10 Things you missed last week: From wins
Bryson DeChambeau continued his dominating form with a seven-shot win at the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday. He was soon followed by World No.1 Justin Rose, who put his new Honma golf clubs in to play for just his second tournament and walked away with his 10th PGA Tour title at the Farmers Insurance Open.
But Tour wins weren’t the only things to happen this week. From Reed and Spieth’s fued-ending first-tee hug to filming for Monty’s Pythons and Keith Pelley’s defense of the Saudi International, there’s plenty of stories to catch up on.
And that’s not even broaching the subject of Haotong Li’s controversial rules run-in or Rory’s doubts about the validity of Hosung Choi’s AT&T Pebble Beach invite.
Here’s everything you need to catch up on. And if you’re looking for gear news, head to our round-up of everything that was released last week here.
Justin Rose wins 10th PGA Tour title with new Honma clubs
It took Justin Rose just two starts to win his 10th PGA Tour title, and first with his new clubs in the bag after signing with Honma golf in January.
The World No.1 recovered from a poor start that included three bogeys in his first six holes to claim the Farmers Insurance Open by two shots at Torrey Pines South Course with a final-round 69.
“I always pride myself on the golf courses I’ve been able to win on and this one is another very great golf course with a lot of history,” Rose said. “I love winning on great tests of golf and this one will give some special feelings because of that.”
His overnight lead reduced from three shots to just one in that time, and Rose had a quick talk with himself that proved to be the turning point in his momentum. He added birdies on the 7th, 9th and 10th holes before a crucial par save on the 14th kept him well clear of the field.
Adam Scott birdied all four of his final holes to pile pressure on his playing partner, but a birdie at 16 gave him a comfortable two shot cushion heading down 18, and a tap-in birdie was enough to guarantee his victory.
“I never lost the lead so I had to stay patient,” Rose said. “Definitely there were times in my career where I’ve had decent sized leads and you start to throw it away a little bit and you panic. I just knew I couldn’t do that today. I stayed calm, I stayed with it.”
“I just said, “You’re No. 1 in the world for a reason, just start playing like it, please.”
Rose dedicated the victory to his absent caddie Mark ‘Fooch’ Fulcher, who is recovering from heart surgery. In his place was Henrik Stenson’s former long-time caddie Gareth Lord.
Fooch that was for you mate,” Rose said. “I’m sure watching us all weekend was harder than the heart surgery.
“There’s two trophies now in my golf room that you have to get rid of. There was one before now there’s two. So no doubt that’s a mission for us both. I love you and I’ll see you soon.”
Bryson DeChambeau eases to first International victory in Dubai
Bryson DeChambeau made quick work of the Dubai Desert Classic field, easing to a seven-shot victory and a 72-hole tournament scoring record to claim his first international title.
The World No.5 quickly extended his one shot overnight lead and cruised to a final round eight-under 64, earning his fourth victory in just nine starts on Sunday.
“It’s incredibly special,” said DeChambeau. “I mean, I’ve always dreamed of winning any Tour event, and to have this many under my belt, I don’t even know what I have right now.
“You know, being able to win internationally is something that I’ve always wanted to do after winning so many times in the States and to get it at the Dubai Desert Classic is incredible. It’s literally a dream come true. I couldn’t be more honoured to win this event.”
It’s just more vindication for the man been dubbed the ‘golf scientist’, who plays with irons that are all the length of a 7-iron.
DeChambeau reckons that the the hard work he puts in to figuring out the science behind each shot decision is making the difference, and there’s no denying his results.
“It’s a lot of hard work with my caddie and just really grinding and trying to figure out how to take account of all the variables out there, whether it’s air pressure, firmness values, mile-per-hour on the speed, putts, and ball speed, spin rates. We’re trying to figure out as much as possible so I can be as successful as possible and obviously it’s shown.
“It’s a domino effect, I think, of a lot of things just falling into place.”
As for whether this scientific-fused golf ideology is going to take off, Bryson spoke candidly about how he feels people have begun to take notice of this ‘legitimate science’.
“I’m not going to predict the future, but I know with what we do and how hard my caddie, Tim Tucker works, and how hard I work, I think we’ll figure stuff out that nobody’s figured out before. It makes a difference, it really does.
“I think more people are going to start taking into account, like, oh, my gosh, this is actually not a joke. This is legitimate science.”
Haotong Li ruling causes uproar
Haotong Li was penalised two shots on the 72nd hole on Sunday at the Dubai Desert Classic for breaking one of the new rules of golf, but many weren’t happy with the interpretation.
