Stat attack!: RBC Heritage review

By John AntoniniApril 21, 2014, 1:14 am

Apparently Matt Kuchar took issue with David Feherty’s comment on Sunday's edition of “Morning Drive” that nobody would be able to shoot a score as low as 64 in the final round of the RBC Heritage. Feherty opined that the rain and the wind would make Harbour Town GC a Sunday beast, but Kuchar begged to differ, his could-have-been-better, could-have-been-worse 7-under 64 giving him an 11-under 273 and a one-stroke victory over Luke Donald, who for the fifth time finished in the top three at Hilton Head without getting to don the tartan jacket. Kuchar’s 64 tied the record for best final round by a winner at the Heritage.

Best final-round score by a winner at the RBC Heritage

 Score Player Year
 64 Matt Kuchar 2014
 64 Brandt Snedeker 2011
 64  Brian Gay 2009
 64 Stewart Cink 2004

Best final-round performances by Matt Kuchar

 Score Tournament Finish 
 63 2010 Humana T-2
 64 2014 RBC Heritage Won
 64 2009 Humana T-25

Kuchar’s Sunday score offset a second-round 73, which was one of the highest final-round scores by a winner in 2013-14 and one of seven rounds over par by an eventual winner on Tour this year.

PGA Tour winners in 2013-14 despite shooting one round over par

 Player Score Tournament Round
 Zach Johnson 74 Hyundai T of C Third round
 Jimmy Walker 74 AT&T Pebble Beach Fourth round
 Russell Henley 72 Honda Classic Fourth round
 Patrick Reed 75 WGC-Cadillac Second round
 John Senden 72 Valspar Champ. First round
 Bubba Watson 74 Masters Third round
 Matt Kuchar 73 RBC Heritage Second round

The victory was Kuchar’s fourth straight top-10 finish and culminates a month where the now seven-time PGA Tour winner could have – some might say should have – won every time. Kuchar was T-4 at the Valero Texas Open, second at the Shell Houston Open and fifth at the Masters. He held the lead on Sunday in the Texas events and was one stroke back of the 54-hole leaders at the Masters. He is the first player with top-10 finishes in four consecutive PGA Tour events since Ryan Moore in 2012. (Unlike Kuchar, who played all four weeks, Moore and Dustin Johnson, who also accomplished the feat in 2012, had built in off-weeks during their streaks, as their runs came partially during the PGA Tour Playoffs.) Here are the players with three straight weeks in the top 10 since 2013.

Most consecutive weeks with top-10 finishes since 2013

 Weeks Player Year Tournaments
 4 Matt Kuchar 2013-14 T-4-Texas, 2-Houston, 5-Masters, 1-Heritage
 3 Zach Johnson 2013-14 1-Hyundai, T-8 Sony, T-3 Humana
 3 Brandt Snedeker  2013 T-2-Farmers, 2-Phoenix, 1-Pebble
 3 Charles Howell III 2013 T-3 Sony, T-2 Humana, T-9 Farmers
 3 Daniel Summerhays 2013 T-9 Greenbrier, T-4 John Deere, T-2 Sanderson Farms
 3 Graeme McDowell 2013 T-5 Match Play, T-9 Honda, T-3 Doral
 3 Jim Furyk 2013

T-9 Canada, T-9 Bridgestone, 2-PGA

 3 Scott Stallings 2013 T-4 Colonial, T-4 Memorial, T-2 FedEx St. Jude
 3 Zach Johnson 2013 T-4 Bridgestone, T-8 PGA, T-5 Wyndham

In his four-week run, Kuchar has finished in the top 10 in greens in regulation twice and driving accuracy three times. His putting – as might be expected from anyone watching his stunning three-putt from four feet on the 17th hole Sunday at Hilton Head – has been unremarkable.

Matt Kuchar’s statistical ranking the last four weeks

 Tournament Driv. Dist. Accuracy GIR Putts per round Scrambling
 Texas 60 7 T-28 T-5 5
 Houston 49 26 1 T-44 T-58
 Masters 46 T-7 T-14 T-16 8
 Heritage 56 T-7 1 T-36 11
 Season rank 152 31 33 T-61 16

Kuchar’s comeback Sunday made a bridesmaid of Luke Donald at the Heritage for the third time. He has finished in the top three at Harbour Town five times without winning. There is only one other player with five top-three finishes, but no wins, at the same PGA Tour event since 2000. You know who he is. He’ll try to end his drought at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in June.

