Stat attack!: Valero Texas Open review

By John AntoniniMarch 31, 2014, 2:06 am

One week after fellow Australian Adam Scott failed to hold on to a three-stroke lead after 54 holes of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Steven Bowditch found himself in a similar predicament at the Valero Texas Open. If the world No. 2 couldn’t hang on for victory, what chance did Bowditch, 339th on the world ranking, have? Plenty, it seemed. Winless in 109 previous PGA Tour starts, Bowditch gave back his three-stroke cushion with a bogey on No. 2 and a double bogey on No. 4 Sunday. But the 30-year-old persevered; making two birdies and three bogeys the rest of the way on a JW Marriott Course at TPC San Antonio that was to be the Tour’s toughest Sunday test this season. Bowditch’s final-round 76 was enough to hold off Will Mackenzie and Daniel Summerhays by one stroke and earn his first major invitation in more than 10 years.

It was highest final round by a PGA Tour winner in 10 years and Bowditch was the first player ranked outside the top 200 to win on Tour this season. The last previous such winner was Gary Woodland, ranked 268th, at the 2013 Reno-Tahoe Open.

Highest final-round score for a PGA Tour winner since 2000

 Score Player Tournament
 76 Steven Bowditch 2014 Valero Texas Open
 76 Vijay Singh 2004 PGA Championship
 75  Martin Laird 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational
 75 Trevor Immelman 2008 Masters
 75 Peter Lonard 2005 Heritage
 75 Vaughn Taylor 2004 Reno-Tahoe
 75 John Daly 2004 Buick Invitational

Players ranked outside the top 100 to win on the PGA Tour in the 2013-14 season

 Rank Player Tournament
 339 Steven Bowditch Valero Texas Open
 127 Kevin Stadler Waste Management Phoenix Open
 123 John Senden Valspar Championship
 112 Scott Stallings Farmers Insurance Open
 110 Russell Henley Honda Classic

It’s notable that three other players were ranked between 90-100 when they won this year (Matt Every, Chesson Hadley and Chris Kirk), but only one player was ranked in the top 10 at the time of his victory (Zach Johnson was ninth when he won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions).

Bowditch took the lead at the Texas Open with a second-round 67 that included a stellar back-nine 31 at the JW Marriott Course at TPC San Antonio. He took a one-stroke lead into Round 3 and despite his hiccups early Sunday never fell out of at least a share of the lead. He’s the seventh player who held at least a share of the 36-hole lead to go on to win this season.

36-hole leaders who would win on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Player Tournament 36-hole lead Final margin
 Steven Bowditch Valero Texas Open Led by 1 Won by 1
 Patrick Reed WGC-Cadillac Championship Shared lead Won by 1
 Zach Johnson Hyundai T of C Led by 3 Won by 1
 Harris English Mayakoba Classic Shared lead Won by 4
 Chris Kirk McGladrey Classic Led by 1 Won by 1
 Dustin Johnson HSBC Champions Led by 5 Won by 3
 Webb Simpson Shriners Las Vegas Led by 4 Won by 6

Bowditch didn’t dominate in any of the stats that normally result in PGA Tour victories. He was 64th in strokes gained/putting at the Valero Texas Open. He was T-69 in distance of putts made. He made only two putts from more than 10 feet. He was T-49 in driving accuracy. He was T-15 in greens in regulation. However, his wedge game was excellent. He led the field in distance to the pin on approaches from 50-125 yards, getting his ball, on average, less than 10 feet from the hole. It was less than half the tour average for the week and more than 11 feet closer than his season average.

Steven Bowditch’s proximity to the hole on approach shots

 Distance of approach 50-75 yards 75-100 yards 100-125 yards 50-125 yards
 Bowditch 10 ft., 9 in. 6 ft., 10 in. 11 ft., 8 in. 9 ft. 11 in.
 Field Avg. 16 ft. 0 in. 19 ft. 0 in. 21 ft. 7 in. 20 ft. 0 in.
 Bowditch Valero rank 18 3 2 1
 Bowditch entering week 22 ft. 0 in. 23 ft. 9 in. 20 ft. 7 in. 21 ft. 6 in.

