Almanac Golf – Kim wins The Players plus different paths for recent Masters champs

@hamishneal

 

A collection of golf news, notes, and thoughts from the week. Si Woo Kim became the youngest-ever winner of the ‘fifth major’ when he triumphed at The Players and England’s Matt Wallace vaulted into the top 140 winning the Portugal Open at the Morgado Golf Resort.

 

Opening drive

 

Kim triumphed at TPC Sawgrass following three sub-70 rounds. This included a final round of 69 on a day which he was one of only two players who finished inside the top 11 and broke 70. Kim’s bogey-free card saw him win by three strokes from Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poutler. Spain’s Sergio Garcia was on contention but shot 78 on Sunday to tumble down the leader board to finish T30 but that was nothing compared to the collapse of JB Holmes who started the day tied for the lead but finished 13 strokes from the winner in T41st after he signed for an 84. Golf can be a cruel game.

 

Having entered the week ranked 73rd, Kim has now won at least one professional title in each of the last three years and secured a tour card for the next five years. Kim won the tournament despite having suffered a back issue which required treatment on Saturday evening and has forced his subsequent withdrawal from this week’s Byron Nelson. At the age of 21 Kim has registered multiple withdrawals due to injury (three in the last year) so it is mildly concerning the South Korean is already, seemingly, injury-prone.

 

With a dual ranking Challenge and European tour event Matt Wallace was the victor in Portugal and the Englishman has now picked up full tour status following his three-stroke triumph over American Julian Suri and the rest of the field. Entering the tournament ranked 242 Wallace was prolific on the lower-tier Alps Tour and won with a score of 21 under. The Sicilian town of Agrigento hosts the Rocco Forte Open this week before the ET’s PGA Championship at Wentworth next week.

 

The LPGA resumes this weekend in Virginia with world number one Lydia Ko in danger of losing the top spot to either defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn or world number two So Yeon Ryu. When Jutanugarn won the Kingswill Championship last year it was her second triumph in 2016. The 21 year-old would go on to win on three more occasions – including the British Open. Also resuming this week is the Asian Tour with the Thailand Open in Bangkok.

 

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. TPC Four Seasons, near Dallas, hosts the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson. The tournament was won by Sergio Garcia in a playoff last year despite the Spaniard finding water twice on Sunday. The Masters champ defeated Brooks Koepka in extra holes at the course in Irving, Texas.

 

Under 20: Brooks Koepka. Last year’s beaten playoff finalist here has notched a T16 and second in his last two individual stroke-play events.

 

20 to 50: Bud Cauley. I’m still on Cauley Island and his recent good results are supported by his T4 finish last year when he was two shots away from the playoff. Tees off in the first group on at the 10th hole on Thursday.

 

20 to 50: Tony Finau. The Utah native was T3 at the recent Texas Open and four top tens this year to his credit. T12 here last year with rounds no worse than 68 shows he likes the event.

 

20 to 50: Charl Schwartzel. The former Masters champ contended at Augusta. Has an early tee time on Thursday to get things rolling.

 

50 to 100: Sung Kang. The Jeju-born golfer has two top six finishes to his credit this season in tournaments played in Texas which included a T6 last time out in San Antonio. Ranked 85 in the world currently.

 

100 to 200: Zac Blair. If not for a third round 75 Blair would have been well in contention to win the Houston Open in early April. Has the ability to continue the trend of recent drought-breakers on tour.

 

Greens in regulation

 

With Garcia suffering a final day slide at TPC Sawgrass it was nothing compared to 2016 Masters champ Danny Willett who withdrew from the tournament citing a back strain and needing to take a break. This news came after Willett was been sacked by his caddie Jon Smart in his previous tournament at Hilton Head. Since his major triumph 13 months ago the Englishman has had four top ten finishes but he’s missed three cuts in his last six starts to go with the recent withdrawal. At 29 he’s not a spent force but it has not been a good few weeks for Willett. He is yet to announce when he plans to return to the tour.

 

Tap in

 

Former world number one Vijay Singh threatened to roll back the years and embarrass PGA Tour officials in the process when he found himself in the spotlight at TPC Sawgrass before finishing in T16. Remember the deer antler spray case? Well Fijian Singh, 54, is in the midst of a (which hlegal suitas been going since 2013) against the tour for how they handled the situation four-years ago. It wasn’t a return to his halcyon days (he’s not won since 2008) after Singh shot 79 on Saturday but officials may have been nervous after he started with rounds of 70 and 68. A trophy presentation could have been very awkward with the Hall of Famer still taking the authorities to task regarding the scenario which he still claims came about because he did not know the contents of the substance – which turned out to be banned. May honesty prevail.

 

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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