10 Things you missed: The incredible stories behind the winners on the PGA and European Tour, Michelle Wie out for the rest of the year, a strange penalty and more...
Both Nate Lashley and Christiaan Bezuidenhout have overcome immense personal struggles throughout their lives both on and off the golf course, but it came full circle on Sunday as each player claimed a six-shot victory in their respective European and PGA Tour events.
Elsewhere on the golf course Sung Hung Park picked up the seventh win of her career while Steve Stricker completed a wire to wire victory at the Senior US Open, while Darren Clarke suffered a bizarre penalty involving a bird feeder.
Also last week Michelle Wie announced she was taking the rest of the year off with injury, Bryson DeChambeau has his own solution for slow play, and Muirfield invited 12 women to become the first female members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
Nate Lashley: From tragedy and struggles to an unlikely PGA tour win.
Nate Lashley had just finished playing in a NCAA tournament in his junior year of College in 2004, with his parents and girlfriends watching on, who had travelled from Nebraska to Arizona to watch him.
But tragedy struck after the event, and all three were killed in a plane crash on the single engine family plane. Lashley persevered through the tough times and used golf as a release, but he later admitted he turned pro too early: He made just two cuts in 14 starts on the Web.Com in his first season in 2006, and went on various mini tours for a while, before taking a break and working in real estate.
Things began to turn around for Lashley in 2015 on the LatinoAmerica Tour, and he won three times in 2016 to get on to the Korn Ferry Tour (previously Web.Com) for 2017. An 11th place on the money list saw him earn his PGA Tour card for 2018, but an injury to his knee would derail those chances for a time in his rookie season. Since then, he's had a consistent this year – recording his first top 10 on the PGA Tour at the Peurto Rico Open in Debruary.
But his status means that he needed to enter a Monday qualifier to get in to last week's event, and when he didn't get through – he needed to rely on players withdrawing. Three players did, giving him the last spot in the field on Wednesday, and he went on to shoot a first round 63 to grab the outright lead.
From there, Lashley seized the opportunity he was given with further rounds of 67, 63 and 70 to earn a six-shot victory and his first PGA Tour title at the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic. (full story here)
Bezuidenhout: From drinkiing rat poison and a drug ban to European tour winner
Christiaan Bezuidenhout was just two and a half years old when he drank rat poison that was hidden in a coke bottle, and it was an accident that would leave it's mark forever.
"I was two and a half years old and I was playing outside when I picked up a random Coke bottle, I took a drink of it thinking it was indeed Coke, however it actually contained rat poison. It was a moment which would change my life forever," Bezuidenhout told the European Tour.
"The hospital had to pump my whole stomach to get rid of all the poison, but the poison affected the whole nervous system in my body, and one of the long term effects of this led to me having a stutter. That stutter would eventually lead me to develop a severe case of anxiety."
At the age of four Bezuidenhout was diagnosed with anxiety, and 10 years later, his psychologist prescribed him with beta blockers to help with his stutter and anxiety, which he would use during his amateur career after he became fearful of speaking in public when winning a tournament. But five years ago, Bezuidenhout was asked to take a drugs test. He was very open about the medication, but seemingly unaware it was a banned substance on Tour.
"I was playing in the British Amateur at Royal Portrush in 2014 when after my first round I handed my scorecard in and was told that I'd been nominated for a drugs test. I went for it and at that time I was using beta blockers for my stutter. I wrote the medication down on the form prior to the drugs test, making no secret of the fact I was using this medication.
"Two months later I was back home practising for the Eisenhower Trophy where I would be representing South Africa when one afternoon my Dad phoned me to tell me I needed to come home immediately. I drove straight from practice and he broke the news to me that I had been suspended. I just broke down. It was awful. I had spent my whole amateur career working to get into that Eisenhower side to represent my nation, it was a huge goal of mine to be selected in the team. To be told two days before the event that I couldn't go because of a two year drugs ban was simply too much for me to take in. It felt like my life was over."
