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Monday Scramble: Many happy returns

By Will GrayMarch 5, 2018, 5:00 pm

Phil Mickelson and Michelle Wie finally get their trophies, Justin Thomas somehow continues to improve, Tiger Woods adds to his schedule, the governing bodies talk distance and more in this week's edition of Monday Scramble:

The drama Sunday was not limited to the Oscars.

It was a banner weekend for marquee golfers breaking out of notable winless droughts, as Wie surged to her first victory since 2014 with a 72nd-hole birdie in Singapore. Of course, that turned out to simply be an amuse-bouche for the main course: a sudden-death playoff in Mexico where Mickelson topped Thomas for his first win since 2013.

While they're separated by nearly 20 years, both Wie and Mickelson have traveled a similar path of late. Wie has battled a barrage of injuries as she largely faded from prominence, while Mickelson was almost out of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time in 25 years last month.

Suddenly they're both smiling and hoisting hardware, a reminder that perseverance will get you a long way in this game.

Given enough time, adversity hits every player regardless of ability. It's the great ones who find a way to stand back up on the other side.

1. Let's kick things off with Mickelson, who has been saying for weeks that he's playing some of the best golf in his career and finally has tangible proof of that confidence.

The 47-year-old seemed visibly nervous down the stretch, but he was able to keep the butterflies at bay while chasing down Thomas, who had posted the clubhouse lead. It's win No. 43 of his career, but given the toils of the last five years it likely won't rank much below his five major wins on the personal power rankings.

It's been amazing to watch Mickelson go toe-to-toe with Father Time in recent years, digging in for a fight that he knows will take every ounce of talent, strength and focus he can muster.

But Sunday's win in Mexico was his fourth straight top-6 finish - the first such run of his career. It seems that Mickelson is not only keeping up with players half his age, but he has found a way to chisel out some of his very best golf at a time when many of his peers might be counting down until their PGA Tour Champions card arrives in the mail.

2. Mickelson's win is appropriate given the fact that it came during a vintage Lefty week. The Phil highlights included, but were not limited to:

  • Mistaking the 54-hole leader for a member of the media
  • Asking one of his playing partners to clarify the pronunciation of his name
  • Hitting a shot in the final round from deep within a shrub
  • Hitting another shot Sunday through a seemingly non-existent gap in the trees
  • Helping a playing partner understand his options during a rules situation
  • Explaining to Mexican fans en español that he'll sign autographs after the round
  • Last but certainly not least, offering during an interview that he may have been a bumblebee in a past life

3. Following the round, Mickelson was asked if he'll get seven more wins to reach 50 for his career before calling it quits.

"No, I will," he said before the question was even fully formed. "I'll get there."

There's reason to believe, at the very least, that Mickelson isn't done with his latest title. Players have gone on mini-tears before - look no further than Thomas last year, and last fall Justin Rose finally got back into the winner's circle after a year of strong play only to win again the very next week.

As the memories of Muirfield became more distant, Mickelson's next win was always going to be the toughest one to get. Now that he has it, don't be surprised if he finds No. 44 in short order.

4. Mickelson's overtime victory transformed Thomas' jaw-dropping, 121-yard eagle on the 72nd hole into simply an exciting footnote.

Fresh off his win at the Honda Classic, Thomas seemed like an also-ran after two rounds of even-par play. But he found a new gear over the weekend, going 62-64 and jarring his final approach in regulation to nearly steal his third win of the young season.

Thomas rightly viewed his playoff runner-up as a bonus given his slow start, and last week's win likely helped soften the blow of defeat. But the weekend rally is another example of incremental improvement for a player who, despite coming off a breakthrough campaign that featured five wins and a major, seems to only be getting better.

5. Thomas' results in 2018: T-22, T-14, T-17, T-9, Win, P-2.

He's now up to No. 2 in the world rankings, past both Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth. It might only be a matter of time before he supplants Dustin Johnson - either as world No. 1 or as the favorite to win the Masters.

6. You have to think that former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was beaming with pride over the product last week in Mexico, as the dream of what a WGC event might become was realized.

Yes, the tournament was decided in a playoff between two Americans. But before that it put 21-year-old Shubankhar Sharma on the map, and it nearly featured a breakthrough win for England's Tyrrell Hatton. The leaderboard at Chapultepec became a whirring blur of flags from various nationalities, all leading up to an edge-of-your-seat finish.

