Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Spieth sublime in Southport plus a PGA Tour win with an asterisk

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw a Jordan Spieth become a three-time major winner following his triumph in the Open with victories on the LPGA and PGA Tour to In-Kyung Kim and Grayson Murray, respectively.

 

Opening drive:
Jordan Spieth brushed aside a number of trends to claim a convincing, but controversial, Open triumph on Sunday at Royal Birkdale with his final round playing partner Matt Kuchar finishing as he started the day three strokes adrift of the 23 year-old. However it was anything but that simple in the wash-up.

 

Defying the recent Open trend of having to be aged 30 plus, Spieth (who may have already turned 24 depending when you read this) didn’t play the pre-Open links course events before the third major – content his victory in the Travelers Championship last month was sufficient tournament preparation. It was.

 

With four bogeys (and one birdie) in his opening nine holes, Spieth steadied with three consecutive birdies as closing scores for players like Haotong Li and his seven-under 63 (who eventually finished third) looking an outside chance of winning the tournament on Sunday.

 

The drama peaked on 13 when the unplayable lie and subsequent recovery from Spieth saw him record a bogey before then going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. The practice range obstructions in the form of equipment trucks don’t often feature in tournaments and the associated deliberation of the options (which Spieth had two others) meant the group playing ahead of Spieth and Kuchar were onto the 16th hole by the time Spieth got to the green. His calmness to then go five under on a stretch of holes he’d only gone at best two under in his other three rounds displayed the measure of a player in command.

 

Spieth is now a US PGA Championship away from a career grand-slam and will get the chance to complete that sweep next month in Quail Hollow in North Carolina.

 

A note of recognition to South African Branden Grace who shot 62 on Saturday. Grace was T6 in the end but his third round was a record-breaking effort in a major. Grace had four top five finishes to his credit in his last nine majors heading into the weekend at Southport so the record is great but the 29 year-old is developing somewhat of a nearly-man reputation at this level.

 

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. Green Eagle Golf Course in Hamburg hosts the European Open with some of the top US players staying in Europe after the third major of the season.

 

20 to 50: Alexander Levy. The Defending champion, albeit from a different venue last year, has missed the cut in three of his last five tournaments but with some players electing to skip tournaments in the week after a major it’s worth looking at recent winners and the Frenchman won the China Open in April.

 

20 to 50: Thorbjorn Olesen. The Dane finished T3 in the last ET event played on mainland Europe, the French Open, and he has two other top ten finishes in his last eight outings.

 

50 to 100: Austin Connelly. The 20-year-old Canadian finished T14 in his first major appearance last weekend and has a top eight finish to his credit on the European Tour this year in the Nordea Masters. Connelly uses the same swing coach, Australian Cameron McCormick, as Spieth.

 

50 to 100: Thomas Detry. Only last month Germany hosted at ET tournament with the BWM International and Detry finished T2. The talented Belgian has missed six cuts in 15 events this year though.

 

50 to 100: Chase Koepka. The younger brother of US Open winner Brooks was T2 a fortnight ago in Italy on the second tier Challenge Tour and had another top five finish three starts before that. On a weekend some big names could be flat it might be time for a lesser-known player to shine.

 

100 to 200: Nacho Elvira. The Spaniard closed with a 68-66 in the recent BMW International and will be happy to see links courses behind him after two missed cuts in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

 

Greens in regulation:
The victory in Alabama of Grayson Murray in the Barbasol Championship was somewhat amusing. Murray, 23 (there is that 23/24 age bracket again) has not been backward in coming forward in his criticism of the European Tour and Asian Tours. Essentially saying players not playing in the US are ‘padding their stats/rankings’ because the USA is the ‘hardest’ tour. Murray’s win by a stroke over Chad Collins at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Auburn/Opelika was his first victory on the PGA Tour and comes after a victory on the second-tier Web.com Tour last year but in the absence of the top players due to the Open it remains to be seen if Murray can contend consistently when the big guns are in play. The North Carolina native had not registered a top ten finish in his 19 other starts to date this year before the weekend win. This weekend the PGA Tour heads to Canada for the home open at the Glen Abbey Golf Course in the Greater Toronto suburb of Oakville.

 

Tap in
One player we know is not inconsistent is the LPGA winner from the weekend. A victory for the second time in 2017 gave IK Kim her sixth LPGA crown and ninth professional win. The four-stroke margin to Lexi Thompson in the Marathon Classic in Sylvania, Ohio was the largest margin of victory in her career and set-up by a find round 63 – the best round of the day and equal best of the tournament. North Ayrshire in Scotland hosts the LPGA with the Ladies Scottish Open this week before the following weeks Women’s British Open which is also in Scotland at Kingsbarns.

 

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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