Billy Horschel provides one other spectacular in his résumé, the round-robin format comes below extra scrutiny, Joel Dahmen wins one for Golf Twitter, Inbee Park gears up for a serious week the one means she is aware of how, and extra on this week’s version of Monday Scramble:
One of Billy Horschel’s profession targets is to play on a Ryder Cup staff, and he left a robust impression Sunday with a 2-and-1 victory within the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play championship match over Scottie Scheffler.
Horschel beat a bunch of big-name gamers en path to the $1.8 million title – Genesis winner Max Homa; reigning PGA champion Collin Morikawa; European Ryder Cup hero Tommy Fleetwood; future Ryder Cupper Victor Perez; after which the 2020 Rookie of the Year Scheffler, who was enjoying in entrance of the UT trustworthy – and served discover to U.S. captain Steve Stricker that he has the products.
He’s feisty. He’s achieved, with six Tour wins, together with the FedExCup, and a world rating inside the highest 20. And now he has this hard-earned match-play title.
“I feel like I should have been on Ryder Cup teams before,” Horschel stated, “but that’s my fault because I haven’t done what I needed to do to take care of that. But maybe this is the year.”
For extra on Horschel’s gritty win, try colleague Rex Hoggard’s column from Austin.
Critics of the round-robin format on the WGC-Dell Match Play had much more ammunition after a sleepy championship Sunday.
Unpredictability is enjoyable, however not when practically EVERY high participant is eradicated; just one top-20 seed (Jon Rahm) superior to the knockout portion of the championship. The common seed of the advancing participant this 12 months was 43.4. Of the highest 10 gamers within the strokes gained: tee to inexperienced statistic – aka the blokes who’re hitting it the perfect – solely two (Robert MacIntyre and Kevin Kisner) superior to the Round of 16. That reveals the format shouldn’t be essentially figuring out the perfect gamers.
The two semifinals and 18-hole last included simply 9 whole birdies. Sure, that was largely a product of harder circumstances, with cooler temperatures and a gradual breeze out of a unique route, however the high quality of golf wasn’t the identical. The finalists performed seven matches in 5 days, together with back-to-back 36-hole doubleheaders on the weekend.
Tired legs and frayed nerves seldom produce inspiring golf.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Horschel conceded. “I feel sorry for the fans watching the coverage because they didn’t see any great golf shots, or very few of them. They saw a lot of sloppiness.”
The championship match hardly ever lives as much as the suspense of the previous couple of days, when there’s at all times the specter of the underdog and going dwelling early. The Jason Day-Victor Dubuisson scramble-off in 2014 was the final memorable finale. But the round-robin format (launched a 12 months later) has led to too many weekend letdowns, so let’s strive one thing new, because the Tour appears wholly in opposition to the previous single-elimination bracket, particularly with the occasion so near the Masters.
Our proposal: 54 holes of stroke play, then knockout match play over the weekend for the highest 16.
This accomplishes just a few issues:
• It retains the celebs on the town for not less than three days;
• It ought to produce some thrilling playoffs to succeed in the weekend;
• The high gamers could be finest positioned to advance via medal play, organising a stronger bracket;
• And there are nonetheless 4 matches over the weekend.
Let’s do it.
Joel Dahmen scored one of the most popular victories of the PGA Tour season on the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
The 33-year-old is a most cancers survivor who toiled for years on the mini-tours earlier than sticking the previous few years on the massive circuit. He’s been strong if unspectacular, dwelling out his dream whereas comfortably conserving his standing every season and interesting to diehard golf followers (and writers like me) together with his trustworthy and revealing interviews. “The last four years have been pretty easygoing; they’ve been easy for me,” he stated. “Not easy, but I played great.”
That hasn’t been the case in 2021, when Dahmen missed six cuts and tied for sixtieth within the different occasion. But he and his staff by no means panicked, and he texted his loyal caddie Geno Bonnalie this message final Monday morning, after every week off to work on his recreation:
Joel despatched me this textual content previous to our flight Monday morning. And sure, I’ve 1067 unread texts. I’ll do my finest to reply 🍻
— Geno Bonnalie (@GenoBonnalie) March 28, 2021
Dahmen opened with 67, ran off 4 birdies early Sunday after which held on for a one-shot victory – his first on Tour. Though the opposite-field win doesn’t include a Masters invite (“I’m going to take the Masters off for my 33rd year in a row,” he joked), it does include varied different perks, together with a visit to Kapalua to start out 2022 and a two-year exemption.
“I’ve been a pretty solid player out here for a couple years now,” he stated, “and I was due for a win. It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but it’s pretty darn cool.”
Michelle Wie West’s long-awaited return to the LPGA Tour ended faster than she hoped after lacking the lower by eight photographs on the Kia Classic.
