Geary & Hendry to the fore at Weekend

With Ryan Fox, Steven Alker and Tim Wilkinson all missing the cut in their respective tournaments, it was left to Michael Hendry and Josh Geary to carry the NZ flag over the weekend.  Geary had a top 5 finish in China, while Hendry chalked up another top 20 result in Japan.  Cathryn Bristow also had a very creditable result in the latest Ladies European Tour (LET) event in Spain.

The big prize of the week – the FedEx Cup and the $US 10.0 million bonus with it – went to Justin Thomas, completing an unbelievable 2017 season which included his first Major Championship and five PGA Tour victories.  The Tour Championship itself was won by likely Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, with Thomas’s runner-up result being good enough to secure the FedEx Cup.

China Tour

Josh Geary got off to a slow start in the BInhai Forest Tianjin Open, with opening rounds of 73 & 74, but came home strongly over the weekend with 70 & 66 to finish T4 on -5, good enough for a $12k payday.  Josh now sits 4th on the China Tour OOM.

Fraser Wilkin and Daniel Pearce both missed the cut.

Japan Tour

The Asia Pacific Diamond Cup went to Daisuke Kataoka – a regular visitor down here for the NZ Open – with a final tally of -12. Michael Hendry looked a chance to miss the cut for a while, two double bogeys making life difficult for him in Round 2.  He finished the tournament in the best possible way though with back-to-back birdies, lifting him to  T19 on -4, and a cheque of around $15k.

European Tour

Yet another first time winner emerged at the Portugal Masters in Villamoura, with Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark recording a comprehensive four shot victory on -20, over Marc Warren of Scotland, with Eddie Pepperell and Graeme Storm of England T3 a shot behind.

Ryan Fox’s rounds of 71 & 72 would have made the cut most weeks, but the scoring was particularly hot in Portugal, with the cut being made at -3.

PGA Tour

Xander Schauffele looked in control for most of the last round at East Lake, while many higher ranked players around him struggled on the back nine, perhaps feeling the pressure of $10.0 million on the line…

His short putt for victory was possibly his least convincing stroke, completing a decent tour around the hole before falling in to seal victory by one shot over Justin Thomas.  By that point the engraver was already putting Thomas’s name on the FedEx Cup, as under the formula used for the series, he had shaken off all other contenders before Schauffele completed his round.

Thomas was probably happy to forego a playoff anyway, given the remarkable year for both Justin and his family.  Father Mike – himself a long standing PGA professional – was on hand to watch the occasion, and no doubt Justin’s grandfather Paul (another PGA member) was also following proceedings with keen interest.

Marc Leishman was never in contention, with his T24 finish dropping him to 6th in the final FedEx standings.  That still gave him a bonus of $US 800,000, making it a pretty good fortnight for the Australian.

On the Web.Com Tour, Steven Alker and Tim Wilkinson now face an uphill battle to secure PGA Tour Cards for 2018 after both missed the cut in the DAP Championship.  Wilkinson missed by one, and Alker by two: after an opening 75, he came back well with a 68 on a tough layout, which eventually saw a winning score of only -8, compared with the usual -20s or more typical on this Tour.  Nicholas Lindheim won a three way playoff against Chesson Hadley and Rob Oppenheim to take out the title.   


Other News

The Ladies European Tour (LET) has struggled in recent years to maintain a viable schedule, making it difficult for players with LET Cards to get regular competition golf, let alone make a living on the circuit.  Cathryn Bristow is one in this boat, but she will be feeling better after a great comeback from an opening 75, to bounce back with rounds of 69, 70 & 68 to finish T17 on -6, and a cheque for $8k.

She now makes the long trip home for this week’s McKayson NZ Women’s Open at Windross Farm.

In other news, Steven Heyes has made it through Web.Com Tour pre-qualifying, to reach Stage 1 Q-School at Lantana, Texas, from October 3rd – 6th.  Best of luck, Steven!