On Thursday, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield voted not to allow women members. Although a 64% majority of the 800 members did vote in favor of allowing women, the vote was a constitutional one which required a two-thirds majority. In a statement the Club said: “The Honourable Company is a members club, and, as such, the members decide the Rules of the Club, including its membership policy.” Muirfield, considered by many to be the finest venue for the games oldest Major, was then immediately removed from the Open Championship rotation by the R & A. Muirfield has hosted 16 Open Championships and its winners are an ensemble of the greatest players to have ever played the game: Harry Vardon, Ted Ray, Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo and most recently in 2013, Phil Mickelson.
Golf lost one its brightest diamonds last weekend with the passing of Irish legend, Christy O’Connor Sr., the father of Irish golf. Affectionately known by all, as “Himself”, the beloved O’Connor was 91 years old. O’Connor played on 10 consecutive Ryder Cup teams and was on the winning team for Ireland in the 1958 World Cup. O’Connor was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the Galway Lifetime sports Star. O’Connor won 24 titles on the European Tour among his 61 professional wins. Due to the expense of traveling in his prime, O’Connor would never compete in America and the Open Championship was the only Major that he competed in with his best finish as a runner-up in 1965. O’Connor’s legacy will be the vast swath of people whose lives he so enriched with his abundant skill, amazing grace and infinite kindness.
Rory McIlroy served as the host of his national Open this week at the Irish Open at the K Club just outside of Dublin where he has missed the cut in each of the last three years. Additionally, McIlroy has yet to be at his best this year but after the first 3 rounds he was three shots clear of the rest of the field. The event was marred with several different weather delays culminating in two hail storms that stopped play in Sunday’s final round. McIlroy relinquished his lead to Scotsman, Russell Knox, and was one behind after the 15th hole. McIlroy then put his sublime shot making on display, hitting a towering second shot from 273 yards onto the par- 5 16th to set-up a birdie while Knox made a bogey for a 2 shot swing. On the par-5 closing hole, McIlroy played an even more spectacular second shot from 252 yards to within two feet of the hole and a finishing eagle. The win is a welcome first victory of the year for the world #3 and his 13th career title on the European Tour.
No player has been more affected by the anchoring ban that became law on January 1st than Keegan Bradley. Bradley who has three wins on Tour including the 2011 PGA Championship and the 2012 WGC Matchplay Championship is in a freefall with his game. The main reason for the plummet is his putting. While he ranks in the top 50 for most ball-striking categories, he is at the bottom of pretty much every putting barometer. Bradley missed the cut at this weeks’ AT&T Byron Nelson, his ninth failure to make it to weekend play in 15 events. The New Englander is 137th on the FedEx Cup points list and his world ranking is outside of the top 120. While some players have handled the transition from anchoring very well, led by a resurgent Adam Scott https://www.birdgolf.com/number-one-2 Bradley has struggled mightily and is now in danger of losing his Tour card. It is another example of why putting is the single most important skill in the game.
Ariya Jutanugarn has had her share of heartbreak already in her young career. In the 2013 LPGA Thailand the then 17-year old Jutanugarn, made a triple bogie on the last hole to lose by a stroke to Imbee Park. In April of this year she led the ANA Inspiration by two shots, with three holes to play before making bogies on those holes to fall to 4th place. Two weeks ago the now 20-year old from Thailand made history by winning the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic and becoming the first player from her country to win on the LPGA Tour. At this week’s Kingsmill Championship Jutanugarn showed even more resolve closing with a 4-under par 67 on Sunday to win by a single shot over Australian rookie, Su Oh, and claim her second title.
On Thursday, Phil Mickelson was cleared of insider trading in a deal made with the SEC when he agreed to repay $931,000 plus interest in a case against famous Las Vegas gambler, Billy Walters, and Thomas Davis, the former chairman of Dean Foods. Mickelson had bought Dean Foods stock before a spin-off announcement.
Earlier in the month Jack Nicklaus carded an even par-72 at Augusta National to better his age by a whopping 4 shots. The ever modest Golden Bear admitted that it is (shooting his age) something that he does with regularity, but that he is playing from the forward tees (6,400 yards). Nicklaus, who is a member of Augusta and regularly plays club events there, lamented however that his recent good form would reduce his handicap to a 1 or 2, and that would “cost me a lot of money”.
Rising young American star, Brooke Koepka, took a two shot advantage into the last round of the Byron Nelson and had stretched his lead to 3 over Sergio Garcia, after 13 holes in Sunday’s finale. Back-to-back bogies on the 14th and 15th holes coupled with a Garcia birdie on the 16th left the two deadlocked at 15-under par at the end of regulation play. Koepka hit his drive into the water hazard on the first play-off hole while Garcia navigated two shots safely onto the green to make a par-4 and record his first win on the PGA Tour since the 2012 Wyndham championship. The win is the 36-year old Garcia’s 9th career win on the Tour which ties him with his idol, Seve Ballesteros, for the most by a Spanish player.
In a mutual schmooze fest between the two on Friday, Donald Trump tweeted Colin Montgomerie the following; @montgomeriefdn Colin, great to have you at Trump Turnberry. So proud of you and your GREAT playing! You made winning MAJORS look easy! Oops; Monty never won a Major although he was the runner-up in five of them.
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