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In the end, Tom Hoge rolled. The 2022 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am champion shot a closing 68 on Sunday to beat three-time major winner Jordan Spieth by two strokes and win his first professional golf event since 2011.
Hoge emerged from a pack that saw Spieth at the top of it for most of the day. After making double at the fifth hole and going out in a pedestrian 36, he didn’t make a mistake on the second nine, shot 32 and ran down somebody who looked like he was going to cruise to his second title in the last six years on this course.

Hoge’s iron play on the second nine was brilliant. The apex was a 141-yard approach on No. 16 to 9 inches, but he found all nine greens in regulation and hit seven of those approaches inside 20 feet. He gained 2.3 strokes on approach shots on those nine holes alone, and of course he buried one of the two approaches he hit outside 20 feet.

That one came on a 22-foot birdie at the par-3 17th hole, which Spieth had just bogeyed in front of him. Buoyed by a one-stroke lead, Hoge made it two with this monster putt and strode to the closing hole which he parred for the victory.
Winning in professional golf is an extremely difficult thing to do. We say it all the time, but I’m not sure we can possibly say it enough. After his win at the Canadian Tour Players Cup in his second OWGR start in 2011, Hoge lost his next 285 starts before Sunday at Pebble. More recently, though, the trend had been good. Two top fives in his last four starts, including a solo second at the American Express a few weeks ago.

A career grinder, Hoge just cashed in one of his best opportunities — beating Spieth to get his first-ever PGA Tour victory and an invite to the Masters in April. The trajectory of his career looks consistent and solid, but what he did on Sunday at Pebble, with Spieth staring him down, is a lot more difficult than he made it look. Grade: A+

Here are the rest of our grades for the 2022 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am:

Jordan Spieth (2nd): This week was the perfect representation of Spieth’s golf as well as his career. He’ll take you all over the yard, and often right up next to the abyss (often metaphorically, sometimes literally). And then by sleight of hand, he’ll cover the canyon and show you the sea. He’s golf’s most heart-stopping showman, and 132 strokes at Pebble Beach this weekend that included one harrowing one over a 70-foot drop, was the perfect representation of this reality. Regardless of how it ended, I have optimism for the rest of his spring, especially since he came into the week struggling with his iron play and proceeded to flush nearly everything he looked at. Grade: A

Patrick Cantlay (T4): It’s hard to express disappointment in Cantlay given that this was his sixth consecutive top-11 finish, but it did feel a bit reminiscent of last year when Daniel Berger won and Cantlay couldn’t seal the deal. He shot 71 this year (and 68 last year), and I’m not real worried about his relative mediocrity from tee to green on Sunday. I’m more concerned that he start to play his way into contention at big-time events like the Players and various majors just like he’s been doing at regular PGA Tour events for the last eight months. Grade: A-

Joel Dahmen (T6): Among the players on the leaderboard on Sunday, you could make the case that Dahmen was the most compelling winning story. After winning last year for the first time on the PGA Tour in an opposite-field event (and the first time anywhere since 2014), this would have been a windfall. He faded after three early birdies on Sunday, but with two missed cuts coming into this week, he should be encouraged about the rest of 2022. He’s a solid player, but we underrate how meaningful top 10s are to golfers like him. He has just eight of them worldwide since the start of 2020. Grade: A

Seamus Power (T9): The Irishman led by five after 36 holes before it all fell apart for him. His disastrous weekend started on Saturday at Monterey Peninsula, which played as the easiest course in the three-course rota. He shot 74 on a course that played to an average of under 71. He then went out in 38 on Sunday at Pebble but came home in 34 to finish even on the day and T9 for the event. It was still his fifth straight top 20, but given where he was on Friday evening (commandingly in first place), it has to feel like a disappointment. Grade: B

Jason Day (T24): Of all the big names coming into the final round, I thought Day was probably the most disappointing. He could only muster a 74 over the final 18, and he was negative from tee to green and on approach shots over 36 measured holes at Pebble. I’m excited about what Day’s year could be, but this was a moment for him to step into a void left by the top players exiting this tournament, and he didn’t do it. I’m also less confident than he is about how many wins he could feasibly accumulate for the rest of 2022. Grade: B-

SOURCE: cbssports.com

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The second tournament of the PGA Tour’s west coast swing is in the books and it’s time to take a look at some key stat leaders. Luke List became the newest Tour winner after his epic Sunday charge at Torrey Pines to chase down Will Zalatoris, and the win puts him in the top 10 of the FedEx Cup Standings. Here are three other players among the stat leaders who caught our eye:

1. Daniel Berger. Berger is hitting an absurd 81 percent of fairways this season, which is easily the best mark on Tour. He’s 6.5 percentage points ahead of second on the list, which is the same gap between second and 24th. Safe to say he’s feeling good with the driver in his hands this season.

2. Will Zalatoris. Although Zalatoris couldn’t quite seal the deal for his first Tour victory, he is now leading the Tour in SG: Tee-to-green. Second on the list? None other than Luke List. You won’t find many head-to-head matchups with better ball strikers than the one we saw in the playoff Saturday night.

3. Bryson DeChambeau. If you look at the Tour’s driving distance leaders this season, you might notice that DeChambeau isn’t among the top 10. How can that be? The masher doesn’t quite have enough rounds under his belt this season to meet the minimum qualifications to appear on the list. But worry not — his 318.5 yards per whack off the tee would rank fourth on Tour were he to qualify.