One web site famous how Wie West improved seven photographs from spherical to spherical (81-74), however the massive takeaway right here was how the 31-year-old reported no setbacks together with her wrist and nonetheless needs to reside among the many recreation’s elite, even after enduring so many bodily setbacks and turning into a mom final 12 months. The Kia was Wie West’s first LPGA begin since June 2019. For some time, she thought her profession was over.
There’s a large mountain to climb for her to as soon as once more develop into a weekly menace, however Wie West says she’s dedicated to the duty. That’s half the battle. She’s additionally within the area this week on the ANA Inspiration.
Speaking of which …
It’s time for the first LPGA main of the 12 months!
What a tough match to forecast. There’s been solely 4 LPGA occasions performed to date this 12 months, and so they’ve been received by achieved gamers: Both Korda sisters, Jessica and Nelly; Austin Ernst; and Inbee Park, who closed out her 21st LPGA title with a dominant wire-to-wire efficiency in her season debut on the Kia. Still, that is like enjoying the Masters after solely the Tour’s West Coast swing. There simply isn’t an enormous pattern measurement to think about.
World No. 1 Jin Young Ko has a pair of top-5s in three begins. Second-ranked Sei Young Kim doesn’t have a top-10 in three tries. Last week was the primary time that every of the highest 10 gamers on the earth teed it up in the identical match.
Conditions are ripe for one more participant to interrupt via, except, in fact, the Queen ’Bee double-dips: After all, Park has a win and 5 different top-10s in her profession at Mission Hills. Lexi Thompson has completed inside the highest 7 in six of her final seven appearances there, and she or he’s coming off a runner-up on the Kia.
Some extra excellent news: At least this 12 months they won’t have that ridiculous backstop on the 18th green.
THIS WEEK’S AWARD WINNERS …
Gotta Try Something: Rory McIlroy. Frustrated together with his route and unable to see longtime swing coach Michael Bannon as usually as he’d like due to COVID-19 journey restrictions, McIlroy made the transfer, formally, so as to add famend teacher Pete Cowen to his secure. The first order of enterprise is getting McIlroy’s iron play (particularly his wedges) below management, and he solely received three days of labor final week after going 1-1-1 in pool play. Completing the profession Grand Slam subsequent week appears unlikely, however a brand new set of eyes ought to get McIlroy again on observe for the summer season stretch.
Won’t Be Dustin Johnson’s Cup Partner Anytime Soon: Kevin Na. During their third-round match, Na determined to lecture the world No. 1 after Johnson scooped a 1-foot putt that Na hadn’t but conceded. Na was nicely inside his rights and did the sporting factor by not making DJ forfeit the outlet, however he may have dealt with the state of affairs higher: Did he actually need to name Johnson again over to the inexperienced – a 50-yard stroll – simply to place his hand on his shoulder and scold him for an harmless mistake on a 13-inch putt? Of course not. Gently remind him on the subsequent tee: Hey, man. Just watch out, as a result of I’ve gotta say one thing first …
Kevin Na giving DJ a lesson on scooping a ball earlier than it is formally conceded:
Na: “I know it’s this, but you still have to wait until I say something.” pic.twitter.com/GVJhXMBMXI
— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) March 26, 2021
Na didn’t suppose he did something unsuitable and downplayed any friction between the 2. DJ didn’t speak to reporters after the loss and, in a shock transfer, signed up for the Valero for the primary time since 2015 (Editor’s be aware: Johnson formally withdrew from the Texas Open on Monday afternoon). We do not know if he was extra annoyed with himself or Na. Clearly, although, he needs to dial in his recreation a bit of extra earlier than his title protection at Augusta – he’s gone three consecutive begins with out a top-25, his longest stretch since summer season 2019.
When Even the Consolation Match Means Something: Victor Perez. In the third-place match Victor Perez and Matt Kuchar had been enjoying for extra than simply the distinction of $140,000. A solo-third end on the WGC would have given Perez particular non permanent membership on the PGA Tour, which means he’d be eligible for limitless sponsor exemptions the remainder of the season. Though he misplaced within the semis, Perez nonetheless must be in good place to earn that standing with one other respectable match, following top-10s now in each the Match Play and The Players. At No. 30 on the earth, he’s the highest-ranked participant on the earth who shouldn’t be a Tour member.
The Hottest Player within the World (Non-Tour Division): Daniel Van Tonder. With Justin Harding stumbling on the ultimate day in Kenya in his bid to go back-to-back, Van Tonder rallied to seize his fifth title in his previous 13 begins. He’s principally been beating up on guys on the Sunshine Tour, however hey: a W is a W. He’s as much as 73rd on the earth.
Hard-Luck Loser, Part 1: Patrick Cantlay. No one received hosed by the pool-play format greater than Cantlay, who made 15 birdies, an eagle and solely 4 bogeys throughout his three matches, but he was despatched packing after dropping a tiebreaker playoff to Harman, whom he’d already defeated. At 9.4 strokes gained: tee to inexperienced, nobody performed higher than Cantlay, in the event you’re questioning about his kind heading into Augusta.
