Stat attack!: Northern Trust Open review

By John AntoniniFebruary 17, 2014, 3:00 am

We should get used to the what we saw Sunday during the final round of the Northern Trust Open. It has all the ingredients of becoming one of the top rivalries on the PGA Tour. The right-handed bomber who has won at least once in each of his seven years in the big leagues against the left-handed slugger who won the 2012 Masters and led the Tour in driving distance four times in the last eight years. Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson epitomize the new breed of PGA Tour star – long off the tee, tall as the trees, cool under pressure, and as much of an athlete as any of the basketball stars who dunked the night away at the NBA All-Star Game. Although they didn’t quite play one-on-one in the final round at Hogan’s Alley, the pair were certainly aware of each other’s presence on the leaderboard, and Watson’s two-stroke win over Johnson marks the fourth time in five years the two have finished in the top five at the same PGA Tour event.

Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson in contention at the same event

 Tournament Bubba Watson Dustin Johnson
 2014 Northern Trust Open Won 2nd
 2013 Hyundai T of C T-4 Won
 2011 Farmers Won T-3
 2010 PGA  2nd T-5

Watson led the Northern Trust Open in driving distance - the official stat, not the distance of all drives - marking the fourth straight week either he or Johnson has led the field in that statistic. Watson leads the circuit in driving distance at 320.8 yards in 2013-14 and hammered 18 drives longer than that at Riviera. Johnson was eighth in distance at the NTO at a pedestrian 303.3 yards per poke, but he led the field in greens in regulation, hitting 53, two more than Watson, who was third on the week. However, Johnson’s weekend rounds of 69-66 couldn’t match Bubba’s spectacular bogey-free 64-64, the lowest weekend total at the Northern Trust Open since the tournament returned to Riviera in 1973.

Lowest final 36 holes at the Northern Trust Open since 1973

 Total Scores Player Year
 128 64-64 Bubba Watson 2014
 129 66-63 Doug Tewell 1986
 131 65-66 Tiger Woods 1998
 131 62-69 Fred Couples 1990
 131 67-64 Lanny Wadkins 1985
 131 63-68 Gil Morgan 1983
 131 61-70 George Archer 1983

Watson wasn't just the first player with two weekend rounds of 65 or better at Riviera, he was only the fourth player since 1990 to shoot at least two rounds that low in the same week at the Northern Trust Open. Three of the four would go on to win.

Players with two rounds of 65 or better at the Northern Trust Open since 1990

 Year Player Scores Finish
 2014 Bubba Watson 70-71-64-64 Won
 2009 Phil Mickelson 63-72-62-72 Won
 2007 Charles Howell III 69-65-69-65 Won
 2002 Scott McCarron 69-65-65-71 T-2

Watson's 128 also matched the lowest final 36 on the PGA Tour in 2013-14.

 Total Scores Player Tournament
 128 64-64 Bubba Watson Northern Trust Open
 128 62-66 Jimmy Walker Open
 128 64-64 Kevin Na Open
 129 63-66 Ian Poulter HSBC Champions

But Riviera CC was far from a pushover. Of the 18 courses the PGA Tour has played in 2013-14, it ranks as the sixth-toughest behind Torrey Pines' South Course, the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort and the three venues used during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Toughest courses on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Rank Course Average to par
 1 Torrey Pines South   +1.797
 2 Pebble Beach  +1.385
 3 Spyglass Hill +0.755
 4 Seaside Course +.0255
 5 Monterey Peninsula +0.252
 6 Riviera +0.209

Johnson, meanwhile, finished second for the second consecutive week on Tour. He shot a closing 66 at Pebble Beach a week ago to finish one stroke back of Jimmy Walker. He’s one of eight players to finish second on consecutive weeks in the last 10 years.

Runner-up finishes in back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour from 2005-2014

 Year  Player  Runner-ups  Next start
 2014  Dustin Johnson  Pebble, Northern Trust  
 2013   Phil Mickelson  FedEx, U.S. Open MC Greenbrier 
 2013   Brandt Snedeker  Farmers, Phoenix Won Pebble Beach 
 2009   Brett Quigley  Puerto Rico, Tampa MC Arnold Palmer 
 2007   Tim Clark  John Deere, Milwaukee T-6 WGC Bridgestone
 2007   Jose Coceres  Mayakoba, Honda T-29 Heritage
 2006   Trevor Immelman  Wachovia, Nelson T-7 Memorial
 2005   Vijay Singh  Honda, Arnold Palmer T-12 Players

It’s worth noting that not only did Snedeker win in his next start the following week at the 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, but Mickelson, too, stayed hot despite the missed cut at the Greenbrier Classic. Lefty won in his next two tournaments at the European Tour’s Barclay’s Scottish Open and the Open Championship. That’s food for thought as Johnson plays this week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Unless, of course, he runs into Bubba Watson somewhere along the way.

