Using a mistake-free Saturday 65, Rickie Fowler surged into the 54-hole lead at the Honda Classic. The nearby Jupiter resident headed into Sunday with a four shot lead over England’s Tyrrell Hatton looking to close out his first PGA Tour title since the 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship.
Since his last win, Fowler had many close calls but had been plagued by big mistakes that led to big numbers on the weekend, costing the young star a handful of championships. Sunday saw Rickie get off to a slow start, struggling to find fairways on the front nine and firing a two-over-par 37. Fortunately for Fowler, his competitors failed to make a charge, and his large lead remained intact until Gary Woodland birdied the 11th and 13th to pull to ten under par and within one shot of the reeling Fowler. It looked as though another opportunity was slipping through Fowler’s fingers until he got the jumpstart he needed, holing a 38-foot birdie putt on the 12th. Fowler then drained another lengthy birdie putt on the 13th, this one from 24 feet to extend his lead to three. Needing birdies down the stretch, Woodland went the other direction, egregiously three-putting the 17th from 20 feet and bogeying the scrabble par-5 18th to slip back to eight-under and finish in a tie for second with Morgan Hoffman. Woodland’s late slip allowed Fowler to waltz through PGA National’s tough closing holes without pressure and win by four shots. Full scores
With the win, Rickie Fowler adds his name to the list of impressive young winners of 2017 and ends his winless drought at 55 weeks. The key to Fowler’s win was the flagstick. Besides the pivotal long bombs he dropped on Sunday’s back nine, Fowler went an astounding 57 for 57 inside of seven feet. While many expected a major breakout from Fowler in 2016 only to be disappointed (myself included), perhaps with less expectations, 2017 will be the year that Fowler finds himself a major championship.
PGA Tour rookie and 2016 Web.com Tour Player of the Year Wesley Bryan entered the Honda Classic coming off the best PGA Tour finish of his young career, a t4th at last week’s Genesis Open. The 3-time Web winner continued to prove that his game belongs with the PGA Tour’s best, finding himself with a share of the lead heading into Saturday’s third round. Bryan’s play cooled over the weekend, shooting a two-over-par 72 on Saturday and an even-par 70 on Sunday. Despite the disappointing weekend, Bryan secured a second consecutive t4th finish and has proven that when his ball-striking is passable, he is a force to be reckoned with because of his superb putting talent. Our profile piece on Wesley Bryan.
DeChambeau takes aim
A few weeks ago, the USGA ruled that Bryson DeChambeau’s putter, which he was using to putt side-saddle, was non-conforming. Before the ruling, DeChambeau was struggling to make cuts in his first full season on the PGA Tour, and since the ruling, things have gotten worse. Following his missed cut at this week’s Honda Classic, he took aim at golf’s governing body, the USGA, telling Golf Digest, “They’re not a good organization, and you can quote me on that. I’m part of their family and as family it’s very frustrating to see them stunt the growth of the game.” The boisterous stand against the oft-maligned USGA endeared DeChambeau to many of his detractors and made the embattled pro appear genuine for the first time in his short career. Unfortunately, DeChambeau followed his rant with an apology, probably due to pressure from his high profile and big dollar sponsors who leverage his quirkiness to create profitable new product lines. Being a rookie is hard enough, but DeChambeau continues to make enemies and establish himself as one of the more polarizing figures on Tour.
A hometown hero
Heavy rains and thunderstorms pelted South Africa causing numerous delays during the Joberg Open’s early rounds, forcing European Tour officials to shorten the 72-hole championship to 54-holes. The annual event serves as an Open Championship qualifying event, with the top three finishers earning an exemption into the 2017 Open Championship. With many of Europe’s top stars competing at the Honda Classic, it offers a golden opportunity for some of the lesser known players to punch their ticket into a major championship. For the second week in a row on the European Tour, a native took home the crown. This time, South Africa’s Darren Fichardt was able to birdie his final hole to win his 5th career European Tour title by one shot over Stuart Manley and Paul Waring. While Fichard took home the hardware, Manley and Waring each earned the consolation prize of a spot in this year’s Open Championship.
Harry Shapland Colt: A Trailblazer
Many thanks to golf course architect and soon to be author Keith Cutten for offering his assistance in co-authoring our bio on Harry Colt. Colt was one of the most well-known architects of all-time but also holds the distinction of being one of the most under-appreciated. Colt was the first to pursue architecture as a profession, and his resume of work includes the likes of Swinley Forest, Sunningdale (New Course), Old Elm Country Club. His contributions to Pine Valley Golf Club and Royal County Down were instrumental in their world-class stature today.
On the cocktail tour
This weekend, Palma Ceia Golf & Country Club in Tampa, Florida played host to the annual Gasparilla Invitational. The decisive Tom Bendalow design proves that distance isn’t everything as at just north of 6,300 yards, the course gives some of the country’s best mid-amateurs fits year in and year out. This year, Nicholas Mullhaupt accomplished the rare feat of repeating as champion of the prestigious event. Mullhaupt opened with a pair of 68’s to hold the lead heading into Sunday’s final round where he held off Mike Finster to shoot a closing 73 and win by one shot. The Gasparilla had a number of fried egg readers in the field, among those who made the cut were Derek Meinhart (t18th), Kyle Nathan (t31st), Bradley Lane (t38th) and Tim Sheppard (t53rd).
The wind on Thursday made flying conditions for the drone tough, but I took it up at Bluejack National long enough to get some video footage of the golf course, enjoy!
Through one round, Oklahoma State and Texas lead the loaded Querencia Cabo Collegiate.
Another day, another Jason Day medical issue. This time, the flu and a double ear infection.
Amy Yang wins the LPGA Thailand Classic in record-setting fashion.
Perez - Tiger Analysis
Soly dove into the polarizing comments that Pat Perez made regarding Tiger late last week and gave his two cents, check them out here.
You can never have too many hoodies...
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