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The Front 9-Edition 7

1.       An 11 year old qualified for a Major Championship.  Last week Lucy Li from California became the youngest person ever to qualify for any Major by winning the US Women’s Open sectional qualifier at Half Moon Bay GC.  Li shot rounds of 74 and 68 to beat her nearest competitor by a whopping 7 shots!  Li will now be teeing off with the best players in the world at Pinehurst in June.  Li broke current LPGA Tour star, Lexi Thompson’s age record who qualified in the US Women’s Open as a 12 year old in 2007.  Thompson is currently the 9th ranked player in the world and the Tour’s most recent Major Champion with her victory in last month’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.

2.       At the other end of the age spectrum, 50 year old English superstar, Laura Davies, qualified for the Open by shooting scores of 72-75 to also gain a place in the field at Pinehurst.  How defining would a pairing of Davies and Li be in the first two rounds at the Open?

3.       Rory McIlroy called off his wedding to Caroline Wozniacki last Wednesday after the couple had mailed out their wedding invitations over the previous weekend.   Apparently it (the invitations going out) was the impetus for McIlroy to make the decision to break up when he issued the following statement “I am not ready for all that marriage entails” and that “the problem is all mine”.  The couple had been engaged since New Year’s Eve when the 25 year Northern Irishman proposed to the 23 year Danish tennis star.   The two have had a very “on-again-off-again” relationship since they started dating two and a half years ago.  There are those in the golf world who think McIlroy wanted to be able to focus more on his game and that he feels the break-up will allow him to do so.  Only time will tell.

4.       4 days later, the resilient McIlroy shot a brilliant closing round-66 to win the European Tour’s marquee event, the BMW Championship at Wentworth.  McIlroy would start the final round 7 shots behind Thomas Bjorn who seemed to have a stranglehold on the event as he led his nearest competitor by 5 strokes.  Bjorn would be undone by a disastrous triple bogey 6, on the par-3 6th hole.  The Dane would ultimately finish in a tie for 3rd place with a closing round of 3-over par 75.  Both the brilliance and the sometime frailty of McIlroy were on display during his closing round which included an eagle, 6 birdies and two careless bogies.  His superb back 9 of 5-under par, included a short missed putt on the 11th, but was enough to give him a one stroke victory over fellow Irishman, Shane Lowry.                     

5.       Notah Begay will be making a very welcome comeback to his work as an analyst on the Golf Channel this week.  After the 41 year old Begay suffered a heart attack last month, doctors reported that he had a 100% blockage in his artery.   A 4-time Tour winner, Begay was the first full blooded Native American player on the Tour and tirelessly helps Native American youth in a variety of ways, most particularly with his Notah Begay III Foundation.  Begay’s family has a history of heart disease and in his typical spirit of wanting to help; Begay plans to use his experience to educate.           

6.       Tiger Woods was recently asked what he has been doing during his down-time since recuperating from back surgery at the end of March and quipped that: “I’ve gotten damned good at video games”.  Woods is still not able to swing a club and has no set date to return to the Tour.

7.       After a career of near misses in Major Championships and never having won in the US, Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie may now lay both of those ghosts to rest.  50 year old “Monty”  was a 4-shot winner of the 75th Senior PGA Championship at  Harbor Shores in Michigan with a 4-round total of 13-under par.  Playing flawless golf, Montgomerie carded a final round 6-under par 65, to secure his first Major (well, OK, It is a champions Tour event so not really a Major) over ageless Tom Watson, who at 64 years of age can still play some amazing golf.  

8.       Being the world #1 player and playing with that mantle for the first time seemed to suit Adam Scott as he would finish regulation play at the Crowne Plaza Invitational tied for the lead at 9-under par with 2013 PGA Champion, Jason Dufner.  Playing at Ben Hogan’s home course, the famed Colonial Country Club, the two players started the sudden-death playoff with pars on the 18th hole.  Both would make birdie-3’s at the par-4 17th hole before Scott played an exquisite approach to the 18th hole to within 4 feet of the hole.  Scott made the putt and cemented his place atop the golf world.   

And at #9 but certainly not the ninth most significant news item this week:  21 year old Jessica Korda won her second LPGA Tour event of the year in a shootout at The Airbus Classic in Mobile, Alabama.  Korda made 6 birdies in her scintillating back 9 to edge out Anna Nordqvist by 1 shot with a 4-day total of 20-under par.  A further stroke back in a tie for 3rd place were Michele Wie, Charley Hull and Catriona Matthew.  Korda’s win is her 3rd overall (she won the 2012 Australian Open) and is another example of how much extraordinary young talent there is in Women’s golf.   Hull, the prodigious 18 year old star-to-be from England is not yet a member of the LPGA Tour,  but will likely play her way onto the premier stage in the coming weeks and has all the earmarks of a breakout performer.  When you also consider that this was Michele Wie’s 5th consecutive Top 10 (4 of those were Top 5’s) finish on the Tour, there is a lot to be looking forward to in the game.  We can’t wait to see who will win next week at our fantastic site at the Stockton Seaview Resort at the ShopRite Classic https://www.birdgolf.com/c-locations/new-jersey-golf-schools/