What you missed: Wins, records, retirement, a ban, and Phil’s social media instruction

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What you missed on Tour last week: Wins for Casey and Hend, a milestone for Ernie Els, retirement for Ilonen and a ban for Robert Garrigus

Paul Casey and Scott Hend held off strong challenges from the field to win on the PGA and European Tour at the weekend, while Ernie Els joined the record books for becoming the first person to get to a milestone 300 top 10s. 

Elsewhere, Patrick Reed had a new coach checking out his swing, Mikko Ilonen announced his shock retirement, and Robert Garrigus was suspended from the PGA Tour for failing a drugs test. 

Plus, Phil’s hilarious social media tips and a life-changing moment for a fan – courtesy of Paul Casey.

Here’s what you missed.

Paul Casey defends Maybank Championship

Paul Casey left a period of nine years between his first and second PGA Tour victories, but became the first player to successfully defend the Valspar Championship with a one stroke victory over Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Kokrak

In a day of tough conditions, Casey’s one-over 72 was enough to come out on top of a stacked leaderboard by a single stroke, ensuring the first title defence of his career.

Casey, who held the 54-hole lead, fended off challenges from both Kokrak and Oosthuizen – whose late mistakes cost them a chance of a play-off. 

In the end, an easy two-putt par secured the title for Casey, who acknowledged his golf was scrappy but the victory more enjoyable than a year ago. 

“This feels very different from last year, it feels better, I’m enjoying this one so much more,” said Casey. 

“Very satisfied with that today. It was a scrappy round of golf but that golf course as Doug Ferguson just said is so difficult that it’s damn near impossible to have a clean round of golf and not make mistakes. But I was composed, I was very keen to play well and I did and I made mistakes but then so did everybody else and I good shots it done and I couldn’t be happier.”

 

Read full report here | WITB

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Scott Hend beats Elvira in Maybank play-off

Between a lengthy weather delay on the final hole and a monster putt from Nacho Elvira to force a play-off, the Maybank Championship was dramatic until the end as Scott Hend claimed his third European Tour victory. 

Elvira began the day three shots clear at the top of the leaderboard, but a fast start from Hend that included five birdies over his front nine gave him a one-shot advantage at the turn. He quickly capitalised to make that two by the 13th. 

The Spaniard made a birdie of his own on the par-three 16th to half the defecit, and knew he was in need of something special when heavy rain and a huge clap of thunder sounded in the middle of his backswing on the 18th fairway, and left him with 30 feet for birdie.

Play was suspended for an hour and twenty minutes, and when the players came back, it seemed likely Hend would two putt for par, and victory. He did get the par, but Elvira created the drama with the most unlikely of birdies to force a playoff.

“What a putt by Nacho,” said Hend. “If I was to go out there and hit that putt you would say you would hole it one in ten times. It was an amazing putt, and in the situation he holed it. All credit to Nacho, it was fantastic.”

Read full report here

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Ernie Els’ Top 10 Tour milestone

Ernie Els became the first player to record 300 career top ten finishes since the inception of the Official Golf World Ranking in 1986 when he finished T7 at the Maybank Championship on Sunday. 

Els, who is a four time major winner, achieved the landmark feat when he posted a closing 71 to go with rounds of 68,70,69. 

The 49-year-old, who is a 28-time European Tour winner, had three birdies with two bogeys in his final round to end the week five strokes behind champion Scott Hend.

“I’m really happy that I’m playing good golf again,” Els said on Friday. “My body feels good and the ball striking is there now. On the greens I’m starting to feel really comfortable, so that means I can have a chance again to play with these guys. 

“That’s what I want, to feel like I can have a chance playing Saturdays and Sundays and that’s kind of my goal.”

Patrick Reed seen on the range with David Leadbetter after call to the coach from wife Justine

Patrick Reed has been out of sorts the last few weeks, and carded rounds of 77 and 75 on his way to his first missed cut since the PGA Championship at the Valspar. It followed a T50 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T47 at the Players, which led caddie and brother in law Kessler Karain to say that “he’s been a completely different golfer” over the last few rounds. 

With the Masters just two weeks away, his swing problems couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Enter his wife, Justine. It turns out on Thursday she put in a call to David Leadbetter to come and have a look at Reed’s swing, and the pair were spotted on the range on Friday. Normally, Reed works with Kevin Kirk and Josh Gregory. 

