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What clubs did Taylor Moore use to win Valspar Championship?
All final round Taylor Moore seemed like one of those Sunday sidebars. Nice final round, get a taste of contention and secure a solid check. Instead, Moore came up clutch while others did not, and he came away with a career-defining victory at the 2023 Valspar Championship.
Moore was so out of the picture that he wasn’t asked for any interviews by the tour during the week save for what would turn out to be his winner’s press conference.
Moore can thank his tee-to-green game for the win. Moore ranked third in strokes gained/off the tee, picking up 3.465 shots on the field. His driver is Ping’s G430 LST model—the low-spin version of the G430 family. Moore’s driver has a 45-inch Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Blue 60TX shaft, tipped a half-inch with a D3 swingweight. Into the greens Moore was just as effective, ranking fourth in SG/approach, besting the field by 5.383 shots while also ranking second in greens in regulation. Moore’s irons are Ping’s S55 along with a Ping i230 4-iron. All of Moore’s irons have True Temper’s Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts.
The clubs Taylor Moore used to win the 2023 Valspar Championship
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Driver: Ping G430 LST (Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Blue 60TX), 10.5 degrees
3-wood: Ping G430 Max, 15 degrees
7-wood: Ping G430 Max, 21 degrees
Irons (4): Ping i230; (5-PW): Ping S55
Wedges: Ping Glide Pro Forged (50, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Ping PLD Oslo 4
Scottie Scheffler wins TPC & Claims world #1 spot back
Scottie Scheffler’s game is made for Pete Dye’s House of Horrors.
One day after he shot 65 to seize control of the tournament, Scheffler withstood a windswept Sunday and shot 3-under 69 at the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass to win the Players Championship by five strokes over Tyrrell Hatton and returned to World No. 1.
“He an artist,” said Scheffler’s longtime instructor Randy Smith, “and when you give him this canvas he wants to paint on it.”
The reigning Masters champion and PGA Tour Player of the Year crafted a masterpiece after a sluggish start in which he didn’t make a birdie in his first seven holes, but once he did the floodgates opened and he reeled off five in a row to blow the tournament wide open.
Australian Min Woo Lee, whose sister Minjee is the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie at the first and a bogey by Scheffler at the third, but it was short-lived. His third shot at the fourth hole spun off the green and into the water and he made triple bogey.
“It happened really quick,” Lee said. “It’s one of those things where it’s Sunday and you just make a couple bad decisions and it all kind of falls down.”
He was hanging around after rolling in a 28-foot birdie putt at the seventh to cut the deficit to two strokes, the same amount he trailed by at the start of the day. The Gold Man trophy was still up for grabs. But then Scheffler chipped in for birdie at the par-3 eighth and low-fived with caddie Ted Scott.
“I knew he was going to chip that in,” Smith said later. “When he gets up on the green, he’s sitting there looking at the break and the landing point and kind of smiling at Ted, there’s a good chance it’s going to go in.”
Scheffler stood in the bunker left of the green but his ball was sitting pretty on the grass and when it disappeared in the hole, he pumped his right fist.
“He’s got great hands,” said Jordan Spieth.
Max Homa compared Scheffler’s short game wizardry to Spieth.
“It looks just kind of homegrown, which I always feel like works pretty well,” Homa said. “Obviously they have great mechanics, but it feels like they do it a different way, which means they typically own it a bit more. So I feel like he just knows what he’s going to do. He has this stabbing spinner. He’s got the really good kind of soft one out of the rough. I feel like he’s just very artistic in that way. I feel like he sees them going into the hole. I’ve played a lot more with Jordan, and you can just kind of see him painting that picture and making them, and they make a lot of them. So that would be my guess. But he’s obviously just really good at pretty much every aspect of golf.”
It was Scheffler’s 11th hole-out of the season on the PGA Tour, which no less than Spieth, one of the game’s foremost wedge-game wizards, declared “pretty darn good,” considering the calendar says it’s only March. A day earlier Scheffler let it be known that his chip-in for eagle at the second hole won him a season-long bet with Scott.
