Canadian Nick Taylor claimed a four-shot victory at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for his second PGA Tour title. The world number 229, 31-year-old, started round four one ahead of Phil Mickelson and finished with a total of 19 under.
He holed to eagle the sixth from a bunker and overcame a double bogey on the 14th to post a two-under 70. Mickelson, trying to tie the 45 PGA wins of Walter Hagen, birded out three of the first six holes but fell to a 74 and ended five shots back in third.
Taylor’s only career PGA Tour win came at the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2014.
“To do it in that fashion, playing with Phil, gives me a lot of confidence going forward” said Taylor, who led the tournament all four days.
Rory McIlroy overtakes Brooks Koepka as No. 1
Brooks Koepka discounted the notion of a budding rivalry between him an Rory McIlroy last fall. “I’m not looking at anybody behind me,” Koepka said at the CJ Cup. “I’m No. 1 in the world. I’ve got open road in front of me … I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry.”
Although neither of them were in play this week, on Monday the Ulsterman passed Koepka for the top spot in the World Rankings. Koepka’s reign ends at 38 weeks after winning the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in May, retaining the No. 1 spot.
This is the eighth time that McIlroy has had with the crown of the OWGR, but first since 19 Sept 2015.
“I’ve been out here for, what, five years,” Koepka explained. “Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour.”
Webb Simpson birded the last two holes to secure the Phoenix Open in Arizona, before defeating Tony Finau in a play-off. The 34-year-old American two-putted on the 17th from 50 feet and then holed a 17-footer on the last, while Finau missed an 8-foot putt to win.
That left the players tied at 17 under and at the first extra hole, Simpson won his sixth PGA Tour title with another 10-foot birdie putt. “I didn’t have my best stuff but I hung in there,” said Simpson. “To come down to the last couple of holes and then birdie 18 twice feels great.”
Simpson began the final round one shot behind Finau and drew level on the fifth hole with a birdie. Nevertheless, he dropped a shot after hitting his drive into the water on the 15th to fall two behind with three to play.
American world number 13 Finau and Justin Thomas-who finished tied in third on 14 under-also wore Bryant’s jersey replicas on the 16th hole as the PGA Tour honoured the late Kobe Bryant by painting the numbers 8 and 24 on the approach of 16 green.
The winning birdie run for Simpson started when he drove the green on the 17th par-four before finishing his first victory since the 2018 Players Championship with two more on the 18th as Finau flapped.
“It’s a bitter week as I look back on it,” said Finau. “But lots of stuff to be learned. “I had a chance, a great chance to win this week. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but my game’s better than it’s ever been.”
Webb Simpson WITB 2020
Driver: Titleist TS3, (10.5°), Mitsubishi Tensei Blue AV 65 TX
3 wood: Titleist TS2 (15°), Mitsubishi Tensei Blue CK 70TX, Titleist 913 (18°), UST Mamiya Proforce VTS 8TX
Hybrid: Titleist 913 (20°), Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105X Hybrid, Titleist 915, (23.5°), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Australian Marc Leishman posted a 7-under 65 in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines to earn his fifth PGA Tour title with a one-shot victory.
The 36 year old was 4 back but he carded a blistering eight birdies on Sunday to end 15 under.
Leader Jon Rahm saw four shots go in his first five holes and he finished one behind, following a strong rebound to card a 70 but it wasn’t enough.
Rory McIlroy started three behind and had a mixed 69 to finish T3 at 12 under, while Tiger Woods was 9 under.
Rahm had a one-shot lead overnight but made a miserable start, running up a double bogey at the par three third after his tee shot ended up in a ravine, short of the green.
The Spaniard had an eagle and three birdies from the 13th but the closing birdie from Leishman left Rahm needing an eagle at the last to force a play-off in California.
A fine fairway wood found the back of the green and left a line similar to his 60-foot putt from the fringe grass for an eagle to win the tournament three years ago.
However, this time the putt ended inches short as Leishman celebrated victory on Australia Day, emulating the win of compatriot Lucas Herbert at the Dubai Desert Classic of the European Tour.
McIlroy, who needed a win to get back to the top of the world rankings, lost three shots in his first four holes but improved in his next five with three birdies and an eagle, before combining two bogeys with three birdies on the back nine.
At the start of the final round, Woods was five off the lead in his attempt to become an overall top tournament winner for the PGA Tour.
His score 70 featured an amazing moment at the second hole when his second shot took one ounce and went straight in the hole, then reappeared a half second later and spun back out the hole.
The 15-time major winner was told by caddie Joe la Cava coming off the 18th green of the death of his friend Kobe Bryant, the legendary basketball player killed in a helicopter crash across the state in Calabasas.
