Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Shifting majors, shifting coaches



From the elitism of Augusta the new date of the PGA Championships brings us to the open nature of the municipal (public) course at Bethpage Black for the second men’s major of 2019. Since out last edition we’ve seen Canadian star Brooke Henderson continue to break records, some surprise winners on the PGA Tour plus a breakthrough victory in Southport at the British Masters.


Opening drive
The second men’s major of 2019 has come up quicker than usual with the PGA Championship’s new May date which is aimed to accommodate the shift in the PGA Tour’s end-of-season FedEx Cup. The irony of moving a major to accommodate an event which isn’t a major which itself was moved to not clash with another sport (the ubiquitous NFL) is not lost on many golf purists. However of any season for the change to happen the move could start with a bang given it comes only a month after Tiger Woods won the Masters. Now I don’t think he will win another PGA Championship this year, but more on that later.


Greens in regulation
In the period since we last posted, Jorge Campillo has been a star on the European Tour, winning in Morocco before leading during the final five holes in China prior to the playoff victory for Mikko Korhonen. That was followed by Marcus Kinhult’s maiden victory on the European Tour in the British Masters, in a field which included defending champion Eddie Pepperell — who was in a tie one stroke back from Kinhult’s 16-under mark with fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and Scot Robert MacIntyre.


Since the Masters, Chinese Taipei’s CT Pan won the (eck) plaid jacket after he claimed the RBC Heritage and the Zurich Classic in Louisiana went to Max Homa before the Byron Nelson at the terrific Trinity Forest course in Dallas went to Korean Sung Kang.


Homa’s win (which took some time to be confirmed given he was struck by a one-hour delay due to storms) was particularly popular given the Californian was struggling for a period (he made only $18,008 on tour two years ago) and only just made it back onto the Tour this time around from the second-tier finals. This came after Homa birdied the last four holes at the Portland Open in the second round JUST TO MAKE THE CUT. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have  made the finals. Small margins and all that.


Since our last post, Brooke Henderson (Hawaii) earned her eighth LPGA Tour win and Minjee Lee (Los Angeles) collected her fifth before Sei Young Kim triumphed in Daly City near San Francisco, winning a playoff against Bronte Law and Lee Jeong-Eun. Kim, 26, also won her eighth tournament.


Tap in

In the past few weeks one of golf’s brightest stars, two-time major winner Lydia Ko, has changed coaches again. On this occasion the 22-year-old Kiwi has dumped Ted Oh; this comes having already let go David Leadbetter and Gary Gilchrist before that. Ko, who last won 13 months ago in San Francisco, before that had been guided by Kiwi Guy Wilson. She chose to end her association with when he turned professional.


This week Ko has suggested she will remain coach-less for at least a short period “as a way to clear my mind and simplify things”, but assuming she makes another appointment before the end of the year that will be four coaches in six years if we don’t include Wilson. This can’t be sustainable long-term, even for a player who has previously indicated will quit top-line golf when she turns 30.


This week
PGA Championship — Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, New York


Brooks Koepka
The defending champion from last year in St Louis is bidding to hold two major titles at once having claimed the 2018 US Open as well. Was second at the Masters behind Woods and takes a serious approach to retaining the Wanamaker Trophy.


Xander Schauffele
Another of the trio to finish behind Woods in second at the Masters (the other was Dustin Johnson). Schauffele has won two elite events in the last eight months (a WGC plus the Tournament of Champions), plus he contended before finishing second at the Open.


Patrick Reed
The 2018 Masters champion’s prior career triumph was the 2016 Barclays at this very course. However, the polarizing Reed hasn’t placed inside the top ten since November. That’s a concern,  but course form for a major can be crucial.


Ryan Moore
Ten years ago Moore was 10th when playing here at Bethpage, plus he has another top ten to his credit when playing in the PGA Tour playoffs here. Moore didn’t play in the Masters but was third in the Texas Open the week prior.


2019 record:
Feb 13: Nelly Korda win and Paul Dunne third.
Feb 20: Lebioda 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.
March 6: Matt Millar T23 in NZ was the best result in the tough weather on the South Island.
March 13: Justin Thomas T35 was the best of the TPC Sawgrass four.
March 20: Went off a week early with Kisner but in the Valspar Jon Rahm was T6 as the best result.
April 4: Matt Jones’ T30 was the best of the four options last week after Rahm’s T6 finish the week prior.
April 11: Xander Schauffele. T2 at his second Masters appearance is impressive a show for the future.
April 17: Brooke Henderson won in Hawaii with Matt Fitzpatrick the best at the RBC Heritage at T39.



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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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