The women’s world rankings have a new No.1 – an LPGA rookie who didn’t have to strike a shot last week. Sung Hyun Park displaced fellow Korean So Yeon Ryu atop the chart, a byproduct of the two-year rolling system of results that dropped a 2015 runner-up finish in Taiwan off Ryu’s portfolio. Ryu needed to at least tie for sixth last week in Japan, but finished in a share of 33rd. Park captured the U.S. Women’s Open and has been at Ryu’s heels since an August victory in Canada. She’s the first rookie to ever hold the No.1 ranking.
San Francisco’s Olympic Club, site of Webb Simpson’s U.S. Open victory, reportedly has been awarded the 2032 Ryder Cup and 2028 PGA Championship as part of a deal to be unveiled later this week. It’ll be Olympic’s first venture with both events, having previously hosted five U.S. Opens. Olympic’s Lake Course has a reputation for crowning surprises – unheralded Jack Fleck’s win over Ben Hogan in 1955, Billy Casper making up seven shots on Arnold Palmer in 1966, and Simpson never leading in 2012 until he’d gone back to the clubhouse.
The man whose name was attached to “-proofing” courses a decade ago has caused a ripple after coming out in favor of restricting golf-ball distance. That would be Tiger Woods, of course, who was the focal point when Augusta National added some 500 yards to its footprint in the mid-2000s. “We need to do something about the golf ball,” Woods said on a podcast hosted by UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma. “If the game keeps progressing the way it is with technology, I think the 8,000-yard golf course is not too far away.” Woods – now a month away from his latest comeback at the Hero World Challenge – joins a chorus led by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to roll back the golf ball.
A.J. McInerney, the Web.com Tour pro who survived a madman’s massacre at a country music festival last month in Las Vegas, provided a feel-good story for his hometown with a tie for 10th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. McInerney made his PGA Tour debut on a sponsor invitation and broke par the final three days, closing with a 67 that lifted him into the top 10. It was a confidence booster to take into this week, when he seeks to regain his Web.com Tour status by teeing it up in a second-stage qualifier in Texas.
Charley Hoffman, also a Las Vegas resident, turned his hometown appearance into a charitable opportunity by pledging his Shriners winnings to help victims of the Las Vegas massacre. Hoffman set a baseline at $20,000 if he played poorly but wound up tying for 18th, a finish worth $98,600. Add in the proceeds from hosting a Monday pro-am following the event, and the total rises past six figures.
Defending champion: Pat Perez prevailed in just his third start after an eight-month layoff for shoulder surgery, using a 62-67 weekend to eventually overtake Gary Woodland down the stretch. The California native’s comeback had begun with a share of 33rd in Malaysia, followed by a tie for seventh in Las Vegas.
Last week:Patrick Cantlay finally notched his first PGA Tour victory, emerging from a windblown final day and two-hole playoff to capture the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Cantlay dispatched Alex Cejka and Whee Kim with a par on the third trip through TPC Summerlin’s dicey 18th, lifting a trophy many thought would come a lot sooner. A back injury knocked Cantlay off the fast track months after turning pro, needing some three years before regaining his fitness.
Tour talk: World No.7 Rickie Fowler, making his first start of the new season, comes to Mayakoba for the first time and is the field’s highest ranked player. … The OHL Classic has largely bucked the trend of young winners on the fall schedule. Perez became the eighth of 10 champions in his 30s or older. … Despite the international locale, nine of the first 10 winners have been U.S.-born players.
Defending champion:Alex Noren turned a six-shot deficit into a six-shot romp with a final-round 63, claiming his fourth win of 2016 to make his debut in the top 10 of the world rankings. The Swede carded an eagle, eight birdies and a single bogey to blitz past everyone and overtake Korean pro Jeunghun Wang.
Last week:Justin Rose won in back-to-back weeks for the first time in his career, coming from behind to take the Turkish Airlines Open after capturing the WGC-HSBC Champions seven days earlier. A 64-65 weekend helped Rose overcome a nine-shot deficit, beating Nicolas Colsaerts and Dylan Frittelli with a birdie on the 72nd hole. Rose jumped to second in the Race to Dubai points chase, within striking distance of leader Tommy Fleetwood.
Tour talk: Rose is sticking with his original plan to take a week off, allowing Fleetwood to put some distance between them heading into next week’s season finale in Dubai. … Tyrrell Hatton, Ross Fisher and Rafa Cabrera Bello need a win to have a chance at catching Fleetwood or Rose in the points race. … The Gary Player CC layout is the third-longest course in European Tour history, measuring 7,831 yards. … Only the top 60 in points advance to next week’s DP World Tour Championship.
Defending champion:Paul Goydos prevailed on the strength of a closing 66, though that win got overshadowed by Bernhard Langer’s third consecutive season title. Langer finished two shots back in second, overtaking Colin Montgomerie on the tournament leaderboard to secure the season crown. Had Montgomerie finished second and Langer third, it would have required a playoff for the big prize.
Last week: No tournament.
Tour talk: Though Langer has swept the first two playoff events – part of seven wins in 2017 – he still needs to finish things off in Phoenix. Scott McCarron, Kenny Perry, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Kevin Sutherland can snatch the prize by winning Sunday. … Langer, McCarron and Doug Garwood are the only men with top-10s in each of the first two playoff stops. … Langer has been under par in every final round of his past 28 non-major starts. His final-round average is 67.95.
Defending champion:Minjee Lee held off Ariya Jutanugarn’s late charge to notch her second win of 2016 and third of her LPGA career. The duo was tied coming to the final hole, but Jutanugarn pulled her shot into the water on the way to a closing bogey. Lee’s birdie kept her one shot clear of runner-up Jessica Korda.
Last week:Shanshan Feng became the first LPGA player to successfully defend a title in 2017, overcoming a bumpy start on the final day to win the Toto Japan Classic by two over Japan’s Ai Suzuki. The Chinese pro’s victory came on the heels of a tie for second in Malaysia and share of third in Taiwan.
Tour talk: Feng and new women’s No.1 Sung Hyun Park are joined by three others amid the top 10, making the year’s final Asian stop before returning for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Florida. … Feng’s hot run has seen her place outside the top seven just once in her past seven starts. … Likewise, Lizette Salas has an active streak of four top-5 finishes in her past five events.