A Herculean Effort

A Herculean Effort

Rahm went on a heater in the final round at at Kapalua to overtake Collin Morikawa

The 2023 Tournament of Champions looked to be Collin Morikawa’s to lose for the first 67 holes. In complete control of his game and holding a six-stroke lead heading into Sunday, the rest of the field was simply playing for second place. Everyone except for Jon Rahm, that is. Seeing his name drop as many as nine strokes behind Morikawa’s, the Spaniard kept his head down and went to work. The result? He totaled 27 under and was rewarded with a two-stroke victory at the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

Beginning his final round with a bogey, the former world No. 1 fell to 16 under and appeared to be on the cusp of nice finish, but certainly not a memorable one. A birdie on his second hole immediately put Rahm back to even par on the day, and four additional par breakers on his outward half saw him reach 21 under for the tournament.

“If you told me at the beginning of the round after that bogey that I was going to do what I did and have a three-shot lead after finishing, I don’t know if I would’ve believed you,” said Rahm.” But at that point, it’s not like winning is really in mind. You just have to get to work and start making birdies and that’s what I did. That stretch of four through six, making those three birdies, birdieing nine allowed me to get into a rhythm and the stretch of 12 through 15 was very important as well.” 

A birdie on the 12th put Rahm within five of Morikawa and in with a chance to pull off a stunner. Two more birdies on 13 and 14 put him within three. With Morikawa still needing to play the more accessible holes on the back nine, on paper, this Herculean effort from Rahm was another performance at Kapalua which would come up short.

Coming into the week with five top-10 finishes in as many starts at the Tournament of Champions, Rahm has experienced his fair share of close calls at this event. Shooting 33 under at this tournament a year ago, a record-setting performance from Cameron Smith was the only thing that stood in between Rahm and his first victory at Kapalua.

There would be none of that this season as an emphatic eagle on the par-5 15th propelled Rahm to 26 under. At that same time, Morikawa began to show cracks with his newly revamped chipping and putting reverting back to their troubled selves. A bladed bunker shot on the drivable par-4 14th led to his first bogey of the championship before more short-game woes occurred on 15 and 16 with bogeys following.

“So 15 is when it truly became a reality when I had that putt to get within one shot and knowing how good I was playing 16 and 18 are good birdie options,” said Rahm. “When that putt went in and then on 17 I couldn’t believe it when I missed the green right we had a one-shot lead and everything changed. It took quite an effort to settle myself down and change my mindset … it was a bit of a rollercoaster five minutes there.”

A birdie on the closing hole put the finishing touches on a stellar 10-under 63 in which Rahm played his final 17 holes in 11 under. Going 27 under on the week and now 60 under at the Plantation Course over his last eight rounds, the consistent greatness from the former world No. 1 was finally enough to bag him a much deserved, and perhaps overdue, trophy in Hawaii.

Source: cbssports.com

Australia Will Host a LIV Golf Tournament in 2023

While its full 2023 schedule is still to be announced, LIV Golf will play in Australia next April. Its Punch team has four Australians including Cam Smith.

The LIV Golf League has yet to announce its full 2023 schedule, but commissioner Greg Norman was in Australia on Monday to confirm one event.

The Grange Golf Club in Adelaide, South Australia’s capital, will host LIV Golf on April 21-23, the first event of what LIV Golf said is a multi-year commitment to playing in Australia.

The tournament will be one of 14 events as part of the league schedule and will be a home game of sorts for Australian golfers Cam Smith, Marc Leishman, Matt Jones and Wade Ormsby, who make up the all-Australian Punch team. 

“Passion for sport is at the core of Australian culture, and LIV Golf is proud to bring its global league to a country deserving of the world’s top competition,” Norman said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to grow the game with generations of Australians while connecting them with star players like Cameron Smith who are building a new platform for golf around the globe. There is massive potential for Australia to play a bigger role in this great sport, and I couldn’t be more excited to showcase Adelaide for our league’s debut year.”

Although LIV Golf has not made it official, the league is eyeing a tournament at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore for the following week, April 28-30.

In its eight-event inaugural season, Saudi-backed LIV Golf played outside London and in Bangkok and Saudi Arabia, as well as five events in the U.S.

_________

Source: si.com

Tiger and Rory vs. Spieth and JT

The foursome, with 25 majors between them, will play under the lights in Florida on Saturday, Dec. 10, with proceeds going to Hurricane Ian relief.

The latest edition of “The Match” is now official, with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy set to take on Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth under the lights on the west coast of Florida next month.

Officially named “Capital One’s The Match,” this will be the seventh such exhibition under that banner, the first of which occurred in 2018 when Woods took on Phil Mickelson in an 18-hole “winner-take-all” match in Las Vegas, won by Mickelson.

This is the third time that Woods will participate, and proceeds are going to Hurricane Ian relief efforts. It is the first appearance for McIlroy, Thomas and Spieth. The group has combined to win 25 major championships.

The date for the 12-hole exhibition is Saturday, Dec. 10, at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida, which is hosting this week’s Pelican Championship on the LPGA Tour. Lights are being set up to televise the match, which will be broadcast on TNT starting at 6 p.m. ET.

Golf Digest and The Fried Egg websites first reported The Match last week.

The event will also be simulcast on TBS, TruTv and HLN. The broadcast team has yet to be announced.

