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Golf talking points: Was Haotong Li’s celebration too much? What went wrong for Lexi Thompson? | Golf News


A dramatic final day at the BMW International Open saw Haotong Li win the competition with a 50 foot putt on a play-off hole, but it hasn't been a straight forward journey for the 26-year-old.

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A dramatic final day at the BMW International Open saw Haotong Li win the competition with a 50 foot putt on a play-off hole, but it hasn’t been a straight forward journey for the 26-year-old.

A dramatic final day at the BMW International Open saw Haotong Li win the competition with a 50 foot putt on a play-off hole, but it hasn’t been a straight forward journey for the 26-year-old.

Haotong Li won his third DP World Tour title in dramatic fashion with victory in a play-off over Thomas Pieters in Munich, but it was the immediate aftermath of his victory that has ruffled a few feathers.

His exuberant celebrations and only the briefest of handshakes with Pieters, his opponent, has drawn some rather po-faced, sanctimonious accusations of a lack of sportsmanship from some quarters.

To criticise Haotong for his reaction pre-supposes he had any control over his emotions. He was simply overcome by euphoria and handled by members of his team, who have realised the journey that he has been on over the past few years.

The best of the action from day four of the BMW International Open from Munich.

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The best of the action from day four of the BMW International Open from Munich.

The best of the action from day four of the BMW International Open from Munich.

Four and a half years ago he held off Rory McIlroy to win in Dubai, but in the intervening time he was in as dark a place as is possible for a professional to get – completely lost and considering quitting the game.

Instead, he dug deep, worked hard and managed to climb his way back, displaying some of the talent he evidently had from a very early age. Even over the course of the last hour in Munich, he will have felt like he had won the tournament, lost the tournament and then won it again.

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Haotong saw a putt on the 18th to win in regulation shaving the hole and then had two heart-in-mouth moments on the play-off hole, when both his tee shot and the approach only just managed to climb over the water.

A thinned chip, when it was evident the size of the occasion had got to him, was then followed by a scarcely believable 50-foot putt for victory. Bearing all that in mind, how can any of us judge his reaction on the 18th green? It was pure, raw, unbridled joy – something that Pieters will be aware of.

‘Thompson’s scar tissue in majors remains clear’

An opening-round 64 for In Gee Chun at the KPGA Women’s PGA Championship ultimately proved vital, giving her a head start on the field that proved insurmountable and helped her to a third major title.

The best of the action from day four of the Women's PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club.

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The best of the action from day four of the Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club.

The best of the action from day four of the Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club.

Despite shooting 75-75 over the weekend, she clung on to win by one shot from Minjee Lee and a distraught Lexi Thompson. However, once again, the real story was Thompson’s frailty on the greens when the pressure was at its highest.

It’s heartbreaking to see a player of such talent being incapable of controlling her nerves when in contention at major championships. Her sole major victory came eight years ago and in the intervening time she has had so many near-misses and should have undoubtedly won more.

At one stage in the final round at Congressional, she led by two shots, but a putt at the 14th from inside two feet didn’t even touch the hole. At the 17th, she faced a four-foot putt for par that would have seen her head down the 72nd hole tied for the lead, but the putting stroke was simply horrid once again – a nervy, yippy push meant the ball once again never threatened the hole.

Watch In-Gee Chun win her third women's major at the Women's PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club.

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Watch In-Gee Chun win her third women’s major at the Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club.

Watch In-Gee Chun win her third women’s major at the Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club.

Thompson displays a vulnerability and relatability which endears her to many, but it’s hard to know how she can add to her major tally when there’s clearly so much scar tissue when stood over short, vital putts on the back nine of a Sunday.

Hopefully, perhaps with the help of sports psychiatrists, she can rid herself of those demons. She’s still very young, has all the talent in the world and it would be a huge disappointment if she would end her career with just the one major title.

‘Schauffele gets helping hand for PGA Tour victory’

The criticism of Xander Schauffele, and it’s a fair one, is that he doesn’t win enough. Before Sunday, his last individual victory on the PGA Tour came eight events before Collin Morikawa had even turned professional.

