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Australian Steven Bowditch was dialed in on a soggy TPC Four Seasons course all week and his final round 64 saw him breeze home with a four-shot victory. Bowditch missed the tying the tournament record by one shot but his 18-under-par 259 was plenty for his second career win on TOUR. A trio of Americans, Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker and Scott Pinckney shared second on 263. Par for the final three rounds of the tournament was 69, the first time since 1983 that this has played under par-70. #MotherNature.
Bowditch held the 18-hole and 54-hole lead along with the 36-hole co-lead so being in front on Sunday wasn’t going to bother him much. His only other victory, the 2014 Valero Texas Open, saw him lead after 36 and 54 as well. He used that experience to calm his nerves as he rolled in seven birdies and a handful of clutch pars to keep the field at arms-length. He never was in any trouble after the first five holes but he did roll in a handful of par putts that kept his momentum rolling downhill. With birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 the ending was never in doubt.
For the second consecutive week the TOUR had to deal with Dallas weather and soaking wet conditions. It was so bad that hole No. 14 couldn’t be used as a par four so it was converted to a par three after Thursday’s round and rain. The TOUR used 69 as par for the final three rounds and that was just part of the story. Tee times were pushed back; ball-in-hand was used in the closely mown areas; everything was muddy. Sunday turned out to be perfect but the course was so wet that the great iron players and putters were rewarded. Greens were very receptive and putts weren’t going to get away from the players if they made aggressive strokes.
Why This Performance Doesn’t Surprise
If his first round was any indication (bogey-free 62) Bowditch wasn’t going to have any problems with the conditions of the course. He tied his career low round on TOUR and was filled with confidence. The Dallas resident was married on this course so he should be filled with fond memories. He missed the 54-hole record by one shot so he wasn’t fluking anything this week.
Why This Performance Surprises
Since his win at the 2014 Valero, Bowditch has hit the top 10 exactly once in just more than a year. He was solo second 18 events ago at Frys.com. In his last 17 events he’s MC or DQ 10 times. His best finish in four starts at TPC Four Seasons was T60 in his first appearance; he’s MC his last three years. Of his first 10 rounds, eight of them were 70 or worse before his 62-68-65-64 this week. #Turnaround. He entered the week of DQ last week at Colonial.
How Bowditch Won This Week
He made 27 birdies to lead the field.
He was second in putts per GIR and SGT while finishing ninth in GIR.
He smoked all four rounds in the 60s with 68 being the worst of the bunch.
The bogey-free 62 was the peach of the week and he only made three total birdies on the weekend.
He found nine greenside bunkers and got up-and-down eight times. True or False: All Australians are great sand players? True.
His only top 10 last year was his victory so I’m not sure how many salary cappers jumped and put him on the roster this season. Those who did purchase have found two pleasant results with solo second at Frys.com and this week’s victory. He’s playing a ton of events the last two years and he has shown he can get hot and contend, just not in the consistent sense gamers would love to see. Remember, the climb to this spot has been difficult off the course but the talent has always been there. Moving forward, I’ll look at him where birdies are necessary and it’s probably not a coincidence that his other “best” finish last year was at the JDC. Remember, this is two wins in 14 months and not many guys on TOUR can claim that distinction.
With This Win:
The 127th-ranked player will move on up and his exemption from last year will stretch out through 2017. He collects $1.278 million to put his season cash over $2 million for the first time in his career. He’s now half way to the Texas Grand Slam that only Adam Scott has ever accomplished. Ok, then!
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After 28 wins in 45 events last season, the USA has continued the dominance this year but not this week.
Brooks Koepka, Bill Haas, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson, Ryan Moore, Robert Streb, Ben Martin, Brandt Snedeker, James Hahn (born in Korea; US citizen), Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Matt Every, Walker again, J.B. Holmes, Spieth again, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler and Chris Kirk are the USA champs.