Most top-three finishes in one event without winning: 2000-2014

 Player Top 3s Tournament Seconds Thirds
 Luke Donald 5 RBC Heritage 2009, 2011, 2014 2010, 2013
 Phil Mickelson 5 U.S. Open 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013  
 Mike Weir 4 AT&T Pebble Beach 2005, 2009 2003, 2006
 Charles Howell III 4 Sony Open 2007, 2012 2005, 2013
 Vijay Singh 4 WGC-Cadillac 2003, 2008 2000, 2002

Harbour Town’s smallish green complexes yielded its usual low number of putts. Chesson Hadley and Jordan Spieth led the field with 102 putts. They are among the fewest putts taken at a tournament in 2013-14.

Fewest putts, one tournament 2013-14

Putts Player Tournament Finish
 100 James Driscoll Humana T-18
 101 Scott Langley Humana T-18
 101 Will Mackenzie Valero Texas T-2
 102 Chad Collins Humana T-8
 102 Brian Harman Northern Trust T-3
 102 John Daly Sony Open T-32
 102  Pat Perez Valero Texas T-11
 102 Chesson Hadley Heritage T-38
 102 Jordan Spieth Heritage T-12
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Woods, Leishman, Fleetwood grouped at Northern Trust

By Will GrayAugust 20, 2018, 10:55 pm

While 125 players qualified for The Northern Trust this week, only 120 have decided to tee it up at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. Here's a look at a few of the marquee, early-round tee times where players are grouped via FedExCup standing and Tiger Woods makes his first start since a runner-up performance at the PGA Championship (all times ET):

7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

Woods starts the postseason at No. 20 in the points race, with a great chance to advance to the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013. He'll look to pad his point total this week in the Garden State, making his return to competition after a week off following a strong showing at Bellerive. He'll play the first two rounds with Leishman, who has two runner-up finishes this season, and Fleetwood, who nearly caught Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open.

8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

There should be no shortage of eye-popping drives from this trio, who comprise the top three in the season-long points race heading into the playoffs. Johnson holds the No. 1 spot in both the world rankings and the FedExCup, having won three times since January, while Thomas will look to become the first player to go back-to-back in the playoffs and Koepka hopes to add to a career year that already includes two majors.

8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

Simpson got back into the winner's circle in impressive fashion at The Players Championship, and he heads into the playoffs off a T-2 finish last week at the Wyndham Championship. Molinari cruised to victory at the Quicken Loans National before his major triumph at Carnoustie, while DeChambeau's win at the Memorial highlighted his season that brought him to the cusp of a Ryder Cup berth.

12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

Normally featured among the points leaders at this point in the season, Spieth heads into the playoffs at No. 43 in the standings, sandwiched between a pair of players whose best results came in playoff losses. Hossler has had a quietly strong season that was highlighted by a runner-up to Ian Poulter in overtime at the Houston Open, while An lost a playoff to DeChambeau at the Memorial.

12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

There will be four green jackets among this group, as the reigning Masters champ is joined by a pair of Ryder Cup hopefuls in Mickelson and Finau. Lefty broke a lengthy victory drought with his WGC-Mexico win in March but has largely slowed this summer, while Finau notched top-10 finishes in each of the first three majors to enter the discussion for possible picks for Paris.

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Randall's Rant: Too much Tiger for his own good?

By Randall MellAugust 20, 2018, 10:00 pm

We could be getting a dose of way too much Tiger Woods.

Yeah, that’s difficult to fathom, given how good his return to the game has been on so many levels, but the man might be too close to winning for his own good right now.

I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but a reasonable person has to wonder how playing the next three weeks in a row – five of the next six weeks – will affect Woods’ surgically fused spine.

That isn’t to say Woods is actually going to end up playing that much, but it looms as a real possibility.

In fact, dating back to the WGC Bridgestone, it’s possible he could be amid a run of playing seven times in the last nine weeks.

My sacroiliac joint is throbbing at the thought.

Beginning with The Northern Trust this week, Woods is committed to the first three legs of the FedExCup Playoffs, and it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t play the final leg at the Tour Championship if he qualifies.

It’s impossible to imagine he won’t be among Jim Furyk’s four captain’s picks to play the Ryder Cup.

So if Woods continues this streak of strong play, what’s going to give?

We hope it isn’t his back.

Or his neck.

Or his knees.

Only Woods and his doctors really know how much the 42-year-old can take physically, but there is more to lose than to gain by overdoing it now.

