Englishman Justin Rose fired a closing-round 66 to post 22-under-par 266 to win the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana. American Cameron Tringale posted his best career finish as he took solo second, one shot back. First round co-leader Boo Weekley rounded out the podium alone in third one more shot behind on 20-under 268.
The start-stop-start that Mother Nature cooked up this week made for tough scheduling and plenty of birdies on TPC Louisiana. In preparation of heavy weather expected throughout the weekend, Thursday began with EVERYONE using ball-in-hand when landing in the closely-mown areas. That premonition came to fruition as the weather caused delays all four days ending with fog on Sunday morning to delay the conclusion of round three. Got all of that? Good.
In order to get the fellas to complete round three and finish on time, the players weren’t regrouped for the final round. Justin Rose wasn’t the least bit bothered. He shared the 54-hole lead with Jason Day on 16-under but at the end of his round Sunday he held the TPC Louisiana tournament record, besting the 20-under by Billy Horschel two years ago.
Rose didn’t have a par putt from outside four feet in his closing round and his bogey-free 66 was almost as classy as his bogey-free 65 in round three. With the course this soft and ball-in-hand the local rule, the Englishman holed a 14-footer on the final hole to set the number for the gang to chase. In the end, nobody had enough birdies to catch him.
Why This Performance Doesn’t Surprise
Rose was T2 at the Masters after an extremely slow start to 2015 and had racked up T10-T15-T8 his last three trips to TPC Louisiana. He was 38-under-par for those three events; after this week he’s now 60-under in his last 16 rounds!
Why This Performance Surprises
Er, it didn’t on the whole as his recent form smashed into enawmous course form but first-timers had won seven of the last 10 at this event and six of nine on this track. It is surprising that it was his PUTTER, not his iron play that was the difference this week. He entered the week No. 38 GIR and was 183rd SGP (strokes gained: putting). This week he led the field in putts per GIR.
How Rose Won This Week
He made one bogey and one double.
He carded 25 birdies, good for T4.
His ball-striking was very solid, if not spectacular, as he peppered fairways 46 of 56 for over 82% (T3) and found 54 of 72 GIR (T23). He was fourth SGTTG (strokes gained: tee-to-green).
Like Furyk last week, Rose used the weakest club, his putter, in his bag to secure his seventh TOUR championship. He was 12th SGP but first in PPGIR. He only found two bunkers on the week as well.
It’s another year and another win for Rose and that makes six seasons in a row holding a big, oversized check. His last victory was last summer in a playoff at QLN, another event he’s racked up tons of cash playing. Write that down gamers if you haven’t burned him yet. Or save him for St. Andrews. Or any event he decides to play. He’s rewarded fantasy gamers who went early with him in salary cap games and everyone else playing fantasy this week as he did exactly what was expected. His worst finish in the FedExCup regular season standings in the last five years was 15th in 2010. He’s been top 11 or better the last four years.
With This Win
Rose carries a ton of momentum into the WGC-Cadillac Match Play at Harding Park this coming week and will be one of the favorites at another ball-striking Pete Dye course, TPC Sawgrass in two weeks. He’s now won seven times on TOUR and is in the prime of his career. The 2013 U.S. Open champ is exempt for just about everything so no change in status here. He pockets $1.242 million and tacks on 500 FedExCup points to the 270 he earned at Augusta two weeks ago.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After 28 wins in 45 events last season, the USA continues its dominance this year. Brooks Koepka, Bill Haas, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson, Ryan Moore, Robert Streb, Ben Martin, Brandt Snedeker, James Hahn (born in Korea; US citizen), Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Matt Every, Walker again, J.B. Holmes, Spieth again and Jim Furyk are the USA champs. Alex Cejka (Germany), Paddy Harrington (Ireland), Sangmoon Bae (Korea), Nick Taylor (Canada), Jason Day (Australia) and Rose (England) are the six international winners in the first 24 events. It’s quite the global game in the sense that all six international winners have come from six DIFFERENT countries.
