Jordan Spieth’s monumental victory in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale was the big news in the month of July – and rightfully so for the way he pulled himself together over the last five holes to win the third leg of the career grand slam – the month was full of great stories of breakthroughs and comebacks.
We start with the win that was perhaps the most overlooked, given what Spieth was up to in England, and that was the title claimed by rookie Grayson Murray in the Barbasol Championship that ended July 23, the same day Spieth won his Claret Jug.
Murray shot a 3-under-par 68 on the Grand National Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Opelika, Ala., to beat Chad Collins by a stroke for his first career PGA TOUR victory. Murray, who began the day one shot behind third-round leader Scott Stallings, had an eagle, four birdies and one bogey in his final round. His 72-hole total of 21-under 263 was a tournament record.
Collins and Stallings both shot 11-under 60 during the week, Collins in the second round and Stallings in the third.
Murray wasn’t the only breakthrough winner. Fellow rookies Bryson DeChambeau and Xander Schauffele also won for the first time.
A former U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion, DeChambeau won the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., by one stroke over Patrick Rodgers thanks to a back-nine 30 and closing 65 at TPC Deere Run. He finished at 18-under 266 after he sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole.
Meanwhile, Schauffele, a surprise contender the previous month at the U.S. Open, converted a three-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole on the Old White TPC Course to beat Robert Streb by a stroke at The Greenbrier Resort in While Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Schauffele closed with a three-under 67 for a 14-under 266 total to win in just his 24th PGA Tour start.
Other PGA TOUR winners in July were Kyle Stanley at the Quicken Loans National, who beat Charles Howell III in a playoff for his second title – five years after his first – and Jhonattan Vegas, who successfully defended his title in the RBC Canadian Open, the fourth repeat winner of the 2017 season. Vegas also won in a playoff, beating Charley Hoffman.
In women’s golf, rookie Sung Hyun Park led the way with her won breakthrough story, capturing the 72nd U.S. Women’s Open in her second attempt. The rookie from South Korea shot a final-round 5-under 67 at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., to beat 17-year-old amateur Hye Jin Choi by two strokes.
Park, 23, finished 72 holes in 11-under 277. Choi’s 279 was the lowest ever for an amateur in the event, and she was low amateur for the second straight year. China’s Shanshan Feng, the leader after the first three days, ended up tied for fifth.
“I have had a lot of winnings, but winning here at the U.S. Open means so much more,” said Park, 23, who had seven victories on the Korean tour last year.
Other winners in July were Katherine Kirk, In-Kyung Kim and Mi Hyang Lee.
Kirk held on with a final-round 70 to win the inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in Oneida, Wis., for her first win since 2010. With a birdie on the final hole, Kirk finished at 22-under 266, one stroke better than Ashleigh Buhai. It was the third career title for the 35-year-old native of Australia.
Kim, who won the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by ACER in June, captured the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I thanks to a final-round 63 at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio, tied for the low round of the week. Kim beat Lexi Thompson by four strokes with a 21-under 263 total highlighted by her 6-under 28 on her opening nine holes of the final round.
Lee won the Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in Irvine, Scotland, after beginning the final round six shots behind Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and Sei Young Kim. But Lee, 24, of South Korea, fired a final-round 6-under 66 for a 6-under 282 total, one stroke ahead of Webb and Mi Jung Hur, who also had a closing 66. Webb had a 73, while Kim, who closed with a 75, finished tied for sixth.