Satoshi Kodaira wins the 2018 RBC Heritage

Satoshi Kodaira wins the 2018 RBC Heritage

Satoshi KodairaHilton Head, South Carolina – Si Woo Kim won’t soon forget the 2018 RBC Heritage. After a bogey free 3 under par front nine, the tournament was his – if only a putt inside 7 feet would’ve dropped. On his last four holes Kim missed putts of 4, 5, 7 and 6 feet, any of which would have given him the win. Instead he watched as Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira drained a 20 footer on the third playoff hole (par 3 – 17th) to capture his first PGA Tour title. Teeing off an hour before the leaders, Kodaira wasn’t thinking about winning, but his five under par 66 (-12 total) in excessively windy conditions vaulted him up the leaderboard.

Afterward, Kodaira was asked about his new tartan plaid jacket, “I will probably not wear it regularly, but this is special.” 54 hole leader Ian Poulter made the turn at 1 under par, but faltered on the inward nine with 5 bogeys and a final round 75, to finish T7. Luke List who continues to knock on the door of victory, had a chance to join the playoff, but missed his 10 foot birdie putt on Harbour Town’s iconic finisher.

List knows he’s close, “I’m getting better with each opportunity, and I feel like my game has risen to the point where I expect to contend every week. So it’s going to happen.”

Bryson DeChambeau fired a final round 66 to tie for third with Luke List one shot back at 11 under par.

Scores: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

 

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Jason  Bruno
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com

 

Patrick Reed is a Masters Champion

Patrick Reed is a Masters Champion

Patrick ReedAugusta, Ga – He’s known as “Captain America” for his ability to dominate his foes in international team competition. Now after a truly gutsy final round 71 (15 under par total), the scrappy blue collar 27 year old who led Augusta State (now known as Augusta University) to two NCAA titles is the Masters Champion. Reed did just enough to hold off a leaderboard of top ten world ranked twenty somethings that included of Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy. Throw in two time Masters Champion Bubba Watson, and a 42 year old Henrik Stenson, and you have a leaderboard that rivals any in recent memory.

So many expected McIlroy to be the main challenge to Reed’s 3 shot lead to start Masters Sunday, but it was Jordan Spieth who began the charge with an electric front nine 31. Then, with birdies on the inward side at the twelfth, thirteenth and sixteenth, it appeared the greatest comeback in Masters history was in the works. Reed had other ideas as he made a great birdie himself at the par 3 twelfth, a huge break on the thirteenth  – where his approach landed short of the green, but stayed on the bank (avoiding the penalty of going into the tributary to Rae’s Creek) enabled Reed to save par. A flushed approach on the fourteenth led to birdie and 15 under par (and a one shot margin over Spieth). Jordan Spieth only needed par to tie the course record 63 and post 14 under par. The charge would fall short as Spieth’s tee shot on the 18th caught a tree branch (on the left side of the chute that guards the entry to the fairway) leaving him scrambling to make par. When his five foot par putt missed, his quest was over. Spieth posted 13 under par (and a final 64) to finish solo third.

Meanwhile Reed kept grinding, a marvelous 2 putt par on the seventeenth was vital because Rickie Fowler had just finished off his own rally by birdieing the last to post 14 under par after a final round 67.

Needing par on the last to win his first major, Reed put his tee shot safely in play down the left side, his approach landed on the green leaving himself a testy two putt from 16 feet above the hole. After a bold first attempt that ran by 3 feet, he poured the winning putt in the heart to became the winner of the 82nd Masters.

Reed reflected on his challengers performances on Sunday by simply saying “I’m glad they ran out holes.” When asked about what was different this week from prior years at Augusta, “This week, I said, ‘Hey, it’s golf. Go play. Be you’, I was able to stay in that mindset the entire week.”

Scores: http://www.masters.com/en_US/scores/index.html

 

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Jason  Bruno
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com

 

Who will win the 82nd Masters?

Who will win the 82nd Masters?

The MastersPredicting any professional golf tournament can be futile, and major championships can be downright impossible to prognosticate. The Masters offers the rare exception because of the golf course and smaller field.