SOURCE: golf.com

Golf News 1.17 blog 1030x579

Press conferences — particularly in golf — can get extremely mundane.

“Talk about the approach you hit on 14.”

“What were you thinking coming up 18 with the lead?”

*yawn*

Occasionally, however, pressers provide some content gold. Think well-served Dustin Johnson after a team event, or Rory McIlroy with just about anything. It’s must-see TV, and you hope that it never ends. Sometimes, you even learn a little something about how to play golf, too. That’s just what happened during Danielle Kang’s winner’s presser after last week’s LPGA opener.

Coming off the course after her first win in 17 months, Kang was in just the right mood to be a perfect interview subject — a combination of engaging and insightful. The first few questions from the media were run-of-the-mill snoozers, but then, a question came in that really got her rolling.

“I think the one that may have brought a tear on the old-timers’ eyes was the bump-and-run today on 15. You just don’t see that shot very much anymore. Can you walk us through what your thinking is there?“

Luckily, Kang obliged, and we got a step-by-step breakdown on how to hit a proper bump-and-run:

1. Stand the shaft up
To execute the shot to perfection, as Kang did, you need to make the shaft a bit more vertical than you would on a typical greenside shot.

“I stand the shaft up, put the ball back, put the toe down, and I just hit it aggressively through the ball,” she said.

2. Ball in the back of the stance
With the ball in the back of your stance, it’s easier to hit down on it and make ball-first contact.

3. Play it off the toe
You want the ball to get on the ground quickly and roll towards the hole, so you don’t want to put much backspin on the ball. To get this topspin, Kang said she plays the ball towards the toe of the club.

“It comes off like a putt,” she said.

4. Stay aggressive
Perhaps the most important aspect of hitting a good bump-and-run is to stay aggressive.

“You just can’t be afraid of it,” Kang said. “If you hesitate it’s going to duff or chunk or going to catch a little bit too much toe spin. But as along as you’re aggressive it’s always going come out with the nice topspin that you can create with your putter.”

Source: Golf.com

Golf News 1.17 blog 1030x579

Matsuyama grabbed his eighth career PGA Tour victory with a shocking eagle

Russell Henley shot 23 under at the 2022 Sony Open this week, finishing in the top three in the field in putting, iron play and strokes gained from tee to green … and somehow did not win. That’s because Hideki Matsuyama shot 63-63 on the weekend and hit the shot of the season on the first hole of a playoff for the eighth – and perhaps most exciting – win of his PGA Tour career.

Rewind to the turn in Sunday’s final round. Henley took a commanding five-stroke lead to the second nine. Data Golf said his chances of winning at that moment were about 97%. It was not a foregone conclusion because nothing in golf is a foregone conclusion, but as far as sure bets go, it was up there.

Henley played the next nine holes in 1 over after touching the edge of the cup with putts on two of the last three holes. Nothing fell. He’d torched the golf course for 63 straight holes with at least two birdies or eagles on every previous nine-hole stretch. He made none over the final nine. Matsuyama played them in 4 under, including a birdie at the 72nd hole, to tie the tournament at 23 under and send it into bonus holes.

In the playoff, Henley drove one into a bunker. After getting out of trouble but with work to do to make birdie at the par-5 finisher – which was also being used as the first hole of the playoff – Henley looked to be fighting an uphill battle. Matsuyama could control the tournament by finding the green and two-putting for birdie. So of course he blistered a 3-wood from 276 yards to 32 inches for eagle to win the event.

It will go down as one of the 10 best shots of the entire season.

For Henley, it was a dagger in what had otherwise been such a tremendous week. He was trying to bookend his 2013 victory at this tournament with another one, which would have been the fourth of his underrated career. He did everything right, but he still couldn’t close out the reigning Masters champion.

There was good reason for that, too. Matsuyama is obviously a menace from tee to green, and he was again this week at Waialae Country Club. But the bigger problem for Henley was that Matsuyama led the field in putting for the first time in his career. He gained nearly half of his strokes on the greens, which is always going to be a problem for everyone else.

For Matsuyama, it’s the latest addition to an underrated résumé that includes two WGC victories, a Memorial win, two Phoenix Opens, a Zozo Championship in his home country of Japan and that famous Masters triumph last April. He’s earned over $37 million in his career and has essentially been a top-10 player in the world for the last seven years.

It’s easy for Matsuyama to get a bit lost in the shuffle when Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth are swiping headlines, but he’s accomplished all of this before the age of 30, which both goes unnoticed and should be celebrated more than it is. This win ties him with K.J. Choi for the most all-time by an Asian-born player (8). Matsuyama has played just 203 official PGA Tour events, while Choi has played nearly 500 (though he won his eight in the first 300).

This was a terrific week for the PGA Tour, too. The week after the scoring record was reset at the Tournament of Champions, two perennially underrated golfers combined to shoot a best-ball 59 on Sunday with the tournament on the line, and the shot of the year was struck in a sleepy week with a below-average field. Another star built his narrative and his résumé with several big-time events just around the corner. If that’s what a mediocre weeks look like, imagine what the good ones are going to hold the rest of the year.

This is how it goes in golf, though. You never know when you’re going to see one of the great shots of the last few years. You never know when a run-of-the-mill golf tournament is going to deliver the finish of the season. You never know when the Masters champ is going to close like the superstar he is.

SOURCE: cbssports.com

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