Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Wisconsin’s new major venue as Berger doubles in Memphis

@hamishneal

 

A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw Daniel Berger go back-to-back in Memphis, Ariya Jutanugarn won for the first time in 2017 to return to the world number one position, plus there was another first-time European Tour winner with Dylan Fritelli’s triumph in Austria.

 

Opening drive:
Floridian Berger fired a final round 66 to retain his St Jude Classic crown with a one-stroke win over South African Charl Schwartzel and Whee Kim of South Korea. The trio of 54-hole leaders Stewart Cink, Ben Crane and Rafa Cabrera Bello dropped away earlier in the round and the 2016 winner held his nerve firing four birdies. A dozen player had a legitimate chance to win so Berger did well to prevail.

 

Jutanugarn birdied the first playoff hole to claim the win in Ontario seeing off the challenge of South Korean In Gee Chun and American Lexi Thompson – who held a one stroke lead heading into the final day. Jutanugarn, 21, was prolific in 2016 claiming six wins so it is somewhat of a surprise she took until June to score her first victory of 2017 and see her dislodge Kiwi Lydia Ko from the world number one ranking. A good spot to be in with the next major (the Women’s PGA) coming up at the end of the month in Illinois.

 

Two-time Challenge Tour winner Fritelli won for the first time on Europe’s top tour after he overhauled a two-stroke deficit heading into Sunday before a par on the last saw the 27-year-old hold off a trio of golfers who finished at 11 under. The South African had countryman Jbe Kruger, England David Horsey and Mikko Korhonen of Finland waiting for him to slip up on the 72nd hole at Atzenbrugg’s Diamond Country Club but his par three gave him the win.

 

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. Two hopes finished in the top five last weekend as we shift to the second major of 2017 – the US Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. Dustin Johnson won it last year when the tournament was staged in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.

 

20 to 50: Hideki Matsuyama, The Japanese golfer missed the cut in the 2016 US Open but had two other top seven finishes in majors. He has won this year (in February in Phoenix) and remains the highest-ranked player (four) yet to win a major.

 

20 to 50: Thomas Pieters. The Belgian will be suited by the length of the course and the lack of course knowledge shouldn’t be an issue for him as he came fourth at Augusta in his Masters debut. But he’s only played once since then for a T14 on the European Tour at the PGA Championship.

 

20 to 50: Adam Scott. The Queenslander was fourth in this tournament two years ago. A second round 64 for Scott had him in contention in Memphis and he eventually finished T10. Prior to that he had two top ten finishes in his last four outings.

 

50 to 100: Kevin Kisner. The world number 20 won the Dean and Deluca Invitational last month and followed that up with a T6 finish in his last outing at The Memorial. Kisner must surely rank as one of the most in-form players here. At a new venue for most of the players this must be an advantage.

 

50 to 100: Alex Noren. The Swedish golfer has won five times in the last 12 months to move up to number eight in the rankings. His best result at a major came in the 2012 US Open when he finished T9 in the event played in San Francisco at the Olympic Club.

 

100 to 200: Billy Horschel. A final round 64 saw him finish two shots from the winner in Memphis. In 2013 Horschel was T4 in the Open and since then he hasn’t finished worse than T32 in this major, plus Horschel won in May.

 

Greens in regulation:
The course at Erin Hills, located to the north-east of Milwaukee, for the 117th US Open is a fascinating one. The venue has never hosted a professional event and only a few significant amateur tournaments. In 2011 the Erin venue staged the US Amateur title. The first two rounds played under stroke-play with Erin Hills plus another nearby venue used but the match-play portion (last 64) was at the Open venue. Making it to the last eight was now two-time major winner Jordan Spieth and European Tour regular American Peter Uihlein. The course has some interesting attributes included ‘domed greens’ and some blind approach shots. The latter fact could be an issue with the length of the course and unfamiliarity players have mean this could be a case of long rounds which could frustrate groups as the day wears on, particularly across the first two days.

 

Tap in:
After the rules debacle surrounding Dustin Johnson in 2016 the USGA will be wanting to avoid and similar scenarios this year and it appears they have made the appropriate changes with a focus on timely calls “expedite and decide” as the USGA have said. The course may deliver a great event but Spain’s Jon Rahm has labelled the venue “a links golf course on steroids” so it could be a fun, if not long, few days of viewing. If the USGA got a storybook result any issues over thick rough or other matters could fade away… Wisconsin native Steve Stricker at the age of 50 becomes the first sectional qualifier to win the Open since Lucas Glover in 2009? That would do.

 

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.

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    JDay has been “set” for the US Open like a Bart Cummings stayer. Erin Hills looks like an interesting but fair challenge. Saw some stats about impact of distance on golf courses. Dustin Johnson hits the ball nearly 40 yards longer than the longest driver in 1980. Ben Hogan hit a 3 iron 170 yards. Justin Thomas hits it 260 yards. Sergio Garcia hit an 8 iron second shot to the Par5 15th hole at Augusta in his Masters win. Jack Nicklaus hit a 1 iron.
    The 1937 US Open was played at Oakland Hills – the first course over 7,000 yards for the tournament. Erin Hills is just under 7800 yards for this year’s Open.
    Message to all the cry baby’s who will be squealing about distance, long rough and a “tricked up” test after the first round – “Suck It Up Princesses”.

  2. JDay. 79;75. WTF? I guess we are both on the couch watching this weekend.
    MLieshman (who looks like an Irish singer songwriter) and TFleetwood (Black Sabbath refugee) are my men for the weekend.
    The Erin Hills course is tough but fair (unlike most US Open courses). Play well, score well. Hit it off line – big trouble. Who knew? Best US Open course and contest for many years. More please.
    Hideki looks a big chance Hamish. The rest of yours are joining me and JDay for the weekend.

  3. PB. I am with you on Fleetwood but also think HM, SW Kim, Snedeker and Kopeka could get the win. Interesting Saturday coming up. Rory was underdone but a first time for all of the top three in the rankings missing the cut in a major since rankngs begun in 1986.

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