With a fresh coat of about six inches of snow on the ground outside, I didn’t have much of a choice yesterday. It was either going to be skiing for the 3rd out of 4 days or watching the final round of the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open. I’m a Keegan Bradley fan, after being there in person for his first win of his career last year at the Byron Nelson. I’m a Phil fan too. So with those two in the final pairing and tied for the lead, I was looking forward to the duel. Both players arguably didn’t play all that well Sunday compared to how they’d played the first three days. Clutch birdies on the final hole for both of them forced a playoff with Bill Haas. Bill would win on the 10th, the 2nd playoff hole.
Riviera’s Hole 10
How do you not love hole #10 at Riviera? Here are three of the best PGA Tour pros, top 10 players, 5 major championships between them, FedEx Cup winner, rookie of the year, etc. Yet only one of the three can even HIT a 300 yard par-4 green in regulation.
It isn’t all about length baby. We need more holes like #10 at the Riv.
Keegan dropped down the leaderboard quickly with two bogeys early, but came back nicely. As much of a fan as I am of Keegan, he became very difficult to watch with the fidgeting, starting and stopping and especially the spitting. He kept spitting over and over and they were long and stringy. It was pretty gross. Not sure if he was sick or what. The starting and stopping was hard to watch, and must have given fits for the TV producer: “Cut to front camera, back camera, front camera, back camera, back, front, front, back…”
Keegan’s play on 18 in regulation was clutch with the bomb drive of close to 330 yards uphill, and the clutch putt for birdie to go into the playoff. He had the chance to win for a 3rd time in his career, all which would have been in playoffs.
Phil’s putter went cold Sunday. Two three-putts in a row cost him a chance to win the thing outright. But still he found a way to end up tied for the lead at the end with a fantastic long putt on 18 for birdie in regulation. That was seriously awesome. The crowd went nuts, perhaps a bit too much. The guy rolling around on the hill behind the green was a little much. What has happened to galleries anyway?
Phil’s great short game wasn’t good enough on the 2nd playoff hole. That tiny little 300 yard par-4 proved that golf holes these days don’t have to be long. Strategy and execution of that strategy on that hole are key, and Phil’s short right shot left him in a place which was nearly impossible to get up and down from. He should have either laid up with an iron, or hit driver left of the green.
With the great play over the last couple of weeks, Phil has cracked into the top 10 again in the world rankings (#9).
Bill Haas showed some serious game management skills on the 2nd playoff hole. Knowing that Phil and Keegan had near impossible up and downs, he chose to chip his 2nd shot to the fat of the green and try to make par. That plan went out the window when he drained a near impossible putt for birdie to win.
Shots like that, and the $10,000,000 water shot last year, make me really respect Haas’s game. As good as his game is, his quiet personality isn’t one to make him a media darling.
Dustin Johnson drove the ball long and impressively. No new news there. Tough to watch DJ’s short game and wedge play though. He gave away a lot of shots. That part of his game needs some serious improvement for him to win a major.
Sergio Garcia seemed to be playing a much easier course than anyone else on Sunday. He was seven shots better than Mickelson and Bradley with his 64.
Great. So he had one low round. That isn’t enough to start predicting major championships for him like all the twitter golf pundits. I don’t see that happening any time soon.