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The Sentry Tournament of Champions

An Exciting Start to the 2019 Golf Season

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The Sentry Tournament of Champions

The Sentry Tournament of Champions, the tournament that kicks off the PGA Tour season, features some of the best golfers.

The Sentry Tournament of Champions, the tournament that kicks off the PGA Tour season, features some of the best golfers.

David Berry

The Sentry Tournament of Champions, the tournament that kicks off the PGA Tour season, features some of the best golfers.

David Berry

David Berry

The Sentry Tournament of Champions, the tournament that kicks off the PGA Tour season, features some of the best golfers.

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This past weekend in Kapalua, Hawaii, the 2019 golf season kicked off with the Sentry Tournament of Champions. This was a tournament that had a field of 34 players and was invite only. Hence the name: to get an invitation to this tournament, you must win at least once on the PGA Tour last year.

In the first round, notable rounds included Kevin Tway (66), Gary Woodland (67), Justin Thomas (67), and Dustin Johnson (67). Tway, after coming off of back surgery, fired off an impressive round. Tway compared his surgery to Tiger Woods’ surgery, which propelled Woods to win the Tour Championship last year. On day two, Gary Woodland shot another 67 and claimed the number one spot on the leaderboard. Woodland’s ability to keep the ball out of the wind and make critical putts allowed him to shoot the low score of the day. However, Woodland wasn’t the only one to shoot 67. Californian golfer Xander Schauffele also shot an impressive 67 as well in tough conditions. On day three, Woodland and Schauffele traded blows again both shooting a consistent 68. However, in the final round, Schauffele shot a course-tying record 62 to take home the trophy.

David Berry
Up-and-coming golfer Xander Shauffele has a smooth swing that amateurs should emulate.

Despite a respectable 68 by Woodland, Schauffele made birdie after birdie along with two eagles, with one being a hole out from around 130+ yards. After the round, Woodland and Schauffele shook hands and traded some friendly words. In an interview after the round, Schauffele stated, “I just still feel like the underdog. Until you’re No. 1, you’re chasing… guys like JT (Justin Thomas) and Bryson (DeChambeau). JT’s put together a ton of good years, Brooks (Koepka) has been crushing it” (PGATour). 

Gary Woodland, favorite after two days, looks on as he walks up to his ball.

Kicking off the season came with a few rule changes. Major changes included the ability to putt with the flagstick in, drop the ball from knee height instead of shoulder height, and a player receives no penalty for double hitting the ball. Bryson DeChambeau, a golfer invested in the science of golf, claims that putting with the flagstick in increases the chance for the ball to go in the hole. This proved to be effective for DeChambeau as he led the field in strokes gained putting. Other tour players who took the flag out said that it’s going to take a while to get used to that rule and when to actually implement it. Amateurs seem to be taking of advantage of this rule change Immediately. LHS senior golfer Christian Hankins said, “I left the flag in the last time I played a few times. I even made a few putts with it in. I’m still working on it and how the ball reacts to the flagstick, but so far I feel like it’s an effective rule change.” Another senior at LHS who plays golf, Preston Ruescher, expressed his opinion, saying, “I think keeping the flagstick in doesn’t change much about the ball going in the hole. However, I think it’s going to speed up the game. When I walk eighteen holes, it takes five and a half hours. With these new changes, it should speed up play and grow the game.” Another rule change was the drop rule. 

David Berry
Christian Hankins, an avid year-round golfer, plays for the Lafayette golf team.

If a player’s ball goes out of bounds or is unplayable the player can drop from knee height. PGA Tour players experimented with this rule change this weekend. This is another change that is intended to speed up play. Before, when players had to drop from shoulder height, it would take five or six tries to ensure a proper drop. Mike Berry, commercial real estate appraiser and Williamsburg resident who has played golf for more than twenty years, said, “This is a great rule change because it makes the game go faster. However, it looks somewhat weird when dropping from knee height.” Now that the rules are not as strict, players can quickly and effectively drop their ball and get on with what really matters: scoring. The Sentry Tournament of Champions was a great start to what’s looking like an interesting season with all new faces.

David Berry
Golfers use clubs such as these to hit the ball closer to the hole.

 

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The Sentry Tournament of Champions