We thought it was going to be a sleepy weekend for the golfing world. Instead, we had a heart-warming win from Cameron Champ, controversial comments from Rory McIlroy, and wire-to-wire dominance by M. J. Hur. Not bad for the end of September.
Are you saying… that the Old Course with no wind was easy?
It was a calm weather weekend for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, and that means low scores galore. Frenchman Victor Perez cruised to a final-round 70 at the Old Course, winning by one shot over Matthew Southgate. Perez shot rounds of 64-68-64-70 this weekend, with one of the 64s coming at St. Andrews. Tommy Fleetwood (T-5), Tom Lewis (T-5), Luke Donald (T-10), and Tony Finau (T-10) all finished in the top 10.
However, the main story of the Dunhill Links did not involve any of those players. Rory McIlroy, after finishing T-26 at 15 under par, lambasted the European Tour.
From John Huggan’s Golf Digest report:
“I’m sort of honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th,” said McIlroy, who has played only four “regular” European Tour events (non-major and non-WGC tournaments) this season. At the Dunhill, McIlroy posted scores of 70-66-70-67 yet finished seven back of winner Victor Perez.
“I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough,” McIlroy said. “There are no penalties for bad shots. It’s tough when you come back and it’s like that. I don’t feel like good golf is regarded as well as it could be. It happened in the Scottish Open at Renaissance. I shot 13 under and finished 30th [actually T-34] again. It’s not a good test. I think if the European Tour wants to put forth a really good product, the golf courses and setups need to be tougher.”
While Rory’s frustration is understandable, these comments are peculiar. For one thing, he directed them at 1) a pro-am that needs to accommodate competitors of average ability and 2) links courses that require wind to defend themselves. There was little wind these past few days. Was McIlroy really surprised that the Dunhill Links played easy?
Besides, Rory himself consistently succeeds on PGA Tour setups that fail to put much pressure on players. Part of the problem is bland golf course architecture, but technology has played a role as well, decreasing the number of courses that can truly test the game’s elite. Whatever the cause, though, the PGA Tour is the number-one offender when it comes to milquetoast tournament venues. So although Rory’s displeasure is warranted, it’s directed at the wrong tour.
One for Pops
Back on the continental 48, Cameron Champ closed out a one-shot win at the Safeway Open in Napa. Champ started the day three clear of the field and eventually built the lead to five, but a 71st-hole bogey left him just one ahead of Adam Hadwin. After watching Hadwin birdie the final hole, Champ got up-and-down from short of the green to make a birdie of his own, clinching his second career PGA Tour victory. Safeway Open Leaderboard
It was an emotional week for Cameron Champ. His grandfather, the man who taught him the game, was diagnosed with stage-four cancer this summer. All signs point to him not having much time left, and Cameron has been doing all he can to maximize family time. He even commuted 60 miles to the Safeway each day this week to spend more time with his grandfather. Afterwards, he said that this victory will be the best moment of his golfing career. It will certainly be one the Champ family remembers forever.
- Looking for back-to-back victories, Sebastián Muñoz made it to the final group on Sunday, but he stumbled to a 74 that dropped him to T-33.
- Korn Ferry Tour graduates Zac Blair (T-5), Cameron Percy (T-7), and Xinjun Zhang (T-7) all secured top-10 finishes this week. All three will move up the priority rankings and be in good shape for the first reshuffle of the season.
- Collin Morikawa earned his fourth top 10 in 2019 this week. The California native shot rounds of 71-64-70-71 to finish T-10.
Mi Jung Hur went wire-to-wire on the LPGA Tour this weekend. She shot an opening 63 and followed it up with rounds of 70-66-68 to win by four. Leaderboard
USC golfer Yuxin Lin won the Asia-Pacific Amateur this weekend. Lin also won the event in 2017 and will make his second trip to The Masters this spring.
Shotgun Start: When LiveUnderPar goes wrong for Rory, Bryson’s “Maximum Relief,” and Cam Champ’s win
Victory Monday on the Shotgun Start is loaded with content goodies from the weekend. Brendan and Andy begin with a cursory review of the Bears and Browns success, as well as debate on if backup QB is the best role to have in the NFL. After those pressing non-golf matters, they jump immediately into Rory McIlroy’s comments on the European Tour setups being too easy. They hit on the hypocrisy of the Prince of Ponte Vedra voicing these concerns, the role equipment that he endorses has played in this problem he has, and some numbers that quickly rebut his contention. At the Safeway, they hit on the Cam Champ win and how it became one of the best finishing stories we’ll get all year and where he goes next. On less serious matters, they also excoriate the “maximum relief” given to Bryson DeChambeau after his failed backboarding attempt sailed into the hazard. Kristoffer Ventura’s alleged “spit” on Tony Romo’s ball is also quickly debunked and discarded. They wrap with a quick roundup of results from around the globe, including Andy reacquainting us with some old friends at the Panasonic in Asia. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.
Cameron Champ didn’t hit a fairway on the front nine on Sunday as his driver went cold. When the weather goes cold on the golf course, grab a Fried Egg quarter zip. Get yours today!