Back-to-back for Bryson, Finau’s Ryder Cup case, more putter woes for Tiger and a brutal gimme putt: What you missed
Bryson goes back-to-back
This time in 2016, Bryson DeChambeau didn’t have his tour card. He’s now weeks away from cashing golf’s biggest paycheck.
Fresh off a resounding win at Ridgewood, the 24-year-old ran the performance back at TPC Boston, his final-round 67 good enough for a two-shot victory over Justin Rose to capture the Dell Technologies Championship.
“Consistency has been a big thing for me,” said DeChambeau, who will be No. 1 spot in the FedEx Cup standings heading into East Lake no matter what happens at the BMW Championship. “I’ve been trying to get that week in and week out, and I was able to kind of figure something out last week on the putting green and that’s kind of progressed me to move forward in the right way.”
DeChambeau began the weekend seven shots back of the leaders, but made his charge on Sunday, an eight-under 63 earning him a spot in the final pairing with Abraham Ancer. Bryson put an early end to the afternoon with five birdies on the front nine, his steady ball-striking (sixth in sg/tee-to-green) and short game (sixth in putting) keep contenders at bay.
DeChambeau is only the second player to win the first two legs of the FedEx Cup (Vijay Singh accomplished the feat in 2008). The win also comes near the two-year anniversary of DeChambeau, in the Web.com Finals after struggling in his first summer on tour, grabbing the DAP Championship to earn promotion to the bigs. Moving to No. 7 in the world—a ranking better than Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Patrick Reed—and a Ryder Cup bid looming, don’t think you’re going to see DeChambeau back in the minors anytime soon.
Speaking of Ryder Cup…
Finau making life easy on Furyk
The most important responsibility of a Ryder Cup captain is choosing his at-large selections. And also the most scrutinized. Case in point: Darren Clarke picking Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer due to their experience rather than their play in 2016. A move that backfired, with the two going 1-6 in seven matches at Hazeltine.
Which brings us to Jim Furyk, manning the helm of the American squad this fall. Furyk technically has four picks at his disposal, although—thanks to strong seasons, their roles in the team’s brain trust, and frankly, their importance in promotion and marketing—many believe Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are already on the team. That leaves two spots, one of which DeChambeau has essentially locked up. And if DeChambeau’s work the past two weeks have earned him the nod, the same could be said about Tony Finau.
A week after finishing runner-up to DeChambeau at the Northern Trust, Finau turned in another fine display, finishing T-4 at TPC Boston. Following Sunday’s round, Finau was not shy about this Paris ambitions.
“The more solid I play each week, I’m making it tough to not pick me, if I’m being honest,” Finau said. “I’m not the one that gets to pick, I’m the one that just gets to play. But I’ve played some nice golf these last couple weeks, and if that’s what it comes down to when (Furyk) makes his decision to pick a team for the Ryder Cup, and that’s what he’s waiting for for those picks, then I think I’m going to be a hard guy to look past.”
Finau makes a compelling argument. Finau is crazy long (third in distance), racks up the red numbers (sixth in eagles, 11th in birdies), is tough as nails (remember that 68 at Augusta National after dislocating his ankle?), and only Dustin Johnson has more top-10 finishes this year. That three of those came at majors doesn’t hurt his cause.
The only real knock on Finau is his lack of wins—his only career victory came at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open—but it’s one he’s not giving much thought.
“I’m trying to win every time I play,” Finau said. “I haven’t been able to do it, but I just feel the more I give myself opportunities, it’s going to happen. And my game feels as good as ever.”
Furyk will announce three of his picks on Tuesday, with the final selection coming after the BMW Championship. Theoretically, Furyk could announce Finau next week. But the 28-year-old doesn’t need another tournament to make his case.
Short-game slump continues for Tiger
At one point, he was three shots off the lead on Monday. That was the good news for Tiger Woods. The bad is the 14-time major winner remains flummoxed on the greens.
Woods went to his third flat stick of the year in Boston, desperately seeking answers for a short game that ranked last in New Jersey. Though his putting showed signs of life earlier in the week, it failed him again as the tournament progressed, posting negative strokes gained totals on Sunday and Monday and needing 33 strokes on the greens in the final round. Trouble that transformed a possible top-five standing into a T-24 finish.
To be fair, it wasn’t just the putter that was off on Monday, as Woods’ usually-stout second-shot game failed to fire on all cylinders. His driving didn’t do him any favors, either.
Still, if Tiger hopes to make it to the Tour Championship—and perhaps more importantly, be formidable in France—he needs to right the ship with the short game, and in a hurry. That this week’s BMW Championship is at Aronimink Golf Club, one of the harder venues in the country, won’t help.
A brutal missed gimme
Of course, Woods’ putting woes are nothing compared to this.
“This” being Joe Durant at the 17th hole of the PGA Tour Champions’ Shaw Charity Classic. Durant was tied with Scott McCarron, looking at a birdie attempt to take the lead into the final hole. Alas, Durant’s attempt failed to find the cup.
And so did his par putt from gimme length.
Personally, I blame the yellow ball.
Mahan regains tour card
Hunter Mahan has lost his way inside the ropes the last few seasons. The former World No. 4 fell to a low as 859th after last year’s U.S. Open and, following a failed attempt at the Web.com Tour Finals, lost his tour card for the first time in his career. He’ll start his revival bid in earnest next season, with full exemption in tow.
Mahan, who made appearances on the tour this year thanks to past champion status, accumulated enough non-member points to earn a return to this year’s Web Finals. The six-time tour winner made an auspicious showing at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the circuit’s first postseason event, but it was his performance at the DAP Championship that is sending him back to the big leagues. Mahan bounced back from a so-so 71 start to turn in a 66, 65 and 67, rounds good enough to vault him to a runner-up finish at Canterbury Golf Club. The T-2 bestowed $88,000, a sum that guarantees Mahan will receive one of the 25 cards dispersed through the tour’s Finals.
Mahan, who’s made seven Ryder and Presidents Cups appearances for the United States and $30 million in his career, has just one top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since 2015. Mahan asserted that fighting his swing back happened to coincide with starting a family, and admitted he was unable to adjust according on the course.
“We have a lot going on,” Mahan said. “Mentally, you’d like to deal with one thing at a time. I think it overwhelmed me and I lost track of my swing a little bit. It feels like an avalanche, but it’s just a snow flurry.
“I’m a father and a husband, and I have to be there first. It’s hard to be there mentally in both places.”
This past year, Mahan’s family also dealt with the loss of his sister-in-law Katie Enloe, wife to SMU coach Jason Enloe, to leukemia.
However, Mahan had showed signs of life prior to the Web Finals, nearly winning the alternate event Barbasol Championship in July. With his tour card in hand, Mahan likely won’t return to the world’s top five. But he’s only 36 years old, and proved this week he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
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