Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Thompson wins (sort of), Spieth returns to Sydney

@hamishneal

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A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw Jon Rahm and Aria Jutanugarn win at season-ending events on the European Tour and the LPGA, respectively. PGA rookie Austin Cook triumphed in Georgia plus this week sees the Australian Open take place. The European Tour gets straight into a new season playing in Hong Kong.

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Opening drive
Whilst Lexi Thompson won the Race to the Globe LPGA crown Ariya Jutanugarn won the tournament in Naples Florida. Despite Thompson’s season-ending tournament near-miss (and missed par putt on Sunday) she claimed the season-long crown and million-dollar bonus but the victories could have been so much more for the American. She led at one stage on Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club before the afore-mentioned blunder on 18 which, when added to her three playoff defeats this year, means the two wins on tour could have been six.

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England’s Justin Rose entered the final day with a chance to prevail in the Race to Dubai but in the end it was Tommy Fleetwood, who entered the weekend leading the money list, who finished on top of the ET Order of Merit after Spain’s Jon Rahm won in Dubai at the DP World Tour Championship. Rose buckled on the back nine with three bogeys before a late birdie on 18. The Englishman finished in T4 and Jon Rahm’s final round five under saw him home by one.

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Arkansas native Austin Cook won convincingly by four strokes at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia seeing off JJ Spaun to win the RSM Classic on the PGA Tour. Cook, who had never won in college or on the second-tier Web.com, has secured his first professional win at only his 14th PGA Tour start.

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In Japan America Brooks Koepka blitzed his nearest rivals by nine strokes at the Dunlop Phoenix Open in Miyazaki. Kopeka is the first American to win back-to-back titles at the tournament since Tiger Woods (2004/05)

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Player performance notes
Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The Australian Open takes place at The Australian Golf Club in Roseberry Sydney. Jordan Spieth is a two-time winner of this event (2014,2016) and he returns to defend his crown here. As much as I would have loved to look at the Hong Kong Open given our selection of Sam Brazel last year the Oz Open must take precedence.

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Under 20: Jordan Spieth. Hard to go past the class factor in the field. Spieth, this time two years ago was pinging around the globe and slumped (comparatively) but this time he’s taken a few weeks off since the Tour Championship and this will help here.

 

Under 20: Cameron Smith. Having matched up before ultimately falling to Spieth in last year’s playoff with Ashley Hall Smith enters in good form having finished third in the PGA Tour’s new Korea event last month.

 

20 to 50: Rod Pampling. The veteran was a winner this time last year in the states before arriving and finishing fourth in this event and knows the venue well.

 

50 to 100: Kramer Hicock. The halfway leader at the NSW Open dropped away on Saturday before Jason Scrivener won the tournament in Luddenham. With another week we can expect more consistent play from the Texan who is probably over his jet-lag now and has gotten used to the courses. Coming to prominence due to the fact his shares a house with Jordan Spieth Hicock, 25, won the Canadian McKenzie Tour player of the year title this year winning twice. The most recent of those victories was in September.

 

50 to 100: Brett Coletta. Bookended his tournament in the NSW Open with a 64 and 66 but his middle rounds of 72 and 76 meant he was chasing from well behind on Sunday. The Melbourne-born golfer, who won the Queensland Open last year, took a break in June when on the PGA Tour but seems to have returned well.

 

50 to 100: Min Woo Lee. Lee was T6 at the NSW Open last weekend and this comes after a recent T3 at the Asia Pacific Amateur Title in Wellington. The top amateur continues to impress.

 

200 to 500: Jason Geary. Very hard not to add the Kiwi and go above our normal six picks. Geary gained European Tour qualification recently so will be playing with freedom and security for his coming season. In his last three Australasian PGA Tour events he has finished inside the top 20.

 

Greens in regulation
Away from the professional tours it was interesting to read over the course of the last few weeks about golf’s place in the Invictus Games. For those unfamiliar with the event the Invictus Games is for wounded, ill or injured servicemen and women who are both serving or are veterans of their nation’s defence forces. I’ve spoken recently about the failure of golf to be included in the Paralympics in Rio last year so it was heartening to see golf at the Invictus Games in Toronto in September. However the inclusion of adaptive golf at such events seems to be inconsistent with the 2018 Invictus Games to be held in Sydney from October 18-29, not including golf among it’s 11 sports.

 

Tap in
With 2017 US Open winner Brooks Koepka winning in Japan in a tournament featuring world number four Hideki Matusyma and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, world number five Jon Ramh prevailing in Dubai and world number two Jordan Spieth about to defend his title in Australia it is another strange time of year when the world’s best seemed to be spread far afield for the last few weeks, but not concentrated in one area. I’ve spoken before about a further (fifth) golf major in the men’s game ala in the women’s and it would seem somewhere in the triangle (okay I know it’s not really a triangle) between the UAE, Japan and Australia would do the trick. Tennis authorities have labelled the Australian Open ‘the Grand Slam of Asia Pacific’ and it has been in the same city of 45 years. Golf could get a jump on tennis (and other sports) by stamping a mark on having an Asian slam event – perhaps on rotation, three years in Australia, the UAE, and then Japan/China or South Korea.

 

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.

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