“I think that Teddy made a very bad bet,” Spieth said. “I had it with Michael (Greller) and we’ve had it at 15 or 16 before. So I think Teddy will probably reevaluate considering we’re not even midway through March. So I don’t know if Scottie – it actually might be a good bet because it’s already over and he’ll make a new one and win the press.”
Scott equated the chip-in birdie to an interception in a football game.
“It shifted the momentum,” he said. “It just felt like good things were about to happen.”
Lee missed a 6-foot par putt at eight, made another seven at the par-5 11th and was out of the picture, tumbling to a share of sixth with a final-round 76.
“It’s funny how yesterday I felt like I had the best swing in the world, and then today I just felt like nothing could go right,” Lee said.
As Lee began to sputter so did Hideki Matsuyama (68), who made a final-round charge until a double bogey at 14 and finished fifth. Hatton was the only one to mount a charge and not run into trouble but he ran out of holes, tying the back-nine scoring record of 29 and signing for 65 and a 12-under total. That was good for second and a check for $2.725 million, with Viktor Hovland (68) and Tom Hoge (70) T-3 at 10 under. But just as Hatton climbed within a stroke of the lead, Scheffler went on the offensive and pulled away for good with his birdie binge to win $4.5 million, the richest prize on the Tour.
“I mean, he hits it long, he hits it high, he’s going to be able to play any golf course,” said Hoge, who set the course record on Saturday with a 62. “There’s no weaknesses.”
Scheffler poured in a 20-foot par putt at 18 and pumped his fist as he capped off his sixth win in his 27 starts over the last 13 months.
“You can’t limp in on this golf course,” he said. “You’ve got to hit the shots.”
He posted a 72-total of 17-under 271 and joined Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to hold both the Masters and Players titles at the same time.
Scheffler’s former college teammate at Texas Kramer Hickok has watched as Scheffler has blossomed into the best golfer on the planet and is none too surprised.
“The best way I can put it is he’s always been so confident,” Hickok said. “I think if you asked him, it’s no surprise that he’s No. 1 in the world.”
Hickock echoed Smith in describing Scheffler’s creativity as one of his super powers.
“Golf courses where he can be creative show off his best attributes because he’s such a great athlete,” Hickok said. “I don’t know if people know this but Scottie’s unbelievable at everything he does. Pickle ball, basketball, he’s a freak athlete that has this mental capability that he can go into a tunnel vision and shoot low numbers.”
And what better place to show his gifts to the world than on the great canvas that is Dye’s TPC Sawgrass.
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Kurt Kitayama named Champion of API
Kurt Kitayama is a golfer with several nicknames.
Arnold Palmer, the golfer known simply as “The King,” would appreciate that Kitayama claimed his namesake event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday, grinding out a pair of weekend 72s at Bay Hill Club and Lodge to prevail over a stacked leaderboard for his first PGA Tour title.
“I’ve always dreamed of winning on the Tour and to finally do it, yeah, it’s pretty amazing,” Kitayama said after tapping in for par at 18 and overcoming a triple bogey earlier in the day. “It’s pretty unbelievable, really.”
Indeed, it is, considering that Kitayama, a 30-year-old from Chico, California, took a circuitous route to the winner’s circle, traveling all over the world, playing on tours in China, Asia, Japan, South Africa, and Australia.
“We call him Quadzilla or the Quadfather,” said Xander Schauffele, who plays frequently with Kitayama when they are both home in Las Vegas.
“He’s got really big legs. So I call him Quadz with a Z at the end.”
Asked to name the strength of Kitayama’s game, Schauffele said, “He hits it a mile. He hits it far, putts it well, he does everything good.”
That, however, was hardly the case when he showed up at UNLV in 2011, where they called Kitayama “The Project.”
“I don’t think he was very good at anything,” said J.C. Deacon, men’s golf coach at the University of Florida and Kitayama’s swing coach since 2017.
