A true Cinderella Story
The Monterey Peninsula welcomed big stars this week, and no one would have guessed who ended up stealing the show.
On Sunday, 4 men emerged from the pack to contend for the AT&T Championship: Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson, Jonas Blixt, Hiroshi Iwata, and Vaughn Taylor, who entered the week without playing status on either the PGA or Web.com Tours. During Sunday’s final round, Taylor emerged on the heels of a back 9 31, while Mickelson struggled early before charging late with birdies on 16 and 17 to pull within 1 shot of Taylor going into 18. Mickelson played the 18th at Pebble Beach beautifully, leaving himself a straight 5-footer to force a playoff. The putt lipped out, leading to Taylor’s one-shot victory.
Taylor, the 39-year-old journeyman, had seen his world ranking slip to 447 and his career fall to complete uncertainty. Taylor’s status was summarized best by his use of a carry bag this week as opposed to a staff tour bag, a sign that even sponsor dollars had dried up for the struggling pro. With the win, Taylor gains full playing status on tour for the next two years, an invitation to the Masters, and most certainly a bag sponsor.
Phil contends again
For Phil, the solo 2nd will serve as a disappointment as he entered Sunday with a two-shot lead over Iwata and a six shot lead over Taylor but failed to close the deal. However, Phil’s early season play that has included two top 5’s in 4 starts shows his game is back after a tough 2015.
Can Phil earn his 4th Green Jacket at age 45? Can he complete the grand slam by winning the U.S. Open (an event that has eluded him throughout his career)?
A storyline we’re sure to watch this season.
End of Pro-Am Season
The AT&T marks the end of amateurs teein’ it up with the pros in competition as well as the tour’s multi-course setups. Watching swings like Chris Berman’s won’t be missed as the tour kicks into high gear. Up next week is the Northern Trust Open at historic Riviera Country Club.
The European Tour has made 3 stops in South Africa in 2016, and all 3 times a South African has come away victorious. This week it was former Masters Champion, Charl Schwartzel. Schwartzel used a blistering final-round 63 that included only 23 putts to fuel his runaway 7-shot victory at the Tshwane Open. It was Schwartzel’s first start of the season and his 11th career European Tour win, 8 of which have been won on his home turf in South Africa.
Porteus goes shirtless
In what is becoming a new phenomena on the European Tour, Hadyn Porteus followed in David Howell’s footsteps going shirtless to hit a ball from the water. We aren’t sure if the shirt-off approach to these shots is necessary or rather an excuse for Porteus to prove he works out.
An app you gotta get
Ever wanted a way to connect and share your favorite golf moments with other golfers? Now you can with gottaGolf, a new app that offers a community just for golfers to give them a better way to interact with each other and experience the game together. Check out our full review and a few words from the founder himself here.
Ko claims title on home turf
It didn’t take long for women’s number 1 Lydia Ko to notch her first victory of 2016. Playing her 2nd event of the 2016 season in her home country of New Zealand, Ko was able to fight off a morning earthquake and competitors Felicity Johnson, Nanna Koerstz Madsen and amateur Hye Jin Choi to win by two shots. After the round, an emotional Ko announced that she would be donating her entire winnings from the week (roughly $33,000) to New Zealand.
Langer not slowed by anchor ban
The new anchor ban that went into place in 2016 was expected to slow down the PGA Tour Champions’ great Bernhard Langer. At this week’s Chubb Classic, golf fans quickly learned it wouldn’t. Despite being seen with 15 putters on the practice green earlier in the week, Langer went wire-to-wire for a 3 shot victory over Fred Couples. The win moved Langer to 3rd on the Champions Tour victory list behind only Hale Irwin and Lee Trevino.
Monday’s Course Tour
Meet the world’s best 9-hole course, The Dunes Club. Built in SW Michigan’s famed sand dunes, the Dick Nugent masterpiece is a track few get the chance to play, and those who do don’t forget it.
34 days until spring
The fried egg took a “golf trip” this weekend. With temperatures hovering around 0 and a frozen lake in Wisconsin, playing conditions couldn’t have been better.