Westwood & Kuchar’s wins mirrored each other in plenty of ways
There were plenty of coincidences with Matt Kuchar and Lee Westwood’s victories over the weekend. The multiple Tour winners claimed their first titles in over four years, having both last triumphed on exactly the same date in 2014; Kuchar at the RBC Heritage and Westwood at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
But the similarities didn’t stop there, as both Westwood and Kuchar claimed their trophies on Sunday without their regular caddies on the bag; Westwood opted for his girlfriend Helen Storey for just her second stint on the bag, while Kuchar decided to hire a local caddie nicknamed ‘El Tucan’ for the tournament in Mexico.
It was a choice that more than paid off for both men.
“He was definitely my lucky charm,” Kuchar said of El Tucan. “He brought me good luck and certainly some extra crowd support and did a great job as well. He did just what I was hoping for and looking for.”
"I'm so happy, full of emotion," the 40-year-old El Tucan said in Spanish. "We were very solid to achieve our objective. We went step by step, getting more birdies."
"It's been brilliant," Westwood said about having Storey on the bag in place of long-time caddie Billy Foster. "She's caddied twice for me this year and we lost in a play-off in Denmark and we've won here. Might have to have a bit of a rethink, not least about who caddies for me, but our percentages!"
It’s not the first time a victory has come with a different looper on the bag; Georgia Hall won her first major with her dad on the bag rather than her regular caddie, and Chris Paisley did the same when he employed his wife Keri for the week at the South African Open earlier in the year.
Singh wins Charles Schwab Cup, Langer claims season long race
Vijay Singh put together an impressive final-round 61 on Sunday as he came from six shots behind to win the Charles Schwab Cup Championship during the PGA Tour Champions' season finale in Phoenix.
For Singh, whose win was his third of the season, the victory was as much to do with a putting tip he got from David Graham than anything else.
“He told me, ‘you should crouch down a little more. Look at Nicklaus, what he does. He’s always down there.’ I putted so well and won,” Singh said. “Last night I was on the putting green. I told my caddie, I should just try that because it worked so well that week. And it worked well today.”
And while Singh was the tournament winner, the season-long honours belonged to Langer for the fourth time in five years - and fifth overall, in addition to claiming the Champions' money title for the sixth year in a row.
“It never gets old,” Langer said. “At age 61 to do it is quite an achievement. Maybe there’s another one in me, you never know.”
Maiden title for Lopez as Mexico get first champion since Ochoa
Gaby Lopez became the 10th first-time winner on the LPGA Tour this season as she claimed a one-shot victory to give Mexico their first LPGA Champion since Lorena Ochoa. Lopez was paired with the top 2 players in the world but held off a challenge from player-of-the-year Ariya Jutanugarn for the title as both she and Jutanugarn shot one-over 73s during the final round that included back-to-back bogeys over the final two holes from the champion.
"You know, probably this was the biggest challenge that I've ever faced on the golf course, being in the same group as World No. 1 and World No. 2," said Lopez. "I was just very fortunate and very lucky to have that challenge, to face it, knowing I had to play my best game because they were going to play good.
“I knew they were going to hit some great shots, and I had to keep up with them. At the same time, it just tells me that I could be in the same level. I'm working, I'm practicing and doing lots of hard stuff to one day be up there in the World Rankings with them."
It was a win that was largely unexpected for Lopez, who who was ranked No. 136 entering this event and had only one other top 10 this season, and she was quick to pay tribute to both Ochoa – who claimed Mexico’s last win in 2009 - and her late grandfather.
"Lorena has been my mentor every since I turned pro," said Lopez. "You know, she's been my inspiration for my whole life. I'm just very, very happy that I'm getting another win for Mexico. That's why I wear green, white, and red on Sundays, because I've been dreaming of this moment my whole life."
"My grandpa passed away a couple of weeks ago. I always told him that I was going to give him my first trophy," Lopez said. "Sadly I didn't, but he was with me all week long and I couldn't be more lucky, more fortunate, to have him still alive in me."
Tiger vs Phil: Two videos you should watch
‘The Match’ is fast approaching, and there were plenty more bits of promotional content to get your teeth stuck in to last week surrounding the $9million showdown between the two legends of the game.
