Shortly after the University of South Carolina Gamecocks hoop squad advanced to its first Final Four in school history on Sunday, a native son of the Palmetto State cemented his status as the man to beat at Augusta National next week.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, was on song again last week, this time in the so-called live music capital of the world. He captured the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, holding off a late rally by young Spaniard Jon Rahm to prevail, 1 up, in the final at Austin (Texas) Country Club.
The victory was Johnson’s third in a row and his second straight in a World Golf Championship event. He is a golfer in full as The Masters beckons. And so too is Rahm, 22, one of the game’s up-and-coming stars. Don’t be surprised to see him in the hunt at Augusta.
In Southern California, long-hitting Mirim Lee won the LPGA’s Kia Classic by six strokes, posting four rounds in the 60s and a tournament record-tying 20-under-par total on the way to her third title on the tour. Perhaps more noteworthy, defending champion and world No. 1 Lydia Ko – the 19-year-old wunderkind who recently has changed equipment, caddies and coaches – missed the 36-hole cut for only the second time in 95 LPGA starts. That’s mind-boggling consistency over a stretch that began in 2012, when she was 14.
This week in the California desert, Ko defends her crown – and the No. 1 ranking, which Ariya Jutanugarn could seize with a victory – at the ANA Inspiration, the first women’s major of the year.