Conners takes PGA tour win in Texas

There were 144 players in this year's Valero Texas Open, and 133 of them could have earned a Masters berth with a win. Instead, it was Corey Conners, one of the 11 who had already secured a spot at Augusta National, who came out on top after a steady Sunday performance that saw him overtake Patrick Rodgers early and hold off a charging Sam Stevens late. His 68 gave him a total score of 15 under, good enough for a one-shot victory a week before the year's first major. This was Conners' second PGA Tour victory, and it came in the same place as the first; four years ago, he grabbed his maiden win at this same tournament.

Conners started the day one back of Rodgers at TPC San Antonio but capped an almost workmanlike front nine with a 17-foot birdie to post a 33.

Meanwhile, Rodgers was fading in his quest for his first PGA Tour win, suffering a particularly brutal stretch of three bogeys in four holes. By the time they made the turn, Conners held a four-shot lead and had a chance to coast to the win. Rodgers couldn't recover in time to give the 31-year-old Canadian any trouble, but a pair of Sams, Ryder and Stevens, began to make Conners' life uncomfortable as the afternoon wore on. Ryder made five birdies on the back nine, including a nine-footer on 18, to reach the clubhouse at 13 under, and then Stevens did him one better, hitting the drive of the day on the short par-4 17th to set up a nine-foot eagle putt. When he made that, he was just one behind Conners at 14 under, and seemed poised to tie him as he stood over an eight-foot birdie putt. That effort slid by on the right, and Conners, who had played consistent, unspectacular golf on the back aside from a massively important downhill 17-footer for birdie on 15, came to 18 needing just a par to secure victory.

After his second shot found the greenside bunker, and he caught his third shot slightly fat, he needed to continue his streak of not three-putting a single green to hold on (the asterisk here is that he did four-putt once, on Friday). A solid if slightly aggressive lag left him three feet for the win, and when he poured it in, he flashed a modest smile as his wife and new daughter greeted him on the green.

"I've drawn from some of the experience I had here, and really happy with the way that I hit the ball and got myself in position," Conners said. "Drove it great, hit a lot of really good iron shots. Yeah, just kept things simple, felt relaxed. It was certainly challenging and a battle out there, but just an amazing day and can't believe it. It's a relief that it's over"

Conners, who has struggled with the putter in the past, including in his rough 0-4 showing at the 2022 Presidents Cup, was respectably middle of the pack in the strokes gained/putting department, finishing 41st in the field, and that allowed his iron game to flourish—he finished first in both in SG/approach and SG/tee to green. It was a tremendous ball-striking display from start to finish, and in the end even the hot putting of Stevens wasn't enough to bring him down. The fact that he kept up his level in Sunday's stiff wind impressed his competitors.

"Hats off to Corey, he played amazing," said Rodgers. "I'm not sure he missed a shot for 18 holes and it was really impressive on this golf course and in the wind."

"There were a lot of shots that you kind of had to step up and execute or else it was going to be a potential big number and he just, he didn't miss one," added Matt Kuchar, his other playing partner. "Every time, [he] stepped up and just hit beautiful shot after shot. It was a clinic that he put on. It was impressive."

The 26-year-old Stevens was sure Conners had it "in the bag" after he missed his birdie putt on 18, but in the aftermath he felt positive about his effort and his ability to compete on tour.

"I told everybody, or not everybody but a lot of people, I feel like I've been playing really well," Stevens said. "Not really well, but fairly well all year, just getting more and more comfortable. In Puerto Rico I had a chance, or kind of had a chance, I was a couple back going into the last day and that was a learning experience for sure … I'm getting more confident, more comfortable and I feel like yeah, hopefully I can get in contention again soon."

As for Rodgers, it's another disappointing Sunday for the man who has now had four 54-hole leads without registering a win.

"It's one of those golf courses where it doesn't take much to get pretty far off and that was my day today," he said afterward. "Disappointing result, but I'll be back strong."

Prior to the Valero, Conners had not registered a single top 10 in 2023, and when asked what percentage chance he would have given himself to win at the start of the week, he reacted with typical self-effacement.

"Probably not very likely," he admitted. "I felt great about my game, but it's so difficult to win on the PGA Tour. Feel like I've been working really hard and haven't been able to get it done for the last four years, but it sure feels sweet."