When we analyze the field of the 82nd Masters, there are likely less than two dozen players with a realistic chance of wearing green when Sunday evening rolls around. Out of the field of 87, we narrowed the likely 2018 Masters Champion to a select sweet 16. Negating 71 players in the field can be tricky, but with past champions, amateurs and first timers – the true contenders are just a fraction of the entire field. First, let’s go through the process of elimination

Past Champions that still play but are no longer true contenders to win whether it be because of age, length, inactivity or just being off form:

1 – Jose Maria Olazabal
2 – Bernhard Langer
3 – Mike Weir
4 – Angel Cabrera  (off form)
5 – Sandy Lyle
6 – Ian Woosnam
7 – Fred Couples
8 – Trevor Immelman
9 – Larry Mize
10 – Mark O’Meara
11 – Vijay Singh
12 – Danny Willet  (off form)

Active players who struggle at Augusta National due primarily to length, or low ball flight :

13 – Matt Kuchar
14 – Brendan Grace
15 – Brian Harman
16 – Webb Simpson
17 – Adam Hadwin
18 – Brian Harman
19 – Russell Henley
20 – Kevin Kisner
21 – Ryan Moore
22 – Ted Potter, Jr.
23 – Jason Dufner
24 – Chez Reavie
25 – Webb Simpson
26 – Si Woo Kim
27 – Cameron Smith

First Time Players to the Masters:

28 – Tony Finau
29 – Wesley Bryan
30 – Austin Cook
31 – Harry Ellis (a)
32 – Dylan Frittelli
33 – Doug Ghim (a)
34 – Patton Kizzire
35 – Satoshin Kodaira
36 – Haotong Li
37 – Yuxin Lin (a)
38 – Yusaku Miyazato
39 – Joaquin Niemann (a)
40 – Matt Parziale (a)
41 – Xander Schauffele
42 – Shubhankar Sharma
43 – Doc Redman

Past results or lack there of at Augusta:

44 – Jhonattan Vegas
45 – Tyrell Hatton
46 – Yuta Ikeda
47 – Martin Kaymer
48 – Ian Poulter

Mid-Long Iron proximity at the Masters is essential, these players have not been proficient in this category this season:

49 – Ross Fisher
50 – Billy Horschel
51 – Francesco Molinari
52 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat
53 – Brendan Steele
54 – Bernd Wiesberger
55 – Matthew Fitzpatrick
56 – Patrick Cantlay

After eliminating 55 players, that leaves 32. It gets way tougher from here to narrow it down. After closer inspection of some of the games’ best known players, Augusta National doesn’t fit everyone’s game:

57 – Pat Perez
58 – Jimmy Walker
59 – Kevin Chappel
60 – Ian Poulter
61 – Bryson DeChambeau
62 – Gary Woodland
63 – Henrik Stenson

That leaves 24. Any of these players normally would be considered legit contenders, but it’s time to eliminate eight of these elite based on combined factors:

64 – Rafa Cabrera-Bello (In two appearances at Masters – only has one round under par)
65 – Adam Scott (199th strokes gained putting)
66 – Louis Oosthuizen (182nd strokes gained putting)
67 – Charley Hoffman (124th strokes gained putting)
68 – Sergio Garcia (129th strokes gained putting, equipment switch)
69 – Charl Schwartzel (117th strokes gained putting)
70 – Thomas Pieters (116th strokes gained putting)
71 – Alex Noren (missed cut at only Masters appearance)

The Masters

Sergio is certainly worthy of defending, but we don’t fancy his chances to contend this year due to an extremely busy off-season in his personal life, equipment changes through the bag and lackluster putting so far this season.

 

 

16 Players with the best chance to Win the 82nd Masters – the players we like in order (thoughts):

1 – Justin Rose (Best stats at Masters since ’12, primed for “GREEN”)
2 – Rory McIlroy (Career slam/legend status awaits, putter is key)
3 – Bubba Watson (Red hot, creative shot shaper)
4 – Phil Mickelson (Hot putter could produce fourth jacket)
5 – Justin Thomas (Playing as well as anyone in the world)
6 – Jordan Spieth (Can he re-gain putter form, avoid water on 12th?)
7 – Tiger Woods (Is he completely back? 15th major looks inevitable)
8 – Tommy Fleetwood (Our darkhorse, supreme Euro ball striker)
9 – Rickie Fowler (Hot starts, struggling on weekends)
10 – Hideki Matsuyama (Japan’s major?)
11 – Jon Rahm (Will require patience, not his strength)
12 – Patrick Reed (Can Captain America wear green?)
13 – Mark Leishman (Next Aussie champ?)
14 – Jason Day (New irons in the bag, hasn’t played much in ’18)
15 – Paul Casey (Win at Valspar shows worthiness)
16 – Dustin Johnson (huge talent, but isn’t playing his best golf)

