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2014-15 PGA Tour (Open Championship – )

Event #34
The Open Championship
St. Andrews – Old Course
St. Andrews, Scotland
$9.2 million

FIRST ROUND:

The only saving grace to today was that the greens were holding. Other than that, balls were being blown all over the place. That the aggregate was only a stroke and a half over par is a testament to the abilities of these men. In other words, welcome to The Open Championship.

Five golfers saw 6-under today. Only two finished that way–Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin and Phil Mickelson.

For Jacquelin, whose last European Tour win (the Spanish Open of two years ago) took nine extra holes, almost all of his 6-under came with the wind at his back as, in true links fashion (meaning, like a chain, the holes are linked together) the first eight holes are outbound. Nine kind of turns back a bit and ten back toward windward before the final eight holes come back into the wind, at least the way it was today. Jacquelin made a 49-foot putt for birdie at two, hit 42 feet closer at three and made birdie there, then closed out the nine with four consecutive birdies, hitting close at six and seven before dialing long distance at eight (41 feet) and nine (19). His back nine featured all pars, though there were four scrambles among the lot.

Mickelson didn’t have quite the front nine of Jacquelin, though he had a pretty good run starting at four, nearly holing out from 142 there then making a 24-foot putt for eagle at the par-five fifth as it was easy to get on in two. Then, at six, Mickelson got 361 out of his driver, wind-aided and with a lot of roll, then got up and down from just 58. His only bogey came at sixteen when his drive landed in the Principal’s Nose, a set of three pot bunkers about 250-260 off the tee. He couldn’t get home from there, as extricating yourself from there is work enough. Nor could he get up and down from 50. But he did hit pin high at the last and made an 11-foot putt to get a share of the lead.

23-year old Byeong-hun An, who had a European Tour win at the BMW PGA Championship about six weeks ago, was one of the players who saw 6-under. Two of those shots came at the par-four tenth and was one of the shots of the day as he came up about 30 yards short of the pin at ten, playing at 370 today, then holed out. But the wind and some wayward shots got him at thirteen, sixteen and seventeen, bogeys at all and still finished at a respectable 3-under.

Scott Strange was 6-under through fifteen, two of that coming at five as he easily got on in two and made the 21 foot eagle putt. But he bogeyed the final three as hitting into the rough off the tee made getting on in two almost an impossibility. At eighteen, where a 767 might have trouble missing the fairway, Strange had the poor luck of having to hit out of a divot and he chunked his second. Listen to Nicklaus; he says players shouldn’t have to hit out of a hole someone else dug. Plus that whole divot thing favors the earlier players as there are fewer divots to hit out of. Strange also finished at 3-under.

Scotsman Marc Warren was the third man to see 6-under before faltering. Like Strange, he was 6-under with three to play and also including an eagle at five when he knocked down a 47-footer. But he missed the fairway, nearly going out of bounds at sixteen and made bogey; hit into the fairway at seventeen but a low 2I from 244 wasn’t quite enough after a wind-truncated 256-yard drive. And, at eighteen, he had to hit his approach off Granny Clark’s Wynd. It sounds almost obscene but, in reality, it’s merely a cart path that’s in play.

THE REST OF THE TOP TEN:

Miguel Angel Jiminez (who trains on wine and cigars and make sure you pronounce his last name with that Catalan lisp) is at 67. There were only six bogeys at five all day and he had one as he butchered his drive. Still getting on in three, he three-putted from just past 70 feet, meaning his approach from 107 wasn’t so hot, either.

Brandt Snedeker, Martin Kaymer, David Howell, who had another “shot of the day,” JB Holmes and Jaco Van Zyl, who plays his golf on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, are at 4-under 68 with another dozen at 69. Besides Warren, Strange and An, there’s Rafael Cabrera Bello, Andy Sullivan, Henrik Stenson, Alister Balcombe, Kevin Na, Bill Haas, Sergio Garcia, two-time PGA Tour winner this year Jamie Donaldson and Jim Herman, who got in after qualifying at the Greenbrier two weeks ago.

SHOTS OF THE DAY:

An’s is already spoken for. And Howell was mentioned. That came at ten. 323 off the drive and holed out from 51.

Two more came at the wind-aided third. After a 323-yard drive, Jason Dufner holed out from 84. He’s at 2-under. And Webb Simpson hit 326 and a little farther left of Dufner and holed out from 85. 3-under on the front, he had four bogeys on the back and finished with a 73.

TIGER WOODS:

Barely worth much of a mention anymore, Woods flashed some of that old time brilliance as he birdied the first three, including hitting to two feet at the first. But, after a three-putt bogey at four, which was canceled out by a birdie at five, Woods went down faster than a five-dollar hooker, looking like the current version of himself as the green seemed to become a moving target. Though he did manage to get on in two at the Road Hole, no small accomplishment today, but three-putted from 60. All told, Woods shot a 74.

 

SECOND ROUND:

What do Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott and Justin Rose have in common? Well, they’re all excellent golfers, among the best in the world. What they also have in common is that they’re all gone, as each and every one missed the cut.

It was especially painful for Spieth, who missed the cut by a shot and, even with a midday tee time, may very well have had an inkling that the bogey at eighteen was enough to send him packing.

How did he blow it on eighteen? Electing to go with a 3W off the tee and into the wind

[surprising, as (a) Spieth is not a long hitter and (b) it’s damned near impossible to miss the fairway, so crank away], Spieth had 153 in to a back right pin position. Which he sprayed out of bounds with an 8I. Maybe it was the 2016 version of himself where he looked back and forth at the target about eight times and got whiplash. He got up and down on his second attempt, sinking a sixteen-foot putt to do so. Maybe he thought he needed birdie to stay alive and, therefore, got too aggressive. Whatever the reason, Spieth missed only his second cut of the season and on its biggest stage.

For the record, 2-under made the cut with 75 sticking around for the weekend.

The other story of the day was the elements. The wind died down a bit, resurrecting itself very late in the day, affecting maybe the final two dozen players on the course. With intermittent rain, the fairways weren’t running as they were yesterday but the greens were holding, making it target practice for many with the average score dropping more than four shots from yesterday. Considering the same golfers have played both days, that difference is stark.

Five-time European Tour winner (and Brit) David Howell leads the way at 12-under on the strength of an 8-under 64.

Howell went out in 30 and stuck all but two approaches that led to birdies to within ten feet. The exceptions were at fifteen, where he sank a 37-footer, and at the last, when he connected from 20. Howell might have shot 62, except that he double-bogeyed the Road Hole. Just off the green but puttable, he four-putted from 75 feet (technically it went down as a three-putt), running his first well past and just off the green and also missed from five feet for bogey.

Yesterday’s co-leader, Raphael Jacquelin, shot 69 and is a shot back at -11. Jacquelin knocked in a 58-foot putt for eagle at the par-five fifth and, like Howell, doubled at seventeen as he missed the fairway with his first two shots and couldn’t get home in three out of the heavy rough.

Jacquelin is tied with Henrik Stenson who shot a bogey-free 64. Though he hit close a few times, Stenson earned his keep today with his putter, sinking birdie putts 25 feet at two, 18 at four, 13 at six and 11 at eleven.

After that, South African George Coetzee got his 8-under in his first thirteen holes as he shot 64. He’s tied at 10-under with JB Holmes, who shot a bogey-less 66.

The rest of the top ten is at -9: Matt Jones (64), Victor Dubuisson (65, and who had a shot of the day), Marc Warren (66), Bill Haas (66) and Martin Kaymer (67).

SHOTS OF THE DAY:

In order of when they occurred:

Dubuisson at fifteen. A lengthy par-four of 463. Dubuisson landed on the spacious expanse of short grass and holed out from 205 with a 5I.

Bubba Watson at ten. 372 and he swung from the heels with his tee shot, coming up about 15 yards short of the green and 32 yards short of the hole. And he holed out for eagle. Yesterday was a disaster as he shot 78. Today’s 64 was much better and, even at 2-under, he’s heading in the right direction as he limped just under the cut line.

Scott Arnold at three. 383, pin in the front. He holed out from 76 for eagle.

Arnold played a flawless front nine, making the turn in a scintillating 29 and which included five other birdie putts of less than ten feet. The back nine was another story. Five bogeys, including four three-putts as he came home in a forgettable 41. Which made two 70s in a row and, at 4-under is still in the mix.

ROUND OF THE DAY:

Hiroyuki Fujita with a 61.

Needless to say that, not only was it marked change from yesterday’s 79, which included an out of bounds and a snowman at sixteen, but it saved him from the grim reaper by three shots. In other words, 64 or worse and he was a goner.

Starting with a 40 foot eagle putt at five, he ran off eight birdies or better in a row, including two lengthy putts at the two par-threes on the course (27 feet at eight and 28 at eleven) and nearly holing out from 121 at nine.

NICK FALDO:

In his final Open Championship, after a first round 83, Sir Nick went two and out. In the replay, he’s still around after rounds of 72-69. In yesterday’s round, he overcame five bogeys and still shot level par. Today, there were only two bogeys with his big highlight coming early on. At two, after not even hitting 260 (and this was with a somewhat favorable wind), Faldo tried to get home with a 4I at the 462-yard hole but hit it fat and short. So he chipped in from 85 feet off the front of the green. There’s some life in the old boy yet.

 

THIRD ROUND:

It was back to true links golf–a stiff breeze (favorable for the front nine) and a dried out course with fairways that ran and greens that held little.

England’s David Howell is still the leader, though he’ll have to share it with Matt Jones and Henrik Stenson.

Howell’s 4-under 68 moved him to 16-under. So, other than Jones, Stenson and George Coetzee at -14, no one else is within five shots.

With the favorable wind, Howell birdied the final five on the front nine to get to 17-under. He missed the green with his second at the par-five fifth but chipped close and made birdie. At six, he nearly holed out from 112 and tapped in for birdie. Seven was a three-quarter wedge to four feet. But, on the very large greens here, you have to be able to putt here, too. And Howell did just that, sinking birdie putts of 25 and 11 feet to close out the nine. The back nine was into the wind and played havoc with nearly everyone, Howell being no exception. The par-three eleventh saw the ball imbed itself in the sod wall of the left greenside bunker. That cost Howell an unplayable but he recovered for bogey. Thirteen was a seventeen-foot par save. The par-five fourteenth saw a three-putt from 75 feet from just off the front of the green, par being a missed six-footer. Three regulation pars followed, including from off the road at the Road Hole as the wind turned around late in the day and Howell was able to uncork a 312-yard drive then rolled off the back of the green with his approach. Eighteen saw an approach from just under a hundred and a four-footer for birdie.

Jones came in with a 65 and, as the first to post -16, will be playing with Stenson in the final twosome tomorrow. Jones came through with a 55-footer for eagle at five. He also nearly aced the par-three eighth with a 7I at the 173-yard hole to a foot. Unlike Howell, seventeen saw Jones hit into the win and it cost him a bogey as he hit 70 shorter than did Howell and had to come home from 260+. Needless to say he couldn’t do so nor could he get up and down and posted his only bogey of the day.

Stenson shot a 67, bouncing back off a three-putt at two, including a two-footer that would have saved par, to post a solid round. Stenson had three for the highlight reel with his putter. At eight, he sank a birdie putt from just outside of 30 feet. At fourteen, he came up just short of the green with his third. So, in what will go down as a zero-putt, Stenson drained a 75-foot snake of a putt for birdie. Then, at the next hole, the wind blew a simple approach from 112 off line. But, considering what he did at the previous hole, Stenson knocked home a shorty–this time from 50 feet. Finally, though seventeen was a par, after jacking his tee shot into the fescue, Stenson hit out to the fairway but got up and down from 61.

Coetzee was the only man to get to 18-under today before falling back.

Starting his day at 10-under, Coetzee lit up the front nine to the tune of 7-under 29, four of his par-four birdies coming on approaches of eight feet or less. Ten was also with the wind as Coetzee drove to within 20 yards of the green. But, with the pin in the way back, Coetzee still had 70 yards to go, didn’t hit too close, considering, but sank a thirteen-foot birdie putt, that turned out to be Coetzee’s final birdie of the day.

After three pars, Coetzee’s 8-under on the day disappeared with a thud. Just off the front of the green in three after hitting out of the rough at the par-five fourteenth, Coetzee hit an errant chip that didn’t make it to the top of the ridge at the front part of the green and rolled back nearly to where he started. This time, he decided to putt and did so three times. Two-putt par at fifteen. Coetzee’s drive at sixteen narrowly avoided going up the Principal’s Nose and his approach was blown by the wind, nearly going out of bounds. On in three, he two-putted for bogey. The Road Hole was into the win. On in three and a two-putt before hitting off the cart path at eighteen, only advancing his ball 70 yards but nearly holing out from 47, tapping in for par. So, it’ll be Coetzee and Howell in the penultimate twosome tomorrow.

Five are tied for fifth at 11-under, six out of the lead: Sergio Garcia (68), first round co-leader Phil Mickelson (69), Bill Haas (70), JB Holmes (71) and the other first round co-leader, Raphael Jacquelin (72).

Another six are tied for tenth at -10: Tom Gillis (66), Matt Kuchar (69), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (69), Marc Warren (71), Victor Dubuisson (71) and Martin Kaymer (71).

