Monday Scramble: Do it on the Daly

By Ryan LavnerMay 8, 2017, 4:00 pm

John Daly ends a decade-long drought, Brian Harman stops Dustin Johnson, the European Tour rolls out GolfSixes and more in this week’s edition of the Monday Scramble: 

It’s not often that what happens on the senior circuit overshadows the PGA Tour, but never before has the PGA Tour Champions counted Daly as a winner.

His victory Sunday at the Insperity Invitational (his first official win since 2004) was the best-case scenario for a tour in dire need of a spark.  

Bernhard Langer’s dominance is incredible. The influx of newcomers is intriguing. But there was no player on that circuit capable of galvanizing fans young and old like Daly.

Will his breakthrough result in a ratings spike for the senior tour? Probably not. But he can help bring more awareness to the level of play among the 50-and-older set, and he’ll be an even bigger gate attraction in each city they visit. 

It's a win for everyone involved.

1. Despite arriving last year with much fanfare, Daly hasn’t dominated the PGA Tour Champions like many thought he could. In fact, his victory was his first top-10 in 22 career starts.

The reason?

Daly says it’s because he was still learning the courses, so he couldn’t be as aggressive as normal. And he doesn’t do tentative very well.

“I’m not surprised at all,” he said. “These guys can play.”

2. Daly looked like he’d gone 13 years without a victory as he was coming down the stretch.

After building a three-shot lead midway through the final round, Daly’s advantage began to dwindle as he made bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes, bringing Tommy Armour III back into the mix. Daly dropped his third consecutive shot on 18, the most difficult hole on the course, but not before he kissed Arnold Palmer’s umbrella logo painted on the grass. He won by one.  

It was the first time he’d held a lead heading into the final round since the 2005 AmEx Championship at Harding Park.

“Some guys come out here and win right off the bat, get the monkey off their back,” Daly said. “But now I can say I’m a champion on the Champions Tour, which is really cool, and hopefully I can keep this confidence going.” 

3. Was there a more fitting victory celebration than JD getting showered with booze? This is a legitimate contender for GIF of the Year: 

4. Leave it to the 5-foot-7-inch Harman to end the mighty DJ’s three-event winning streak.

With bold play down the stretch, including a pitching wedge to 4 feet on 17 and a go-for-broke 3-wood on 18, Harman pushed one shot ahead to win for the second time on Tour and the first since 2014.

Often overlooked because of his diminutive stature, the left-hander has been solid this season, with eight top-25s this calendar year. In his most recent stroke-play event, at Harbour Town, he tied for ninth.

“[Title] No. 1, you can make all these excuses: 'Oh, is that the only one that’s going to happen?'” Harman said. “But No. 2 feels really good.”

5. After one of his longest drives of the week, Harman had a decision on 18 whether to hit 3-wood, 5-wood or lay up from 271 yards.

He chose 3-wood and flew the green, leaving a delicate chip back toward the water. (He admitted afterward that he should have hit 5-wood instead.) With a few overhanging limbs, he couldn’t hit the high, floating pitch shot that he needed to, so he played safe, leaving himself a 28-foot putt for birdie that would move him one shot ahead of Johnson and Pat Perez, who were already in the house at 9-under 279.

Harman sank the putt.

“I did my best there and it didn’t turn out very good,” he said of the chip, “but I guess it was right where it was supposed to be.”  

6. DJ was so rusty after a month off because of a back injury that he shot 10 under on the weekend and missed the playoff by one.

Yeah, he’s still the best in the world, and at this point, it's not particularly close. Over the past 20 years, only Tiger Woods has had a wider margin between Nos. 1 and 2 in the world ranking.

Johnson’s second-round 75 snapped a streak of 13 consecutive rounds of par or better. He made the cut on the number and figured to be out of the picture. Then he fired back-to-back rounds of 67, including a 72nd-hole birdie that gave him the clubhouse lead.

It wasn’t enough to join Woods (three times) as the only players in the past 60 years to win four tournaments in a row, but DJ is now 589-3 over his last five events. It was the first time he had lost since Pebble Beach.

Even better news?

“Physically, I’m really good,” he said. “Everything’s 100 percent, feeling great. I can swing at it no problem.” 

7. During what has been a strange, inconsistent year for the game’s biggest stars, the only player who has been as consistently excellent as DJ is Jon Rahm, who now has five top-10s in his last six starts.

