Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Kim tames Kingsbarns, Carolina major time



A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw a maiden major triumph for IK Kim as Hideki Matsuyama tuned up for the PGA Championship with a WGC victory as outsider Chris Stroud prevailed in a playoff to claim the ‘cuda Championship.


Opening drive:
Jordan Spieth enters the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow as the most in-form male player in the world but IK Kim won for the third time in two months as she saluted by two strokes at Kingsbarns in Scotland to claim the Women’s British Open. Kim, 29, claimed the win after heading into Sunday leading by six strokes before England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff put together a fine (equal course record) 64 to close the gap but the Saturday buffer proved enough as Kim closed with nine straight pars on a rain-sodden final day near St Andrews.


World number three Hideki Matsuyama claimed his second WGC title with a final round 61 (another equal course record) to finish at -16 and win convincingly by five strokes. Matsuyama closed with three straight birdies and finished clear of American Zach Johnson after Johnson and Thomas Pieters shared the third round lead.


Similar to Grayson Murray’s win with another PGA event recently Chris Stroud won the Barracuda Championship but it was with a host of topliners missing due to the WGC event. Stroud, 35, broke through for the first time in 290 PGA Tour starts winning via a playoff in the modified stableford tournament seeing off Greg Owen then Ricki Werenski. A reward for persistence for a player once ranked well inside the top 100 but who entered the weekend ranked 413 such was his dip in form since his career high ranking in 2013.


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. Quail Hollow is the host for the final men’s major of 2017 as Jordan Spieth aims for a career slam with Jimmy Walker the defending champion of the PGA Championship.


20 and under: Hideki Matsuyama. Matsuyama’s triumph on the weekend came about after a new putter was added to his equipment and his confidence will be sky high after Sunday in Ohio. His worst result in a major this year was T14 in the Open and he was T2 in the US Open.


20 and under: Rickie Fowler. The American closed with 67-66 at the WGC event and has won at this North Carolina venue before (2012.) This bodes well to break his major duck. Fowler was T5 in the recent US Open.


20 to 50: Brooks Koepka. The US Open winner would have to buck a recent trend of first-time winners (more on that later) but players winning two majors in a year has happened recently (2015 to Spieth and 2014 to Rory McIlroy.) Koepka tuned up well with a T17 finish on the weekend.


20 to 50: Justin Thomas. Thomas was T7 two years ago at the venue when Rory McIlroy won the tournament and this included a third round 65. Thomas won to start the year in Hawaii and was T9 in the US Open.


50 to 100: Thomas Pieters. The Belgian’s driving distance statistics means he is suited here and the world number 23’s T4 in the Masters earlier this year proved a new venue was not something the 25 is put off by. He did drop away to finish T4 after leading into the final day last Sunday.


100 to 200: Xander Schauffele. Recent first-time tour winner Schauffele improved over the course of his WGC debut going 70-69-69-68 to finish T13. Schauffele was also T5 at the US Open so isn’t daunted by the company of player despite his inexperience as a professional.


Greens in regulation:
Eight of the past 11 major winners were first-time winners of a major so statistically the recent trend plays against the likes of Spieth and McIlroy. Matsuyama is the highest ranked player yet to win a major and Spain’s Jon Rahm who enters the tournament ranked sixth in the world is the next highest without a major. McIlroy does enjoy and affinity with the venue but an array of recent issues including injury, equipment and personnel changes, despite a T5 finish in Akron, means much can go wrong with McIlroy. But he could also win the Wanamaker Trophy by four strokes.


Tap in
Outside of the top flight golf events which this column normally focuses on the PGA Tour’s second-tier Tour held great interest on the weekend as NBA star and two-time championship-winner Steph Curry featured in the Ellie Mae Classic as an amateur playing on one of three discretionary invites. As opposed to pro-ams this was a legitimate event and Curry, despite missing the cut, held his own signing for two rounds of 74. TPC Stonebrae, located on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay, hosted the event with Curry exceeding expectations and performing better than other pro athletes have done on average when they have attempted to go around on second-tier events. The use of this discretionary invitation is far better than other recent initiatives. Has anyone told Steph Curry golfers win majors in their 40s? Maybe win five NBA titles and then make the switch permanently? A note to acknowledge the tournament winner Martin Piller who has now won six times on the tour.


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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