Leish’s way

On a sad day in the sports world, Aussies win in America and Europe, and golfers talk about what the late Kobe Bryant meant to them


Everything else felt secondary yesterday as we learned of the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others onboard. We will have the Bryant family—and the families of all those who lost their lives—in our thoughts this week.

In today’s newsletter…

  • Marc Leishman hates fairways but loves winning.
  • The Premier Golf League divulges details.
  • Golfers pay tribute to Black Mamba.

The Storylines

Aussie Aussie Aussie

A pair of Australians shone brightest in the golf firmament this weekend—and on Australia Day, no less! Marc Leishman shot a final-round 65 to take the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour, while Lucas Herbert closed out the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the second hole of a playoff.

It wasn’t pretty, but Leishman did just enough to secure his fifth career PGA Tour victory at Torrey Pines. The big Australian finished 70th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee on Sunday but first in SG: Putting and fourth in SG: Approach. It’s not often you see someone win after hitting just three fairways in the final round. Farmers Insurance Open Results

Over on the European Tour, 24-year-old Lucas Herbert had to birdie his final two holes in regulation to tie Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Herbert proceeded to hit what he called “maybe the worst shot [of] my life” on the first playoff hole—but then he flagged a wedge, saved par, and birdied the next hole to win. It was Herbert’s first pro victory. Omega Dubai Desert Classic Results

As we mentioned when Cam Smith won the Sony Open, the Australian wildfires have brought many Aussie golfers together in fundraising. Players across the globe continue pledging cash for each birdie they make, and the PGA Tour is matching donations up to $125,000. A lot of work remains to be done, but we’ll continue to applaud anyone who’s raising money and awareness.

Tributes to Kobe

Kobe Bryant’s greatness transcended basketball. He was a hero to millions around the globe, and after his death on Sunday, many golfers spoke in post-round interviews and on social media about Kobe’s influence on their lives.

Tiger Woods: “”[I’ll remember] the fire. He burned so competitively hot. The desire to win. He brought it each and every night on both ends of the floor.”

Brooks Koepka: “His mentality motivated me not only in hard times but throughout my whole life.”

Max Homa: “He didn’t know it, but Kobe made me tougher.”

Bryson DeChambeau: “He was an icon not only in his game but in business and with his family.”

Tony Finau: “My mom passed away in a car accident in 2011. It’s crazy that some of those feelings that I had are back. That’s how much Kobe meant to me.”

Jane Park: “When I made my first paycheck, I used that [money] to buy a ticket to see Kobe play…. I wanted to see greatness in person and I was speechless.”

Jon Rahm: “I’m really fortunate to be where I am. My heart goes to all those people in the helicopter, all those families, and all the other problems going on in the world, which are a lot more important than whether I make a putt or not.”

The Roundup

Farmers Insurance Open—other notes

  • Jon Rahm’s hot streak rolled on as the 25 year-old finished one shot back of Marc Leishman and in solo second. Rahm was 4-over through his first five holes, but he fought back with four birdies and an eagle in his final six. He has placed worse than T-13 only once since the U.S. Open, and he has won three times over that span.
  • Brandt Snedeker continued his Torrey Pines love affair with a T-3. Sneds now has two victories and six top-three finishes at the event. 
  • Tiger Woods never quite made his move on the weekend. He played well, though, shooting under par all four rounds and finishing T-9. In a sad moment, cameras followed Tiger as he walked off the 18th green and caddie Joe LaCava informed him of Kobe Bryant’s death.

Omega Dubai Desert Classic—other notes

  • Standing on the 15th tee at the Dubai Desert Classic, Bryson DeChambeau was tied for the lead, but he bogeyed his final four holes to fall to T-8. The defending champion earned his first top-10 finish—as well as his first slow-play warning—of 2020.
  • Adri Arnaus continued to impress with a T-3 in Dubai. The 25-year-old Spaniard had three runner-ups last year and has reached the top 125 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Madelene Sagström made an eight-foot par save on the 72nd hole to win her first LPGA Tour event at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. Nasa Hataoka had a chance to force a playoff but settled for her second-straight runner-up. Results

News of a potential world tour—now branded the Premier Golf League—reverberated through the golf world this weekend after Geoff Shackelford’s initial report on Thursday. Two updates:

  • On Saturday, the group behind the tour email a lengthy explanation of its vision and ideas to many members of the media.
  • According to a report from Evin Priest, the Premier Golf League appears to be interested in including the Australian Open in its schedule. Clearly this would be a financial boost for one of golf’s most historic tournaments, but it would raise the question of how a 48-man, 54-hole, no-cut concept could possibly mesh with a national Open.

Will Bardwell wrote a terrific piece on the flawed system on which Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail operates. Too Big to Trail on Lying Four

The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America

Suneagles Golf Course (Eatontown, New Jersey)


Another New Jersey private-gone-public, A. W. Tillinghast’s Suneagles has some of his steepest greens. Just 50 minutes south of Manhattan, the course boasts huge tiers dividing its undulating putting surfaces and big, wing-like contours defending against the short side. Suneagles would fit right in with Tilly’s championship portfolio farther north; in particular, its elegant Golden Age shaping brings Scarsdale’s Fenway Golf Club to mind. While the course could use some TLC, the bones of a Great Hazard are still there, as are plenty of shared hazards and a par-3 Reef Hole. Infrastructure improvements appear to be underway—but when you have greens this bold, you don’t need super fast surfaces anyway! 

Insider tip: Once called Monmouth Country Club and later part of Fort Monmouth, the course hosted some seriously big tournaments back in the day, including the 1935 New Jersey Open, won by Byron Nelson. -Jaeger Kovich

Photo credit: Suneagles Golf Course

The Latest from The Fried Egg

The Fried Egg Podcast, Episode 169: Brad Faxon

During his long playing career, Brad Faxon won eight PGA Tour events, participated in two Ryder Cups, and became known as one of the best putters in golf history. Currently he serves as an analyst for Fox Sports’ USGA telecasts and a putting consultant to tour pros. Brad joined Andy at the PGA Show to discuss the art of the interview, the mental and emotional dimensions of golf, the importance of good architecture at tournament courses, and Brad’s memories of growing up in Rhode Island and learning about Golden Age design. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

The Shotgun Start: Tiger and the Mamba, Bryson gets timed, and World Tour reactions

We begin this Monday episode with a solemn note on the loss of Kobe Bryant at 41 years old and how the tragedy on Sunday immediately became a part of the much smaller story happening at Torrey Pines. On golf, we discuss Marc Leishman’s win and his admittance to the prestigious Swedish Pancake Club. We also hit on some of the course changes, Tiger’s game, another JB-Grammys scare, Faldo’s stumbles, and Jon Rahm not knowing the score on the 72nd green. Over on the European Tour, we get into Bryson being put on the clock and then immediately tanking on the back nine on Sunday. We also discuss his new beefy Jersey shore boardwalk dweller look. In news, we get to the The Players bumping its purse as Andy intimated it would last week. We sign off with some more discussion on the World Tour, including their press release full of shots at the PGA Tour, and some comments on the concept from Phil, Rory, and others. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

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