Jonathan Byrd won the Web.com Tour Championship on Monday by 4 shots over Sam Saunders and Shawn Stefani. The win gave Byrd full status on Tour for the first time since 2015. Byrd played himself inside the top 25 along with runner-up Stefani, Matt Jones, Cameron Tringale and Tom Hoge. Results and Finals 25.
Kickin' off the season
After a lengthy one week off-season, the PGA Tour is back for its 2017-2018 campaign, starting with the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort in Napa, California.
Brendan Steele won the Safeway chasing down Patton Kizzire, one year after failing to convert a back 9 lead at Silverado. Steele was clutch on the closing holes, birdieing 3 of the last 5 to win his 2nd career PGA Tour title.
Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., golf legend Johnny Miller made extensive changes to the resort’s 36 holes in 2010. The tournament is hosted on the North course, which plays as a 7,200 par 72. While not the most memorable course on Tour, I do enjoy the way it's maintained. The mowing patterns in the fairways are aggressive and run balls into the bunkers, making the bunkers play larger and riskier.
A new year means a new set of rookies on the PGA Tour. The fall events are critical for these players to keep their cards and earn a higher priority ranking for spots in the early 2017 events. I put together a list of 8 rookies to keep your eye on this season, check it out here.
South Korean star Sang Moon Bae will make his first start in over two years after serving his mandatory 2-year military service for his country. Bae won at Silverado in 2014 and was one of the game’s young stars prior to the mandatory leave. Prior to this event, Bae made one start on the Asian Tour where he missed the cut.
Former top-ranked amateur Maverick McNealy will make his first professional start. The former Stanford standout will look to earn his card via 7 sponsor's exemptions. To do so, Mcnealy will have to earn 365 FedEx Cup points in his limited starts. McNealy announced yesterday that he is signing with Callaway, Under Armour and KPMG.
Champ in the house
Another youngster making a start is long-hitting Texas A&M star Cameron Champ. The name might sound familiar from Erin Hills, where he was t6th heading into Sunday's final round. Champ's prodigious length is well-documented; he led the U.S. Open in driving distance by double digits over the 2nd longest player.
Paulie is back for another season of picks and will look to build on a banner season in which he picked 8 winners. With the Tour back in Napa, he likes some players with a track record of success on the west coast. Get Paulie’s picks here, and if you don’t follow Paulie on Twitter yet, do so here.
The European Tour is in Scotland for its Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, an event that mirrors the setup of the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Much like the Pebble Pro-Am, the Euro Tour boasts an impressive list of host courses (i.e. The Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns). Last year, Tyrrell Hatton tied St. Andrews’ course record of 62 en route to his first European Tour title. Hatton is back this year and joined by Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Brendan Grace.
A golf discussion
Over the weekend, I sat down with Kyle Hegland, Superintendent of Sand Hills, to talk golf and golf course architecture. We touched on his background, maintaining a golf course in brutal climates, what it's like to work with Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, his passion for golf course architecture and Sand Hills. Listen to the podcast on the website, iTunes or Stitcher.