Yeah, the FedExCup Playoffs are great fun, more meaningful with each passing year, but it’s all about the major championships now for Woods.

Competitively, it’s all that matters.

Nobody but the most anal Tiger fans are going to remember how many FedExCups he won, but we’re all going to remember how many majors he won.

We’re all going to remember him resuming his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus, if that’s where his summer tease is taking us, with Woods’ T-6 at The Open last month and his second-place finish at the PGA Championship two weeks ago.

Whether you are a Woods fan or not, how can you not want to see a historic chase of Jack as Tiger’s last chapter?

The game soars to yet another level with that.

A legion of young, new fans come pouring into the game even if Tiger only gets to 17 major championship titles.

So while the FedExCup Playoffs give us a postseason in golf, make Player of the Year chases more interesting and Ryder Cup captain’s picks more intriguing, they are a mere prelude for Tiger.

The playoffs give him another chance to get ready for next year’s Masters.

They give him a chance to win something before heading to Augusta National.

They give him another chance to rebuild his closing skills.

Woods doesn’t have to win the overall FedExCup to do that.

And he doesn’t have to play every event he commits to playing. He’s 20th in FedExCup points right now. He can get to the Tour Championship without playing all three of the legs leading there.

The tough spot for Woods is withdrawing from a FedExCup event. It’s trickier for him. With all the extra tickets sold when he commits, with all the excitement his anticipated arrival creates, it feels like a broken promise when he backs out.

Yeah, other players WD before big events for reasons beyond injury, but they don’t create the massive disappointment Woods creates.

For somebody invested in wanting to see Tiger vs. Jack reprised, it’s a lot easier to live with seeing Woods pull out of a FedExCup Playoff event to rest than to see him WD from one with an injury.

There’s more excitement in the prospect of seeing a lot of Woods in the majors next year than seeing too much of him now.

Here’s hoping somebody helps Tiger gets his FedExCup Playoff dosage right. His pain could be golf’s pain.

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Watch: Marshawn Lynch's golf game could use some work

By Grill Room TeamAugust 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch is pretty great at driving golf carts, but from the looks of a video that surfaced this weekend, his golf prowess starts and ends there.

"Beast Mode" was in attendance at Klay Thompson's charity event in San Francisco on Sunday, and luckily the Golden State Warriors shooting guard caught Lynch's swing on camera - because it is a sight to behold.

Dressed in a traditional golf hoodie, the former Super Bowl champion who has been thrilling fans with his raw athleticism and power on the gridiron for more than a decade showed off a swing that would make Charles Barkley blush.

Lynch was not questioned about the swing by members of media afterwards, although there's a pretty good chance you already know how he would've answered.

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Stenson (elbow) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 20, 2018, 5:41 pm

Former FedExCup champ Henrik Stenson will start his postseason on the sideline, as he withdrew on Monday from The Northern Trust because of an elbow injury.

Stenson captured the season-long title back in 2013, when he won two of the four playoff events. At 50th in the current points standings, he's assured of a spot next week at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship and likely to make the field at the 70-man BMW Championship the following week.

A PGA Tour official confirmed that Stenson cited the elbow injury as the reason for his withdrawal. He was bothered by an injured elbow last month that led him to withdraw from the Scottish Open and limited his prep for The Open, where he tied for 35th.

The 42-year-old defended his title last week at the Wyndham Championship, tying for 20th place after shooting a 6-under 64 in the final round.

"It's fine, I can practice and I can play without any problems as of now, but I can't really go after it in the gym fully," Stenson told reporters last week in Greensboro. "The main thing that we can play and practice without having any problems there, so it's getting better."

The intrigue around Stenson's decision grows when the context of the Ryder Cup is taken into consideration. The Swede has represented Europe in the biennial matches four times, but he's currently 16th in both the European Points and World Points lists with only two weeks remaining in the qualification window.

Even before skipping this week's event in New Jersey, Stenson appeared likely to need a pick from captain Thomas Bjorn, who will round out his 12-man roster with four selections on Sept. 5. Other notable players who are not currently in position to qualify include Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Russell Knox, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters.

Stenson becomes the fifth player to withdraw from this week's field, which does not feature alternates and is now down to 120 players. Rory McIlroy opted to rest up this week, while Patrick Rodgers is skipping the tournament to attend a wedding. Both Rickie Fowler (oblique) and Bud Cauley (June car accident) withdrew because of injury.