Front 9-Edition 9
1. 17 year old Lydia Ko cemented her position as the #1 ranked player in the world by winning the Australian Open earlier today. Ko closed with a final round of 2-under par, 71 to win by two strokes at one of the game’s great venues, Royal Melbourne GC. Ko was helped by a weather delay in the middle of her final round when she was struggling a little with her game. As Ko said afterwards: “I think that break was really good for me. I had some lunch and got my stuff together there and I played much better after that.” Eventual runner-up, Amy Yang, had taken the lead with a birdie on her 11th hole, but a steely 2-under on her final 9 enabled the New Zealand superstar to overtake Yang and win her sixth LPGA Tour event.
2. 27 year old Indian, Anirban Lahir, won his national Open this week and his second European Tour event in his last three starts. Lahiri overcame a 7 shot deficit from overnight leader and compatriot, SSP Chawrasia, to finish regulation play at 7-under par for the week. Lahiri went on to make a birdie-4 on the first hole of sudden death. A very accomplished amateur career followed by a steady rise through the professional ranks may be the groundwork for Lahiri to become a star.
3. Tiger Woods’ self-imposed exile from tournament golf may not be the twilight of his stunning career, but the sunset. Woods’s play in his two events to date which were a disastrous last place finish in Phoenix followed by a withdrawal the next week at Torrey Pines (a venue at which he has won 8 events) during the second round, forestalled issues far greater than a swing change (the fourth of his professional career). His short game, specifically his chipping, was abysmal. Not bad, but tragically horrible. Woods’ is blaming his short game woes on his swing change but in reality they are two different animals and his issue is that he is thinking far too much.
4. As one player after another unraveled on the brutal back 9 of Riviera CC on Sunday, it seemed to be a situation where who would implode least, would prevail. 7 players would at one time, have at least a share of the lead as they came down the stretch in the Northern Trust Open. With two holes to play, the tournament was Sergio Garcia’s to win but he like so many others faltered with back-to-back closing bogies to finish his week at 5-under par and one shot out of the three man playoff. Those three players were journeyman, James Hahn, England’s, Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson who has just recently returned from his 6 month hiatus from golf. All three players made par-4’s on the first playoff hole, the diabolical 18th, before Johnson and Hahn made sensational birdie-3’s on the 10th hole (which may be the most difficult short, par-4, in the world). Hahn would then stun his more heralded rival with a 30 foot putt for birdie on the 3rd playoff hole, the par-3 14th capture his first win on the Tour. Hahn’s story is special and we will be following up with and in-depth look at his journey later this week.
5. Seems as though Michael Jordan is no fan of slow play, as he has purchased an option for land in Hobe Sound, Florida where he wants to build his own very private course. According to several sources, His Airness hates not being able to play through groups at his current course, Bear’s Club, and so now will do what any logical multi-millionaire would do in the same position, build his own.
6. The selection of the 2016 European Ryder Cup Captain was announced on Thursday and it came as no surprise that 46-year old Darren Clarke was chosen. Clarke had lobbied strongly to be the skipper for the 2014 Cup matches, but lost out to Paul McGinley. The fact that Clarke had contended for the 2014 Captaincy after saying that he had no interest, had caused a rift in a once very close relationship between the two Irishmen. McGinley would prove to be one of the most popular and successful leaders in European history so Clarke will have big shoes to fill. Clarke has the support of all of the biggest European star players which surely counted in his favor as he won the two-man contest with Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez (aka “Golf’s Most Interesting Man”). Clarke, the 2011 Open Champion, is a veteran of 5 Ryder Cup teams and has been a Vice-Captain twice, while winning 14 times on the European Tour.
7. The U.S. is expected to announce that their choice of Captain will be David Love III. Why exactly they are expected to announce this without actually doing so remains somewhat of a mystery, but that is what one might expect from the “Committee of 11”. There was a lot of support, especially among the players, for Fred Couples to be picked. Couples was the winning U.S. Captain for three Presidents Cups, but has never led a Ryder Cup squad. When interviewed at the Northern Trust Open earlier in the week, Couples said that “If it wasn’t Davis, I might have a different attitude towards this but he’s been my friend for 30 years and I’m very happy for him.” Should Love have his friend serve as a Vice-Captain in 2016, the odds would have to be that Couples would be the American leader in 2018.
8. The two ways that the respective Captains are/and were chosen and announced may explain the ineptitude of the American side for the last 20 years. Yes, ultimately players play, and therefore win or lose, while Captains have a marginal impact, but one just gets the feeling that the Euros have the successful recipe while the Americans are still looking for the right ingredients.
9. If the U.S. team was picked for the 2016 Olympic Games team was picked today, the four Americans (4 are the most any one country can have representing them) would be: Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar. Those are probably not the 4 U.S. players who would come immediately to mind and there are still 16 months left before the final list is determined, but there are obviously glaring omissions in that foursome. The criteria for qualification (as of the standings in July 2016) are that any country that has two or more players in the top 15 of the Rolex world ranking, can send 4 players. All other countries can send two players and the field is made up of the players making up the top 60 in the world.