New Zealand golfers were prominent in four events this week, with Peter Fowler coming very close to winning the Senior Italian Open, Lydia Ko showing a welcome return to form to finish runner-up in the latest LPGA event, and Ryan Fox and Michael Hendry recording excellent results on their respective Tours.

Lydia sets a new record

Although Lydia Ko couldn’t quite kick on after an electric first 36 holes in the Indy Women in Tech Championship, her second placing to Lexi Thompson not only produced her biggest cheque of the year ($NZ 260,000), but importantly sets her up well for the final Major of 2017 at Evian this week.  The sight of Lydia back to near her best will also be a great boost for the NZ Women’s Open at Windross Farm at the end of the month.

Lexi (-19) won by four shots, and must also be favoured to do well at the Evian Masters, but on the way Lydia set a new LPGA record in reaching $US 8.0 million in official prize money in 93 starts, five tournaments faster than Yani Tseng’s previous record.

On the Symetra Tour, windy conditions faced the players in the Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes in Kansas, with only winner Anne-Catherine Tanguay (Canada,  -5) and Katelyn Danbaugh (USA, -2) finishing under par for the tournament.  Liv Cheng finished T30 on +8.

So close in Italy…

The Senior Italian Open at Golf Club Udine was plagued by wet weather which caused the 3rd round to be cancelled after a few holes yesterday, with the tournament reduced to 36 holes.  At that point Peter Fowler and Clark Dennis were tied at -7, and one might have expected the title to be shared.  However, the organisers decided to hold a playoff, by reducing the par 4 18th hole to a 150 metre par 3.

Both players hit great tee shots into the reconstructed hole, but it was Dennis who converted a 5 metre putt (Fowler narrowly missing) to take out the major prize.  Chook had to be content with 2nd money - $NZ 60,000, as he continues his great 2017 campaign in Europe.  Further down the field, Greg Turner had an indifferent week, finishing 46th on +4.

Fitzpatrick takes the Red Jacket

There are a number of Masters events around the golf world, usually with a jacket on offer to the winner.  In Switzerland the Omega Masters jacket is naturally red, and was donned yesterday by Ryder Cup player Matthew Fitzpatrick, who edged Scott Hend of Australia on the 3rd playoff hole after both had finished -14 in regulation play.  This is the 2nd year in a row Hend has lost in a playoff, and he must be wondering what he has to do to get over the line in this tournament.

Tyrrell Hatton (England) and Fabrizio Zanotti (Paraguay) finished T3 on -11.

Ryan Fox was in touch with the leaders for most of the week, and certainly had enough birdies (22 of them) to win the tournament.  However, three doubles and eight bogeys were the problem – it’s certainly not boring golf when Ryan tees it up…

Meanwhile, he added another $80k to his 2017 earnings, and although Zanotti’s result took him above Fox, Ryan still sits a very comfortable 22# on the Race to Dubai ladder.

On the Alps Tour, Shaun Jones failed to make the cut in the CitadelleTrophy.

ISPS Handa Matchplay

On the Japan Tour, Shingo Katayama recorded his first victory for some considerable time with a 3/2 victory over last week’s winner, Hyun-Woo Ryu of Korea.  Tadahiro Takayama won the playoff for 3rd.

Earlier, Takayama was responsible for knocking Michael Hendry out of the quarterfinals after a massive struggle with birdies and eagles freely traded through the round.  The clincher was Takayama’s  birdie on 16, and although Hendry then birdied 18, that was matched by the Japanese player for a 1up victory.

Hendry finished 6th overall, pocketing a cheque for 7.0 million Yen, or around $NZ 90k.  He now moves up one spot to 16th on the Japan Tour OOM, with earnings approaching $400k for the season so far.