A star is born at the British Open, Poston cashes in at Wyndham and NHL referee wins Western Am: What you missed
Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here's every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of Aug. 5.
A surprise Open champ
It was her first time playing outside her homeland. She's about to become a global star.
Hinako Shibuno, a 20-year-old from Japan, birdied the final hole at Woburn G.C. to capture the Women's British Open over Lizette Salas.
“I can’t really describe with words right now what I’m feeling,” Shibuno said through a translator. “I’m also hungry, and a little nauseous at the same time.”
The golf world feels the same way. (Regarding the lack of description, that is.) Because the Shibuno Experience was a sight to behold.
A rookie on the Japanese LPGA Tour, Shibuno—nicknamed the "Smiling Cinderella"—thought Woburn was a links course until she arrived in England. That curve didn't deter her enthusiasm throughout the week, as Shibuno routinely congratulated her opponents, high-fived fans, played at a pace that would make Brooks Koepka shed happy tears and displayed a general joie de vivre that's sorely lacking in the professional ranks.
Shibuno's demeanor remained steadfast despite an inauspicious start on Sunday, when her two-shot lead evaporating after a four-jack on the third hole. Yet she answered with birdies at the fifth and seventh and went low on the back, coming home in a five-under 31 highlighted by a 20-footer on the final hole.
Shibuno becomes just the second Japanese golfer to win a major championship, joining Chako Higuchi who won the 1977 LPGA Championship (now the KPMG Women's PGA). Shibuno also has the option to accept immediate status on the LPGA Tour, or defer it until 2020.
While she didn't announce her intentions in England, it's clear Shibuno has the makings of something special, inside the ropes and out. Cameras caught her laughing with her caddie before the final approach shot.
“If I were to shank this second shot,” Shibuno told him, “it would be very embarrassing.”
Sign us up for all the Shibuno stock available.
Poston's historic win
J.T. Poston did something that hasn't been done on the PGA Tour in 45 years. That historic performance was good for a whopping (checks scores) one-stroke advantage at the Wyndham Championship.
Poston, 26, shot a final-round 62 for a tournament-record, bogey-free 258, besting Webb Simpson at Sedgefield C.C.
“Any win out here on tour is a dream come true, but to do it here in N.C. and Greenboro, an hour-and-a-half from where I grew up, and to have so many friends and family and people who came in this morning and last night, to be able to play like this and get a win on the PGA Tour is something I never could have imagined," Poston said.
Poston dueled with Ben An for most of Sunday afternoon, as the latter was also working on a no-bogey week. However, a wayward drive at the 15th led to an unplayable lie and a first bogey in 69 holes for An. Playing in the group ahead, Poston made a birdie on the 15th, then pars on Nos. 16-18. Though An responded with a birdie at the 16th, a par at the 17th and bogey at the final dropped him to third place, while four birdies in the final five holes vaulted Simpson into solo second.
Poston is the first player to win with a clean card since Lee Trevino accomplished the feat at the 1974 Greater New Orleans Open. (Although Scott Piercy also went bogey-free this year, albeit without winning the trophy.)
"I probably haven't had that many bogey-free rounds this year," Poston said. "To be able to do four in a row is pretty special and finish it off with a 62 on Sunday is pretty awesome."
Aside from invites to the Masters, PGA Championship and Players, the win moves Poston inside the FedEx Cup top 30 as the playoffs begin, putting him in position to earn a trip to East Lake.
Man, that took willpower to avoid a "Postman delivers on Sunday!" headline.
Wyndham Championship - Final Round
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - AUGUST 04: Viktor Hovland of Norway reacts after a putt on the fourth hole during the final round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on August 04, 2019 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Hovland just misses tour card
Technically, he fell short. But nothing about Viktor Hovland's summer felt like a defeat.
Needing a T-2 or better in Greensboro to earn his PGA Tour card for 2019-'20 along with fellow upstarts Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa, Hovland cobbled together two 66s, a 64 and final-round 65 at Sedgefield. That score, however, was two off second place, meaning the Oklahoma State standout and 2018 U.S. Am champ just missed earning his card for next season.
“I feel like I've just playing better and better every single week, and obviously this is my best finish throughout the five tournaments that I played [as a pro],” Hovland said of his fourth-place finish. “I've just got to keep it going in the Korn Ferry Finals and I should be OK.”
The real kick in the behind is that Hovland's T-12 at the U.S. Open and T-32 at the Masters don't count, as he competed as an amateur. "I mean, it is what it is. I just should have played a little bit better and it wouldn't have been a problem," Hovland said.
A little better? Hovland has shot 63 under par collectively in his last four starts, all T-16 or better finishes. He led the Wyndham field in strokes gained/off-the-tee, and was second in birdies. That is getting it done for any caliber player, let alone one who turned pro at the end of June.
Not all is lost for Hovland. He can still grab status for next year by placing among the top 25 in money earnings in the Korn Ferry Finals, which consists of three tournaments beginning in two weeks at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio.
NHL: NOV 05 Hurricanes at Predators
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 05: Referee Garrett Rank (7) is shown after sustaining an injury during the NHL game between the Nashville Predators and the Carolina Hurricanes, held on November 5, 2016, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NHL ref wins Western Am
The dirty secret about amateur events is they operate as de facto college showcases. Given the firepower coming out of college as of late, it's not the worst of situations. Conversely, the out-of-school, has-a-job, formidable am is not so much an endangered ideal as it is extinct.
Which is why Garrett Rank is our hero.
Rank, who makes a living as an NHL referee, defeated Daniel Wetterich, 3 and 2, to win the prestigious Western Amateur.
“This is the end of a dream week,” Rank told Matt Harness, covering the event for the Western Amateur. “I know how important and cool this is in amateur golf. It hasn’t sunk in yet, and I’m sure I’ll be even more proud when it does.”
Rank is no stranger to high levels of competition, having qualified for last year's U.S. Open. He finished fifth in the 72-hole qualifying stage at Point O’Woods Golf and Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich., to make it to the Sweet 16. In each of his four matches, Rank trailed at one point, and was 1 down through five holes in his match with Wetterich, who recently graduated from Ohio State. Rank then took the lead with a birdie at the seventh hole and never trailed after that.
Past champions of the Western Am, which began in 1899, include Francis Ouimet, Jack Nicklaus, Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. We're guessing this group didn't have to report to the rink for training camp the week after their wins, though.
Blair back to big leagues
Two years ago Zac Blair lost his PGA Tour card by a shot. Though it wasn't a direct journey back, Blair will be playing with the big boys again next season.
Blair turned in a final-round three-under 67 at the Korn Ferry's Ellie Mae Classic, good enough for a one-shot victory over Brandon Crick.
“I’ve been playing really good the last four or five weeks, kind of knew that I was close, but at the same time I was kind of in a weird situation where I was playing a lot, so I knew I had to either take a break or get my card,” Blair said.
Blair, who admitted his game has suffered in the past year due to a crisis of confidence, came into the Ellie Mae with a newfound conviction thanks to four T-11 or better finishes in five weeks. It showed at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif., shooting two 65s and a 66 before Sunday.
Also locking up a card is former World No. 1 amateur Maverick McNealy. With a T-3 at the Ellie Mae, McNealy moved to 20th on the Korn Ferry's money list. With two weeks to go before the 25 cards are handed out, there's enough distance between McNealy and Marty Dou (26th) that his promotion is set in stone.
Still, the day belonged to Blair.
“It was nice to lock it up, get it done, and [I’m] excited to get back out there," Blair said.
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