The format, expected to be better-ball match play, is also to be announced.

Pelican Golf Club is a 1925 Donald Ross design that underwent a major restoration in 2019 by Beau Welling—who happens to work on Woods’ golf course design team as well.

Thomas and Spieth are longtime friends and rivals dating to their junior golf days.

Woods and McIlroy recently spearheaded a player effort to move the PGA Tour toward a series of big-money required events known as elevated or “designated” events.

McIlroy, who is the No. 1 player in the world, won the FedEx Cup in August. Thomas captured the PGA Championship in May.

It is setting up to be a busy month for Woods. Although he has not yet announced if he is playing, Woods’ Hero World Challenge is Dec. 1-4 at Albany in the Bahamas. If he competes there, it will be his first time doing so since missing the cut at the British Open in July. He is also likely to play the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie, Dec. 17-18 in Orlando.


Source: si.com

The Unintended Consequences of the PGA Tour’s Elevated Events

The Unintended Consequences of the PGA Tour’s Elevated Events

Top players may skip one elevated PGA Tour event this season as their calendar has more events in a tighter period. How that will plays out will be interesting.

The PGA Tour’s plan to have 12 elevated events for top players in addition to the four major championships, the Players Championship and three more of their choosing has already seen a change.

The Associated Press reported that the PGA Tour Policy Board has voted in favor of allowing players to skip one event outside of the majors for personal or professional reasons. The PGA Tour confirmed this opt-out. The board is also allowing players to count a fall event as one of the three additional tournaments, although that aspect won’t be available in 2024 when a condensed schedule will feature January-to-August play.

When commissioner Jay Monahan announced the plan that would bring the best players together more often—in return, that is how they qualify for the season-ending Player Impact Program and $100 million on bonus money—there was bound to be some fallout.

Part of it is simply scheduling, which will become easier in 2024 when the Tour can move events around a bit more. The 2023 schedule was already set and the PGA Tour had to work within that framework to find for more elevated tournaments.

Among the issues players will face in 2023 are seven events in 10 weeks, starting with the WM Phoenix Open and concluding with the RBC Heritage. Among the elevated events in that stretch are the Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Players Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and the Masters.

It’s a lot of golf, but now a player has the option to skip one. Or he could skip the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Or elect not to play the Travelers the week following the U.S. Open.

Where a problem exists is if too many players choose the same place to skip. Or perhaps it won’t happen at all. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see it all play out as the best players come together more often.

______

Source: Si.com

The Unintended Consequences of the PGA Tour’s Elevated Events

Steven Alker’s Birdie Win

Steven Alker uses late birdie streak to win Schwab Cup opener

RICHMOND, Va. — Steven Alker said he tries not to look at the leaderboard when he’s in contention.

The golfer from New Zealand did glance at the board at the 15th hole, then put together the surge that left his name alone on top of it.

Alker birdied three straight holes to break out of a late four-way tie for the lead on Sunday and won the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, the opening event in the Charles Schwab Cup on the PGA Tour Champions.

“It was a kind of a dogfight down there at the end,” Alker said. “I was trying not to look at the leaderboard because there’s so many guys just trying to win this golf tournament.”

Alker, who started the tournament as the Schwab Cup leader in the three-event finish to the season, made birdies at Nos. 15, 16 and 17 and beat K.J. Choi by one shot for his fourth victory of the season. That ties Steve Stricker for the most on the tour this season.

It was a birdie at the par-4 10th hole, Alker said, that actually put him in a frame of mind to win. Kelly, playing in the same group, made bogey on the hole, dropping into a tie.

“So that kind of changed my mindset a little bit, and then, you know, there’s a couple of tough holes before we start on the shorter holes,” Alker said. “So just get through those and then, you know, try and sprint to the finish.”

Drawing even helped him put going 1 over on the last three holes on the front nine behind him.

“Maybe just kind of freed me up a little bit, you know, just kind of relaxed a little bit because I just had the struggles on kind of seven, eight, nine,” Alker said. “It just didn’t wasn’t happening and then hit a quality shot on 10 and to be tied, I wasn’t chasing anymore.”

Kelly, who led after each of the first two rounds on the James River Course at the Country Club of Virginia, had the lead until the par-4 15th hole, when a slight drizzle and temperatures around 60 changed the conditions and his birdie try stopped on the edge of the cup. Playing partners Alker and Padraig Harrington made their putts to pull even at 12 under, and moments later, in the grouping ahead, Choi also got to 12 under.

“I’m not very strong in those conditions right now,” Kelly said. “And, you know, he played pretty well in those conditions. Could have played better. But, you know, if the weather would have stayed the same, who knows what would have happened?”

Alker said it reminded him of home, which was just fine.

“It was kind of like New Zealand weather. Overcast, a little bit of drizzle, and we’re just waiting for the fog to come, and I would have felt right at home,” he said.

Alker added birdies on the par-5 16th and the par-3 17th, then closed with a tap-in par on the par-5 18th, raising his arms in triumph as it fell, making Choi’s closing birdie good enough only for a runner-up finish.

Kelly, who closed with an even-par 72, Harrington (69) and Doug Barron (69) shared third, two shots behind, with Ernie Els (67) and Brian Gay (69) sharing sixth. Els was one shot back after a birdie at the par-4 11th, but finished with seven consecutive pars.

_____

espn.com