Almanac Golf – Golf Capital: Kiradech – King of the knockout, stars in Adelaide for Open

@hamishneal

 

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw Kiradech Aphibarnrat win the World Super 6 in Perth, former world number one Jiyai Shin triumphed in Canberra and near rank outsider Ted Potter Jr stared down multiple major winners to claim the victory at Pebble Beach.

 

Opening Drive

Thai golfer Kiradech Aphibarnrat won his fourth European Tour title, and tenth at the professional level, when he saw off Newcastle’s James Nitties in the World Super 6 match-play final at Lake Karrinyup.

 

There was much to like about the drama at the Perth venue. Aphibarnrat only got into the top 24 for the match-play element on Sunday by virtue of winning the final playoff contest with the Gold Coast’s Anthony Quayle after four holes on Saturday. Quayle had two chances on Saturday to slam the door shut on the Bangkok native but couldn’t. The Saturday action was even more stunning as Lee Westwood and last year’s winner Brett Rumford fell away to miss the top 24 altogether going from the overnight lead heading into the third round to each shot 78s and miss playing on Sunday. This paved the way for the final day drama which included at all-Newcastle quarter-final with Nitties beating Cal O’Reilly plus a host of great contests utilising the shortened shoot-out hole.

 

50-time winner (yes 50!) Jiyai Shin brought up the historic mark when she stormed around Royal Canberra on Sunday firing a final round eight under to win the Canberra Classic by an impressive six shots at 19 under. Shin came into the day three strokes adrift of Australia’s number one Minjee Lee at the event co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour. An eagle at 15 was crucial for the 29-year-old South Korean once one of the game’s big stars. Shin held the world number one ranking during 2010 and has two British Open majors to her name.

 

The litany of golfing stars and celebrities didn’t bother Ted Potter Junior as the Florida native won easily by three strokes on Sunday at Pebble Beach to claim the AT&T Pro Am for his second PGA Tour win. TPJ saw off challenges from major winners Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickleson who all finished in a tie for second with American Chez Reavie. One would have expected the 34-year-old to fold after he bogeyed the opening hole having started the day as joint-leader with Johnson but he tamed the California coastal venue with birdies on four of the next six holes.

 

This weekend Tiger Woods is back (okay I need to stop saying this) as the PGA Tour heads to the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles for the Genesis Open which is the concluding leg of its West Coast Swing and was won by Dustin Johnson last year.

 

Player performance notes

Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. Adelaide plays host to the Women’s Australian Open which is co-sanctioned with the LPGA Tour and brings a far stronger field than the men’s equivalent. Eight 2017 winners from the LPGA are taking part plus four of the current top ten in the world. Ha Na Jang won in 2017 and 2015 champion Lydia Ko, who has gone through a period of major change, is playing this tournament for the eighth time despite been only 20 years of age.

 

Under 20: Minjee Lee. Whilst Lee disappointed on face value at Royal Canberra the fact she was in contention to win having triumphed the week prior is positive given many of her main opponents here will be playing for the first time this season. She shot nine-under in the second round in Canberra.

 

Under 20: So Yeon Ryu. The world number three won twice on the LPGA tour last year – including a major in the ANA Inspiration and returned for the year finishing T11 in the Bahamas.

 

Under 20: Brooke Henderson. Canada’s top player won the New Zealand Open in October and despite not turning 21 until September has won five times on the LPGA Tour. Placed in the top ten in the Bahamas.

 

20 to 50: Hannah Green. 21-year-old Green was T7 here at the Kooyonga Golf Club last year and since then has qualified for the LPGA Tour. Her LPGA debut last month saw her place an impressive T11 along with Ryu in the Bahamas having had to deal with windy conditions and delays.

 

200 to 500: Holly Clyburn. English golfer Clyburn finished fifth in Canberra which came after a sixth place at the Victorian Open so she has adapted well to the local conditions.

 

Greens in regulation

Second time around for the World Super 6 was another great event and the ‘mic’d up’ players added a interesting element with actual insight (hello athletes in football codes) as evidenced by Lucas Herbert.

 

The lack of television coverage early on the final day is really the only criticism one could make of the event which needs addressing immediately. Like last year when I noted the need to scrap the playoffs (the third-place contest is still silly) and look at the idea of a ’shot clock’ as suggested by Ben Coley of sportinglife.com a few tweaks are still required but on the whole things are positive for the format and style of the event.

 

The lack of a few more star names is made up for in the drama of the format but my sense is the tournament will need some marquee names sooner rather than later. However these would have to be from the European Tour or other Australian’s as the timing means it clashes with some big name US PGA Tour events.

 

Tap in

This weekend a new country is added to the top flight of golf as Oman becomes the 44th country to host a European Tour event. It’s been a rapid rise for the sultanate and even quicker for the course which has only been open six years. The Al Mouj Golf venue, designed by Greg Norman, is elevated to the main tour having hosted the Challenge Tour (second-tier) season-ending event for the last three years. Oman, home to a population of just over four million, has two golfers ranked and they are both amateurs – Saami Keating and Azaan Al Rumhy. The latter is playing this week in the NBO Oman Open and he has won two of the last three amateur titles played at this venue.

 

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 format really works for giving extended tension to golf. Saturday evening’s final 24 cutoff’s and playoff’s. If Quayle had held his putting nerve (who am I to talk?) then Kiradech would have been on his Maldives holiday a day earlier. Kiradech’s big tournament experience and “one shot at a time” casual attitude won him the tournament. James Nitties’ swing went to pieces in the final after getting an early lead. He was thinking about winning rather than the next shot (been there done that).
    The course is a beautiful beast, that ate up Westwood and Rumford on Saturday when their tee shots were 5% off.
    The format could be a winner for some of the lesser European tournaments when the stars go to the US in the early summer. Australia had good crowds attending and a challenging course (maybe too hard for the second string pros?) but our prize money is a pittance by world standards. $3 million US in Malaysia 2 weeks ago; $1.35 million in Perth last week. We are a breeder/feeder league for star players – as with soccer.
    Really looking forward to the Women’s LPGA at Kooyonga this week. Probably the best golf tournament in Australia nowadays (male or female). I will be watching Rebecca Artis with interest and hope she can make the cut. She is a disciple of the Right Sided Swing method that has improved my game immensely in recent months. Check it out. http://www.garyedwin.com

  2. Thanks for replying, Hamish Neal. I’m sorry you lost Harry but 18 is definitely an achievement!

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