It made the WGC-Mexico Championship the most captivating Tour event of 2018, and it served as a wonderful showcase for just how global the game has become.

7. In the early morning hours Sunday, Wie laid out a blueprint for a star returning to the peak that Mickelson would follow later in the day.

Her one-shot victory at the HSBC Women's World Championship came in style, as she sunk a 36-foot birdie putt on the final hole that set off a raucous celebration.

When Wie won the 2014 U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst, the thought was that it could serve as a career highlight but would also lead to many more wins. The second half of that equation hasn't exactly panned out, as the former teen prodigy has battled her body for long stretches and her form and confidence both waned as a result.

But now she's back to her winning ways, and while it feels like she's been around the game for an eternity, Wie is only 28 years old - for perspective, that's six months younger than Rory McIlroy. There's still plenty of time for her to write many more chapters.

8. Wie's victory was also a big win for the LPGA.

It came on the heels of a sensational victory from Jessica Korda the week prior, and it came over a star-studded leaderboard that included major champs Brooke Henderson and Danielle Kang as well as Nelly Korda, who was seeking a sisterly back-to-back.

It's often hard for the LPGA to steal the spotlight from the men, especially when up against a WGC event. But Wie's victory certainly did that for a part of the day, and the most recent Asian fortnight has flashed the potential of the highs the ladies' tour can reach when some of its best players are both winning and producing captivating storylines.

9. So, Tiger's back. Again.

The fact that Woods committed to next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, came as no surprise. But his decision to sneak in a trip to the Valspar Championship beforehand qualifies as an unexpected treat.

Woods hasn't played Innisbrook since teaming with Kelli Kuehne for a co-ed team event back in 1996. But given a week off after his 12th-place showing at PGA National, he (and more importantly, his body) are ready to hop back inside the ropes.

It's an enticing prospect to have Woods tussle with the tree-lined Copperhead Course, where his shot-making will be put to the test. But it's a great long-term sign for Woods' health that he feels ready for another back-to-back, and his mere appearance in Tampa should ratchet up the Masters fervor a few notches.

10. Woods' appearance is also a great win for Valspar officials, including tournament director Tracey West, who have quietly compiled the strongest field in the history of the event.

Woods' 11th-hour commitment was mirrored by that of 2015 winner Spieth, as the two join a field that already included the likes of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. A tournament that was relegated to the fall for a stretch in the early 2000s now has a surplus of big names, including the biggest draw in the game.

Helped in part by the Tour's new 1-in-4 rule that calls for stars to add new events to their schedule, the Travelers Championship saw a dramatic increase in field strength last year and produced one of the season's best finishes. It seems the Valspar could be getting a similar bump this time around.

11. After years of a "slow creep," distance gains have finally caught the attention of the governing bodies.

The USGA and R&A released a joint study Monday that found driving distance has increased across seven major tours by more than three yards on average. That comes after the same study last year found that drives had increased a paltry 0.2 yards per year since 2003.

It's the latest move in a calculated game of chess between the governing bodies, the professional tours and the equipment manufacturers regarding the eye-popping distances achieved by some of the game's elite. More studies and reports are sure to follow, and only one thing remains certain: this topic isn't going away anytime soon.

12. The study sparked quick responses from both the PGA Tour and PGA of America, with both organizations downplaying the need for sweeping change. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan's reasoning was especially interesting.

In a letter to Tour members, Monahan outlined the "strong correlation" between increased distance and increased club head speed. The latter increase, in turn, was tied to non-equipment factors like player athleticism, improved fitting and increased launch monitor data.

Monahan even pointed out that Tour players, on average, are getting both younger and taller. So don't expect Ponte Vedra Beach to line up behind a possible roll back of the ball anytime soon.

Tyrrell Hatton's bid to win his first WGC event was derailed by a poorly-placed spike mark on the final green, but it nearly came to an end much earlier in the week.

Hatton was one of several players to struggle last year with the ... digestive challenges an event in Mexico can create, and his tweets after the first couple rounds showed that he was once again dealing with off-course issues:

Thankfully for Hatton, his stomach cooperated - and nearly helped him to one of the more unexpected wins in recent memory.