The 22-year-old Spaniard had the lead to himself on the back nine, but he played his last six holes in 1 over par to fall off the pace. Rahm needed an eagle on 18 to force a playoff, but he flushed his 5-wood 276 yards over the green, leaving a difficult pitch that he had to hole. He made par.

“I knew I had to do it,” he said, “but I didn’t get it done this week. I’m just happy again I had a chance to win.” 

8. It was a final day to forget for the final group of Patrick Reed and Alex Noren.

They combined to go 8 over par Sunday, as both players dropped out of the top 10.

Reed’s plummet was particularly surprising, given his prior closing record (3-for-4) and steely reputation. He played his last eight holes in 4 over par, growing increasingly frustrated with his driving (just five of 14 fairways) and iron play (eight greens).

“Maybe a couple more loose shots today,” Reed said, “but at the end of the day I made absolutely no putts. You can’t have 32 putts on Sunday and think you’re going to win a golf tournament.” 

9. A week after the PGA Tour hosted its first team event in 36 years, the European Tour put on an tournament complete with six-hole matches, music, pyrotechnics, dry ice, long-drive and closest-to-the-pin contests, rowdy crowds, shot clocks and a $1.1 million purse.

Indeed, by all accounts, the inaugural GolfSixes event was a big hit across the pond.

Players, as they were in New Orleans, seemed energized by the change in format, a departure from the doldrums of 72-hole stroke play. They played the unique greensomes format, in which each player hits a tee shot, a ball is chosen, and the partners play alternate shot until the hole is completed.

Denmark won the final over Australia.

“We will always maintain the integrity of the game,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said, “but at the same time, we’ve got to be entertaining. We’ve got to stretch beyond the norm, and I think that’s what we’ve done. Once you get the balance right, then you’re on to something special and something we can build on in the future.” 

10. One of the most appealing aspects of the GolfSixes format was the introduction of a 40-second shot clock. Digital clocks were displayed at the green, fairway and tee, and players and their caddies were responsible for getting the shot away before time ran out.  

The only player who was assessed a one-shot penalty for slow play was, perhaps not surprisingly, an American: Paul Peterson, whose mistake cost the U.S. team a chance to advance to the knockout rounds.

11. It might have looked like a mild upset on paper, but Sei Young Kim’s 1-up victory over Ariya Jutanugarn in the finals of the Lorena Ochoa Match Play wasn’t a surprise considering her level of play.

Kim, who moved to No. 8 in the world, trailed for just four of the 95 holes she played at Club de Golf Mexico. She jumped all over the world No. 2, taking a 3-up lead out of the gates after a birdie-eagle-birdie start.

Even with a shaky finish (an out-of-bounds tee shot on No. 17), Kim was able to hang on when Jutanugarn missed her 10-foot birdie putt on the closing hole.

“I never had such a hard win like today,” said Kim, who has now won six times since 2015. “I am happy that I was able to win and hold this trophy.” 

12. TPC Sawgrass is already one of the most penal courses on the planet.

Making this week even more interesting are a few changes, namely that the 12th is now a drivable par 4 with water down the left. A pond has also been added between the sixth and seventh holes.

How players will attack these holes will be a big topic of conversation early this week.  

Willy Wilcox was so poor on the greens last week that he joked on Twitter he was going to try putting with his eyes closed.

He would have been better off, because he instead chose to switch putters mid-round (the second round resumed Saturday morning). That's a no-no.

Wilcox was assessed a four-shot penalty … except he thought it was an automatic disqualification, so he withdrew from the tournament. He would have been six shots off the cut line anyway, but it was a bizarre end to a bad week. 

This week's award winners ... 

Still Not Connecting with the Common Man: Ian Poulter. The Englishman was mocked for asking his Instagram followers how they mark their practice balls, as if any of us hackers actually (1) have Pro V1 practice balls, or (2) concern ourselves with such inanity.

Now Off Twitter: Dottie Pepper. The CBS Sports analyst logged off the social-media site after being swarmed by Internet trolls who relentlessly ripped her for a condescending interview with Zurich co-leader Scott Brown, whom Pepper mistakenly said did not have a PGA Tour title. “Tired of the idiots,” she told SB Nation. 

Still Got It: Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam. Competing together in the Hall of Fame exhibition match, Ochoa and Sorenstam, two of the best players of the past two decades, combined to shoot 5 under par and defeat Se Ri Pak and Juli Inkster by four shots. 

#Trending: Kevin Tway. The son of the former PGA champion has very quietly posted three consecutive top-5 finishes on Tour. 