SHOTS OF THE DAY:

Jones’ 55-footer for eagle at five merits honorable mention as it was the only eagle on the course today, a bit surprising considering the green was very reachable in two. But it was difficult to get close as the flag was up front and, with a tailwind, would require a deft touch to negotiate the swale in front of the green, as in banging it into the up-slope and hoping for a favorable (or favourable) bounce.

But the prize goes to Stenson and his putting exhibition (hell, it was no exhibition; it was the real thing) at fourteen and fifteen.

 

FINAL ROUND:

On paper, it was a four-horse race among David Howell, Henrik Stenson and Matt Jones, all of whom started their day at 16-under, and George Coetzee, who started two shots behind as no one else was within five of the lead. And, with big names like Spieth, Fowler, Day, Rose and Scott going two and out, this field was wide open.

And amazingly, despite what looked to be four-horse race, the day turned out to be uneventful as (spoiler alert) eventual winner Howell showed some jitters on the back nine.

The first to crack was Stenson as he three-putted the second as he ran his first putt from just under 50 feet six feet past. A run of nine pars followed but he missed on three solid opportunities to gain strokes. At the par-five fifth, he reached in two with a tailwind but three-putted from 41 feet, missing from five feet for birdie. At six, Stenson hit an approach from 105 to seven feet and missed for birdie. He reprised that at nine, almost down to the yard as he hit his approach from 104 to seven feet and rimmed out. Stenson would eventually finish where he started, at 16-under.

Coetzee took then gave away as, after a 34-footer for birdie at one, he hit into the whin bushes off the tee and made bogey. It was the same story at four and five, only in reverse, as he hit into the whins off the fourth tee and made bogey then two-putted from long distance for birdie at five. In the end, Coetzee would never venture more than one shot either side of par as he closed out with a final round 71.

That left Howell and Jones. Howell made the first move with a twelve-footer for birdie at three. Both would birdie the par-five fifth as, again, the pin was closer to the front of the green—back a few paces from yesterday—but, with the tailwind and the swale in front of the green, difficult to get close as most two-putted from long distance.

But Howell would follow that with a birdie at six as he got up and down from 98 at the 419-yard par-four to three feet while Jones scrambled for par after hitting his tee shot into the heavy rough.

What got the trophy engraver cracking his knuckles in preparation was the two-shot swing at nine as Jones overcooked a SW from 113 to a far left pin location, his ball ending up in the whins yet again. But this time he had to take a drop. Howell was on target from 54 at the 350-yard hole but nine feet short and he converted for birdie.

So, now, it was Howell by four.

And, though no one came after him, he gave the others a chance to get back into the game as his 7I tee shot at the par-three eleventh embedded itself into the sod bunker. He had to take a drop and made double-bogey.

That he parred the rest of the way in was the golf equivalent of “they all look like line drives in the box score.” Twelve, thirteen and fourteen were all two-putt pars. But the average leave, even including the par-five fourteenth, was 38 feet. At fifteen, Howell’s approach just cleared the lone pot bunker front and center. 65 feet this time. Coming up six feet short, he made the par putt. Same story at sixteen, except this pot bunker has a name, “Wig,” as in you might flip yours if you landed in it, which Howell almost did. Not quite on the green, he putted, this time from 78 feet, running his ball six feet past and making the comebacker for another par.

After sixteen, Howell was still up by two. Jones, at -16, helped him out big time at seventeen with a double-bogey, needing three to get on at a hole playing dead into the wind then three-putting from about 30 feet. Howell also took three to get on but got up and down from 53, making a nine-footer to save par. So, the two-shot swing put Howell up by four coming into the last.

Most tend to aim to the center of the expansive fairway shared by the first hole as it’s over 100 yards wide and even the worst shot will be hit off the short grass. Howell stayed on the short grass, but pushed his drive down the right side flirting just a bit too much with the out of bounds. Then from just 70, he inexcusably chunked a half wedge, advancing it just 45 yards. OK, he could triple-bogey and still win this thing. Instead, he pitched to eight feet and, with no pressure anymore, sank his par putt.

So, the 40-year old Journeyman, who won the Alfred Dunhill Links two years ago as his fifth European Tour victory but hadn’t won in the seven years before that, wins the big one and by four shots.

THE TOP TEN:

Howell (70) wins it by two at 18-under with Stenson (72) at -16 and Coetzee (71) at -15. Jones (74) was joined by Martin Kaymer in fourth at -14 with Matt Kuchar (69) and first round co-leaders, Raphael Jacquelin (70) and Phil Mickelson (71) tying for sixth at 13-under. Three tied for ninth, including Kevin Na with the round of the day at 65, JB Holmes (71) and Sergio Garcia (71).

Time finally caught up with Nick Faldo. In real life, he went two and out. In the replay, he had some life left in him as he limped in just under the cut line and was rewarded with two early weekend tee times for his effort. Tied with four others at 2-over, including Lee Westwood and Charl Schwartzel, Faldo beat only three others.

As it turned out, the player who finished last was John Daly, who qualified as a past Open champion under the age of 60. Daly also limped in just on the good side of the cut line then shot 80-76 to finish last by six shots.

SHOTS OF THE DAY:

Will Wilcox at ten.

Ten played with a tailwind and Wilcox got 327 yards of the way to the 386-yard hole then holed out from 67 for eagle. 10-under at the time, Wilcox got to 11-under with a birdie at twelve before bogeying the last three. Still, 8-under was good for a tie for 25th, a quite acceptable performance for a guy who still hasn’t played in a major in real life but earned his way in after tying for fifth at the Travelers (read more about that in that tourney’s final round write-up). But there was one even better…

Andy Sullivan at five.

With a favorable wind and the fairways running, Sullivan got 337 off his drive at the par-five. His next shot was a 5I from 221 that rolled on and in for a double-eagle! That was the good news as he got 3-under right there but, with a bogey and two doubles sprinkled in among the albatross and four other birdies, Sullivan shot only 2-under 70 on the day. Solid tourney for him as he finished tied for nineteenth at -9. It was also only the second double-eagle this season, Camilo Villegas in the second round at Waialae ages ago being the other.

REAL LIFE:

Zach Johnson defeated Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a mandatory four-hole playoff (sudden death after that) to win at 15-under. In the replay, he finished tied for 25th at -8.

Other names in the top ten included Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, each of whom missed the playoff by a shot, and Justin Rose (t6th at -11). In an amazing turn, all three missed the cut. And throw in Rickie Fowler for good measure. Leonardo Di Caprio will play him in the movie.

The only name common to both top tens was Garcia, who finished tied for 6th at -11 (t9th at -12 in the replay).

howell_2687062k.jpg (858×536)DAVID HOWELL (-18)
In a wide open field as many of the biggest names missed the cut, Howell wins by two.
Right place, wrong trophy as that was the trophy for winning the Dunhill Links two years ago.

Event #34
RBC Canadian Open
Glen Abbey Golf Course
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
$5.8 million

FIRST ROUND:

Clerical work first as there are six additions to the original field. With a full card now, DJ Trahan is an “automatic.” Also, thanks to their top ten finishes at the Barbasol, Tommy Gainey, Bill Lunde, Skip Kendall, Brandt Jobe and Boo Weekley will join the field as “one-off” qualifiers. In other words, if they don’t have a sponsor’s exemption lined up or finish top ten this one, they won’t be at Congressional for the Quicken Loans next week. Unless they actually Monday-qualified.

Seung-yul Noh and Angel Cabrera are the first round leaders with rounds of 6-under 66. This one’s quick play, so what can be said was that, after overnight rain, it was “lift, clean and place” and both Noh and Cabrera each hit fifteen greens, which was very likely a big help. And, for Cabrera, it was six birdies in his final ten holes.

Lunde, one of the top tens from the Barbasol who got a spot here is at -5, joined, joined by Hunter Mahan, Brendon de Jonge and Patrick Rodgers. Give credit to Mahan, who hit 12/14 fairways and de Jonge, with fifteen greens. And maybe more to Rodgers, whose 67 included only six fairways.

The rest of the top ten is six players at 4-under: Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Jerry Kelly, Aaron Baddeley, Steve Wheatcroft and Daniel Summerhays.

 

SECOND ROUND:

Patrick Rodgers shot the round of the day, and by three shots over those nearby (Andres Romero shot 66 after a 78 yesterday and, though it helped him make the cut, he’s tied for 40th) to open a five-shot advantage.

Amazingly, Rodgers was even-par on the day with just six holes to play. But there are three par-fives in those final six (only one on the front side as the course plays 35-37). At thirteen, the first of those three, he birdied. And he eagled the other two at sixteen, a long sweeping dogleg but, at 516, reachable in two, and eighteen which, at 524, is also reachable but, unless you plan on bailing, it’s all carry on the second. The only hole Rodgers didn’t birdie in that sequence was seventeen. That’s an odd hole in that the green is shaped like the letter “J” (for Jack Nicklaus, who designed this course maybe?) and it’s possible to land on one part of the green and have to chip over a bunker to another part, which makes it a bit like the sixth at Riviera or the sixteenth at TPC San Antonio. Fun.

Rodgers, who has three top 20s to his name but, at 132nd in points, little else to show for himself, is at 12-under. His closest competition is yesterday’s co-leader, Angel Cabrera (71) and Pat Perez (68), both at -7.

After that, it’s Bubba Watson (70) and the other co-leader of yesterday, Seung-yul Noh (72) at -6 with Matt Every (69), Ricky Barnes (70), Steve Wheatcroft (71) and Daniel Summerhays (71) rounding out the top ten at 5-under.

THE CUT LINE:

+1, with 71 making it.

Those leaving early include James Hahn, who won three weeks ago at the Greenbrier, Graeme McDowell, Morgan Hoffmann and JB Holmes.

 

THIRD ROUND:

The good news for Patrick Rodgers is that he still has the lead. And he still leads by four, which is a stroke less than yesterday but still substantial. But the bad news is twofold. The first was that he led by as much as seven. And the second is, though Pat Perez finished with three straight birdies, Rodgers may have gotten complacent as he shot a 38 back nine (par is 37) after a 30 front. And, for a guy looking for his first victory, complacency should be the farthest thing from his mind.

Rodgers ran off five straight birdies starting at three to get to 17-under and open a seven-shot lead over Perez, who, after a bogey at nine, played 2-under on the front.

Perez would also bogey the tenth with Daniel Summerhays making birdie to get to 9-under and temporarily take over the second spot. As Rodgers also bogeyed the tenth, his advantage was still seven. But, with two birdies and two bogeys the rest of the way, Summerhays wouldn’t improve on his -9.

Perez would, but not until the final three holes, two of them par-fives. That would get him to -12.

But Rodgers would clear the 16 Mile Creek fronting the par-three twelfth before landing in the front bunker and making bogey. He’d birdie the par-five thirteenth but would pull his drive just a bit at fourteen, landing in the fairway bunker and making bogey to drop to -15. Even so, he still led by six. A birdie at seventeen would improve Rodgers’ lot a bit. But, with Perez coming on with a late burst, that -16 represented only a five-shot lead. And, one hole later, it was four. So, those two, paired up today, will do it again tomorrow.

After Rodgers, Perez and Summerhays, Steve Wheatcroft (70), who got under par for the day with an eagle at the par-five last, is in fourth at 7-under, nine shots back. Tim Clark (69), Bubba Watson (72) and Angel Cabrera (73) are all tied for fifth at -6. The rest of the top ten is eleven shots back. Scott Piercy (68), Jim Herman (68), Greg Owen (69) and Jonathan Randolph (71).

 

FINAL ROUND:

Realistically, it was a two-horse race with Patrick Rodgers on top with his playing partner for the past two days, Pat Perez, down by four with seven shots to Daniel Summerhays and at least nine to the rest of the field. Perez faltered badly, shooting a final round 77; Summerhays posted a 68 to finish a solid second and, with his nearest competition dropping like a rock, the 23-year old Rodgers posted the round of the day (equaled by Jim Furyk) with a 67 and won the first tournament of his career by eight shots. Welcome to the big leagues, kid!

Perez bogeyed the par-three fourth when he came up short and almost spun his ball back into the water. But the finisher effectively came at the next hole when when he pushed his drive at the dogleg right par-five into the trees and made bogey while Rodgers made birdie as that two-shot swing opened up eight shots worth of daylight.

Perez, who had been playing some pretty good golf this season with a win at the Texas Open along with a couple other top fives (and a sixth this week), finished up with a very forgettable 77. Summerhays finished well after early bogeys at one and four for his best finish of the year, besting his second at Riviera.

And Rodgers, the only man in the field to break 70 for all four rounds, wins his first in just 24 PGA starts, not all as a pro. It also moved him from 132nd to 44th in points and earned him a coveted two-year exemption and all the accoutrements that go with it.

THE TOP TEN:

Rodgers (67) wins it by eight at -21. Summerhays (68) was next at -13. Bubba Watson (68) finished third, a dozen shots back at 9-under. Jim Herman and Greg Owen both shot 69 to finish tied for fourth at -8 with Furyk (67), Brian Harman (68) and Perez (77) tied for sixth at 7-under. Michael Putnam (68), Emiliano Grillo (68) and Canadian Adam Hadwin (70) all tied for ninth at 6-under.

REAL LIFE:

Rodgers missed the cut by six as Jason Day won it by a shot at 17-under. In the replay, Day finished up the track at +5, tied for 58th.