Back then, Deacon was an assistant at UNLV during Kitayama’s four years there and recalled that Kitayama could barely break 75 upon his arrival. But then-coach Dwayne Knight recognized his potential and loves his grit. “He just worked so hard,” Deacon continued. “You tell him something to do and he’d be out there for 10 hours doing it. He always outworked what you asked him to do.”
That tenacity and perseverance served Kitayama well when he struggled to earn status on the Korn Ferry Tour and instead went seeking a place to play wherever that happened to take him.
“Not finding success early here was, yeah, it’s disappointing, but it took me somewhere else to grow,” he said. “And it was growing more than just in golf, really. You get to experience the different cultures, travel. I mean, you find yourself in some interesting spots. Places that you probably wouldn’t ever go. So I think just as a person I was able to grow.”
Kitayama slowly established himself in the world of golf, winning twice on the DP World Tour in 2019. In the past two seasons, he’s finished second three times on the PGA Tour, finishing second to World No. 1 Jon Rahm at the Mexico Open, Schauffele, No. 6, at the Scottish Open and Rory McIlroy, who rose to No. 1 at the time, at the CJ Cup. On Sunday, the 54-hole leader buckled but refused to break. Fourteen players were within three shots of the lead coming down the stretch, including four major champions and there was a five-way tie at the top with just three holes to play.
Kitayama built a two-stroke lead with three birdies in his first seven holes, including rolling in a 46-footer at seven. But on the ninth hole, he tugged his tee shot left and it stopped out of bounds by six inches, leading to a triple bogey. It could’ve easily led to a free-fall into oblivion. Instead, on a day at Arnie’s Place where the greens became so baked that players complained of little friction, Kitayama never made another bogey.
Still, this was anyone’s race. Jordan Spieth charged first with four birdies in his first five holes as his trusty putter came alive. He took just 12 putts in his first 11 holes but down the stretch he couldn’t get them to drop. He made three bogeys in a four-hole span starting at 14 and signed for 70 and a tie for fourth.
“I wouldn’t have hit any of the putts differently. I hit my line on every single one of ’em. I misread all four by just barely,” Spieth said.
Rory McIlroy, who won this tournament in 2018, had an inauspicious start with two bogeys but rallied with birdies at Nos. 12 and 13 to take the lead at 9 under. However, he still thought he was one or two strokes behind the lead and tried an aggressive line at the par-3 14th and made the first of consecutive bogeys to slip back.
“As I was walking to the 14th green, I looked behind me at the scoreboard, and I was leading by one. And if I had of known that, I wouldn’t have tried to play the shot that I played on 14, which was unfortunate,” said McIlroy, who shot 70 and missed a 10-foot birdie putt that could have forced a playoff. “Game’s rounding into form for the bulk of the season. Even though I didn’t get the win, I’m still pretty happy with how everything went this week.”
Scottie Scheffler had a chance to regain World No. 1 and defend his second title of the season. One back, he had a wedge in his hand from the fairway at 18 but instead managed to make bogey to finish at 7-under and share fourth.
“I put up a good fight,” Scheffler said. “I didn’t have my best stuff today. I still gave myself a chance.”
So, too, did Englishman Tyrrell Hatton (72) – “I just didn’t have it today on the greens in the end when I kind of needed it most,” he said – and American Harris English (70), who tied for second with McIlroy and recorded his best finish since winning the 2021 Travelers Championship.
“I love playing in U.S. Opens and this is as close to a U.S. Open setup as we play on the PGA Tour,” English said.
The API’s first year as a designated event lived up to the hype and seemed destined to be headed to a wild five- or six-man playoff until Kitayama took care of business. He regrouped after the triple and made seven straight pars. But the last of the bunch was a three-putt from 56 feet at the par-5 16th. Tied for the lead, he stepped up at the 217-yard, par 3 and drilled a 6-iron like it was a Tuesday practice round.
“I just ripped it and it started leaking little right, but I hit it good enough to cover and it was perfect,” said Kitayama, who finished with a 72-hole aggregate of 9-under 279.
