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Monday, September 5, 2016

Some Thoughts on Sunday's Golf

Since I can't do the Limerick Summary until Tuesday this week, I thought I'd take a few moments to look at what happened on the ET, Champions Tour and LPGA this weekend.

Caroline Masson with Manulife trophy

ET: How can I not mention Andrew "Beef" Johnston shooting -4 in his last 5 holes to take solo 3rd at the Omega European Masters? Beef has not only become a celebrity, he's backing it up with solid play. That's important if he wants to be more than just a passing fad. And Lee Westwood's 63 went a long way toward validating Clarke's pick -- at least, it did to me.

Okay, let's get to the duel between Alex Noren and Scott Hend. Noren has run hot and cold this season while Hend has been mostly cold (other than that win in Thailand early this year), but those two played some awesome golf down the stretch. And while Noren made that big putt on the first playoff hole, I can't help but think both men walk off with some extra confidence to finish the year and the Race to Dubai.

CHAMPIONS: Let me quickly mention that Tom Watson finished T26 at -6. That in and of itself wasn't so impressive. What WAS impressive was that he shot 65 to beat his age (66) on Friday, then had a birthday Sunday which he celebrated by shooting 67 in the final round. That means he shot his age or better TWICE IN ONE WEEK! Now THAT'S impressive!

If you didn't see it, Carlos Franco shot back-to-back 63s to beat Bernhard Langer and Michael Allen at the Shaw Charity Classic, and both of those guys were charging hard down the back nine. Allen was -3 and Langer was -5 coming down the stretch, but Franco shot -4 playing beside Langer. It's not often you see someone stand up under the pressure of going toe-to-toe with Langer.

It gave Franco his first Champions Tour win. Bear in mind that Franco hadn't won since 2004, so you can see how impressive his performance really was. I bet they were partying in Paraquay last night!

LPGA: Finally, I have to mention Caroline Masson getting her first LPGA win at the Manulife LPGA Classic. Most everybody expected Ko and Jutanugarn to run away and hide from the field but it didn't happen. Jutanugarn had a chance to tie on the 18th but snapped one left and unplayable off the tee to kill her chances (I can't help but wonder if her taped-up knee was bothering her) and Ko simply went cold on the back nine.

Masson didn't get this win easily though. She made nine birdies against two bogeys and a double right out of the gate. And then it seemed like everybody in the field decided to make a run at her, but they all came up short -- Karine Icher, Minjee Lee and Mi Hyang Lee missed by a single stroke, while Suzann Pettersen, Lydia and Ariya missed by two. (Icher was most impressive, shooting -5 in her last 7 holes.)

It will be interesting to see if these wins give Carlos Franco and Caroline Masson a career boost going forward. Unlike Alex Noren, these two didn't have recent wins to build on -- Masson's lone LET win came in 2012 and I mentioned Franco's earlier -- so it should be interesting to see if "getting over the hump" will help them, what with their seasons nearing the end. There's some big money ahead if they can keep this going!

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