No-cut fields, as noted above, are wonderful safety nets for gamers. It’s never easy to pull out the winner in a WGC event, especially one in its only second edition. Write it down for next year that Thomas, Johnson, Mickelson and Tyrrell Hatton all hit the top 10 the first two years at this event.
Justin Thomas reached the playoff at 268 after posting 16-under-par on the weekend alone with 62-64, tying the PGA TOUR weekend 36-hole record. He also proved that going low in consecutive rounds doesn’t bother him. He backed up the course record he posted Saturday with a 64 on Sunday. He’s not afraid of anything and that includes going low and lower. There were three rounds of 64 and one 62 this week and he owned half of them.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (T3) racked up his second-best TOUR finish after just missing out on the playoff. Both of his top finishes are in WGC events as he was third at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in 2016. He started seven times this season and his worst finish is T29. Vamos.
Timing is everything for Tyrrell Hatton investors in the PGA TOUR games. He finished T11 at WGC-HSBC Champions and T3 this week while missing the cut at The Honda Classic. He beat the “Tourista” but missed the playoff as he couldn’t get up-and-down at the final hole. That was only his fifth bogey of the week. His form over the last nine months has been excellent minus trips to Quail Hollow and PGA National.
Play Them All
In his ninth start of the season, the “other” lefty, Brian Harman, picked up his sixth top-10 finish with T5. That’s one more than Mickelson and I’ll point out that he beat playing partner Dustin Johnson (T7) by a shot. Johnson’s worst finish this season is T16.
After playing the first two rounds one-over-par, Tommy Fleetwood moved up 11 spots on Saturday after shooting a 67 and 15 more spots on Sunday after 66 to wind up T14. His 23 birdies led the field but it was his resilience that I will remember. It’s always easier to abandon ship but I’ve noticed the class players usually don’t. He’s included in that group.
Defending and Reigning
It’s always interesting to gauge the disappointment of gamers when premium players don’t fire. Defending champion Dustin Johnson couldn’t putt on this track last year yet won by a shot. This year he finished in the top five in both putting metrics but his ball-striking and scrambling was cool. He only played the Par-five holes in five-under-par. Reigning Valspar Champion Adam Hadwin backed up his T6 at Riviera with T9 this week as he led the field in strokes-gained: approach-the-green. He’ll be in stellar form to defend this coming week at Innisbrook just northwest of Tampa. I’m on board!
I don’t think there are many gamers who were surprised that Shubhankar Sharma didn’t close the deal. I do think there are PLENTY of gamers whose eyes were opened this week by his first three rounds. His 74 in the final round still saw him collect T9 riches. Not bad for his first TOUR start!
Xander Schauffele was bogey-free through 36 holes and sat T6 through 54. His final round included four bogeys and a double and only one birdie in his final 12 holes to drop 12 spots to T18. For my money, he’s still well ahead of the learning curve so I’m not concerned.
Marc Leishman began Sunday T11 and his 77 dropped him 26 spots to T37. Only two players signed for more in Round 4.
If there was any momentum from Ross Fisher’s hole-in-one on Saturday it didn’t carry over. His closed with 76 for T46.
Steve Stricker won the Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Arizona on the PGA TOUR Champions. He’s in the field at the Valspar Championship this coming week.
South African George Coetzee won the Tshwane Open in Pretoria for the second time.
It was a quiet weekend (69-70) for Sergio Garcia but T7 this week is greater than T33 last week as he rolls on to fatherhood and the defense of his Masters title.