Kizzire breaks through in Mayakoba

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1. Kizzire is a fast starter. Of his three top-10s last season, when he was 99th in the FedExCup, his best was a runner-up at the season-opening Safeway Open. He entered the last round at Silverado with a one-shot lead over Scott Piercy but shot a 2-under 70 to drop one behind winner Brendan Steele. Two years ago, also in his season debut, Kizzire tied for second at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. And now, after missing the cut at the Safeway (a rare hiccup) and a solid Sanderson Farms Championship (T10) and Shriners (T4), he wins in his fourth start of the new season. Don’t count him out at this week’s RSM Classic at Sea Island, either. He lives there.

2. El Camaleon’s first hole was a brute. The 438-yard par-4 played to a 4.321 average, hardest of the final round, and gave players fits in the third round, too. Charles Howell III (T4) and Patrick Rodgers (T14) each double-bogeyed it. Martin Piller (T4) triple-bogeyed it. That was particularly hard on Rodgers and Piller, who were embarking on a 36-hole Sunday. “I just tried to stay patient and say, Okay, you’ve got 35 more holes to make it up,” Piller said. “I didn’t hit the tee shot that bad, but it got up in the wind and went right. It was only like a foot out of bounds. The provisional went down the middle, and then I hit it on and promptly three-putted.”

3. Rickie Fowler is a top-10 machine. Fowler, who was making his season debut and his first start at Mayakoba, shot 65-67-67-67 and might have won but for the fact that he bogeyed the par-5 fifth hole and couldn’t buy a putt in the middle of his round, from holes 7-12. Last season Fowler had 10 top-10 finishes, including a win at The Honda Classic, in 21 starts. Now he’s one-for-one in top-10s for the new season, and his earnings of $766,800 for solo second put him over the $30 million mark in career earnings at age 28. Not a bad consolation prize.

4. Hard work pays off. Martin Piller (65, T4) played just three practice holes on Tuesday, and none Wednesday. He putted. “I hadn’t been putting the way I normally do,” said Piller, who will turn 32 on Tuesday. “So I just camped out on the putting green. I’m an okay ball-striker, but if my putting is good I’ll be in good shape.” His putting at Mayakoba was beyond good. Piller took just 22 putts in the final round Sunday and totaled 97 for the tournament, eight fewer than the next best, Fowler and Russell Knox. “I made a bunch from the fringes this week,” Piller said.

5. Si Woo Kim is going to win this tournament. Kim (65, solo third), who became the youngest winner of THE PLAYERS Championship last season, was 6-under through 13 holes in the final round but blocked his tee shot into the hazard and double-bogeyed the 14th hole. He bounced back with birdies at Nos. 15 and 17 to notch his best result since coming out on top at TPC Sawgrass last May. In 2015, Kim was tied for third at the halfway mark at El Camaleon but fell back with weekend rounds of 72-70 that saw him finish T17. 

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