Teen stars Ishikawa Noh set for showdown in Japan
The two 19-year-olds first played against each other as juniors five years ago before establishing themselves as the rising stars of Asian golf.
They will be competing again at the $1.7 million tournament at the Rokko Kokusai Golf Club jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour.
Noh, who turned professional in 2007, was drawn with Japanese great Jumbo Ozaki in the first round while Ishikawa will be paired with Australia’s Andrew Dodt.
“I hope we can play together in the last round,” Noh said. “It will be very exciting. The last time we played in the same group was in the Korean Open last year where he shot a couple of strokes better than me.”
Ishikawa has won twice on the Japanese tour this year, most recently at the Fujisankei Classic earlier this month.
“I’m going to try to get into contention,” Ishikawa said. “My game is getting very good, especially my driving which is feeling very good.”
Noh won this year’s Malaysian Open in March, a tournament which was co-sanctioned by both the Asian and European tours. The win made Noh the second youngest winner on the European Tour.
With eight career titles already, Ishikawa has established himself as the biggest attraction on the Japanese tour since Ozaki, who has 94 wins in Japan.
Ishikawa turned professional in 2008 after becoming the youngest winner of a men’s regular tournament on the Japan Golf Tour by winning the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup at the age of 15 years and 8 months in 2007.
In May, he shot a 12-under 58 in the final round of the Crowns for the lowest score ever on a major tour.
Fifteen of the top-20 players from the Asian Tour’s merit list are in this weekend’s field.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, coming off a fourth-place finish at the Sept. 7-10 Canon Open in Japan, is also competing along with defending champion Daisuke Maruyama of Japan.
Japan’s Yuta Ikeda, who won the Canon Open, South Korea’s Bae Sang-moon and 2008 Panasonic Open champion Hideto Tanihara are also taking part.
CIMB purse payout: Leishman earns $1.26 million
Marc Leishman never let off the gas pedal and cruised to a five-stroke victory at the CIMB Classic. Here's how the purse was paid out at TPC Kuala Lumpur.
|T5||Charles Howell III||-20||$237,300|
|T10||Si Woo Kim||-19||$175,000|
|T13||Byeong Hun An||-18||$122,640|
|T50||Rafael Cabrera Bello||-8||$15,365|
|T54||Ted Potter Jr.||-7||$14,280|
|T59||Davis Love III||-6||$13,720|
Monday Scramble: Hall pass, and a hard pass
The Hall calls, Marc Leishman and Eddie Pepperell flip a switch, the 2020 Ryder Cup leaders come into focus, Brooks Koepka defuses the drama and more in this week's edition of the Monday Scramble:
Struggling to remain relevant, the World Golf Hall of Fame didn’t do itself any favors with its latest inductees.
It’s not that the Class of 2019 isn’t deserving – quite the opposite, in fact.
It’s the timing that is most curious.
Peggy Kirk Bell, for example, was honored through the lifetime achievement category. She died in 2016, at the age of 95, so what’s changed in the past two years that she suddenly is worthy of inclusion? What a thrill it would have been for her and her family to receive that recognition in her final years. Instead, she'll be honored posthumously, in what seems like a decision that was made a decade too late.
So what does this mean for others in that category moving forward?
Will Tom Weiskopf have to wait until he passes? Butch Harmon, too?
What was the rush to induct Retief Goosen, who turns 50 in February? Surely his seven PGA Tour titles and two major titles could have waited a few more classes, if they warranted serious consideration at all.
The selection process underwent a facelift a few years ago, to put the decision-making into the “right hands,” but it's clear that this new system isn’t much better.
1. Marc Leishman was hitting it so sideways last week that he thought he’d have to call Callaway and request more golf balls be put in his locker.
He ended up shooting 25 under to equal the tournament record at the CIMB Classic. In a three-way tie for the lead after 54 holes, he broke away from the pack with four birdies in his first five holes and a 7-under 65 to cruise to a five-shot victory.
"Sorted that out and this is the result," he said.
2. After the first multi-win season of his career in 2016-17, Leishman barely advanced to the Tour Championship in the recently completed 2017-18 season, sweating it out as the No. 29 seed. Barring a midseason swoon in ’19, however, he should be in a much better position to advance to East Lake after picking up an early-season victory.
“Once you’ve got a good early start, you can really just think about winning and that’s exciting for next week and the rest of the year,” he said.
Next week, of course, is the CJ Cup in Korea, where last year Leishman lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas. The good vibes should continue.
3. And look who’s gearing up for his title defense.
After falling off the pace midway through the CIMB, Thomas rallied with a best-of-the-day-tying 64 in the final round to jump all the way into a tie for fifth.
4. Leishman wasn’t the only player who was down on his game before his big week.
Eddie Pepperell’s form leading up to the British Masters was, he said, “the worst I’ve played for ages.” He then went wire to wire in miserable conditions at Walton Heath, securing his second European Tour title of the season.
