Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Mitchell’s first win and Tiger’s pain in the neck



First-time winner Keith Mitchell outlasted some guns of the game, windy conditions in Oman saw the winner (Kurt Kitayama) play 33 holes on Sunday after South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park was the best-performed final round winner of the week when she won in Singapore.


Opening drive


After 96 ranking events Keith Mitchell prevailed in the Honda Classic in Florida over highly credentialed players for his first PGA Tour win (and win anywhere) as a professional at the PGA National track in Palm Beach. Recent winner Rickie Fowler (final round 67) and three-time major winner Brooks Koepka (66) looked like they would feature in a playoff before Mitchell’s four birdies in his last seven holes (including on 18) saw him claim a richly deserved win. There was also a rare Vijay Singh sighting at the age of 56 on the leaderboard.


Following his December win in Mauritius American Kurt Kitayama claimed his second European Tour title in quick time with a one-shot victory in the Oman Open. Kitayama, 26, opened his third round on Saturday with a quadruple bogey eight and eventually managed to overhaul a seven-shot deficit. The Californian’s recent rise from Qualifying School in November has been rapid and he showed great determination to win the weather-hit event at Al Mouj Golf.


Wodonga’s Zach Murray claimed the 100th New Zealand Open at the Hills Golf Club near Queenstown on the South Island after an opening round 63 put the recent Blitz Golf winner up on the pace immediately. Josh Geary (round of 63 on Saturday) and Ashley Hall (65 on Sunday) both pressed their claims at various stages on the weekend before finishing third and second, respectively.


Dual major winner Sung Hyun Park claimed her fourth LPGA title in 11 months, and sixth overall, when she edged home by two strokes over Australian Minjee Lee in the Women’s World Championship. Overnight leader and world number one Ariya Jutanugarn buckled firing a final round four over 75 and Park, three groups back, started her round with three consecutive birdies before signing for a 64 to finish at 15 under. Lee, who it should be noted at the age of 22 has won four LPGA tournaments, would have to be shaking her head at Park’s final round thinking a win for herself was highly likely.


In-form Dutchwoman Anne Van Dam claimed the Canberra Classic by three strokes. Heading into final round of the ALPG and Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event tied for the lead with Slovenia’s Katja Pogacar before defending champion Jiyai Shin also made a run at the title. Eventually finishing at 17 under van Dan, 23, now sits inside the qualifying spots for the European side for the Solheim Cup.


Greens in Regulation


This week the greens of Queanbeyan Golf Course host the Women’s NSW Open following the event been held in Coffs Harbour last year. England’s Meghan MacLaren is the defending champion of another joint ALPG Tour and LET event. Those heading along to the venue may spot a familiar face on the bag of recent Australian Ladies Classic winner Marianne Skarpnord as her caddie and fiancée is Australian golfer Richard Green.


The men’s European Tour has switched the Qatar Masters on the schedule in 2019 and thus the Doha event will see it’s defending champion (Eddie Pepperell) take part but the conditions will likely be typical of a desert golf track whilst in New Zealand the Australasian PGA Tour shifts to north of Christchurch for the NZ PGA Championship at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club. This was won by Kiwi Ben Campbell last year on the North Island in Palmerston North.


Tap in


This week the US PGA heads to Bay Hill but some of the gloss is off the Arnold Palmer Invitational with Tiger Woods out due to a neck injury. Woods had a similar concern prior to the Open last year when he still managed to finish T6 however given his catalogue of recent injuries and surgeries in the last few years it’s not ideal. Especially given this is probably the tournament, outside of majors, Woods would have marked as a focus event in 2019 given he has won it a staggering eight times. I put myself back on the bandwagon last year having previously written off his career but this is at least somewhat concerning as the 43-year-old hunts a 15th major and more big wins.


This week

Arnold Palmer Invitational

Bryson DeChambeau
The world number five didn’t reach his usual lofty standards last time out in Mexico and I expect a bounce back given he was second here last year.


Qatar Masters

Lucas Herbert
Am convinced the Aussie is tailor-made for the possible windy conditions in Doha and that effort in Portugal last year to race home at nearly in is still prominent.

Adrian Otaegui
Recently beaten in the Perth Super 6 event Otaegui was tenth here last year.


Matthew Millar
With some windy weather expected for the first two days the Canberran, who won the NZ Masters last year, can get in front early.


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.

This golfing wrap first appeared on From the sideline of sport


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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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