Li was playing in the final group and was lining up his short birdie putt, while his caddie stood behind him. When Li was about to take up his stance his caddie Mike Burrow moved away, and he rolled in the putt to finish in a share of third place with a final round 71.
Instead, the European Tour deemed him in breach of the new ruling which prevents caddies from helping their players with alignment. The penalty left him in a tie for 12th at 14-under instead of third at 16-under, costing him roughly $100,000, and saw many call out the rules afterwards.
“Li Haotong’s caddie was on a direct line behind the ball when he began to take his stance on the 18th green,” said the European Tour statement. “The player’s caddie must not stand behind the player for any reason when a player begins taking a stance.
“Haotong could have avoided the penalty if he had backed off the stroke and retaken his stance. He did not, hence a two-stroke penalty applied to his score on 18.”
The video shows what has been deemed a harsh and marginal ruling, and has seen Tour Pro’s like Pablo Larrazabal asking for the new rules to be looked at as many claim Burrows had no intention of helping him with alignment. Elsewhere, Matt Wallace called it ‘ridiculous’, Ross Fisher deemed it ‘a disgrace’, Lee Westwood said it was ‘harsh’ and Eddie Pepperell ‘shockingly bad’.
What bad blood? Spieth and Reed hug it out
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed made the headlines several times over when Reed called out Spieth for not wanting to be his partner at the Ryder Cup. It was a contentious issue that worked in Spieth’s favour: he went 3-1-0 with Justin Thomas by his side, while Reed played and lost twice with Woods.
Reed failed to hold his tongue about the issue over the next few weeks, and when asked if the two had spoken yet in November, he replied: “Nope. He has my number”
So when they were drawn together during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open, there was a lot of speculation surrounding the pairing and the predicted animosity. Instead, Reed went in for a fist bump but Spieth pulled his former partner in for a huge on the first tee, and the pair went on to play-down the fued afterwards.
“It was more kind of sarcasm toward y’all,” said Spieth, in reference to the media. “We’ve seen each other plenty of times at [the Sony Open in Hawaii] and here and everything’s been the way it normally is.
“We knew the cameras were on and we knew people were interested in that, so I just thought it would be kind of funny.”
“Literally when we got off the plane, it was old news and we all moved on from there,” said Reed
“It’s really nothing. We’re now just out here trying to play some good golf and trying to feed off each other as well as just trying to go out and shoot low numbers.”
Rory McIlroy isn’t sure Hosung Choi deserves his spot at Pebble Beach, but Aaron Rodgers wants him as a partner
Social media sensation and multiple Japan Tour winner Hosung Choi was given a sponsor’s exemption in to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am following a campaign to get him in to a different PGA Tour event.
Choi, who is the 196th ranked player in the World, was delighted with the invitation.
“I never imagined this day would come,” Choi was reported to have told Korean media. “I took up golf at the age of 25, after a hard life. I’m fully aware that none of this would be possible without the love and support of my fans. I will of course do my best, wherever I go.”
But when questions about Choi were put to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy during their Farmers Insurance Open press conferences, the typically honest McIlroy raised doubts over whether his notoriety should have earned him a spot.
“I mean, technically his swing is good if you watch it up until impact,” McIlroy said. “He’s technically got a pretty good swing, he’s obviously a pretty good player. Whether that means he should be taking a spot away from a PGA Tour player at a PGA Tour event, I’m not so sure. But it’s gained him a bit of notoriety and he’s a good player.
“I’m not sure a golf shot should mean that much to you that you’re doing that after you hit it, like it’s just trying a little too hard. You have to try hard at golf, but that’s taking it to an extreme.”
It’s worth pointing out that Choi isn’t necessarily taking a spot away from a PGA Tour player, as the sponsor can invite who he likes – as has been the case with Tony Romo, Steph Curry and other celebrities who have played in Tour events.
And it seems McIlroy’s opinion isn’t shared by everyone. Aaron Rodgers, the Greenbay Packers Quarterback who is teeing up in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, sent a tweet asking if Choi could be one of the Pro’s in his group. Choi soon responded.
Keith Pelley has no second thoughts about hosting Saudi Arabia event this week
A lot of big profile names (Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau) are all headed to Saudi Arabia this week for the European Tour’s much debated Saudi International, but Keith Pelley remains defiant hosting the event is the right call.
The tournament brought about a huge amount of controversy when the European Tour decided to ahead with their plans. It was announced soon after the high-profile killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was reported to have been killed inside the Saudi Consolute in Instanbul for writing critically about the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
But Pelley insists that the tournament is safe.
