Robert Streb came from five shots off lead to force and then win a three-man playoff at the McGladrey Classic on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Streb closed with a final round 63 to post the clubhouse lead as Brendon de Jonge and Will MacKenzie were just making the turn. His seven-under-par 63 saw him post 14-under 266 and a spot in the catbird’s seat. de Jonge’s best chance coming home was a nine-footer on No. 15 that he missed. MacKenzie, the co-54-hole leader, missed a pair of 12-footers on the back but did get up and down from 80 feet on the 72nd hole to join the playoff.
MacKenzie’s bogey on the first playoff hole, No. 18, saw him drop out after the others made par. Streb and de Jonge headed to No. 17, where Streb made his final birdie of the day from 33 feet, for the second playoff hole. This time, Streb’s iron was only four feet away and he holed the putt to see off de Jonge who missed from just over 20 feet for his birdie.
Why this doesn’t surprise gamers:
After closing 67-67-66 last week in Vegas to finish T10, five of his first eight rounds of this season were 68 or better. Entering the week, he posted T18 or better in four of his last six starts so his game should have been attracting attention from gamers. Streb has shown a penchant for playing easier courses well as he was T2 at Zurich last year after being 15-under after three rounds. His other top 10 last year was T9 at TPC Boston, another course in the easy category. Streb made 17 of 21 cuts last season and finished in the top 75 on the FedExCup list after missing full exempt status in 2013 as he finished No. 126 on the money list. He doesn’t have to worry about that for two years!
Why this surprises gamers:
This is the first player to win the McGladrey without teeing it previously besides inaugural winner Heath Slocum. Streb had to leapfrog 11 players to get into the playoff. Winning for the first time on TOUR is never easy and firing 63 on Sunday is harder than that. Streb finished last season No. 129 in Sunday scoring average so today was a bit unexpected but deserved.
How Streb Won This Week:
Birdieing four of the final five holes and HALF of the 18 for the day, Streb went for broke on Sunday. And he had to as he began the day five shots off the leaders. He led the field in birdies, not surprisingly, with 22 and was T1 in strokes gained: total. He was second in strokes gained putting (SGP) with 6.684(!) and 13th in stroke gained tee-to-green. Streb has always been long and this week he was sixth in driving distance proving again that guys who bomb it and hole putts will contend on a weekly basis. It didn’t hurt that he played the weekend 68-63.
Streb has been in all three preview columns this season because of his very solid finish to the 2014 season last August through the Playoffs. I’ll be more interested in him on courses where his length and putting will highlighted. He’s shown he’s quite comfortable on bomb-and-birdie layouts and the TOUR does have a few of those throughout the season. First-timer winners have their lives changed forever but by all accounts, him, along with Ben Martin, are just really good people as well so that’s encouraging moving forward. He’s now a proven winner on both tours in the last three years as he also won on the Web.com in 2012.
With This Win:
Two year exemption on TOUR; receives invitations to the 2015 HTOC, Masters, PLAYERS and PGA plus 1,008,000 cash money coins.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
Streb breaks the two-for-two streak of 54-hole leaders after coming from five behind to win. Only 22 of 45 third round leaders held last year and now it’s two from three to start 2015. It’s not that easy closing the deal on the big boy circuit!
After 13 first-time winners in 2013 there were only 10 last year. Streb joins Ben Martin as two of the first three winners of 2014-15 are first-timers. By the way, I’m calling the rest of this season 2015 even though we have a few events remaining in 2015. I’ll beg the pedants to relax and go with the flow, please.
In five events at the McGladrey, no player has fended their title as Chris Kirk finished an excellent T4, just two shots out of the playoff.
Streb joins Tommy Gainey as first-time TOUR winners at McGladrey but Gainey played the year before he won. This was Streb’s first time in tournament play.
Streb has posted top 10s in three of his last four starts on TOUR, his best run ever. He only had one top 10 before that in over 40 starts.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Bae got the youngsters (under 30) on the board first in 2014-15 and now Streb and Ben Martin, both 27, join him in happy cash town.
I annually keep track of the age of the winners on TOUR because I’m an ageist.
The prime time guys (30-39 years) were led this week by 34-year old Brendon de Jonge who was P2.
The old guys (40 and over) were led by 40-year old Will MacKenzie who was also P2.
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10
Brendon de Jonge: He was listed in my “horse-for-course” section this week because of his three top 16 finishes in his four starts here. This was the third year in a row he closed with 65 but his P2 is his best finish here. His P2 is his first top T30 or better since his T8 at QLN last July, 11 events ago. Eleven. His 64 and 65 this week suggest that he might be back to his 2013 form where he played his ass off trying and successfully making the Presidents Cup team. Remember, that year he only had four top 10s in 30 starts. He had two in 31 last year. He had 13 top 25s in 2013 and four last season. He was T1 in strokes gained total so all it took to hit the top 10 was to play perfectly this week. He makes plenty of cuts but the paydays are too few and far between to make him an automatic anything in weekly or seasonal games.
