Almanac Golf – Hail to the Spieth, Ryu goes to number one



A collection of golf news, thoughts and notes from the week which saw Jordan Spieth beat recent PGA Tour winner Daniel Berger with a stunning hole-out in Connecticut. Korea’s So Yeon Ryu won in Arkansas and outsider Andreas Romero triumphed in Germany.


Opening drive:
What can you say? Jordan Spieth’s sand shot which rolled into the cup on the first playoff hole of the Traveler’s Championship to see off Berger was one for the ages – at this level of tournament at least. Spieth, who turns 24 next month, has now won ten PGA Tour events. That figure is the most by that age of any player since WWII along with only Tiger Woods. Plus Spieth has two Australian Open crowns. A slice of luck late in the day, including some near trips to the water and rebound off a tree on the playoff hole, helped see third-round leader Spieth prevail for his fourth playoff win in his career. The Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour will be staged this week in Maryland.


One of the biggest upsets for some time on the European Tour saw Argentina’s Andreas Romero triumph by a stroke over a trio which included Masters champ (and joint third round leader) Sergio Garcia plus Richard Bland and Thomas Detry. Romero, who rose from 837 to 182 in the rankings with the victory, hadn’t triumphed on either the European or PGA Tour since 2008 but has had a handful of lower tier victories in the past decade. The ET tournament this weekend is the Open de France at Le Golf National (which will host the Ryder Cup next year) and was won by Thongchai Jaidee last year. Part of the new juiced up ‘Rolex series’ the event outside Paris is the second of eight events in the series which is an expansion of the old three-legged finals series.


The year’s first female major winner So Yeong Ryu tuned up well for the Women’s PGA Championship in Olympia Fields, Illinois, with a two-stroke triumph in Arkansas. The result sees Ryu, the only multiple winner in 2017 on the LPGA Tour, move to top spot in the world rankings. Ryu was the recipient over the rules debacle in the first major of the year – the ANA Inspiration.


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. The second women’s major of 2017 takes place in Illinois with Canadian Brooke Henderson looking to defend her title won in Washington state last year.


20 and under: Minjee Lee. The Perth golfer has four top seven finishes in her last five starts – with a disqualification spoiling that record. Lee, 21, was T3 at the year’s earlier major.


20 and under: Lexi Thompson. The American buried any thoughts of inability to continue to perform well after the ANA hiccup with a subsequent win last month and two T2 finishes since then.


20 and under: So Yeong Ryu. Not only already a major winner this year Ryu, 26, was fourth in this tournament last year – albeit when it was held on the other side of the country.


20 to 50: Shanshan Feng. A winner in May in nearby Michigan, Feng won six times last year (two of those on the LPGA tour) and has finished in the top 20 each time since her triumph in Ann Arbor.


20 to 50: Amy Yang. Yang is one of only two players in the current top ten not to have won a major and had a top ten finish in this major last year. More recently she won in February in Thailand in what was an LPGA event.


50 to 100: Charley Hull. Englishwoman Hull is not in the form she had when she won the season-ending event last year however she has had two top 30 finishes in this event to the 21-year-old’s credit.


Greens in regulation:
Fellow American Justin Thomas’ calling Spieth’s shot to win the Traveler’s before it happened was probably not that surprising. Twitter is prone to over-hyping and bold predictions but Thomas, who is three months Spieth’s senior, had some great duels in college golf with the world number three. Not only that Thomas, 24, was born in the same month as Berger which means (after Berger’s recent good run) two of the current top 18 were born in April of 1993 – quite the statistic for a single month in one year across the age span of the current top 18 which has about a 19-year age span from youngest (Jon Rahm – 22) to oldest (Henrik Stenson – 41.)


Tap in:
“I hate golf.” No, I haven’t gone mad. With the return of the brilliant Revisionist History podcast series from popular writer Malcolm Gladwell I plugged in, carefully if not cautiously, to the first episode of the second series recently. ‘A good walk spoiled’ appeared to have the potential to have me reviewing my adoration of Gladwell by the end of it. It didn’t, and it shouldn’t perturb you tuning in either. “This episode is about the problem with golf” states Gladwell and whilst that is somewhat true the primary problem, as he outlines, is the tax breaks afforded private golf clubs in California – which particularly benefit those in Los Angeles. A series of business structure rulings and grandfathered tax breaks related to means the ‘rich white CEOs’ get to enjoy the game in Los Angeles at venues which don’t pay their fair share in property tax despite the fact others have limited access to public green space in the city. Gladwell proclaims “Hopefully by the end of this you’ll hate golf too” and whilst I didn’t, the podcast did have me wondering about ways in which some clubs are already changing to be more inclusive and perhaps bring more people to golf courses, but not necessarily to play golf – at least to begin with. Los Angeles, to use a Gladwell-ism is somewhat of an ‘outlier’ in that it is one of only the few major cities without easily accessible major public green space (for instance there is no equivalent of New York City’s Central Park in LA.) Luckily many cities have found a better balance. And there are some clubs already showing great initiative including in Australia. Some are aligned to FootGolf Australia with the modified format taking place after a certain time in the afternoons. Gladwell’s passion is running and using courses for cross country or parkrun style events provides further exposure and mixed community use of courses which already occurs in Scotland. Some food for thought.


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.

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