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The Shag Bag

27 AUG 2019

The Shag Bag is a weekly compilation of amusing stories and anecdotes from the wacky world of golf.

The $15 Million Man

Rory McIlroy won his second FedEx Cup championship, and his first since 2016, in a marathon final round on Sunday. The Northern Irishman played 31 total holes in the finale due to play being postponed on Saturday afternoon and only got sharper as the day went on. McIlroy, who began the week at 5-under, five shots behind top-ranked Justin Thomas, started his final round trailing Brooks Koepka by one stroke. But the 30-year-old took over the lead for good on the 7th hole when he responded to Koepka’s lost tee shot with this incredible 334-yard 3-wood and 25-foot birdie putt combination:

McIlroy got a ridiculous break on the next hole when his approach shot missed the green left and was prevented from rolling into the water by a well-placed drain.

He took advantage of that fortuitous deflection with birdies on 12 and 15, and then fended off any would-be challengers with some impressive putting down the stretch:

The victory was McIlroy’s third of the season. Even more impressively, it was his 14th Top 10 finish in 19 total starts, by far the highest percentage of his career. What a performance! We wonder what he’ll spend all that money on . . .  

The Benefit of the Doubt

LPGA Tour veteran Lee-Anne Pace isn’t having the best season of her career on the circuit; in fact, the 38-year-old, who ranked 132nd on the tour money list prior to the CP Women’s Open, hasn’t recorded a finish better than a tie for 26th all season. Yet, Pace is leading the LPGA in one crucial category: the inaugural Aon Risk Reward Challenge, a season-long tour-wide competition that tallies the average of each player’s best two scores on a specific hole each week. The challenge pays out $1 million to the player with the best cumulative average at the end of the season, and last week at Magna, it was the par-5 14th that was designated the Aon Risk Reward hole. Here’s where things get interesting. Pace made a quadruple-bogey 9 on the 14th in her opening round and then promptly withdrew from the tournament, citing back stiffness. The timing of the withdrawal raised a lot of eyebrows because it meant that her score would not count toward the challenge. But Pace, who has suffered from back injuries throughout her career, was genuinely injured and explained to the media later on that as soon as she walked off the course, she went straight to the onsite doctor to be examined. Pace still needs to log five more rounds this year to qualify for the $1 million payout and is slated to play in three more events before the end of the season, but one of those events is this week’s Cambia Portland Classic and there has been no word from her camp on whether she will be able to go. This will be an interesting storyline to keep up with over the next few months. We’ll keep you posted!

Shot of the Week

Chez Reavie fired his way into contention for the $15 million mega payout on Friday with a blistering score of 30 on his front nine that was capped by this ace on the 230-yard 9th. It was the longest ace on the PGA Tour this season and the first one on East Lake’s 9th hole—previously its 18th hole—in tournament history. More importantly, the ace vaulted Reavie onto the first page of the leaderboard, where he would remain until the end of the tournament enroute to earning a cheque for $1.1 million.

Shot of the Week (Again)

Not to be outdone, Xander Schauffele aced the same hole from 10 yards further the following day to take the outright lead of the tournament. Somehow, the Californian needed only a 5-iron even though the hole was playing 240 yards! That’s just preposterous!

Everyone Loves Michelle Liu

When 12-year-old Michelle Liu starts Grade 8 next week, she’ll have some truly interesting stories to tell her classmates about what she did over the summer. The Vancouver native became the youngest player ever to compete in the CP Women’s Open, having earned her spot in the field by finishing as the low Canadian at the Canadian Women’s Amateur a month earlier. Liu played alongside Americans Austin Ernst and Jennifer Kupcho at Magna on Thursday and Friday, posting respectable rounds of 81 and 82. Although Liu didn’t qualify for the weekend, she did make a birdie and made tons of fans, signing hundreds of autographs over the course of the week and turning heads with this spectacular swing: