Who knew that the month of October could be such a golf content machine? Not only do we have competitive action all over the globe, but we have off-course stories and scandals galore! Let’s get right to it.
*Scores will be different by the time you read this*, but Ben An currently leads the CJ Cup following an opening-round 64 on Jeju Island. Numerous other players including Joaquín Niemann (65), Jason Day (66), and Justin Thomas (68) are all in the mix. Leaderboard
Ben An is off to an inconsistent start this fall. He notched a third-place finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship, but he has missed his last two cuts and finished T-47 at the Greenbrier. He did have a solid 2018-2019 campaign, though, and a couple strong finishes on this Asian swing could be enough to garner a captain’s pick for the International Presidents Cup team.
- Joaquín Niemann has taken the reins as the young player to watch. The 20-year-old Chilean started the fall with a runaway victory at The Greenbrier, and he shot a bogey-free 65 on Thursday. Similar to An, Niemann is squarely in the mix for a Presidents Cup captain’s pick.
- Why stop at two? Joining An and Niemann on the leaderboard are fellow international players Jason Day, Danny Lee, Emiliano Grillo, and Sungjae Im. All four players shot 69 or better on Thursday, and Grillo is off to a blazing start in round two. Day and Im seem like shoo-in picks for the Presidents Cup, but a late win never hurts.
- Justin Thomas, Charley Hoffman, and Andrew Putnam are the only Americans currently in the top 10, and there are just six inside the top 21.
- Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, and defending champion Brooks Koepka all shot 69s on Thursday.
Unlike the U.S. Ryder Cup team, the French Open field had no trouble with Le Golf National on Thursday. Ryan Fox and George Coetzee lead the way following their opening 65s, but 12 players are within two shots of the lead. Fox and Coetzee combined for 14 birdies on Thursday and are one shot clear of Kurt Kitayama, Richie Ramsay, and Ben Hebert. Leaderboard
I didn’t know I couldn’t do that*
It was an eventful weekend at the Pete Dye Course at French Lick this weekend. Playing through some brisk temperatures and winds in the final round of the Senior LPGA Championship, Helen Alfredsson collected her second senior major of the season. Alfredsson shot a final-round 70 to come from three shots behind and top Juli Inkster on Wednesday. Alfredsson also won the U.S. Senior Women’s Open over Inkster this summer. Leaderboard
Still, as amazing as Alfredsson’s accomplishment was, there was an even more newsworthy story to come out of French Lick. Lee Ann Walker thought she shot 85-74 in the first two rounds of the championship, but she had made a crucial mistake. Walker, whose last season on the LPGA was in 2008, was unaware of the new rule that prohibits caddies from standing behind players while they take their stance. This mistake cost Walker 58 shots over her two rounds, 42 for her first round and 16 for her second. Walker self-reported the issue to rules officials and made it right with the tournament committee. While an innocent mistake, it’s a good reminder to always read your rule book (looking at you, Andrew Landry).
Thousands of fans were left out in the cold after trying to buy 2020 Ryder Cup tickets this week. Hopeful attendees sat in a virtual lobby for hours on Wednesday, only to be told that all tickets had been sold out. Adding to the frustration is the fact that the PGA of America partnered with PrimeSport this season, making it easier for scalpers to put tickets on the secondary market. Full Story from Brian Wacker.
Nasa Hataoka and Amy Yang lead the Buick LPGA Shanghai following their 67s on Thursday. Angel Yin (68), Jessica Korda (68), Danielle Kang (69), Brooke Henderson (69), Jennifer Kupcho (69), and Lydia Ko (69), are all in the top five. Leaderboard
Stage II of LPGA Q-School wrapped up yesterday, and a number of familiar names made it through to next week’s Q-Series at Pinehurst Resort, including decorated amateur Albane Valenzuela, 18-year-old phenom Yealimi Noh, and University of Arizona star Haley Moore. Sierra Brooks and Olivia Cowan shared medalist honors, and 17-year-old Lucy Li, longtime powerhouse on the junior circuit, missed the cut after faltering to a final-round 77. Leaderboard
Brooks Koepka doesn’t think he and Rory McIlroy are rivals. In saying so, he seems to have intensified the rivalry. Full Story from Will Gray
The first Haskins Award watch list has been released by Golfweek. Notable names include John Augenstein (Vanderbilt), Alex del Rey (Arizona St.), Luke Schniederjans (Ga. Tech), and Sahith Theegala (Pepperdine).
Maxwell’s Muffins – In the wake of a trip to Old Town Club in North Carolina, Garrett offers a tribute to Perry Maxwell’s simple yet brilliant greens, zeroing in on a particular type of contour the architect frequently used. Ultimately, Garrett asks whether Maxwell’s understated elegance has been lost in today’s golf course architecture.
Shotgun Start: Rivalry-gate, Ryder Cup ticket-gate, and Validation-gate
This Friday episode begins with birthday wishes to Ernie Els, Andy’s idol. There’s also a brief discussion of Els’s Presidents Cup roster and one particular star who might be apathetic about team building. Then we get to the Brooks Koepka comments on the lack of a rivalry with Rory McIlroy, discussing both sides, dismissing both sides, and just walking away happy that these quotes exist. The new battlefield promotion on the PGA Tour’s international tours only angers and frustrates. Then the Ryder Cup ticketing fiasco is put in the crosshairs, as we recount the process that seemed to infuriate much of the American golf fan base. A “Penalty Box” segment reviews three odd and extreme penalty situations from the last week, including the 58 strokes assessed in the Senior LPGA event. Flashback Friday takes us down a Skins Game memory lane, throwing out some of the, uh, underwhelming names that made it into the event before it died off around 2008. Then an infamous Skins Game is given the blow-by-blow treatment, catching Tiger in a blatant self-contradiction. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.
Under the old rules, Lee Ann Walker would have been just fine at French Lick. Instead, she received 58 penalty strokes. When you want to go back to simpler times, grab one of our retro patch TFE hats. Get yours today!