Common names in the top ten included Bubba Watson who finished second and Jim Furyk who finished fourth at -14. David Hearn (-15) finished third and was the top Canadian in the field.

Patrick-Rodgers-will-turn-pro.png (800×450)PATRICK RODGERS (-21, wins by eight for his first professional victory)
You’re on the Tour now, kid; you don’t have to carry your bag anymore. 

Event #35
Quicken Loans National
Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
Gainesville, Virginia
$6.7 million

FIRST ROUND:

Quick play, quicker write-up as there’s not a lot of detail available about the course. The PGA Tour site is pretty good. Except that, as the tourney will be back at Congressional, there is no course description on the website. And, as the place is disgustingly private, anything relating to course description might be on the “members only” part of the website. Fairways were running, greens weren’t overly receptive and the course played about a shot over par.

32 were under it today starting with Max Homa, who led the way with a 5-under 66 and who got his six birdies in an eleven-hole stretch starting at four. He also bogeyed the twelfth, which plays as a 525-yard par-five for the members but a long (490) par-four for the pros.

Five are tied at 4-under: DA Points, Charles Howell III, Martin Laird, Steve Wheatcroft and Justin Thomas. Then, it’s another six at -3: Harris English, Jim Herman, Shawn Stefani, Briad Stuard, Russell Knox and Ollie Schniederjans. Schniderjans, who played collegiate golf at Georgia Tech, was recently the number one ranked amateur in the world and finished 12th at the 2015 Open Championship after which he turned pro. Unfortunately, he didn’t do enough to qualify for the Web.com Tour playoffs and didn’t earn enough (or win, which would have been a bigger help) to qualify for the PGA Tour. Splitting time between the two tours in ’16, likely on Monday qualifiers or sponsors’ exemptions, he didn’t go to Q-school after the ’15 season.

 

SECOND ROUND:

Overnight rain changed the course markedly with “lift, clean and place” and receptive greens making it play about 1 ¼ strokes easier.

Brendan Steele got most of his now leading 8-under score today with a day’s best 7-under 64, most of that coming on a 5-under front nine. What’s Steele doing well at? Putting. Third there plus, on the twelve greens he’s missed, he’s had only twelve putts, meaning his scrambling game is working and he’s probably chipped in at least a couple.

DA Points shot his second consecutive 67 to join Steele atop the leaderboard. After two birdies to start, the rest of the front nine was quiet. More noise on the back for Points as he had just three pars. And he would have had the lead except for the approach he put into the right greenside bunker at the last—steering away from the water on the left. That led to a bogey.

Ollie Schniderjans, in his second event as a pro (he finished 20th last week at the Canadian Open in his pro debut), finished with five consecutive birdies to move from a shot over par for the day to 4-under, his 67 getting him to 7-under and within a shot of the lead. Just for fun: Shots gained for Schniderjans over the final five holes–4.91, as even shooting par over that stretch would have seen players back up just a little bit.

After that, it’s two shots to Erik Compton (66), Andy Sullivan (68) and Harris English (69) at -5 with the top ten rounded out by seven at 4-under: Sean O’Hair (67), Greg Owen (67), Bill Haas (67), Blayne Barber (68), Jimmy Walker (68), Charlie Beljan (69) and Russell Knox (70).

THE CUT LINE:

+1, with 72 making it.

With the WGC event as Firestone next week with the PGA to follow, this event has a pretty light field. Danny Lee, who won a couple tourneys this year (McGladrey and Memorial) missed the cut, as did Nick Watney, who won what now seems a long time ago at Sanderson Farms, which was also a lightweight event as it ran concurrently with the WGC event in Shanghai. Troy Merritt, who actually won this tournament, is also a goner, as is Tiger Woods, who I guess is the host, at least he was when the event was/is held at Congressional. Rickie Fowler showed up, maybe looking for an easy score and at 8-over, amazingly beat only two other people. He’ll be a happy camper heading into Firestone next week (sarcasm).

 

THIRD ROUND:

It’s going to be a horse race tomorrow; that’s for sure.

In another day of “lift, clean and place,” DA Points, one of the co-leaders coming in, shot a 2-over 73 and dropped out of the lead. But others quickly replaced him with Vijay Singh and Daniel Summerhays each shooting 5-under 66, Greg Owen put up a 67 and the other co-leader coming in, Brendan Steele, shot even-par to make it a foursome at 8-under going into tomorrow’s final round.

Singh got his 67 largely on the strength of two birdies to start his day and a 5-under front nine. Summerhays birdied the second, bogeyed the third then played 5-under the rest of the way. Owen also birdied the first two on his way to a 4-under 32 front side. And Steele had fourteen pars and two reverse bouncebacks as, after birdies at six and eleven, he bogeyed the following two holes.

After those four, it’s Russell Knox (68) at -7 and there are seven others with Steele at -6: Retief Goosen with the round of the day (65, and which included an eagle at the par-five fifth), John Peterson and first round leader Max Homa each with 68), Jimmy Walker and Bill Haas at 69 and Harris English and Erik Compton with 70 as, all told, there are 21 players with four shots of the lead.

 

FINAL ROUND:

The course finally dried out a bit and played the toughest it has all week, 1 ½ shots over par. None of the four leaders who came in at 8-under won. Daniel Summerhays played the best of that lot but a 1-under 70 wasn’t good enough, not with 21 players within four shots of the lead. Greg Owen shot even par. Vijay Singh played at 1-over and Brendan Steele did little right after a second hole birdie, putting up five bogeys on the remainder of the front nine alone on the way to a 77.

Russell Knox was a shot back of that foursome and couldn’t break par with a 72. So, now we’re down to the 6-under guys.

The man who made the biggest early charge was Jimmy Walker, who eagled the par-five eighth and was 6-under for the day at that point and had a one-shot lead over Summerhays and two on Owen. But he just missed the green at the par-three ninth and made bogey. But he’d get that shot back and one more with birdies at the par-three eleventh and the par-four thirteenth. That put him up by three over Retief Goosen, who was moving slowly and steadily up the leaderboard.

The par-five fourteenth saw a two-shot swing. With that pile of players at 6-under coming into today, Walker was playing two groups in front of Goosen, who were the only two who mattered now. It’s a long one–580, sweeping dogleg left, reachable for some. But there’s water on the left near the green, which is where Walker ended up and it cost him a stroke as he made bogey. About a half hour later, Goosen made birdie as Walker’s three-shot lead was shaved to just one. It got to two for a little while as Goosen ended up in the large greenside bunker at fifteen and made bogey but he got the shot right back at sixteen when he hit close at the par three.

Walker backed into Goosen when he bogeyed the seventeenth, which is a fairly cut and dried short (380) par-four. But he overcooked his approach and missed the green. Walker parred the eighteenth while Goosen parred his final two and it’ll be off to a playoff.

THE TOP TEN:

Walker and Goosen each shot 66 and finished at 11-under. Daniel Summerhays (70) was two shots back with Greg Owen (71) three. Four were tied for fifth: James Hahn (68), John Peterson and Max Homa with 70 each and Vijay Singh (72). Four were tied for ninth: Jeff Overton (67), DA Points (71), Harris English (71) and Russell Knox (72).

REAL LIFE:

Troy Merritt won for the first time in 96 career starts by three shots over Rickie Fowler at -18. In fantasy land, the schneid not only continued but he missed the cut, as did Fowler.

There were no common names in the top ten, though Bill Haas (tied for fourth, six back, in real life), dropped out of the top ten with a final round 72, finishing thirteenth, six shots back.

THE PLAYOFF:

It’ll start at eighteen and would move to and alternate with seventeen starting with the third hole. Eighteen is a 478-yard par-four, sweeping dogleg left with three bunkers on the inside of the dogleg between 260-310 off the tee. Even so, the fairway is a generously wide 35 yards in that area. The second shot runs downhill just a bit toward Lake Manassas with a bunker either side of the green and the left bunker being the only separation between the green and the lake. The pin is back left, close to the lake. Each man had two pars, a birdie and a bogey over the four rounds and each parred the hole today. It played as the second most difficult hole on the course, second only to the twelfth, which played as a long par-four for the pros but a five for the members.

After Walker hit dead center, Goosen put his first in the bunker complex then pulled his second into the water. Walker got on in two and had the makings of an easy par. Goosen had no choice but to try and hole out after his drop and missed. Walker made the two-putt and that’s it.

So, for Walker, this was his third win of the year, the Hyundai and Byron Nelson being the other two. That’s second only to Jordan Spieth with four. It moved Walker to third on the money list at just north of $4.7 million, which is still about a million nine behind Spieth. It also moved him into second in Fed Ex points, just passing Zach Johnson. Spieth is still dwarfing the competition in this area as well. Where most golfers are separated by 10-20-30 points, Spieth leads by 910.

Though the 46-year old Goosen has a guaranteed seat at the playoff table (68th in points), it’s been dry for a while as he hasn’t won in six years. This was his second top ten finish of the season as he finished sixth at the Memorial.

020914-GOLF-Jimmy-Walker-PI-JN.vresize.1200.675.high.1.jpg (1200×675)JIMMY WALKER (-11)
Defeated Retief Goosen in a one-hole playoff for his third win of the season.
Only Jordan Spieth (4) has more. 

Event #36a
Barracuda Championship
Montreux Golf & Country Club
Reno, Nevada
$3.1 million

ENTIRE TOURNAMENT:

This tournament is played concurrently with the WGC event at Firestone, meaning that this is a fairly weak field. It’s also played using Modified Stableford scoring which rewards aggressive play as eagles and birdies accumulate more points than bogeys and doubles (and worse) give them away. If you remember, The International (played at Castle Pines in Castle Rock, CO) was a Modified Stableford fixture on the PGA Tour for over 20 years.

FIRST ROUND:

Carlos Ortiz is the first round leader with +14. Remember, plus is good here. He couldn’t find the fairway with a road map (5/14), but managed to ring up eight birdies (two points each) while having only two bogeys (minus one each). In stroke play, it would have translated to a 6-under 66.

After Ortiz, it’s Ken Duke at +10, Austin Cook and Tyrone Van Aswegen at +9, Patrick Rodgers and Nicholas Thompson at +8, and Bo Van Pelt, Alex Prugh, Zac Blair, Adam Hadwin, Brian Davis and Vaughn Taylor at +7.

SECOND ROUND:

Carlos Ortiz shot a 77 and lost only two points. Got to love this Modified Stableford thingy. At +12, he’s still in the top ten.

Zab Blair is the man at the top with a +11 to go along with his +7 of yesterday, the +18 leading by a point over Ken Duke (+7 today). After that, it’s Alex Prugh (+9) at +16, Billy Mayfair (+11) at +15, Tim Clark (+13) at +14, Mark Wilson (+8) at +14, Tyrone Van Aswegen (+4) at +13, and, joining Castro in rounding out the top ten at +12 are Roberto Castro (+10) and DJ Trahan (+7).

THE CUT LINE:

+1, with 74 making it.

The only man to bogey the par-five eighteenth and miss the cut was David Toms.

THIRD ROUND:

Overnight leader Zac Blair faltered as did second-in-command Ken Duke, both shooting over par, though their medal play scores meant nothing. Blair shot 75 though lost only one point as two birdies nearly canceled out five bogeys, four on the back nine. At +17, he’s still in the top ten and, with the Modified Stableford, a couple of really good holes away from making a run.

Duke shot 76 with only a lone birdie at eighteen accounting for his only positive hole of the day. At +14 overall, he’s tied for twelfth.

Mark Wilson and Sam Saunders both shot 67. But Wilson outpointed Sanders today +13 to +11 on the strength of an eagle at the par-five thirteenth. Wilson’s at +27 and leads Saunders by four points.

Patrick Rodgers also shot 67 and got 12 points for his efforts. That’s because Rodgers had one more birdie and one more bogey than did Saunders. Rodgers is in third at +21.

After that, it’s Greg Chalmers (14) at +20. Derek Fathauer (10) and Carlos Ortiz (7) are tied at +19. Blair is joined by Roberto Castro (5) and Tyrone Van Aswegen (4) at +17 with Billy Mayfair (1) at +16.

FINAL ROUND:

Mark Wilson had a five point lead over Sam Saunders going into the final round. And, though he birdied the par-three third, he gave back with bogeys at six and eight, the latter a par-five. Saunders had three birdies in the first eight along with a third hole bogey. Combined with Wilson’s bogey at eight, that made it a three-point swing and turned a five-point lead into just two at 29-27.

Saunders’ second at nine ended up in the greenside bunker and he lost a point there but birdied the tenth to close the gap to one as Wilson parred those holes. Saunders gave one back at the par-five thirteenth when he pulled his tee shot into the trees.

But Saunders got at least a share of the lead for good at fourteen. It’s a short par-four by pro standards–only 367. And, as it’s a bit downhill, some might try to drive it. But it requires a bit of a fade to due so Saunders played safe with an iron off the tee. Playing partner Wilson, possibly seeing an opening, went deep, his ball not fading. With trees in his way, he ended up making bogey while Saunders hit close and made birdie. That three-point swing put Saunders up one.

Which lasted for one hole as Saunders pulled his tee shot at fifteen and made bogey. One area of his game that wasn’t working this week was off the tee as he hit only a bit more than half the fairways (31/56). In any case the match was tied at 28-all.

