In a regular weekly column on Rotoworld, we reflect on the tournaments just gone and also take an early peek at the action ahead on the PGA and European Tours.
Dubai Desert Classic
1. (-9, 281) Lucas Herbert (Odds: 200/1)
2. (-9, 281) Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Odds: 200/1)
3. (-7, 283) Adri Arnaus (Odds: 90/1)
4. (-7, 283) Dean Burmester (Odds: 350/1)
5. (-7, 283) Tom Lewis (Odds: 80/1)
Notes: A first European Tour win for Herbert, who was T7 in this tournament last year, but who had failed to break the top 60 in his first two starts of this season. That said, he did begin those efforts well, was well aware that he was stalling, and had spoken to his mental coach about addressing the problem. In effect, he discovered he was seeking perfection so he started being kinder to himself. The approach worked immediately and, in fact, brilliantly in the play-off when he dumped his approach at the first extra hole in the lake, but then knocked his pitch stone-dead. He then made a birdie at the second play-off hole and it was enough to see off Bezuidenhout. Earlier, both players had started over an hour before the leaders and posted brilliant 68s which set a target long-term pace-setter Ashun Wu and defending champion Bryson DeChambeau looked like challenging before both collapsed on the back nine. Bezuidenhout had a dramatic 72nd hole, knocking his third into water, but then draining a putt from 20’0” for a bogey that earned him the play-off spot.
Fate of the favorites
Notes: Not a great week for three of the four favorites and Fitzpatrick ended his week with a 6-over 78. Fleetwood's run of superb final laps had to end and duly did with a 75.
Farmers Insurance Open
Notes: A fifth PGA Tour win for the genial Aussie and, with it, he completed a notable double on Australia Day after Herbert's success. His putting in the final round was little short of sensational. In old numbers he needed just 25 swings of the blade, in new-ish numbers he drained 150-feet of putts, and in modern digits he gained 4.776 shots on the field with his putting on Sunday as he made seven birdies in the first 13 holes and confirmed the win with an eighth of them at the last for a brilliant 65. The final three-ball struggled. Ryan Palmer shot 77, Jon Rahm dropped four shots in his first five holes, and Rory McIlroy was 3-over through four. Rahm and McIlroy fought back, both of them impressing in defeat, whilst Torrey Pines specialist Snedeker collected a sixth top three on the clifftops.
Fate of the favorites
Notes: We've covered Rory and Rahmbo - Tiger just never really got anything going, but a top ten in third gear is no bad thing.
Coming up this week…
Waste Management Phoenix Open
Location: TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course, Scottsdale, Arizona, 7,261 yards, par 71.
Past winners at TPC Scottsdale
2019 (-17, 267) Rickie Fowler – 5th PGA TOUR win
2018 (-18, 278) Gary Woodland – 3rd PGA TOUR win
2017 (-17, 275) Hideki Matsuyama – 3rd PGA TOUR win
2016 (-14, 282) Hideki Matsuyama – 2nd PGA TOUR win
2015 (-15, 279) Brooks Koepka – 1st PGA TOUR win
Notes: It's been a good venue for course horses with Phil Mickelson and Mark Calcavecchia both three-time winners. That trend has played out recently too with Fowler, a two-time runner-up previously, finally getting the job done last year.
Location: Royal Greens G&CC, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia, 7,010 yards, par 70.
Who’s playing? Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Abraham Ancer, Bernd Wiesberger, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters, Jhonattan Vegas.
Past winners of the Saudi International
2019 (-19, 261) Dustin Johnson – 1st European Tour win
Notes: DJ took the title last year and he's back to defend along with some other big-name Americans, including Phil Mickelson who misses Phoenix. Those who liked to pull driver enjoyed the inaugural edition of this event last year.