This week's award winners ... 

Comeback kid: Steve Stricker. Believe it or not, the longest victory drought ended on Sunday belonged to Stricker, who won the Cologuard Classic for his first PGA Tour Champions title and his first win since the 2012 Tournament of Champions.

Soaking up the stage: Shubankhar Sharma. While the final round didn't go as planned, the 21-year-old turned plenty of heads while racing to the top of the leaderboard in Mexico. His earnest zeal was evident, and his potential to serve as a success story for future Indian golfers is clear.

Disaster artist: This one goes to the photographer who nearly stepped on Justin Thomas' ball during the playoff, and would have had it not been for a timely shove from Thomas himself. It can get chaotic inside the ropes down the stretch, but there was no reason for the cameraman to get that close to the ball - and nearly alter the outcome of the tournament with one size-11 stomp.

Still seeking reps: Tony Romo, who withdrew from a 36-hole mini-tour event in Texas after 27 holes after a rocky start that included a quintuple-bogey 10 in the opening round. T-minus three weeks until his PGA Tour debut in the Dominican Republic.

Nice little offseason: Larry Fitzgerald. After teaming with Kevin Streelman to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Cardinals wideout paired with Jon Rahm at the Seminole Pro-Member on Monday and then teed it up with Tiger Woods later in the week. Who needs two-a-days?

Father of the year: Brandt Snedeker, who soldiered on at his daughter's school despite a mis-spelled cake that might have been the demise of lesser men:

Blown fantasy pick of the week: Rickie Fowler. He gets the nod for the second straight week after a back-nine 41 Sunday led to a closing 75 that dropped him from a solid paycheck all the way into a tie for 37th among the 64-man field. While Mickelson and Thomas lit it up, Fowler made only two birdies over his final 27 holes.

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First Look: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play groups

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 2:20 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Although professional golf’s version of March Madness is considered just plain maddening in some circles following the switch to round-robin play three years ago, it’s still one of the game’s most compelling weeks after a steady diet of stroke play.

With this week’s lineup having been set Monday night via a blind draw, we take a deep dive into WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play bracketology (current world golf rankings in parentheses):

Pool play will begin Wednesday, with the winner from each of the 16 groups advancing to knockout play beginning Saturday:

Group 1: (1) Dustin Johnson, (32) Kevin Kisner, (38) Adam Hadwin, (52) Bernd Wiesberger

Teeing off: This sounds like the beginning of a joke that’s made the rounds at the United Nations, but what do you get when a pair of South Carolinians, a Canadian and an Austrian walk onto the first tee? Group 1 and what, on paper, looks like it could be the week’s most lopsided pod with the world No. 1, who never trailed on his way to victory last year, poised to pick up where he left off.

Group 2: (2) Justin Thomas, (21) Francesco Molinari, (48) Patton Kizzire, (60) Luke List

Teeing off: This isn’t exactly an Iron Bowl rematch, but having Thomas (Alabama) and Kizzire (Auburn) in the same group seems to be pandering to the Southeastern Conference crowd.

Group 3: (3) Jon Rahm, (28) Kiradech Aphibarnrat, (43) Chez Reavie, (63) Keegan Bradley

Teeing off: The Asian John Daly (aka Aphibarnrat) will have his hands full with Rahm, who lost the championship match to Johnson last year; while Bradley may be this group’s Cinderella after making a late push to qualify for the Match Play.

Group 4: (4) Jordan Spieth, (19) Patrick Reed, (34) Haotong Li, (49) Charl Schwartzel

Teeing off: This may be the week’s most awkward pairing, with Spieth and Reed turning what has been one of the United States' most successful tandems (they are 7-2-2 as partners in Presidents and Ryder Cup play) into an early-week highlight. It will be “shhh” vs. “Go Get that.”

Group 5: (5) Hideki Matsuyama, (30) Patrick Cantlay, (46) Cameron Smith, (53) Yusaku Miyazato

Teeing off: Cantlay could be the Tour’s most reserved player, Smith isn’t much more outspoken and Matsuyama and Miyazato speak limited English. This will be the quietest pod, and it’ll have nothing to do with gamesmanship.

