Front 9-Edition 11
1. This weekend at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, 48 year old Steve Stricker missed his first cut on the PGA Tour since 2012. The remarkably consistent Stricker had gone 36 events since missing his last cut which was the longest active run on the Tour. Although only a part-time player who has chosen to play a limited schedule for the last 3 years, Stricker still remains one of the Tour’s most reliable players.
2. Chinese professional, Wu Ashun, made history this weekend by winning the Volvo China Open and becoming the first Chinese player to win a European Tour title in China. Up until now, Wu had never had a Top 10 finish on the European Tour and had just taken the last 6 months off to re-build his swing. The “new Wu” held off veteran Englishman, David Howell, to win by one stroke with a 4-day total of 9-under par. After missing a short putt on the last hole that would have forced a play-off, Howell wryly said: “Obviously a crying shame for me not to come home with the trophy, but there’s I don’t know how many billion people who are rather pleased I made six on the last.”
3. An amazing streak came to an end during the second round of the Zurich Classic on Friday. Freddie Jacobson had gone three months and 542 holes without a 3-putt on the PGA Tour until he 3-putted the 10th hole at the TPC Louisiana. Jacobson’s stretch is a new record besting the previous mark of 483 holes set by Luke Donald. In the 1950’s, legend has it that South Africa’s Bobby Locke once went an entire year without 3–putting, but those were the days before statistics like this were recorded.
4. World #1, Lydia Ko, became legal on Friday when she celebrated her 18th birthday with a few thousand fans at Lake Merced GC. The Swinging Skirts Classic defending Champion was serenaded by fans singing “Happy Birthday” as she began and ended her second round. Midway through the back-9 of Sunday’s final round Ko trailed Morgan Pressel by 4 shots and her hopes of repeating at Lake Merced were dim, at best. But Ko closed with two birdies including a gutsy birdie-4 on the final hole, while Pressel faltered with two bogies leaving the two players tied at 8-under par for the tournament. Ko claimed her 7th LPGA victory with a birdie on their second playoff hole to put the icing on the cake of a very good week.
5. After an encouraging 17th place finish in (who could have imagined a sentence like that 10 years ago?) The Masters, Tiger Woods announced that he will be playing in the Players Championship in two weeks’ time and also The Memorial which is contested two weeks before the U.S. Open in June. It would seem that Woods is trying to gradually play his way both back into form and into a full schedule on Tour.
6. 28-year old LPGA star, Paula Creamer, has had a roller coaster ride of ups and downs during the last 12 months. Creamer married United Airlines pilot, Derek Heath, in December in what she described as a perfect day, and followed that up with a honeymoon in New Zealand and Bora Bora. While Creamer has always been a very consistent player, borne out by the fact that she has only missed 9 cuts in her 11 year career, she has never been a very long hitter. In an effort to change that, she has changed both her swing and her equipment in the last few months which has led to some very erratic play. At the Swinging Skirts event this week at Lake Merced GC, Creamer shot 82 in the first round which was her highest ever score on Tour and followed that up with a second round 78. Creamer has now fallen to 27th in the Rolex World Rankings which is her lowest position since she turned professional in 2006, but she remains upbeat saying: “It’s frustrating, but I’m staying positive.”
7. Justin Rose birdied his final two holes en route to a closing round, 6-under par, 66 to capture the Zurich Classic by a single stroke over Cameron Tringale. This is Rose’s 7th victory on the PGA Tour and is his sixth consecutive year in the winner’s circle. The 2013 U.S. Open champion has come a long way in his career after being written off when he first turned professional and then again in his early years on the PGA Tour as being a player who wilted when having the chance to win. Rose has become a player who now thrives when in contention and is earning a much deserved reputation as being a “closer”.
8. Former World #1, Lee Westwood, birdied the first hole of the play-off to win the Indonesian Masters. Westwood had taken a 5 shot lead heading into the final round before stumbling to a 1-over par, 73 that would leave him tied at the end of regulation with Chapchai Nirat. Westwood also won the event in 2011 and 2012 making this his 3rd victory at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club in the last 5 years and his 42nd career worldwide win.
9. There was a lot of support for Fred Couples to be named as the American Captain for the 2016 Ryder Cup, but his close friend Davis Love lll was named instead. The PGA has announced that in future all Ryder Cup Captains will serve as Vice Captains before taking their turn at the helm (which is one of the things that the Europeans have done for the last 20+ years). Couples would seem to be a perfect selection as Captain given both his popularity with the players and his unblemished, 3-0 record as Captain of the US Presidents Cups teams. To date, only Tom Lehman has been named as one of the Vice Captains for 2016, which is puzzling to almost everyone. Said Couples: “To be honest, it is disappointing … But they picked a great guy in Davis, and my time might be the next one