Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Olympia glory for Kang as Fleetwood wins in France

@hamishneal

 

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw American Danielle Kang claim her first major, Tommy Fleetwood won to rise to number 15 in the rankings and Kyle Stanley broke a five-year title drought.

 

Opening drive:
A slice of luck on 14 for Danielle Kang, much like Jordan Spieth last week, helped the 24-year-old claim her first professional career title in winning the Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields in Illinois. Kang got a bounce off a tree which only dropped into the rough on 14. Kang would go on to birdie the hole which was one of five birdies (and two bogeys) in the last nine holes as she beat Canadian Brooke Henderson by one stroke.

 

England’s Tommy Fleetwood claimed the European Tour’s Open de France by a sole stroke from American Peter Uihlein (who co-led the tournament with Alexander Bjork at Le Golf National before the final round.) Fleetwood’s final round 66 proved vital after a tricky Saturday which saw no player break three-under. Fleetwood’s win has him at a career-high ranking close to a major which should suit him plus the win came at next year’s Ryder Cup venue.

 

A playoff in the USA at the Quicken Loans National saw Kyle Stanley par the first extra hole and see off Charles Howell III. Stanley, 29, has now won twice in his career as has Howell, 38, but Howell now has 16 second or tied second finishes in his career (including four playoff defeats.) Not a great conversion rate and he will be disappointed he couldn’t win for the first time since 2007. Howell has not won in his last 294 starts but it should be noted he hadn’t played since April due to a rib injury so it’s a good, if not somewhat annoying, result for the American. Swede David Lingmerth lead after each round and, like Howell, will be disappointed with how things played out given he hasn’t won since 2015.

 

The PGA Tour heads to West Virginia for the Greenbrier Classic, which was washed out last year due to severe flooding two weeks before the scheduled tournament.

 

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. The (British) Open is just over a fortnight away so it’s time for the links Open swing on the British Isles and this weekend it’s the Irish Open to be played on the Strand Course at Portstewart Golf Club located on just short of 100 kilometres north-west of Belfast. Britain’s top golfer Rory McIlroy is the defending champion when the event was held at The K Club in Kildare.

 

Under 20: Hideki Matusuyama. The world number two didn’t play lead up events in the UK before the Open last year and it showed when he missed the cut. But before that he picked up two T18 finishes in three goes at the Open. Given he was second at the US Open it’s far more promising for him this month in the British Isles.

 

20 to 50: Tyrell Hatton. The Englishman has missed his last two cuts but did well at links venues last year with a second place finish in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart before he finished T5 in the Open.

 

50 to 100: Soren Kjeldsen. The Dane won this tournament two years ago and was T21 last year in the Scottish Open which was a good recovery after a poor opening round of 74.

 

100 to 200: Nicolas Colsaerts. The Belgian had a top ten finish in each of May and June and is electing to play this tournament having played the Scottish Open (T3) last year in the lead up to the Open.

 

100 to 200: Ryan Fox. Last year’s Northern Ireland Open winner on the second-tier Challenge Tour, Fox finished sixth in France last weekend in a season’s best result in Europe.

 

200 to 500: Callum Shinkwin. The England Amateur winner in 2013 hasn’t kicked on compared to the player he beat, Matthew Fitzpatrick, but he signed for a final round 65 to nab a tie for eighth in the Scottish Open last year and he will welcome a return to links golf after a recent run which is almost too bad to believe. His T66 (yes 66) in France was his best result since T23 in Adu Dhabi in January (another windy venue.) Since then he’s missed six cuts, was disqualified twice and withdrew last time out. If he goes around fit, and within the rules, Shinkwin could do anything.

 

Greens in regulation:
Kang’s major victory was all the more notable given it was her first victory as a professional following a storied amateur career when she claimed two US Amateur titles (2010 and 2011) before her elevation to the top tier. However the San Francisco-born Kang saw tragedy strike when he father KS Kang, who was on the bag when she won those amateur titles, passed away after a short battle with brain and lung cancer. Kang’s 30 prior efforts in a major had not garnered even a sole top ten finish so it appeared Kang would just be another pedestrian tour-level player but Sunday proved a surprise for the Californian. On the same weekend Australian Curtis Luck, last year’s mens US Amateur champion, continued his improvement since he won the prestigious crown in Michigan finishing only three shots adrift from Stanley and Howell III in T5 and briefly holding the lead at one stage on Sunday. His eventual fifth placing saw him vault from 400 to 307 in the world.

 

Tap in:
From the Quicken Loans National in Maryland another notable result was the fact four players, winner Stanley plus Howell, Martin Laird and Sung Kang earned a trip to the Open at Royal Birkdale in a fortnight. Hopefully Kang packs his rain gear after he forgot on the weekend in the States. From the tournament in France Fleetwood was already qualified but three spots went to Uihlein, Bjork and Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera – the latter two will be making their major debuts at the ages of 27 and 32 respectively. Final sectional qualifying for the Open occurred across five courses on Tuesday with notable players to progress including Ian Poulter (who was second when the Open was last staged at Birkdale in 2008) and Tasmanian Ryan McCarthy who won a playoff at Gailes Links in Scotland. McCarthy, 27, is currently spending most of his time on the PGA Tour of Latin America and had a career-best finish of T5 four years ago in the Indonesian Masters.

 

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.

Comments

  1. US Tour is super boring at the moment, with monoclone players on monoclone courses with insular sycophantic media coverage. “We are the centre of the universe”. Trump Lite. Please.
    By contrast the European tour is really warming up with a great variety of playing styles, personalities and courses. The fly-over drone previews of Royal Birkdale on Golf World tv give a real insight into how subtle and tough these Open links courses are. The need for pinpoint placement of drives to get access to pin positions stuck around dog legs and behind pot bunkers. Putting greens shaped like upturned egg cartons. Yikes!
    The only interesting thing in the US is the long overdue “calling out” of Langer and McCarron for flouting the prohibition on anchored putters on the Senior Tour. Good article by Brandel Chamblee at the Golf Channel. All the regular tour players (like Adam Scott) who genuinely moved away from anchored putting suffered significant declines in putting stats. Senior tour players got away with pretending to hold long putters away from their body and improved their stats!
    And this is the same USGA/US LPGA that called a 4 stroke penalty on Lexi Thompson and 2 strokes on DJ in the US Open for infinitesimal “infractions”. Go figure.

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