Gene Elliott holds off Bob Royak, Team Kinkopf in double win at Golfweek Challenge Cup

When the playing captain wins the tournament, chances are good his team will, too. That was Gene Elliott’s story on a soggy week at the (...)

Gene Elliott holds off Bob Royak, Team Kinkopf in double win at Golfweek Challenge Cup

When the playing captain wins the tournament, chances are good his team will, too. That was Gene Elliott’s story on a soggy week at the Golfweek Challenge Cup. Elliott captained his team to a 46-shot victory at PGA National. The event was shortened from 54 to 36 holes because of rain, but Elliott’s path to individual victory took on one extra hole.

The Challenge Cup pitted teams of top seniors captained by Elliott, the No. 1-ranked senior player in the world, and Ken Kinkopf, Golfweek’s 2019 Senior Player of the Year, against each other at PGA National, a PGA Tour venue. The best 10 scores on each man’s team counted toward the total.

At the top of the senior division leaderboard, however, it felt like a match-play tournament. Elliott actually went head-to-head on the final day with a member of his own team, Bob Royak. Elliott had a one-shot lead at the beginning of the day, turned it into a five-shot lead by the fourth hole then watched as it evaporated over the back nine. He fired a 73 to Royak’s 72 and after both men finished at 3 under, Elliott defeated Royak in an extra trip up the 18th hole.

Scores: Golfweek Challenge Cup

“I felt like I had the tournament all day long and then all of a sudden, a bogey and double bogey by me and a birdie by him, and then here we are, it’s a real horse-race,” Elliott said. “He’s a great player, I have a lot of respect for Bob Royak. He’s a wonderful guy.”

The two men already did battle at the Jones Cup in March, with Royak, the defending U.S. Senior Amateur champion, coming out on top of that. Because of that experience, and many others, Elliott knew he couldn’t just walk through the final round with Royak chasing him.

Gene Elliott

After the second round of the Challenge Cup was washed out, players returned to tough, wet conditions. PGA National showed its teeth regardless.

“You have to hit golf shots. There’s no faking it around there,” Elliott said. “Getting to know that course over the last few days, I have a lot of respect for it.”

Royak felt like the wet conditions may have helped him a bit because of his long game.

“I do feel like it favors me,” he said. “I think it favors good ballstrikers, I kind of consider myself a pretty good ballstriker. When the wind is blowing like that you just have to hit it really solid.

“I’m pretty steady and concentrate on hitting the ball flush, solid every time.”

Royak also knows what to expect out of Elliott. He doesn’t often have a bad hole and opponents know he’ll be right at par or better by the end of the round.

While Elliott and Royak played a starring role on the winning team, Team Kinkopf got a big boost from Doug Hanzel, T-4 in the senior division, and Johnny Blank, who won the legend division. Ultimately, it just wasn’t enough.

From here, Elliott and Royak both plan to plan another team event next month: the East West Matches at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas. Royak will play on the East team while Elliott is on the West. The teams are made up of elite senior amateurs, mid-amateurs and four top collegians.

Source : Golf Week More   

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Phil Mickelson, 2-for-2 on Champions circuit, looking to get on track at Zozo Championship

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Phil Mickelson has taken care of business on the PGA Tour Champions circuit. Now he hopes to get his affairs in (...)

Phil Mickelson, 2-for-2 on Champions circuit, looking to get on track at Zozo Championship

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Phil Mickelson has taken care of business on the PGA Tour Champions circuit.

Now he hopes to get his affairs in order on the PGA Tour.

Mickelson said he has some momentum heading into this week’s Zozo Championship at Sherwood after he won the Champions’ Dominion Energy Charity Classic last week in Virginia. The five-time major champion closed with a 7-under 65 to finish at 17-under 199 to topple fellow Masters champion Mike Weir by three shots. Mickelson, 50, who won the Ozarks National in Missouri in August, became the third player to win his first two starts on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, joining Jim Furyk and Bruce Fleisher.

Mickelson’s aggressive nature plays well on the senior circuit, especially with the courses set up much differently than they are on the PGA Tour. In other words, the PGA Tour, obviously, is a different kettle of fish.

“So it’s been fun for me to play over (on the PGA Tour Champions),” Mickelson said. “I seem to get a little bit of confidence and I’m hoping to bring that over into this event as well. But the penalty for a miss is much more severe on the regular tour, the pin placements are a little bit more difficult. The length isn’t as different as I thought. We play the back tees on the Champions tour and it can play every bit as long, but the courses out here are a lot more penalizing.

“I have to be a little bit more precise.”

Mickelson, ranked No. 58 in the official world rankings, missed the cut in the U.S. Open in his most recent start on the PGA Tour. While he has three top-3s on the PGA Tour this year in 14 starts, he’s missed seven cuts and finished worse than a tie for 41st on four occasions. His most recent of 44 PGA Tour titles came in the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

And the 78-man field in this week’s Zozo Championship is loaded and the course at Sherwood Country Club will be a heightened challenge for Mickelson. But he likes where his game is at, especially with the shortest club in his bag.

“I’ve been putting well,” Mickelson said. “My putter’s been really good the last couple of months. I putted poorly starting the year and it’s really come around. I’m excited to get to (Augusta National for the Masters) putting the way I am.  I think I can get in contention just based solely on as well as I’ve been putting.”

The same goes for Sherwood and the Zozo Championship.

Source : Golf Week More   

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