Strength of field be damned, a fun golf tournament has broken out in Houston. Meanwhile, the Finns have invaded Italy, Team USA is laughing in the face of jet lag, Tiger is apparently taking mini golf to the next level, and Andy is having logistical issues.
On Monday, we told you that the Houston Open field was weak and lacking in star power. While that’s still true, the guys in the tournament created some fantastic storylines. Talor Gooch and Austin Cook sit tied for the lead following opening 64s, and many others are close behind. Houston Open Leaderboard
Gooch and Cook are both still in the early years of their PGA Tour careers. Cook won the 2017 RSM Classic in his rookie season and finished second to Aaron Wise for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. He struggled in 2019, finishing 130th in the FedEx Cup standings, and has missed his past three cuts this fall.
Similarly, Gooch has not had much recent success on the PGA Tour, though he did have two top-4 finishes in the 2018-19 season. Gooch wasn’t a PGA Tour member last year, but some strong early play at PGA West and Torrey Pines got him enough starts to enable him to secure his card for 2019-20. Still, he hasn’t finished in the top 50 in any of his past seven starts.
Despite their poor play of late, both Gooch and Cook have the game to win on the PGA Tour.
- University of Texas sophomore Cole Hammer got off to a hot start in Houston. Playing on a sponsors exemption, Hammer shot a first-round 67 that included a double bogey.
- Mackenzie Tour legend Tyler McCumber sits two shots off the lead after his 66 on Thursday.
- Last week, Andy Zhang missed the cut in the first stage of Korn Ferry Tour School, but that isn’t slowing him down. Zhang Monday-qualified for the Houston Open and shot 68 in the first round.
… And They’re Off!
The Thoroughbred happens tomorrow! If you’re on your way over right now, we’re looking forward to meeting you and having some fun at the Aiken Golf Club.
Also, if you’re in the area and even if you’re not part of the event, we will be having a casual meetup tonight from 7 to 9 PM at the Stables Restaurant at Rose Hill in Aiken.
Tapio Pulkkanen leads after one round of the Italian Open outside of Rome. The 29-year-old Finland native shot a bogey-free 64 that featured seven birdies. Pulkkanen isn’t a household name in the States, but he has had some success in Europe over the past few seasons. He notched seven top-10 finishes on the Challenge Tour in 2017 but has mostly been treading water on the European Tour. Needless to say, a win this week would be a game changer for Pulkkanen.
Rory Sabbatini (65), Shubhankar Sharma (66), Bernd Wiesberger (66), Justin Rose (66), Matthew Fitzpatrick (67), Tyrrell Hatton (67), and Danny Willett (67) are all in the top 10. Italian Open Leaderboard
Bold strategy, Cotton
The Hero World Challenge field was released on Tuesday. The tournament will be held the weekend before the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia, and many U.S. team members as well as several prospective captain’s picks are in the field. In contrast, many International team members are scheduled to play in the Australian Open ahead of the Presidents Cup.
Even with the Hero ending on Saturday to allow for a travel day to Australia, the Internationals will surely be better rested heading into the Presidents Cup. Traveling from the Bahamas to Melbourne just days ahead of the event seems like a crazy move. Couple that with the fact the Australian Open is a historically important event, and you can’t help but wonder why so many U.S. players opted for a hit-and-giggle. (Probably has something to do with easy money and easier world ranking points.)
Jeongeun Lee6 won the LPGA Rookie of the Year on Wednesday. The Women’s U.S. Open champion has ten top-10 finishes this season, is 2nd on the money list, and is 3rd in the Race to the CME Globe.
It has been a week of Tiger Woods dot com press releases! Woods has partnered with PopStroke, a “new way” to experience mini golf. Major missed opportunity on PopStroke’s part for brand synergy with Brandt Snedeker
Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion Jennifer Kupcho received a nice surprise from the green jackets this week.