Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot on the first playoff hole to win the Travelers Championship in dramatic fashion over Daniel Berger.
Spieth struggled down the stretch, missing a few short putts on the back nine and allowing Berger to track him down with a final-round 67 that included a back-nine 32. The win was Spieth’s second of the season and 10th career PGA Tour title. At 23, he’s the second-youngest player to reach 10 wins; only Tiger Woods was younger.
Somehow, despite two major championships and 10 wins at age 23, Spieth feels underrated and underappreciated. I think because Spieth doesn’t hit the 360-yard drives of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy or Jason Day he is dismissed as a lesser talent. While he may never be an elite driver of the golf ball, he is the world’s best player from inside 200 yards (where the majority of shots are played from) and he won in Hartford despite an average week on the greens.
Runner-up Daniel Berger was just short of his third career win and second in the last three weeks. While Spieth and Justin Thomas dominate the headlines as America’s best young talents, Berger’s resume is growing and the 2015 Rookie of the Year now appears to be a lock for the 2017 Presidents Cup team.
Finishing two back of Spieth and Berger was the pair of Danny Lee and Charley Hoffman at 10-under par. The T3 is Danny Lee’s best on the season and his third top-six finish in his last five starts.
Patrick Reed shot a final-round 66 to finish at 9-under and in a tie for fifth with Boo Weekley and Paul Casey. The T5 was Reed’s best finish on the season and with five top 22 finishes in his last six starts, he appears to be finding his form after a tough start to 2017.
The putter carousel
After losing .933 and 1.121 shots to the field putting over the first two rounds of the Travelers, Rory McIlroy decided to make a putter switch, moving away from the popular TaylorMade Spider mallet that is used by Dustin Johnson and Jason Day. The third round saw things get worse, with McIlroy losing 1.540 to the field, prompting another putter switch on Sunday. The final switch yielded the best results, with McIlroy only losing .087 shots to the field on his way to a final-round 64 and a backdoor top 20. The poor putting week overshadowed and ruined his brilliant tee-to-green performance, which ranked best in the field. The struggles on the green are surprising for a player who has been sidelined by a rib injury, which limited his ability to swing but not putt.
Proof of life
The past 24 months have been tough for former star Hunter Mahan, who has dropped from 38th to 889th in the world rankings. Since the start of 2016, Mahan had missed 25 cuts in 38 starts with his best finish a T43 at the 2016 Farmers Insurance. This week saw a rare occurrence – Mahan on a leaderboard – as he shot 68-67 on the weekend to secure a T17 finish, his best since the 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship. The lofty finish earns Mahan his first OWGR points since the 2016 Wells Fargo and hope for a return to some semblance of his former self as one of golf’s most consistent performers.
The Beau Show
Beau Hossler entered the weekend in the top 10 after rounds of 66-69 but struggled to close out the tournament, firing 72-72 to finish in a tie for 53rd. It was Hossler’s last sponsor’s exemption and the 2016 Haskins Award Winner will now seek to earn his PGA Tour card on Web Tour. Hossler will need to finish in the top 25 of the money list and currently sits in 33rd with nine weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Travelers Championship has been growing in stature over the years. With this year’s top-notch field, which featured three of the world’s top six players, it’s become one of the best regular events of the season despite its less-than-desirable spot on the schedule. It annually draws one of the largest crowds, features a course that is under 6,900 yards and yields a wide-variety of winners, from bombers (Bubba Watson) to short-hitters (Ken Duke).
In comparison, next week’s Quicken Loans National has been given the premier “Invitational” status despite only boasting one player ranked in the world’s top 10 (Fowler).
The European Tour’s BMW International saw an unlikely winner as Andres Romero fired a final-round 65 to win by a shot over Thomas Detry, Sergio Garcia and Richard Bland. Romero was making his first European Tour start since 2012 and had missed the cut in all of his 2017 starts, failing to record a top-10 finish since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.
Europe’s rising star
Before Romero’s stellar final-round it looked as though Sunday would be the coronation of Europe’s young star, Tom Detry. Needing an eagle on the par 5 last to catch Romero, Detry’s second shot found trouble. He settled for a par and his best finish to date. Detry followed in fellow Belgian Thomas Pieters’ footsteps, attending the University of Illinois, and has quickly ascended to the European Tour just 12 months after graduating. I expect this to be a start of a great run from Detry and wouldn’t be surprised to see him at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris.
Adam Schenk bogeyed the final hole of the Lincoln Land Charity Championship to fall into a four-man playoff with William Kropp, Eric Axley and 54-hole leader Kyle Thompson. Not deterred by the late slip, Schenk was able to fight back and birdie the second playoff hole to win the championship and move to 11th on the money list, assuring his spot on the PGA Tour for the 2017-18 season.