99th PGA Championship Recap

08-14-17

Well, that was fun!

Justin Thomas separated himself from the field late on Sunday afternoon to claim his first major at Quail Hollow Club outside Charlotte.

The 24-year old from Goshen, Kentucky picked up his fourth win on the season and elevated himself into some rarefied air.

Details after the jump:

Fantasy gamers have never questioned his pedigree, confidence or length so this result shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. The former juinor golf stud has evolved into a world-renowned stud as he joins a very exclusive club with his victory.

Some knocked him for not being able to win full-field events (CIMB, Tournament of Champions are limited-field events) before he shot 59 to win the Sony Open in January.

Some knocked him for not being able to back up his 63 on Saturday at Erin Hills as he faded with 75 on Sunday.

What I learned is that, like most guys before him, it’s nice to get a taste of “that” as it prepares you for the “next time”.

Thomas becomes the first player in a decade to win the PGA Championship without finishing T-20 or better at WGC-BI that season. He was T-28 and closed 70-69-67 so the signs were pointing in the right direction.

The one glaring stat that could have put gamers off this week was he was 175th in fairways entering the week. He finished T-62 in fairways on the week of the 76 players who made the cut  and was No. 1 in driving distance. This reinforces, to me,  the notion that bombing it > finding fairways. He was top five in both putting metrics and led the field in birdies with 20. Hit it far, find it, make birdies. Simple

His final round saw two tee balls hit tree limbs. One sat up in the rough and one bounced on to the sprinkler line. He also had a birdie putt on the lip fall within the allotted 10 seconds. I think it was 9.5 to be exact. He chipped in here, saved par there but his best of the day was came at No. 17. He smoked a FIVE IRON 221-yards on the par three to about 15 feet and sunk the birdie putt to put himself two clear heading to No. 18. He went on to make the best bogey of his career and win by a shot.

All winners have breaks go in their favors. Most winners also lead in birdies and show their nerve down the stretch. He checked all of those boxes and beat the deepest, best field in golf at age 24.

And to think, I still have him for OAD..,

18 Things I Learned?

Another close call in a final round of a major suggests that Hideki Matsuyama is inching closer. His dynamic 61 to win the WGC-BI was just another example of the mega-talent that he has become. He’s not going to sleep well after his 38 on the back nine that included only ONE par. The scar tissue from this will help down the road as he looks to become the only Japanese-born major champ.

When Kevin Kisner says over and over and over and over that he loves Bermuda he’s worth a punt at any event played on that surface. His finish today isn’t going on any highlight reels but gained valuable experience at this altitude. Gamers will be frustrated with the double at the last but he had to hole the shot to force a playoff. These guys don’t care about money; they care about winning.

Which brings us to Captain America, Patrick Reed. Did you know this was his first top 10 in a major? Major championship golf is REALLY HARD folks! He was not thrilled that he ran out of holes on Sunday and remarked that if he finishes second or 50th, it’s the same: he didn’t win. How do you not root for that guy? There can only be four major champions a year and like the rest of the 20-somethings, he’ll be in this conversation for years to come.

No Italian has ever won a major championship or a PGA Tour title for that matter so Francesco Molinari had more than a bit of history going against him. You wouldn’t have noticed on Sunday as he was one of five to post the low round of the day, 67. His 64 on Friday didn’t hurt either as that helped him make his ninth consecutive PGA Championship cut.

2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen now has achieved the runner-up Grand Slam in the majors. That’s pretty impressive especially after catching a root on Saturday and requiring some treatment after the round. His eagle on No. 15 and closing birdie made him some serious cash and vaulted him as only the seventh player in history to accomplish the runner-up slam. I’d mention how I still have available in OAD but I suck at that game…

As EVERYONE on the golf internet joked how much fun #SB2K18 is going to be, the great off-season debate is going to be: Does Rickie Fowler/Hideki Matsuyama/Patrick Reed/name other golfer here win a major next year? Fowler now has SEVEN top five finishes in major championships and two were this year. He went T-11 (penultimate group) at Augusta, T-5 at Erin Hills from the third-to-last group, T-22 at Royal Birkdale and T-5 with the T-low round of the day on Sunday this week. Knock. Knock. Knock.

Sometimes you just have to trust the hot hands in Fantasy Land. Grayson Murray, winner at the Barbasol, was T-6 entering the final round and had it to four-under before he remembered he was playing in only his second major…Chris Stroud needed almost 300 wins to claim his first Tour title last week at Barracuda and played in the final threesome this week. His T-9 was his first appearance in a major since the 2014 PGA Championship…Chez Reavie was the last man into the field after Brandt Snedeker WD and began the final round T-12 before finishing T-22 Those three free-wheeled it and it paid off.

Usually Jordan Spieth is higher up this read but his quest to complete the career grand slam never got on track. When I talk about the ultra-premium flavors T-28 isn’t very good regardless of coming home in 33 with no bogeys. He’s set the the bar that high and I’m not sure who was fading him this week. I guess I should have!

Hey look! Matt Kuchar top 10! He was 71st in driving distance but 13th in fairways hit. It also doesn’t hurt to have his short game as he led the field in SG: Around the Green. Read this: T-4 at the Masters with 67 to close; 68 to finish T-16 at Erin Hills; 69 to finish second at Royal Birkdale and 68 to finish T-9 today. Maybe he should be in that list of guys who could be next!

Can you believe that in three majors this season Dustin Johnson’s best finish was his T-13 as he closed with 67? That follows DNS, MC and T-54 in the other three. I remember in early April when he wasn’t going to lose ever again. More proof of why making major selections early in the year is a waste of time. It’s a combination of who’s hot, who’s not, course, weather, etc. that I can’t possibly know in January. Silly exercise to try and a colossal waste of brain power that I don’t have anyhow. Rant over.

Ok, Jason Day, you win. I give up. I’m blindly throwing you into every lineup annually at this event regardless. Imagine if he didn’t make eight on Saturday at the final hole…

Oh look! There’s Brian Harman, Marc Leishman, Paul Casey and Brooks Koepka having another top 15 week. Harman’s career-year steams along while gamers who haven’t accepted what Casey is have lost their minds. Koepka’s major win hasn’t satisfied him one bit as he keeps churning out big finishes. The Aussie Leishman has now made nine cuts in a row on Tour and eight of his last 10 majors.

Fair play to Henrik Stenson for snapping his terrible course form here to finish T-13. I guess when you change 1/3 of the course, regrass the greens again and make it hard AF, that’s what gets his attention. Sometimes the metrics have to outweigh the past history and class is permanent. Big players usually show up for the biggest events and he’ll be up the list at Wyndham on Tuesday.

Rory McIlroy was the only player who made the cut that didn’t make a putt outside of 10 feet for the WEEK. Gamers need to be aware that his back is not fully healed and the rest of his schedule for 2017 is up in the air. Sigh.

Fantasy golf is hard so I apologize if THIS WEEK was the first time you hopped on the Charley Hoffman, Tony Finau or Xander Schauffele bandwagon. They don’t fire every week, sadly but they did up until this point. Nothing lasts forever folks, not even cold November

Remember when Adam Scott won the Masters and the floodgates were going to open? Yeah, me too…I’ll be interested to see how many more events Justin Rose decides to play the rest of this year as well as there is something clearly bothering him at the moment. Too many tracks that should have fit his eye haven’t produced any results sadly for gamers…Steve Stricker has now made the cut in 26 consecutive majors. That’s incredible…and finally:

See you all Tuesday with the preview for the Wyndham Championship!

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