World #1, Lydia Ko, parted ways with her caddy of two years, Justin Hamilton, last week. Ko engaged Hamilton to be her full-time looper after trying out 7 other candidates in a year-long interview process in 2014. The pair has had extraordinary success together as Ko reached the top spot in the Rolex rankings winning 14 times around the world (including two Majors) and being the Player of the Year in 2015. Ko has had a hat trick of uninspired results on the Tour lately; finishing 51st, 20th and 43rd in what represents a slump for the Kiwi phenom. One wonders if Hamilton’s dismissal is a little premature as players go through ups and downs with their game and even the greatest ones like Ko have to play through valleys like this. Ko has not announced who her next full-time caddy will be, but Hamilton rebounded nicely by being immediately hired by 3-time winner and World #8 Ha Na Yang.
India’s Anirban Lahiri took a 4 shot lead into the final round of the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in search of his first win on the PGA Tour. Lahiri would be undone early into his final round though, making a quadruple bogey on his third hole, ultimately finishing in a tie for 3rd. That finish was the talented Lahiri’s best to date on the PGA Tour (he has won 7 times on the Asian Tour and three times on the European Tour) besting his fifth place tie at the 2015 PGA Championship. Rising U.S. star, Justin Thomas, stormed home with a closing 8-under par 64 and a 4 day total of 23-under to claim a 3 shot victory over Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and win the CIMB for the second consecutive year. The CIMB is the second event of the 2017 season on the PGA Tour and is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour.
The golf world was abuzz with excitement when Tiger Woods announced after the Ryder Cup that he would be playing his first Tour event in 14 months at last weekends Safeway Open. Just two days after his initial announcement, Woods withdrew stating that: “My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be.” The issue is therefore mental not physical as we wrote in early 2015 https://www.birdgolf.com/tiger-woods-whats-wrong-and-how-to-fix-it/ Woods has delayed his return to his own select field event, The Hero World Challenge in December 2016.
Padraig Harrington closed with a 7-under par, 65 at the Portugal Masters to win his first event on the European Tour since his halcyon 2008 two Major Championship campaign. The gutsy Irishman made up and downs on each of his last three holes to edge out defending champion, Andy Sullivan by a stroke. This is the 45-year old former bookkeepers’ 30th worldwide victory.
On Tuesday the World Golf Hall of Fame announced their five 2017 inductees: American star and Hazeltine Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III, Meg Mallon, Lorena Ochoa, Ian Woosnam and Henry Longhurst. A very deserving class indeed.
When a hole-in-one is not a hole-in-one. 15-year old English junior Josh Hogarth aced the par-3 186-yard, 14th hole at a junior event at the South Moor Golf Club last week. The ball came to rest between the flagstick and the edge of the hole. When Hogarth went to retrieve his ball from the hole he made the mistake of pulling the pin straight up, bringing the ball out of the hole. According to the Rules of Golf, his one then became a two and what would have been a course record, 64 turned into a 65. Happily for Hogarth he would still win the tournament.
20-year old Australian Minjee Lee birdied the 72nd hole to edge out American Jessica Korda by one to win the Blue Bay LPGA in Hanan, China. The win is Lee’s second of the year on the LPGA Tour and her third career title.
Quote of the Week. When 46-year old Phil Mickelson (who has played on the last 11 U.S. Ryder Cup teams) was asked about his chances of being on the U.S. squad for the 2018 matches quipped: “It’s been 22 years since there have been 10 Americans that have been able to beat me so I don’t know why it would stop now.”
PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem, announced earlier this year that he would be retiring from the post he has held for 22 years in June of 2017, but he plans to turn over the reins of the Tour to Jay Monahan in December of this year. Finchem has been the architect of an explosive growth in his tenure and has been the driving force behind the creation of both the Presidents’ and FedEx Cups and the World Golf Championship events so Monahan will have some big shoes to fill.
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