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Group 6: (6) Rory McIlroy, (18) Brian Harman, (44) Jhonattan Vegas, (51) Peter Uihlein

Teeing off: We're going to declare this the “group of death,” with McIlroy coming off a commanding victory last week at Bay Hill and Harman being one of the Tour’s most gritty competitors.

Group 7: (7) Sergio Garcia, (20) Xander Schauffele, (41) Dylan Frittelli, (62) Shubankhar Sharma

Teeing off: Three weeks ago, Phil Mickelson confused Sharma for a member of the media when he tried to introduce himself at the WGC-Mexico Championship. As a public service announcement: it’s SHAR-ma. You may be hearing it a lot this week.

Group 8: (8) Jason Day, (25) Louis Oosthuizen, (42) Jason Dufner, (56) James Hahn

Teeing off: This pod has a Presidents Cup flair to it, but Day and Oosthuizen should hope for a better outcome considering the International side’s awful record in the biennial bout.

Group 9: (9) Tommy Fleetwood, (26) Daniel Berger, (33) Kevin Chappell, (58) Ian Poulter

Teeing off: We showed up in Austin and a Ryder Cup broke out. Fleetwood is all but a lock to make this year’s European team, and fellow Englishman Poulter (23-14) has forged a career on his match-play prowess. For Berger and Chappell, who both played last year’s Presidents Cup, it’s a chance to impress U.S. captain Jim Furyk.

Group 10: (10) Paul Casey, (31) Matthew Fitzpatrick, (45) Kyle Stanley, (51) Russell Henley

Teeing off: Casey has a stellar record at the Match Play (23-13-1) and having finally ended his victory drought two weeks ago at the Valspar Championship the Englishman could likely seal his Ryder Cup fate with a solid week at Austin Country Club.

Group 11: (11) Marc Leishman, (23) Branden Grace, (35) Bubba Watson, (64) Suri

Teeing off: The best part of March Madness is the potential upsets, and while Suri, the last man in the field, isn’t exactly UMBC over Virginia, don’t be surprised if the little-known player from St. Augustine, Fla., stuns some big names this week.

Group 12: (12) Tyrrell Hatton, (22) Charley Hoffman, (36) Brendan Steele, (55) Alexander Levy

Teeing off: If Levy hopes to make the European Ryder Cup team he should consider this his audition. That is if captain Thomas Bjorn is watching.

Group 13: (13) Alex Noren, (29) Tony Finau, (39) Thomas Pieters, (61) Kevin Na

Teeing off:  Finau and Pieters have the firepower to play with anyone in the field and Noren’s record the last few months has been impressive, but Na looks like one of those Princeton teams who can wear down anyone.

Group 14: (14) Phil Mickelson, (17) Rafael Cabrera-Bello, (40) Sotashi Kodaira, (59) Charles Howell III

Teeing off: Mickelson has been rejuvenated by his victory at the last World Golf Championship, Cabrera Bello is poised to earn a spot on this year’s European Ryder Cup team and Howell is playing some of the best golf of his career. Note to Kodaira, don’t try to introduce yourself to Lefty before your match. 

Group 15: (15) Pat Perez, (24) Gary Woodland, (37) Webb Simpson, (50) Si Woo Kim

Teeing off: Perez explained that during a practice round on Monday he was talking trash with Branden Grace. Not sure Kim will be down for some trash talking, but it would certainly be entertaining and probably a little confusing for him.

Group 16: (16) Matt Kuchar, (27) Ross Fisher, (47) Yuta Ikeda, (54) Zach Johnson

Teeing off: If any of these matches comes down to a tie, may we suggest officials go to a sudden-death ping-pong match. No one can compete with Kuchar on a table, but it would be must-see TV nonetheless.

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Randall's Rant: Hey, loudmouth, you're not funny

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 10:30 pm

Dear misguided soul:

You know who you are.

You’re “that guy.”

You’re that guy following around Rory McIloy and yelling “Erica” at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

There was something creepy in the nature of your bid to get in McIlroy’s head, in the way you hid in the shadows all day. Bringing a guy’s wife into the fray that way, it’s as funny as heavy breathing on the other end of a phone call.

You’re that guy telling Justin Thomas you hope he hits it in the water at the Honda Classic.

There are a million folks invested in seeing if Thomas can muster all the skills he has honed devoting himself to being the best in the world, and you’re wanting to dictate the tournament’s outcome. Yeah, that’s what we all came out to see, if the angry guy living in his mother’s basement can make a difference in the world. Can’t-miss TV.

