21st May 2019 | Asian Tour

OWGR Watch- Post PGA Championship Week

By Olle Nordberg, Former Asian Tour and European Tour professional

 

Last week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black proved to be as demanding as expected, with only six players finishing the week in red figures.

Brooks Koepka dominated the field for three days before eventually running into trouble on the back-nine Sunday afternoon. The American escaped a late charge by Dustin Johnson to win by two shots on eight-under-par 272 for his fourth Major Championship win since the 2017 U.S. Open.

That victory returns Koepka to world number one on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), a position he last held at the end of 2018.

 

Jazz Janewattananond, a three-time Asian Tour winner, enjoyed his best Major performance to date by finishing in a creditable tie for 14th position in his first Major on U.S. soil with a 282 total.

That finish, which was also the best result by a Thai at the PGA Championship, moved him to a career-high 69th place on the OWGR, up three spots from number 72 last week.

Playing in the second-to-last group in the final round after starting with rounds of 70-68-67 and with seven holes remaining in the championship, it was looking like it could have been even better for the young Thai.

Grinding out a score of even-par for the day through the first 11 holes and five-under-par total, Jazz was at that point in solo-third place behind Koepka and Johnson, a position that would have guaranteed him starts in the upcoming U.S. Open and next year’s Masters Tournament.

The long demanding back-nine proved extremely difficult for all players on Sunday, especially those with late tee-times because of the strong and gusty afternoon wind.

Of all the players in the last 10 groups, not a single player broke par from holes 10 to 18, the best was Eric Van Rooyen’s even-par 35 with the average score among the group being 38.10.

Jazz was one of the many players that struggled with the wind and thick rough on the homeward nine, and after a rough stretch from holes 12 to 17, he finished with a par on 18 to settle for a final round score of seven-over-par 77.

He now has three more weeks to break into the top-60 on the OWGR to earn himself an exemption to the U.S. Open without having to qualify and is scheduled to play at the Kansai Open Golf Championship on the Japan Golf Tour (JGTO) this week.

 

Former Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished tied-41st after shooting a final round 75 on a brutal day at Bethpage Black. Only 11 players managed to break par on a day where the average score was 73.44.

Kiradech remains at number 41 this week and is exempt for the final two Majors of the season, the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links June 13-16 and The Open Championship at Royal Portrush July 18-21.

 

Playing in his second consecutive PGA Championship, Justin Harding finished the week in a tie for 54th place on 289 total after rounds of 74-70-73-72 and slides three spots down to number 45 on the OWGR.

By remaining inside the top-50 at the conclusion of PGA Championship week, he has secured exemptions to the U.S. Open and the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio May 30- June 2.

 

Kurt Kitayama made the cut in his first career Major by shooting a solid 68 in his second round after a slow start with 74 in the first round. However he fell back over the weekend after carding rounds of 77-72.

A four-day total of 291 for the week meant he finished in tied-64th place and remains at number 108 on the OWGR.

 

David Lipsky was playing in his first PGA Championship and finished in a tie for 71st place after carding rounds of 70-74-77-71 for a 292 total. The 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner maintains his previous OWGR position at 118.

 

Playing in his first Major on U.S. soil, South African Shaun Norris missed the cut by three shots after posting scores of 73-74 and slides four places in the rankings from 99 last week to 102 on the updated list.

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