And while the Listowel, Ontario native is plenty patriotic about his home country, he couldn't resist a kind word for the place that has delivered him his two greatest career moments to date: "I definitely love Texas."

Source: Golf Digest 

Watch the 2023 Augusta National Women's Favorites

A year ago at this time, the official website for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur picked 10 “Players to Watch” for the 2022 championship. The list included most of the top-ranked entrants at the time, including Rose Zhang, Amari Avery and Ingrid Lindblad.

A golfer not included: Anna Davis. It was completely understandable, because, at 16 years old, she was one of the youngest players in the field and making her ANWA debut. There was no reason to favor Davis among a bunch of college stars.

But we know what happened. Davis stunned them all with a final-round three-under-par 69 at Augusta National. It just goes to show that we can identify the favorites all we want for this week’s fourth ANWA, but among these talented young players, anybody in the 72-woman field seemingly has a chance to lift the trophy in the 54-hole event that will be contested on Wednesday and Thursday at Champions Retreat, with the final round Saturday at Augusta National.

Indeed, if we’re looking for trends, relatively unknown teenagers have won the last two titles, following the inaugural 2019 victory by Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho, who was 21 at the time and turned pro that summer (and now is a major champion after winning last year’s Chevron Championship).

Zhang, Avery and Lindblad all return to the ANWA, and for the first time in the tournament’s brief history, it will have a past champion trying to repeat. In fact, there are two this week: Davis and Japan’s Tsubasa Kajitani, who curiously skipped her defense last year.

So, here are 12 players to watch, with no gurantees that any of them will win.

- Anna Davis. The California native was ranked 100th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking when she shot a final-round 69 to be the youngest player so far to win the ANWA. Now sthe 17-year-old is No. 9 in the world, mostly on the strength of competing in seven LPGA events after her victory and making the cut in five of them. Davis has two impressive wins in 2023, at the Junior Orange Bowl International and Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

- Ingrid Lindbald. In terms of past ANWA results, the 22-year-old Swede who plays at LSU should be the favorite. She tied for third in 2021 and second last year. It’s hard to fathom that the current WAGR No. 2 didn’t prevail in ’22, considering Lindblad made eagles at 8 and 15 and birdies at 3, 7 and 14. But she bogeyed the final hole to lose by one. This, after missing the ’21 ANWA playoff by one stroke. The résumé is all there, including being the low amateur at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open with a T-11.

- Rose Zhang. On paper, the 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford is the clear favorite. She is the hottest player in the college golf, with five victories in her first six starts this season, and Zhang made the cut in three LPGA majors last year. She also just broke Lydia Ko’s record for consecutive weeks (131) as the WAGR No. 1. But the ANWA has remained elusive, with Zhang’s best finish in three starts being a T-3 in the ’21 edition.

- Amaei Avery. A 19-year-old sophomore at USC making her third ANWA start, Avery tied for fourth last year with a closing 72. She is also having a strong college season, with six top-15 finishes in her eight starts, including one win and a T-3 in the recent Juli Inkster Meadow Club Collegiate.

- Saki Baba The 17-year-old from Tokyo was mostly unknown to the golf world until her dominating victory in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay, when she crushed Canada’s Monet Chun, 11 and 9, in the final. It was the third-largest winning margin in the championship’s history, and the event’s first victory by a Japanese player in 37 years. Baba won two big amateur titles in Asia last year, and in February she finished T-34 in the Honda LPGA Thailand, in which she was grouped in the final round with major champions Hinako Shibuno and Yuka Saso.

- Gianna Clemente. This stage would seem enormous for a 15-year-old, but Clemente has proven to be talented beyond her years after local qualifying for three consecutive LPGA events last year while she was 14. That success came along with a runner-up in the 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior and three wins in WAGR events. Clemente also has some experience at Augusta National, having been a Drive, Chip & Putt National finalist in 2017.

- Tsubasa Kajitani. She is the mystery woman of the ANWA. In 2021, the then 17-year-old Japanese golfer was a relative unknown when she shot 72 in the final round and beat Emilia Migliaccio in a playoff. But for reasons that have never been clear, Kajitani didn’t return to defend her title in 2022, and she has played so sparingly that her WAGR ranking has dropped from fifth after her ANWA win to 163rd. The last event in which she earned WAGR points was last August’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay, where Kajitani reached the match play and lost in the first round.