Hard-Luck Loser, Part 2: In Gee Chun. In a tie for fifth heading into the weekend on the Kia, Chun apparently forgot to signal her card – a violation of Rule 3.3b(2), which ends up in a disqualification. From an opportunity to win to a weekend off. That’s a harsh lesson discovered.
Thankful for Fans: Matt Kuchar. Late in his Round of 16 match in opposition to Jordan Spieth, Kuchar instructed the followers on the sixteenth gap to duck below the ropes and assist him discover his errant second shot earlier than the 3-minute requirement elapsed. Despite rooting for the previous Longhorn Spieth, they did find the ball, with about 20 seconds to spare, and Kuchar paid it off with a vital par to stay tied. He finally received on the ultimate inexperienced.
That Hurts: Texas’ Kaitlyn Papp and Agathe Laisne. Both Longhorns, ranked inside the highest 16 within the World Amateur Golf Ranking, examined constructive for COVID-19 final week and had been compelled to withdraw from the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. A bummer, for certain, however not less than they received to play within the inaugural occasion two years in the past. Papp, chances are you’ll recall, additionally performed within the last group Saturday on the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open.
Uhh, Priorities?: Andrew Yun. The former Stanford stud missed the beginning of his second little one after he Monday-qualified for the Tour occasion within the Dominican. Yeah, it’s a tricky approach to make a dwelling and sacrifices need to be made, however was the T-22 (in an opposite-field occasion!) actually price it? “I’m trying to make the most of this opportunity,” he stated, then added sarcastically: “But at the same time, I think it gives you a good perspective on life in general. Golf’s not the most important thing, it’s family.”
Won’t Do That Again: Rafael Campos’ early name. Ah, sure, this was robust to observe, as Campos’ birdie putt to tie on the ultimate inexperienced lipped out, leaving him one again of Dahmen and breaking the center of the native Puerto Rican. But let this be a lesson to you, youngsters: Start your celebration after the putt drops, not earlier than.
TOP 5 TAKEAWAYS, FROM A RYDER CUP PERSPECTIVE
1.) Steve Stricker has an unenviable job. There’s nonetheless six months to go, nevertheless it’s fairly clear that some uber-talented gamers are going to be left at dwelling. Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele would robotically qualify if the staff was determined immediately. (We know: It’s not.) All of these guys will probably be on the staff; solely Brooks Koepka is a query mark, due to his newest knee damage. After that: Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger, Webb Simpson, Horschel and Patrick Cantlay spherical out the highest 12. With six captain’s picks, who’re you actually going to go away out from that group? And guys like Scheffler, Kisner, Jordan Spieth, Will Zalatoris and Matthew Wolff are all on the surface trying in.
Stricker must be hoping the subsequent six months present some extra readability. But that stated …
2.) … if he’s in something resembling respectable kind come the autumn, Kevin Kisner deserves a protracted look. He’s a former champion of the Match Play. He has a 16-6-1 profession document. He has Presidents Cup expertise. He’s a tenacious competitor and robust putter. With six captain’s picks this time, Stricker has the flexibility to spherical out his roster with specialists. Match play is Kisner’s specialty.
3.) Tyrrell Hatton is a complicated participant to determine. He has risen to No. 8 on the earth rating on the power of three wins previously 12 months – all in opposition to sturdy fields, at Bay Hill, Wentworth and Abu Dhabi – however he’s by no means actually confirmed up within the recreation’s largest occasions. He didn’t have an opportunity to win in any of the 5 top-10 finishes he’s posted within the majors. Last 12 months, when he was enjoying the perfect golf of his profession, his main run regarded like this: MC-MC-MC. He went 1-2 within the 2018 Ryder Cup, and final week he managed solely a half-point as the highest seed in a pod that included warhorses like Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
About the one factor we actually find out about Hatton? He’ll tell us when he’s displeased.
4.) Victor Perez goes to gather some pelts come September. Though he’s nonetheless a relative unknown to many within the States, he’s now as much as thirtieth on the earth and practically locked up particular non permanent membership on the Tour. Reaching the semifinals was no fluke – and neither was beating a match-play savant like Garcia and upstart Robert MacIntyre. Pair him with a veteran at Whistling Straits (possibly even Garcia) and let him shine. He’s rock-solid.
5.) Bryson DeChambeau has struggled in match play. The 2015 U.S. Amateur champion hasn’t loved the identical success within the execs, falling to 2-8-1 in match-play competitions, together with a 1-2 efficiency at Austin Country Club. DeChambeau’s immense size will probably be an enormous benefit at a brawny ballpark like Whistling Straits, however Stricker has to seek out him a appropriate associate. That’s not straightforward, so allow us to recommend Patrick Reed. They’re friends and would praise one another’s video games properly in match play.