What you missed last week: Wins, Kuchar and Garcia at the front of a rules faff, players sounding off on PGA Tour crowds and the key stats from this week
Justin Harding and Shane Lowry became the last two players to qualify for The Masters through the World’s top 50 category, and will be headed to Augusta next week. Both men played in the WGC Dell Match Play, where Kevin Kisner became the first player to win after finishing runner up the previous year.
Elsewhere, Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia caused a big debate over an incident at the match play that caused Paul McGinley to call out the ‘facade’ of Kuchar’s nice guy demeanor, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy sounded off on the PGA Tour crowds this season, and both Stephen Gallacher and Graeme McDowell gained their first wins in over four years.
Plus, the key stats, and shots you don’t want to miss from last week.
Harding, Lowry qualify for The Masters
Justin Harding and Shane Lowry are the latest players to join the 2019 Masters field, having qualified through category 19: The top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters Tournament.
Both Harding and Lowry have claimed titles on the European Tour this season, and qualified for the WGC-Dell Match Play.
Harding finishing second in his group after beating Luke List and Matthew Fitzpatrick but lost out to Rory McIlroy to finish on 2 points, and moved up to World No.48.
Lowry defeated Andrew Putnam and halved his match with defending Masters champion Patrick Reed, but a first round defeat to Sergio Garcia left him tied for second with Reed in his group on 1.5 points. He sits at World No.49, one place ahead of Brandt Snedeker.
The field for the Masters currently sits at 87, the same as it was in 2018. For a full list, and to see how people qualified, click here.
Kevin Kisner defeats Matt Kuchar for maiden WGC title at Dell Match Play
A year after he finished runner-up to Bubba Watson, Kevin Kisner claimed his first World Golf Championship title at the WGC Dell-Match play with a 3&2 victory over Matt Kuchar.
Kisner closed out the match in style, holing a 20-footer for birdie on the 16th green at Austin GC in Texas to become the first player to win the Match Play after losing a match during group play, which was introduced in 2015.
“It was a long week. I prevailed. And I’m a world golf champion,” Kisner said after his victory, before alluding to what it means for the rest of his season.
“A win is always huge. That’s what we play for, is wins and trophies. But we want to be in that FedExCup playoffs. We want to have a chance in Atlanta to win the FedExCup. And we’re always working the entire year to see where it goes. And it’s going to do a huge deal for the rest of my season to have a chance in Atlanta, and to hopefully play on Tiger’s team in Australia.”
Graeme McDowell claims Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship title for first win in four years
Graeme McDowell returned to the winners circle on Sunday for the first time in four years with a final round three-under 69 to beat Chris Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes by a shot at 18-under-par.
“It’s been a rough few years,” McDowell said after his first win since the 2015 OHL Classic. “It’s been a grind. On 16 green, I said to myself, ‘You’ve got to do something that’s tournament-winning’. The shot to 17 was tournament-winning level.”
McDowell began the round with a one-shot lead and birdied three of his opening four holes, only for Chris Stroud to birdie four in a row from the fourth. McDowell battled with Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes for the remainder of the day, as the players joined him at the top before back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th for Stroud gave him a one shot lead.
It wouldn’t last long, though. As the leader made a bogey on the 17th McDowell rolled in a six-footer for birdie to go one clear, and bogeys on the final hole from all three players secured McDowell’s status as champion.
Stephen Gallacher praises son as he claims first title in five years in India
Stephen Gallacher had his son on the bag for a thrilling final round comeback at the Hero Indian Open that gave him his first win in five years.
On a windy day at DLF Golf and Country Club Stephen Gallacher recovered from an early quaruple bogey with three birdies over his last final holes for a final-round 71 and one shot victory over Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura.
“I stood on the eighth tee and saw I was only five shots behind,” Gallacher said. “I told myself to stick to the game and you never know what can happen. Especially with how hard it was playing.
“I am 45 this year so I am really proud of what I did out here today. It changes my schedule and I can play a bit less and it was great to win with my son Jack on the bag.
“He has caddied for me for 20 events already. It has been a great day. It was great to have him on the bag and Mother’s Day as well makes it even more special.”
European players have now won in four consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour for the first time in the modern era (McDowell, Casey, McIlroy, Molinari)
Kevin Kisner is the first player to win the @DellMatchPlay the year after finishing runner-up.
That’s 6 American WGC wins in a row, each by different players.
WGC Dell Match Play: Kevin Kisner
WGC Mexico: Phil Mickelson
WGC HSBC Champions: Xander Schauffele
WGC Bridgestone: Justin Thomas
WGC Dell Match Play: Bubba Watson
WGC Mexico: Dustin Johnson
Tiger Woods played against Rory McIlroy in match play for the first time on Saturday. Woods won 2&1.
8 Europeans have reached the last 16 of the Match Play for the first time.
Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia involved in controversy
Of all the men to be involved in a rules spat during the WGC Dell Match Play, Sergio Garcia and Matt Kuchar would have liked it not to be them. After Garcia’s DQ for destroying greens in Saudi Arabia and Kuchar’s highly documented underpaid caddie, this year has been less than perfect for their publicity. And it got worse on Saturday during the quarter finals.
Garcia had a putt to win a hole Kuchar had seemingly looked out of until making a putt of his own, and after missing he tried to bash the four-inch tap-in putt with the back of his putter, only to miss again. And Kuchar hadn’t had a chance to give him the putt for the half. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the same thing happened at the 2015 Solheim Cup with Suzann Pettersen.
Obviously, Kuchar would have given him it, but because he hadn’t, he decided to call over rules official Robby Ware – who told Kuchar he couldn’t give a putt already taken, so he won the hole and went 2UP, changing the momentum of the match.