- Jensen Castle. The 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur champion, who finished T-12 in last year’s ANWA, had a busy 2022 summer that included playing on the winning U.S. Curtis Cup team while also making starts in two professional majors, the U.S. Women’s Open and Evian Championship. Jensen, 22, has six top-15 finishes in seven starts for Kentucky this season.

- Megha Ganne. A freshman at Stanford, the 19-year-old’s most notable time on the national stage came when she was the low amateur at the 2021 U.S. Women's Open at the Olympic Club, tying for 14th after playing in the final threesome on Sunday. She played on last summer’s U.S. Curtis Cup team and has four top-10s this season for the Cardinal, including a runner-up in the Carmel Cup in her college debut. A four-time DCP finalist, Ganne missed the cut in her first two ANWA starts.

- Latanna Stone. With a birdie on the 16th hole at Augusta National last year, Stone had the clearest path to win the ANWA; she had a two-shot advantage over clubhouse leader Anna Davis with two holes to play. But she double bogeyed the 17th and bogeyed the 18th to tie LSU teammate Ingrid Lindblad for second. Stone, 21, notched her first collegiate win in February.

- Rachel Kuehn. Considering what Kuehn, 21, did in last year’s ANWA final round, the Wake Forest senior is likely to be a title contender if she gets in position after Champions Retreat. Kuehn birdied four of the first seven holes and shot three-under 69 to finish solo seventh. As a possible omen, the WAGR’s No. 4 player won the Augusta Invitational earlier this month.

- Emilia Migliaccio. The 23-year-old from North Carolina is an interesting study. After she lost in the ’21 ANWA playoff, she seemingly headed off to a career in journalism. But Migliaccio worked for a time, took a year off and returned to Wake Forest for a fifth season after capturing the North & South last summer and playing for the U.S. Curtis Cup team. She is looking for a rebound of sorts in the ANWA after missing the cut last year.

Source: GolfDigest 

John Daly’s incredible 2023 equipment setup

John Daly’s new clubs are nearly as singular as the player using them. got an up-close look at Daly’s unique set this week at the PGA TOUR Champions’ Galleri Classic at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. This is the inaugural PGA TOUR Champions’ event at the course that was the longtime venue for the LPGA’s opening major each year.

We also highlighted Daly’s wild equipment setup at last year’s PGA Championship The two-time major champion was using irons covered in so much lead tape that they were virtually unidentifiable. Daly adds the lead tape to his clubs to offset the weight of SuperStroke S-Tech Cord oversized grips that weigh roughly 30 grams more than standard (in the world of golf equipment, that’s a significant amount of weight).

John Daly’s new clubs are nearly as singular as the player using them. got an up-close look at Daly’s unique set this week at the PGA TOUR Champions’ Galleri Classic at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. This is the inaugural PGA TOUR Champions’ event at the course that was the longtime venue for the LPGA’s opening major each year.

We also highlighted Daly’s wild equipment setup at last year’s PGA Championship The two-time major champion was using irons covered in so much lead tape that they were virtually unidentifiable. Daly adds the lead tape to his clubs to offset the weight of SuperStroke S-Tech Cord oversized grips that weigh roughly 30 grams more than standard (in the world of golf equipment, that’s a significant amount of weight).

Daly now uses three hybrids instead of two, and he has just four irons in the bag (6-, 7-, 8- and 9-irons). He’s also switched into a new driver and 3-wood, he’s changed iron models, he’s reconfigured his wedge setup, and he changed into a new custom putter.

Check out Daly’s new full club specifications below.

Driver: Ping G430 LST (9 degrees)

Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD UB 6 X

3-wood: Ping G430 Max (15 degrees)

Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD UB8 X

Hybrids: Ping G430 (17, 22 and 26 degrees

Irons: Ping Blueprint Forged (6-9 iron)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (46-10F @44 degrees, 50 @49 degrees, 54 degrees and 60 @59 degrees)

Putter: Odyssey Toulon Design Austin (with a custom milled face)

Grip: SuperStroke Tour 2.0

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1x



Ryan Gerard and Nicolai Hojgaard secured Special Temporary Membership on Sunday at the Valero Texas Open.

Gerard, 23, earned the status with a tie for 56th after rounds of 72-72-70-75. The North Carolina resident has made five starts this season, including a solo fourth at the Honda Classic and a tie for 11th at the Puerto Rico Open. He’s missed just one cut.

