Seung-Yul Noh became the seventh player in the past 10 years to make the Zurich Classic his first PGA Tour victory.
That’s positive news for the 22-year-old South Korean, but Noh hopes another trend doesn’t continue. Four of those previous six winners at the Zurich – Tim Petrovic, Chris Couch, Andres Romero and Billy Horschel – haven’t won again.
Of those six, only Nick Watney and Jason Dufner since have won on Tour.
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NO ROLL THIS YEAR: Credit his victory at New Orleans a year ago, the new wraparound season and a drop-off in play, but Horschel clearly has experienced a different complexion to his season compared with 2013.
At this point last season, Horschel was riding a red-hot stretch of play: T-2 at the Shell Houston Open, T-3 at the Valero Texas Open, T-9 at the RBC Heritage and a winner in New Orleans. Those four tournaments in five weeks reaped $2,111,666 in prize money.
But given playing opportunities by virtue of his victory, Horschel understandably added a trio of WGCs (HSBC Champions, Accenture Match Play and Cadillac Championship), plus the Masters. That prompted him to bypass two tournaments where he had fared well in 2013 – the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (T-28) and the Shell (T-3). Factor in the dramatic fall-off at the Valero (T-3 a year ago, missed cut this time around), RBC Heritage (T-9 to T-68), and Zurich (win to missed cut), this five-week stretch was worth just $52,216.
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CHINA GETS THE NOD: Speaking of Dufner, the Zurich tournament had yielded him great dividends over seven starts: a win, three other top 10s and $1.9 million in prize money. But there was too good of an offer to turn down, so Dufner bypassed New Orleans for last week’s Volvo China Open.
Though Dufner finished only joint 54th, an appearance fee surely made for a profitable trip.
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NEWS ITEM: With Donald Trump reportedly set to buy famed Turnberry on Scotland’s west coast, one can only wonder whether it might be possible to compile a “Top 100 Courses Not Owned By Donald Trump” list. Seriously, are there enough candidates?
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FOND FAREWELL: They are arguably the two coziest and friendliest stops on the PGA Tour, the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town GL on Hilton Head Island, S.C., and the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
There are many common denominators with these tournaments – tight, winding fairways, small greens, oceanfront locales – but to many the similarity for years started with the warmest face you’d see upon your arrival: Arnie Burdick at Harbour Town, Bill Bachran at Waialae.
Each was a prince of a man. Each was devoted to his duties as the chief media official at his respective tournament. Each could regale with stories of a life well lived.
When he died at age 92 in June of 2012, Burdick left a void that is still felt when tournament time rolls around. His photo hangs inside the media center, and those who knew him cherish his memory.
Now comes word that Bachran died peacefully Sunday morning in his sleep at his home in Honolulu. He was 87 and had served the Sony Open for nearly half of his life. What greeted you each morning of the tournament was a brilliant Hawaiian sunrise and Bill’s smiling face. Truthfully, though, a good view of the sunrise was never a guarantee. Bill’s smile was, which is why he’ll be sorely missed.