Saunders cashed in at sixteen, landing on the top tier of the two-tiered green and making his birdie putt while Wilson was a bit farther out and made his two-putt par.

Where the match turned for good was at seventeen. At 464, it’s not that long as players tee off from 100 feet above the fairway. Though the fairway is generously wide (40 yards-plus), an overcooked draw at this slightly doglegged left hole may end up in Galena Creek, which is almost flush with the fairway. And which is what Wilson did, eventually making bogey to Saunders’ par.

Eighteen is a par-five, 616, also downhill, dogleg left, but not as much as seventeen. Play a baby draw and getting home in two is a possibility. Saunders didn’t try, but Wilson did. But Saunders made a mistake and under-clubbed his third into the front right bunker. But Wilson’s second had already gone into the left greenside bunker. Up first, Wilson’s bunker shot could have been better as he had about ten feet left for birdie on a difficult undulating green. Saunders’ bunker shot wasn’t so hot, either, and Wilson still had an opening. But Wilson missed on his birdie attempt, the ball sliding by and even Saunders’ bogey, which is how it turned out, was good enough.

So, Arnie’s grandkid wins his first PGA Tour event by two points over Wilson–29-27. Will Wilcox (12) made four late birdies on the back nine to close to 25. Billy Mayfair (9) had five birdies and a bogey to also have a score of 25 with Carlos Ortiz (6) and Patrick Rodgers (4) making it a foursome at that score. After that, Tyrone Van Aswegen (7) finished seventh at 24, Tim Clark (10) eighth at 23, Alex Prugh (8) ninth at 22 and Alex Cejka (7) tenth at 21.

So, Saunders, who earned his Tour card with a fine Web.com playoff, now gets a two-year exemption as he moved to 84th on the points list, which will guarantee him two post-season events. Unfortunately, it won’t get him into the PGA Championship next week at Whistling Straits as this was a non-qualifying event.

i (1296×729)SAM SAUNDERS (+29, and plus is good here)
Wins his first PGA event
Here he is with Uncle Arnie, who probably asking Nephew Sam for five strokes a side.
Sam’s reaction: “Are you kidding?”

 

 

Event #36
WGC — Bridgestone Invitational
Firestone Country Club — South Course
Akron, Ohio
$9.25 million

FIRST ROUND:

It’s my replay so I can do what I want. Here goes: In actuality, 77 played in this tournament. In ASG, two players who played in one event on this side of the Date Line weren’t included–Aussies Andrew Dodt and Nick Cullen, both off the Australasian Tour. Dodt finished tied for 63rd and Cullen tied for last. It’s a good guess they won’t be missed. That makes 75. But Rory McIlroy, Chris Kirk and Alexander Noren were eligible but did not play. They’ll play here. So, 78 will go to the post with McIlroy, who’s won twice this year (Honda and Wells Fargo) with two other top tens (ninth at both the WGC event at Doral and The Masters) being a wild card as, amazingly, with only the seven events, McIlroy is fifteenth in points and thirteenth in money.

This course is long and tight and, with two par-fives with only one of those reachable in two, let’s just say that very little gets handed to you here; you’ve got to make your own luck. If there was any good news, a soggy day after a rainy overnight made for no roll but lift, clean and place and greens that were accessible.

43 players broke par, or more than half the field as the course averaged ¾ stroke under par which is indicative of not only the course conditions but the caliber of this field. So, there was a steady array of -5s, -4s and -3s.

And then there was this guy at 10-under 60. Jason Day. And his day started with a bogey after he missed both the fairway and green at one. So, how did he follow that? By driving into the fairway bunker at the par-five second, hitting a 2I second from 240 to the center of the green and two-putting for birdie. Day also missed only one other green all day, that coming at the par-three seventeenth and he still got up and down for par. He also had six birdie putts of over ten feet, three of those over 20. And, honest to goodness, among the non-par-five birdies, he never hit to gimme distance. And he has a five-shot lead.

Charl Schwartzel and Gary Woodland thought they had pretty good rounds–and they did with 65s. But then they saw Day’s score. Schwartzel had no bogeys. Neither did Woodland. But he did have a double-bogey. That came at eleven when he followed some army golf with a three-putt. But he also had an eagle as part of a 29 front. That came at two, the reachable par-five when he hit a 3I from 228 to six feet.

Five are tied for fourth at -4: Jamie Donaldson, Thongchai Jaidee, Hideki Matsuyama, Troy Merritt and Thomas Bjorn. The remainder of the top ten consists of nine tied at 3-under 67: Branden Grace, Charley Hoffman, Lee Westwood, Pablo Larrazabal, Jim Furyk, Brooks Koepka, Shane Lowry, Zach Johnson and, now that he’s in this tourney, Rory McIlroy.

SHOT OF THE DAY:

Justin Rose at seventeen.

2-over on the day, Rose got up and down from 95 to birdie the other par five here at sixteen. And he got under par at seventeen by hitting a 3I off the tee at the short (399) par-four, electing to lay back in a flat area of the fairway rather than pulling out the big club and attempting to hit it to the ridge while avoiding the bunkers that frame the fairway starting at about 260 then flushing a 6I from 164. Alas, a trip into the trees off the tee at eighteen led to a bogey and a round of even-par 70.

 

SECOND ROUND:

Yesterday: Not much roll, greens were holding, low score (except for the Jason Day freak show): 65. Aggregate: 69.23

Today: Lots of roll but it came with a steady breeze and greens that weren’t holding much. Low score: 68, and by only three players with only seven others under par. Aggregate: 72.81. And these are among the best players in the world playing on a par 70 course.

Day had a healthy five-shot lead coming in after an opening round of 60. And, though he backed up all day, with no one making anything resembling a charge, he actually held the lead until a triple-bogey at sixteen. Cut to the chase; Day ballooned to a 77 and, even so, still only trails by two.

Day hit only eight greens with nothing close. Matter of fact, his two birdies (yeah, he had two) came at the reachable par-five second and at seventeen, the latter on a 48-foot putt. Other than that, it was a half dozen bogeys and that disaster at the par-five sixteenth when, after a 348-yard drive (yes, he can pound the ball but the hole runs downhill a bit), he tried to go for the green in two, maybe trying to make up for all the dreck before that. He pushed that ball in the pond then, after taking a drop, chunked then drowned his next effort, too. Finally on in six, he rimmed out from six feet for double-bogey as he posted a big, fat snowman.

All Charl Schwartzel had to do to inherit the lead was shoot even-par as he and Gary Woodland were the two who shot second-best (65) yesterday. For the record, Woodland shot 73, or just about average for today, and is still in the top-ten. In any case, for Schwartzel, the front nine consisted of a bunch of regulation par, two scrambles, one of those a sand save, and two missed fairways that led to bogeys. The back nine was a bit better with a couple sand saves and three birdies on putts of 18, 10 and 6 feet. He also bogeyed sixteen when he under-clubbed what looked to be a fairly cut and dried effort from 70 yards, Schwartzel coming up well short of the front pin placement and rolling back into the pond.

Branden Grace made it two South Africans at the top, his 2-under 68 getting him to -5. 1-over on the day after hitting into the rough and coming up short with his approach on eleven then missing a seven-footer that would have saved par, Grace bounced back with back-to-back birdies, hitting to seven feet at the par-three twelfth then, after his approach got knocked down a bit by the wind at thirteen, Grace chipped in from 30 feet from off the front of the green. He also birdied sixteen on and up-and-down from 98 to eight feet.

Rory McIlroy, who was entered but did not start in the actual tourney due to an injured ankle that left him unable to defend his title, got the opportunity here and moved to 4-under after posting a 69. 3-under after nine, and that included a 22-footer for birdie at the par-three seventh, McIlroy slowed down on the back with bogeys at both par-threes. At twelve, he three-putted, missing a four-footer on the low side that would have saved par. Then at fifteen, a trip into the right greenside bunker and a sand shot that rolled downhill away from the pin and off the green cost him another shot.

After the top three, Byeong-hun An (68), David Lingmerth (68), Steven Bowditch (69), Jim Furyk (70) and Day (77) are tied for fourth at 3-under, two shots back. Five more are tied for ninth at -2: JB Holmes (69) was the only member of that crew under par. After that, it’s Anirban Lahiri (70), Hideki Matsuyama (72), Troy Merritt (72) and Woodland (73).

SHOT OF THE DAY:

Grace at thirteen.

THE CUT LINE:

There ain’t none.

 

THIRD ROUND:

On a much easier scoring day—not quite day one but certainly not yesterday, Steven Bowditch shot the round of the day, all of it on the front side, and will go into tomorrow with a one-shot lead.

Bowditch birdied the opener by hitting a 7I out of the rough from 173 to seven feet. Ten feet over the stick at three, he made a downhill snake of a putt there. At the 189-yard, par-three fifth, it was a 6I over the stick and a fourteen-footer coming back. At the other front side par-three, at seven, Bowditch was just short and right with a 5I at the 214-yard hole then holed out a short-sided bunker shot for his fourth birdie of the front nine and which put him in the lead. Nine was a par but a dandy as he hit his tee shot in the rough leaving him no shot to the green. After pitching back to the fairway, Bowditch got up and down from 61, making a twelve-footer to save par. Bowditch played even-par on the back and had to work for it. At eleven, he missed the green with his approach and his chip out of deep grass ran away from him. But he saved par from seventeen feet. Thirteen was big ol’ pull hook off the tee and a second that rolled off the back but a much better chip this time to three feet. Sandy at fourteen. Front bunker and a bogey at fifteen. Eighteen was an 8I out of the first cut from 174 to three feet and a birdie.

Bowditch is one of only two men to have broken par each of the first three days. Impressive enough in its own right as this is a difficult course, doing that yesterday was doubly so. 68-69-66 leaves him in the lead at 7-under by a shot over Branden Grace, the other man to have broken 70 all three days.

Grace is at -6 after a round of 69. 1-over after nine after two bogeys and a birdie, Grace got it back to even with a 7I from 187 to three feet at thirteen. He hit to eight feet at the next hole but just missed for birdie then scrambled at fifteen, chipping to four feet and making par. He got under par at sixteen as he got up and down from 92 making an eleven-footer for birdie. Two-putt pars, the one at seventeen from nearly 60 feet, closed out the round.

Jim Furyk moved up into third at -5 on the strength of a 68. Even-par through fourteen on two birdies and as many bogeys, Furyk made a sixteen-footer for birdie at fifteen, parred the next two, including an excellent downhill chip from off the back of the green to two feet at seventeen then hit to eight feet left of the pin and made the downhill tester for birdie at the last.

Rory McIlroy shot even par and dropped a notch to fourth, still at 4-under. He lost ground at the third when his 7I came out of the rough a bit heavy and he ended up in the pond fronting the hole. But, undeterred, he hit his approach at four to four feet and a birdie. Matter of fact, of his three non-par-five birdies, none was farther than five feet.

ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:

2-under for the day was enough to move nine spots up into a tie for fifth at -3. He’s joined there by Gary Woodland (69), David Lingmerth (70) and Charl Schwartzel (72). The tie for ninth is five deep. Brandt Snedeker (68), Zach Johnson (68), Danny Willet (69), Jimmy Walker (69) and Troy Merritt (70).

SHOT OF THE DAY:

JB Holmes at three.

Actually it was all three shots as he eagled the par-five. His tee shot was a 341-yard blast down the left side of the fairway. With the pin tucked in behind the second of two left greenside bunkers, hitting to the right off the tee might have been a better choice. But, when your second shot at a par-five is a 6I, that’ll usually cover for a slightly misdirected tee shot. With a bit of a draw, Holmes’ shot stopped six feet below the hole and he made the uphill putt for eagle, the only one on the course since Thursday.

JASON DAY:

Yeah, what about him? He shot 60 in the first round on a damp course with receptive greens, five better than anyone else. Then he ballooned to a 77 but was still in the top ten. Today, he shot 73 and without a par and that 10-under par opening round became a not-so-distant memory. At even-par for the tournament, he’s tied for 20th.

 

FINAL ROUND:

The final day started with a dozen players within five shots of leader Steven Bowditch though, in fairness, only three were within three.

Course conditions were the same as Thursday, when Jason Day shot a Links-like 60—a bit damp, lift, clean and place and greens that could be attacked. With the Sunday pin positions, the course played about a stroke harder than Thursday and was the second-easiest day of the tourney.

Steven Bowditch came in with a one-shot lead over Branden Grace, two on Jim Furyk and three on Rory McIlroy. And, with birdies at the par-five second (up and down from 55 to three feet) and fourth (fourteen-footer) followed by four pars, it was Bowditch’s to lose as he had a three-shot lead on Branden Grace, stuck in neutral with eight straight pars to start (he’d eventually make it eleven) and four on Jim Furyk (seven pars and a three-putt bogey from just eleven feet at six).

Bowditch’s lead was shaved to two as he pulled his tee shot at nine into the rough and caught his approach heavy, coming up short of the green. He pitched decently to seven feet but missed the par putt. It got back to three when Grace backed up at the par-three twelfth when he missed the green well right and did well to hit a short-sided pitch to eight feet but missed for par.