Haas, Bae, Martin, Moore, Walker and now Spieth have closed their 54-hole leads. Walker and Spieth are the only persons on BOTH sides of his list. Walker couldn’t close out at HTOC but came back and won the following week at Sony. Spieth, who was 0-4 with the 54-hole lead in his career on TOUR, couldn’t hold out at SHO before winning the Masters. Rose and Day entered the final round tied so we’ll give Rose the “credit” for closing out the deal. This was only the third time in 10 tries that he has shut the door after 54. That rhymes. Awesome.
After 13 first-time winners in 2013 there were only 10 last year. After 23 events in 2015, Martin, Streb, Taylor, Koepka, Hahn and Cejka have made their breakthroughs. Tringale knocked on the door again just like he did last year at The Barclays but it hasn’t opened yet.
Over the last five years right around 19-under has been the average winning score here. That won’t change after this year as TPC Louisiana took on NINE (noyne) inches of rain the week before the event and plenty during the week of the action.
Rose disrupts the first-timers theory this year but six of the last 10 have been maidens on TOUR.
Rose and all other nine winners here have never repeated.
Rose is only the third winner in 10 events who holds a foreign passport.
No defending champion has ever fared better than T18. That “record” remains as last year’s champ Seung-Yul Noh WD with back problems in round two.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
I annually keep track of the age of the winners on TOUR because I’m an ageist. GET OFF MY VIAGRA.
Bae got the youngsters (under 30) on the board first in 2014-15 followed by Martin and Streb, both 27. Nick Taylor, 26, popped in to close out 2014 at SFC. Reed joined the party at a whopping 24 at HTOC followed by Koepka, 25 in Phoenix and Jason Day, 27, at Torrey Pines. Spieth, who turns 22 on 29 July, has won at Valspar and Augusta. The youngsters have eight winners in 24 events this year.
Dustin Johnson (30), James Hahn (33), Brandt Snedeker (34), Bill Haas (32), Jimmy Walker TWICE (36), Charley Hoffman (37), Bubba Watson (36), Ryan Moore (31), Matt Every (31), J.B. Holmes (32) and Rose, 34, are the prime time guys with silverware (30-39 years).
The old guys (40-and-over) have Jim Furyk, Paddy Harrington and Alex Cejka as representatives in their smallish club in 2015. Ol(d)’ Boo Weekley, 41, gave this group a charge on Sunday but fell just short.
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10 this week.
Cameron Tringale: Reinforced his course-horse-ness again this week just like he did with his T5 at SHO before the Masters and continues fine form. He made eight straight before MC last week at a course he’s never played the weekend. WHY DO YOU KEEP PLAYING THEN? He adds four more rounds of golf in the 60s here including a pair of 65s that match his career-low. He led the field in SGTTG as he was T3 in fairways and GIR. It didn’t hurt that he was T4 in PPGIR either! Get out the permanent marker for SHO and Zurich next spring as well! Too bad he was on my Yahoo! bench on Sunday but at least he was in the lineup along with Rose, Berger and Thomas this week.
Boo Weekley: His T6 at PRO gave him three top 10s in his last six starts (plus a top 10 in Australia) on TOUR and he was flying. His shoulder was good and he was healthy. Gamers were buying camo just join the fun! Well, not really but he was cashing big checks and that’s the fun part. He bombed out at Valspar where he had past successes. He MC at Bay Hill the following start. He completed his hat trick of crap as he caught the wrong side of the draw at Valero and went home early for the third week in a row. He returned after two weeks off to post three more rounds above par at RBC Heritage, a tournament that he’s won twice, and finished T75. It was hard to overlook all of that but Weekley had three top 13s at Zurich over the last six years. He whacked in some new shafts before the week started and went out and finished third. Those gamers who used the course-horse angle last week were rewarded if they spotted it this week in spite of his form. Don’t lose sight that he was SEVENTH SGP as that just won’t last but if his ball-striking returns to form…
Jim Herman: He returns to the top 10 for the second time in five tries as he improved on his T7 at Honda with T4 this week. That’s his best finish in 80 tries as a pro and anyone who stuck him on a season-long team please go buy a lottery ticket. It’s a great story how Donald Trump “fired” him from his golf course and told him to go play instead of work at the course. With almost $700k in the bank he’ll be on the cusp of getting his card with the second half of the season yet to be played. His other top 10s were T10 at JDC and T9 the following week at SFC in 2013. He currently leads the TOUR in ball-striking plus GIR and is fifth in total driving. As he mentioned during the telecast, don’t look up his short game numbers…More proof that TPC Louisiana is not very difficult to putt as he was eighth this week SGP.
