While England surprised nobody by topping Group A, Thailand surprised many by topping Group B ahead of Sweden, defending champions Ireland and England Women. Australia needed a nearest-the-pin challenge to overcome Germany Women by a mere 19 inches, with nothing to separate them after three Group C matches and a playoff hole.
Thailand’s team was made up of 49-year-old Thongchai Jaidee and 20-year-old Phachara Khongwatmai, and a hole-in-one over the swimming pool on the sixth (the first in the tournament’s history) by Jaidee to beat Ireland kick-started a Thai domination of the knockouts; cruising past Scotland and eking past Spain before beating England’s Paul Waring & Tom Lewis in a nearest-the-pin challenge on the second playoff hole.
Pros & Cons
There is no questioning the fun side of GolfSixes. But how exactly do you balance fun with competition? Where do you draw the line?
Personally, I enjoyed the tournament. There were a lot of smiles, great sportsmanship and awesome fans. However, I never found myself quite as invested in the competition as I felt I should’ve been. I know that it was meant to be less formal than traditional European Tour events, but I don’t think this has to take away the “edge”. I fully support the European Tour in trying something new, so I wouldn’t criticise a single thing that was trialled in Portugal, but if it were up to me you wouldn’t see a top-level golf tournament decided by a nearest-the-pin challenge in future.
Rory McIlroy dominated. The Northern Irishman matched his best-ever score of 61 in the final round at Hamilton Golf & Country Club. He opened with a 3-under 67 before going one better the next day as Brandt Snedeker shot 60 and Canadian Ben Silverman carded a 61 on home soil. McIlroy got going on the weekend, though, with a bogey-free 64 to tie for top spot with Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson on -13. Home favourite Adam Hadwin (-12) entered Sunday at T4, closely followed by fellow countryman Mackenzie Hughes (-9). Graeme McDowell’s Saturday 70 kept him on 8-under as he chased a Top-10 to qualify for The Open Championship at Royal Portrush in his childhood hometown.
Rory wasted no time in breaking away at the top, with back-to-back birdies opening up a two-shot lead after two holes. In the blink of an eye it was five birdies in 7 holes. Then came a stretch of four consecutive birdies between 11 and 14 to reach 9-under for the round and -22 for the tournament. With the title all-but wrapped up, he bogeyed the 16th. How does he respond? With an outrageous approach to set up an eagle on 17, of course. A closing bogey made it a seven-stroke lead.
McIlroy wasn’t the only Northern Irishman celebrating on the 18th, as McDowell sunk a sublime 30-footer at the death to qualify for The Open and return home.
Written by Joe Carabini