All But 2 of the Top 50: The Players field. One of the deepest tournaments in golf will feature 48 of the top 50 players in the world. The only guys who won’t tee it up are Belgian Thomas Pieters and Brandt Snedeker, who injured his hand at the Masters and doesn’t want to jeopardize his status for next month’s U.S. Open.

Verbal Commitment: Baby Fitz. Matt Fitzpatrick’s younger brother, Alex, has committed to play college golf at Wake Forest, a top-10 program, in the fall of 2018. His older brother stayed only a semester at Northwestern before turning pro. “Hopefully last longer than my brother,” Alex tweeted. 

Fashion Statement of the Week: Rickie Fowler. His outfit at the Kentucky Derby was, in a word, bold. But then again, your trusty scribe used to wear a velour track suit in the winters, so who are we to judge?

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Webb Simpson. The unofficial ambassador at Eagle Point, he was supposed to have invaluable course knowledge that would propel him into contention … or to rounds of 73-75 and a missed cut. Sigh. 

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Garcia among notables to miss FedExCup playoffs

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 10:24 pm

For the first time in the 12-year history of the FedExCup, the PGA Tour's postseason will proceed without Sergio Garcia.

The former Masters champ has struggled mightily this summer, missing the cut in all four majors, and he entered the Wyndham Championship at No. 131 in the season-long points race with only the top 125 making the playoffs. Six years after winning at Sedgefield Country Club, Garcia again made a run up the leaderboard and was projected to reach No. 122 heading into the final round.

But on an afternoon where Brandt Snedeker shot 65 en route to victory and runner-up Webb Simpson carded a 62, Garcia shot an even-par 70 that included three back-nine bogeys to drop from a tie for eighth into a tie for 24th. As a result, he moved up only three spots to No. 128 in the final regular-season event and will not have a tee time next week at The Northern Trust.

Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

He will remain fully exempt next year by virtue of the five-year exemption he earned with his Masters win last spring.

Garcia was one of 13 players who had made the playoffs every year since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. Two other members of that select group also saw their streaks end this year, as former world No. 1 Luke Donald has missed most of the season with an injury while Bill Haas finished No. 152 after a T-45 finish at Wyndham.

Other notable players who failed to crack the top 125 include veterans Aaron Baddeley (No. 132), Shane Lowry (No. 140), David Lingmerth (No. 143) and Graeme McDowell (No. 144), all of whom saw multiple-year exemptions for victories in 2015 or 2016 expire this weekend in Greensboro.

Players who finish Nos. 126-200 in the season-long points will have an opportunity to retain their PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season at the Tour Finals, a four-event series that kicks off next week in Ohio. Players who finished Nos. 126-150 will retain at least conditional PGA Tour status for next year regardless of their Finals performance.

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Bryant wins Dick's Sporting Goods Open for second time

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 10:17 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Bart Bryant made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Dick's Sporting Goods Open for the second time in six years.

With playing partner Michael Bradley facing a 7-foot birdie putt that he would make, the 55-year-old Bryant rolled in the left-to-right breaking putt for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke victory.

''It felt good. It really did,'' Bryant said. ''He hit a great shot in there. He went after the pin, which he had to do. ... I gave it a good run. But to make a putt like that to win a tournament, there's a little bit of luck involved and it was just kind of my day. ... I've had putts made on me on 18 to lose before, so it's nice to be on the other end of the stick this time.''

Bradley, the second-round leader, bogeyed the par-4 15th in a 68.

''It was fun. We had a good time,'' Bradley said. ''He shot 65-65 on the weekend, that's tough to beat. But I put a little pressure on, I hit a good shot into 18. He made a hell of a putt.''

Also the 2013 winner at En-Joie Golf Club, Bryant made six birdies in a nine-hole stretch from the third to the 11th and had six straight pars before the winning birdie putt on the par-4 18th.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

''I played awfully well, I didn't hit a bad shot today,'' Bryant said. ''I played conservatively, a little bit conservative coming in, but smart. It got the job done. Very pleased with the way everything went.''

Bryant finished at 16-under 200. The three-time PGA Tour winner's only senior victories have come at En-Joie, the site of the PGA Tour's B.C. Open from 1972-2005.

The 52-year-old Bradley is winless on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour.

''I played solid, 65-68-68,'' Bradley said. ''I just got beat.''

Tom Gillis (67) and Marco Dawson (68) tied for third at 13 under, a stroke ahead of Paul Goydos (65), Kenny Perry (67) and Mark Calcavecchia (67).

