What you missed: From Pablo Larrazabal’s comeback victory to Jason Day’s injury forcing him from the Presidents Cup and a history-making first in dress code for the European Tour
Pablo Larrazabal was struggling so badly with blisters that he wasn’t even sure if he could tee up and contend on Sunday, despite holding a three-shot lead. Soon, he was tumbling down the leaderboard, but found late inspiration when he thought of Tiger Woods’ US Open victory, and fought back with three birdies on his final four holes to win by a shot.
But he wasn’t the only big story to come from the European Tour this week. The Tour made golfing history by allowing players to compete on all four tournament days wearing shorts for the first time, while Marcus Armitage made headlines for a positive self video analysis of his first tournament back on Tour despite a final-round 83.
There was no PGA Tour event this week, but Dustin Johnson announced that he won’t be teeing up at the Hero World Challenge as he continues to recover from knee surgery, but still plans to play in the Presidents Cup. One player that won’t be joining him though is Jason Day, who has withdrawn from the biennial contest after injuring his back, and has been replaced by Byeong Hun An.
Elsewhere, the Ladies European Tour and LPGA confirmed they are starting a joint venture to improve both playing and financial opportunities to female golfers in Europe, and Dustin Johnson’s youngest son shows off his skills with a driver.
Pablo Larrazabal uses Tiger Woods as inspiration to fightback and win the Alfred Dunhill Championship
Pablo Larrazabal fought back in dramatic fashion to clinch his fifth European Tour title by a shot at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.
Despite holding a three-shot overnight lead, he woke up battling a blister on his foot that caused him enough pain to doubt whether he’d even tee it up.
He quickly fell backwards during a round where he carded six bogeys and a double-bogey, but produced an incredible fightback with three birdies on his final four holes to edge out Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm by one.
Afterwards, Larrazabal was quick to reference Tiger Woods’ 2008 U.S. Open win as inspiration for him being able to turn it around.
“I woke up this morning and I didn’t think I was going to play,” Larrazabal said. “I couldn’t put my shoe on, I couldn’t walk to the buggy. I couldn’t go to the putting green.
“I really struggled today. For the front nine I couldn’t walk and then on the back nine I suddenly thought to myself, ‘If Tiger can win a US Open with a broken leg, then what is a blister?!’. I just fought hard.”
Positive vibes: Marcus Armitage’s incredible self-interview after final round 83
Just a week after securing his European Tour card at Q-School, Marcus Armitage finished T42 at the first official event of the season… and it’s a result that would have been a lot better if not for a final round 83.
But while he understands why he wouldn’t get an interview, Armitage posted an incredible video showcasing his positive attitude to the ‘great week’ he’d had, and talked about how he won’t struggle to get over his 83, which he put down to being just ‘a bad day’.
Dustin Johnson pulls out of Hero World Challenge as he continues recovery from knee surgery, still plans to play at Presidents Cup
Dustin Johnson has decided to skip this year’s Hero World Challenge as he continues his recovery from knee surgery but still plans to compete for the U.S. Team at the Presidents Cup in two weeks time.
Johnson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery in September to repair cartilage damage in his left knee following his last place finish at the Tour Championship, said he came to the decision ‘after a lot of careful thought and consultation’.
The World No.4 took to twitter to share the news, saying that he felt he needed ‘another week of physical therapy and practice’ to be able to compete in Australia.
Jason Day withdraws from Presidents Cup with back injury
Jason Day has become the second player to pull out of this year’s Presidents Cup with an injury after hurting his back while practicing in Palm Springs.
Day, who was named as one of International Captain Ernie Els’ four wildcard picks, will now miss the chance of competing in front of home crowds at Royal Melbourne, and will also miss the Australian Open.
The former World No.1, who was prepping for the biennial contest when the injury occured, has suffered numerous back injuries throughout his career, and said his medical team had told him to ‘shut down all practice and play’.
“I’m quite disappointed I won’t be coming home to play in either the Australian Open in Sydney or the Presidents Cup the following week in Melbourne,” Day said in a statement, although he omitted any specifics.
“I was quite looking forward to both events. “I had been prepping all week in Palm Springs when I was injured. Frustratingly, I’ve been through back problems before and my medical team decided it best to shut down all practice and play.
“Therefore, I wanted to inform Golf Australia as well as provide Ernie as much time as possible to best prepare our International Team for Royal Melbourne. I look forward to playing at home in the near future. My best to all the competitors in Sydney and my teammates in Melbourne.”
Day has now been replaced by World No. 43 Byeong Hun An, who will be the seventh rookie in the International side when the Presidents Cup takes place from December 12-15.
Is this the start of the end for the no-shorts policy on Tour?
Due to the hot weather in South Africa this week – the site of the Alfred Dunhill Championship – the European Tour and Sunshine Tour agreed to permit players to wear shorts on all four tournament days for the first time.
The Tour has allowed players to wear shorts for practice rounds since 2016 – something the PGA Tour also took up earlier this year – but they extended it to tournament days for the first time this week at Leopard Creek.
It was a move welcomed by the majority players as temperatures hit highs of 38 degrees celcius on Saturday, although winner Pablo Larrazabal said he’s wasn’t quite ready to make the change.
“I don’t feel like I’m ready to go in shorts,” Larrazabal said. “It’s more like for ProAms, practice rounds and just to chill out with your friends, but not for competitive rounds. I don’t feel like it.”
But for others, the decision – even for one tournament – was long overdue.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Brandon Grace. “When the new rule came in about wearing shorts in practice it was tremendous. The Sunshine Tour and European Tour have got it spot on. It’s boiling out there.”
Will this mark the start of the end for the no-shorts dress code policy? It certainly won’t be an overnight thing, but with no protests about it, we can definitely see it happening at other events with similarly hot temperatures in the near future.
LET Members vote in favour of new joint-venture with LPGA Tour
During the LET’s Annual Membership Meeting in Spain, players voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new joint-venture with the LPGA.
The purpose of the new partnership is to ‘seek to fast track an expanded LET schedule’, in addition to immediately offering LET members more playing opportunities on the LPGA tour, which this season had a total prize fund of about £55m – in comparison to the £12m on the Ladies European Tour.
At present, this year’s LET schedule currently includes 20 official events in 13 different countries, with eight of those events in Europe, including two major championships, The Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open.
LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti said that the new venture “will create opportunities we simply could not have pursued on our own.”
“At its foundation, this joint venture is about creating opportunities for our members to pursue their passion, and their careers as professional athletes,” she said. “In just the 60 days since we began working on this joint venture, we have already seen a dramatic impact on our LET Tour schedule – an impact that will be a positive result for virtually all of our LET Members.”
The partnership aims to immediately increase playing opportunities for women in Europe, with aims for the schedule growth to lead to both increased financial opportunities and an optional pathway to the LPGA for the tour’s top performers.
Look out PGA Tour 2035! Dustin Johnson’s son takes after his daddy
Dustin Johnson’s son is only two years old but is already showing an interest in golf.
At the weekend, DJ’s girlfriend Paulina Gretzky posted a video to instagram of their youngest son River hitting a cut-down driver and showing off an impressive swing for his age.
“Watch out PGA Tour 2035,” Gretzky wrote as the caption.