What We Learned: Sony Open in Hawaii

By Jason SobelJanuary 14, 2013, 4:12 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This week, our writers weigh in on Russell Henley's remarkable Sony Open in Hawaii win, changing expectations for PGA Tour rookies and whether Louis Oosthuizen is underrated. 

The amazing rise of the rookies at the Sony Open is a game-changer for all of the young players on Tour. For whatever reason – emphasis on fitness, increased competition in junior and college golf, learning to win on the Web.com circuit – these talented 20-somethings now face an abbreviated learning curve on Tour. They emerge from college dorms and expect the penthouse, now. How, then, does this change our expectations for Luke Guthrie, Ben Kohles, Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth and any other future fresh-out-of-college stars? For one thing, we won’t be surprised when they shine on the biggest stage. These kids are already ready to win. – Ryan Lavner


The PGA Tour could feel a lot younger on late Sunday afternoons this year. With rookie Russell Henley, 23, winning the Sony Open on Sunday, with rookie Scott Langley, 23, making a hard run before stumbling on the back nine, and with Dustin Johnson, 28, winning the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions last week, this season opens with a decidedly youthful look. It’s an exciting early development. You couple it with Rory McIlroy, 23, rising to No. 1 last year, with Rickie Fowler, 24, breaking through to win at the Wells Fargo Championship, with Webb Simpson, 27, and Keegan Bradley, 26, joining McIlroy as major championship winners the last two seasons, and you see the game not so gently transitioning to a new era. – Randall Mell


Louis Oosthuizen would be the world’s most underrated golfer if he weren’t so highly rated. With his win at the Volvo Golf Champions, the South African moved to No. 4 on the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald. And yet, in most conversations about the game’s best players he often gets overlooked in favor of guys like Lee Westwood, Adam Scott and Justin Rose – each of whom even the least astute observer knows hasn’t won a major. Oosthie? Of course he has. He’s also finished sixth or better in seven of his last eight starts. Still, it seems like we talk about his buttery swing only when he’s in contention. He’s the ultimate out-of-sight, out-of-mind golfer. Maybe that’s because he isn’t flashy. I mean, this is a guy who won a car this week and traded it in for an excavator to remove some stumps from his farm. Can’t see Rory, Tiger or Luke doing that. Farming talents notwithstanding, though, whenever we talk about those three these days, Oosthuizen deserves to be included in the conversation, too. – Jason Sobel

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari

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5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

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5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.



The second is from Sunday night.



And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.

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Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.