A Little Reminder of What We Have All Been Missing on the PGA Tour
THE PGA Tour returns with the Charles Schwab Challenge at the magnificent Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, where Kevin Na defends his title. It has been getting on for three months since a ball was last struck in anger so we thought we would give you a brief recap of what happened before the Tour went into lockdown after just one round at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
Sidelined for 10 months after back surgery, Kevin Chappell returned to action in spectacular fashion in the second round at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier. In becoming just the 10th player to break 60 on the PGA Tour, Chappell tied a Tour record by making nine consecutive birdies. “I wanted to shoot 57,” he said after his round. He couldn’t keep it up, however, and the tournament was won by Joaquin Niemann.
In winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Kevin Na made a scarcely believable 558 feet, 11 inches of putts – a record for most feet of putts made since those statistics were kept starting in 2003. “I should have kissed it after I won,” Na said. “I’ll give it a kiss when I get home.”
Brendon Todd spent three years in the wilderness, during which time he could barely make contact with a golf ball, but a new coach and what he says is a new outlook sparked a wondrous return to form. He won in Bermuda, then followed it up with another win in his next start in Mexico at Mayakoba. He nearly made it three straight wins at The RSM Classic before settling for fourth and ending the fall top of the FedExCup standings.
The drought of Australian winners had lasted more than a year. But then the hugely underrated Cameron Smith beat Brendan Steele in a playoff to win the Sony Open in Hawaii. Two weeks later, Marc Leishman won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. And three weeks after that, Adam Scott claimed The Genesis Invitational at Riviera. Three Aussie winners in six weeks. “It's certainly motivation for me seeing Cam and Marc win to come out and make sure I'm not the one lagging behind,” Scott said, before adding, “so over to Jason (Day).”
In early October, Bryson DeChambeau told the world to expect “big changes” in his body after spending weeks in the gym. Thanks to new and intensified training techniques, he planned to become “bigger, way bigger” during the off-season in order to improve his strength. True to his word, he put on 40lb of muscle and now leads the PGA Tour in driving distance. That is no mean feat when you learn that he was 34th last season.
When he holed his second shot at the par-five 15th during the first round of The RSM Classic in November, Johnson Wagner recorded the third albatross of his career, tying Tim Petrovic for the most of any player since 1983. “It’s luck more than anything else,” said Wagner, who used a three wood from 255 yards.
Sungjae Im rarely takes a week off, believing he can only remain competitive by grinding it out week after week. But he did so in February, opting not to play the AT&T Pebble Beach – his only off-week in the last 10 weeks before the season was put on hold. All those starts had Im in top form, as he posted his first Tour win at The Honda Classic, then a solo third at Bay Hill to top the FedExCup standings.
TPC Scottsdale has three par 5s on the scorecard, and Collin Morikawa eagled each one during the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He holed out from the greenside bunker for the first one, then rolled in eagle putts on the other two, becoming the first player to make three eagles in one round at TPC Scottsdale since 1987, the first year the course was the tournament venue. Morikawa, who is regarded by many as the next big thing, was making just his 19th career start on Tour.
Nick Taylor won his first PGA TOUR event in 2015, then went 146 starts before getting win No. 2. It was a memorable one, as he became the first wire-to-wire winner this season, claiming the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Taylor built a big lead over Phil Mickelson, his playing partner in the final round, and then defied 40 mph winds on the back nine.
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton surprised everybody, including himself, when he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Afterwards he revealed that he planned to have a BIG party. “I don’t think I’ll be in any fit state, at least until Wednesday” when asked about the following week’s event, THE PLAYERS Championship. However it went down, Hatton shot a 3-under 69 on Thursday at TPC Sawgrass before the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
in total, 20 different players won PGA Tour events in the 2019-20 season prior to the suspension of the schedule. Here’s how they rank in terms of career wins:
82 – Tiger Woods (ZOZO Championship)
18 – Rory McIlroy (WGC-HSBC Champions)
14 – Adam Scott (The Genesis Invitational)
12 – Justin Thomas (THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, Sentry Tournament of Champions)
8 – Patrick Reed (WGC-Mexico Championship)
6 – Webb Simpson (Waste Management Phoenix Open)
5 – Marc Leishman (Farmers Insurance Open)
4 – Kevin Na (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open)
3 – Brendon Todd (Bermuda Championship, Mayakoba Golf Classic)
2 – Cameron Champ (Safeway Open)
2 – Cameron Smith (Sony Open in Hawaii)
2 – Andrew Landry (The American Express)
2 – Nick Taylor (AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am)
1 – Joaquin Niemann (A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier)
1 – Sebastian Munoz (Sanderson Farms Championship)
1 – Lanto Griffin (Houston Open)
1 – Tyler Duncan (The RSM Classic)
1 – Viktor Hovland (Puerto Rico Open)
1 – Sungjae Im (The Honda Classic)
1 – Tyrrell Hatton (Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard)
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