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Well I’ve got to give “Golf’s Science Guy” some credit. Bryson came into the final round with a 4-shot lead, did exactly what was required to get the win. He stuck to his game plan, played conservative but not timid, made pars and a few birdies, and coasted it to the finish line. He finished the tournament off with a solid two under, 69 pushing him to -18 for the tournament.
He held off charges by Tony Finau, Ryan Palmer, Cameron Smith and past FedEx Cup Champion Billy Horschel to take home the $1.6 Million purse. Bryson hit more than 60% of his fairways, more than 80% GIR and made 24 birdies to just 6 bogeys this week. That formula will lead to wins most weeks on the PGA Tour. With his 3rd career win and 2nd of the season, he has all but locked up his spot on the Ryder Cup Team and will be eating crapes in front of the Eiffel Tower in a few short weeks. With this victory he joins some elite company having won 3 tour events before the age of 25. In doing so, he has joined the likes of Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Tiger Woods. This should shed some light on the quality of player he is. Also, with the win, he leapfrogged everyone and now sits atop the FedEx Cup Standings after the first playoff event. This puts him in the driver’s seat as we head to Boston next week for the Dell Technologies Championship.
As most of you know, I have been an outspoken critic of Bryson. His struggles and antics have been well documented throughout this season. From throwing all the clubs out of his bag on the range at Carnoustie to snubbing Richard McEvoy after his win on the European Tour, the last few months have been a struggle for him. My perception of him was that of a spoiled child, but I was only seeing half of it. If we put ourselves in his shoes, we can start to sympathize with him. Golf is his profession and he wasn’t performing up to his standards. He became frustrated and took out on his golf bag and a few clubs. It just so happened to get caught on camera. If it were me, I’d have done the same or worse. The same can be said for the incident in Germany. The competitive juices were flowing and he had just thrown away the tournament. There was no ill will toward Richard, he just wanted to get out of there as soon as he could. All that being said, I am starting to see who Bryson really is, a fiery competitor that wants to win. Obviously, the guy has game, but it’s not for everyone. He has found a way to play golf that makes sense and works for him. It’s mechanical, unorthodox, stiff, and scientific.
Some criticize him for a lack of feel, touch, and creativity. Others think he’s taking advantage of the rules using elaborate algorithms and slope calculations. Regardless of what side of the fence you fall on, he has earned the respect of his peers and even golf’s greatest player. Tiger has endorsed Bryson numerous times, which carry’s weight with everyone around the game. The one quality I admire most in Bryson is how he grinds at his craft. No one can ever question how much time and effort he puts into his game. Down to the last shot today, he was working. The first thing he mentioned in his post-round interview was that he needs to work on the drive he hit on 18 into the adjacent hole’s fairway. That just shows that he constantly thinks about how he can better his game. With that being said, I hope he finishes out the season strong and contributes in bringing home the Ryder Cup in September.
Story of the Course
Ridgewood Country Club once again made for a tough test at the Northern Trust. The rough was penal for those wayward off the tee. Couple that with tricky greens that are surrounded by beautiful bunkers, accuracy and touch around the greens was of paramount importance. The course allowed for some low scores including Sunday 65’s and 64’s by Ryan Palmer and Tyrell Hatton, who bought a putter at Golf Galaxy after his Saturday round. Saturday provided us a course record tying 62 by Keegan Bradley, 63 by Bryson and a 64 by Jordan Spieth. Even with those low scores, there was plenty of trouble to be found. We saw DJ make triple bogeys in back to back fashion on Thursday and Firday. Beau Hossler had a tough time starting his final round yesterday, hitting two out of bounds left, creating a new “3 off the first tee” movement. Keegan Bradley shot a humbling 78 in the final group because he couldn’t keep it in the short grass. This type of set up is one I wish would get replicated more frequently on tour. Thick rough, trouble off the tee, greens with tons of nuances making them tough to read, and bunkering that protects both fairways and greens alike. The mix of short par 4’s, three shot par 5’s and beautiful par 3’s really made for a great test. I think my favorite hole has been the drive-able, up-hill, par 4 12th hole. Players are forced to either lay back and have some sort of half wedge into the green or go for it with 3-wood or driver. The green sits way up on a hill that has a huge slope on the left and a large drop off on the right side. It is surrounded by bunkers on all sides and in the front.
The course was presented extremely well and even on TV you could tell how good of shape it was in. Gill Hanse and his team did an incredible job honoring Tillinghast’s original design with their renovation. We will get to see Gill’s work again this week at TPC Boston, as he conducted a renovation their of Mr. Palmer’s original design.
The Wait Continues:
Another week goes by and Tiger remains win less on the year. After making the cut on the number at Even par, I wanted to see him make some progress and get something out of the weekend. He shot a solid -4 over the weekend but had issues with his putter. It wasn’t mechanical or problems with speed, he just never seemed to get a feel for the reads. This has to be frustrating considering he hit 67.8% of the fairways and 72.2% GIR. With a mediocre putter he normally would have been in conditions but he couldn’t find the line. He was -1.231 SG Putting in comparison to +1.263, a 2-shot difference every round. The common theme from Tiger was that he played much better than he scored, which is true. The tweaks he made to his driver had an impact, he was solid with his irons, but his putter let him down. He said it best, “making putts matters more than hitting fairways.”. That was always the case when he was in his prime. With one week of great putting but poor driving at the PGA and now a week of great driving and poor putting at the Northern Trust, I think he will put it all together at TPC Boston, a place where he won back in 2006.
Double points brings upon big moves up the FedEx Cup Rankings during the playoff season. There were a number of players that made huge moves to solidify themselves going forward. Whether it was getting into the top 100 and into next week’s event or moving up into the top 30 and in the mix for the Tour Championship, here are some of the biggest movers of the week.
Adam has had a solid few weeks, after a 3rd place finish at Bellerive and a T-5 this week has catapulted him from 73rd last week to 40th this week. Another solid week could likely push him into the Top-30. It is good to see another guy that was hurt by the anchor ban, figure it out, and have success again. People forget he rose to number one in the world after his 2013 Masters win, has 13 PGA Tour wins, has 88 top 10’s and makes over 82% of his cuts.
With a T-5 finish this week Ryan moved up from 100th to 50th, putting him into the field next week and unless something goes terribly wrong he will be in the BMW as well. I’ve always like Ryan because he looks like the Pro that still goes back to Colonial in Dallas and takes everybody’s money. If he continues his strong play, he should get back into the major championships next season. For a 41-year-old veteran has got to be on his mind.
My favorite name on tour just mad a big move in New Jersey. Bronson put together a nice weekend, shooting 67 and 66, propelling him to a T-11 finish and up 38 spots in the standings. He came into the event at 111th and now sits at 73rd. This has been a big year for the Aggie, earning over $1.15 Million in official money so far and is almost in the Top 200 in the world.
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I'm Webb Emerson, a native of Memphis, TN, and a construction professional by day. I have joined my love for writing and love for the game of golf into my site, Tight Lies Golf. Hopefully you will enjoy my candid but passionate approach and relate to my writing thru the eyes of the common golfer.