When Gary Woodland, who started the day four shots back made his fourth birdie of the day at thirteen (he also had one bogey) when he hit a PW to six feet while Bowditch, a little while later, took a flyer out of the rough at fourteen and flew the green, eventually making bogey, that three-shot lead was now one.

Furyk birdied fourteen (approach to three feet) and fifteen (20-foot putt) to also get to 6-under. Brandt Snedeker, who started at 2-under moved stealthily up the leaderboard, his up and down from 100 at the par-five sixteenth also getting him to 6-under.

Grace was playing with Bowditch in the final pairing and Bowditch must have heard the footsteps as Grace got up and down from 76, converting from eleven feet for birdie, now making it a foursome at -6. Because Bowditch pulled his drive left at sixteen—not too penal. Dialing long distance with a 3W, his shot bounced off a tree limb and dropped dead just 50 yards ahead. He advanced a 4I to within 100 yards of the hole. Even a bogey, which looked like a sure thing, would have made it a five-way tie at the top with a sprint to the finish upcoming. But his ball landed near a tree and Bowditch had to aim a bit left toward the left side of the green with the pin tucked far right. And his club hung up in the long grass and his ball went into the pond. Fast forward a couple minutes… Six on and two putts for an eight as, after his ball went into the pond, his tournament went into the crapper.

By pairings, Snedeker would set the pace over the final two holes. He hit twelve feet under the hole but ran his birdie putt just by. Eighteen was unforgivable. Laying two just eleven feet from the cup. He ran his birdie effort just past but inexplicably rimmed out what most people would consider a gimme.

Woodland was next. He hit an 8I approach from 162 that checked up just four feet past the pin and he made birdie but gave it right back when he missed both the fairway and green at eighteen, his approach landing in the farthest of two left greenside bunkers. Doing well to hit a short-sided shot out of a deep bunker to just eight feet, he just missed for par. But, at 6-under, Woodland was the leader in the clubhouse.

Furyk was the next man up. On in two at seventeen but on the wrong side of the green, he was looking at 48 feet worth of putt. Hitting it a bit too hard over the ridge and it ran away—twelve feet past. He just missed the uphill effort and made bogey. At the last, Furyk hit an 8I from 161 to five feet and just pushed his birdie putt.

That left Grace as the last man to catch Woodland. He missed the green left but chipped nicely to just two feet and made par. Needing another to head to a playoff, Grace played for the “sure out,” as is said in baseball, as opposed to taking a risk and doing something stupid. Hitting a 9I from 157 to the front of the green, Grace needed two uphill putts from 28 feet. His first effort stopped just short and left and he tapped in for par, which is what Snedeker needed at this hole to stay alive.

So, it’ll be a playoff between Woodland and Grace that’ll start at eighteen.

THE TOP TEN:

Woodland (67) and Grace (70) are tied at the top at 6-under. Snedeker (67) and Furyk (70) were a shot back. Alexander Noren (67), Marc Leishman (67), Troy Merritt (68), Rory McIlroy (70) and Bowditch (73) all tied for fifth at 4-under with Pablo Larrazabal (66, which was the low round of the day and equaled by Russell Henley) all alone in tenth at -3.

REAL LIFE:

Furyk was the only common name in the top ten finishing tied for third at 7-under as Shane Lowry (-11) won it. Lowry finished tied for thirteenth in the replay at -1.

Grace finished tied for seventeenth at 1-under with Woodland finishing well up the track at +9, tied for 57th.

PLAYOFF:

Woodland picked the number “1” out of the hat (so why does the other guy pick?) and went first, jacking his driver well left and into the trees. Grace also went with the driver at the 457-yard slightly doglegged left hole and his drive hung out to the right, landing in the farther of two fairway bunkers.

Still away, Grace hit a beauty of a 7I out of the bunker to the front of the green, about where he was just a few minutes ago. Woodland could get over the trees but only with a SW, hitting safely out to the fairway but leaving 77 yards.

Woodland’s third looked to be right on line. But it spun backwards, rolling down the sloped green and he’d have seventeen feet for par.

Facing nearly the same putt he had to close out regulation play, Grace just missed again by a couple rolls of the ball and tapped in for par. In a must make situation, Woodland’s putt had a little too much mustard on it and it ran just past.

So, it’s Grace, who also plays internationally, winning his first PGA event of the year in ten tries besting the fifth he had at the Travelers.

For Woodland, he’ll have to settle for his second second place finish of the season, the other being at Jack’s place (The Memorial in case you didn’t know). He also had a fifth at Arnie’s place and which has his name plastered right on the tourney.

 

golf-grace-branden_3240778.jpg (768×432)BRANDEN GRACE (-6, defeats Gary Woodland in a one-hole playoff)
“This here is a leopard. So, when we play on the Sunshine Tour, we shoot the leopard, stuff him,
bronze him and give him out as a trophy to the winner.”

Event #37
PGA Championship
Whistling Straits
Koehler, Wisconsin
$10 million

FIRST ROUND:

Can’t play actual lineups with this one as the field is partially determined by (a) tournament winners between the last PGA Championship and this one and (b) the leading money-winners on the PGA Tour between last year’s PGA and this one. The only thing is that I wasn’t going to go back and figure that as it would have been a gigantic pain in the ass. So I did the next best thing and used the money list from this season. Much easier.

So, I backed out all the actual tournament winners on the 2014-15 PGA Tour and inserted those who won in the replays. I then made sure I didn’t take out anyone who finished in the top fifteen at Valhalla last year and re-inserted anyone I had because they hadn’t won anything this season. Then, I went through the money list and filled in the rest of the field. Parenthetically, world ranking is not a determining factor as to who’s in and who’s not. So, the way it worked out, Jerry Kelly (#48) and Hideki Matsuyama (#49) were the last two men in. Amazingly, Rickie Fowler (#57) wouldn’t have made it into the field except that he tied for third in last year’s PGA.

Day one conditions were difficult with running fairways and greens holing little along with a steady breeze that wasn’t coming off Lake Michigan making this 156-man field play at a bit more than two strokes over the par of 72.

Austrian Bernd Wiesberger is first round leader after a round of 65. Good start for him with three straight birdies including a 27-foot putt at one and a 47-footer at three. Two is a par-five that he reached in two. He took a step back at four when he missed the green and made bogey. But he took three more steps forward as he followed the bogey with another three consecutive birdies, two on much shorter putts (eight feet at five and thirteen at six). Seven more pars followed, two on scrambles, before Wiesberger took one final step backward before one more large leap forward. Fifteen is a long par four–507. Miss the fairway, as Wiesberger did, and it’s even longer. He just missed the green left with his second, narrowly avoiding the massive bunker that begins 50 yards from the front of the green. But his chip ran away on the severely undulating green and he made bogey. But sixteen is the final par-five on the course and he just missed short of the green with his second but pitched to eight feet and made birdie. Seventeen is a 216-yard, par-three that he darned near holed out with a 5I, tapping in for birdie. Eighteen is a another lengthy par-four of 487 and Wiesberger hit a 2I approach from 242 that rolled to six feet and a final birdie.

Wiesberger has a two-shot lead over Russell Henley. Henley was in the hole early. 1-under after a birdie at the par-five fifth, he flew the green out of the rough at six with a 9I, so much so that he didn’t quite make it to the green with his third. His chip wasn’t so hot, either, and he double-bogeyed. 1-over, still, after a birdie at seven and a bogey at ten, something clicked and Henley went on a tear. In trouble with his first two shots at the par-five eleventh, he hit what many would have considered a difficult bunker shot, parking an 8I from 161 to eight feet and a birdie. Then, eighteen feet for birdie at the par-three twelfth, ten feet for birdie at thirteen and eighteen feet at fourteen as his putter did a lot of the talking. Just short of the green at sixteen, he got up and down for birdie and his putter had one last thing to say at eighteen when he sank a 25-foot putt.

Phil Mickelson and Daniel Summerhays are tied at 4-under. Summerhays was 7-under at one time, after thirteen holes, as a matter of fact. He was banging them close as six of his seven birdies came on putts of ten feet or less and included two near hole-outs at one and thirteen. And then the wheels fell off with running out of holes possibly being the only thing saving Summerhays from really tanking. At fifteen, he missed both the fairway and green. Same at sixteen. And that was three times as it’s a par five. He hit into the fescue at the par-three seventeenth but managed to pitch to eight feet and make par. At eighteen, Summerhays hit the fairway but pulled his 3W second fat and short landing in Seven Mile Creek that fronts the green on the left then divides the fairway in half before bisecting it. Yeah, Pete Dye on an acid trip as there’s so much sand, fescue, water and other dreck to get into trouble. As if 487 isn’t quite enough. Anyway, Summerhays took his drop and, still hitting out of heavy rough, hit to eleven feet and made the putt to salvage a bogey.

Mickelson made an eighteen-foot putt for eagle at two, so good start there. 4-under through six, he had two birdies and two bogeys the rest of the way while finishing up with two successful scrambles.

Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson and Webb Simpson are at 69 with Jordan Spieth, Steve Stricker, Adam Scott, Branden Grace, Cameron Smith, David Howell, Rory Sabbatini, Patrick Rodgers and Justin Rose rounding out the top ten-plus at 70.

SHOT OF THE DAY:

Wiesberger’s near hole-in-one at seventeen and Henley’s miraculous fairway bunker shot at eleven will share the honors.

 

SECOND ROUND:

Thanks to overnight rain, the course was soft, making the course play longer. But the greens were holding and there was no wind. So, in the end, the course played a bit more than two strokes easier today and there were quite a few low rounds posted.

From the top… Bernt Wiesberger maintained his lead, now at three shots, with a round of 5-under 67 to move to -12 for the tournament. He had a good start on the back nine with four birdies within the first five holes including getting up and down from 66 to four feet at ten and topping that at thirteen when, after hitting his tee shot into the fescue, Wiesberger caught his ball heavy and didn’t make it to the green, even from 90 yards, but chipped in from fifteen yards in front of the green. Even his bogey at nine had a silver lining as he pushed his second out of the rough that narrowly avoided landing in Seven Mile Creek because he would have been hitting four from there instead of three.

Russel Henley is still in second, except that he’s now three back instead of two after a round of 68. And he has to share second place with Daniel Summerhays (67).

Henley played 6-under in a nine-hole stretch starting at five, where he nearly holed out on the par-five from 51 with the remaining five birdies coming on putts of between seven and thirteen feet, meaning no gimmes there. On the flip side, Henley bogeyed the par-five sixteenth after a wayward second followed by a three-putt and he also three-putted for bogey at eighteen.

Once again, Summerhays ran into trouble near the end of his round. Yesterday, it was three bogeys in the final four holes. Today it was only a bogey at eighteen and a good save at that. The good news was that he started well, making eagle at the par-five second when he holed out from 63. He also birdied the other three par-fives. At eighteen, Summerhays was short of the green in two at the 507-yard par-four. Needing to pitch over a bunker to a tight pin placement, he came up short and in the sand but got up and down, making a fourteen-foot putt to do so.

Jason Day shot the round of the day with a 63 that moved him into fourth place at 8-under. Though he birdied all par-fives most of the credit for Day’s success today was with his putter. 12 feet at six, 12 at eight, 17 at nine, 15 at ten, 19 at twelve and he hit close at sixteen–five feet. Day’s only blemish came at the last when he pulled his tee shot landing in the fescue among the myriad bunkers. He couldn’t get home in two, did so in three and two-putted for bogey.

Luke Donald and his round of 64 is among a group of three at 7-under, Jordan Spieth (67) being one and Henrik Stenson (68) being the other. Donald had no bogeys and was also streaky, birdieing four out of the final five holes of the front nine and four in a row starting at twelve on the back. Seven of the birdies were on par-threes or fours; six were nine feet or less with three approaches within three feet. There was also that 48-foot putt at eight. That was just the opposite for Spieth who birdied five in a row to start the back nine. Other than the nine-footer at thirteen, no birdie putt was closer than thirteen feet along with a 30-footer at twelve. As for Stenson, he nearly aced the 183-yard third with a 7I, merely tapping in for birdie. He also never birdied more than one in a row.

The rest of the top ten is at -6: Pablo Larrazabal (66), Pat Perez (66), Justin Rose (68) and Adam Scott (68).

SHOT OF THE DAY:

Shawn Stefani at ten.

The hole plays at just 345 and has been the second-easiest par-four over the first two days (the sixth has been the easiest). Stefani took an aggressive line down the left side. A bit uphill, some might try to drive it. But anything less than perfect can be penal as there’s a dropoff on all but the front of the green. Stefani just rolled off into the rough and had but 51 yards to go to a perilous front left pin position with a dropoff and bunker to negotiate. And which he hit perfectly as he holed out for eagle. That kick-started a 5-under run over the first five holes on the back nine.

And now for the bad news… 5-over after yesterday and 6-over after the front nine, the hot streak saw Stefani shoot a 68 and move to 1-under—which was just one shot short of making the cut. Speaking of…

THE CUT LINE:

Even-par with 71 playing on the weekend.

The body count of those who bogeyed the eighteenth to get bounced was almost appalling. Zach Johnson who, though on the front of the green, still had to chip over a bunker to get at the back right pin location, bogeyed. So did Alex Prugh, Graham DeLaet, Hunter Mahan, for whom bogey would have been good enough but he put his second into the Seven Mile Creek and double-bogeyed. And then there were Camilo Villegas, Andy Sullivan and Danny Lee, each of whom bogeyed the final two holes.