Alex Cejka (Germany), Paddy Harrington (Ireland), Sangmoon Bae (Korea), Nick Taylor (Canada), Jason Day (Australia) Justin Rose (England), McIlroy times two (Northern Ireland) and Aussie Bowditch are the nine international winners in 29 events. It’s quite the global game in the sense that seven of the eight international winners have come from seven DIFFERENT countries.
Haas, Bae, Martin, Moore, Walker and Spieth have closed their 54-hole leads. Walker, Spieth and Kirk are the only persons on BOTH sides of this list; Walker couldn’t close out at HTOC but came back and won the following week at Sony. Spieth, who was 0-4 with the 54-hole lead in his career on TOUR, couldn’t hold out at SHO before winning the Masters. Kirk couldn’t close his 54-hole lead at THE PLAYERS but had no trouble coming off the pace last week at Colonial . Bowditch is only the 10th player in 28 events (no 54-hole leader at WGC-Match Play) to hold the 54-hole lead.
After 13 first-time winners in 2013 there were only 10 last year. After 29 events in 2015, Martin, Streb, Taylor, Koepka, Hahn and Cejka have made their breakthroughs. Scott Pinckney, T2, was looking for membership this week.
Bowditch breaks up a two-year run of first-timers but they still have won four of the last six editions.
Bowditch’s course form was terrible so that’s more reinforcement that this course is “gettable” by any and all. #Crapshoot.
Only Tom Watson has defended his title here as last year’s winner Brendon Todd MC by two shots.
That’s now five winners from eight from foreign lands since the 2008 redesign.
Looking ahead to 2016 gamers can throw these results out. Dallas had received over 12 inches of rain in the weeks leading up to the tournament so replicating these playing conditions would almost be impossible. Not too many “light hitters” in the top 20 was hardly surprising given the soaked conditions.
Gamers will also need to remember that par was 69 for the final three rounds so Bowditch’s total of 259 is not the par 70 tournament record.
Bowditch is now the 15th of the last 21 winners to put all four rounds in the 60s.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
I annually keep track of the age of the winners on TOUR because I’m an ageist. GET OFF MY VIAGRA.
Bae got the youngsters (under 30) on the board first in 2014-15 followed by Martin and Streb, both 27. Nick Taylor, 26, popped in to close out 2014 at SFC. Reed joined the party at a whopping 24 at HTOC followed by Koepka, 25 in Phoenix and Jason Day, 27, at Torrey Pines. Spieth, who turns 22 on 29 July, has won at Valspar and Augusta. McIlroy turned 26 on Monday, May 4. Fowler, 26, and McIlroy won again at Quail Hollow. The youngsters now have 11 winners in 29 events this year.
Dustin Johnson (30), James Hahn (33), Brandt Snedeker (34), Bill Haas (32), Jimmy Walker TWICE (36), Charley Hoffman (37), Bubba Watson (36), Ryan Moore (31), Matt Every (31), J.B. Holmes (32), Justin Rose (34), Chris Kirk (30) and Bowditch, 31, are the prime time guys with silverware (30-39 years).
The old guys (40-and-over) have Jim Furyk, Paddy Harrington and Alex Cejka as representatives in their smallish club in 2015. Kenny Perry, who I touted last week, decided THIS week would be better as he finished T16. Kenny is 54. I’m a day late and a dollar short. Again. Cameron Percy, who just turned 40 earlier this month covered that with T10.
What I learned from the finishers INSIDE the top 10 this week.
Charley Hoffman: His worst finish in Texas in four events this season was T11. He backed up his top 10 here last year with T2 this year so that makes three top 10s in his last five at TPC Four Seasons. He also backed up his T10 at Colonial coming home with 29 in the final round. He’s been T17 or better in seven of his last eight including five T11 or better.
Jimmy Walker: Another week and another player from the FADES page to hit the top 10! His win at Valero was followed by T38-T52-MC and T65 last week at Colonial. His best finish at TPC Four Seasons in his last seven was T23. I don’t think he would have won this week but it was alarming to see how many putts inside four feet he missed. Chalk this week up to the gamers who buy on name only as they’ve shown us the way again! Walker proves again that his class is permanent and his form is temporary.
