Home cooking and family were top themes on Sunday, as Andrew Landry and Moriya Jutanugarn lifted trophies for the first time. It’s teamwork week on the PGA Tour, with a little music to flavor the weekend.
Zydeco, anyone? Welcome back, too, Brooks Koepka – sorry for the slim pickings.
1. The shoe – um, boot? – finally fits Andrew Landry. The native Texan finally notches his first PGA Tour win, using four early birdies to pull away at the Valero Texas Open. Landry – who first gained attention at the 2016 U.S. Open – also dropped a CareerBuilder playoff in January to Jon Rahm.
2. The Jutanugarn sister act goes into the LPGA record book. Older sister Moriya captures the inaugural Hugel-JTBC LA Open to join Ariya as just the second sister pair to taste LPGA victory. The Thai duo is in pretty good company, too – the others are Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam.
3. Brooks Koepka is ready to put his wrist to the test. The reigning U.S. Open champion was a late addition to this week’s Zurich Classic, his first start since placing last at Kapalua in January. With the list of partners well picked over, he’ll team with 2008 Las Vegas winner Marc Turnesa.
THIS WEEK’S LINEUP
PGA Tour: Zurich Classic
Course: TPC Louisiana
Where: San Antonio
Where: Avondale, La.
Defending: Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith
LPGA Tour: LPGA Mediheal Championship
Course: Lake Merced Golf Club
Where: Daly City, Calif.
Defending: New event
European Tour: Volvo China Open
Course: Topwin Golf & CC
Defending: Alexander Levy
Web.com Tour: United Leasing & Finance Championship
Course: Victoria National GC
Where: Evansville, Ind.
Defending: D.H. Lee
Four LPGA players arrived at last week’s Hugel-JTBC LA Open with an opportunity to overtake Shanshan Feng atop the women’s world rankings. For Inbee Park, it was a matter of unfinished business.
Park returned to the top of the chart with a share of runner-up honors at Wilshire Country Club, one week after a late stumble postponed the move. She regained No.1 for the fourth time in her Hall of Fame career, earning a 93rd week at the top.
Park’s last stint at No.1 ended on Oct. 25, 2015 – a gap of 130 weeks that marks the longest in the history of the women’s rankings. At age 29, she’s also the oldest to hold the top spot since Cristie Kerr in 2010.
With Feng and Thompson joining Park at this week’s Mediheal Championship, the chance remains for another change next Monday.
POSITION. PLAYER (LAST WEEK) POINTS
1. Inbee Park (3) 7.49
3. Shanshan Feng (1) 7.04
3. Lexi Thompson (2) 6.78
4. So Yeon Ryu (5) 6.16
5. Sung Hyun Park (4) 5.85
6. Ariya Jutanugarn (6) 5.55
7. In-Kyung Kim (7) 5.42
8. Cristie Kerr (8) 5.22
9. Anna Nordqvist (9) 5.04
10. Hye Jin Choi (10) 4.89
Though two-man team play was absent from the PGA Tour schedule for 35 years before last year’s Zurich Classic, the format once was a staple in the days of Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead.
The Miami International Four-Ball ran for the better part of three decades before playing its final edition in 1954. Most notable was Nelson’s 1945 victory alongside Jug McSpaden, serving as the launch point for his record 11 consecutive wins.
Ohio’s Inverness Club also hosted an annual four-ball from 1935-50, where Hogan and Jimmy Demeret teamed for four victories. In the 1970s, Walt Disney World hosted a two-man competition that served as the season finale until 1981.
The PGA Tour Champions also began with a two-man event, with the Legends of Golf serving as the forerunner when it launched in 1978.
HOLE OF THE WEEK
No.18, TPC Louisiana
Par 5, 585 yards
2017 average: 4.630 (4th easiest)
Though the numbers might classify No.18 as something of a pushover, it’s a classic risk/reward hole that can produce stunners on either side of the line.
Exhibit A: Kevin Kisner’s chip-in for eagle on the final hole of regulation, skipping once on the green and rattling the flagstick before dropping in as Kisner whipped the crowd into a twilight frenzy. It was one of five eagles posted in the Zurich’s first two-man format.
On the flip side, there were a half-dozen twosomes that turned in a double bogey, predominantly in the alternate-shot side of the competition. Among those were Brooks Koepka and his younger brother Chase, finishing a Saturday 73 that took them out of contention.
Though No.18 offers one of the more generous fairways on the course, the right side is completely guarded by water and deep-faced bunkers guard the green’s other three sides.
2017 Zurich Classic: 5 eagles, 110 birdies, 99 pars, 17 bogeys, 6 double bogeys, 1 higher
STAT OF THE WEEK
While the Jutanugarns enjoy their status alongside the Sorenstams as the only LPGA sister pairs to put both names on trophies, it’s worth noting just six other sets of sisters have competed on the circuit.
The LPGA’s founders actually included a pair of sisters, with youngsters Alice and Marlene Bauer among the 13 originals. It was another 18 years before the next set, with Janet Caponi joining sister Donna in 1968.
Another 25 years passed before Dina Ammacapane joined Danielle on the circuit in 1993, and the were both on tour by 1997. The rest: Aree and Naree Song (2005), Russy and Numa Gulyanamitta (2012), the Jutanugarns (2015) and Jessica and Nelly Korda (2017).
DID YOU KNOW
Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem received $9.256 million in total compensation in his final year on the job, according to the tour’s recently released 2016 tax return. As a reference, that would rank Finchem behind only Dustin Johnson on that year’s earnings list.
By another measure, Finchem was squarely in the second tier of compensation among top sports executives. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell easily heads that list at $34.1 million in 2016, with Bud Selig making $22 million in his final year atop Major League Baseball.
Finchem was on similar footing with NBA commissioner Adam Silver ($10 million) and NHL chief Gary Bettman ($9.6 million).
CUE THE TUNES
Taking a cue from baseball’s longtime tradition, the Zurich Classic is adding walkup music to the first-tee introductions on the weekend.
Every duo that survives the cut will have the chance to designate music that will play as they come to the first tee at TPC Louisiana. The European Tour tried it at a couple of events last year, but this is its first appearance on the PGA Tour.
Though the concept was announced two weeks ago, little word has come out about actual tunes up for play. The only duo to go public has been Corey Conners/Mac Hughes, who have chosen Tom Cochrane’s “Big League” as a tribute to the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team that lost 16 players and staffers in a tragic bus accident last week.
“I think they actually (were) crying more than me. I know they been so excited. Of course I (was) nervous, but they cry more than me. I think my sister get a lot emotional out there, too.”
– Moriya Jutanugarn, recalling reaction from her mom and sister after winning her first LPGA title on Sunday.
“I didn’t say anything, because I (was) still crying. So I cry, and then I walk (up to) her and hug her. I (still) didn’t say anything yet.”
– Ariya Jutanugarn, whose first of seven LPGA wins came two years ago.
Credit: Getty Images, Rolex Rankings, Golf History Today