Welcome to the October Pro Golf Wrap-Up – everything you need to know in the world of golf expertly curated by your friends at Global Golf Management.
The Presidents Cup fell into familiar hands, but there were plenty of surprises in the month of October in the world of golf.
In Jersey City, N.J., the United States team, captained by Steve Stricker, had little trouble winning for the 10th time in 12 editions of the Presidents Cup, rolling to a 19-11 triumph at Liberty National Golf Club. It was the third-largest margin of victory after the USA squad led the International Team 14½ to 3½ after three days, leaving the Americans just a point shy of reclaiming the cup on the final day of singles competition.
Rookie Daniel Berger registered the winning point when he defeated Si Woo Kim of Korea, 2 and 1. Dustin Johnson led the U.S. in scoring with 4½ points. Louis Oosthuizen’s 2½ points was best for an International Team that has one win and a tie (in 2003) in the history of the competition.
Elsewhere in the men’s game, the surprises came on the higher end of the spectrum, age-wise, as 40-somethings Pat Perez and Ryan Armour won titles. Meanwhile, reigning PGA TOUR Player of the Year Justin Thomas kept on racking up titles with a playoff win in the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in Korea, Justin Rose won another event of significance, which he tends to do, and Brendan Steele proved he really enjoys Napa, Calif.
First things first, which is Steele starting off the new PGA Tour season the same way he began the previous one, winning the Safeway Open for the second year in a row at the North Course at Silverado Resort. Steele, 34, shot a closing 3-under 69 to finish at 15-under 273, two strokes ahead of Tony Finau. Phil Mickelson tied for third.
When the PGA Tour shifted into its Asian swing, Perez stole the headlines. His wire-to-wire victory at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia stopped the two-year winning streak of Justin Thomas. Perez finished at 24-under 264 at TPC Kuala Lumpur to beat Keegan Bradley by four strokes. Like Steele, Perez, 41, won his third Tour title.
Thomas might have been stopped in Malaysia, but he went on to win the next event, the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island, South Korea. He had to go overtime to do it, however, beating Australia’s Marc Leishman on the second hole of a sudden death playoff.
Each man finished at 9-under 279 with Thomas shooting a final-round 72 and Leishman a 70. The victory was Thomas’ seventh in his young career.
Two events held simultaneously closed out October, and the results were eye-opening.
In China, Justin Rose won his second career WGC event when he rallied from eight back to beat Dustin Johnson in the WGC-HSBC Championship in Shanghai.
Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world, led by six over Brooks Koepka entering the final round, but stumbled in with a 77, while Rose, the former U.S. Open champion and reigning gold medalist in the Olympic Golf competition, had a 67 for the third-largest comeback in PGA Tour history. His 14-under 274 beat Johnson, Koepka and Henrik Stenson by two shots.
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, Armour won his first career title at age 41, going wire-to-wire at the Sanderson Farms Championship. It took 105 starts, but Armour locked up the win with a final-round 68 to finish at 19-under 269, five in front of Chesson Hadley.
On the LPGA Tour, Cristie Kerr reached a milestone with her 20th career title – at the age of 40. Brooke Henderson, Eun Hee Ji and Korean LPGA member Jin Young Ko – another surprise – also were winners in October.
Kerr sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole at TPC Kuala Lumpur for a final-round even-par 71 and 15-under 269 total to hold off Shanshan Feng, Danielle Kang and Jacqui Concolino by one stroke. It was Kerr’s first win of the year.
“It was meant to be,” said Kerr about the putt on 18. “What a way to win. I always said I wanted to get a win in my 40’s and I got it pretty quick.”
Henderson started October for the women when she captured the weather-delayed New Zealand Women’s Open, shooting a 3-under 69 and 17-under 271 to beat Jing Yan by five strokes at Windross Farm Golf Course in Auckland.
Ji’s victory at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship was her first since 2009, and she claimed it in style with a bogey-free 65 at Miramar Resort and Country Club to beat Lydia Ko by six strokes with a 17-under 271 total. World No. 1 So Yeon Ryu tied for third.
Finally, another surprise, this one authored by Jin Young Ko, a member of the Korean LPGA, who broke through for her first win on the LPGA Tour by holding off World No. 2 Sung Hyun Park by two strokes in the KEB Hana Bank Championship in Incheon South Korea.
Ko, won has nine wins on the Korean LPGA, carded a 4-under 68 on the final day at the Ocean Course at SKY72 Golf & Resort to finish at 19-under 269, two shots better than Park.
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