Alamanac Golf: Golf Capital – Inspiration time, more Kuchar nonsense



Big names are winning before big tournaments with the first major of the year only hours away. American Kevin Kisner won the WGC Match-Play Event in Austin as Nasa Hataoka claimed her third PGA tour crown in her last 16 starts plus the weekend saw a great father-son golf story. The first major of the year (the ANA Inspiration) takes place at the Mission Hills complex in Rancho Mirage, California this week.


Opening Drive


Kevin Kisner rose to world number 25 with a 3&2 victory at the Austin Country Club over current pantomime villain Matt Kuchar (more on that later) at the WGC Match Play event in Texas. Kisner only progressed to the knockout phase after he won a playoff against Ian Poulter to progress from his group. Kisner then saw off China’s Haotong Li, major winner Louis Oosthuizen and Ryder Cup hero Francesco Molinari.


Kisner, last ranked this highly after his T2 finish at the Open last year, continues an interesting trend of winning ranking events in odd years, 2013, 2015 ,207 and 2019. He did win in 2010 on the webdotcom tour though.


Sergio Garcia and Matt Kuchar stirred controversy on Saturday in Austin when a lazy Garcia didn’t check Kuchar had conceded a putt that went close before scoping it away in their quarter final. Kuchar, recently in trouble over his treatment of a local caddie in Mexico, raised it with the referee knowing full well what the outcome would be and went on to progress before losing to Kisner in the final. As a recent former Masters winner the incident didn’t cost Garcia a place in the Masters but given it could have cost another player a spot to progress. It did cost Garcia a chance to win and left a sour taste in the mouth. Kuchar needs to be more circumspect in his on-course behavior lest he become more unpopular that 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed.


The week prior on the PGA Tour saw England’s Paul Casey not only defend his Valspar championship but see off the expected challenge from Dustin Johnson. Despite a final round of one over Casey edged home at Cooperhead by a stroke at eight under over Jason Kokrak and Louis Oosthuizen. Casey, once world number three, said the staff “nearly lost the course” given the struggles some players had. Looking ahead to next week’s Masters Casey, 41, has recorded the following finishes since 2015 at Augusta (T6, T4 6, and T15.)


In California the LPGA rolled on with the KIA Classic taking place after Ko Jin-young’s win the week prior in the Founders Cup. Still only 20 years of age Hataoka fired a final round five under 67 to win by three strokes in Carlsbad California. Her win at the Aviara Golf Club places her fourth in the world rankings before the first of the five women’s golf majors.


Despite the WGC event taking place there was still an impressive line-up in the Dominican Republic with Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (the 2010 US Open winner) a one-stroke winner at 18 under of the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.


Greens in Regulation


From Kenya to Malaysia and India European Tour has been very global in the last three weeks. Australian Scott Hend survived Nacho Elvira’s monster putt to force a playoff, which came after lightning stopped pay on the 18th, before Hend prevailed in extra holes. Hend’s win in playoff came courtesy of some lucky bounces after finding trees. Both golfers had finished at 15 under two clear of local Jazz Janewattananond at the Saujana Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur. Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher won for the first time in just over five years after his one-stroke triumph in the Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurumgram. Gallacher credited the win largely to son Jack who was on the bag of the 44-year-old.


Tap in


Whilst the ANA Inspiration commences the year in golfing majors this week there is quite a unique event going on in the Middle East. The Jordan Mixed Open brings together the Ladies European Tour, the Challenge Tour (men’s second tier European Tour) plus the Staysure Tour (the men’s European seniors tour.) 40 players from each tour will feature at the event at the Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba. Prior to the Masters at Augusta there will also be the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur.



This week

ANA Inspiration

Nelly Korda – The Australian Open winner has placed in the top ten in eight of her last ten tournaments. She was 13th here last year.

Inbee Park – The South Korea lost on Monday of last year’s event to Pernilla Lindberg but has won here in 2013.

Texas Open

Abraham Ancer – The Texas-born Mexican won the Australian Open in November and was T12 in the Players before the Match Play so is playing well.

Matt Jones – Texas resident Jones is looking to improve the Australia record in this event (recent wins have included Adam Scott in 2010 and Steve Bowdtich in 2014) Ranked outside the top 400 two years ago Jones has top 20 finishes in his last two starts on the PGA Tour.

2019 record:

Feb 13: Nelly Korda win and Paul Dunne third.
Feb 20: Ledioda missed the cut and in Mexico Ancer (T39) was the best of the three.
Feb 27: Best two were Brooke Henderson (T15) after taking an eight on one of the par fives in her opening round and Harrison Endycott T17.
March 6: Matt Millar T23 in NZ was the best result in the tough weather on the South Island.
March 13 Justin Thomas T35 was the best of the TPC Sawgrass four.
March 20: Went off a week early with Kisner but in he Valspar Jon Rahm was T6 as the best result.


This golfing wrap first appeared on From the sideline of sport


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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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