Last time you read this newsletter, Phil Mickelson was leading the Wells Fargo Championship. He finished 69th. (Nice.)
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Early on, Team USA was a bit messy, but ultimately the Americans outran Great Britain and Ireland to win the 2021 Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club. Hurled forward by two players who were really feeling the flow, Ricky Castillo (4-0) and Cole Hammer (3-0-1), the U.S. beat GB&I 14-12. Scoring
All’s well that ends well, but on Friday morning, several members of both teams came down with an unspecified stomach virus. U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci caught the worst of it and went to the hospital for treatment on Saturday. Fortunately, most players recovered well enough to play both days, and on Sunday afternoon, the fight was on. As has been the case in recent Walker Cups, though, the depth of the U.S. team proved too much for GB&I in singles matches. Team USA went 10.5-7.5 in singles on Saturday and Sunday, enough to win on home soil in comfortable fashion.
As good as (much of) the play was, Seminole was even better. The greens and fairways were firm, and the wind made certain holes downright brutal on Sunday. While we don’t exactly envy the players who had to tackle 17 and 18 in a stiff right-to-left breeze, it was compelling to watch them deal with the tough conditions. Players had to flight approaches into, against, and with the gusts whipping off the ocean. Around the greens, they needed creativity and a delicate touch.
If you watched one golf tournament this weekend, we hope this was the one.
Oh, the places you’ll Fargo
Many of the highest-profile PGA Tour pros have taken two or three of the past three weeks off, but they were back in force at the Wells Fargo Championship this weekend. The biggest name of all, Rory McIlroy, took home the trophy. He made things interesting on the 72nd hole but still closed out the third win of his career at Quail Hollow Club. Results
It’s no secret that McIlroy hasn’t quite been himself since pro golf returned from its pandemic pause last spring. He’s had a few top 10s but never seemed to fire on all cylinders. Even this week, Rory didn’t appear to have his full A game. He drove the ball well but not at the outrageous level he has before. It was strong approach play and phenomenal putting that earned him his first win in more than a year.
That’s not to take anything away from Rory. His towering iron shots gave him a huge advantage, and he didn’t miss from inside six feet all week. Yes, he’ll need to tighten up a few things to win at venues that don’t suit his game as perfectly as Quail Hollow, but getting back in the winner’s circle is a big step for the 32-year-old superstar.
The abbreviated Asian swing on the LPGA Tour swing finished in dramatic fashion with three Thai players—Patty Tavatanakit, Atthaya Thitikul, and Ariya Jutanugarn—vying for a victory in their home country. It was Jutanugarn who went lowest on Sunday, recording a 63 to win for the first time since July 2018. Results
Like the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour has seen some great comebacks recently. Lydia Ko ended a drought three weeks ago, and now Jutanugarn has done the same. A former world No. 1 and a major champion, Ariya has, by her standards, struggled in the past couple of years. This spring, she fell outside of the top 30 in the Rolex Rankings for the first time since 2016, and she had yet to finish better than T-21 in 2021. But a nearly flawless final round in Thailand has turned her season around and made her the first Thai winner of the Honda LPGA Thailand. And it clearly meant something to her.
Austin Smotherman started the Simmons Bank Open with a 65 and followed it up with three rounds of 69 to win on the Korn Ferry Tour. The dub moved him to No. 20 in the KFT standings and one step closer to a PGA Tour card. Results
If you aren’t familiar with Garrick Higgo just yet, remember the name. The 21-year-old South African won the Canary Islands Championship for his third European Tour victory in the past nine months. He’s up to No. 51 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Results
With a birdie on the first playoff hole, Alex Cejka defeated Steve Stricker to win the Regions Tradition on the PGA Tour Champions. Results
Two-time Honda LPGA Thailand winner Amy Yang shot 64 on Sunday to vault up to T-3.
Bryson DeChambeau thought he missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship, so he flew home to Dallas on Friday afternoon. He ended up making the weekend on the number, chartering a return jet to Charlotte on Saturday morning, and closing with rounds of 68-68 to place T-9. Consider your regular reminder that Bryson, in addition to being ridiculous, is very, very good at golf.
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Shotgun Start: Is the Walker Cup under-marketed, a Prince returns, and anti-thirstbucket
It was a jam-packed weekend of golf and this Monday episode jumps right into it by flipping a coin and starting with a review of the Walker Cup. Andy and Brendan nominate their favorite “breakout” players from the weekend, what they loved most about Seminole, and wonder why there’s not a push to make this more of a top 10 event in the entire game. Is such a push or goal to make this bigger even desired or possible? Then they’re on to the professional game and a course and format that stood out in stark contrast to the Walker Cup. But of course there was the Prince of Ponte Vedra redeeming it all and getting back in the winner’s circle. They discuss his “drought” and if it even was a drought, his abandoning of his draw thanks to modern equipment, and the energy a Rory charge brings to an event. There’s also the matter of the Thicc Boi’s flight hijinks. On the LPGA, they discuss the scenes of Ariya bawling after winning her home event and also ending a drought of her own. The Regions Tradition recap turns into a segment on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers fans uneasiness. They close with the anti-thirstbucket of the week, a frugal Longhorn who has made millions playing golf but was so upset about a $1.95 charge on his food bill that he had to instagram about it. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
If you contemplated the (at most) 26” waist of Ricky Castillo at the Walker Cup and thought to yourself, “I need a new belt,” you’re in luck! We’re freshly stocked with new Fried Egg and Shotgun Start ribbon belts. Get yours today!