Will MacKenzie: He started off 2013-14 with a bang as well as he hit the top 10 five times in 14 events and banged another four top 25s. This week was a little surprising because MacKenzie showed us last year that his best results came on tracks where he had previous successes. In his three previous McGladreys he was T69-MC-MC so this didn’t course didn’t fit and his 66-79 last year scared me to death. He only made two bogeys (one double) all week as he led the field in GIR (T1) and strokes gained total (T1). Gamers like stability and predictability and after the way MacKenzie closed last year (11 MC in his final 14 events) it was no surprise he wasn’t in the crosshairs this week. His 65-68 on the weekend was very good but he couldn’t hold the co-54-hole lead. He’ll collect almost 500k and should, like last year, be well on his way to keeping his card again.
Kevin Kisner: The first of three Georgia Bulldogs who finished T4, Kisner only made 16 birdies on the week but just had two bogeys and one double to miss out on the playoff by two shots at 12-under. His two bogeys led the field. He was T29 in GIR, T25 in fairways but was fifth in strokes gained tee-to-green. He was 20th in SGP and T33 in putts per GIR yet finished T4 in strokes gained total. Kisner is now three-for-three on the new season and his T4 is his best finish in 78 career events. He was 21st last season in SGP but didn’t crack the top 100 in the all-around category. The good news for gamers was that he didn’t have to solely depend on his putter for his career-best finish. Oh, and he’s from Georgia. #PayAttention
Ken Duke: Remember when won the Travelers in June 2012 at age 42? Me, too, as that was his last trip to the top 10. Oh, and he has had TWO top 25s in that stretch. T-W-O. He was another notch in the belt for the horse-for-coursers this week as he was T15 in 2010 and T20 in 2012 with all eight rounds at par or better. That wasn’t enough for me this week. Or next week. Or the week after that. I’ll need a nice stretch by Duke before I’m stretching my roster to include him any week.
Chris Kirk: The defending champ posted all four rounds this week 68 or less to cement his status as AUTOMATIC for this event. He now has three top 15s in five events including WIN and T4 in his last two. The former Bulldog did exactly what gamers expected him to do. Ah, that’s better!
Russell Henley: The third and final Georgia ‘Dawg to T4, Henley announced his intentions with 63 on Friday. Henley, who last year posted three rounds of 71 or better, racked up 19 birdies on the heels on a hot putter. Henley and hot putting are starting to become synonymous but he only made one birdie in his final 14 holes to fall short of a playoff. Henley has blown extremely hot or extremely cold in his first two-plus seasons on TOUR. He won his first event as a pro at the Sony as he racked up 194929493 birdies. He only had two more top 10s in 23 more events that season. Last year, he won a four-man playoff at the Honda and only posted four more top 25s in 19 events including T2 at the DBC. This was his first event of 2015 so gamers will hope this isn’t the highlight of his year. You’re on your own on week-to-week but he needs to be in your season-long lineups because his trend should be moving in the right direction. I’m on board.
Kevin Chappell: Long and strong off the tee and into the green, it’s going to be the flat stick which determines the highs and lows of Chappell moving forward. He was third in distance and T9 in GIR to make him eight in strokes gained tee-to-green. He was T40 in putts per GIR and was 22nd in SGP to hit the top 10 (T8) for the first time since last May’s CPIC. That was his only top 10 in 28 events last year. He’s never made more than $1.5 million in a season but he tees it up about every week. He likes it here as he’s improved every year over the last three (T43, T32 and now T8).
Mark Wilson: After back-to-back MC to open the season, I was completely shocked that someone during our Wednesday chat suggested this being his week. Sorry Mark! We were wrong! Next time just tell us it’s you and we’ll listen! I promise! You’ll forgive us if we laughed it off because in 25 events last year you made NINE cuts and your best finish (only top 25) was T23! This was your first top 10 since T6 at the 2013 RBC Canadian Open. Join us any Wednesday before you are playing to tip us off again! Thanks, man! Signed: Everyone
Fabian Gomez: The only time he should be in your line up is the Puerto Rico open where he has claimed his only two top 10s of his career. Last year, he played on the Web.com and finished 23rd to claim his golden ticket back to the TOUR. His T8 this week is his seventh top 25 in 54 career events. He led the field in SGP. You’re excused .
Andrew Svoboda: Gamers who were backing him after his Sunday collapse last week in Vegas were at least awarded with a top 10 this week. Those gamers will also remind you that he was the co-54-hole leader heading into this Sunday. Last week he was T3. This was the first time he led/co-led a TOUR event in his career. He shot 73 last week to finish T18. He shot 71 this week to drop to T8. Interestingly enough, his best finish on TOUR is also T2 at the Zurich Classic last year, just like Robert Streb. TPC Louisiana = Seaside Course? This is his third top 10 in his last 17 starts so he demands our attention moving forward on courses where birdies are necessary. He shot 68-75 to MC in his only attempt here last season.
A quick recap of what happened to the Chalk from my preview column
Webb Simpson: His great week ball-striking (7th, strokes gained tee-to-green) was dismissed by a frigid putter (67th SGP) that resulted in T41. His opening round 67 was followed by 70-69-69. He was my OAD. I should just quit until HTOC in the OAD. I’m TERRIBLE.