Jason Day: Make it 16 events in a row for the Aussie where he’s played the weekend. He fulfilled his obligation with T4, which EVERYONE would have taken on Wednesday, and that should keep all gamers happy. The nit-pickers, like myself, will point out that he had the 54-hole co-lead and couldn’t cash any higher than T4. He's now 0-6 with the 36-hole lead in his career. Relax. IT’S A COMPLIMENT WHEN WINNING IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE FINISH. That’s how good Day is. That’s what gamers expect. His performance this week did nothing to turn me off heading into his defense at the WGC-CMP next week at TPC Harding Park as he co-led the field with 26 birdies. He made five bogeys on the week and three of them were in the final round.
David Hearn: He’s teed it six times on TPC Louisiana and played the weekend in all of them. None of those finishes were better than T21 so T6 this week was a pleasant surprise. Usually I eliminate ALL CANADIAN PLAYERS for a month after the Masters because they’re all distracted by the O-Key playoffs. Hearn had never posted anything better than 68 but that changed when he opened with 65 and never looked back. Entering the week Hearn MC in six of his last 10 events and had nothing better than T21 so it makes perfect sense that he hit a top 10 this week. He led the field in GIR and was 18th in SGP, similar to his stats so he was right on song.
Daniel Berger: Another week, another course he’s seeing for the first time and NOTHING is bothering this kid. He’s playing a ton (17 events) and making a ton of cuts (12) so that’s fantasy GOLD. He turned 22 three weeks ago so he really has nothing else to do except line gamers pockets and we applaud that. This was his fourth top 10 and second-best finish of the season (P2, Honda) and his NINTH (noyne) top 25. Think DJ-lite as his strength is not with the flat stick either. He only made three bogeys on the week and made nothing on the greens.
Blayne Barber: Here’s another youngster who is putting it together as well. He reminds me of Ben Martin a bit because his game is quite solid across the board. His T8 this week was his third top 10 in 16 events this season. His 2014 wrapped with T9-T9 and 2015 has been quiet minus T12 at Riviera. As is the deal with most guys taking their first licks on the big boy circuit, be patient. He’s almost banked $700k and is on his way to a return visit on TOUR next season. Keep him on file as his 64 this week is his season low.
Chesson Hadley: His best finishes in 2015 have come in every third event. He was T10 at Pebble and three events later he was T16 at PRO. Three events after that he was T4 at Valero. Three events later he’s T8 at Zurich. He’s racked up three top 10s this year after four in his rookie campaign last season. Last year included a win at PRO but I have no complaints in the sophomore campaign. He’s not at the consistency level yet for weekly games but he’s establishing some chops along the way. Snap-Snap!
Chad Campbell: His T8 this week is his first top 10 since last year’s Travelers in June. He’s played as much as Berger, 17 events, and this weekend makes it nine of 17 cashing checks. The 40-year old Texan hasn’t claimed more than one top 10 in the last three seasons so move ahead with caution.
Whee Kim: The 23-year old rookie from Korea has quietly racked up five cuts in his last five in 2015. His T8 this week is his best finish in 11 TOUR starts and he adds this to T21 at Pebble and T25 at SHO. With limited starts after his Web.com playoff finish, he’s doing some job taking advantage. He won the Shinhan Donghae Open in 2012 and that’s his only win as a pro. His weekend at Zurich included 11 birdies, an eagle and one bogey. His 64 on Sunday was T-low round of the week and was bogey-free. More proof that never playing this course is hardly a deterrent.
