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Front 9-Edition 10

1. The season’s first Major, the newly named ANA Inspiration (formerly the Kraft Nabisco) came down to a thrilling finish at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. Long-hitting American Brittany Lincicome (her nickname is Bam Bam) eagled the par-5 18th hole on the last hole of regulation play to tie fellow American, Stacy Lewis, at 9-under par for the tournament. It was Lewis’s tournament to win but she missed putts from inside 15 feet on the 72nd hole and then on the first two playoff holes. A two-putt par in fading light on the third hole of sudden death sealed the win for the 30 year old Lincicome who claimed her second ANA Inspiration (she won in 2009 while it was still the Kraft Nabisco). The win is her sixth LPGA Tour victory and moves her up to 7th in the Rolex World Rankings.

2. While on the subject of Major Championships, Tiger Woods announced on Friday that he will be playing in the Masters tournament later this week. It will be Woods’ first event since his withdrawal in the second round at Torrey Pines in February. Apparently, the 4-time Masters winner feels like his game is ready again to compete but there are still a lot of questions that Woods needs to answer on the course. As we documented https://www.birdgolf.com/tiger-woods-whats-wrong-and-how-to-fix-it/  what ails the player who has dominated the game for so much of this century, has little to do with the mechanics of his swing, but everything to do with his head. If Woods’ is able to stop thinking when he plays, and just play the game, he has every chance to return to the supreme player we knew.

3. Sylvia Ko, the Rolex #1 player in the world, tied an amazing record in the first round of the ANA Championship by shooting her 29th consecutive round under par. Ko would shoot a second round 1-over par, 73 to just fall short of beating Annika Sorenstam’s record, but her play remains remarkable. Before finishing at the ANA Inspiration, the 17 year old Kiwi had recorded ten consecutive Top 10 finishes on the LPGA Tour.

4. 63 year old Ben Crenshaw will be playing in his final Masters this week. The two-time Masters Champion, who is one of the game’s most beloved players and one of its true gentlemen, will be making his 43rd start at Augusta National. Crenshaw is a part-time golfer these days, but has become one of the most prolific golf course architects and he and design partner, Bill Coore, have created some of the best courses in the last 20 years. “Gentle Ben” will remain a fixture at the Champions dinner and the event itself for years yet to come, but this will be his swansong as a player.

5. When Jimmy Walker won the Valero Texas Open last week, it was his fifth win on the PGA Tour in the last 18 months which is more than any other player. Walker had to stave off a furious late charge by Jordan Spieth, but showed what a great player he has become by holing crucial putts in the closing holes to win his home-State Open. Walker played 187 events on the Tour before his maiden victory at the Frys.com event in October 2013. At the age of 36, the late blooming Walker is cementing himself as a star on the Tour and a player to be reckoned with at any event he is in.

6. Jason and Amanda Dufner are getting divorced. Amanda Dufner filed for the divorce on March 16, citing an: “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”. Apparently Amanda will receive a cash settlement of 2.5 million dollars from the 2013 PGA Championship winner. After an injury plagued 2014 season in which the 38-year old Dufner even considered retiring from the game, the new “Duf” has shed 20lbs. and embraced a new diet while committing to a daily a work-out routine. Dufner who said very simply in a January interview: “If I didn’t do it, I wasn’t going to be able to play golf.” With all this change in his life will “Dufnering” ever be the same?

7. On March 23rd, Jack Nicklaus was honored by Congress and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. The award honors those “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.” In Nicklaus’ emotional acceptance speech he would say: “My son Jackie was about 6 years old, and somebody asked him what does your dad do and he said: “nothing, he just plays golf’.” Mr. Nicklaus, you have done so much more than that. Thank you.

8. In the category of you “never know when lightning will strike in a bottle”, Richie Ramsay was a one shot winner in the European Tour’s Trophee Hassan II in Morocco. The 31 year old Scotsman had not cashed a check in the first five tournaments that he played this year so this is a perfect example of the perseverance needed in golf. This is Ramsay’s third win on the European Tour which moves him up to 77th in the Rolex World Rankings.

9. J.B. Holmes has been one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour in 2015 with two runner-up finishes in his last five starts on Tour. The long-hitting Holmes would go one better this week at the Shell Houston Open when he won a 3-man play-off on the second hole to record his 4th win on the Tour. The long-hitting man from Kentucky, who recovered from brain surgery in 2012, to resume his career prevailed over journeyman, Johnson Wagner and about-to-be superstar, Jordan Spieth with a par on what was his, 74th hole.