Matt Kuchar: T22 as he was sloppy, for his standards, playing from the middle of the fairway most of the week. He was T57 in GIR and 59th in putts per GIR. After seeing those numbers, T22 looked to be some score! Make that 13 cuts in a row for Koooooooooooooooch. He’s never finished outside of the top 25 in five starts on his home course.
Bill Haas: Another week, another top 25 (T22). That’s the good news and bad news for the poor man’s Matt Kuchar. He had two bogeys on Sunday after making just three in the first three rounds and led the week with 55 pars. Guess which club in this ball-strikers bag was chilly this week? Go on..
Chris Kirk: T4, see above.
Scott Brown: When course form meets on-course form, it’s almost impossible to fade. He was T20 and T4 in his last two at McGladrey and T12 and T10 in his last two on TOUR so there wasn’t ANY reason to believe that he wouldn’t fire this week. Raise your hand if you were “mad” at Webb Simpson this week for finishing T41. Ok, that’s better than MC, right? That’s why we should NOT be surprised. Brown is not anywhere near that level of player and that’s what happens when we put our faith in the lesser player in fantasy golf. He was the home run this week that struck out on the back of seven bogeys and two doubles. Sigh.
Brian Harman: He was nine-under and right in the guts of it after the front nine on Saturday but he came home in 39 to fade out of contention. The good news is it was his first start of the year but more was expected from the Sea Island resident when put in that position on his home course. His even-par 70 on Sunday saw him finish T41. Blargh.
Russell Knox: He has shown in his previous two seasons on TOUR that he plays well in spurts around his top 10s so lining him up this week did make sense. His carding of three birdies to MC in tournament where he finished T27 and T32 the last two years did not. We learn something every week and I learned that leaning on unproven commodities in the “big boy” section of the column wasn’t smart.
Tony Finau: The non-believers were sniggering after Finau opened with 71 on Thursday. They should be BELIEVERS Sunday after watching him post67-67-66 to finish T14 for his third finish in a row inside the top 15. He was T7 at Frys and T12 last week at Shriners. He’s paid off the believers quickly this season. His putter bailed him out when he found GIR and he was second in distance, just like most gamers assumed! He’s proven his worth on resort courses.
Brendon Todd: Knocking off the rust, Todd began Sunday at six-under and T20. His 72 saw him fall 28 spots to T48. The good news was his putter was good enough for fifth in SGP. His long game was the issue. Nothing worries me moving forward.
Charles Howell III: The ATM doubled No. 17 and bogeyed No. 18 on Saturday to miss the 54-hole cut (MDF). He was two-under for the previous 52 including a bogey-free 66 on Friday to make the weekend. This is his worst finish in five starts at McGladrey.
Martin Laird: He joined CHIII on the sideline Sunday as he came home in 38 to MDF by a shot. In five weekend rounds in his first three events he’s fired 71 four times including twice on Sunday. #fading
Harris English: His excellent finish in Vegas was fantastic news for gamers as he headed to McGladrey where he posted T15 and T27 the last two years. The Sea Island resident opened with 68 but didn’t make a birdie on Friday in firing 73 to MC by one. He continues to be an enigma but I’m still buying long-term. God give me patience and HURRY UP.
Ben Martin: He backed up his first win last week with a very solid T17 this week. He’s not as “old” as Jimmy Walker but his game is pretty solid. He played the final three rounds eight-under so fatigue wasn’t an issue.
Adam Hadwin: He couldn’t hit the top 10 for the sixth time in eight starts as he joined the MDF parade with an opening 38 on Saturday.
Hudson Swafford: He’s FREE MONEY in the Golf Channel game in Group 4. Stop over-thinking this. He’s now T8, T18 and T12 in his first three starts this year. GET HIM WHILE HE’S HOT!! He made four bogeys this week but also had two doubles. He was T4 in GIR so it’s hardly a surprise why he finished 67-66-67 after opening even par.
These guys didn’t crack the top 10 but caught my attention for one reason or another this week.
Nick Watney: I wrote last week that I need to see it happen on a course where he’s not a horse and this week qualified; 71-69-73 MDF doesn’t clear anything up.
Zach Johnson: I had a few people email me saying “Hey, you know you left Zach Johnson off your preview?” Yep. His best finish in his last seven was T16. That’s not good value in fantasy land in any format for where he is drafted or what needs to be spent. He MC after closing with 41 on his home course. Gulp.
David Toms: T3, MC, 2nd, T27 and T14 this year. I had him as my OAD here last year and he was T27. #Horse-for-Course
Scott Piercy: T17 after his T7 on his home course in Vegas. Yep, right on schedule for season-long investors. #Cha-Ching
John Peterson: He shot 64 to close to move up 46 spots to finish T22. There’s no doubting the talent just when it’s all going to come together.
Coming TUESDAY Afternoon
I post my weekly preview column, Range Rover, and Playing the Tips. Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game and my One-and-Done feature.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the CIMB Classic plus answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.