Bezuidenhout struggled with the way he was perceived, as people accused him of trying to enhance his performance, even though it was to do with his anxiety. Eventually, his ban was reduced from two years to nine months, and on his return he won his first Sunshine Tour event by seven shots. He was deemed rookie of the year, and went on to play the European Tour last year.
And then on Sunday, he became a European Tour winner, completing a six-shot victory over a group of five players at Valderrama that included Jon Rahm, and earning a spot at the Open Championship in a couple of weeks at Royal Portrush - the place where he was originally drugs tested. (full story here)
Steve Stricker goes wire to wire at Senior U.S. Open
Steve Stricker made it a hat-trick of six-shot victories as he earned his second senior major title in just over a month after picking up the Regions Tradition in May.
It was a history making week for Stricker, who had just two bogeys all week, claimed both the 36 and 54-hole scoring records for the U.S. Open, and finished one shot shy of the tournament winning score at 19-under-par.
“It was just a dream week,” said Stricker. “There’s been a lot of years trying to get one of these [USGA trophies]. To get this gold medal and the trophy in a USGA event means a lot.”
Stricker, who is now the eighth player to win the U.S. Open on his first attempt, birdied the first hole of his final round. His lead was briefly cut to five strokes after his second dropped shot of the week on the 10th, but he recovered with a chip in for birdie on 12, and eased his way home with six pars in a row for victory.
"It was a challenge, especially today when you come out with a six-shot lead, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain," said Stricker, who was playing in his first ever Senior US Open.
"And I played that way today. I played very cautiously and tried not to make a mistake. This game is hard when you play that way. I really didn't have the freedom like I had the first three days, and rightfully so. I am trying to win this tournament and I am glad that I did."
Sung Hyun Park wins seventh career victory
Sung Hyun Park is predicted to reclaim the World No.1 spot after birdieing the final hole of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday to win her second title of the year by a single shot.
Park, who birdied all four of the par-fives in her final round, finished with with a 5-under 66 to get to 18-under-par at Pinnacle Country Club, one shot ahead of Danielle Kang, Hyo Joo Kim and Inbee Park by a stroke.
"It would definitely be good to be back on the top, but to be honest, there was a lot of pressure when I was the No. 1," Park said through a translator. "But I wouldn't want to sort of keep that in mind, because I would be under pressure. But then again, it would feel nice to be the No. 1."
"To be honest, my round today didn't go as well as I thought it would," she continued. "I knew that it was important to make a lot of birdies on the front nine, but there were a lot of opportunities. ... But I talked with my caddie, and we both said there's still a lot of hope left. Every single shot was really important."
Five players earn Open qualifying spots
Christian Bezuidenhout and Nate Lashley, who claimed their maiden victories on the European and PGA Tour's on Sunday, were two of the five players to earn their place at Royal Birkdale in a few weeks time thanks to the Open qualifying series.
Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera and local favourite Adri Arnaus joined Bezuidenhout in gaining qualifying spots as the top three players in the top ten not already exempt at Valderrama, while Doc Redman's runner-up finish in Detroit saw him take the second qualifying spot on the PGA Tour.
Final Qualifying for the final major of the year takes place on July 2, where there are three spots available from four venues: Fairmont St Andrews, Notts (Hollinwell), Prince's and St Annes Old Links.
Players have their last chance to play their way to The Open in the next two weeks as both the Irish Open and Scottish Open offer three qualifying spots, while one spot is awarded at the John Deere Classic.
Michelle Wie announces she is taking the rest of the year off from golf due to injury
Michelle Wie took to instagram on Friday to announce that she is taking the rest of the year off from competitive golf as she continues to recover from an injury to her right hand that has derailed a big portion of the last two seasons.
Wie, who took a lot of 2018 off, had surgery in October and had hoped to return to a full schedule in 2019, but found her pain had returned in February after the Honda LPGA Thailand. She tried to rest, but when she returned last week to the KPMG Women's LPGA Championship, it was evident she'd rushed her comeback.
Following her first round, Wie was tearful as she admitted she wasn't sure what the future holds for her and the game.
“I'm not entirely sure how much more I have left in me.” she had said during her press conference.
