Weekend Recap: Rahm, Perez And Henderson Triumph
Rahm opens 2023 with two wins. Perez takes Abu Dhabi title to move into Ryder Cup contention, while Henderson and Korda adjust (fine) to new clubs. Plus, the latest McKellar podcast.
A busy weekend answered big questions for new equipment adopters, left Jon Rahm wondering what he’s gotta do to reach No. 1 status, and brought a new name into the European Ryder Cup picture.
Rahm Wins 4th Of Last 6 Events, Rises To…World No. 3
Jon Rahm posted a 27-under-par 261 to win his second American Express title and fourth in his last six starts. He has a 66.3 scoring average in 12 rounds for the 2021-22 season.
Rahm sealed the win with an impressive fairway bunker shot on the 18th.
Rahm moves from No. 4 to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking despite this run:
Bad news for his peers: “In my mind I feel like I can get a lot better.”
PGA Tour rookie Davis Thompson nearly overcame the latest hideous fashion entry from Nike to finish as the runner-up in his just his 20th career start.
Xander Schauffele made an albatross on the par-5 fifth hole en route to a 10-under 62 and T3 finish.
Elsewhere, proof defending PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas got married:
Perez Moves Into Ryder Cup Contention With Win
A hole-out from a 71st greenside bunker ended up as the difference for Victor Perez in capturing the 2023 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. And it’s a must see:
The Frenchman closed with a bogey at Yas Links Abu Dhabi to finish 18-under-par for his first Rolex Series win.
Perez moves up 19 spots to second on the Ryder Cup European Points List. He was well-positioned early in 2021 before fading down the stretch.
Perez will go from World No. 111 to No. 63 according Nosferatu, bringing a return trip to the WGC Dell Match Play within reach and an OWGR top 50 Masters invite a possibility if he can continue the fine play.
Perez held off Australian Min Woo Lee and Sweden’s Sebastian Söderberg who shared second place at 17-under-par.
Lee nearly pulled off a similarly stunning hole out to force a playoff. Wait for it:
2021 Ryder Cup captain and current U.S. Senior Open champion Padraig Harrington held the clubhouse lead for a brief time at -16. He finished an impressive fourth.
Finland’s Sami Välimäki, the 2020 rookie-of-the-world, posted a final round 62 to set a new course record.
Former-future Ryder Cup captain's Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood lost by four and three strokes respectively to the current semi-retired captain and former World No. 1, Luke Donald. This did not strengthen their non-existent Captain’s pick bids which, at least in Poulter’s case, he won’t on the non-existent chance he’s made an offer.
LIV defectors who turned up in Abu Dhabi did not make much of a mark. Only Richard Bland (T10) and Henrik Stenson (T20) managed decent finishes. Patrick Reed, among others, missed the cut.
Full Ryder Cup projected standings courtesy of Nosferatu:
Henderson, Korda Pass Early Test With New Sticks
Brooke Henderson led wire-to-wire in the season-opening, 28-player Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona.
It’s the 13th career LPGA title for the 25-year-old.
Henderson has posted 16-consecutive under par rounds on the LPGA Tour and also in the TOC.
Sporting a new endorsement deal and new bags full of Taylormade gear apparently posed no issues. According to this report, Henderson has already incorporated all Taylormade gear after a long run with PING.
Maja Stark and Charley Hull tied for second.
Nelly Korda also debuted a new bag full of Taylormades and finished 4th despite a final round 72. Golf.com’s Jonathan Wall explained why Korda switched out everything in her bag—a very mixed set—to all Taylormade.
Nelly was playing on a night of so-so rest after waking and watching her brother Sebastian win another Australian Open match. (Brentley Romine/GolfChannel.com).
Mardy Fish captured the Celebrity division’s Stableford event with a 152 total, 16 points clear of Mark Mulder. Chad Pfeifer and Annika Sorenstam finished T3.
McKellar Pod #63 With Bob Harig
Lawrence Donegan and I chat about a the latest in golf and are later joined to talk about his reporting on LIV’s media deal and his book Tiger & Phil.
The Spotify and Apple options, though the pod remains free wherever you subscribe and listen:
I hate to end on a down note from the world of influencerdom, but it seems not everyone follows Hailey Rae for her golf insights.
Have a fantastic Monday even if you’re one of the 4,000 broken-hearted souls out there,
Good win for Brooke but if only she played faster!
The PGA was in threesomes for the final round yesterday and at the Sony. Was this just because of TV? Isn't twosomes the norm for Sundays?
Sadly, many of the more interesting young golfers play on the LIV tour. But, THE most interesting plays on the PGA Tour. Jon Rahm. He is so much fun to watch, he makes the erstwhile boring American Express event interesting. Highly skilled, creative, unorthodoxed, emotional at times, intelligent, and above all, honest.