He poured in the 14-foot birdie putt and was tagged with his latest nickname, this time from NBC’s Paul Azinger, who described him as a junkyard dog feasting on a bone.
Kitayama had to grind out one more par at 18. As he walked off the tee after pulling his tee shot into the rough, he had the self awareness to realize he was walking too fast.
“I was like, slow down,” he recalled. “J.C. was on the putting green earlier and he said, ‘You know, just relax and just make sure to take some deep breaths and walk slow.’ So I thought of that and I was able to recognize it, luckily, and just kind of calm down.”
Kitayama earned his first Tour title in his 50th career start, banking $3.6 million and improving to No. 19 in the Official World Golf Ranking, the highest position of his career. What a long strange trip it had been to the winner’s circle.
“I think just finding those little successes around the world” he said, “and making it out here, putting myself in those, in contention, you start to really believe in yourself, that you belong out here.”
A Win For Chris Kirk
Chris Kirk outduels Eric Cole in a playoff to win 2023 Honda Classic
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The emotions came streaming out for Chris Kirk as the final putt in the final Honda Classic settled into the bottom of the cup.
Kirk, four years removed from taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour to get his life back on track, was a winner again, outlasting Eric Cole on the first playoff hole Sunday at PGA National.
“I just have so much to thankful for,” Kirk said. “I’m so grateful for my sobriety. I’m so grateful for my family. I’m so grateful for everyone that’s supported me throughout the past three or four years especially.”
Kirk gave up the lead on 18 after his second shot hit a stone wall and splashed down just feet from the floating Honda Pilot Trailsport (both players finished 14 under). He then won it on 18, the first playoff hole, with a birdie.
The win was Kirk’s fifth on the PGA Tour, first since 2015 at Colonial. The 37-year-old takes home $1.512 million and will go down as the last winner of the Honda Classic. The tournament is seeking a new title sponsor with American Honda ending its sponsorship after 42 years.
Kirk took an indefinite leave from the sport in May 2019 to deal with alcohol abuse and depression. His life was in a downward spiral and he attempted to get it back on track on his own.
It was not working.
He returned after a seven-month break and struggled with his golf. But that was not important.
Kirk’s life was back in order.
After returning, he played in 11 events in the 2019-20 season and missed five cuts. He had one top 25 finish.
But his game slowly has been coming back to form since. From the start of the 2020-21 season to this week, he had 10 top-10 finishes, including a runnerup in the 2021 Sony Open in Hawaii.
Kirk’s last three starts entering Honda: third at the Sony Open in Hawaii, tied for third at the American Express, missed cut at the WM Phoenix Open.
“Coming down the stretch I felt good,” he said before admitting he made a “bad swing at the wrong time,” on the 72nd hole.
Talking about his past problems
Kirk has never backed away from talking about the darkest days of his life. He has said the reason never was to send a message to others. But when a professional athlete uses his platform to open up about something so personal, that can be powerful and impactful.
“I think more than the time, just how much my life has changed in that time, getting close to four years of sobriety, and that is the reason why I’m able to play,” he said. “It’s the reason why I have such a great relationship with my family. Everything that I have is because of that. I have to remember that first and foremost, and it’ll sink in eventually, but it certainly hasn’t right now.”
So when Kirk is on an emotional rollercoaster coming down the stretch of a PGA Tour event, he’s faces more pressure.
Kirk entered the final hole of regulation in control. He ceded that control when the ball narrowly missed dinging the final Honda to be floated of the 18th green.
But he found new life when Cole, seeking his first PGA Tour career win, sent a chip past the hole and into the opposite side fringe up against the rough.
Cole got his par, forcing a playoff after Kirk’s bogey.
Cole regained the advantage off the tee on the first playoff hole when Kirk’s drive landed in the rough and took an unfortunate bounce behind a palm tree. He punched out to 108 yards.
Cole’s adrenaline on playoff hole hurts his shot
Cole, meanwhile, was staring at a second shot 242 yards from the flag when his adrenaline got the best of him. He sent the ball past the stick and into a bunker.