“Our main focus is on the safety and security of our players and staff,” Pelley told Golf Channel’s Morning Drive on Sunday .
“Like many global companies who operate in the region, we monitored the situation. … Having looked at that – and having done our due diligence in terms of the safety and security – we’re obviously moving forward and looking forward to this new chapter on the European Tour.”
Pelley called the relationship with the Middle East ‘very important’ and said it was key to host an event there because nowhere in Europe would be able to host at this time of year.
“We have an excellent relationship with the Middle East, and it’s very important,” he said. “We can’t play anywhere in Europe this time of year. The Middle East becomes very important to us, from a climate perspective, to the ease of travel, to the quality of golf courses.”
Players have been rumoured to have accepted big appearance fees in order to attend, and thanks to the high-class field there’s plenty of world ranking points on offer too. But there were certainly concerns about what sponsors would think of the players going to Saudi Arabia.
“Obviously, that was a concern with our team,” Dustin Johnson said about the effect it might have on sponsors. “I’m going over there to play a sport I’m paid to play. It’s my job to play golf … Unfortunately, it’s in a part of the world where most people don’t agree with what happened, and I definitely don’t support anything like that. I’m going to play golf, not support them.
GolfSixes heads to Portugal’s Octavia Dunes
The European Tour’s innovative GolfSixes event will enter a new era in 2019 when it moves to continental Europe for the first time, with the Municipality of Cascais and the spectacular Oitavos Dunes in Portugal set to host GolfSixes Cascais from June 7-8.
It will be the first time the tournament will be held outside of the United Kingdom after two years at the Centurian club, and is being hosted in partnership with the Municipality of Cascais and Event/Media agency U.COM – which stages the annual Millennium Estoril Open, an ATP Tennis Championship, in the same region.
The event will follow the same ground-breaking format as the 2018 GolfSixes, with four ‘Wildcard Teams’ – featuring stars of male and female golf – joining 12 other two-man teams of European Tour players representing their home nations.
The two-day tournament will also be played over a Friday and Saturday for the first time.
Tiger’s Return featured new clubs, being denied pizza and a ….pink shirt?
There was plenty of buzz about Tiger Woods’ return to Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open, marking his first start of 2019. And while he didn’t pick up his 9th title, he made plenty of headlines on social media.
First, he was seen with new P7TW Irons, a prototype he and TaylorMade were working on and are thought to be the first TaylorMade irons to have a Milled Grind sole.
Next, he and caddie Joe LaCava discuss their relationship, pro-am mishaps and the *one* thing Joe always forgets on the first tee.
Then, he was filmed being denied pizza. Watch here
“We were looking for anything, we were starving,” Woods said, according to Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard. “(Caddie Joe LaCava) didn’t put any sandwiches in the bag, didn’t have any bars, so we were all hungry.”
But luck wasn’t on his side. “Ummmm, they aren’t letting us serve right now,” Daniel Johnston, the employee, can be heard saying in the video after it transpired they were undergoing a health check. Tiger makes a slight scoff before turning and joking with caddie Joe LaCava.
And finally, on his way to an impressive Sunday 67 that put him in a tie for 20th, he was spotted wearing what looked like a pink shirt – causing a media storm about the departure from his trademark red.
When asked if it was pink or red, he simply replied ‘yes’. It turns out what that meant was red, even though it looked a slightly lighter shade on TV. Phew, glad that was cleared up.
Matching Tattoos: Thomas and Thomas
Thomas Bjorn and Thomas Pieters found themselves drawn together in the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and couldn’t help but sharing a photo of their matching Ryder Cup tattoos.
Pieters had shared a photo earlier in the day of the pair together when he was just a young boy watching Bjorn on tour, and it appears now the duo have more in common than just their first names and their professions.
It was well documented that Thomas Bjorn had wagered to have a tattoo of the Ryder Cup and the winning score on his rear if Europe claimed the trophy, and he duly obliged. He shows it off in this latest photo, along with Pieters, who has a Ryder Cup and Olympic rings both side by side vertically, each with a colon and a single tally to represent how many he has played in.
European Tour: Monty’s Python’s
If you watched last week’s Content Committee video from the European Tour, you’ll know that the outcome of Tommy Fleetwood, Henrik Stenson, Eddie Pepperell, Thomas Bjorn and Lee Westwood’s meeting was a new series named ‘Monty’s Pythons’.
In the latest, hilarious video, Monty puts on his acting boots and gets filming underway for the first episode.