Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Gary wins, Brooks loses but Brooke wins again



American Gary Woodland completed a home treble of majors in 2019 winning the prestigious US Open by three strokes over the two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka. Woodland finished at 13 under at Pebble Beach whilst on the LPGA Tour it was a Canadian triumph just days after the Toronto Raptors’ ground-breaking NBA title win as Brooke Henderson won the Meijer LPGA Classic by a stroke over American Lexi Thompson.


Opening drive


Pebble Beach witnessed a terrific denouement to the men’s golf majors in the USA for 2019 as Gary Woodland claimed his first major title after a battle with Brooks Koepka who was playing in the group behind him. Woodland entered the final round one clear of Justin Rose but four clear of Koepka. Koepka went on a birdie run in the opening nine and had a glimmer of hope with a few holes to go. However when Woodland managed to have his approach on 14 flick off near the edge of the bunker onto the green and then claim a terrific par on 17 after he chipped from one side of the green down to the next tier before sealing par and the triumph. It wasn’t needed but Woodland’s birdie putt on the last gave the tournament a memorable moment with which to end the major. Woodland ranked first in scrambling this week, a statistic in which he was 169th for the season heading into the weekend as reported by Justin Ray of the 15th Club.


Kansas-born Woodland has been incredibly consistent without been prolific in his career. Since 2011 only once (2012) has he not won or finished second in a ranking event each year and from his four professional wins the recent ones have been of quality, this major and in 2018 he won the Phoenix Open beating Chez Reavie in a playoff.


Woodland is finds himself in a position to play with more confidence now that he has developed his work with the flat stick in the last 18 month with coach Pete Cowen. Woodland commented afterwards that Cowen texted him prior to the final round words including “you live for this moment”. Perhaps ominously for his rivals Woodland followed that up with “I think we are only on the tip of this iceberg”. Woodland now has as many majors as Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas both of whom are considered stars of the game but haven’t kicked on since their maiden major triumphs.


Greens in regulation

Away from the west coast of the USA in the mid-west and Michigan, Brooke Henderson continued the great week for Canadian sport claiming her ninth LPGA title. At 21 under, Henderson equaled a scoring record for the event at the Blyethfield Country Club in Grand Rapids and has now won at least twice each season for the last four years.


Whilst amateur Viktor Hovland’s effort to finish T12 in the US Open has been lauded, it’s worth noting Henderson as a professional has been winning tournaments with monotonous regularity. Turning 22 in September Henderson has won twice in her last seven starts and heads to the third women’s major of the year – the Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota – with a huge deal of confidence given it is also the only major she has won. Hovland enters this week at the Travelers Championship as a professional for the first time, the Norwegian also turns 22 in September.


Tap in


After an hiatus due to the American major, the European Tour heads to Germany for the BMW International at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried. Matt Wallace is the defending champion at the tournament (albeit a different venue last year) and comes into the event after a strong finish in the US Open where he was T12.


The men’s major attention now looks towards Royal Portrush for the Open which starts on July 18 next month at the Ulster track.


This week

Women’s PGA Championship, Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota:

Brooke Henderson: A playoff winner of this major in 2016, Henderson, to go with her two wins in 2019, has placed inside the top ten seven times.


Jin Young Ko: Already a major winner in 2019, Ko was T11 in her only other go around thus far in this major two years ago.

Jessica Korda: With top ten finishes in her last two major starts, Korda was in contention at the US Women’s Open. Last won in February 2018 in Thailand.


Travelers Championship, TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut:

Paul Casey: The Englishman won the Valspar already this year and has three other top three finishes. At Pebble Beach he finished T21 after closing with a 67.


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 the Valspar Jon Rahm was T6 as the best result.
April 4: Matt Jones’ T30 was the best of the four options last week after Rahm’s T6 finish the week prior.
April 11: Xander Schauffele. T2 at his second Masters appearance is impressive a show for the future.
April 17: Brooke Henderson won in Hawaii with Matt Fitzpatrick the best at the RBC Heritage at T39.
May 15: Brooks Koepka won the PGA with Schauffele aiming for a top five finish before faltering like so many on Sunday to eventually finish T16 and 11 shots off the winner.
May 22: Matt Wallace was the best of a rough weekend finishing T41 in Denmark after a promising start.
May 29: Tiger Woods at T9 in Dublin was the best of the weekend four.
June 5: Shane Lowry finished T2 in Canada. This column going well in Canada or with Canadians.
June 13. Brooks Koepka. Solo second, couldn’t quite make it three US Opens in a row.


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.


  1. Hamish, I like your thought about Woodland’s standing as opposed to that of Johnson and Thomas. Would it be fair to put our own Adam Scott and Jason Day in the same equation?

  2. I thought Pebble Beach won in the end. Despite the ravages of technology and distance it did the job of a championship course in separating the wheat from the chaff. Only Woodland passed the severest exam.
    Doubt the hype about him going onto more major wins. “Good ordinary” professional who had the week of his life. Same for DJ and JT. Only Koepka stands above the rest now that Woods is limited by age and injury. Adam Scott is the new Greg. Awesome player with big game nerves. Without the wild OOB and missed 2 foot putt on the back 9 Sunday he would have been in a playoff. Great to watch but bookies must love him.
    Finds a way. Day will be interesting to watch with Steve Williams providing tough love on the bag. His smaller stature and injury/illness history must count against him – but I hope I’m wrong.
    Barracking for Minjee Lee again in the Womens PGA. She had the most birdies of anyone at the US Open but crueller it with double bogeys. Reckon that shows she has the game now for tough courses and big events and I figure the errors were part of the toughening up process.
    Thanks for keeping pro golf alive as a sport Hamish.

  3. Ian, In terms of standing DJ rankings wise gets the boost but if you are asking me which career I’d want in saw five years time it’s not DJ. If we class Woodland as one of the ‘athlete golfers’ like Brooks he can win two more majors in the next few years as can Thomas. If Thomas gets over the wrist (i think) injury he has he’s got the most potential but DJ could win say another ten tournaments before either of two win more more majors each. Thomas. With regards to Scott and Day well Jason Dufner won a major the year Scott did and Jimmy Walker won the PGA the year after Day did and neither of those have great recent nick so it’s not as is the other two are completely without hope at that level but as Peter notes Scott going waaay OB late in the fourth round at Pebble was super costly and might be a bit to get over.

    Peter, we didn’t see Green coming although Lee rallied somewhat after the ropey start. I think Woodland might be more than a ‘good ordinary’ pro. Possibly five more PGA wins and like I saw maybe two majors. Given the personal trauma of a few years ago is past, as best it can be at least, he could really out the foot down. But then again maybe Xander S is the one to reach the next level soon?

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