The players protested when they first played a PGA TOUR
event three decades ago at PGA West’s Stadium Course. Pete Dye, they claimed,
was trying to embarrass them with its sadistic design.
Dye stated “They’re great players. We’re just giving them
the opportunities to hit great golf shots.”
The punitive pair of closing holes in the Stadium Course did
just that for Andrew Landry at The American Express on Sunday. What once looked
like a stunning collapse would simply set the stage for Landry’s clutch shotmaking.
Landry back-to-back birdies to win his second PGA TOUR
A final-round 67 gave him a final score of 262, two shots better than the hard-charging Ancer, who finished second with a final-round 63 after breaking the course record. Landry moved in the FedExCup from 178th to 17th with the victory.
LANDRY’S EQUIPMENT CHOICE:
DRIVER: Ping G410 LST 10.5˚, fitted with an Aldila Tour Blue 65 TX shaft.
3-WOOD: TaylorMade M5 15˚ loft, with Project X HZRDUS Yellow shaft.
5-WOOD: Ping G set at 17.75˚loft with Project X HZRDUS Yellow 85-6.5 shaft.
7-WOOD: Ping G410 set at 20.5˚, with Project X HZRDUS Yellow 83-6.5 shaft.
IRONS: Ping iBlade (4- to 9-iron), with Nippon Modus3 105-X shafts.
WEDGES: Ping Glide 3.0 (46˚ loft) and Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (54˚ and 60˚) with Nippon Modus3 Tour 105-X.
On the European Tour Lee Westwood won by 2 shots at the Abu
Claiming this title meant Lee has won on the European Tour
in four different decades.
Two shots ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and
Victor Perez, Westwood finished on 19 under par.
At the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, the 46-year-old shot a
five-under-par 67 to win the event for the first time. Lee stated “I had a
little slip at 16 but I hit some good shots coming in. It’s been a good week. I
am just really happy the way I controlled myself. I wasn’t paying attention to
other people; I was just trying to control my emotions.”
The Englishman’s 44th professional win-and his 25th on the
European Tour-means that in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s he won European
Westwood, who missed out on the squad for the 2018 European Ryder Cup, is back in contention for a spot at Whistling Straits held in the fall of 2020.
WESTWOOD’S EQUIPMENT CHOICE:
DRIVER: Ping G410 Plus, (10°), Aldila NV 2KXV Green 65 X
FAIRWAYS: Ping G410, (14.5˚), Aldila NV 2KXV Green
HYBRID: Ping G410, (19°), Aldila Tour Green Hybrid 85 X
DRIVING IRON: Ping G Crossover, Ping JZ
IRONS: Ping i210, (4-UW), Ping JZ Stiff
WEDGES: Ping Glide Forged, (60˚), Ping JZ
PUTTER: Ping Sigma 2 Fetch
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
Ping had a 3rd Win this weekend on the Champions Tour
Miguel Angel Jimenez beat Ernie Els, Fred Couples in playoff, wins PGA Tour Champions’ opener
BRINGING FORGED-LIKE FEEL TO THE DISTANCE IRON CATEGORY
BUILDING ON THE REVOLUTIONARY PERFORMANCE OF SPEED BRIDGE TECHNOLOGY TO DELIVER IMPROVED FEEL, SOUND AND EXPLOSIVE DISTANCE
CARLSBAD, Calif. (January 10, 2020) – TaylorMade Golf, the industry leader in innovation and technology, today announced the all-new SIM Max and SIM Max OS irons. Featuring the company’s revolutionary Speed Bridge™ technology and the all-new ECHO® Damping System, SIM Max and SIM Max OS deliver explosive distance, enhanced sound and forged-like feel to the distance iron category.
SPEED BRIDGE COMBINES WITH THRU-SLOT SPEED POCKET – DISTANCE, PERFORMANCE AND FORGED-LIKE FEEL
After playing a pivotal role in the industry leading performance found in M5 & M6 irons, Speed Bridge technology again takes center stage in 2020. TaylorMade has built upon this revolutionary technology to deliver more refined performance with SIM Max and SIM Max OS irons.
Speed Bridge is a mass efficient beam that spans across the cavity back of the iron, connecting the back bar to the topline. This intelligent shaping allows for improved stability in the upper face and supports the topline, preventing unwanted vibrations that create the harsh feels associated with traditional distance irons. The increased rigidity in the topline and upper perimeter of the face delivers improved sound and feel while working in conjunction with a flexible Thru-Slot Speed Pocket™ engineered for increased ball speed and distance.