A quick recap of what happened to the Chalk from my preview column:
Dustin Johnson: If the angle this week was lack of course form, kudos for sticking to what you believe in. His T43 finish is his worst of the season when playing the weekend and he did that making TWO bogeys. He was T63 in fairways so ball-in-hand hardly mattered to him and his GIR suffered (T47). When DJ struggles it’s usually the putter that is the culprit and that was also the fact this week. It was funny to see him “celebrate” on CBS when he tapped in from 18 inches. Good that he can have a laugh. He’ll be in the lineup the next time he tees it up and every event after that.
Justin Rose: WIN, see above.
Jason Day: T4, see above.
Morgan Hoffmann: Dustin Johnson Light. Hit it a mile, crooked and didn’t find many GIR. Unlike DJ, his putter usually is the great equalizer but that didn’t fire either. He began the final round T9 and plummeted to T36 wiping out my dreams of OAD and losing me plenty in my weekly game with my boys. This was his worst finish since T53 at WMPO and first finish outside of T28 in that same period. He’s a stud. He’ll learn from it and I’m fully onboard.
Cameron Tringale: Second, see above.
Brendan Steele: Like a few last week, Steele saw his cuts-made streak of 16 come to crashing end this week as his 72-71 missed by four shots. That’s not a typo as five-under played the weekend. In 10 starts at Zurich in the last three years he’s only placed two of them in the 60s. Weird but noted.
Daniel Berger: T6, see above.
Justin Thomas: T13 as the youngster just keeps rewarding gamers. Like Berger, he’s racked up 17 events on the season. Like Berger, he’s hit the top 10 four times and has only eight top 25s to Berger’s nine. He’s just missing a solo or P2 but is already over $1 million for the season. If you’re in a keeper league, drop anchor and we’ll see you in 20 years with a smile on your face. Unless you die. Then you’ll be happy but still be dead as Thomas will be 41 and winning plenty.
Rickie Fowler: Not including the Masters, it’s now six events in minus SGP numbers. That’s a trend. His value in weekly games is too high to reach and “hope” he plays well. This is his first MC since Memorial last June.
Keegan Bradley: He shot 68 in the final round and DROPPED TWO SPOTS on the leaderboard to finish T22. The good news he was 15-under for the week and this T22 is the third event in a row T22 or better. LET ME LOWER THE BAR A BIT MORE. He made nothing on the greens this week after hitting 59 of them. The new putter hasn’t broke out yet. It’s now 62 events since his last win. Sigh.
Troy Merritt: Now, keep an eye here for two reasons: One, it was NOT his putter that kept him in contention last week, it was his irons. That’s not normal. His ball-striking this week was excellent again but it was, AGAIN, the putter that was -.606 SGP. If his putter returns to “normal” and his ball-striking continues an upward trend, gamers who pay attention will be quite happy they’ve paid attention.
Brendon de Jonge: Gamers, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: de Jonge was T5 after three rounds and finished T22. Again, in a vacuum, that’s a steady result so accept what you want in reality. Last week he shot even par on Sunday to finish T18. He’s an ATM but his max withdrawal is just $100. Be patient and enjoy the roller coaster ride.
Harris English: He made six birdies. He hit 21 of 28 fairways. He hit 32 of 36 GIR. He made two bogeys. He missed the cut by a shot. Unlucky.
Sean O’Hair: His blistering six weeks continues after P2 at Valspar. He closed with 64 last Sunday at Harbour Town to finish sixth. He adds T12 (-16) this week. No point of abandoning this ship as his five top 25s are the most since 2012 and we’ve just hit the halfway mark. #GetDown
Coming TUESDAY MORNING!!!!
I’ll publish my weekly preview, Range Rover, around lunchtime, children permitting. I’ll focus on history, current form, course characteristics, winning qualities and those who I think will and will not. Since the WGC-CMP is on WEDNESDAY, please be aware of our juggling of events early this week!
Coming TUESDAY Afternoon
Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday late afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game, DFS plus the European Tour! Oh, and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it every Tuesday until the Presidents Cup.
Coming Wednesday TUESDAY AT NOON ET !!!!
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday TUESDAY at NOON ET BECAUSE MATCH PLAY STARTS WEDNESDAY MORNING. We will be breaking down the field at WGC-CMP 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.