Kirk’s approach shot bounced a few feet past the hole and it spun back to 16 inches from the cup. Needing to get up and down out of the bunker, Cole’s shot settled 11-feet from the hole.
His putt lipped out.
“I just fought really, really hard today,” Kirk said. “I didn’t play my absolute best, but I never gave up.”
Kirk was pleased to hear TV analyst Paul Azinger say he played like an “emotionless robot.”
“I loved that,” he said. “I absolutely loved it. I said today, I’m going to be an emotionless robot and I’m going to go stick to my guns and play aggressive and try to do the best I can.”
Tyler Duncan was solo third at 12 under. Monday qualifier Ryan Gerard was solo fourth at 10 under, earning a spot in the opposite-field Puerto Rico Open next week. The Arnold Palmer Invitational, a designated event, is also next week in Orlando.
Is Tiger Woods done playing this season?
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Where and when will Tiger Woods play next?
The only one who knows for sure is Tiger Woods and he’s holding his cards as close to the vest as ever.
After shooting 1-under 283 and finishing T-45 at the Genesis Invitational on Sunday, he basically repeated the same thing he’s said for the better part of a year and the same message he rolled out pre-tournament: he’s likely only going to be able to play the majors and sprinkle in a few select tournaments here and there.
“Here’s the deal: Like I told you guys last year, I’m not going to play any more than probably the majors and maybe a couple more. That’s it, that’s all my body will allow me to do,” Woods said. “My back the way it is, all the surgeries I had on my back, my leg the way it is, I just can’t. That’s just going to be my future. So my intent last year was to play in all four majors, I got three of the four. Hopefully this year I can get all four and maybe sprinkle in a few here and there. But that’s it for the rest of my career. I know that and I understand that. That’s just my reality.“
There was a telling exchange between CBS interviewer Amanda Renner and Tiger before they went live on the air. She suggested that if Tiger played well at the majors, he would qualify for the FedEx Cup in August. Tiger simply chuckled as if to say fat chance.
Woods is an eight-time winner at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, which has been raised to an elevated event with a $20 million and is being staged in two weeks, but that would seem to be a quick turnaround for Woods. He walked 72 holes and played 16 holes in the Wednesday pro-am and by the end of each day his limp was noticeable and seemed to be more pronounced by the day.
“It’s progress, headed in the right direction,” he said. “It certainly was a little bit more difficult than I probably let on. My team has been fantastic in getting my body recovered day to day and getting me ready to play each and every day.”
If Woods shows up to a Florida event, the best chance is the Players Championship, the Tour’s flagship event, where TPC Sawgrass is flat. It certainly would make Commissioner Jay Monahan happy to have his biggest draw in the field. Woods is a two-time winner of the event and it wouldn’t hurt to get some additional reps in before the Masters. He’d have three full weeks to recover and prep for the toughest walk of the year at Augusta National.
“That’s the hard part that I can’t simulate at home. Even if I played four days at home, it’s not the same as adrenaline, it’s not the same as the system being ramped up like that, the intensity, just the focus that it takes to play at this level,” he explained. “No matter how much — I’m very good at simulating that at home, but it’s just not the same as being out here and doing it.”
When Woods made his comeback from back surgery in 2018, he showed up at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, and nearly won the tournament. But it would seem odd for him to pass on the Players in favor of playing Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course, and it’s doubtful Woods is considering playing two weeks in a row.
There were many encouraging signs from Woods at Riviera and as long as he can make a quick recovery, there’s every reason to believe that he will chase his sixth Green Jackets and 16th career major at Augusta National. But beyond that, Woods said, “The body says no even though the mind says yes.”
Last year, Woods surprised many when he made his first start after his car accident in February 2021. His right ankle, leg and back continue to limit how much he can play. But having Tiger in the field adds an extra layer of intrigue. Here’s hoping Woods surprises even himself and the body is willing and able to make one more start before the Masters.
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