 

It was similar to the way Bowditch played when he finished T-2 at the 2013 Greenbrier Classic. His approach shot distance to the pin from 50-125 yards that week was less than 15 feet, nearly 14 feet better than the tournament average. That was his best previous finish on the PGA Tour, and although that runner-up got him into the 2013 PGA Tour Playoffs, this victory has bigger implications. Among other things, it gets him into the Masters, where Bowditch will make his first major-championship appearance since he missed the cut at the 2003 British Open as a 20-year-old. It also earns him $1,116,000, more than he has made in any single season.

Steven Bowditch’s best PGA Tour finishes

 Place Tournament Earnings
 1 2014 Valero Texas Open $1,116,000
 T-2 2013 Greenbrier Classic 415,800
 T-9 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach 163,800
 T-12 2013 John Deere Classic 96,600
 T-15 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach 102,400

Bowditch held on to his victory despite shooting 76 Sunday because his closest competitors entering the day couldn’t do much better. His playing companions, Matt Kuchar (who was ranked 11th entering the week) and Andrew Loupe (ranked 505th) both shot 75 as only two players in the field managed to break 70 for the day. The TPC San Antonio’s final-round scoring average of 73.803 was the highest aggregate on Tour this season, and marked the fourth straight week the Sunday scoring average was higher than 72.90.

Highest final-round scoring averages on Tour in 2013-14

 Average Tournament Course
 73.803 Valero Texas Open TPC San Antonio (JW Marriott)
 73.105 Arnold Palmer Invitational Bay Hill Resort & Spa
 73.026 CIMB Classic Kuala Lumpur G&CC
 73.015 WGC-Cadillac Doral Resort & Spa (TPC Blue Monster)
 72.973 Valspar Championship Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead)
Getty Images

Watson back in top 40 after OWGR free fall

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Bubba Watson ended his free fall in the Official World Golf Ranking with a two-shot victory Sunday at the Genesis Open.

Watson, a fixture in the top 10 in the world as recently as 13 months ago, had dropped all the way to 117th after a 2017 season in which he struggled with poor form, illness and desire.

After his third career win at Riviera, he is up to 40th.

Kevin Na rose from 95th to 65th after tying for second in Los Angeles, while Tony Finau jumped from 41st to 33rd.

Tiger Woods actually improved in the world ranking, from No. 550 to No. 544, despite a missed cut at the Genesis Open.

On the European Tour, Joost Luiten surged from 90th to 68th after his victory in Oman.

The top 10 in the world remained unchanged as the PGA Tour heads into the Florida swing: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.

Getty Images

Bubba catapults, Phil creeps up in Ryder Cup standings

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 1:21 pm

Bubba Watson was an assistant on the 2016 Ryder Cup team. He doesn’t want to be driving a cart in Paris.

Watson, thanks to his victory in the Genesis Open, jumped from 60th to 10th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. The top eight after the PGA Championship qualify automatically for this year’s edition at Le Golf National in France.

Phil Mickelson moved up one spot to 11th after tying for sixth at Riviera Country Club.

Players will receive one point per dollar earned in regular events this year, with 1.5 points per dollar in majors and two points per dollar for winning a major. Here's a look at the current U.S. standings:

1. Dustin Johnson

2. Brooks Koepka

3. Justin Thomas

4. Jordan Spieth

5. Matt Kuchar

6. Brian Harman

7. Gary Woodland

8. Rickie Fowler

---

9. Chez Reavie

10. Bubba Watson

11. Phil Mickelson

12. Patrick Reed


On the European side, the top four players from the Ryder Cup points list will be joined by the top four qualifiers from the world points list, with captain Thomas Bjorn making four additional selections. Here's a look at the current top names:

Ryder Cup Points

1. Justin Rose

2. Tyrrell Hatton

3. Ross Fisher

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Tommy Fleetwood

3. Sergio Garcia

4. Rory McIlroy

Getty Images

Genesis Open purse payout: Bubba makes bank

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 1:03 pm

Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time on Sunday, moving his career PGA Tour win total to 10. Here's a look at how the purse paid out at Riviera Country Club.

