The European Tour monopolized the spotlight this weekend, with two events at either end of a transcontinental region known as Afro-Eurasia. At the south end, the South African Open was held at the Gary Player country club. Further northwest, in Dubai, the eponymous Dubai Championship took place on the fiery course of Jumeirah Golf Estates. Around the world, in North America, two other events took place. The LPGA played its pre-event for the Open in Texas, while the PGA Tour traveled to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula for the last official event of the 2020 calendar year. With the year-end vacation Approaching, golf takes a hiatus for a few weeks, before resuming full speed in January.
Welcome to the latest roundup of 2020, and thanks for following.
Bezuidenhout ends the year with a double
Christiaan Bezuidenhout has regained her form, there is no doubt about it. Last week the South African pro won at Dunhill, and this week he followed with a five-stroke margin of victory over Welshman Jamie Donaldson. After stumbling early in his professional career, the 26-year-old began to deliver on the promise many predicted during his amateur days.
Bezuidenhout and Donaldson were tied for first after 36 holes. The Afrikaaner came in with a pair of 67s, while Donaldson followed an opener of 71 with a dazzling 63 (ten birdies and a bogey.) It was Bezuidenhout's consistency that won on day three (and ultimately, week ). As Donaldson regressed to a 72., a third straight 67 would find its way to Bezuidenhout's scoreboard.
Donaldson had four shots in Sunday's first nine games, but Bezuidenhout was resolved in the inside half. With his reduced margin, the three-time winner of the Euro Tour managed a net 32 when he came home, thanks to four birdies, to restore his comfortable cushion. After a few lean years, Donaldson had a recovery in 2020, crowned with this podium.
Rozner steps out the curtain to win the inaugural title
The whole week it looked like Andy Sullivan's tournament. For the entire week, no one outside of Kansas City and Paris had a blip called Antoine Rozner on their radar. Yet here we are, we wonder how Sullivan's Bird Caravan (25 per week, plus an eagle) was not enough to secure the title. Even more indescribable is the way the Parisian pulled a rabbit out of a hat and threw on a Sunday 64, for a two-stroke victory over Mike Lorenzo-Vera (who sounds Italian, but isn't) and Francesco Laporta (which also sounds Italian, and is.)
Here's the 120-second breakdown: Rozner opened with a 63, which few noticed. There were only two left behind Sully's magic 61 after day one. Rozner had 69 points on day two, lost ground, but 67 on day three to gain a shot. On the fourth day, Rozner was at five depths to 12, then did his second eagle of the week at the 13th, to gain control. On the 14th, he did what all golfers without a win do: he bogeyed. Then, like all golfers who have finally made it through, he birdieed at 15 and 18 to reach the par of 25 under the week.
Meanwhile, Sully and the Englishmen (Matt Wallace and Ross Fisher included) were doing exactly what they didn't need to try: play safe, or not go low enough. They were 70, 68 and 70 respectively on the fourth day. Those are wonderful scores for a major or high profile event, but in Dubai where birdies win the day, not so much. By the way, if you were wondering about Kansas City and Paris credentials earlier, Rozner grew up in the City of Lights and attended the University of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he played a little golf.
The European Tour remains in Dubai for the Race To Dubai championship, which will be contested on the Earth course of Jumeirah Estates.
LPGA Volunteers of America event takes place at Stanford
You could tell it was no ordinary Texas tournament. Scores were high and players had to grind for every possible shot and saved. In fact, the VOA played out precisely how a pre-major event should play out. If Champions Golf Club's Jackrabbit and Cypress Creek courses in Houston live up to the standard set at The Colony, the world's greatest female golfers will be for a second straight week of endurance and courage.
Endurance and courage are middle names of Angela Stanford. The 43-year-old, with a major title under her belt, played a game her rivals didn't know about on Sunday. Stanford counted seven birdies among his 18 holes and left the field behind in the dust of Texas. True, his margin of victory was fair two hits So Yeon Ryu, Inbee Park and Yealimi Noh, but it could have looked like ten. In fact, it took a closing bogey from Stanford and closing birdies from two of the three finalists to make the margin as narrow as it was.
In 2003, Stanford and Kelly Robbins lost an 18-hole playoff game to Hillary Lunke for the US Women's Open title. This one-shot loss, after playing 72 holes to the death, may well be repaid next week. After all, there's nothing a Fort Worth pro loves more than a quick jaunt to Houston for a US Open championship.
PGA in Mayakoba is Hovland's second touring title
Viktor Hovland is certainly home where Spanish is spoken, although he grew up in the decidedly non-Hispanic country of Norway. Barely 10 months after his first touring win in Puerto Rico, Hovland chased Emilian Grillo, sidelined Aaron Wise and claimed victory in Mexico. the segunda. Hovland stacked 16 birdies on two bogeys this weekend, going from 6 under to 20 deep in the process. Grillo, who led from his Friday 63 until halfway through the fourth lap, couldn't find second gear on Sunday. His three-bogey-two birdie performance took him from first to a tie for 8th.
