Chris Kirk gets back in the winner’s circle and 3 other stories you might’ve missed
The PGA Tour continued last week (not without some hiccups) as Webb Simpson poured on the birdies at Harbour Town, but while the shootout at the RBC Heritage was fun, there were other storylines playing out across the world of golf. Here are four stories you might’ve missed.
LPGA Tour announces their return to competition
While many other major tours have announced their return plans, the LPGA had been slower in building their modified schedule. That changed this week as the tour announced they will return to competition with back-to-back events in northwest Ohio starting with the LPGA Drive On Championship which will begin on July 31.
The tournament will be hosted at the famed Inverness Club — site of the 2021 Solheim Cup —and features a 144-player field and a $1 million purse. The event is scheduled to be played in the absence of sponsors, pro-ams or spectators. Fans are scheduled to be allowed the following week at the Marathon LPGA Classic.
“Thanks in part to the generosity of our partners who could not reschedule their events in 2020, we are adding a valuable additional playing opportunity for our LPGA Tour members,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “This new event will allow us to test our COVID-19 protocols before we get to welcome back our fans at the Marathon LPGA Classic.”
Joseph Bramlett caps off another solid week with a bang
As we covered last week, Joseph Bramlett had a headline week on and off the golf course. And while there were fewer off-the-course headlines this week for the 32-year-old, Bramlett still made waves on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Playing his final hole of the King & Bear Classic, Bramlett found the left rough with his tee shot and faced a daunting approach into the par-5 finisher. He played a “big, high slice” from 232 yards over the trees with a 6-iron, landed the ball six feet short of the cup and holed it for an albatross.
“It was blind luck,” Bramlett said. “It was unbelievable.”
Bramlett came to the final hole needing par to secure a top-15 finish. With the deuce, he vaulted up the leaderboard, taking a momentary clubhouse lead, before settling for a T3 finish. Not a bad Florida swing for the PGA Tour member as he cashes back-to-back top-5 checks in his return to golf.
Chris Kirk gets back in the winner’s circle
A little over a year ago, Chris Kirk revealed he was stepping away from professional golf to address alcoholism and depression. The announcement came a day before his 34th birthday and was met with well wishes from his fellow competitors.
Kirk returned later in the year at the Mayakoba Classic, where he finished T33. That middling finish marked the beginning of his homecoming, but five missed cuts in a row followed before the coronavirus shutdown. He made the cut last week in Fort Worth and then headed to the Korn Ferry Tour’s King & Bear Classic still in search of his old form. He found it in a big way, notching his third-career Korn Ferry Tour victory. Kirk shot a final-round 67 to overcome a four-shot deficit and win by one over Justin Lower.
“Taking that break and getting some help was really able to give me some perspective that this is maybe not quite as important as we make it out to be,” Kirk said after the round. “It’s amazing seeing a complete shift in my mentality as far as that’s concerned.”
The win is Kirk’s first professional victory since the Colonial in 2015.
So Yeon Ryu gives back in a big way
So Yeon Ryu won the Korean Women’s Open over the weekend, taking home the trophy at her country’s national championship after a closing-round 72. The two-time major champion then pledged the entirety of her $206,000 check to Covid-19 relief funds.
“I thought of donating since last night,” Ryu said. “Before the awards ceremony, I called my mom. I told her that I’m going to make the announcement so don’t get too surprised. She was just as happy I was. Since this tournament has a lot of meaning to me and I thought that I may be able to play better if I had a positive goal.”
This isn’t the first time Ryu has been on the forefront of humanitarian efforts. The 29-year-old also donated half of her second-place winnings at the Women’s Australian Open to assist those affected by the wild brushfires that rampaged through the country.
This was Ryu’s first win on the Korean LPGA circuit since 2015.