Valero Texas Open
The re-structuring of the PGA Tour season saw a few players like Rickie Fowler make their debut alongside stalwarts like Jordan Spieth at the Valero Texas Open. However, it was Canadian Corey Conners, gaining entry through the Monday qualifier, who captured the Texas Open title.
Sunday’s start was pushed back 2-hours by a weather delay that brought heavy rains and lightning, but once they got out on the course the players were throwing darts.
Kevin Streelman and Ryan Moore both shot final round 64s which vaulted them into contention, but down the stretch the tournament came down to Conners, and the 2016 Valero Texas Open champion, Charley Hoffman.
Conners trailed Si Woo Kim by one stroke heading into the final round came out firing on Sunday. He birdied 4 of the first 5 holes before surrendering all his hard work back to the field with 4 straight bogeys to end the front nine. However, the back nine was all Conners, birdieing 10-12, 14, and 16-17.
Hoffman, who played a clean round, carded a 5-under 67. Though his effort to win his second Valero Texas Open championship came up 2 shots shy.
With a par on 18, Conners went from a Monday qualifying participant in San Antonio to Valero Texas Open champion and entrant in The Masters this week. He also receives $1.35 million and a two-year PGA Tour exemption.
These are the clubs Corey Conners used to win his first PGA Tour event, the Valero Texas Open. (As reported by PGATOUR):
Ping PLD Anser 2 Prototype
At stake for the ladies this weekend at the ANA Inspiration was the first major LPGA title of the season, as well as a plunge into Poppie’s Pond. Since 1988, all the winners of the ANA Inspiration have taken a leap into the famed ‘pond’ adjacent to the 18th green, and Jin Young Ko was no exception.
Played at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, the ladies were letting it fly in the early rounds. Lexi Thompson found the rolling hills helpful, smashing multiple drives well over 300 yards.
Making her way through a nervy final round, the South Korean Ko held together her poise and form to shoot a 2-under 70. With a birdie on the 72nd hole, Ko posted 10-under for the tournament, three shots in front of countrywoman Mi Hyang Lee and four shots ahead of Lexi Thompson.
Jin has played professionally since 2013 on the LPGA of Korea and is no stranger to success. She won 10 times on the LPGA of Korea Tour, including the 2017 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship. She became a member of the LPGA in 2018.
Not only the Rookie of the Year in 2018, she won her first tournament of the season, becoming the second woman ever to win her first tournament as a fulltime member of the LPGA Tour. With her first major locked up she has achieved the pinnacle, also ascending to number one in the Women’s World Golf Rankings.
Augusta National Women’s Amateur
Over the years, much has been made about the exclusivity of Augusta National. Until recently when Condolezza Rice became a member, the club had been restricted to only male members. This also meant the ladies have never competed at Augusta National. That is, until now.
72 amateur women teed it up on Wednesday and Thursday on the Island and Bluff nines at the Champions Retreat Golf Club, vying for the coveted 30 spots in the final round at Augusta National.
At the end of 36 holes, 11 players found themselves tied for the final ten spots and headed to a 3-group sudden death playoff. After the first extra hole it was down to 2 remaining ladies, Spaniard Ainhoa Olarra and Italian Alessia Nobilio.
The pair headed to the 17th hole to determine who would advance to Augusta and who would only be left with the misery of defeat. Olarra exercised her demons from earlier in the round when she carded a 5 on the par three by dropping in a long putt for birdie in the playoff. Alessia could only stand helplessly and watch as the putt dropped.
Olarra, who left competitive golf for a day job, returned to play for her friend Celia Barquin, who was senselessly attacked and murdered on the Iowa State golf course in 2018.
When play resumed Saturday at Augusta National, the 36-hole leader and number one ranked amateur Jennifer Kupcho put on a show alongside playing partner Maria Fossi as they separated from the field.
Fassi seemed to have the better of Kupcho early, who was fighting a migraine, but Jennifer was able to right the ship closing 18 with a birdie and a four-shot victory.
This weekend was an historic moment for women and the sport of golf. A gigantic leap forward, this tournament opens the door to further women’s competition at Augusta National.
Drive, Chip, & Putt Championship
Also held this weekend at Augusta National was the annual Drive, Chip and Putt finals. Juniors golfers descended on one of the meccas of golf after enduring multiple rounds of regional qualifying events.
Boys and girls competed in four age groups (7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15). Their scores are based on long drives, and closest to the pin chipping and putting.
The future of golf looks bright as many of the finalists dazzled the crowds with long drives and holed putts. Congrats to all the winners, we’ll be watching as your careers evolve!
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