Our attention this week will mainly be focused on Ryan Fox in Europe, Steven Alker and Tim Wilkinson in the Web.Com playoffs, and Michael Hendry in Japan.  There’s also the small matter of $US 10.0 million up for grabs at the East Lake Club in Atlanta, where Marc  Leishman could become the first Australian to take out the FedEx Cup.

In addition, we take our first look at the local professional circuit for some time, which gets underway again next Thursday at the Marlborough Golf Club.  Finally, if you think you’ve heard some bizarre rulings this year, take a look below at the eight shot penalty Ben Crane copped in the latest Web.Com event.

New Zealand Professional Circuit

The second half of the Mondiale NZ PGA Order of Merit season gets underway next Thursday at the Marlborough Golf Club, with the Yealands Family Wines Pro-Am.  The South Island swing then continues with the traditional Kaikoura Tournament, which also doubles as the NZ Club Professionals Championship, before moving on to Harewood for the North-South Challenge, and the John Jones Steel Harewood Open, the first Charles Tour event of the 2017/2018 season for the Jennian Homes Trophy series.  Then there are five more events in the North Island, including another Charles Tour stop at Ngamotu Links in New Plymouth for the Augusta Funds Taranaki Open.

The programme also includes Stage 1 Australasian Tour Q-School, which again takes place in December at the Hamilton GC’s St Andrews course.

The opening events have drawn some good fields, including the well performed Harry Bateman (the 2014 Mondiale winner), and Luke Toomey who will be preparing for the next stage of European Q-School after his outstanding result in Scotland last week.

We’ll be previewing the tournaments in more detail in the coming weeks, and you can follow the scoring at www.pga.org.nz/tournaments

European Tour

This week’s event is the Portugal Masters, being played at the Arnold Palmer designed Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, in Villamoura, Portugal.  Like most of Arnold’s designs, such as Bay Hill and Sanctuary Cove, it features plenty of water, and is also a decent length at 6,651 metres, par 71.  Ryan Fox is drawn in high class company for the first two rounds with 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett, and the well performed Russell Knox.

Coverage is on Sky 53, from 10.30pm tonight.

PGA Tour/Web.Com Tour

The climax of the PGA Tour starts tonight at the famed East Lake Club in Atlanta, with 30 players fighting it out for the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.  In theory, any one of the 30 could win the FedEx Cup and the $NZ 13.7 million bonus that goes with it, but realistically the winner is likely to come from those currently ranked in the top five: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm.

The 3rd tournament in the Web.Com playoff series is the DAP Championship, at the Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio.  The club was founded in 1921 and has hosted the US Open, the PGA Championship, the US Amateur, the Senior Open and the Senior PGA Championship.  It is likely to prove a demanding test for those striving for a 2018 PGA Tour card, including Steven Alker and Tim Wilkinson.  Both need a solid – preferably a Top 10 – result this week to stay in contention.

Japan Tour

Michael Hendry is back in action at the Asia Pacific Diamond Cup, at the Caledonian Golf Club in Chiba Prefecture.  This tournament is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour, and features a number of players who played in the Fiji International last month, including the runner-up in that event, 21 year old Jazz Janewattananond from Thailand.

China Tour

We missed Josh Geary’s result from the Beijing Classic last week: Josh finished T17 on -7, with both Daniel Pearce and Fraser Wilkin missing the cut.

Josh is playing again this week in the Binhai Forest Tianjin Open, being played at the Binhai Forest GC in Tianjin.  Fraser Wilkin is also in this.

The scoring can be followed at www.cgatour.com.cn/en  (there is an English version of the website).

How to cop an 8 shot penalty…

Ben Crane, who had finished in the top 5 in the first tournament of the Web.Com playoff series, had his chances of consolidating that blown out of the water with two four shot penalties in the first five holes of his opening round in the Albertson’s Boise Open last week.

Apparently Crane uses what are known at dot sticker decals when practising, to gather data on his ball striking.  These have to be removed before tournament play, otherwise the clubs involved will be non-conforming.  On the 11th tee (his 2nd hole of the round), Crane noticed a decal was still on his driver, and called for a Rules Official.  Crane was then penalised four shots, two for each hole the club had been in the bag without the player having declared the club would not be in play for the round.  The official also asked if Crane was carrying any other non-conforming clubs, and was told he wasn’t.  However, on the 14th hole Ben found his 6 iron had a similar decal, and so he received another four shot penalty.  Despite all this, and being unable to use his driver or 6 iron at any point of the round, Crane played the rest of his round 3 under par, eventually signing for a 5 over 76.

The kicker came the next morning, when after thinking things over, Crane reported to the officials that he had in fact been aware of the 6 iron being non-conforming when he reported the driver offence.  He was then disqualified from the tournament.

So there you go: an 8 shot penalty and then a DQ for carrying two clubs that were never used.  Understandably, there have been one or two comments on social media about the way the rules were interpreted and the severity of the penalty…….


Current World Golf Rankings

Updated ranking for NZ golfers currently in the top 1,000 as of this week are:

Danny Lee    95#

Ryan Fox     103#

Michael Hendry 127#

Tim Wilkinson    407#

Daniel Pearce     515#

Ben Campbell    559#

Steven Alker      841#

Josh Geary         845#

Gareth Paddison  851#

Mark Brown        999#





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