A golden oldie, some monstrous prizes and an Asian player’s minimal approach feature in AFP Sport‘s golf talking points this week …
Nifty at fifty
Germany’s Alex Cejka set a new record on the over-50s PGA Champions Tour when he won the Senior PGA Championship this past weekend.
He became the first Champions Tour rookie to win two Majors since Jack Nicklaus in 1990, and the first player on the circuit to win on his first two Major starts.
The 50-year-old had beaten Steve Stricker in a playoff to win the Regions Tradition, the season’s first Major, earlier in May.
With Phil Mickelson winning the US PGA Championship the previous Sunday for his sixth Major, May proved to be a prolific month for the 50-somethings.
However Cejka, it should be noted, is six months younger than Mickelson, who will celebrate his 51st birthday on the eve of his latest attempt to complete a Grand Slam of winning all four Majors at the US Open at Torrey Pines later this month.
‘The last couple of weeks have been incredible,’ said Cejka. ‘I can’t even describe it in words how I feel right now.’
Kokrak in driving seat, size matters in Texas – and that includes the prizes at PGA Tour events
For pipping local boy Jordan Spieth to the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial, Fort Worth, to win his second US PGA Tour title, Jason Kokrak picked up $1.35 million. But the sponsors weren’t finished there.
Along with the cheque came an enormous winner’s trophy almost as tall as the 6ft 4in (1.93m) Kokrak, whose maiden win came at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in October.
He was also draped with a gaudy, rather large tartan winner’s jacket, but the biggest prize was yet to come.
Kokrak was then handed the keys to a monster 1946 Dodge Power Wagon classic truck.
‘I’m a big guy with a big truck with a big jacket and a big paycheck,’ a beaming Kokrak said.
‘So I guess everything’s bigger in Texas, right?’
In the bag for Juvic
Did you hear about the pro who went into a tournament with only 11 clubs in his bag and no caddie? He won – and qualified for a Major.
Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines took his maiden Japan Tour win at the Mizuno Open this past Sunday, carrying his own (lighter) golf bag because caddies have to use electric carts because of Covid-19 restrictions.
‘I am getting older and last two times with 14 clubs were really heavy,’ he said. ‘I don’t like to use the electric carts, since you have to go all the way around the greens.’
Pagunsan removed his 3-, 4-, 6- and 8-irons from the permitted 14-club array, keeping his four wedges and adding a 19-degree hybrid to substitute for the longer irons, to great effect.
The victory gave the 2011 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner a coveted place in the Open Championship, at Royal St George’s next month, for the first time since 2014.
‘Now I am relieved. I get to go to UK. I can go again,’ he said, before asking: ‘Could I get my visa? How is the quarantine measures?’
Latest leading world rankings, week beginning 31 May 2021
1. Dustin Johnson (USA) 9.98
2. Justin Thomas (USA) 8.34
3. Jon Rahm (ESP) 8.21
4. Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 6.98
5. Xander Schauffele (USA) 6.81 (+1)
6. Collin Morikawa (USA) 6.79 (-1)
7. Brooks Koepka (USA) 6.16
8. Rory McIlroy (NIR) 5.97 (+1)
9. Patrick Reed (USA) 5.94 (-1)
10. Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 5.80
22. Jason Kokrak (USA) 4.22 (+13)
1. Ko Jin-young (KOR) 9.43
2. Park In-bee (KOR) 8.61
3. Kim Sei-young (KOR) 7.85
4. Nelly Korda (USA) 7.64
5. Brooke Henderson (CAN) 6.21
6. Danielle Kang (USA) 6.11
7. Kim Hyo-joo (KOR) 5.55
8. Lydia Ko (NZL) 5.43
9. Lexi Thompson (USA) 5.08
10. Patty Tavatanakit (THA) 4.77
©️ Agence France-Presse