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Back 9-Edition 18

  1. At the second of the four PGA Tour Playoff events, the Dell Technologies Championship, Dustin Johnson was looking to win his second consecutive and was the leader after an opening 66. Johnson was unable to sustain his superb play but Jordan Spieth who lost to Johnson last week in a play-off stormed into contention in Monday’s final round playing his opening 7 holes  in 6-under to be tied with Australia’s Marc Leishman at 16-under heading to the back 9. Both players faltered down the stretch however while newly crowned PGA Champion Justin Thomas asserted himself to claim his first FedEx Playoff victory. Thomas finished at 17-under for the tournament and 4 clear of Spieth with Leishman a further stoke behind. It is the 24-yaers old’s 5th win of the season and makes him the clear favorite to win Player of the Year honors.
  2. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and its accompanying devastation a great many professionals are helping out. Houston resident, Chris Stroud, has opened up his house and has 25 people affected by the floods staying with his family. LPGA star, Stacy Lewis, who lives in the Woodlands in Houston, pledged all her prizemoney at the Cambia Portland Classic. Turns out that it was a very generous gift when Lewis earned the first place check of $195,000. In addition to that windfall, two of her sponsors: KPMG then matched her donation and Marathon Petroleum, announced that it was adding another $1 million. Reed donated $4,000 for each birdie and $8,000 for an eagle this week at the TPC Boston in addition to a $50,000 gift to the St. Bernard Parish. Sergio Garcia pledged $2,000 for every birdie and $5,000 for every eagle he makes during the FedEx Cup and a host of other players have been amazingly generous in their support.
  3. Lewis held on for a one shot victory over Korea’s In Gee Chun with a final round 3-under par 69 and a 4 day total of 20-under. It was Lewis’s first win in over 3 years on the LPGA Tour during which time she has had a series of agonizing close-calls (she has had 12 runner-up finishes over that stretch). For the 32-year old adopted Texan, this is her 12th career win and may be her most meaningful to date. The tournament was also the swansong for retiring 32-year Japanese star Ai Miyazato who went out in a blaze of glory finishing in a tie for 5th place.
  4. Kelly Kraft had a bad end to a good year. Coming into the Dell, Kraft was in a good position to advance to the third playoff event by being in the top 70 after this week. That was until he made a disastrous septuple bogey 12 on his second hole of Friday’s first round. The even dozen included three penalty strokes, two swimmers (balls hit into the water), and capped off with a three-putt from 5 1/2 feet. Citing a foot injury, Kraft would withdraw after playing his 14th hole and slip to 72nd on the FedEx Cup points list, two spots out of playing in next week’s third playoff event, the BMW Championship.
  5. It has been a rough summer for Tiger Woods who hasn’t played a competitive round of golf since withdrawing after the second round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February. In June he was arrested in the early hours of the morning when police found him asleep at the wheel of his car. Woods was charged with suspicion of driving under the influence and then completed a counseling program for his addiction to pain medications. On Thursday, Woods posted a video of himself chipping on Twitter with the following caption “Dr. gave me the ok to start pitching.”
  6. The Web.com Tour’s season ending event, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, was the first of the final four events for players to earn their 2018 PGA Tour card. 28-year old American Peter Uihlein closed with a 6-under par 65 for a one shot victory over Ryan Armour to secure his playing privileges for the upcoming year. 24 other players will earn their cards in the next 3 events.
  7. In 2012, Jordan Spieth spent one year at the University of Texas before he turned professional 5 years ago, but it was a very significant year as Spieth helped the Longhorns to their first NCAA title in 40 years. The 24-year old superstar is giving back to his Alma Mata in a big way. Spieth has spearheaded and been the driving force to create a state of the art short game course which will be finished later this fall. The Spieth Lower 40 is a six-hole par-3 course constructed over 4 1/2 acres at the University of Texas Golf Club with holes varying in length from 85 to 125 yards.
  8. On the European Tour, Haydn Porteous closed with a 3-under par 69 to be a two shot winner over Lee Slattery at the D+D Real Czech Masters in Prague. For the talented 23-year old South African it is his second win on the European Tour after winning the Joburg Open in 2016. Porteous had endured a slump for most of this year though missing 14 of 16 cuts proving once again what perseverance a professional golfer needs to be armed with.
  9. Phil Mickelson was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2010. It is a chronic, incurable condition, but one that he has been able to control with medication. After Friday’s first round at the Dell, Lefty acknowledged that he was diagnosed with a second condition several months ago which he did not discuss, but that has been affecting his game in 2017. A doctor has helped Mickelson with a treatment that has given the 46-year old renewed energy on the course. Mickelson was in 58th position in the FedEx point’s race and while he was certain to play next week, he was on the outside looking in for the Tour Championship (only the top 30 on the season long point’s list advance to the finale). With his first top 10 finish since March, Mickelson was 11-under for the week and in a tie for 6th. That moved him up to 35th in the FedEx Cup points and gave U.S. Captain, Steve Stricker a compelling reason to make Lefty one of his Captain’s picks for the upcoming President’s Cup at Liberty National.