“I said to Sergio ‘I didn’t say anything [to concede the putt] I’m not sure how this works out’,” Kuchar said “I didn’t want that to be an issue. So I said to Robby Ware, ‘listen, I don’t know how to handle this, but I didn’t concede the putt and Sergio missed the putt’.
“I said, I didn’t want that to be how a hole was won or lost. And he said, Well, you can concede a hole. I’m not sure I’m ready to concede a hole. And just the rule played out with Robby stating how the rule works. It’s not a— certainly I don’t use any gamesmanship, it’s not a match-play tactic, it’s not anything. It was just one of those mistakes that Sergio made. And I said it’s kind of one of those tough deals in the game of golf.”
As for Sergio’s view on the whole thing? He agreed it was his fault, but thought Kuchar didn’t handle the situation well.
“Yeah, it’s a loss of hole. I understand that. The only issue that it was, was that Kuch was like, I didn’t see it good, but I don’t want to take the hole. I don’t want to do this like this. So I was like OK, it’s fine, what do you want to do? Because there are many options that you can do if you don’t want to take the hole, even though I’ve already lost that hole. But obviously he didn’t like any of the options that were there.
“It’s fine. At the end of the day, I’m the one that made the mistake.”
It doesn’t matter who you think is in the right here, but it did make a different to the match. Kuchar proceeded to win the next hole to go 3UP, and Garcia had to work to get the match to head down 18. In the end, Kuchar won 2UP.
Paul McGinley calls out Matt Kuchar nice guy ‘facade’
Golf was definitely the loser in the Sergio Garcia vs Matt Kuchar putt-gate situation, but former Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley said the whole incident gave an more unfavourable insight into Matt Kuchar’s character from the one people have become accustomed to.
The highly publicised incident where Kuchar paid a local caddie just $5000 of his $1,296,000 winnings in Mexico was resolved by Kuchar recently. But only after a couple of denials he did anything wrong, until someone clearly convinced him otherwise and he had a change of heart.
It made many question the nice guy image Kuchar has long portrayed, and the incident with Garcia was another blemish on his record. He was the one who called over the referee, and he was the one who came out of the contest the winner. To McGinley, it highlights a difference in his persona that is masked by his nice guy ‘facade’ on the course.
“It gives an insight into Matt Kuchar,” McGinley said. “You see the smiley, nice Matt Kuchar. You’ve seen the incident with the caddie. There’s a hardness about him. Don’t be fooled by him. I think we saw another illustration of it there. There’s a hardness, a toughness about Matt Kuchar that he puts a big facade up around.”
As European Tour Pro Chris Paisley added, Kuchar acted in a way most players wouldn’t have.
“Tough period PR wise for Kuchar,” he wrote on twitter. “Although Sergio should have waited for Kuch to say ‘its good’ I have no idea why Kuch didn’t just ignore it and move on. That’s what myself and 99% of other guys would have done….just my 2 cents”
Ian Poulter & Rory McIlroy talk about persistant unruly crowds on the PGA Tour.
Ian Poulter was reflecting on the abusive crowds on the PGA Tour this season when he spoke to the Telegraph on Friday.
Last month he was furious at “a bunch of idiots who can’t handle their beer” directing offensive remarks in his direction, and Bubba Watson was one of the players on the receiving-end of comments during the first round of the WGC-Dell Match Play. For Poulter, it feels like it’s something that is happening more and more.
“If I was a footballer, I’d have done the Cantona move, but that would have got me suspended and that wouldn’t be any good,” Poulter said on Friday about the comments directed at him during the Players Championship.
“You have to try to rise above it, but some of it was pretty sick and it’s horrible when your wife and children are in the galleries – a 17-year old, 14-year-old, a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old – and they have to listen to their dad being verbally abused.
“It’s not a nice thing for a kid to hear that level of stuff and it could be potentially damaging to them. The Tour know about it and hopefully they’re trying to stamp it out, but it seems to be happening more and more. There are always a group of guys who have a few too many and spur each other on.”
Rory McIlroy echoed his thoughts, saying on Tuesday that he really disliked that people are happy to shout and swear around children, and that it becomes incredibly unfair when comments are targetted.
“One of the wonderful things about PGA Tour events… is a lot of kids come out to watch,” McIlroy said. “If you’ve got guys that are shouting obscenities and swear words and stuff and there’s kids around, I think that isn’t cool.”
“It’s not fair when only a handful of guys are subjected to that in the field and the other guys can just go about their business,” McIlroy said.
As for what can be done? McIlroy thinks that an easy solution would be involving security more frequently: “you might want to try to either get security to tell the guys to settle down or to remove them,” he said.
Paisley splits with long-caddie
Chris Paisley claimed his first and only European Tour event with his wife Keri as a one-time stand-in caddie in 2018, and has become the latest player to split with their long-time bagman.
Paisley has parted ways with Sean Russell, and instead will have former professional golfer Jason Palmer take over the position.
“Today marks the end of an era,” Paisley wrote. “Can’t thank @ChamonixSean65 enough for his hard work, patience, and friendship over the past four and a half years. We’ve had lots of highs and lows and he’s been with me through every single one. Thank you Sean
“That being said, I’m delighted to welcome @jasonpalmergolf to team Paisley! His experience, passion, and knowledge of quotes from ‘The Office’ means he will be a great addition to the team”
Shots: The Good, The Great and The Ugly
This miraculous save from Tiger Woods: Making a left handed swing from under a bush to just a few feet look simple
This sensational eagle from the water from Kevin Dougherty on the Web.com Tour…
This ace from Lee Westwood…
And this disaster from Rory McIlroy during a crucial point in his match with Tiger Woods….