In today’s PGW Rundown, Sung Kang makes a rookie mistake that may have cost him a win; Tommy Fleetwood comes out on top in France while three others clinch spots at Royal Birkdale; and Bernhard Langer falls short in his attempt for a third-straight 2017 major victory.
Surprise Downpour Dooms Kang’s Chances in Maryland
A very crowded leaderboard made for a crazy Sunday at the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac, as roughly a dozen players still had a chance coming in.
One of those players, South Korea’s Sung Kang, found himself at an enormous disadvantage when sunny skies briefly broke into a torrential downpour.
While champion Kyle Stanley, among others, were able to ride out the surprise storm, neither Kang nor his caddy had packed an umbrella, or any other rain gear.
During the downpour, Kang missed a short birdie putt on No. 16 that would have tied the lead. The horn then sounded, signifying a weather delay, one that only ended up being five minutes long.
Once play resumed, a drenched Kang was still out of sorts and double-bogeyed the 17th hole, ending his chances of a first career PGA Tour victory. At -4, Kang finished in a share of fifth place.
- Sung Kang was one of a large group of players who still had hopes of winning the Quicken Loans National down the stretch. The 30-year-old had a share of the lead at one point on the back nine, and was just a stroke out with three to go when the skies suddenly went dark. A brief downpour soaked Kang, who had not brought any rain protection gear, making his finish difficult.
- Less than four feet away from a 16th hole birdie that would have re-tied the lead, a drenched Kang missed the birdie putt in the rain, settling for a par.
- Tournament officials stopped play due to excessive rain, a respite that only lasted about five minutes. When play resumed, Kang was forced to play his last two holes in heavy, soaked apparel. He double-bogeyed the 17th and then parred the 18th to finish three strokes behind Kyle Stanley.
- There was a silver lining for Kang, however. The top four finishers in the field received exemptions to this month’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. The final spot came down to Kang and a handful of others who were tied at -4. At No. 87 in the world, Kang was the highest ranked of the group, and as a result, was given the spot in the Open.
“It said zero percent chance of rain all day. Like no chance of thunderstorms at all.”
Fleetwood’s Stellar Season Continues With French Open Win
Overshadowed by some of the bigger names in Europe, Tommy Fleetwood is threatening to become one of their most feared.
The 26-year-old Englishman, who made headlines in the U.S. when he contended at the U.S. Open, won the European Tour’s most recent event, the HNA Open de France over the weekend.
At -12 for the tournament, Fleetwood beat American Peter Uihlein by a single shot, notching his second victory of the season and propelling to the top of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings.
- Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship early this year, notched victory #2 on the season when he won the French Open over the weekend. Fleetwood shot a bogey-free five-under 66 in the final round to overtake Peter Uihlein and Alexander Bjork for the win.
- Fleetwood’s win marks three consecutive tournaments inside the top six. He was T6 at the recent BMW International Open, and prior to that, he finished in solo-fourth at the U.S. Open, where he played in the final pairing.
- In just seven PGA Tour events this season, Fleetwood has three top 10s, including a runner-up at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
- Fleetwood started the day in third place, but jumped into the lead after a tap-in birdie on the par-3 second hole. Despite a charge from Peter Uihlein, Fleetwood stayed out front, taking the victory. Uihlein got off to a poor start, but got back into the picture with four birdies over his final eight holes.
- Fleetwood jumped to #15 in the world with the win, his highest career ranking.
“Winning, it’s the best feeling by far in golf and to do it on this golf course in this event, a Rolex Series event, just massive, massive bonuses. It’s just been a great week from start to finish. Coming off the back of good golf, US Open and BMW in Germany, felt like I’ve been swinging it well. So it’s good to put it into practice and I’ve just kept up good form.”
– Tommy Fleetwood
American Uihlein Among Three Open Qualifiers in France
Peter Uihlein was no doubt disappointed to fall a single stroke short at the HNA Open de France over the weekend, which would have been his first career European Tour victory since 2013, but he did not leave France empty handed.
As a runner-up finisher, the former U.S. Amateur champion received a spot in the field at this month’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Uihlein was among three who was added to the field, as the tournament awarded three spots to players inside the top 10 who were not already exempt.
Along with Uihlein, Sweden’s Alexander Bjork, who finished T3 after holding the 54-hole co-lead, and France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera, who was also tied for third place in his home country, five strokes behind winner Tommy Fleetwood.
- The three highest finishers at this past weekend’s French Open were awarded spots in the field at The Open Championship. Those three players ended up being Peter Uihlein, Alexander Bjork, and Mike Lorenzo-Vera.
- Uihlein exploded onto the world scene with a win at the U.S. Amateur in 2010 while playing collegiate golf at Oklahoma State.
- Uihlein joined the European Tour in 2011, notching a win, two runner-ups, and 14 top 10s over his first two seasons.
- After a difficult career stretch from 2013-2016, Uihlein is in the midst of a nice comeback season, with five top 10s in 2017. This will be his third attempt at The Open Championship, with a T48 and a missed cut in his first two. The T48 was his only made cut at a major.
- Alexander Bjork, a rookie on the European Tour, will be making his major championship debut at Royal Birkdale. In a very up-and-down 2017 season, the T3 in France was Bjork’s best finish of the season.
- Mike Lorenzo-Vera made an enormous jump in the world rankings with his T3 in France, jumping from 209th to 145th. The finish was his highest since a T2 at the 2008 Volvo China Open. The 32-year-old Frenchman will also be making his major championship debut at The Open.
“It’s what you practice for and it’s what you play for is to get in contention on Sunday in the final group and see how it goes. I was proud of the way I handled myself on the back nine. I felt like I hit it a lot better after a shaky start. I’m excited for tomorrow.”
–Peter Uihlein, after capturing the 54-hole lead at the French Open.
Langer-Slam Snapped at Two Straight at the Senior U.S. Open
Bernhard Langer, the 59-year-old who has absolutely dominated the Champions Tour in recent years, was the big story coming into this week’s Senior U.S. Open.
Langer won the first two majors of the year, and was considered a favorite this week as well. He got off to a great start, playing himself into contention with a 67-65 on Thursday and Friday, but the weekend was a struggle, as over-par rounds of 72 and 74 dropped him to -2 for the tournament, good for a share of 18th place.
- Bernhard Langer needed a very low final round to get back into the championship picture after a 2-over 72 in the third round, but after an opening birdie, Langer played the rest of his round 5-over, finishing 14 strokes behind winner Kenny Perry.
- Langer had a big distraction this week, as there have been questions about whether his putting stroke violates the Tour rules on anchoring. The Champions Tour ruled that Langer was not in violation of any rules.
- Langer leads the Champions Tour this season with three victories, and still has a considerable lead on the Tour’s money list.
- The winner of nine career Champions Tour major titles, the most all-time, Langer finished outside the top 10 in a major for the first time since 2013.
“It’s hard to win one in a row.”
–Bernhard Langer, after falling short in his quest for a third-straight 2017 major victory.