You’re that guy who is still screaming “Mashed Potatoes” at the crack of a tee shot or “Get in the Hole” with the stroke of a putt.

Amusing to you, maybe, but as funny as a fart in an elevator to the rest of us.

As a growing fraternity of golf fans, you “guys” need a shirt. It could say, “I’m that guy” on one side and “Phi Kappa Baba Booey” on the other.

I know, from outside of golf, this sounds like a stodgy old geezer screaming “Get off my lawn.” That’s not right, though. It’s more like “Stop puking on my lawn.”

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Because McIlroy is right, in the growing number of incidents players seem to be dealing with now, it’s probably the liquor talking.

The Phoenix Open is golf’s drunken uncle, but he isn’t just visiting on the holiday now. He’s moving in.

What’s a sport to do?

McIlroy suggested limiting liquor sales at tournaments, restricting alcohol consumption to beer.

I don’t know, when the beer’s talking, it sounds a lot like the liquor talking to me, just a different dialect.

From the outside, this push-back from players makes them sound like spoiled country club kids who can’t handle the rough-and-tumble playgrounds outside their prim little bailiwick. This isn’t really about social traditions, though. It’s about competition.

It’s been said here before, and it’s worth repeating, golf isn’t like baseball, basketball or football. Screaming in a player’s backswing isn’t like screaming at a pitcher, free-throw shooter or field-goal kicker. A singular comment breaking the silence in golf is more like a football fan sneaking onto the sidelines and tripping a receiver racing toward the end zone.

Imagine the outrage if that happened in an NFL game.

So, really, what is golf to do?

Equip marshals with tasers? Muzzle folks leaving the beer tent? Prohibit alcohol sales at tournaments?

While the first proposition would make for good TV, it probably wouldn’t be good for growing the sport.

So, it’s a tough question, but golf’s governing bodies should know by now that drunken fans can’t read those “Quiet Please!” signs that marshals wave. There will have to be better enforcement (short of tasers and muzzles).

There’s another thing about all of this, too. Tiger Woods is bringing such a broader fan base to the game again, with his resurgence. Some of today’s younger players, they didn’t experience all that came with his ascendance his first time around. Or they didn’t get the full dose of Tigermania when they were coming up.

This is no knock on Tigermania. It’s great for the game, but there are challenges bringing new fans into the sport and keeping them in the sport.

So if you’re “that guy,” welcome to our lawn, just don’t leave your lunch on it, please.


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How Faxon became 'The Putting Stroke Whisperer'

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 9:39 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – During a charity event a few years ago Brad Faxon was asked what he’s thinking about when he putts. A hush fell across the green as everyone within earshot eagerly awaited the answer.

Imagine having the chance to quiz Leonardo da Vinci about the creative process, or Ben Hogan on the finer points of ball-striking. Arguably the best putter of his generation, if anyone could crack the complicated code of speed, line and pace, it would be Faxon.

Faxon mulled the question for a moment, shrugged and finally said, “Rhythm and tempo.”

If Faxon’s take seems a tad underwhelming, and it did that day to everyone in his group, the genius of his simplicity was on display last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Before arriving at Bay Hill, Rory McIlroy ranked 124th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting, losing .1 strokes per round to the field. In fact, he’d missed the cut a week earlier at the Valspar Championship when he needed 58 putts for two days and made just a single attempt over 10 feet.

It’s one of those competitive ironies that having the weekend off turned out to be just what McIlroy needed. He went home to South Florida to work on his game and ran across Faxon at The Bear’s Club.

Although Faxon’s take on the art of putting was probably more involved than it had been a few years earlier, he seemed to have touched on all the right points.

“Freed up my head more than my stroke,” McIlroy explained. “I sort of felt like maybe complicating things a bit and thinking a little bit too much about it and maybe a little bogged down by technical or mechanical thoughts.”

Earlier in the week McIlroy had a slightly different take on his putting turnaround at Bay Hill, where he led the field in strokes gained: putting, picking up 10 shots for the week, and rolled in 49 feet of putts over his last five holes to end a victory drought that had stretched back to the 2016 Tour Championship.