“I’ve worked my whole life to get to this point and I know this is just the beginning,” Gerard said.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” he added. “It’s been a lot of golf, a lot of travel. Not that I’m complaining because I want to do this for a living. Like, it’s a dream that I get to wake up every day and hit golf balls and get paid to do it if you play well.”

Hojgaard, 22, made his ninth career start and second of the season at TPC San Antonio, where he shot 72-70-69-72 and tied for 28th. A native of Denmark, Hojgaard finished second a week ago at the Corales Puntacana Championship. He made six starts last year and qualified for the PGA Championship and The Open Championship. His only made cut came at St. Andrews.

“It’s a great opportunity and I think we’ll definitely chase it over here going forward,” Hojgaard said. “Honestly I can’t wait to come back and play again.”

Both players now can accept unlimited sponsor exemptions through the 2023 season, including the fall portion.

With Special Temporary Membership status, Gerard and Hojgaard earn a spot in a conditional category on the 2023 TOUR Priority Ranking. This category reshuffles a combination of TOUR members that includes past champions (beyond their exemption) and veteran members with 150 or more cuts made.

The next reshuffle takes place Monday.


Lowry finishes strong after nearly returning home to Ireland

Ireland’s Shane Lowry faced a difficult short-side pitch after a poor approach into the 11th hole in Saturday’s third round of The Honda Classic at PGA National. He was staring at his first bogey of the day.

From 55 feet, he’d have been happy to get his ball within 10 feet of the hole, knowing the hot putter he was wielding might be able to keep his scorecard clean. The pitch came off nicely but had some pace on it until the ball hit the flagstick squarely and vanished in the hole for birdie. Lowry could only laugh.

He then birdied his next two holes, though PGA National caught up with him at 14 and 17, where he failed to make pars.

On that 11th, though, it was almost as if somebody somewhere was looking out for him.

Lowry, who was the heartbreak runner-up at the Honda a year ago, will begin Sunday’s final round four shots behind leader Chris Kirk after shooting 5-under 65. And to think, all he wanted on Thursday morning was to withdraw and catch a flight to Ireland.

His uncle, Jimmy Lowry, two years older than Shane’s dad, Brendan, passed away suddenly on Thursday. Lowry comes from a close-knit family in Ireland, and his first instinct was to get home, and to be with his dad, a former Gaelic sports standout who Shane said, at heart, is "a softy." Shane sported a green ribbon on his hat on Saturday and said he is playing for his uncle this week.

“It's very sad week for our family. To be honest, I wanted to go home on Thursday when I heard the news,” Lowry said. “A lot of people talked me out of it. I'm here now. I'm trying to play for him and play for his wife and his kids and my cousins and my uncles and my aunts and everyone at home because we're a very close family and very proud of our name and very proud of where we come from.”

Jimmy Lowry was 66, and one of Shane’s biggest supporters. The ribbon that Lowry wore on Saturday was green and white, representing where Jimmy was from, Forbane, in County Offaly, the same place where young Shane learned to play golf.

Lowry was emotional talking about his uncle.

“He's just a great man. He loved working. He loved hard work. He loved hardship. He was big into Gaelic games at home. He didn't necessarily play at the highest level, but he was very involved and loved in the community, and he was just a great man,” he said. “He was great craic, and I loved him.”

Lowry, the 2019 winner of The Open Championship, which he captured in Northern Ireland, said earlier this week he was scheduled for a busy stretch, planning to play eight of nine weeks. A year ago at Honda, he and Sepp Straka were tied on the 72nd hole. Just after Straka teed off, hitting a 330-yard drive at the par-5 18th, Lowry stood on the tee as the sky opened and rains pelted down. He hit a poor drive and was not able to reach the green in two, as Straka did on his way to a winning birdie. Lowry made par. Lowry will tell you there were no guarantees he was making birdie, but it was a bad break for the Irishman.

But as Lowry learned on the 11th hole Saturday, sometimes those types of breaks seem to even out. With one round to go, he hopes that he has something special in store to honor someone very special to him.

“Yeah, hopefully I can go out and make him proud tomorrow,” Lowry said. “Everyone keeps telling me how proud he was of me over the last number of years, and hopefully I can do him another day proud tomorrow.”