Other notables (and this tournament is filled with them) leaving early include Graeme McDowell, Jamie Donaldson, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, JB Holmes, Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel and Vijay Singh who, at 12-over, beat only two others.

 

THIRD ROUND:

The course dried out leading to conditions resembling Thursday’s but without the wind. There were some low rounds out there but nothing like the 63 that Jason Day shot yesterday on a more receptive course. And Bernd Wiesberger remained the leader for the third consecutive round, though he should have walked off eighteen with a noticeably larger lead.

Wiesberger opened with a three shot lead over Russell Henley at 12-under. By the seventh hole it was as much as five thanks to birdies at four, five and eight with only Jordan Spieth making anything resembling a run as he had three birdies of his own as Henley had dropped back after a double at the par-three seventh when he missed the green to the left and his chip ran away and off the right side of the green.

But Wiesberger started to crack at eight when, after a 334-yard drive he had just 180 left on the over 500 yard par-four. Like Henley at seven, Wiesberger missed the green to the left and his chip ran away and off the other side of the green with bogey being saved only on a nine foot putt. But, as Spieth also bogeyed the hole, the lead was still at five.

That crack got larger when he played army golf at ten. Left off the tee, right into the front right greenside bunker then a flyer off the back and a double-bogey. Spieth closed the gap to two on a miraculous birdie at the par-five eleventh when he flew the green with his approach didn’t get anywhere near close with his pitch but dropped a 26-footer for his “4.” In addition, heretofore unmentioned Emiliano Grillo, at -4 coming in, ran off three straight birdies to start the back nine, including nearly acing the 144-yard twelfth to close to -9, with Justin Rose dropping an eleven-footer at the same hole to also get to that score.

So, Wiesberger was hearing the footsteps. They got louder when he played army golf again, this time at thirteen, which led to another bogey and just a one-shot lead over Spieth. Both birdied the fourteen, Spieth first from twelve feet and, three pairings later, Wiesberger from eight. Rose parred the hole and Grillo missed the fairway and green and made bogey, Rose at -9 and Grillo at -8 along with Will Wilcox, who was at 5-under on the day.

Spieth flew the green out of the rough at fifteen while Wiesberger nearly chipped in from the side of the green for eagle at the par-five sixteenth, settling for a tap-in bogey instead. That gave Wiesberger three shots worth of breathing room over not only Spieth, but Grillo, who birdied fifteen and sixteen, fifteen on a tremendous 3I out of the rough from 230 that stopped two feet from the hole, and Justin Rose, who ran off the back with his second at sixteen but chipped to five feet and made birdie.

Wiesberger extended his lead to four with a ten-foot birdie putt at the 228-yard, par-three seventeenth but gave almost all of it back with a disastrous eighteenth. Nice drive, albeit with a 3W, dead down the middle. But, at the 486-yard hole, Wiesberger still had 250 to go. His 2I approach was pushed right into the fescue and somehow avoiding the myriad bunkers as landing in the sand might have provided an easier shot. His third was caught heavy and landed short. Four on, not too well as he still had 27 feet to go. Which he three-putted, missing a two-footer that would have left him with a two-shot lead going into tomorrow.

Alas, Wiseberger’s lead is one over Spieth (69), Rose (68) and Grillo (66) with Henley (72), Wilcox (66), Rory McIlroy (68) and Charles Howell III (66) two back. And, lurking three back are Phil Mickelson, Pat Perez, Gary Woodland and Daniel Venezio, all of whom shot 69, except for Perez with 70. Venezio (73-66-69), the head pro at Portland (Maine) Country Club, is the only club pro in the top ten.

SHOTS OF THE DAY:

Grillo’s approach at fifteen has to be one. But there were two more.

Tommy Fleetwood at six. Short (346), but with a blind approach from those who take the shortest route, which is down the right side (what Fleetwood did), Fleetwood holed out from 95 for eagle, not easy at the front right pin placement because he didn’t make a full swing and, with a penal bunker in the way, coming up short is not an option. With a 68 today, Fleetwood is at 7-under.

Daniel Summerhays at twelve. 144, par-three, so you know where this is going. Needless to say that, just as Steven King needs five pages to describe someone crossing the street, there’s no way Pete Dye could make a pitch and putt (for these guys) par-three into anything other than a public nuisance. Forget about missing the green, especially to the right as you could end up 20 feet or more below the level of the green and likely trying to pitch out of fescue, the green is severely undulated with the pin perched precariously on the top tier of something that probably doesn’t have a flat lie on it. Yes, Summerhays aced it with a 9I. That was the good news. At 3-over on the day coming in, Summerhays, who started the day tied for second at -9 and who had a decent shot of chasing down Wiesberger, was still over par. He got it back to even with an approach to two feet at fourteen but made back-to-back bogeys at sixteen and seventeen to shoot 74. At -7, he’s tied for thirteenth.

For Summerhays, this was his second bite of the apple, so to speak as he also made a hole-in-one at the seventh hole in the first round at Mayakoba (Mexico) much earlier this season. He’s the only player with two aces this season.

 

FINAL ROUND:

I’ve never been very good at stopping a 5-iron on the hood of a car.” So said Jack Nicklaus about the early days of Sawgrass, another Pete Dye extravaganza and which is tame by comparison to this place as this course is littered with bunkers, many penal, and fescue as well as being exposed to Lake Michigan. And it could have been said about the greens on Thursday and yesterday. Today was a bit more tolerable.

Austrian Bernd Wiesberger led for the first three rounds and opened the day with a one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Emiliano Grillo, two shots over four others and three shots over four more. In other words, there would be twelve guys whipping themselves and each other down the stretch.

Let’s eliminate those who faltered in the final round. From the bottom (and where they started the day):

Club pro Daniel Venezio (-8), the most successful of that group, apparently succumbed to final round jitters and shot a 78 to finish at 1-under.

After parring the first three and bogeying the fourth, Gary Woodland (-8), never saw even-par again today, posting 74 to finish at -6.

Russell Henley (-9), birdied the par-five second but bogeyed the fourth, sixth and seventh and never recovered from that, shooting a final round 74.

Rory McIlroy (-9) double-bogeyed the sixth on an errant drive and a visit to two bunkers. Like Henley, he never recovered, also shooting a 74.

After three pars to start, Will Wilcox (-9) threw it in reverse with a double-bogey at four when it took him four to get on no thanks to an errant drive and shot 78.

Wiesberger got up and down from 72 for birdie at two and that 12-under score set the pace through the first seven. Spieth, playing in the preceding group, birdied the sixth on a tremendous shot from 118 and out of the fescue to seven feet. And at the par-three eighth—240 with the pin in the way back and up against the lake, Spieth rolled a 3I to eight feet and another birdie, one of only five at the hole today.

Grillo, playing with Wiesberger in the final twosome, parred the first six before missing the green to the right at seven, getting more ball than he bargained for as he hit out of the bunker flying the green, then saving bogey only with a ten-foot putt. So, he was at -9.

Henrik Stenson started his day at 7-under. Playing eight pairings in front of the leaders, he was about six holes ahead. He birdied the first as he hit his PW approach to two feet. He also went back-to-back at five and six, birdied the eleventh on an up and down from in front of the green, then sank a twelve-footer for birdie at thirteen.

Danny Willett, who also started at -7, was two groups behind Stenson. He birdied three of the first five but gave one back with a bogey at four before rattling off six straight pars, only one of those a scramble. So, he was 9-under after eleven.

Pat Perez (-8) was playing five pairings in front of the leaders. With a win at the Texas Open, a third at the Farmers, a fourth at the Heritage and twelfth in Fed Ed points, Perez has had a very good year. He ran off three birdies in a row starting at four. At four, he hit a 5I approach from 206 to four feet. Five is a par-five. But he needed to sink a 22-foot putt for his birdie. And he darned near holed from 82 at six. Like Jason Dufner, Perez doesn’t smile much. And, with his ball a gust of wind away from falling in for eagle, Perez walked to his ball, stared at it then gave what many around the green thought was a derisive smile. You know, the eyes tell another story. After that, though he had opportunities for more, such as nine feet at nine, it was regulation pars to the tenth.

Phil Mickelson (-8), was playing a group behind Perez. He birdied the first, third and sixth but darned near jacked a 4I into the lake at seven (there was no wind, so it was all on him), but, considering what could have been, he recovered nicely, even if for bogey. Three regulation pars followed.

Charles Howell III (-9) was playing in the third-to-last group. He birdied the two front side par-fives but three-putted at six, missing for par from four feet. He hit pin high but a bit left at seven and made par and two-putted for par at eight.

So, let’s take a look at the leaderboard:

Stenson    -12 13
Spieth     -12 8
Wiesberger -12 7
Perez      -11 10
Mickelson  -10 9
Howell     -10 8
Willett    – 9 11
Grillo     – 9 7

Out to fourteen:

Stenson, from just off the fairway…PW from 135…safely on.

Over to nine:

Howell, after a 339-yard blast and a SW, has eight feet for birdie…That gets him to 11-under and within a shot of the lead…Nice birdie.

At twelve:

Willett teeing it up…166, par-three, pin in the back right and don’t miss to the right. With all the undulation, you can get seasick just walking on this green…8I…What a shot! Willett’s ball nearly went into the hole on the fly stopping a foot past.

At eleven:

Perez, second at the par-five…3W from 282…straight as an arrow…That’s going to roll on…He’ll have a lot of putt left (55 ft.) for eagle, but he has a chance.

Eighth green:

Wiesberger missed the green with his approach out of the long grass and has this chip (about 50 ft.)…That’s going to run well past. In the end, Wiesberger two-putted for bogey while Grillo two-putted from just outside of 40 feet.

At ten:

Mickelson from just 65 yards after a 300+ drive…Pulled it…He’s got to do better than that. He ended up two-putting for par from 44 feet.

Ninth fairway:

Spieth, from out of the left rough…9I from 140…He’s pushed it a little…Very lucky…Any farther right and his ball would have either landed in the fescue or in the bunker about five feet below the level of the green, neither palatable. But he’ll be able to putt from off the fringe. Unfortunately, the ball popped up a bit coming from off the longer grass and he ended up six feet short and missed his par effort. Spieth would make up for that by hitting his approach to about the same distance (seven feet) at ten and making the birdie putt.

Stenson parred the fourteenth as well as the fifteenth.
Perez two-putted for birdie at eleven.
Grillo and Wiesberger parred the ninth, both on two-putts. Both would make decent length putts at ten–Grillo from seventeen feet and Wiesberger from thirteen with Wiesberger moving to 12-under and Grillo to -10.
After the exceptional birdie at twelve, Willett would hit a fantastic shot out of the fescue at thirteen–a PW from 13–but would rim out from twelve feet for birdie. He’d miss both the fairway and green at fourteen and his chip would leave a bit to be desired. But Willett salvaged par with a thirteen-foot putt.
Howell would make a fifteen-footer for birdie at ten to get to -12.

Eleventh green:

Howell hit a 3I from 268(!) that rolled to within fifteen feet of a tenuous back pin placement. Had he ran past, the ball would have rolled down into a collection area. As there was really no room past the pin, Howell hit a real beauty…For eagle…Oh, just missed…Tap-in for birdie and he’s the first man to get to 13-under.

Out to eleven:

Spieth, second from the bunker at the par-five…7I…Oh, no…caught the lip of the bunker and he’ll have to try again from the sand. Spieth would eventually salvage bogey only with a 15-foot putt.

Up to the green at eleven:

After landing in the bunker with his tee shot, Mickelson had no shot to get home in two and barely did in three as he had to hit his third out of the fescue…He’s looking at about 75 feet…uphill and will probably break about fifteen different ways…Looking good…Oh, my!…Big one for Phil…That’ll get him to 11-under.

Sixteenth fairway:

Final par-five on the course. Stenson has about 235 to the front, 253 to the flag…reachable…That’s a 3I…A laser with a bit of draw on it…It’ll roll on…Wrong side of the green but had the distance down right…He’ll have a chance at eagle. A chance was all it was as Stenson missed from outside of 40 feet and cleaned up a four-footer for birdie. He’ll join Howell at 13-under.

Perez at twelve:

The par three…8I on the way…Looking good…About three feet! And he may very well join the party at 13-under! Perez did make the birdie putt.

Another look at the leaderboard:

Stenson    -13 16
Perez      -13 12
Howell     -13 11
Spieth     -12 11
Wiesberger -12 10
Mickelson  -11 11
Willett    -10 14
Grillo     -10 10

Thirteenth fairway:

Howell, who flirted with danger at twelve when he missed a little long and right, managing to hang on the fringe and two-putt for par, from just a hundred yards after a 312-yard drive…He’s got to do better than that (18 ft. left of the pin)…Then again, missing right is not an option here. He’d two-putt for par then would do likewise from 24 feet at fourteen to remain at -13.

Out to seventeen:

Stenson on the tee at seventeen…One of the more palatable greens on this course…But don’t miss left, right or long…And this is playing 242, pin in the back left…4I…Had the distance down pretty well but will be looking at a 30-footer. He’d two putt for par.