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Snedeker goes wire-to-wire for first win since 2016

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 10:12 pm

Even after shooting a 59 in the opening round, Brandt Snedeker had to work to secure his ninth career victory at the Wyndham Championship.

Snedeker led at Sedgefield Country Club the entire week after becoming just the ninth player to break 60 on the PGA Tour, carrying a one-shot lead into the final round. But he was caught down the stretch, first by C.T. Pan and later by Webb Simpson, to leave the outcome very much undecided.

But Simpson ran out of holes, and Pan made a costly mistake by hitting his tee shot on No. 18 out of bounds while holding a share of the lead. It meant that Snedeker needed only bogey to earn his second Wyndham title and first Tour victory since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open, instead opting to sink a 20-foot birdie putt for a closing 65 and three-shot win.

"I guess I'm turning into Bubba Watson, wanting to cry every two seconds," Snedeker told reporters. "To do it here, to shoot 59 on Thursday, to be in the lead all week, to deal with that pressure every night, to be able to step up to the plate today and shoot 65 when I had to means the world to me."

Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points list

Snedeker struggled with injury for much of last season, and this spring he missed the Masters for the first time since 2010 while toiling near the edge of the top-125 bubble in the points race. But the veteran turned things around with a T-6 finish in Memphis in June, added a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier and now has come full circle in the city where he earned his first career win at nearby Forest Oaks in 2007.

"I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was," Snedeker said. "I've still got a lot of great golf in me. I'm excited about the FedExCup playoffs. I've done this before, I've won that thing, and I can't wait to try to make a run to Atlanta in the playoffs because I'm playing great."

It was a bittersweet result for Pan, who had his wife on the bag this week and briefly appeared poised for a breakthrough victory. The former University of Washington standout made six birdies in a 12-hole stretch in the middle of his round to catch Snedeker, but his drive on No. 18 sailed well right. It led to a double bogey, and at 18 under he ended the week tied for second with Simpson.

The result was still Pan's best of his young PGA Tour career, having started the week at No. 108 in the points race despite not having a single top-10 finish this season.

"Just had a little noise in my head and it caused me to hit a bad shot," Pan said. "But overall I feel good about the whole round. I played great. Just one bad shot, but that's OK."

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Taylor crashes playoffs with closing 63 at Wyndham

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 9:31 pm

Nick Taylor picked a good time to shoot his best round of the season.

Taylor was the big mover in the standings during the final regular season event, shooting a final-round 63 at the Wyndham Championship to grab a share of eighth place. The result moved the Canadian from No. 129 to No. 121 in the season-long points race, ensuring a spot in The Northern Trust next week and fully-exempt status for the 2018-19 season.

"You try to block it all out when you're playing. I tried not to look at any leaderboards today, especially the second 18," Taylor told reporters. "When I got my PGA Tour card the first time I shot a 63 in the final round ironically of the Finals. So I tried to draw back on that, and it worked today."

Taylor earned his lone PGA Tour win at the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship, and he dug himself an early hole Sunday morning with a triple bogey on No. 14 while completing his rain-delayed third round. But he made four straight birdies on Nos. 2-5 in the final round, added an eagle on No. 15 and birdied the 72nd hole to retain his card with room to spare.

"It was a long day, obviously," Taylor said. "It was a lot of sleepless nights. Last night I didn't sleep that great."

Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points list

Taylor was one of two players who moved inside the top-125 bubble in the final round of the regular season. Harris English started the week at No. 132, but a T-11 finish allowed him to eke in at No. 124 with no room to spare. English shot a final-round 68 that included a two-putt par from 60 feet on No. 18 when a bogey would have sent the veteran to Tour Finals.

"It's one of the more nerve-wracking feelings I've had in a long time," English said. "It's a way different feeling than trying to win a tournament. I'm glad it's over."

With Taylor and English moving into the top 125, two players saw their seasons come to an end after missing the cut at Sedgefield Country Club. Martin Piller fell from 124th to 126th and was the man edged out by English's closing par, while Tyrone Van Aswegen dropped two spots from No. 125 to No. 127.

Ireland's Seamus Power, who also missed the cut in Greensboro, finished the season at No. 125 with 377 points, six ahead of Piller.

All players who finished the season Nos. 126-200 on the points list will have a chance to earn one of 25 PGA Tour cards available at the four-event Finals, while Nos. 126-150 will retain conditional PGA Tour status for next season.