Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Ko wins Australian Open, Bubba’s strange week.



A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw South Korea’s Jin Young Ko claim the Women’s Australian Open title and two players (Bubba Watson and Joost Luiten) win for the first time since 2016.


Opening drive

Jin Young Ko eased to victory at the Kooyonga Golf Club in Adelaide winning the Women’s Australian Open by three strokes it what was her first start as a full member of the LPGA. The tournament, which was co-sanctioned with the local ALPG tour, saw Hyejin Choi finish second with Australian duo Hannah Green and Katherine Kirk in third and fourth, respectively. Ko led from start to finish posting scores of 65-69-71-69. Green’s third round 66 saw the West Australian edge into contention but Ko’s recent win in Korea (in an event co-sanctioned with the LPGA) meant the Korean had the edge on the rest of the field to win handily.


In addition to the win it extends the impressive results Ko had during limited LPGA starts in 2017. To go with the South Korean’s three wins on the KLPGA last year Ko was T16 in the season-ending title and T15 in the US Open. She’s now won seven times in KLPGA/LPGA or co-sanctioned tournaments in under two years. A major win for the 22 year-old is surely coming within the next three years.


It’s quickly over to Chonburi for the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament where Amy Yang is the defending champion whilst the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour commences a series of three tournaments on the North Coast of New South Wales with the Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville.


American Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open in Los Angeles which he has, oddly, won every even year since 2014. Watson faced several challenges on the final day and when Patrick Cantlay lead with nine to play it looked like the challenge of the two-time Masters winner would fizzle out. But three birdies on the back nine, highlighted by a hole out from the bunker on the par three 14th, pushed Watson to victory.


For the first European Tour top line event played in Oman Joost Luiten prevailed at the Al Mouj course to win the Oman Open. The Dutchman entered the final day tied at the top with Matthew Southgate of England and Frenchman Julien Guerrier before Luiten’s 68 (equal best of the day) was enough to edge home over England’s Chris Wood.



Player performance notes


Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. Rounding out the series of Middle East events for this time of year the European Tour’s Qatar Masters takes place at the Doha Golf Club.


20 to 50: Julian Suri. Back on the European Tour after three starts in the USA American Suri will do well to remind himself he thrives on this tour having finished T2 in Hong Kong at T8 in the season-ending DP Tour World Championship. He won twice last year and one of those was in Denmark on the ET.


20 to 50: Jeunghun Wang. It almost feels like I have shares in Wang such has been my recent support of him in Middle East events, but that is on the strength of his win here last year. Add to that a closing 68 at Oman and I’m in again. Incidentally, you CAN have shares in golfers, just as Scotland’s Duncan Stewart.


20 to 50: Erik Van Rooyen. The third longest driver on the ET the South African was third last year at the Challenge Tour’s season-ending event in Oman. Van Rooyen, 27, also won in South Africa and China last year displaying some nice versatility.


20 to 50: Chris Wood. We’ve seen repeat winners prevail at venues after a recent dip in form such as Bubba Watson and Wood’s second placing in Oman is of note for a player who won this tournament five years ago at the same venue.


50 to100: Sean Crocker. The American has missed the cut twice in his last four outings but he’s also picked up a T5 in Perth where he was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the match-play and T6 in Singapore. This course usually suits long-hitters and Crocker is top 20 in that statistic on tour.


Greens in regulation

“Obviously God’s given me a gift to play golf and I’m not good at anything else.” Genesis Open winner Bubba Watson is a different cat and his post-round reaction to his tenth PGA Tour victory was maybe not surprising given the rough period he’s had on the course. After a severe dip in form Watson had dropped to 117 in the world before the triumph however it is Watson’s reaction to his win plus his mid-tournament sojourn which are particularly fascinating. Watson’s apparent defeatist attitude to his other ability outside golf might perhaps explain his relative lack of career success compared to other players. Thinking he has to win because he won’t be good enough to do well at anything else must play on his confidence to a degree. It might explain the fact Watson, 39, has only 11 other professional wins in his career. He didn’t win until his 30s on the PGA Tour. Compare this to 38-year-old Sergio Garcia. Whilst the Spaniard took until last year to win his first major he was still knocking up winning events – he’s now won 33 in his career. However, I may be reading too much into one quote and Watson needs to relax during tournaments more often.

This was best evidenced by Watson’s trip on Friday night to the NBA, and not just to watch it. The Florida native played in the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game held in Los Angeles. I was unsure as to the effectiveness (read safety) of this sort of activity during a tournament, at which stage he was three shots off the lead. Naturally he fired an impressive 65 the next day to lead after the third round before winning by two. More basketball Bubba and less thinking about what you might not be good at.


Tap in

The week after Western Australia was on show with a European Tour event linked to the local tour it was a WA golfer winning on the Australasian PGA Tour. In Toowoomba Daniel Fox won the (wait for it) Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship presented by Wippells Volkswagen (phew.) Fox withstood the challenge of Taree-born Steven Jeffress and Canberra’s Matt Millar (who had a putt to force a playoff) to win at 18 under after a final round five under 65. The Australasian PGA Tour now moves to Palmerston North for the Horizon Golf NZ PGA Championship, won last year by Perth’s Jarryd Felton.


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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