Scott Pinckney: This is his third time in the top 10 in his last eight starts on TOUR but T2 is his best ever. He’s only played in 48 professional events but the learning curve seems to be getting figured out quite quickly. He’s played 10 of the 13 weekends in calendar 2015 and is over $1.1 million for the year. He’s secured for next year so that’s job No. 1 complete. He’s a very solid putter and iron player and that’s not a combo most weeks, especially next week at Memorial.
Zach Johnson: So much for the theory that a foot of rain will eliminate the “short” hitters this week! ZJ has been striking the ball fantastically well the last two months but was making absolutely nothing. His worst finish in that streak was T20 over eight events. His solo fifth this week was EXACTLY the tonic the non-believers needed as he was T2 in fairways, T9 GIR and sixth in putts per GIR. No surprise why he finished where he did!
Brandt Snedeker: The last week two things about Sneds stuck out to me. The first was how pissed off he was last week that he didn’t win at Colonial. Second was how he rebounded this week after opening with 71. He could have mailed it in, blamed the weather or the conditions and went home but he went out the final three days 66-64-64 to finish T6. Finally, his putter was carrying the weight as he was fourth in putts per GIR so smoke and mirrors this is not. Neither were the 22 birdies he made. #ArrowUp
Jon Curran: The 36-hole co-leader looked dead and buried on Saturday after going out birdieless in 37. He rallied to come home in 30 and his 68 on Sunday saw him hit the top 10 (T6) for the fourth time this year. His P2 at the PRO is his best finish of the season. This week he was T2 GIR, T4 fairways and 13th putts per GIR. He entered the week No. 198 in driving distance and No. 136 in SGP. He only made six bogeys on the week so his accuracy is noted.
Jason Dufner: Sure he was the 2012 champ and T8 in 2011 but his recent form didn’t suggest a top 10 this week. His opening round of 71 with one birdie reinforced that belief. He played his final 15 holes in round two five-under to make the weekend and then shot 64-66 to hit the top 10. It’s just that easy! This was his first top 10 since October and only third top 25. He’s lost a ton of weight and his wife through divorce so gamers that are invested will be thrilled to see this turn of events especially with summer and three more majors coming. He finished the week first in fairways and T9 GIR so that means his putter cooperated to some degree and that NEVER hurts him.
Dustin Johnson: He’s this week’s “vacuum player” of the week. Gamers who just see T8 will think “yep, just as I figured; long course, windy, DJ is the man”. The rest of us who watched will think that he threw a great chance to win down the toilet with a QUAD. After opening birdie-par-birdie, Bowditch had a big-time player all of a sudden in his rear-view mirror. Until DJ hit one a mile right OB. His re-tee was half-a-mile left into the ganuch and it took him three to hack out. Sigh. He rallied to play his final 12 holes two-under to get back to even but “what if” was definitely in play before hole No. 6. I’m not letting two bad swings get me down as it’s now six top 10s in 11 events since February, the start of his season.
Nick Watney: He missed his last three starts on TOUR so his T10 this week was a surprise to say the least. He’s now played TPC Four Seasons twice since 2008 and has hit the top 10 both times. Before you rush him into the lineup next week please be aware that it was his PUTTER, not his ball-striking that was the major factor this week. Watney is known for his ball-striking but he was 10th in putts per GIR. That’s fool’s gold in fantasy land.
Daniel Berger: He returns to the top 10 (T10) for the first time in four events since T6 at Zurich. His final nine on Thursday was 40 to sign for 72 but he went HAM in the final three rounds 65-64-66. He only made four bogeys in that stretch and only had seven bogeys for the week (plus a triple). This was his fifth top 10 and 10th top 25 in 21 events for the rookie. It seems like every week him or Justin Thomas is in the top 25 or top 10.
Cameron Percy: There was bad weather at Valero and Percy finished T15. There was bad weather this week and he finished T10. In between, like Watney, he MC-MC-MC and this was the last event in Texas. It’s his third top 10 in 73 events as a pro on the big TOUR. He just turned 40 and has made eight of 15 cuts this season.