Thanks to the face stability offered by Speed Bridge, TaylorMade engineers were able to
incorporate a Thru-Slot Speed Pocket in SIM Max and SIM Max OS. The slot stretches from heel to toe and completely disconnects the leading edge from the sole of the iron, which in essence creates a free-floating face. The collaborative technologies allow the face to hinge upon the topline for enhanced flexibility, more ball speed and greater forgiveness on shots struck below center.
Through further analysis, TaylorMade engineers were able to redesign the face and optimize the relationship between the stiffness in the Speed Bridge and the flexibility in the face. The result is a thinner and faster face with a larger sweet spot as compared to the company’s previous model.*
ECHO® DAMPING SYSTEM – HEIGHTENED FEEL, EFFICIENT DISTANCE
If you lift the hood on SIM Max and SIM Max OS, you’ll find the all-new ECHO Damping System – the key to providing better feel without sacrificing performance. This uniquely shaped damper design stretches across the entire face (from heel to toe) using multiple contact points for accelerated vibration damping. This high-performance damper design is driven by Vibration Damping Channels that wrap around the entire structure for effortless compression. These channels allow the damper to efficiently compress at impact, giving the material a place to disperse without inhibiting movement in the face.
The ECHO Damping System and Speed Bridge work in unison to deliver forged-like feel. In company testing, SIM MAX and Max OS consistently produced impact frequencies (the sound at impact that players interpret as feel) in line with those of forged-construction irons. Collectively, these technologies reduce unwanted vibrations at impact and allow the golfer to get feedback on the strike – a performance characteristic commonly reserved for forged irons.
PROGRESSIVE INVERTED CONE TECHNOLOGY – EACH INDIVIDUAL IRON OPTIMIZED FOR ACCURACY TaylorMade’s proven Inverted Cone Technology (ICT) is now uniquely positioned in each SIM Max and SIM Max OS iron to both increase the sweet spot and minimize the effects of common mis-hits. ICT is positioned in the center of the face on mid irons to deliver performance exactly where golfers need it the most.
TaylorMade’s vast archive of club data shows that longer irons struck towards the toe have a greater tendency to miss to the right. With this in mind, engineers progressively positioned ICT towards the toe in both SIM Max and SIM Max OS to generate a draw bias in the longer irons to minimize the common miss to the right. It’s positioned the farthest toward the toe in the 4-iron.
SIM MAX – OUR BEST FEELING DISTANCE IRON, POWERED BY SPEED BRIDGE
Designed for the golfer seeking all-around performance in a distance iron, SIM Max is built to deliver fast ball speeds, high launch and forgiveness. It all starts with Speed Bridge – the marquee design element that produces enhanced feel and works in conjunction with the Thru-Slot Speed Pocket to provide incredible distance and forgiveness. The all-new ECHO Damping System contributes to the forge-like feel of the irons, while an ultra-thin 1.5mm face (even thinner than the M5 & M6 irons) delivers increased flexibility across the entire face. A lightweight fluted hosel with a 360 undercut shifts mass from high in the club to the bottom of the sole for a super low CG. These features combine to make SIM Max TaylorMade’s core distance iron.
Australian Cameron Smith claimed the Sony Open on the PGA Tour and said he hoped his play-off win would allow his country’s people to “smile for a moment or two” during the bushfire crisis.
Smith, 26, won the first play-off hole to beat American Brendan Steele at the Waialae Country Club in Hawaii.
Smith’s uncle Warren has lost his home in Australia’s bushfires.
“Australia is doing it tough right now and the focus is probably not on my golf, for good reason,” stated Smith.
“But hopefully it gave a few people reason to smile for a moment or two.
“Uncle Warren drove back to his place the other day and what he found was quite devastating. I saw the photos and the only thing he had left was a little shed that him and his son built a few months back.
“We’re a tight-knit family and it hit everyone pretty hard. It’s good to do something good, and hopefully puts a smile on their face.”
Smith shot a two-under-par 68 to share the 11-under mark for the tournament with Steele, including a critical birdie putt on the final hole.
Steele, who had led the whole day, was wayward from the tee on the first play-off hole, allowing Smith a two-putt par and victory.
The Australian had never won a PGA Tour event on his own before, having previously only shared a win in 2017 at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt in team stroke-play format.
Smith and a number of other golfers contributed a part of their prize money to the Australian fires relief effort.
The fires killed at least 28 people, and destroyed 15.6 million acres of bush, woodland and parks throughout Australia.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Branden Grace of South Africa shot a final day 62 to deny back-to-back victories to compatriot Louis Oosthuizen at the Johannesburg South African Open.
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