With so many storylines, this Masters has the makings to be an instant classic. Woods returning to the game and showing signs that he may still have another run at greatness, Mickelson coming off of a an impressive WGC win (and playing better than he has in 5 years). Garcia defending. Bubba Watson with two wins in 2018 looks ready for another Green Jacket. Can Spieth re-gain his putting form in time for the back nine on Sunday? Perhaps the biggest story (that’s somewhat under the radar with all of the noise that Tiger’s presence is creating), is Rory McIlroy once again going for the career Grand Slam this week – fresh off a big win and confidence boost from the phenomenal final round 64 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Despite all of those great stories, Justin Rose is our pick to get it done. Buckle up and enjoy the best week in sports, it’s the Masters . . .

 

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Jason  Bruno
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com

Forest Hills Golf Club

Forest Hills Golf Club

Forest Hills Golf ClubIt’s getting to be that time of year again, the time of year when all eyes in the golfing world stare directly at Augusta, GA and the PGA Tour’s first major of the season.

Augusta, GA is certainly a well-known golf destination. Outside of that course that very few will ever have the privilege of playing, there are a number of great local tracks that the public does have access to. One of these courses is Forest Hills Golf Course, an 18-hole Donald Ross masterpiece that has been repeatedly named “Best Public Course” by Augusta Magazine.

Ross designed Forest Hills in 1926, and then in 1984, the Arnold Palmer Company redesigned several holes to accommodate construction of the Augusta University Athletic Complex. In 2004, the course was restored to its original design and has remained that way ever since.

Forest Hills Golf ClubThere’s a lot of history behind Forest Hills; it’s where Bobby Jones started his Grand Slam of Golf in 1930. It’s also home to the 2010 NCAA Division I National Champions Augusta University Men’s and Women’s Jaguar Golf Teams, a feat which the Men’s Team repeated again in 2011. Several PGA Tour Professionals also played here during their college careers including Phil Michelson and Davis Love III.

Men can choose to play from 5 different sets of tees ranging from 7,140 yards (course rating 74.3 and a slope of 137) to 5,098 (65.3/115). Most guys will find that the White Tees (6,183/70.1/126) will provide them with enough of a challenge that they can still leave with a little dignity. Most women here play from the Silver Tees (5,098/69.9/121). No matter your skill level, just choose the tees that are right for your game and you’ll have a great time.

Forest Hills Golf ClubThe golf course at Forest Hills features a variety of holes, some straight, some turn to the right and others dogleg to the left. Water only comes into play on the two par 3 holes on the back, other than that, there’s no wet stuff to worry about. The greens are not too fast and roll true.

Memorable Holes (All Yardage from the White Tees)

Number 1: Par 4, 383 yards. This gently winding dogleg right that plays downhill and features a variety of trees on the right side including dogwoods, magnolias and pines and a sparse pine forest on the left. The green is fronted by a single bunker that guards the front right side of the green and slopes gently from back to front with a lot of undulation. A middle pin position can lead to low scores so be sure to check the pin sheet.

Number 5: Par 4, 351 yards. From the White Tees, a good drive down the right side will easily clear the fairway bunker and can lead to a low score. Others can choose to play out to the right and short of the fairway bunker on the right and then hit a layup shot over it and short of the deep bunker that guards the right side of the green. This is a pretty golf hole.

Number 6: Par 5, 487 yards. This is perhaps the most scenic hole on the golf course. It starts off with a blind tee shot, slightly uphill. Trees line each side of the fairway, creating a narrow passage way and a lone fairway bunker guards the right side off the tee. I’m sure it sees its fair share of balls. Your second shot plays downhill and is also blind and leaves an approach shot to a smaller two-tiered green. There’s not a lot of trouble on this hole, just hit three solid shots to get there and it’s easy!

