Almanac Golf – Golf Capital: Wise uses Aussie knowledge for Texas win, Belgian Knockout confusion



Last week it was some 50-year-olds racking up the wins but this week the PGA Tour and LPGA tour victors are 21 and 22-years-old respectively – Aaron Wise won in Texas and Ariya Jutanugarn in Virginia. For good measure 25-year-old Spaniard Adrian Otaegui claimed the inaugural Belgian Knockout for his second European Tour triumph.


Opening drive


Aaron Wise romped home at Trinity Forest to win the Byron Nelson by three strokes to claim his maiden PGA Tour crown at the Dallas venue. Wise, who came into the tournament with a T2 finish the week prior, shook off Australian Marc Leishman gaining sole lead after a few holes before grabbing six birdies in seven holes from the fourth hole onwards and win easily.


Wise, 21, is a recent NCAA Champion from Oregon who already has a great knowledge of the game and different venues (we’ll get to that later) and showed the confidence of a seasoned pro. For context, multiple major winner Jordan Spieth spent time bemoaning some of his luck on putt reads before he eventually finished 12 shots back from Wise’s 23 in T21 at a venue where he is a member. This week the PGA Tour stays in Texas for the Fort Worth Invitational.


In an event shortened to 54 holes, which actually ended up 56 after the playoff, Ariya Jutanugarn prevailed over In Gee Chun and Nasa Hataoka for a second triumph in the Kingsmill Championship following her win two years ago. Jutanugarn, 22, has now won nine times as a professional and in a good sign with the next major of the year two weeks away her only major win to date (the Women’s British Open) was the year she won the Kingsmill in 2016. Next week An Arbor Michigan hosts the LPGA Volvik Championship.


Adrian Otaegui has shown a great touch in modified events and proved adept at this again winning the Belgian Knockout over Frenchman Benjamin Herbert in the final at the Rinkven International Golf Club in Antwerp. Otaegui, who won this nine-hole stroke-play final by two strokes, won his only other ET title in the Paul Lawrie Match Play in August last year.


Disappointingly, the confusing nature of the BKO format with the (ET website and tournament website giving our differing explanations) made the event slightly hard to follow just before the knockout stage. As mentioned last week an consistent format for the modified stroke play events would clear things up.


Player Performance Notes


After going close with Leishman we duck back across the pond for some notes and thoughts in England this week. The first of the eight Rolex Series events the BMW Championship is the European Tour focus this week with the Wentworth Club in Surrey the venue.


Under 20: Alex Noren. With three top three finishes in 2018 in the USA Noren has been close to adding to his ten career titles. Last time out the defending champion here was T17 at The Players and bookended his tournament with a pair of 66s.


20 to 50: Matt Fitzpatrick. The world number 40 returns to ET events since the Middle East swing at the start of the year when he mixed results (missed cut in Dubai, T3 in Abu Dhabi.) This time last year when he finished T12 he was coming into the event off the back of two missed cuts in the USA but this time around he has a T14 two starts ago so is playing better.


50 to 100: Alexander Bjork. Last month’s China Open victor Bjork held his form into that tournament after a third place in Morocco. The Swede was 14th at his debut at the Wentworth venue last year and since then Bjork has risen from 154 to 73 in the rankings.


100 to 200: Dean Burmester. At his tournament debut here last year Burmester closed his tournament with a 65 to finish T9 in an impressive opening foray at the venue. The South African was third two weeks ago in South Africa on the Sunshine Tour so has some good recent form.


Greens in regulation


This isn’t a criticism of other PGA Tour venues per se just pure praise for the variety of golfers who thrived at the venue on the weekend in the Byron Nelson Classic at the Trinity Forest venue. Wise ranked second for driving distance as stages of the tournament whilst Kevin Na entered the week ranked 183 in that statistic and he finished T6. The venue also showed to be of benefit to those familiar with famous Victorian golf courses.


Wise stated the complex was like the Royal Melbourne layout (where he won the Australian Masters of Amateurs event in 2016) which may explain why Leishman was joined by fellow Aussie’s Adam Scott and Matt Jones finishing inside the top 13. More venues like this will bring out a deeper variety of player and as much as I am a fan of tournaments returning to certain venues each year this is already a great move. Next year we just need Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson to play here, oh and Rory McIlroy. You get my drift.


Tap in


Dimitrios Papadatos exited the Belgian Knockout at the first medal match-play phase but it has been a red-letter month for the Central Coast golfer. Papadatos, who turns 27 next month, won for the first time outside of the Australasian PGA Tour when he claimed the Open de Portugal. Lost in the maelstrom of action I omitted this result in last week’s wrap but it bears mentioning as Papadatos is now ranked a career best 224. The victory at Portimao moved him to ninth in the season-long second tier Challenge Tour rankings and the top 15 get ET qualification for 2019 so Papadatos is well placed heading into the European summer.


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. Used to love watching the World Match Play championship at Wentworth back in the day, but the Ernie Els redesign a few years back has made it just another “trick” course to my eye. Have to defend old course from modern pros with rampant technology I guess, but I’d prefer they changed the ball for pros to add spin or something to knock their drives down without ruining beautiful designs.
    I like the minimalist design concepts behind Trinity Forest but the flat land and an absence of trees made it look very boring on TV. At least the Scottish links courses have sandhills and seascapes for perspective. US PGA tour is very boring outside of the Masters.
    LPGA and European tour for me. Agree with you about the confusing formats of all these new tournament formats. I don’t get a narrative that persuades me to watch.
    Interesting site for golf nerds. Guy does a lot of analytics on PGA courses and players; technology and swing tips. For those of us who need to get a life. Thanks Hamish.

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