Almanac Golf – Golf Capital: Lindberg’s Monday win, Masters open as ever

@hamishneal

 

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes. It’s Masters time but not before the first major for the year went to a playoff as Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg prevailed over Hall of Famer Inbee Park in the ANA Inspiration – the first women’s major of 2018. And Ian Poulter’s inspired final round of 67 came after the 42-year-old started the Houston Open with a one over 73. He became the first person on the PGA Tour to win after ending the first day T123 or worse.

 

 

Opening drive
The drama of the first week of golf majors of 2018 extended to Monday with Pernilla Lindberg prevailing in a playoff over South Korea’s Inbee Park at Rancho Mirage in California.
Lindberg and Park contested four of their eight playoff holes until darkness saw play halted late on Sunday. Park, with Australian caddie Brad Beecher on the bag, must have slept with confidence but Lindberg’s birdie as they played 10 again on Monday at Mission Hills gave the Swede her first victory in 193 LPGA starts (250 career starts) and denied Park an eighth major.

 

It could have been more in the three-person playoff (American Jennifer Song was eliminated early in the playoff on Sunday) as Jessica Korda, the Jutanugarn sisters (Moriya and Ariya) plus England’s Charley Hull all looked playoff chances at stages on Sunday. This was after Lindberg had taken a three-shot lead into the final day.

 

Over in Texas Sunday’s extra-time at the Houston Open saw American Beau Hossler and England’s Ian Poulter in an effective shoot-out for a spot at the Masters. Poulter punched a ticket to Augusta after Hossler chipped from one side of the green into the water as they played 18 for the fifth time last week. This was after the duo finished three clear at -19 of Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo and Jordan Spieth.

 

Player performance notes
Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The Masters field for the first men’s major of 2018 offers a great deal of intrigue as noted last week. Among the big names only US Open champion from last year Brooks Koepka is missing due to injury. Hopefully we’ve got the winner below after getting two of the top four last weekend.

 

Under 20: Justin Rose. The Olympic Gold Medallist has won three times since October. None of those victories were in the USA but the world number five did place third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational after a T5 the week prior at the Valspar.

 

Under 20: Justin Thomas. The winner of the last major of 2017, the PGA Championship Thomas has won three times since then. The world number two has improved at each of his two Masters starts T39 followed by T22.

 

100 to 200: Rafa Cabrera-Bello. The Spaniard would need to buck recent trends which indicate players need several starts at the tournament to claim the title. However he was 15th two years ago plus RCB ranks second in the ‘proximity to hole’ statistic for 2018 on the PGA Tour. This will be crucial in setting up on the greens in the right spots.

 

100 to 200: Kevin Chappell. Last year’s Texas Open winner has finished in the top three of majors and the Tour Championship before. Coupled with his T7 last year here, which was a vast improvement on his T44 in his only other Masters start in 2012, the California native recently finished T7 at Bay Hill.

 

Greens in regulation
Okay. I didn’t mention them in my preview, let’s talk about Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Their form renascence warrants respect as does their record here (seven titles between them at Augusta) but age is against them as 40 plus year-olds aren’t prolific here (or in majors generally). That statistic also culls the list of Paul Casey, 40, who beat Woods to claim the Valspar.

 

Perth Super 6 winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat owns a T15 in his only effort here two years ago and this is the only major he’s really taken to. 2015 champion Jordan Spieth could, possibly, lay claim to four Masters given his run of T2-1-T2 and 11 in four goes here. This year’s edition is incredibly open but forced to make one pick I’d go with Justin Thomas as he seeks to claim back-to-back major titles having also won the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup crown last year.

 

Tap In
In the wake of the ANA Inspiration, and before we get totally consumed by the Masters over the next few days, it should be noted about the positive debut of Australian Hannah Green in her first major. The WA golfer finished T16 in her first LPGA major after a terrific Sunday in California . Putting this in context the 21 year-old had a better major debut than some of Australia’s current top players including Jason Day (T60-2010 Open) and Adam Scott (Cut-2000 Open) but not quite as good as Karrie Webb who was T5 in the ANA Inspiration in her major debut. Green banks USD36,190 for the result which included an impressive final round six under 66.

 

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. Peter_B says:

    Love the Masters. 4am mornings with furtive tea and toast under a blanky in the lounge room with the sound down. I’m 16 again. No idea who wins. So many possible story lines and elite golf has never had more depth. I’ll be barracking for Day and Liesch, as Scott has not had the Bart preparation needed for a major.
    I enjoyed the first women’s major last week, but the course was a typically bland US resort course in the desert. Nothing to look at (except the Korda sisters’ legs). Lindberg’s putting and short game was exceptional for the last 27 holes when her driver started going walkabout.
    Speak to your sub-editor. You aged Pernilla Lindberg 12 years and made her opening round 8 strokes worse. I think there is a line missing attributing that to Ian Poulter.

  2. Ta for the heads up PB. The relevant staff has been disciplined. Ha ha. The ANA Inspiration venue isn’t very inspiring as you point out but the contest was compelling.

    Good point about the lack of a ‘bart prep’ for Adam Scott.

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