It’s all go for January after the R&A and USGA published their finalised Rules of Golf. So what’s coming in? Steve Carroll outlines the changes.
Woodland wins at ‘The Greatest Show on Grass’ in Phoenix
Gary Woodland beat a gutsy Chez Reavie in extra holes at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour.
What happened at the Phoenix Open?
Another week on the PGA Tour, another play-off. This time it was Gary Woodland who came out on top after parring the first extra hole against Chez Reavie.
Woodland was round in 64 after recording nine birdies, including three on the trot from the 15th, and his 18-under total looked plenty good enough for his third win on tour. But Reavie then took it into overtime after a stunning finish of his own.
From the final three ball the expected threat was from Rickie Fowler or Jon Rahm but they both couldn’t keep the bogeys off the card and were just a sideshow over the closing holes. Fowler is now 1-6 in converting 54-hole leads and the questions on that topics will start up again after this.
But their playing partner Reavie, who played his college golf at Arizona State, came out flying with an eagle at 3, birdie at 5 and a chip-in par at the next. He bogeyed 16 but a birdie at 17 meant he needed another at the last to tie Woodland.
He found the fairway, hit it to 21 feet and hit a beautiful putt that dropped dead centre.
But Reavie, whose only win came in Canada 10 years ago, then saw his wedge come up short and left and he missed from half this range. Woodland, who had been 0-2 in play-offs, found sand off the tee but managed a par.
The biggest cheer of the loudest week on Tour went to Phil Mickelson when he rolled this one in. The left-hander, without a win since the 2013 Open at Muirfield, looked like going bogey free for a second day running but then, needing an eagle to match Woodland, missed a short one for bogey at the last to sign for a 69. Still, lots of positives for Mickelson as he builds for Augusta.
PHIL! PHIL! PHIL! PHIL!— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 4, 2018
Here’s what it sounded like when Lefty landed a long birdie at the loud 16th. pic.twitter.com/H3JkKpFD0t
Out of all the places to hit a shank, 16 at Waste Management might be the worst. pic.twitter.com/XNmLG4QVAw— Skratch (@Skratch) February 3, 2018
If there is any professional golfer in the game that you associate with the shank then Ian Poulter should be very near the top, if not right in at No 1.
He’s done it regularly at Augusta, he did it at the 72nd hole of The Players when right in contention and he did it at the 16th here on Friday.
But, Poulter being Poulter, it didn’t put the fear of God into him and he put the finishing touches to a 69.
“It’s not my first shank, and it won’t be my last shank,” Poulter said. “That’s it. I laugh at it. It’s pretty funny.”
I spoke to Poulter a few years ago and left the elephant in the room until the final question and his single-mindedness was incredible.
“What if you have just hit a shank?”
“It doesn’t bother me. It is irrelevant. It is so close to the sweet spot that you shouldn’t change what you are already doing. Most people try and compensate, and they hit another one. Their process after the first one isn’t good.”
I remind him of the time he once hit a couple in a round at the Masters and ask how much it played on his mind.
“It didn’t, it’s gone, it’s irrelevant. I had one at the 4th off the tee and one with my approach to the 15th where I was way out to the right and then still nearly made birdie.”
Moments of the week
Ollie Schniederjans had this putt for an eagle, his next shot was a drop. Even the club golfer would do pretty well to end up wet when he/she have done the hard bit and found the green. The good news, of sorts, was that he got up and down for a bogey and he eventually tied for third with Brendan Steele.