date in 2017.

 

Under 20: So Yeon Ryu: Second on the weekend Ryu has finished T7 or better in her four starts in 2017 and has moved up to number three in the world rankings.

 

Under 20: Lexi Thompson: With a second in the Bahamas and fourth in Thailand to start the season, Thompson has started well but the missed cut in Arizona is a bit of a worry for the 2014 winner of this tournament.

 

20 to 50: Ha-Na Jang: The world number six is the highest ranked player to win on the LPGA this year (having won the Australian Open last month) but so have numbers 7 and 8 – Inbee Park and Amy Yang.

 

20 to 50: Stacy Lewis: The American was T2 a fortnight ago in Arizona and won this event in 2011.

 

100 to 200: Nelly Korda: Having only earnt her tour card in late 2016, Korda came out and finished T5 in her debut in the Bahamas. In her first major as a full-fledged LPGA player she is a chance of doing similar under little pressure compared to the big names.

 

Greens in regulation
With a week to go to the first men’s major of 2017, it’s interesting to note four of the top ten are playing in the Houston Open, won last year by Jim Herman. Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler will feature here before teeing it up at Augusta in the Masters. Stenson finished a shot behind Herman last year and Fowler was T10, a further five strokes back. After a hectic recent schedule (he played 112 holes in the match play event) it wasn’t a surprise Dustin Johnson withdrew from this tournament. Especially when you consider the record of Houston Open winners since the event has been a prelude to the Masters. Houston Open champs have only twice finished in the top 15 of the Masters having played at the Golf Club of Houston immediately before the first men’s major of the year. A sensible option for Johnson when you look at those figures.

 

Tap in
With a busy period coming up, I’ve penned some thoughts for the Masters already. I may get a chance to add to these four prior to Augusta next week, or I may not:

Under 20: Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama, who was T7 last year, has gone off the boil in the last month but it’s hard to ignore his great run for form from the PGA Championship onwards last year which included five wins and five other top five finishes in eight months.

 

50 to 100: Matthew Fitzpatrick: Playing in his second Masters in 2016 the Sheffield lad shot an equal best of the day (5 under 67) in the fourth round to finish T7 and subsequently won twice in 2016.

 

50 to 100: Alex Noren: An interesting line to Willett’s Masters win last year was the European Masters on 2015. Willett won with Fitzpatrick second hence the Swede’s European Masters victory via a playoff in 2016 should be noted for this event. Since then Noren, 34, has won in England and South Africa.

 

50 to 100: Thomas Pieters: Large crowds of Americans didn’t rattle the Belgian in the Ryder Cup and the loud, but less boisterous gallery at the Masters could swing in behind the long-hitter here. Pieters, ranked 34, did miss the cut in two recent Florida-based events but a T5 in Mexico and T2 in Los Angeles have him in the right nick for the challenge of Augusta.

 

This golfing wrap first appeared on From the sideline of sport

 

About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his ‘spare time’ (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.

Comments

  1. The Women’s game (like the men) seems to be becoming more dominated by power and distance. Lydia Ko has hit the wall in the last 12 months and every change (coach, caddy etc etc) seems to be getting her further away from being seriously competitive. My WA favourite – Minjee Lee – also slight and elegant seems to be having similar struggles.
    The strongly built and/or hard hitting players like Jutanargan and Inbee Park seem to have the wood on the slim. slight and elegant players.
    I fear that golf – like cricket and rugby union – is losing its way as a mass market sport. The game is too dominated by equipment manufacturers and elites – who are not interested in participation and the long term health of the game. Its all corporate hype.
    The last few weeks on the US Tour have been super boring. Needs to get to some challenging courses like Augusta and the Majors courses – not the parklands shooting galleries of most of the US Tour. Hope the European Tour kicks in again soon – their players are more colourful – and the courses are more interesting and diverse.

  2. Good insight as always Peter. I’m not sure where Lydia Ko goes for the next few months. It’s a very interesting time in her career. The European Tour absence does mean we miss out on a few of the pretty courses, starts again in Morocco in a few weeks – on a course I believe was built for a member of the royal family there that barely/doesn’t play! Weeeeee!

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