Her announcement followed after she missed the cut by 17 strokes, having shot rounds of 84 and 82 while nursing her clearly uncomfortable injury.
"After doing everything I could to play this year, I have made the decision to take the rest of the year off from competitive golf," Wie said. "My team and I believe that this will give me the best chance to finally get healthy. I can't thank you all enough for all the love and support. Means the world to me."
Darren Clarke's bizarre bird-feeder penalty
Yes, you read that correctly.
During his first round of the Senior U.S Open, Darren Clarke was penalised two strokes after his caddie tried to remove a bird feeder that was in Clarke's line of play.
The incident happened after Clarke pulled his drive on the 10th hole and saw his line of play was affected. He called over a rules official, who told him he wasn't entitled to any free relief, but at the same time his caddie can be seen trying to move it. He was assessed a two-shot penalty, and recorded a triple bogey during his three-over round.
So what's the rule?
Rule 15.2 states that free relief is not allowed from immovable obstructions, which is what bird feeders are classes as at the Warren Golf Course.
Rule 16.1 allows free relief from immovable obstructions and other abnormal course conditions but only if it interferes with lie, stance or a ball on the putting surface.
Bryson DeChambeau has a solution for slow play...
Byrson DeChambeau is notoriously known for slow play, and his equally unapologetic admission of his own.
"It's actually quite impressive that we're able to get all that stuff done in 45 seconds," DeChambeau had said at the Saudi International, stating that compared to what everyone else does to prepare for a shot in comparison to him, he thinks he and his caddie are actually pretty quick. "People don't realize that it's very difficult to do everything we do in 45 seconds."
He has been criticised a lot about it, but in a recent interview with the New York Post, it seems Bryson thinks that the answer isn't the time it takes him to play the shot, it's the time it takes him to walk between them.
“How long does it take to walk from shot to shot or to a drive 320 yards out?” DeChambeau said during an exclusive interview with The Post. “That takes about 2 ¹/₂ minutes compared to 40 seconds over a shot. We’ve got more of a potential to decrease the time it takes to play a round by walking a little bit faster. When you’re talking about pace of play, you have to include the time it takes to walk.”
"I can take 10 seconds longer to hit a shot, but if I walk 10 seconds faster the total aggregate time is the same, yet they're penalizing me because I took 10 seconds longer over the ball. It doesn't make sense.
"For some people to say, 'I just go up there and hit it,' we'll that's good for you. If it works for you, it works for you. But I want to be as precise as possible heading into that shot. I want to be right on point and that just requires me to be a little faster walker."
Phireside with Phil
Phil Mickelson's twitter account has become a huge source of entertainment for the golfing world, and his latest offering of 'Phireside with Phil' was no different.
In this short video, his mum shares an anecdote about what Phil was like aged 15, and what happened when she refused to take him to the golf course while she was cooking a thanksgiving dinner.
Muirfield has formally invited 12 women to become the first female golfers to join the club in it's 275 year history
The news, detailing that 12 women have been formally invited to join the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers - who have their home at Muirfield - comes two years after the privately owned club voted to admit female members for the first time.
The vote, which was the second of its kind and took place in March 2017, saw a majority of 80.2% vote in favour of introducing female members. On the 19th May 2016, 64% of voters backed the change, but it was not enough to secure the two-thirds needed. It was then revealed members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh golfers were to reconsider by March 2017.
It was a response to the decision by the R&A, golf's governing body, to remove the 16-time Open Championship venue from the rota after it failed to change it's membership policy.
And now, two years after the vote was passed, twelve women - and three men - have been invited to join the club from July 1.
"This marks a milestone in the club's illustrious history, and we look forward to welcoming all of our new members to share in the great values and traditions of our club," said Alistair Campbell, captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
"This year marks the 275th anniversary of the club's first recorded golf competition. We are proud of our rich history but equally excited for its future and the part all of our new members will play in the club's cherished traditions."
The candidates were proposed and seconded by members and five referees, before the club's membership were invited to write letters of support - or otherwise - if they know or have played with them.
The women - two of whom are from outside the UK - have progressed through that process and have now been formally invited to join.