“Just playing around with it. Seeing balls go in in the front edge, trying to hit them in the left edge, the right edge, hit them off the back of the cup,” he said on Thursday. “Just trying to get a little bit more feel into it and a little more flow.”

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If that doesn’t exactly sound like an exact science, welcome to the Faxon way. In recent years, he’s become something of F which is no huge surprise considering his status as one of the game’s best on the greens.

Between 1991, the year he won the first of eight Tour titles, through 2005, the year he won his last, Faxon ranked outside the top 20 in putting average just four times, and he led the circuit in that category three of those years. But in recent years he’s come into his own as a putting guru.

“The first clinic I attended that a Tour player gave, it was Hale Irwin, and he talked about rhythm and tempo, I was disappointed because I wanted to hear more than that,” Faxon explained. “I thought there would be more technical stuff. I thought it was the default phrase to take pressure off the player, but the more I’ve learned about teaching the best players in the world don’t have many complicated thoughts.”

Faxon’s career has been nothing short of impressive, his eight Tour titles spanning two decades; but it’s his work with players like McIlroy and Gary Woodland that has inspired him in recent years.

A man who has spent his life studying the nuances of the golf swing and putting stroke has created a teaching philosophy as simple, or complicated depending on the player, as rhythm and tempo.

“He teaches me, which is a good thing. He doesn’t have a philosophy,” Woodland said. “I was around him a lot in 2011, 2010, it’s unbelievable how well he can relay it now. He has video of a million guys putting and he’s one of the best to do it, but he can show you that you don’t have to do it one certain way and that was good for me.”

For Woodland, Faxon keyed in on his background as a college basketball player and compared the putting stroke to how he shoots free-throws. For McIlroy, it was a different sport but the concept remained the same.

“We were talking about other sports where you have to create your own motion, a free-throw shooter, a baseball pitcher, but what related to him was a free-kicker in soccer, he mentioned Wayne Rooney,” Faxon said. “You have to have something to kick start your motion, maybe it’s a trigger, some might use a forward press, or tapping the putter like Steve Stricker, sometimes it’s finding the trigger like that for a player.”

Faxon spent “a good two hours” with McIlroy last weekend at The Bear’s Club, not talking technique or method, but instead tapping into the intuitive nature of what makes someone a good putter. Midway through that session Faxon said he didn’t need to say another word.

The duo ended the session with a putting contest. Putting 30-footers to different holes, the goal was to make five “aces.” Leading the contest 4-2, Faxon couldn’t resist.

“Hey Rory, after you win Bay Hill this week you’ll have to tell the world you lost to Brad Faxon in a putting contest,” Faxon joked.

McIlroy proceeded to hole three of his next four attempts to win the contest. “I’m going to tell everyone I beat Brad Faxon in a putting contest,” McIlroy laughed.

Maybe it’s the way he’s able to so easily simplify an exceedingly complicated game, maybe it’s a resume filled with more clutch putts than one could count. Whatever it is, Faxon is good at teaching. More importantly, he’s having fun and doing something he loves.

“I have a hard time being called a teacher or a coach, it was more of a conversation with Rory, being able to work with someone like Rory is as excited as I’ve ever been in my career,” Faxon said. “It meant much more to me than it did Rory.”

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Frittelli fulfilled promise by making Match Play field

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:40 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Dylan Frittelli attended the University of Texas and still maintains a residence in Austin, so in an odd way this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a home game for the South African who plays the European Tour.

Frittelli actually attended the event last year as a spectator, when he watched the quarterfinal matches on Saturday afternoon, and made a promise to himself.

“I told a lot of people, I was running into them. I said, ‘I'll be here next year, I'll be playing in this tournament,’” said Frittelli, who climbed to 45th in the world ranking after two victories last year in Europe. “People looked at me, you're 190 in the world, that's hard to get to 64. It was a goal I set myself.”

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Frittelli’s next goal may be a little payback for a loss he suffered in college when he was a teammate of Jordan Spieth’s. Frittelli is making his first start at the Match Play and could face his old Longhorn stable mate this week depending on how the brackets work out and his play.

“We had the UT inter-team championship. Coach switched it to match play my senior year, and Jordan beat me in the final at UT Golf Club. It was 3 and 2,” Frittelli said. “So I'm not too keen to face him again.