Afterwards, Leadbetter said he had felt Reed’s swing was getting too long, and that he didn’t recall any other player getting advice on their swing so close to his Masters defence. 

“I wouldn’t say Bubba(ish), but very long,” Leadbetter said, but conceded he didn’t know if they would work together more. 

“You never know with these guys. He seemed to like it, so we’ll see how it goes. Today was the first time I’d really met him.

“It was not open-heart surgery today, just something small that we worked on.”

Mikko Ilonen retires from the professional golf aged 39

Five time European Tour winner Mikko Ilonen announced that he was retiring as a professional golfer to focus on family, well-being and giving back through golf. 

Ilonen, who had 398 starts as a professional and is Finland’s most famous golfer, took to social media to share the news of his decision to retire after 18 years.

“I am convinced that my retirement is not an end to one thing, but instead the beginning of something new and exciting,” said Ilonen.

“As a professional golfer, or as an athlete, you sometimes have to be very selfish. I have been selfish for twenty years now and I think it is about time for me to care about others as they have cared for me.

“I made a conscious decision to not involve golf in my off-season after the World Cup of Golf last November.

“Instead, I have focused on my family and my own wellbeing. I have used the time well, which means that I have enjoyed the winter and I have done some of the things I used to do as a kid, such as skiing and snowboarding.

“The quality time I have had with my wife and two kids has meant so much to me and I have realised that I don’t want to prioritise other obligations ahead of my family.

“I am very grateful for what golf has given me, but now I want to focus on giving back to those that have supported me and to golf in general. My passion is golf and I am determined to find a way of supporting golf in general and Finnish junior golfers in particular.

“I am really looking forward to what the future has in its hands and I hope that I can inspire young boys and girls in Finland and abroad to reach their goals in golf and in life.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people around me and commercial partners that have supported me through the years. I am looking forward to doing great things together with you also in the future.”

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Robert Garrigus handed PGA Tour ban for failing drugs test

PGA Tour winner Robert Garrigus, 41, had been handed a three-month suspension from the PGA Tour for failing a drug test for marjuana. 

Garrigus claimed his only PGA Tour title in 2010, and has since dropped to World No. 458. In three starts in 2019, he’s gone MC-T64-MC. 

He later took to social media to put out a statement, apologising and outline the laws and consequences of drug taking. 

“After a long period of sobriety, I had a relapse and subsequently failed a drug test for marijuana. A drug that, although legal in many states, is not permitted under the PGA Tour’s anti-doping rules,” Garrigus wrote. “I mention that it is legal in many states not as an excuse, but as a word of warning to many people who use or try marijuana. Legal doesn’t mean it isn’t addictive and legal doesn’t mean there aren’t potentially severe consequences if you use it.”

“It doesn’t matter if you are one day, one week or nine years clean; one misstep, one lapse in judgment can impact your life in monumental fashion. I hope this new chapter in my life will now show people to never relax in their battle with addiction.”

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Phil Mickelson: Flop shots and calves

There was a time not too long ago that Phil Mickelson wasn’t even on twitter, and this week proved how much better it is now that he is. With advice on how to hit a high, short soft shot while wearing flip flops and how to get his much documented calves, you definitely won’t want to miss them. 

He introduced the first of his hilarious video tips this week with ‘Two MC Tip Tuesday’.

“That’s right,” Mickelson quipped, “Two missed cut tip Tuesday, just what everybody wants, a tip from a player who’s missed the last two cuts.”

The second video was even more tongue and cheek as he introduced the first of his five-part ‘Phil Kwon Do’ calves instruction series. 

Casey gifts young fan with life changing surprise

Paul Casey teed up with an unsuspecting young fan named Ronan during a practice round at the Valspar Championship, and gave him a life-changing surprise. 

Ronan, who is colour blind, didn’t know he was going to get to play with Casey, and seemed equally nervous and excited when he moved inside the ropes and hit his first tee shot. 

But that wasn’t his only surprise of the day. When they were finished, Casey presented him with a present that had been hiding in his golf bag: a pair of colour correcting glasses for people who are colour blind. 

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