The Zurich Classic’s tournament officials must have breathed a sigh of relief when Monday’s third and final round just beat the day’s forecasted thunderstorms. Brian Stuard was able to win the championship in style (rocking a killer white undershirt), beating Jamie Lovemark and Byeong Hun An in a 2-hole playoff. Stuard played mistake-free golf all week (literally), recording 0 bogeys in the 56 holes he played in New Orleans and making a mind-boggling 44 of 44 putts inside 10 feet. The win is a life-changer for Stuard. The pro entered the week in the Tour’s no man’s land with limited playing opportunities due to a poor 2015, ranking 513th in the world. The win earned him valuable job security with the two year exemption that goes to PGA Tour winners and the nice perks of being invited to next week’s Players Championship and next year’s Masters, quite the haul for a guy who didn’t know when his next start would be.
Close but no cigar
Jamie Lovemark continued his season of near misses, recording his 5th top-10 finish of the season. The former USC star 3-putted the 18th to fall into the playoff and then failed to convert a 12-foot birdie putt to win on the 1st playoff hole. Despite the heartbreaking defeat, Lovemark is becoming one of the most consistent players on tour and has moved up to 17th on the Ryder Cup points list. It seems like only a matter of time before he puts his name on a trophy.
Sponsor’s exemption Bobby Wyatt entered the week as the 1,210th-ranked player in the world and had earned only a little over $36k in his 2-year professional career. After a stellar week in New Orleans that included a final-round 64 to finish 4th, Wyatt earned himself a $336,000 check, moved to 431st in the rankings and earned himself a spot in this week’s Wells Fargo Championship. While Wyatt’s championship hopes were derailed by 2 3-putt bogeys on Monday’s back 9, it’s safe to say it was a good week for the young player.
The PGA Tour now heads to Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship hoping for less rain. The Wells Fargo has become one of the most popular stops on tour since returning to Quail Hollow in 2003. This year’s field features 14 of the world’s top 25 players and will be headlined by 2-time champion Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and upstart Bryson DeChambeau.
**Notable WD’s Dustin Johnson & Smylie Kaufman
Rory ran away with the championship, winning by 7 shots and showcasing his extra gear that few players can touch. Rory smashed drives and records along the way, including the course record, tournament scoring record and total birdie record. McIlroy brought the 7,500-yard Quail Hollow to its knees, flying its treacherous fairway bunkers and leaving the field to play for 2nd. That race was a close one with Patrick Rodgers and Webb Simpson finishing as runner-ups at -14 and the trio of Gary Woodland, Phil Mickelson and Robert Streb just 2 shots behind.
Quail Hollow has built up a reputation as a player’s course and is set to host next year’s PGA Championship. The 7,500-yard setup requires a strong tee-to-green game in order to score well and contend for the championship. As we saw with McIlroy last year, length is highly rewarded as well as a right to left ball flight, so look for players with at least one of those traits to walk away with the crystal. Quail Hollow’s signature closing stretch of 16-18, dubbed “The Green Mile”, are as tough as they come and can lead to some late Sunday drama.
Paulie’s weekly fantasy picks
With a field this stacked, it could be hard to choose. See who Paulie likes this week here.
Mothers Day Gift Guide
If Mother’s Day snuck up on you too, don’t fret. We’ve put together a last-minute gift guide with some special deals for members of the fried egg.
A couple must-reads
D.J. Piehowski’s exposé on PGATour.com about Rickie Fowler’s upbringing and early career, with interactive media recounting his Players Championship win. Read here.
For golf course architecture fans, Alan Shipnuck’s detailed review of the Monterey Peninsula C.C.’s Dunes Course renovation. Read here.
It’s that time of year again! Sports Illustrated’s anonymous player poll. Want to know who PGA Tour players would want on their side in a bar fight? What about whose golf swing is the most envied? The pros tell all here.
The medicine ball toss is one of the most effective exercises a golfer can do to increase their mobility. Unfortunately, it is often done incorrectly. Here’s a tutorial on how to properly perform the medicine ball toss.
The European Tour heads to Morocco for the Trophée Hassan II.
Roll Tide, the LPGA heads to ‘Bama for the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic.
The wonderful life of Dustin Johnson continues.
Collegiates Hossler, Rahm and McNealy named as the Hogan Award Finalists.