Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Thomas’ fifth win for 2017, WGC heads to China



A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week as Justin Thomas won for the third time in seven starts plus there were wins for Masters champ Sergio Garcia, women’s major winner Eun-Hee Ji and Australian veteran Stephen Leaney in Perth.


Opening drive
There are weekends when golf can be tough for the professionals, it’s not all weeks of 16 under or better, and this weekend highlighted this. At nine under Justin Thomas and Marc Leishman tied for the top after 72 holes in the CJ Cup and Sergio Garcia’s win came with a score of 11 under in Sotogrande, Spain.


Thomas prevailed after Leishman had a chance to win it with an eagle on the 72nd hole and then found water in the playoff’s second hole. Both players were almost joined by Leishman’s countryman when Cameron Smith could have pushed himself into the playoff but missed wide with his birdie putt on the 18th hole at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island.


Garcia’s title defence (although it was six years since the event was last held) came as he edged home in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters by a stroke from Dutchman Joost Luiten. The Masters champ has won for the third time this year – a first for his career at the age of 37.


On the LPGA Tour South Korean Eun-Hee Ji was the scoring outlier for the weekend winning convincingly by six strokes in Taiwan for her third LPGA tour win, and her first since the US Women’s open in 2009, with a score of 17 under. Kiwi Lydia Ko was second with five players a further four strokes back in third. This week the LPGA will head to TPC Kuala Lumpur’s East Course for the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia event. China’s Shanshan Feng won by three strokes in 2016.


Player performance notes
Players I’m interested to see how they go with notes related to capital investment if that’s your thing. After the PGA Tour was in South Korea last weekend some of the world’s best have stayed in Asia for the final WGC event of 2017 with Shanghai’s Sheshan Golf Club hosting the event won in 2016 by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.


Under 20: Dustin Johnson. The American has won five WGC events and this tournament was his first WGC triumph in winning four years ago. Johnson won the Northern Trust four starts ago and has won four times this year already.


20 to 50: Daniel Berger Despite the status of the tournament there are big names missing and this gives a good chance for the next tier players. World number 27 Berger won thr St Jude Classic this year and was second in the Travelers Championship. With some key players in the field last year Berger was T2 behind Matsuyama so goes well at the track.


20 to 50: Ross Fisher. Aside from Matsuyama Fisher was the only player to shoot every round 69 or lower last year at this tournament. He’s coming off his great round of 61 in Scotland when he finished behind Tyrell Hatton. Fisher, 36, was second best behind Hatton the following week in Italy.


20 to 50: Matthew Fitzpatrick. At 23 Sheffield’s Fitzpatrick has won in fourth different countries (England, Sweden, the UAE and Switzerland) so travel isn’t a concern plus he has a 16th and 7th place finish to his credit here.


50 to 100: Rafa Cabrera-Bello. After by-passing the event last week in Spain the world number 21 finished a respectable T12 in South Korea. Cabrera-Bello, 33, was T19 in this event last year before he was second six weeks later in Hong Kong so appears suited to these conditions.


50 to 100: Alex Noren. A strange turn of events meant Noren missed out on playing in Korea when he reportedly wanted to so he has had a week off after he was T38 in the Italian Open. A two-time winner in the last 11 months the Swede was T12 in this tournament last year.


Greens in regulation
A record sixth win in his state Open for Western Australia’s Stephen Leaney came as he beat New South Welshman Callan O’Reilly by a stroke at the Royal Perth Golf Club in South Perth, but more significantly it was his first win in 13 years and a strong lesson in persistence, application but also variation. Leaney, 48, had been looking towards the senior’s tour and with that in mind had turned his attention in recent years to his fitness working in the gym with the South Australian Redbacks cricket side led by former Australian coach Tim Nielsen.


Tap in
From WA to Queensland with the Queensland Open this week at the Brisbane Golf Club on the Australasian PGA it is one of the significant events on in this part of the world this week and Brett Coletta was triumphant last year in this tournament. Meanwhile in Wellington the New Zealand capital will host the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship from Thursday at the Royal Wellington Golf Club in Upper Hutt. Australian Curtis Luck won this event in South Korea in 2016.


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.


  1. Great having all 3 big tournaments in our time zone this weekend. The men in China; the women in Malaysia; and critically the Asia-Pacific Amateur at Royal Wellington. The Upper Hutt course looked spectacular on the TV today. Frank Nobilo was home for his induction into the NZ Golf Hall of Fame and was commentating.
    Golfing World had a feature on Bob Charles this week. I knew about his legendary putting and his British Open win, but had forgotten about his 6 wins on the US tour and domination of the Seniors Circuit. He really made the game look simple and easy. NZ’s greatest ever sportsman?

  2. Peter B – it was a good weekend to watch. I’m still getting over DJ’s collapse. As for your question that. A few names which I’ve been kicking around. As a child of the 80s my list is heavily layered with that era. Charles is a starter. My shortlists below. This query could well inspire a post.
    RU: Richie McCaw, Jonah Lomu, David Kirk (more for status of RUWC win) Farah Palmer, Colin Meads, Brian Lochore
    RL: Stacey Jones,
    Aths: Val Adams, Jack Lovelock,Peter Snell, John Walker
    Other sports: Susan Devoy, Annelise Coberger, Danyon Loader, Russell Coutts, Mahe Drsydale, Kirk Penney… Steven Adams maybe ends up top of this list by the end of his NBA career.
    Cricket: R Hadlee, MD Crowe
    Racing: Jim Cassidy. Do trainers count or are they coaches, if they count Chris Waller!
    A top five from that list… I’ve got Devoy, Snell, Coutts, Hadlee, and MD Crowe

  3. Nice one Hamish. Jockeys and horse trainers aren’t sports stars – the horses are the athletes. I tend to discount sports like cricket, squash and rugby that are not broadly “international”.
    Snell and Walker were top international athletes and I would rate them highest of your lists. Looking forward to your “best of the best” analysis.
    Interesting watching Lydia Ko this season. The bigger stronger players seem to be overpowering her a bit. But she has improved notably late in the season, so the swing/coach/caddy changes seem to be working out. Given time she might be the #1 Kiwi sportsperson.

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