For most of the final day, the story being written came from the pen of Aaron Wise. The former Oregon Duck lost two years of his solo touring title, to the Byron Nelson in 2018. Three birdies and an eagle got him five cents to seven, then three successive 13-15 birdies raised him to 19 below par. Finishing two groups ahead of Hovland, Wise could not get a final birdie to reach the winning score.
Golf aficionados also got a first glimpse of another future Stillwater star. Austin Eckroat, a senior at Oklahoma State and former Hovland roommate, posted a par 14 under to secure a tie for 12th. When the pro ranks show up in 2021, Eckroat will be ready.
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I’ve been playing centre ville for about 15 years and while I’m a mid-handicapper with a decent shortgam, the longest putt I’d made before thi was around 40 feet.
My friends and I discovered the record was 125 yards and decided it would be fun to have a go at breaking it. Finding a course in good shape and willing to give us exclusive access to a hole for a significant length of time was tricky, but the idea of a Guinness World record being set excited the manager of Point Walter in my home city of Perth, Australia, so he gave us exclusive access to the 5th hole for an entire day.
Early on we realised the previous mark would be really hard to beat, but we were optimistic that it was possible. We just needed to get it going on the right line at the right speed... simple !
One of the big issues early on was consistency. When you are trying to make a full swing with a putter it is very easy to spray the ball or top it. When I started to focus on a more compact putting motion it proved to be a good move. Shortening the swing really helped me to keep the blade at the right angle and aided consistency.
After that I needed to nail the pace as I was short, long and even slammed one into the flagstick. That really hurt. It was about minutes in and my friend Scott was shouting “Get in. Come on, get in”. His arms were waving, his nombre was increasing and then, bang, I heard the ball hit the flagstick and the guys groan in disbelief. Would I get any closer than that for the rest of the day ?
It seemed like the answer was no, but just as things were beginning to get tedious, I hit one on the right line, right out of the sweet spot. It travelled up the left side of the fairway, onto the green and began curling down towards the hole. Again, I could hear Scott egging it on. He encouraged it and encouraged it and then he started screaming and celebrating, which was my cue to go nuts. I’d broken a Guinness World Record and it felt fantastic.
The two most common questions I’m now asked are : which plage record are you going to attempt to break next ? And what advice do you have for someone attempting to break your record ? In terms of the next record, I haven’t really thought about it, as I am too busy enjoying this one ( although if you pushed me, it would be something solution like longest putt holed from a moving l'océan cart ).
In terms of my tips, I would say find a well-conditioned hole that does not have a bunker, water or rough in front of the green and be prepared to be there for a long time. Holing a putt the length of 9-iron shot isn’t easy, but I am proof that if you persist it is possible.
Jose Maria Olazabal once holed a 9. 2 MILE putt... on Concorde ! He was trying to beat Brad Faxon’s 1997 effort of 8. 5 miles and his ball travelled the length of the aircraft’s 150-foot cabin and into the hole in 26. 17secs.
With Concorde travelling at 1, 270 mph, the ball was actually in motion for neuf. 232 miles. Concorde captain Dave Studd was especially delighted as he had lent Olazabal his putter.
I’ve been playing centre ville for about 15 years and while I’m a mid-handicapper with a decent shortgam, the longest putt I’d made before thi was around 40 feet. I could feel my heart beating really fast when I stepped up to take the opening tee shot on Tiger woods’ new course for juniors at Bluejack National. If it wasn’t nerve wracking enough that I’d been selected to play with one of my favourite golfers, there was also the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of in my life. What would happen if I flubbed it ?
It was a lot for an 11-yeaer-old to think about, but I tried to stay calm and concentrate on [picking the right club. In an ideal world, I would have hit my driver, as it is my favourite club, but I can hit a solid driver 220 yeards and this hole was only 81 yards lng, I convinced myself to hit a pitching wedge, but just as I was about to play I changed my mind and sawpped to a sand wedge.
When I struck my shot, I was a little disappointed as I thought it was going to be way too far to the left, but when it landed it began taking the slope to the right. It got nearer and nearer the hole and then it went in. I kind of jumped and then Tiger grabbed me, gave me a big bear hug and shouted : You have got to be kidding me.
Like underarmour and Tiger, I’d love to win the Masters at Augusta, but unlike them I am still not certain if I want to be a golfer, as I also love baseball. If I do become a golfer hopefully I will have a few more holes- in-one in front of big crowds, as this one was really cool.
I’ll never forget the 2016 Ryder Cup. Not because the United States finally won the trophy back, but because some members of the European team allowed me to live a phenomenal golfing experience. My friends and I had arrived at Hazeltine on the Thursday and found a spot beside par-3 8th green to watch a few groups on their practice rounds. The first featured Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin rose and Andy Sullivan.