Almanac Golf – Golf Capital: Simpson blitzes The Players, Belgium back on the European Tour



Webb Simpson became another drought-breaker in 2018 as did Joakim Lagergren. Golf Capital has some news, thoughts and notes from the last week. This week the PGA Tour tackles a new venue and the European Tour introduces another new format.


Opening Drive
A slashing second round 63 at TPC Sawgrass set up Webb Simpson’s first triumph in five years and gave the 2012 US Open winner his fifth career title on the PGA Tour. Simpson, who is still only 32, eventually won by four strokes as he navigated the final round in one over 73 to win from South African Charl Schwartzel plus American duo Xander Schauffele and Jimmy Walker. After only barely making the cut Tiger Woods shot a 65 on Saturday before eventually finishing T11 seven strokes behind Webb’s total of 18 under 270, an impressive turnaround.


A week after falling to Team Ireland in the Golf Sixes final representing France Mike Lorenzo-Vera wobbled and lost in playoff representing himself as Swede Joakim Lagergren won at the first playoff hole to claim the European Tour’s Rocco Forte Open in Sicily. MLV came back into a share of the lead on 17 during a compelling final round. The victory is Lagergren’s first in 151 attempts on the ET. A stroke adrift of that pair was Victorian Lucas Herbert who shot the final round best of 63 to send him to a career high of 143 in the rankings. The 22-year-old only has partial status on the ET so it will be of great help to him as he heads to Belgium.


This week the LPGA resumes in Williamsburg, Virginia with the Kingsmill Championship, an event won last year by Lexi Thompson.


Player Performance Notes
After going three for three we dipped last week and it’s a tricky proposition to redress the balance of last week. It’s a rare new venue for the PGA Tour as Trinity Forest Golf club near Dallas hosts the Byron Nelson for the first time. This is a very un-PGA Tour like venue though. It’s described as ‘US Links’ and thus features not water hazards or rough. Accuracy and links venue familiarity do look to be important.


Under 20: Jordan Spieth. The American’s last win was the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale but his accuracy and record around Augusta suggests the Texan will go well here. He is also a member of this venue.


Under 20: Marc Leishman. Extending the links-record Leishman as T6 in the Open last year behind Spieth and has won since. The Australian was also the 2014 winner of this event at Irving, Texas.


20 to 50: Jimmy Walker. Another Texan Jimmy Walker doesn’t have a great record in links golf but he is in form after a fourth at the Texas Open followed by a T2 on the weekend at The Players.


100 to 200: Padraig Harrington. The Irishman is not in great form (we have to go back to November last year when he came fourth to Justin Rose in the Turkish Airlines Open for his last result of note) but he has won two Opens (2007/08) and his vast links experience should suit this venue.


Greens in Regulation
The latest modified format of golf sees Belgium host its first top level event in 18 years when the Belgian Knockout takes places at Rinkven International in Antwerp. Similar to the Perth Super 6 and the Golf Sixes this format has nine holes per match in the knockout phase. After the 36 holes of strokeplay reverts to Medal Matchplay with the lowest score over the nine holes winning each match. It’s a bit of a marathon with the two finalists playing 90 holes (at least) over the four days.


In the week of finding out baseball5 exists (yes it does look like playground handball with padding) I think the ET is extending the format tinkering a bit too much. Why not just model the Belgian Knockout) on the six-hole format of the Perth Super 6 tournament? Make six holes the branded short format.


Tap in
Recent returns to the winner’s circle for Phil Mickelson, 47, and some near misses for Tiger Woods, 42, highlighted golf isn’t still just a young man’s game but we got an emphatic reminder this week in Australia and Japan of this. Kiwi Michael Long won the Australasian PGA Tour’s WA PGA Championships in Kalgoorlie whilst Toru Toniguchi won the Japan PGA Championship for his 20th Japan Tour victory. Both golfers reach the milestone birthday of 50 this year. Long turns 50 in August and Toniguchi reached the half century in February. Something about old age and experience…


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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