Xander Schauffele claims the PGA Travelers Championship title after Sahith Theegala's double bogey at the death to lose the lead.

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Xander Schauffele claims the PGA Travelers Championship title after Sahith Theegala’s double bogey at the death to lose the lead.

Xander Schauffele claims the PGA Travelers Championship title after Sahith Theegala’s double bogey at the death to lose the lead.

He was becoming a nearly man, racking up top-ten finishes and eye-watering sums of prize money in the process, but somehow always seemingly just failing to get over the line and lift the trophy. At the Travelers Championship he finally got his sixth PGA Tour title, but not without a little helping hand along the way.

Sahith Theegala is swiftly become a player that’s easy for the fans to root for, as he plays with his heart on his sleeve and takes shots on with a swagger and courage that’s captivating to watch, although his closing double bogey on Sunday essentially handed victory to Schauffele.

Theegala was left with a horrible shot up against the face of a fairway bunker on the 72nd hole and he attempted to reach the green in two, bit off more than he could chew and left the ball in the sand.

In fairness, Schauffele did go on to birdie the last, with a two-shot victory something that will mean a great deal to him. The victory lifts him to world No 11 and perhaps silences a few critics when it comes to failing to get the job done.

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‘More majors to come for Harrington?’

Padraig Harrington is a major champion again, in the end somewhat stumbling over the line to win the US Senior Open in Pennsylvania by a single stroke from Steve Stricker.

A final-day charge from Stricker, which included birdies at the 17th and 18th, had dragged him to within a shot of Harrington, who nervously rolled in a six-footer for par on his penultimate hole and played the last perfectly – fairway, green, two-putt and a maiden senior major title.

Highlights of the final round of the US Senior Open from the Saucon Valley Country Club.

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Highlights of the final round of the US Senior Open from the Saucon Valley Country Club.

Highlights of the final round of the US Senior Open from the Saucon Valley Country Club.

In his debut senior major a couple of months ago, Harrington finished as runner-up. The winner on that occasion? Stricker, by a whopping six shots. After being on the end of a Stricker thumping, both in the Ryder Cup last autumn and the Regions Tradition back in may, Harrington finally has sweet revenge.

Given there are few players in the game, even at the age of 50, who still have the same passion, work ethic and enthusiasm for golf, it surely won’t be the last time we see Harrington crowned victorious.

Another turbulent week ahead in the men’s game?

There was so much going on this weekend in professional golf; the raw unadulterated joy for Haotong, the ecstasy for Chun coupled with the agony for Thompson, along with the relief for Schauffele and the delight once more for Harrington.

It has been nice for a change to not spend the entire time talking about the increasingly bitter power struggle at the top of the men’s professional game, as more big names head for LIV Golf. However, this week, that will be the main topic of conversation once again.

DP World Tour Executive Keith Pelley claims there has been little fact and plenty of fiction when looking at the reporting surrounding any potential partnerships being made with the LIV Golf Series.

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DP World Tour Executive Keith Pelley claims there has been little fact and plenty of fiction when looking at the reporting surrounding any potential partnerships being made with the LIV Golf Series.

DP World Tour Executive Keith Pelley claims there has been little fact and plenty of fiction when looking at the reporting surrounding any potential partnerships being made with the LIV Golf Series.

LIV Golf hosts its second event in Portland, Oregon, with the John Deere Classic and the Irish Open both having unquestionably weaker fields on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour respectively, while it’s also expected this week that young rising stars Matthew Wolff and Carlos Ortiz will both jump ship from the PGA Tour and join Greg Norman’s merry clan.

The DP World Tour announced last week the punishment for those who played in the inaugural event at the Centurion Club, which was a £100,000 fine and expulsion from the Scottish Open, although there are still many unanswered questions.

What will the nature of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour be going forward? What does the future hold for the Ryder Cup? At what point will LIV Golf reach a critical mass, where the very top players are also persuaded to turn their back on the PGA Tour and take the Saudi millions? We watch on with interest…





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