Kevin Stadler saved us from the CBS-Bubba love child that was in the process of being made after Bubba missed a 6 footer on 18 to force a playoff. Harris English wrecked his rig early and couldn’t get any momentum going all day. Hideki Matsuyama’s putting prevented him from having a say. Hunter Mahan hit a godawful drive on 17 to remove himself from the proceedings. And Graham DeLaet mounted a furious, valiant comeback (a ballstriking fiesta) but couldn’t overcome a three-wiggle on 15. So it came down to Bubba (who buried some cold-hearted putts on 16 & 17 to mask some serious mistakes) and Stadler (who righted the ship after a double on 11 and played it pretty steady all the way in aside from some yippy putting). After a brilliant approach, mini-walrus missed the birdie putt on 18 but it didn’t matter as Bubba missed the comebacker for par (after a brilliantly lucky chip).

It should be noted that as the Thunderbirds were moving up the 18th fairway after the last group made the green, Bubba demanded them to GTFO the fairway during his pre-chip routine. And then after he missed the putt to tie it and the tournament was over, he became visibly agitated before proceeding with the tap-in about the amount of movement in the gallery. Vintage.

All in all, an insanely entertaining week. First class to the Thunderbirds and to the people of the desert for putting on such an epic affair. Kevin Stadler was a feel-good winner.

What We Learned

  • Aside from the atmosphere, TPC Scottsdale continues to be an extremely entertaining layout for those of us watching on TV. It’s not an incredibly easy course, but it has great risk-reward holes on the back 9 that make for some thrilling yo-yo’ing up and down the leaderboard (Tommy Smothers would be proud; Elk not so much). Let’s hope Weiskopf displays a gentle touch with the upcoming renovations (although if he adds some more contours to make the greens funnel to certain locations a bit more, especially on 16 green, that could take the excitement next-level).
  • We at NLU did not care for the setup of the 17th hole for the final round. The back pin placement is understandable, but if they’re gonna put it back there at least keep the tees up so dudes can challenge it and the lake is in play. The bunker about 275 out got more action than the lake. No doubt that if some of these guys had another crack at it they’d surely lay up off the tee and throw a wedge in there with some goobie on it. And we just can’t get down with that in these parts.
  • Hideki Matsuyama is still somehow extermemly underrated. He’s 21 and ranked number 23 in the world (before this breakout performance). The pregnant pause at the top of his swing is legendary, as is his tempo overall. Couldn’t be more pleased that he’s playing the U.S. tour this year; it’s clear the guys on CBS agree, dudes were GUSHING about his game.
  • Gary Mccord had the quote of the week: “Oh watch it now! It’s gonna go down that false front, which coincidentally a lot of the females around here have that same thing.” Augusta needs to reconsider their stance and get this guy back in the fold!
  • Bubba was Bubba all week. Bombing and gouging all over the big ballpark, and throwing #TourSauce all over the place. His incessant whining and his personality are somehow getting worse and worse. How he continues to be celebrated as one of the most popular guys on tour is beyond me. He shouldn’t even play this event – his schtick just doesn’t fit at an event where the crowds are vocal and real. Remember that whole Ryder Cup bit a few years ago where he pulled a Happy Gilmore and tried to get the crowd to make some noise? What a farce! Alright, one last thing and then I’m done with the Bubba hate. True story: A “Bubba Watson Whining” search returns 155,000 results!

  • Can you imagine the implosion if “250 pound” (there’s no freaking way that’s all he’s packing!)Kevin Stadler had won the health-focused Humana Challenge two weeks ago? It was fun rooting for Stadler as he truly seems like one of the good dudes on tour. That being said, his victory gives the “golfers aren’t athletes” haters one more bullet in the clip. Colt Knost did have a great tweet about it:
Hell yeah Stads and @givemeknucks !!!! See y'all in the gym tomorrow morning!!

— Colt Knost (@ColtKnost) February 2, 2014

  • Speaking of Big Units, overall it was a good showing from our boy Kiradech Aphibarnrat this week. Despite some struggles on the weekend he availed himself well and showed his game can travel. He opened with an impresive bogey-free 66.
  • Another solid week from NLU fave, the DoubleP. Dude’s in a groove right now.
  • Has Ryan Moore always been insanely slow? For a guy who’s ballstriking is that good, it’s somewhat counterintuitive he has to take so damn long.
  • Can’t say enough about Graham DeLaet’s performance and evolution as an elite ballstriker out here on tour. He’s like Canada’s answer to Horschel. Not to mention his face-cabbage is top-notch. They should let him invite Corey Chamblin, Head Coach of the 2013 Grey Cup Champion Saskatchewan RoughRiders to be his pro-am partner at Pebble this week. Let’s give Canada some love for once!

How Our Picks Fared

  • Keegan – MC
  • Horschel – MC
  • Mahan – T4
  • Leishman – MC
  • Na – T19
  • Garrigus – T54
  • Overton – MC
  • Stroud – T-19

A couple bright spots but overall we eMCee’d the proceedings this week. We’ll get it together for Pebble and Riv.

Oil Spill of the Week (Presented by BP)

Keegan opened the week telling the media that everyone needed to pick him for their fantasy teams this week. He opened with a 66, but lit himself on fire on Friday, imploding to an 80. No word yet on what he was protesting. Hole 3 is where it really fell apart, where he sprayed one OB, blocked his provisional right of the green, chipped it over the green, chipped it back over, and tapped in for his 8.

NLU Shot Tracker of the Week

With a friendly front hole location, Ben Crane nearly aced the 17th hole on Friday. He wouldn’t have won $2.5 million had he made it like he would have in Dubai, but it was still our shot of the week.

Looking Ahead:

We go back to the west best coast for some of the best and most beautiful courses on the tour for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am: Pebble Beach-Spyglass Hill-Monterrey Peninsula. Unfortunately, CBS annually takes a dump on viewers by focusing their entire broadcast on how many shots it takes a sweaty Chris Berman to get out of a bunker, and how bad other celebrities swings are. The event has a lot of history, but Pro-Am formats are awful, and it’s a shame that one of the best courses in the world is subject to Kenny G masquerading around as both a two handicap and the star of next week’s Dateline: How To Catch a Predator. Here’s to hoping the Short Shore Course over at MPCC gets more than the cursory canned coverage this year – that place has some of the best views around. We’ve got NLU boots on the ground this week down in Monterrey, so stay tuned!