Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Spieth flying, Perth debuts new format

A collection of golf news, notes and thoughts from the week across the globe covering tournaments in California, Malaysia, Victoria and the customary Tiger Woods update.


Opening drive:

It was a weekend of contrasts for the last two champions of the Masters with Jordan Spieth (2015) winning at Pebble Beach and Danny Willett (2016) throwing away a 54-hole lead in Kuala Lumpur. Spieth played with confidence to win the PGA Tour’s feature Pro Am event at the famous course by four strokes from Kelly Kraft. The world number 6 won the Australian Open in November and in the four other tournaments since his Sydney triumph has finished no worse than T9. The PGA Tour heads to LA this weekend for the Genesis Open which was won by Bubba Watson last time at the Riviera Country Club and sees Spieth as the tournament favourite.


In Kuala Lumpur, Willett had a three-stroke lead heading into the final round but was overhauled after shooting one-over 73 at the Maybank Championship. Eventual winner Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay fired a final round of 63 to register his second tour triumph. Zanotti’s last-hole eagle was nearly usurped by American David Lipsky who almost forced a playoff but his birdie putt fell short. Willett failed to break par, the only player in the top 28 who didn’t score par or better, and finished a disappointing T5 given the circumstances.


The unique dual Victorian Open saw wins to England’s Melissa Reid (via a playoff) and Dimitrios Papadatos from the Central Coast of NSW. Reid won on the fourth extra hole defeating Germany’s Sandra Gul and Papadatos saluted by a two strokes seeing off Adam Bland and Jake McLeod. Papadatos, whose other top level victory was the 2014 New Zealand Open, will now feature in the World Super 6 in Perth.


Off the course Tiger Woods, on Friday, confirmed he wouldn’t be competing in his next two scheduled events in LA and Florida due to back spasms. Should Woods look to pursue a path towards the Masters in April, and play more than one tournament before then, the 41-year-old would need to play a tournament he never plays – the Valspar Championship. Given everything happening with his back does he need to be getting used to a new tournament/venue? My thoughts are no. This leaves him in an interesting predicament schedule-wise, but the injury issue itself is far more critical. I think Woods may have played his final competitive round.


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. Never one to shirk a challenge here at ‘Golf Capital’ we will go with the new format in the World Super 6 in Perth. The event is the fore-runner of a modified format called GolfSixes – which the European Tour is trying to debuting with an event confirmed for May near London.


20 and under: Alex Noren. The Swede lost out in the final of the Paul Lawrie Match Play event in Scotland last August and hasn’t finished outside the top 54 in his last 15 events (in which he’s won four times in that period) so should easily make the match-play section after the second stroke-play cut which is after the third round. He’d be heavily favoured when the top 24 feature in the knock-out six-hole match play.


20 and under: Thorbjorn Olesen. The Dane won the World Cup last year in Melbourne with Soren Kjeldsen having triumphed in Turkey earlier in the month in an individual event plus he won in Perth in 2014. The wind is meant to be at its strongest during the first two days on Friday morning so those, like Olesen, teeing off first on Thursday could have an advantage.


20 and under: Louis Oosthuizen. The South African lost out to Jason Day in Austin last year in a WGC match play event so has good recent form in the match-play format in a far stronger field. To get to the match-play knockout section of the format (top 24 after three rounds) the world number 25 needs to replicate the form which saw him win the stroke-play format here last year.


20 and under: Jordan Smith. The event can be impacted by seaside winds so recent experience in similar conditions helps and Smith’s respectable T23 and T6 finishes in his last two Desert Swing events in the Middle East hold up well.


20 and under: Peter Uihlein. The American was their Amateur champion just under seven years ago winning the title in the 36-hole match-play final and he finished fourth here last year.


20 to 50: Jason Scrivener. The Australia has appeared a bit on the European and Asian Tours of late and was third here at the Lake Karrinyup venue last year. His T4 behind Jordan Spieth in Australian Open from November when he was only two shots from the eventual playoff winner looks to be in very good form.


Greens in regulation:
After the joint event in Victoria on the weekend the women’s tour heads South Australia for the Women’s Australia Open which is co-sanctioned with the LPGA Tour ensuring a strong field for the event worth $1.3 million. Japan’s Haru Nomura is the defending champion and the 24-year-old won again in April on the LPGA Tour last year so the victory wasn’t a fluke. A final round of 65 saw Nomura stare down world number one Lydia Ko and secure the win. Su Oh was the best placed Australian in Victoria last weekend finishing T3 and will hope for a strong performance at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.


Tap in:
Ko and world number two Ariya Jutanugarn will meet for the first time in 2017 when the duo step out in Australia but in the last few weeks there was confirmation of an off-season move with the new the pair will share the same coach – South African Gary Gilchrist. The Kiwi and Thai golfers are now guided by Gilchrist who has coached Jutanugarn since February of last year. Ko had been looking for a mentor since the Korean-born golfer split with David Leadbetter last year. Bar other golfers and possibly tennis it’s hard to think of two direct rivals in an individual sport sharing the same coach. Whilst Ko says the pair get one it will be interesting to see Gilchrist reacting if one beats the other in a playoff early in the year. Any other prominent examples of rivals sharing the same coach in any sport?


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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