Number 11: Par 5, 535 yards. This monster par 5 plays straight downhill, with fairway bunker left and trees to the right off the tee. Number 11 also features some unique grass mounding in the middle and right side of the fairway that needs to be avoided on your layup shot. Two fairway bunkers sit about 40 yards short of the green, awaiting any short approach shots. The green is oddly shaped and has a lot of undulation in it. Par is good.

Number 16: Par 3, 159 yards. For a hole that’s pretty straight forward, this one can give you fits. Number 16 plays over water and slightly uphill, perhaps a half to one club longer than normal. Short is better than long as there is plenty of room in front of the green, which is flanked by bunkers on both sides. Anything over the green makes for a tough up and down.

Number 18: Par 4, 286 yards. It’s not often that a golf course ends with the easiest hole on the course but that is exactly what Forest Hills does. Your toughest chore on this hole is to keep your tee shot in the fairway as it can get very narrow in the landing area. A good tee shot will leave a short pitch to a large green with bunkers front, left and right and trees long.

Forest Hills Golf ClubLast Word: Forest Hills offers a good time for golfers of all ages and abilities with wide open fairways, magnificent trees and putting greens that roll fair and true. From the back tees, Forest Hills will challenge even the best of players and the five sets of tees make it playable for any level of golfer. With all of the pine trees, rolling terrain and not much water, Forest Hills has a Carolina Sandhills feel to it.

Before your round, be sure to visit the driving range, where you can hit every club in the bag prior to your round. There’s also a bar and grill to celebrate in after your round as well as banquet facilities.

Forest Hills Golf ClubIf you live in the Augusta area or plan on spending a good deal of time there, Forest Hills offers eight different membership plans, so there is something to suite everyone. All memberships include green fees, complimentary usage of the driving range and a two-week advance booking on tee times. They also receive a 15% discount on merchandise other than golf clubs, golf balls, and Augusta University Jaguars gear.

If you plan on being in the area that magical Master weekend in April, be sure to book your round early at Forest Hills. They are running some great Masters Week Packages which include greens fees, cart, range balls and a boxed lunch, all for one low price. You’ll also see some great specials on pro shop merchandise. For more information or to book your next round, visit them online at www.theforesthillsgolfcourse.com or give them a call at (706) 733-0001.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Ian Poulter wins the Houston Open

Ian Poulter wins the Houston Open

Ian PoulterHumble, Texas – Everybody knew the scenerio coming into the week, Ian Poulter needed a win to get into the Masters. Having never won a stroke play event in the states, it seemed like a longshot for Poulter to get to Magnolia Lane. In fact, early in the week at the Golf Club of Houston, the Englishman decided he needed a putter change to jump-start his game. He summoned up the services of an old reliable flatstick that served him well at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah. When asked about the putter (an Odyssey #7), he simply said “I just know I can’t blame this putter, it has gotten the job done so many times before.”

Standing on the 72nd hole facing a must make 20 foot birdie putt to stay alive (and force a playoff with Beau Hossler), he summoned up the magic with his old blade once again. As the ball dropped, Poulter pounded his chest in celebration (as if to show the world how much heart he has). Both Players finished tied at -19 at the end of regulation.

Ian PoulterIn the playoff, Hossler drove into the right fairway bunker while Poulter was safely in the first cut. Hossler blocked his approach into the right greenside bunker, and Poulter reached the green safely some 30 feet away. Beau Hossler flew his sand shot over the green into the water hazard – and it was over just like that. Poulter two putted and shouted in exaltation as the winner of the Houston Open. It was his first victory since the 2012 HSBC Champions, and his first in the U.S since the 2010 Match Play at Dove Mountain.

After starting Thursday with a 73, Poulter was packed to head home to Orlando on Friday. After a bounce back 64 in round 2, the desperate 42 year old shot 65 -67 to get the job done – realizing suddenly that he had just accomplished the unthinkable. “Last week was painful,” Poulter said. “To come here this week, I was tired, I was frustrated on Thursday. I was patient. I waited my time, and this is amazing.”

Jordan Spieth (66) tied for third with Emiliano Grillo (68) at 16 under par.

Scores: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

 

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Jason  Bruno
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com

 

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