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Ryu wins Meijer Classic by 2 shots

By Associated PressJune 17, 2018, 9:46 pm

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - So Yeon Ryu won the Meijer LPGA Classic on Sunday for her first victory of the season and sixth overall, closing with a 5-under 67 for a two-stroke margin.

The 29-year-old South Korean player birdied the par-5 16th and par-4 17th and parred the par-4 18th to finish at 21-under 267 at Blythefield Country Club.

Two strokes behind Anna Nordqvist and Lee-Anne Pace entering the round, Ryu had six birdies and a bogey in the final round.

Full-field scores from the Meijer LPGA Classic

Caroline Masson was second after a 68. Lydia Ko shot a 67 to finish third at 18 under.

Nordqvist and Pace each shot 73 - after each had a 64 on Saturday - to tie for fourth at 17 under with Jacqui Concolino (66), Azahara Munoz (68) and Angela Stanford (70).

U.S. Women's Open winner Ariya Jutanugarn shot a tournament-record 62. She birdied five of the first seven holes, eagled No. 8 and added three more birdies to finish 12th at 15 under.

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Fleetwood fires 63, waits to see if score is enough

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2018, 8:52 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Tommy Fleetwood became the sixth player to shoot 63 at the U.S. Open, and just the second to do it in the final round. Now he waits.

Fleetwood teed off almost 2 ½ hours before – and six strokes behind – the leaders at Shinnecock Hills on Sunday, but stormed into the hunt thanks to four consecutive birdies starting at the 12th hole. The Englishman’s round was even more impressive considering he didn’t birdie either of the layout’s par 5s.

U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage

Fleetwood finished at 2 over par – after missing a 9-foot putt for birdie and 62 at the 18th – which was tied for second place and one stroke off the lead held by Brooks Koepka when he completed his round.

After speaking with the media, Fleetwood went to the locker room to await a possible playoff, which was changed this year from an 18-hole overtime to just two holes of aggregate play.

“We'll go and relax a little bit and just see,” said Fleetwood, who rolled in 159 feet of birdies putts. “Only time will tell what's going to happen today at the course. If it was like yesterday, I'd feel a little more comfortable than now.”

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Fowler follows 84 with 65, praises Shinnecock setup

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2018, 5:44 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – As promised, the USGA dialed back Shinnecock Hills for Sunday’s final round, watering the greens overnight and deferring to more user-friendly hole locations.

The evidence of this was on the leaderboard, with four early finishers having shot under-par rounds, including Rickie Fowler, who closed with a round-of-the-week 65. There were just three under-par cards on Saturday.

“That's the golf course I enjoy playing. Obviously, pin placements were a lot safer,” said Fowler, who had just one bogey on Sunday and opened his day with a 4-under 31 on his opening nine. “The pins today will definitely allow for the greens to firm up and get fast, and we'll see how much they dry out. It was definitely more receptive this morning than yesterday, that's for sure.”

U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage

It was a 19-stroke turnaround for Fowler, who ballooned to a third-round 84 on Day 3 during what most contend were the week’s toughest conditions. Fowler had put himself into contention going into the weekend thanks to a second-round 69, but struggled on Saturday afternoon like much of the field.

Fowler said the setup was vastly different to what players faced on Saturday and that even if the winds increase for the afternoon tee times the course will remain playable, unlike Round 3 when many players said the USGA “lost” the golf course.

“They did a good job of staying safe,” Fowler said, “because if it does dry out, it will still be very playable.”

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Phil celebrates par on 13, ducks media after round

By Ryan LavnerJune 17, 2018, 5:35 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Phil Mickelson didn’t have another meltdown at the U.S. Open.

Back on the 13th green Sunday – less than 24 hours after taking a two-shot penalty for hitting a moving ball and recording a sextuple-bogey 10 – Mickelson poured in a 10-footer and raised his arms in mock triumph, as if he’d finally won that elusive major title.

Not quite.

He’d simply made par.

“It looked like he won the Masters,” said playing partner Rickie Fowler. “He didn’t jump, but he had a little celebration there.”

U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage

The par save and the final-round 69 were one of the lone bright spots during what was an adventurous week for Lefty, even by his unpredictable standards. Mickelson’s shocking swat was still the talk of this Open, especially after USGA executive director Mike Davis revealed Saturday night that Mickelson had called him to ask for more clarification on the rule he said that he knew he’d broken.

Despite some calls for him to withdraw from the tournament, Mickelson displayed his usual cheerful demeanor inside the ropes with Fowler.

“He joked about it right as we went down the first hole,” Fowler said.

Fowler said that he didn’t know “if I would have had the wits like Phil to run after it” on 13, but added that it never should have come to that in the first place.

“He could have saved himself a shot by just letting it go and taking unplayable, but then that would still look pretty funny too,” he said. “The course shouldn’t play that way.”

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”