Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Koepka calm in the Hills, new PGA anti-doping regime



A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw Brooks Koepka become the seventh straight first-time major winner, Brooke Henderson won her fourth LPGA title and Nicholas Fung won his first pro event with victory on the Asian Tour in the Thai holiday spot of Koh Samui.


Opening drive:
Koepka was up on the pace for all the tournament at Erin Hills and pulled clear with a stretch of three birdies from the 14th hole onwards on Sunday as rival Brian Harman had three bogeys in his last six holes. Despite two other birdies in that stretch left-hander Harman played the role of Phil Mickelson (the left-hander who tends to finish second in this tournament) over the last hour or so with Hideki Matsuyama shooting a best of the 66 to share second with the Georgian.


A winner in Japan in November Koepka now rises to ten in the rankings but despite his renowned length off the tee it was his putting (only one three-putt all weekend) which really saw him home with a final winning score of -16 272 somewhat unexpected.


Like his younger brother Chase is doing now, Koepka played the European Tour’s second-tier Challenge Tour to cut his professional teeth – winning four times between September 2012 and June 2013. The variety of courses on offer saw him hone all aspects of his game. As a result in the 12 majors the 27-year-old has played since the start of 2014 he has only one finish worse than T33 so whilst he doesn’t have a breathtaking array of PGA tour results (one win in 2015 plus a playoff defeat last year) he’s incredibly consistent.


After a new professional venue for 2017 it’s back to the usual rotation for the coming US Opens but the experience of the unfamiliar Mid-West venue wasn’t as daunting as had been first feared. Although it did get hairy on Sunday with only 18 players shooting better than par.


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. Matsuyama was in contention in Wisconsin but didn’t get his major yet. For the European Tour the BMW International Open at the home at the motor vehicle manufacturer takes place at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried which Henrik Stenson won last year having to play 36 holes on the final day.


20 to 50: Kiradech Aphibarnrat. In the last two goes at this tournament the Thai golfer has finished T5 and T4 plus he has three top ten finishes in 2017.


20 to 50: David Horsey. With three top eight finishes in his last five tournaments the unfashionable Englishman won this event in 2010 and was T7 last year (albeit at a different venues in Cologne) so clearly favours the tournament.


20 to 50: Pablo Larrazabal. The Spaniard has four European Tour wins to his credit and half of those are this tournament, 2011 and 2015, so it bodes well for a player who has gone close in 2017 with a T2 and third to his credit so far this year.


20 to 50: Thorbjorn Olesen. A final round 73 blew up his chance to win last year in Cologne after three rounds of 67 and last time out he was T4 in Malmo. This is better form than last time heading into this event for the Dane.


50 to 100: Renato Paratore. A last start winner in a field of featuring some that haven’t played in a few weeks plus some coming back from a major must see an advantage to the rested, in-form player. From outside the top 400 when he missed the cut at the tournament’s alternate venue last year the Italian is a different player


50 to 100: Eddie Pepperell. Even allowing for the return from Wisconsin Pepperell has a strong chance in Germany. His T16 at the Open is the Englishman’s best result in the four majors he has played plus he was eighth two starts before that in Sweden. He has written about how confident he felt at Erin Hills – including out-performing playing partner Sergio Garcia in the final round.


Greens in regulation:
Canada’s Brooke Henderson won her fourth LPGA title in two years as she fired a final round 66 which saw her overhaul Lexi Thompson with Michelle Wie joining Thompson in an eventual tie for second. Henderson, a major winner last year in the women’s PGA Championship, hadn’t logged a top five all year so the result in Grand Rapids to win the Meijer LPGA Classic came at the right time for her title defence which will take place in Illinois after this weekend’s Arkansas Championship.


Nicholas Fung claimed his first Asian Tour victory after 66 attempts winning the Queen’s Cup in Koh Samui. Fung, 27, got home by a stroke from 21–year-old prodigy Jazz Janewattananond.


This week in addition to the LPGA event in Arkansas the PGA Tour Travelers Championship takes place in Connecticut where Scotland’s Russell Knox won in 2016.


Tap in:
From October when the next PGA Tour season starts the US game’s authorities have decided to bring their anti-doping procedures more into line with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code, which includes adding aspects such as adding blood testing. The PGA Tour’s statement outlines updated public reporting measures which include ‘drugs of abuse’ (as they term) plus performance-enhancing violations. As pointed out by the New York Times only three players in nine years have been sanctioned under the watered-down scheme the PGA currently operates. One of that trio, Scott Stallings, self-reported and was never caught by a test.


Significantly, with golf’s return to the Olympics recently extended to at least 2024 it comes as no surprise the authorities of the world’s biggest tour have bought themselves further into line with Olympic protocols. Behind the scenes they may have had little choice.


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. Weather conspired against the US Open. Overnight rain and little wind made the course pretty defenceless – despite its length.
    Time to do something about the ball in golf. The cost of land, water etc makes these sort of courses ridiculously expensive except in the wilds of Wisconsin. You could never build them near a major population centre.
    I was reading that tennis changed the balls significantly a few years back to increase the length of rallies and reduce the power of one-dimensional big servers.
    There is little money in tennis balls. But a lot in golf balls and equipment. Little chance of the turkeys calling christmas early.
    JDay seems to have some fundamental swing problems. Spieth and Rory bounced back overnight – but not my man. Wade Ormsby and Brett Rumford had good rounds in Munich last night. The European Tour is a great time zone for watching golf in Perth. Go Aussie (and any Kiwis worth pinching).

  2. That’s a very good point about the course location at Erin Hills. Would be akin to holding Australian Open in Mittagong almost. Re course location and use/cost of land I might have a note in a future ‘tap in’ which coves this from an interesting angle PB.
    Be interested to see how the tournaments finished this weekend. Is Jordan home in Connecticut?

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