The first was an attempt that drew mixed reviews as Woods and Mickelson took on each other at a game of ‘golf pong’ – we’ll let you draw your own conclusions about this one.
But the second was an emotive trailer which had the ability to turn many sceptics opinions, showing both players through the ages and the parallels in their careers. It’s a good watch.
Justin Rose looks set to move from TaylorMade to HONMA
The biggest equipment story of the week belonged to the recent World No.1 and FedEx Cup Champion, who is rumoured to be leaving TaylorMade after 20 years and set to sign an equipment deal with HONMA golf.
The Japanese premium golf brand have recruited several former TaylorMade employees, including former CEO Mark King – who brought Rose to TaylorMade at the start of his career – and it seems the Olympic Champion is all set to join King as the brand aims to gain more tour visibility in the coming year.
If the rumours are true Rose, whose current contract with TaylorMade finishes at the end of this year, would become the second long-standing staffer to have parted ways with the brand in the past two years after Masters Champion Sergio Garcia moved to Callaway at the start of 2018.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Rose had said when asked if he would be changing equipment next year following his win at the Turkish Airlines Open.
Rumours have been circulating that the deal may only involve irons so far as he makes the transition, while other sources say that Rose won’t be the only well known name teeing up with some Honma golf clubs next year.
There's a new golf comedian on the scene... and his swing impersonations are very good!
We've all become accustomed to the various talents of Conor Moore (@ConorSketches), but there's a new guy who is bringing a different kind of golf impression to the table. They are so good, in fact, that even Keegan Bradley (the subject of his second impressions) tweeted his approval.
Jack Bartlett (@JackBartlett1) gained notoriety very quickly on Wednesday evening with his impression of Dustin Johnson's swing and mannerisms, and followed it up with another of Bradley on Thursday.
He was however quick to point out that 'I'm not a voice impersonator like the talented @ConorSketches I’m all about the mannerisms and swing', before posting his second video
Open Qualifying Series adds four new events – including on the PGA Tour
The Open Qualifying Series for the 148th Open at Royal Portrush starts in Australia, and has four new events for 2019 - including three on the PGA Tour The road to The 148th Open at Royal Portrush will begin at the Emirates Australian Open, the first of 16 events in 11 countries that will make up The Open Qualifying Series for 2019.
The Emirates Australian Open, which is being played from 15-18 November at The Lakes in Sydney, will be the first opportunity for players to secure their place at Royal Portrush next year. The leading three players, who finish in the top ten and ties and who are not already exempt, will qualify for The Open.
Three new events on the PGA TOUR will also feature in the Series for the first time: the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard being played from 7-10 March at Bay Hill, the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf & Country Club from 6-9 June and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit from 27-30 June.
The Open Qualifying Series will also visit Spain for the first time as the Andalucía Valderrama Masters on the European Tour replaces the Open de France in the schedule. It will be played from 27-30 June.
European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage Begins
The final stage of European Tour school is well underway, with six rounds to complete and just the top 25 (and ties) gaining tour cards at the tournament’s end.
Notable names having lost their European Tour cards and in need of playing well are the likes of Matteo Manassero, Marc Warren and Richard Bland, while former European Tour winner and two-time 2018 Challenge Tour winner Ollie Wilson makes his bid for a return to Europe’s elite.
Historic Moment: PGA Names first female president
Suzy Whaley became the first female president of the PGA on Friday after being formally elected in to the role after serving as the PGA of American's vice presidents for the past two years.
Whaley, who is the the director of instruction at Suzy Whaley Golf in Cromwell, Conneticut, joined the LPGA in 1990 and 1993 with aspirations as a player but soon moved towards coaching. Now, she takes up a new role as she continues the PGA's ambitions to continue to grow the game.
“We need to make the funnel as large as possible," Whaley said of her role and the PGA. "What’s exciting is more and more people are trying the game for the first time. We had two-point-four million women trying golf for the first time last year. We have facilities like Top Golf offering people a golf experience.
“Our role now is, how to we lead and collaborate with all of those who are having that open funnel into the game, to get them with a PGA professional, to get them on the golf courses. Doesn’t have to be 18 holes. Could be nine holes or going to the putting green with their daughter or son. That’s what we hope to do.”