1 Bubba Watson -12 $1,296,000
T2 Kevin Na -10 $633,600
T2 Tony Finau -10 $633,600
T4 Scott Stallings -9 $316,800
T4 Patrick Cantlay -9 $316,800
T6 Adam Hadwin -8 $241,200
T6 Phil Mickelson -8 $241,200
T6 Cameron Smith -8 $241,200
T9 Jordan Spieth -7 $180,000
T9 Martin Laird -7 $180,000
T9 Xander Schauffele -7 $180,000
T9 Ryan Moore -7 $180,000
T9 Justin Thomas -7 $180,000
T14 James Hahn -6 $133,200
T14 Aaron Baddeley -6 $133,200
T16 Alex Noren -4 $111,600
T16 Sung-hoon Kang -4 $111,600
T16 Dustin Johnson -4 $111,600
T16 Derek Fathauer -4 $111,600
T20 Rory McIlroy -3 $78,000
T20 Bud Cauley -3 $78,000
T20 Kevin Chappell -3 $78,000
T20 Talor Gooch -3 $78,000
T20 Jason Kokrak -3 $78,000
T20 Vaughn Taylor -3 $78,000
T26 John Huh -2 $46,996
T26 Peter Uihlein -2 $46,996
T26 Luke List -2 $46,996
T26 Rafael Cabrera Bello -2 $46,996
T26 Patrick Rodgers -2 $46,996
T26 Jamie Lovemark -2 $46,996
T26 Dominic Bozzelli -2 $46,996
T26 Matt Kuchar -2 $46,996
T26 Anirban Lahiri -2 $46,996
T26 Sam Saunders -2 $46,996
T26 Graeme McDowell -2 $46,996
T37 Branden Grace -1 $33,120
T37 Tommy Fleetwood -1 $33,120
T37 Charles Howell III -1 $33,120
T37 Luke Donald -1 $33,120
T41 Bryson DeChambeau E $24,516
T41 Troy Merritt E $24,516
T41 Kevin Streelman E $24,516
T41 Pat Perez E $24,516
T41 Charley Hoffman E $24,516
T41 Brandon Harkins E $24,516
T41 Jonas Blixt E $24,516
T41 Nick Taylor E $24,516
T49 Austin Cook 1 $17,964
T49 Brendan Steele 1 $17,964
T49 Paul Casey 1 $17,964
T49 Chad Campbell 1 $17,964
T53 Tom Hoge 2 $16,437
T53 Benjamin Silverman 2 $16,437
T53 Li HaoTong 2 $16,437
T53 Retief Goosen 2 $16,437
T53 Martin Kaymer 2 $16,437
T53 Adam Schenk 2 $16,437
T53 Adam Scott 2 $16,437
T60 Ryan Blaum 3 $15,696
T60 J.B. Holmes 3 $15,696
T60 Harold Varner, III 3 $15,696
63 Kelly Kraft 4 $15,408
T64 Padraig Harrington 5 $15,120
T64 Ryan Armour 5 $15,120
T64 Sean O'Hair 5 $15,120
67 Martin Piller 6 $14,832
T68 Thomas Pieters 7 $14,400
T68 Greg Chalmers 7 $14,400
T68 Abraham Ancer 7 $14,400
T68 Tyrone van Aswegen 7 $14,400
T68 Charl Schwartzel 7 $14,400
T73 Vijay Singh 8 $13,896
T73 Chez Reavie 8 $13,896
T75 Sang-Moon Bae 10 $13,608
T75 David Lingmerth 10 $13,608
Getty Images

After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.


On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner


On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray


On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard


On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there.

The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell