Almanac Golf: Golf capital – Matsuyama wins WGC event as Gribble grabs first PGA triumph



A collection of my golf thoughts reviewing the weekend’s action plus a look to the week ahead which sees the start of the Finals Series on the European Tour for the men.


Opening drive:
A rich run of form continued for Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama who won in China as Chinese golfer Shanshan Feng, bronze medalist from Rio, won her second tournament of 2016 with victory on the LPGA tour. With Matsuyama winning the WGC event stacked with PGA Tour talent American Cody Gribble broke through for a maiden crown on the top tour in the states.


Matsuyama, after winning in Japan a fortnight ago, blitzed the field in Shanghai winning by seven shots (we thought he would do well but not win by that far!) WGC events have been a pointer to future major winners with Dustin Johnson claiming the corresponding event in recent years before going on to win his first major within 18 months. Matsuyama, as the world number 10, is nearly ‘on the green’ so to speak in that elite class.


Whilst the PGA Tour event in Mississippi was low key given with the WGC event in China it was a window into a rising star of golf with Gribble claiming his first title PGA Tour title wining the Sanderson Farms Championship by four strokes. A Texas Longhorn, Gribble won the team’s event in 2012 at the NCAA golf championship with South African golfer Dylan Fritelli and world number five Jordan Spieth who has since won two majors so it’s a positive trend for the Dallas native.


Feng’s three-stroke victory in the SIME Darby LPGA Malaysia tournament goes with her triumph on the Ladies European Tour in May and sees the 27 year-old move up to eight in the rankings.


Player performance notes:
Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. The opening event of the three-leg final series of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai to be held in Turkey at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort course in Antalya. The RDT also ventures to South Africa and the UAE.


Under 20: Anirban Lahiri. The Indian flopped late in Malaysia but this field, with several key withdrawals, isn’t as strong as it should be so players recently in contention across the major tours should be considered.


20 to 50: Alexander Levy. He’s won this year but was out of sorts in Shanghai. However the Frenchman rarely has two bad events running.


20 to 50: Danny Willett. The Masters winner hasn’t really kicked on since the win at Augusta, certainly not how Spieth did in 2015, but the final series could be sufficient motivation.


20 to 50: Padraig Harrington. The Irishman has won recently and is the only multiple major winner in the field.


20 to 50: Scott Hend. If more of the European Tour big guns were playing the Australian might not be as much of a hope but he’s won this year and lost a playoff so in top form.


50 to 100: Thomas Aiken. The South African leads the greens in regulation stat for 2016 of those here and with pine trees around the course staying accurate to the greens will help.


50 to 100: Jaco Van Zyl, The South African was second to Frenchman Victor Dubuisson last year at this event and despite the fact it’s a new venue as he has been able to play well at this time of the year it is important.


50 to 100: Lucas Bjerregaard. Yet to win on the European Tour but the Dane did rip out an eight under best of the day to run home for T12 in the Portugal Masters on the final day.


Greens in regulation
Recently we wrote about how Robert Allenby had struggled throughout 2016 and now a brief note on another Australian who has struggled, but only from one round this weekend. Because he wasn’t playing the final round of a tournament this largely went unnoticed but one had to feel for Adam Scott who shot a second round of 80 to throw away any chance he had of winning the WGC event in China. Rounds of 64 and 66 sent Scott back up the leaderboard into a tie for 14th by the time the event was done but it was very much a case of ‘what could have been’ for the 36 year-old who has already won a WGC event in 2016.


Tap in
As usual the world of golf takes in the world this weekend. In Ibaraki Japan there is the Japan Open as the LPGA’s Asian swing continues with the PGA Tour hosting the Shriner’s Hospital for Children Open held in Las Vegas on the TPC Summerlin course. As we’ve noted the European Tour finals aren’t in Europe at all with events in Turkey (okay sort of in Europe, politically but not all geographically) but then they go to Africa and the Middle East. We have already noted innovative golf events recently but I wonder when a fifth major will be played in Asia, Africa or the Middle East? Perhaps shift the European Tour final series up a fortnight and close the year in the same city/country where the European Tour has it’s finale to help grow the game a week later with a major.


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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