Fighting off the weekend blues
Sunday’s Valero Texas Open featured a leaderboard of players who have struggled to close out weekends, aside from 4-time winner Patrick Reed. Sure enough, overnight leaders Brendan Steele and Ricky Barnes faltered, allowing Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman to distance themselves at the top of the leaderboard heading into the 72nd hole.
In a thrilling finish, Reed (1 shot behind Hoffman) was able to hit a remarkable 2nd shot to the par-5 18th, setting up an eagle chip he nearly holed. Hoffman was then left with a difficult up-and-down from the back greenside bunker for the championship. Hoffman hit his bunker shot to 10’ and was able to drill the clutch birdie putt to win, ending his 15-month winless drought.
Our hot take
This win was a long time coming for Charley Hoffman, who had been knocking on the door in recent weeks. Hoffman had struggled on Sundays and therefore was labeled by many “golf experts” as a guy who couldn’t get it done on Sunday. His win yesterday made it all the more refreshing to see one of those guys lose his label and prove his doubters wrong by draining a clutch putt with the tournament on the line.
A duffer for one shot
While the weekend was filled with plenty of highs for Hoffman, there was one low when he managed to duff a tee shot during Saturday’s round.
Golf fans followed along with envy as Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Smylie Kaufman and Jordan Spieth headed to Baker’s Bay, an exclusive club in the Bahamas for “Spring Break.” The world got a taste of what life on tour is like as a multi-millionaire twenty-something, with Fowler and Thomas capturing much of the trip on Snapchat. The young stars’ vacation included a few alcoholic beverages, some friendly golf matches and lots of Konica Minolta swing visions. And yes, from the sound of it, Rory McIlroy had FOMO. Check out a detailed recap 1 and recap 2.
Big Cat is back
The golf world held its breath when word broke on Wednesday that Tiger Woods would be making an announcement on Thursday, but it ended up being more of an appearance. Woods surprised the country’s best juniors at the Sage Invitational, teaching a clinic and hitting shots that included drivers. The spectators’ reviews were glowing about Woods’ swing, and he was seen carrying his driver upwards of 300 yards.
This appearance came on the heels of the lengthy ESPN Magazine feature piece on the embattled superstar’s turmoil after the death of his father, Earl. Read Wright Thompson’s detailed chronicle of Tiger’s struggles.
DeChambeau runs out of steam
This week, PGA Tour rookie Bryson DeChambeau learned how difficult contending regularly can be as the rising star appeared to run out of gas at the Valero. DeChambeau struggled, missing the cut by 3 shots and shooting rounds of 74-73. DeChambeau and his quest for PGA Tour membership will take a rest until next week’s Wells Fargo.
His & Hers
PGA Tour rookie Martin Pillar made a charge on Sunday, taking the lead at the Valero before a double bogey on 13 dashed his championship hopes. Pillar ended up finishing in a tie for 4th at 9-under. Meanwhile, his better half Gerina was in San Francisco contending for the LPGA’s Swinging Skirts Classic, where she also finished in a tie for 4th. Don’t think anyone will be challenging these two to a couples best ball match anytime soon.
The Bryan Bro
Best known for his trick shots and appearance on the Golf Channel’s Big Break, Wesley Bryan claimed his 2nd Web.com Tour title of the season. Bryan ran away on Sunday at the El Bosque Mexico Championship, shooting a final-round 67 to win by 4 shots over fellow Big Break star Richy Werenski and last week’s champion Brad Fritsch. It may not be long before we see Bryan on the PGA Tour as he is now 1 win away from qualifying for the “battlefield exemption”, a seldom-earned exemption that immediately grants PGA Tour membership to a Web.com player able to win 3 times in one season.
A Monday finish on Sunday
Due to thunderstorms, the 2nd annual Shenzhen International was delayed to a Monday finish in China. Thanks to the time zone difference, American fans were able to follow along on Sunday night to see Korea’s Soomin Lee use an eagle on the 17th hole to put away the championship. Lee’s first triumph of 2016 came with Joost Luiten and Brandon Stone in hot pursuit, while American star Bubba Watson used a final-round 66 to vault into a tie for 8th.
The greatest round of college golf ever?
On Saturday, the 3rd-ranked University of Illinois men’s golf team fell into 2nd place at the Big Ten Championship, leading coach Mike Small to describe the 1st place Iowa Hawkeyes as “wanting it more.” The message was heard loud and clear as the Illini shot a remarkable 24-under 264 total, winning the championship and setting a new NCAA record for single-lowest team round.
Other conference championships of note
Clemson goes wire-to-wire for the ACC Title.
Lee McCoy was able to capture the individual title and helped Georgia to the SEC Championship.
Golf Course Photo Tour
A Pete Dye treasure, The Golf Club in New Albany, Ohio was founded by Fred Jones, who wanted his own course to avoid waiting for tee times (to be so lucky). The Golf Club has a small, exclusive membership and has never hosted an outside tournament. You will see Dye’s signature railroad tie bunkering and masterful angles in its design. Click here for our full photo tour.