Over to fifteen:

Willett…In a world of trouble…Drive just missed the fairway and he pulled his second to here (30 yards left of the green, short-sided and in the fescue)…Nice shot, considering. Willett’s ball bounced on the fringe and trickled on. But he two-putted from fifteen feet for bogey to fall back to 9-under. That may very well have finished him. He would give it a run at sixteen but would come up short and eventually make par. He almost went off the back at seventeen but not only managed to barely hang on the fringe but would make a 25-footer for birdie. At eighteen, considering the length of the shot (248) and the tenuous far left pin position, Willett hit a beauty to seventeen feet and would two-putt for par to finish at -10.

Out to fourteen:

Perez, who made a two-putt par at thirteen from the first cut…121 with a PW…Oh, that looks good…It is!…He’ll have a tap-in for birdie. That gets Perez to 14-under and the lead.

Thirteenth green:

After a par at twelve, Mickelson hit a 9I out of the fescue that landed safely on, but has 37 feet for birdie…At 11-under, he could use one here…But this is another double-breaker…He did it again!…Mickelson, who dropped a 75-foot bomb two holes ago, does it again from half the distance here to get to -12.

To eleven:

Grillo with his second from 271…2I…Wiesberger has already played and hit out of the rough, narrowly avoiding the bunker on his tee shot, and hit to within 30 yards of the green…Has the line…It’s going to roll on…This is going to be close…Wow!…Grillo will have that left (about 4 ft.) for eagle. Out of a difficult lie, Wiesberger came up short and in the bunker. With a difficult short-sided bunker shot (because many of them are penal), Weisberger caught the ridge past the hole and rolled away, two-putting from 34 feet for bogey to fall to -11. Grillo would make his eagle putt to move to -12.

To eighteen:

Second for Stenson…5I from 205…Might have caught it heavy…in the bunker…Short-sided and he likely won’t be able to see the flag from down there. Stenson would hit safely on but not close and would two-putt for bogey to very likely take himself out of the running at -12.

Back to fifteen:

Perez for birdie…27 feet says the laser measurement…Just past. He’d clean up a two-footer for his par, then would miss the fairway at sixteen but would get on in three and make his par. He’d also hit safely on at seventeen, flirting with the danger that’s anywhere but in the front and would also two-putt for par to remain the leader at -14.

Fourteenth green:

Mickelson, from 18 feet for birdie…a relative shorty…runs just past. He’d stop on the front of the green at fifteen after hitting his approach out of the rough and would have 50 feet for birdie. Alas, Mickelson was out bullets for his long-distance putter and would merely two-putt. After pulling his ball into the fescue at sixteen, Mickelson would be hitting his third from a bit farther out than he bargained for at 166. But he put an 8I to seven feet and made the birdie putt to move to within one of Perez at 13-under.

Fourteenth fairway:

Howell, from 109…On line…Oh, he might have caught that just a bit fat. Fat it was, as in nearly a club’s worth. He’d two-putt from 24 feet. Fifteen would be a bit uglier. Pulling his drive just a bit into the rough, Howell thought he could get home with a 6I from 213. Maybe he was expecting a bit of a flyer or maybe he was expecting to get about five more yards than he actually did and land short but roll up. But he came up short and in the bunker. And, though he hit to seven feet, he missed for par to drop to -12.

To twelve:

Spieth missed just long with an 8I and has this testy little chip out of the deep grass to try and get close…I’d give him a one-in-ten chance of getting this within three feet…Oh, what was that!…Looks like the clubface closed right down and his ball took a left turn, rolling down the hill just a bit more. Spieth pitched on, doing well to hit to ten feet but missed for bogey before cleaning up for double that saw him fall back to -10. But he’s get those shots back at the next two holes on birdie putts of eleven and nine feet.

To twelve:

Grillo, first to play…8I…On line…Just over the stick but staying on the back of the green. Weisberger…with a 9I…Not sure if that’s enough club…That looks good, too…He’ll have that (7 ft.) for birdie. Only one made their birdie putt and it was Grillo to get to 13-under and within a shot of the lead while, at -11, Wiesberger is languishing.

Grillo’s birdie run would end at three as he’d par both thirteen and fourteen. At thirteen, he missed the green with his approach and nearly chipped in for birdie. As for Wiesberger, he got on in two at both holes but would have lengthy putts (36 & 19 ft.) at both and would have to settle for pars.

Time to check the leaderboard:

Perez      -14 17
Mickelson  -13 16
Grillo     -13 14
Stenson    -12 F
Howell     -12 15
Spieth     -12 14
Wiesberger -11 14
Willett    -10 F

To eighteen:

Perez on the tee with a one-shot lead…He didn’t want to do that…There’s a Rorschach Test worth of bunkers over there and he managed to miss them…He might have been better off in the sand as there’s no way he can get home in two.

Seventeenth green:

Mickelson staring down yet another putt from a different area code…He was hoping his tee shot would release and roll up. Instead it just about checked up. Must’ve had a lot of spin on that 4I…That’s going to roll past…No gimme (7 ft.) coming back.

Sixteenth fairway:

Howell hitting his third from 114 after his tee shot landed in one of the bunkers that pockmark the landscape…Three-quarter wedge…That checked up…He’ll have a bunch for (27 ft., as it turned out) for birdie.

At fifteen:

Just a couple minutes ago…Spieth, on the tee…Pulled that one…He’s hit about two-thirds of the fairways, middle of the pack this week…Now live…240 out of the rough…Decent lie, which is rare when you miss the fairways here…2I…Nice effort to hold the green…He’ll have about 20 feet for birdie.

Fifteenth tee:

Grillo…Heading right…Bunker…Unless he has a Howitzer in his bag, there’s no way he can get home from there.

Back to eighteen:

Just a moment ago…Perez playing it safe out of the sand as there was absolutely no way he could get home in two. Now live…87 yards from the extended fairway down the left side…Hoping to spin it back…Certainly doesn’t want to come up short…Perez just disgusted with that shot (he hit the green but got very little backspin and, even at 42 feet, wouldn’t have been enough anyway).

Eighteenth tee:

But first, Mickelson cleaning up on seventeen, making the seven-footer to remain at 13-under…Nice drive that’ll catch the left side of the fairway.

Sixteenth green:

Howell ran his first about five feet past…This for par…He’ll remain at 12-under.

Back to fifteen:

Grillo, his second out of the sand…safely in the fairway…wasn’t going to get home in two anyway…Now, Wiesberger…6I from 205 out the fairway…pulled it…He won’t have an easy sand shot. None are around here.

Eighteenth green:

Perez…42 feet…Getting it in would be a big bonus…What he doesn’t want to do is three-putt…Good effort. He’ll have that (3 ft.) for par. He made the putt to drop to 13-under but was now the leader in the clubhouse.

Seventeenth tee:

At 12-under, Howell needs one here…4I…Safely on (36 ft.)…But he needed more.

Sixteenth tee:

Nice drive (294 down the middle)

Fifteenth fairway:

Grillo, trying to get up and down from 73…Oh, no…That was inexcusable as it looked like he chunked it…He’ll have a mile to go for par. Weisberger would hit a good sand shot to get safely on. But both would end up two-putting for bogey, Grillo running a 60+ foot putt seven feet past and making the comebacker. At 12-under, Grillo still has a good chance. At -10, Wiesberger might be done.

Eighteenth fairway:

Mickelson…A birdie would be great but par would at least see him stay tied with Perez for the lead. 5I from 208…Took the safe route. But he’ll have a lot of putt left (58 ft.).

Sixteenth fairway:

Spieth didn’t have the distance to get home in two…That’s one thing he doesn’t have in his arsenal…3W to within 25 yards of the green and 50 of the pin…This is his third…Goodness! That looked like something that Tiger Woods was doing when he tried to mount his recent comeback (Spieth just butchered what should have been a routine pitch, chunking it and advancing it only fifteen yards. He’d end up making bogey and dropping to 11-under, effectively taking him out of the mix.).

Seventeenth green:

Howell, from 36 feet…He’ll have that left (4 ft.) to remain at -12. Considering eighteen has yet to yield a birdie today, he may be, as they say in poker, drawing dead.

Sixteenth tee:

Grillo with a 300+ yarder down the right side. He’ll have a good chance to get on in two at what might be the last chance to make hay around here…Weisberger…That’ll roll off into the rough.

Eighteenth green:

Mickelson…same situation as Perez just a few minutes ago…merely trying to get it close…That’s a good one, right in the circle. Mickelson cleaned up the three-footer for par to join Perez as the leader, clubhouse or otherwise, at -13.

Eighteenth tee:

Howell…needs a miracle…What he didn’t need was that tee shot (pulled into the bunker complex, which is a kind term as most players don’t call it that).

Sixteenth fairway:

Grillo, away…269…He pulled it just a bit…That’ll hop into the bunker. Wiesberger would hit a great shot out of the rough from 243 a few yards past pin high and would two-putt for birdie from 25 feet to move to 11-under. Needing birdies at the next two, including at a hole that hasn’t given up any, Wiesberger is cooked. Grillo would get on in two and miss for birdie from ten feet. At 12-under, he still has an outside chance.

Eighteenth somewhere:

Howell needed a miracle. His idea of one was to hit his second out of the bunker to the fairway leaving about 70 yards, at which point he’d have to hole out. He gave it the old college try (Oklahoma State, by the way) but missed by fifteen feet and two-putted for bogey to finish at -11.

Spieth would hit short and right at seventeen but would land on the green. He did well to two-putt from 80 feet. Eighteen wasn’t as kind. Bunker, lay-up, try and hit close. But, at thirteen feet, he two-putted for bogey to finish where he started the day, at -10.

That leaves the final twosome, with only Grillo having any sort of chance.

Wiesberger had honors at seventeen. He missed short, right and in the fescue. Grillo missed right and was in a bunker, one of many that dot the landscape, though this one look like a festering boil in a pockmark about eight feet above the green. Fast forward just a bit. Grillo didn’t hit close (30 ft.) and two-putted for bogey, falling to 11-under. He’s done. Wiesberger, who was already playing out the string, got humg up in the fescue and ended up with double-bogey.

There was no miracle at eighteen for Grillo. Needing to hole out from 217 to an impossible pin placement, Grillo pushed his second right, though on the fringe. At 90 feet, he didn’t get close with his first putt and ended up making bogey.

So, it’ll be Perez and Mickelson in a three-hole aggregate playoff.

The top ten (and ties):

Perez      -13 67
Mickelson  -13 67
Stenson    -12 67
Howell     -11 70
Willett    -10 69
Spieth     -10 72
Grillo     -10 72
Summerhays – 9 70
Wiesberger – 9 74
Harman     – 8 71
McNeill    – 8 71

REAL LIFE:

Jason Day won it by three over Jordan Spieth at 20-under. He finished at -6 in the replay.

Mickelson finished at -8 while Perez missed the cut by three.

The only common name is the top ten was Spieth’s.

THE PLAYOFF:

It’s three-hole aggregate, ten, seventeen and eighteen, with sudden death after that in the same rotation.

Damn, it was ugly.

Perez drew the number one and had honors. Ten is an easy par hole of 356 with a large landing area but a difficult birdie hole with the Sunday pin placement to the far left with a steep drop-off into sand and fescue. Hit it out there; get on, two-putt and get out of Dodge. Perez did just that, even hitting an excellent approach to ten feet. But Mickelson pushed his tee shot into the fescue, the club face opened a bit on his second and he was left with a severely uphill pitch. He did well to hit to eleven feet and two-putted for bogey.

Seventeen is the long par-three, 242, pin in the far back left. Lots of room to hit on the front of the green and roll up. Don’t miss left; don’t miss long. So, Perez missed right, as did Mickelson, Perez pushing a 3I and Mickelson pulling a 4I. Up first, Perez barely made it out of the fescue as he limped onto the fringe. Mickelson wasn’t as lucky, his ball still stuck in the fescue. On in three, Mickelson still had 39 feet to go. Perez ran his putt six feet past while Mickelson putted close but still walked off with double-bogey. Perez managed to clean up from six feet.

So, with one hole to play, Perez (+1) led Mickelson by two.

Eighteen is Pete Dye at his absolute nastiest. There’s something there that resembles a golf hole. But what might look like something from an alien planet is 468 yards of waste area pockmarked with bunkers and fescue, Seven Mile Creek that slashes across the fairway, a fairway that drops off toward the creek, probably not a level lie anywhere and, with the pin on the far left, not approachable in the least as anything short and left will leave the player about 20 feet below the surface of the green hitting either out of the sand or fescue. There were only fifteen birdies here all week and none today.

Perez still had honors. Given the two-shot lead and no birdies here today, he should have considered the 3W, laying up with a short iron, as getting home safely in two would have been nigh impossible, getting on in three and two-putting for bogey because, if Mickelson were to be the first person today to make birdie, even the ornery Perez would have given him a round of applause. But Perez went with the driver and pulled it, somehow avoiding all the sand and landing in the fescue. In the end, it wasn’t an awful thing as he hit out safely to the fairway leaving a full PW in. So, maybe he was sticking to the plan after all. After Perez’ errant tee shot, it was Mickelson who went with the 3W, hitting safely to the center of the fairway. Still away, he used the 3W again, taking dead aim at the sucker pin placement. He had to. But he pushed his ball just to the left and into one of those bunkers well below the grade of the green. And, with a two-shot lead, Perez started to lick his chops. But he put too much top hand on his PW and pulled his ball just a bit. And Mickelson had company in that bunker. Away, Mickelson went first and hit on. With the green falling away from the pin, Mickelson’s ball rolled out leaving him 29 feet for par. Perez did some quick math in his head. Four on, two-putt, six. Even if Mickelson makes his, he can’t lose as the playoff will soldier on. But, in trying to get his ball up quickly, Perez got too much ball. He stayed on the green but had 62 feet worth of an uphill, curving putt. Which he misjudged so badly that his ball ran well past the pin and off the green. Mickelson putted to four feet, still under the hole, and marked his ball. Perez chipped and nearly holed out, which would have ended things right then and there. Instead, he tapped in for triple-bogey. Mickelson put his bogey putt in the center of the cup. And, with both at 4-over for the three playoff holes, it was time for sudden death. And to think Perez was an inch away from winning it all.

