Sunday’s final round at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was a far cry from the round we saw last year. One year ago we were watching Bill Murray and D.A. Points waltzing down the fairway in one of the biggest joke tournaments our league has ever seen. This year we were treated to a masterpiece of a final round that had everything you could possibly want. While the pairing of Tiger and Phil was the major headline (and deservedly so), Charlie Wi was also an interesting storyline going into Sunday, as he was trying to put an end to the PGA Tour’s recent epidemic of blown final round leads. That asperation lasted all of about fifteen minutes, as Wi promptly four-putted the first hole for double bogey (evidence that all those lessons at the ‘Brendon de Jonge University of Culinary Arts and Putting” clearly paid off). Phil Mickelson ultimately proved to be the main story on Sunday though, as he gave us one of the most flawless final round performances in the history of Spreadsheet Fantasy. It took Lefty just 26 putts to close out the tournament, as he hit all but one fairway, made par putts of 30 and 38 feet, and went bogey free, while Tiger Woods needed 31 putts, hit just 50% of the greens in regulation, and missed two par putts from inside 3 feet. It wasn’t necessarily the epic duel that we were hoping for, but it’s certainly a result that will have the golf buzzing for the next couple of days. Phil’s milestone win also marks the second time that James has won back-to-back tournaments, a feat that no other team has accomplished, and gives James a serious lead over the rest of the league. Let’s take a look…
James has picked up where he left off at the start of the season, as the early frontrunner now has 2 wins and 6 top tens through just 5 weeks (two of which were second place finishes). A few big point weeks have been the key for the two time defending champion, as his two wins and two second place finishes are making up just over 75% of his total points. Phil’s 100 point win this week certainly takes away a bit of the sting from his early season struggles, but Nick Watney’s 2nd straight top fifty due to a poor final round is somewhat concerning. Geoff Ogilvy’s top 25 was also a bit disappointing, as the trash-stached Aussie could only muster a final round 73. All in all, if James can keep his early season momentum going, it looks like a third straight SSF Championship could be on it’s way.
Bryce came into the Pro-Am needing a big tournament, and that’s exactly what he got. Sitting alone in sixth, and just 35 points ahead of Brent, Bryce needed to make up some ground on the field, especially in a tournament where nearly all his big guns were teeing it up. Dustin Johnson has won this tournament twice, and his top five finish didn’t come as much of a surprise, but Aaron Baddeley finishing even better alone in fourth will have Bryce waking up feeling refreshed and ready to go come Monday morning. However no amount of top fives, minutes at the golf dome, or ‘Medicus Overspin Putter’ commercials can make up for the sting of the final round 75 of Tiger Woods. Poised to capture his first PGA Tour title since James worked at St. Mary’s Nursery and Garden Center!, Woods’ putting let him down and he ultimately fell into a tie for 15th. To make matters worse, Bryce’s problem of goose eggs continued, as Laird, Immelman, Gainey, and Molder all failed to register any points. Whether or not Bryce will be happy with his score this week is up to him, as there are certainly two ways of looking at the week that was.
Could it be that the league’s most outlandish and rowdy player is actually flying under the radar so far this year? Nah. Beast was out in full force this week, fielding a roster that saw the debut of Jim Furyk, and the follow up to Spencer Levin’s collapse just one week ago. Furyk’s first tournament of the year was decent, with a third round 74 costing him what would likely have been a top 25. It also turns out that Spencer Levin may be legit, as the twitchiest man on tour played some pretty consistent golf throughout the week en route to a top ten. Beast’s other top ten, and fifth of the season, came from mega-dweeb Kevin Streelman, who Beast was considering dropping just days before the tournament began. Brian Gay has always been there when Beast needed a few extra points, and this week was no different, as the perennial Beast-er gathered in his typical top 25. Rory Sabbatini couldn’t manage much this week, missing the cut, but Beast may not have noticed, as he was too busy sewing himself a brand new shirt to wear on the links.
Wait, what’s this? Lawrence is in the top three? Although he’s been a part of the league for just five weeks, it appears Lawrence is already making a splash. Mostly due to the emergence of second round pick Kevin Na. Na has always been a great depth player to have on your team, but until his win in last year’s fall series, he hasn’t been able to truly breakout on the PGA Tour. This week was his second straight top five finish, and he’s looking very comfortable out there. It may not be long before Na gets his first SSF sanctioned win. Speaking of wins, Vijay Singh has quite a few. He’ll be looking to get a couple more before he hits the big 5-0, and with a top 25 this week, his game may be trending in the right direction. Someone who’s always trending is Chez Reavie, who chunked his way to a MC this week, along with tricky Rickie Fowler, who’s still looking for that first PGA Tour win. Finally we come to the always reliable ‘five point Poulter’. It’s been a lifelong dream of Ian Poulter, to go an entire SSF season with only top fifty finishes, and he’s off to a good start, getting his second consecutive five pointer this week.
Fuchs is going to be literally relying on his keepers alone this season, as his three keepers have made more starts than his other seven players through the first five weeks of the season. Fuchs managed to start just two players this week (despite including Snedeker in his pre-tournament lineup). Mahan is consistently solid, but needs to win more if he wants to truly take that step into the game’s elite. A final round 73 ended any hopes of that happening this week, as he finished the tournament in a tie for 15th. Ryan Moore has been teasing us with talent for some time now, but he still hasn’t delivered the goods. He’s off to the same kind of start this season, with two goose eggs, a Poulterish top 50, and now a top 25. If Fuchs continues to have trouble getting a full roster in, it could be a long season for our visor-wearing friend.
Dave was off to a pretty solid start to the season through four weeks, on pace for 36 top tens. However this week was a bit of a letdown for the only man who has ever donned a football jersey, as well as spent more than five minutes at a time in a Starbucks. The missing de Jonge factor definitely killed his team this week, as many of his players declined to play upon hearing that the lovable Xerox Classic champion would be sitting this one out. Only Cameron Tringale and Zach Johnson dared brave the beauty of Pebble Beach without their wise and powerful master. Tringale made the cut, but couldn’t work his way into the top 50, finishing with 0 points in a tie for 61st. Zach Johnson was just one stroke out of the top 25, but had to settle for a Poulter instead. This week was likely just a slight hiccup for Dave, who should be back next week with a strong roster at the Northern Trust Open.
That same Northern Trust Open cannot get here fast enough for Brent. With the average that Brent has through five weeks of play, he probably misses that weekly five from Poulter. Brendon Steele followed up a stellar final round last week with a missed cut this week, and certainly doesn’t look like the player Brent thought he would be prior to the season. Sang-Moon Bae is the newest edition to Brent’s squad, and like Steele, Bae failed to cash in this week, although he did make the cut. Finally, Ryan Palmer waited extra long before letting Brent down, shooting two over on the final round to finish with a measly top 50. Luke Donald, Adam Scott, and K.J. Choi are all playing next week, so Brent certainly has something to look forward to. Just don’t mention Anthony Kim if you see him on the street.
That was this week’s wrap up, folks. Hope you enjoyed it!