Reflecting on the PGA Tour's Fall Season
Viktor Hovland’s 12-foot birdie putt to win the Mayakoba Golf Classic brought the curtain down on the PGA Tour’s Fall Season. There are a number of unofficial events taking place in December and here at Golfshake we will be keeping you up to date with everything that happens, but we will not see another full-field event until the Tournament of Champions in Maui, from January 7-10.
But what a few weeks we have seen. Who could ever have predicted that Stewart Cink, Brian Gay, Jason Kokrak, Martin Laird, Carlos Ortiz, Robert Streb and Hudson Swafford would return to the winners’ circle? But they all did.
We also witnessed Tiger Woods record his worst ever score as a professional, running up a 10 at the 12th hole during the final round of The Masters before following it with five birdies in his closing six holes. And Phil Mickelson made an astonishing start to his Champions Tour career, winning his first two events.
Harry Higgs (Safeway Open), Scott Harrington (Sanderson Farms Championship) and Brendan Steele (Mayakoba Golf Classic) each made an albatross. None of them won. Korn Ferry Tour pro Will Zalatoris made a hole-in-one at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, then earned Special Temporary Membership on the PGA Tour.
We saw Bryson DeChambeau muscle his way to victory in the US Open at Winged Foot, arguably the most fearsome course in the United States. DeChambeau smashed the ball off the tee, hacked his way out of the rough and left a world-class field shaking their heads in disbelief. And then we saw Dustin Johnson continue his wonderful run of form in winning The Masters to finally secure his second major title. And in the same tournament we also saw Rory McIlroy play superbly for 54 holes. Unfortunately, majors are played over 72 holes.
Bernhard Langer, 63, became the oldest to make the Masters cut. Playing with DeChambeau on Sunday at Augusta, he hit hybrids and three woods into most of the par fours. DeChambeau, meanwhile, scraped the clouds with his tee shots and drove the third green. And the outcome? Langer shot a 71, DeChambeau a 73.
(Dustin Johnson Cruised to Victory at Augusta National)
Cink, 47, won the Safeway Open. It was his first success since the 2009 Open Championship, when he defeated the legendary Tom Watson in a playoff at Turnberry. He is currently fourth in the FedExCup standings. Last season he was 144th.
Gay, 48, won the Bermuda Championship - his first title in over seven years. Kokrak made 26 birdies and won the CJ Cup, his maiden victory in his 233rd start on the PGA Tour.
Laird won a playoff against Austin Cook and Matthew Wolff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, his first trophy since the 2013 Valero Texas Open. Swafford (Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship) hadn’t won since the 2017 The American Express, and Sergio Garcia, 40, putted with his eyes closed at the Sanderson Farms Championship. It was his first victory on Tour since the 2017 Masters, and he pointed to the sky and fought back tears while remembering his two uncles who had died as a result of coronavirus.
“It’s hard,” Garcia said, which also described so much of 2020.
Ortiz broke through at the Houston Open in his 118th career start and broke down in tears. Streb won The RSM Classic six years after winning the 2014 RSM, a stretch of 165 starts.
Spare a thought for Matthew Wolff. Runner-up to DeChambeau at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Wolff was second to DeChambeau again at the U.S. Open, and in his very next start lost a playoff at the Shriners.
Johnson shot 20 under at Augusta to break the Masters scoring record (Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth) by two. He also finished T2 at the Houston Open, and T6 at the U.S. Open and, of course, leads the FedEx Cup standings again.
Johnson is 252 points ahead of No. 2 DeChambeau, who along with Mickelson and Adam Scott experimented with extra-long driver shafts. Thomas revealed a grudge match with Charlie Woods, 11, as Justin and dad Mike, and Tiger and son Charlie, anticipate their first-ever appearance at the PNC Championship in Orlando.
Said Thomas, “We'll have that like inner tournament within a tournament.”
It wasn’t good news all the way - too many members of the PGA Tour failed Covid tests - and that number included Johnson.
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