Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Dufnering in Dublin plus Mickelson’s Open withdrawal



A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw Jason Dufner return to the winners circle, Italian Renato Paratore clinched a maiden European title and In-Kyung Kim won a fifth LPGA event.


Opening drive:
The Cavaliers might be staring down the barrel of a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals but they may want to take inspiration from Cleveland-born golfer Jason Dufner who led the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio by five strokes heading into the weekend, fired a shocking 77 in his third round before a final round 68 saw him win by three clear shots from fellow countryman Rickie Fowler and Anirban Lahiri of India. Dufner’s four birdies in the last nine holes proved critical.


Kim’s win in New Jersey came at only her sixth start after a fall saw her miss a fair chunk of the start of 2017. Kim, who co-led heading into the weekend, ended up winning by two strokes from Anna Nordqvist. This weekend the LPGA sees the Manulife LPGA Classic feature 13 Canadians in the tournament to be held in Cambridge, Ontario.


Paratore’s first title came in tight circumstances as Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick held the clubhouse lead late in the day in Malmo, Sweden and only a pulled tee shot which cost Chris Wood a penalty stroke on the 18th. The tournament, the Nordea Masters, was played in blustery conditions at times and the win is impressive given Fitzpatrick won last year and the in-form Alex Noren prior to that so it’s a good pointer for the 20-year-old Italian in the next few years. From Sweden to Austria the European Tour is in Atzenbrugg, which is located near Vienna, for the Lyoness Open.


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. Before the second major of the year to be held in Wisconsin, it’s the St Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee. Daniel Berger won his only PGA title with victory here last year.


Under 20: Brooks Koepka was joint second here in 2016 and closed with a 66. Koepka was also T3 in 2015. A recent T16 at the Players is good form for this event which is not at the same level as the ‘fifth major’.


20 to 50: Russell Henley. The Texas Open winner five starts ago followed that triumph with a T11 at the Masters. A perhaps inevitable dip after that good period can be forgiven, especially as he was T7 in this event in 2016.


20 to 50: Charl Schwartzel. The South African’s T3 at the Masters was followed by a missed cut at The Players and withdrawal from the Byron Nelson. His ‘return’ was T35 at the Memorial but the final round of 76 looks shaky. However an early tee time on Thursday could help here.


50 to 100: Harold Varner III. In a pre-major field it’s important to look at players who have won, or contended, recently and Varner did win in Australia last southern summer. Varner’s T19 at the Memorial was his best result since that triumph and last year he was T16 here.


100 to 200: Chez Reavie. T12 here in 2015 Reavie had three top 12 finishes to start 2017 but not much since. However earlier this week the Kansas native progressed from for next week’s US Open sectional qualifying so will be playing with confidence and a tournament he does well in.


100 to 200: Sam Saunders. Arnold Palmer’s grandson had three top 20 finishes from late March to early April and a reasonable T24 recently in Texas. Somewhat a romantic thought the week before a major Palmer won twice.


Greens in regulation:
Phil Mickelson has a good record at the St Jude Classic, with two second placings in recent years and a third in 2015 as well. However the 46-year-old, whilst he may finally break the duck at Memphis on the weekend, won’t add to his five majors the following week after electing to withdraw from the US Open in Wisconsin to attend his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation. The graduation is on the opening day of the major so Mickelson will be in Carlsbad, California and not the mid-West. His daughter is the commencement speaker so it’s not just any graduation. In his 26 attempts the US Open is the only major the 46-year-old is yet to win. So he has passed up a chance at a career slam in an event is has finished second, or tied second, six times in.


Tap in:
Golf has, probably – along-with sports like tennis, has an advantage regarding gender equality (even allowing for the existence for male-only clubs) for most of its recent existence. But where golf has struggled in terms of equality has been enabling access to the sport for people with a disability. Elite level golf for people with a disability is sparse, as evidenced by the fact there was not golf events at the Paralympics despite its return in the Rio 2016 Olympics. However the Canberra Times reported on an invention, the Paragolfer, which could help open up access to the sport for those unable to play in it’s usual form. Paragolfer is an all-terrain wheelchair which allows the individual to elevate into a standing positions. It would be great inclusion and access initiative if every club could invest in one. Something to think about.


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.


  1. Peter Warrington says

    Surely they could let Phil tee off early on Day 2 with a marker and play 36 that day?

  2. Phil playing on his own would be a preferred option for a significant number of players on the tour – I’m told.

    Jason Dufner’s win was huge. I’ve always thought his nickname should be Homer. He has that everyman nature. I enjoyed following him when he was in Melbourne. Did he win one here?

  3. Jason Dufner has played in the Perth International a couple of times. Runner up at Lake Karrinyup in 2012. Could hold a handkerchief under his left armpit right through his swing. Speaking of interesting swings – Paratore is very fast, jerky, flicky through impact. Holds the clubface very closed going back and then opens his body up a lot through impact. Very poweful, but timing is everything. Interesting to see if it holds up under pressure long term.
    The Erin Hills golf course for the US Open is a treeless monster – 7700 yards. I have a sneaky feeling that Phil saw no point in being humiliated at this stage of his career.
    Where can I rent a Paragolfer? Had a fall in the garden on the weekend and have put hairline cracks in my tibia and fibula. Possible PCL tear. Leg in a splint and on crutches. The Avenging Eagle said I did it to get out of gardening, but no golf for 2 months??? Maybe with a Paragolfer………………..????

  4. Good idea Peter W but I think JH is correct Lefty would probably be made to play on his own.

    JH, Homer is a solid nickname for Dufner. I could see him working at the nuclear plant as well.

    PB you make a good point about the configuration of the course at Erin Hills, maybe it will forever be his bogey tournament? As for getting you a Paragolfer that’s a good shout it could work for short-term injuries as well. The possibilities are endless. Imagine what technology will be around in 10 years in this regard.

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