The victory moved Pepperell to No. 33 in the world rankings, all but assuring that he will earn an invitation to the Masters next April via the top-50 exemption rule.
“It’s always been a dream to play in the Masters,” he said. “It also shows I’m not a one-hit wonder.”
5. Everything needs to come together to get a W.
After a nervy three-putt on No. 9 Sunday to drop only one shot clear, Pepperell holed his 122-yard approach on the 10th to regain his advantage.
It was his second hole-out of the week, after this spectacular (and strange) ace on Thursday:
6. The 2020 Ryder Cup picture is getting clearer.
It’s pretty obvious that Steve Stricker – in the captaincy pipeline, beloved in his home state of Wisconsin – will get the nod for the U.S. at Whistling Straits. There’s little debate on the other side, either, since Padraig Harrington has virtually no competition for the captaincy.
7. Lee Westwood said last week that he’s stepping aside for 2020 and focusing on the '22 matches at Rome. It was viewed as a selfless decision, but it’s also a smart one for his legacy: No European captain has lost at home since 1993, and the Europeans will once again be the favorites in Italy.
8. It was bad enough that the Americans got smoked at the Ryder Cup. Turns out, a few weeks later, that two of Europe’s leaders were also playing hurt.
First it was Francesco Molinari who revealed that he was dealing with a sore back for the final two days at Le Golf National. He joined Larry Nelson as the only players to go 5-0, but he said that the day after the Ryder Cup he was so sore that he couldn’t bend over to tie his shoelaces.
Then it was Henrik Stenson who said that his bum elbow was worse than he initially led on. His elbow has plagued him for months, ever since the U.S. Open, but last week he underwent a “minor” procedure to alleviate some of the discomfort. He, of course, won both of his team matches with Justin Rose and then won his singles match, too.
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I had a minor procedure on my elbow yesterday. It all went really well but unfortunately I will not be able to play the WGC-HSBC Champions later this month. I hate to miss it but wish everyone involved a great event and look forward to playing there next year! (Guess which picture is before procedure....) H
9. The Tiger-Phil match is starting to look like an outright disaster.
Reports surfaced last week that, to the surprise of no one, fans won’t be allowed on-site at ultra-private Shadow Creek. Logistics were always going to be an issue there, and now the showdown will be limited to a few VIPs and sponsors.
So, to recap, this duel that is probably a decade too late won't have many people around the tees and greens ... won't have two mega-millionaires putting up their own cash ... won't be played under the lights in Vegas ... and won't have as many viewers, since it'll be on pay-per-view.
Hey, we could be wrong, but here’s thinking the organizers will be disappointed by just how few people tune in for this.
My word, this was horrible, which was probably the point.
But putting the Bash Bros together in a cheesy video isn’t going to convince anyone that there wasn’t a dust-up at the Ryder Cup in Paris. Jim Furyk already confirmed The Telegraph's reporting that there was some kind of incident, even if by now it's been entirely overblown.
This week's award winners ...
Oldie But Goodie: Bernhard Langer. He may not have been as dominating as we’re used to, but Langer’s runaway victory at the SAS Championship gave him the points lead heading into the Champions Tour’s three-tournament playoff series.
All Works Out: Marc Leishman. Before he won in Malaysia, Leishman booked plane tickets to Maui for the first week of 2019 – assuming that he’ll either be there playing in the Tournament of Champions (for which he had not yet qualified) or enjoying a family vacation. Turns out it’s the former now.
Who Wants to Ball?: Steph Curry event. The Warriors star is reportedly on the verge of finalizing a Bay Area event that would appear in the early part of the 2019-20 Tour schedule. That should attract more stars to show up than the season opener at Greenbrier.
Twice As Nice: In Gee Chun. A week after helping lead the Korean team to the International Crown title at home, Chun closed with a final-round 66 to win the Hana Bank for her first non-major LPGA title (and third overall).
Thanks, Mom!: Eddie Pepperell. As he walked to the 10th tee in the final round, his mom gave him a pair of mittens to deal with the cool temperatures. Pepperell proceed to hole his second shot.
Will This Suffice, Commish?: Jordan Spieth. The Golden Child ran afoul of Tour rules when he failed to play either 25 events or commit to a new tournament last season, so he’s getting out ahead of the game this season by committing to the Shriners event in Vegas in early November. It's the first domestic fall event that he's ever played. Smart.
Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Ryan Moore. A runner-up a week earlier in Napa, he usually tears up the limited-field, guaranteed-cash event in Malaysia. Instead, he appeared out of gas, finishing 66th out of 78 players. Sigh.
Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick
Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.
Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.
Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.
Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six
CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs
Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.
''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''
The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.
''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''
Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.
''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''
The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.
''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''
Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.
''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.
Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.
Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.
The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.