Skip to main content

What we learned: Byron Nelson, Sybase

Morgan Pressel and Jason Dufner
Getty Images

Each week, the team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week we learned that unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA has no problems with extending penalties for slow play.

I learned that Jason Dufner isn't exactly practicing what he preaches. This past Wednesday, I stood on the driving range at the Byron Nelson Championship as Dufner produced a debate team-worthy rant – yes folks, he really does talk – about how difficult it is to win on the PGA Tour. He cited Fred Couples, a probable Hall of Fame inductee, who won less than 2 percent of his starts. He pointed out the depth of talent on the game's most elite level. And then he went out four days later and refuted his own theory, making it look easy in his second victory in his last three events. OK, so maybe he was right; maybe it really is tough to win on the PGA Tour. You just wouldn't know it by watching him lately. – Jason Sobel

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the facts or specifics; I don’t have a list of every slow-play penalty assessed or the official times of all the rounds played on the LPGA or PGA Tour.

But today’s slow-play penalty assessed to Morgan Pressel – that arguably cost her a shot at the Sybase Match Play Championship – tells me that the LPGA isn’t afraid to dole out penalties. The PGA Tour on the other hand … I’m not so sure.

Tiger Woods openly admitted last week that pace of play on the PGA Tour has gotten worse, and that rounds take 5:45 to six-plus hours. Most recently, Kevin Na was under the microscope for pre-shot waggles and was put on the clock at The Players Championship. But he was never assessed a fine – the first strike on the PGA Tour – or any penalty strokes. Pressel was put on the clock at the 12th and assessed a penalty on the very next tee box.

Again, I don’t have all the facts, but with all the recent hubbub about slow play and penalties, one thing became clear Sunday. The LPGA knows the rules and isn’t afraid to enforce them while the PGA Tour prefers to keep its players happy, even if it has to turn a blind eye to do so. – Bailey Mosier

You can argue that officiating – and not the participants – determined the outcome of the Morgan Pressel-Azahara Munoz match. You cannot, however, argue that LPGA officials made the proper decision in penalizing Pressel. The group had been twice warned for slow play, and regardless of who was the original culprit, both players were well aware of their situation. Pressel’s excessive time on the 12th hole was egregious.  The policy had to be enforced. I learned that the LPGA – unlike the PGA Tour – isn’t afraid to play the role of heavy. – Mercer Baggs

I learned it was a smart decision for Jason Dufner to return to work so quickly after getting married. In his second start after tying the knot with Amanda Boyd, Dufner won the HP Byron Nelson Championship with a 26-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole.

When Dufner won for the first time in 164 PGA Tour starts in New Orleans, the Auburn product said the seven-figure check would help pay for his wedding. This latest million-plus check will help him pay to renew their vows. Dufner may want to consider doing that pretty soon, and quite often.

Dufner used his cool demeanor to take out Ernie Els in New Orleans. Perhaps like defeating the Highlander, Dufner can gain some measure of Els' immortality in the sport. How about a nickname? There's room for the Lil Easy on the PGA Tour, right? – Ryan Ballengee

I learned that Jason Dufner could win his first and second PGA Tour titles in a month and it wouldn’t even be the best thing that happened to him. That, of course, was his wedding the week after claiming his initial title in New Orleans. Or that he would become just the second two-time Tour winner this season with his walk-off birdie on Sunday at the Byron Nelson. – Rex Hoggard

I learned that you should never, ever turn a golf tournament off until the final putt drops. Jason Dufner winning with that bomb on 18 instantly transformed the Byron Nelson from snoozer to stunner. Nationwide Tour player Nick Flanagan’s 72nd-hole approach that he banked off a cameraman and onto the green, setting up a birdie putt that forced a playoff that he ultimately won, well, you don’t see that every day. And something you shouldn’t see every day, or ever, is a third-place match in a match-play tournament. Was there any interest in the Morgan Pressel-Vicky Hurst consolation match in the Sybase Match Play Championship? Just pay each semifinal loser the same amount and concentrate all interest in the final. – Al Tays

John Hancock Pivotal Moments