Back to ten. Both hit safely down the left side of the fairway and both hit reasonably close, considering the pin placement, Perez at fourteen feet and Mickelson a bit closer, though it was Mickelson who took a direct line at the pin and was under the hole. Both threatened the hole with both tapping in for par.

To seventeen. Mickelson hit a 4I on line this time that rolled up a bit. But he still had 21 feet. Seeing that, Perez took an extra club, landed safely on but rolled past the pin and off the green. The good news was that his ball stopped on the fringe as, a couple more rolls of the ball might have really screwed him. Up first, Perez ran his 25-footer just past and made the return two-footer for par. Mickelson missed his, too, but tapped in for par.

To playoff hole number six. Eighteen, again. Mickelson had honors. 3W again. Fairway again. Perez stuck with the driver. This time he landed in the fairway. Mickelson was marginally away, even having used the shorter club, and he put a 3I safely onto the green. Not close (60 feet), but safely on. Perez went one club longer and also hit safely on and, like Mickelson, had a long way to go (67 feet). Perez bogeyed the hole the first time he played it today and triple-bogeyed it the second as he got in trouble off the tee both times and no choice but to go for the green in three. Now on in two, would the third time be a charm? Yes! Perez learned from his lengthy putt the first time he played it in the playoff and dialed back the aggression. Right on line, it curved into the hole for the only birdie at the hole today! So, all Mickelson had to do was make a 60-footer. He would have kicked himself had it come up short. It didn’t. But it didn’t go in, either.

So, after a three-hole playoff where both players were 4-over and three more sudden death holes, Perez wins the playoff +3 to +5. For Perez, this was his second win of the year, the Texas open being the other. In addition, he had a third at Farmers, fourth at The Heritage and sixth at the Canadian Open as, amazingly, in 25 starts, he’s missed only three cuts. So, with the two wins and all those paydays, Perez is now sixth in points and seventh in money ($4,464,127).

With his second second-place finish, The Masters being the other, Mickelson still hasn’t won this season. As he’s picked up four six-figure checks this year (and, at just over a million, this week’s had seven numbers to the left of the decimal), Mickelson is 23rd in money. But, with six missed cuts in sixteen starts, he’s 47th in points.

Pat-Perez-001.jpg (460×276)PAT PEREZ (-13)
Defeated Phil Mickelson in a six-hole playoff
This photo shows Perez as happy as you’ll ever see him.
Arnie’s always smiling.

Event #38
Wyndham Championship
Sedgefield Country Club
Greensboro, North Carolina
$5.4 million

FIRST ROUND:

This is the final event before the playoffs. Normally, I’d be hesitant to randomly add players. But, if there is anyone on the bubble (read: just either side of the top 125) of not making it to the playoffs, I’m going to include them in if space is available and they weren’t part of the original field (obviously). With DJ Trahan getting a seat at the adult table after his win in Puerto Rico, that leaves three open spots as 153 golfers are already scheduled to go to the post.

Hudson Swafford (#122) appears safe at 461 points. He’s already in the field anyway. So, the first three below that who aren’t in this field will be. Michael Putnam (446) is already in. Victor Dubuisson (440), who plays a lot more foreign golf and normally wouldn’t be part of the Fed Ex race, is in the race in the replay. Not in the original field, he’s in now. #125 Kevin Chappell (438) isn’t in. He is now. #126 is Hunter Mahan (436). Not in the original field, he’s also in now. Next on the list is Graham DeLaet (425). He wasn’t part of the original field. As you can’t stink up the joint and lose Fed Ex points (though that might be a really cool idea), the only way for DeLaet to get into the top 25 was to make the cut and finish 58th or better with Chappell missing the cut or to otherwise beat Chappell by thirteen spots with that number getting less as you get inside the top 20, such as DeLeat finishing 11th and Chappell 14th would be good enough. Life sucks. The field is full. Too bad. Should’ve played a little better during the season.

Also too bad is that this is a quick play course. Then again, the excitement will really be among those fighting for their playoff lives and maybe for those looking ahead to the top 100 left after the Barclays.

Bill Haas (#107) is the first round leader with an 8-under 62. He shouldn’t count his chickens too early; after all this is only the first round, but a win here will guarantee him a trip all the way to the BMW Championship with East Lake a reasonable possibility. 3-under at the turn, Haas went 6-under in a five-hole stretch starting at twelve on a course that was “lift, clean and place.” That included an eagle at fifteen, a downhill par-five of 545 that’s reachable for pretty much everyone here as long as they carry the creek at 265. He also bogeyed the last, which is a 500+ par-four where the second shot is usually an uphill approach from a downhill lie.

The rest of the top ten is tied at 64. Scott Verplank, Scott Gardiner, Adam Hadwin, Bryce Molder, Alex Prugh, Adam Scott, Brendon Todd, Roberto Castro, John Peterson and Tim Clark. We’ll get to who ranks where at cut time tomorrow.

 

SECOND ROUND:

No more lift, clean and place as the course dried out. But there will still be lots of low scores.

Brooks Koepka and Hudson Swafford each shot 64 to move into the lead at 11-under. Koepka’s at #15, so his ticket appears to be punched all the way until the end of the line. Swafford (#122) will very likely be at the Barclays next week as, quite honestly, I haven’t checked if there are four lower guys who could pass him by. (Edit: I did and it’s possible though improbable. More at the bottom under “The Cut Line.”) But a win gets him inside the top 40.

Koepka ran off three birdies and an eagle (at the par-five fifth) in a four hole stretch beginning at three while Swafford birdied fifteen, sixteen and seventeen for the second straight day.

Martin Laird and Charl Schwartzel each shot 8-under 62 to move into a tie for third with first round leader Bill Haas (68) at -10. Laird had no bogeys and shot a 30 front nine while Schwartzel eagled the fifth and followed that with three consecutive birdies. He would have shot 61 except for the bogey at eighteen.

After that, Scott Brown started his day with a bogey and markedly improved on that with a 63. He’s in sixth at -9. Then, it’s Jason Dufner (65), Hideki Matsuyama (65), recent Georgia Tech grad Ollie Schniderjans (66), Brendon Todd (68) and Adam Scott (68) rounding out the top ten at 8-under.

SHOT OF THE DAY:

Aaron Baddeley at two. 442 par-four, dogleg right. Run it down the right side and land in the fairway and it’s a PW in. And Baddeley holed out for eagle. That was the good news as, 4-under through five holes, he seemed poised to go low today. But he shot 2-over the rest of the way. Even so, with a round of 65 yesterday (and that had a six birdie streak to close out the front nine, meaning he played 1-over the rest of the day), he’s just outside the top ten, tied for twelfth.

THE CUT LINE:

-2 with 72 making it.

Bubble people:
#122 Hudson Swafford we know about.
#123 Michael Putnam (+1) missed the cut.
#124 Victor Dubuisson (-3) will get some points this week.
#125 Kevin Chappell (-5) will also get some points this week.
#126 Hunter Mahan (-5) made the cut and has to finish 60th or better to pass Putnam.
#127 Graham DeLaet wasn’t in the original field and, with three open spots to fill out the 156-man field, didn’t qualify. That was explained in the first round writeup.
#128 Jon Curran just slipped in at 2-under. He’ll have to finish 47th or better to pass Putnam.
#129 Spencer Levin (+1) missed the cut.

The next guy with a decent chance is #139 Baddeley. He has to finish 12th or better to pass Putnam.
#154 Laird needs to finish 4th or better to pass Putnam. As he’s tied for third, a shot out of the lead, it’s possible.

 

THIRD ROUND:

Hideki Matsuyama shot the round of the day and is tied for the lead with yesterday’s co-leader, Hudson Swafford at 15-under.

7-under 63 for Matsuyama, who’s looking for his first win of the year, his best before that being second at The Masters. Obviously, a win would help him big time, maybe even a second, as a win would guarantee him a boost into the top 20 and a trip to East Lake. Second would put him just inside the top 30 and on the bubble for East Lake. As for today’s round, Matsuyama bounced back from his lone bogey today, which came at thirteen, and only fourth of the tournament with three straight birdies, which is the first time he’s done that this week as as he’s gone back-to-back only twice before. Ironically, the back-to-backs have occurred at the par-five fifteenth and par-three sixteenth the first two days and they were also part of the three birdie run today. So, steady, not streaky for Matsuyama.

As for Swafford (66), if he keeps it up, this would be his biggest payday of the year, seventh at Pebble Beach being the biggest to date. It would also give him a tremendous boost for the playoffs as he came in to this week at 122 on the points list. A win will get him inside the top 40 while a second would put him at around 60. In other words, it could buy him another to or three playoff tourneys to improve on that. Swafford seems to like fifteen and sixteen, too, as he’s birdied both all three days.

Adam Scott eagled the fifteenth then birdied the next two on his way to a 64. At 14-under, he’s a shot out of the lead tied with Brooks Koepka (67).

Bill Haas (67) is all alone in third at -13 with Brendon Todd (67), Martin Laird (69) and Charl Schwartzel (69) tied for sixth at -11. Of the three, Laird would have to finish fourth or better to make it to the Barclays next week while Schwartzel (50th) and Todd (61st) are good for at least the first two playoff events. Russell Knox (64) and Kyle Stanley (65) round out the top ten at -10.

 

FINAL ROUND:

Yesterday’s co-leader, Hudson Swafford (73), shot 3-over and Brooks Koepka (70) couldn’t break par. That pretty much left yesterday’s other co-leader, Hideki Matsuyama, and Adam Scott, who came in a shot out of the lead, to slug it out.

As it turned out, the slugging went on for the front nine only before Scott pulled away with a two-shot swing at fourteen (Scott’s birdie followed a few minutes later by Matsuyama’s bogey) salting it away. Final round 62 for Scott who won by three at 22-under as Matsuyama shot a darned decent but more pedestrian 66.

REAL LIFE:

51-year old Davis Love proved he had some gas left in the tank as he beat Jason Gore by a shot at -17. In the replay, he missed the cut by a shot.

On the flip side, Adam Scott did make the cut but finished near the bottom of the field, tied for 63rd, eleven shots back.

Common names in the top ten: Schwartzel, who was third in both, -15 in the actual tourney, and Koepka, who tied for sixth in the actual and at the same score, -14.

THE PLAYOFFS (Who’s in and who’s not):

The real action came at the bottom as there were a few golfers either trying to make it into the playoffs starting at the Barclays next week or fighting for their playoff lives. Here’s the writeup at the end of round two with notes added (in red):

Bubble people:
#122 Hudson Swafford we know about.
Swafford finished tied for sixth at -12 and finished at #102.
#123 Michael Putnam (+1) missed the cut. He finished tied at #128.
#124 Victor Dubuisson (-3) will get some points this week. Some, as in the 34 points he got for finishing tied for 35th. He finished at #121.
#125 Kevin Chappell (-5) will also get some points this week. 46 of them as he finished tied for 23rd. He finished #117.
#126 Hunter Mahan (-5) made the cut and has to finish 60th or better to pass Putnam. He got 23 points for finishing tied for 45th. And he passed Putnam, all right, but didn’t finish inside the top 125. So, at #127, he’s out.
#127 Graham DeLaet wasn’t in the original field and, with three open spots to fill out the 156-man field, didn’t qualify. That was explained in the first round writeup. He finished at #129.
#128 Jon Curran just slipped in at 2-under. He’ll have to finish 47th or better to pass Putnam. He finished tied for 29th. He also passed Putnam but finished two points short of David Lingmerth in 125th. So, he’s through for the season.
#129 Spencer Levin (+1) missed the cut. He dropped a notch to #130.
The next guy with a decent chance is #139 Baddeley. He has to finish 12th or better to pass Putnam. Baddeley finished tied for 35th and moved to #133, or not quite enough.
#154 Laird needs to finish 4th or better to pass Putnam. As he’s tied for third, a shot out of the lead, it’s possible. Laird finished tied for tenth. That got him only to #140.

The regular season points list is attached (on the Skeetersoft Delphi site). Top 125 play next week at Ridgewood.

040914-golf-Adam-Scott-TV-Pi.jpg (1600×900)ADAM SCOTT (-22, wins by three)
Of course he’s happy because, in that photo, he just won the Masters.
But, in fantasy land he’s happy, too, as he just got his ticket punched
to ride the express to at least the second-to-last stop on the line, the BMW.

By |2017-02-13T11:22:53+00:00July 13th, 2016|ASG Golf Game Results|Comments Off on 2014-15 PGA Tour (Open Championship – )

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