Tony Finau: Another bomb-and-gouger with success this week on the back of very solid current form. Finau backed up his T16 at Quail Hollow with T19 last week at Colonial including a 66-68 weekend. His T10 this week is his first trip to the top 10 since Mayakoba 15 events ago. Rookies go up and rookies go down but there’s no doubting his overall talent. He’s played 13 weekends and nine have gone for top 25s. Buy, buy, buy!!!
Colt Knost: The social mayor of Dallas had a chance for bigger bucks this week but a slippery five-footer on No. 17 slid just by and a five-footer on the final hole for par did the same. He was third this week in putts per GIR so hence the frustration. He’s now played four weekends in a row and his T10 this week matched his T10 last week at Colonial so put him in the rolodex for Dallas next season as well. This makes it three top 10s in his last 13 events in 2015. This is his best finish in eight tries at TPC Four Seasons and only his third weekend. He’s pushing $800k in winnings so he’s near the “safe zone” for 2016. This might loosen him up as well as his career-best year on TOUR is about $850k.
Ryan Palmer: Make it three top 10s in the last five at TPC Four Seasons as the Dallas resident breaks up a four week funk. After bogey-double to MC last Friday at his home course, gamers had to put that behind them and remember that he loves golf EVERYWHERE in the Metroplex, just not at Colonial.
A quick recap of what happened to the Chalk from my preview column:
Jordan Spieth: Last year he said in his post-round interview that this course really doesn’t fit his eye. This year he said that he prefers it “fast and firm” and that was exactly the opposite of how it played. After finishing second-P2-T2 in the first three Texas events, T30 is disappointing. In five events at TPC Four Season his best finish is T16 when he was 16 so there is something about this course that he might be being polite about yet not saying.
Dustin Johnson: T8, see above.
Gary Woodland: T60. If you see me on him, just gather your shit and RUN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. He’s like the American Jason Day for me. I can’t figure it out. He only made six bogeys as he hit 74% GIR but he was 60th in putts per GIR. HIT IT CLOSER, BRO!
Jason Day: WD with “dizziness” during the pro-am after five holes on Wednesday.
Marc Leishman: Turd in a punchbowl. With a top 10 and three other starts inside the top 30 in his last four on TOUR, I didn’t think he was going to be the guy who didn’t fire this week. He played the weekend in five of his first six here and never finished worse than T12. His MC makes perfect sense!
Ian Poulter: WD on Tuesday with tightness in his back. He’s done until Chambers Bay.
Matt Kuchar: After beginning 2015 T17-T3-T2 Kuchar has one top 10 in his next 10 and only two more top 25s. What a disaster for gamers. I’ll be fading Kuchar next week to assure he WINS or hits the top 10. Please donate to my kickstarter fund to make this happen.
Brandt Snedeker: T6, see above.
Justin Thomas: A first-timer who hits it a mile and can putt was one of the recipes this week. It just goes to show you what kind of year Thomas is having where he was inserted into lineups without blinking an eye. His T55 stretches his streak of weekends to six in a row. It was his first finish outside the top 25 in five starts.
Charley Hoffman: T2, see above.
Zach Johnson: Fifth, see above.
George McNeill: WD on Wednesday; no reason given.
Danny Lee: T34 with four rounds in the 60s this week. He racked up three eagles including a hole-in-one. He’s played five of the last six weekends on TOUR.
Jerry Kelly: His excellent run of form continues as he began Sunday T15. His one-over 70 saw him drop to T30 because of a chilly putter. His 18 birdies were T8 for the week and he made nothing. Sizzling!
I’ll publish my weekly preview, Range Rover, around lunchtime, children permitting. I’ll focus on history, current form, course characteristics, winning qualities and those who I think will and will not.
Coming TUESDAY Afternoon
Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday late afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game, DFS plus the European Tour! Oh, and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it every Tuesday until the Presidents Cup.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the Memorial plus answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.