A strong field, a great leaderboard, a gorgeous golf course, and perfect weather made for a fantastic weekend of wearing out the couch. Angel Cabrera and Martin Flores were the early pace-setters at -9 through Friday. Then Phil mounted a furious charge Saturday morning by going out in 29, but couldn’t buy a bucket on Sunday as CBS execs watched through their fingers covering their face as the biggest named star tumbled down the leaderboard yet again on a Sunday in what has become an overwhelming theme in this crazy PGA Tour season. Left standing was JB Holmes who quietly went 67-66 in the second and third rounds and hung on late on Sunday over a surging Furyk (amped up on 5-Hour Energy no doubt) and Flores.
1) Brendon de Jonge opened with an 80, but didn’t take his ball and run crying home like some people we know. He shot 62 on Friday, and followed it with 68 and 69, good enough for a T6 finish. We did still manage to get two DFL-WD’s this week, with both Peter Hanson and Brad Fritsch bowing out, leaving sponsor’s invite Ben Kohles in DFL. We’re still bitter about Kohles getting a spot over Koepka, and said so before he finished DFL. As president of the Brooks Koepka fan club, we couldn’t go without pointing this out again.
2) We’re really pumped for J.B. Holmes. Two brain surgeries, and a broken ankle, and he’s back in the winner’s circle. He plays at an excruciatingly frustrating pace, but embodies No Laying Up every step of the way. Even I gasped when I saw him reach for driver on the 18th hole with a two shot lead, but he got it done. His length basically makes him the right handed Bubba Watson, minus the douchebaggery. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the ’08 Ryder Cup, where Holmes was hitting the ball in places that no one else in the event could reach. Which reminds me of this clip, which I’ll post here for no real reason:
3) It was great to see Mickelson put on one of his patented virtuoso performances on Saturday. They have been few and far between since last year’s Open triumph. He played the six hole stretch of #3 to #8 in SEVEN under, turning with a 29 and putting 59 squarely in play. While he continued to hit the ball exceptionally on the back nine, his putter let him down a couple times and he ultimately had to ‘settle’ for a 63. The balky putter would portend Sunday struggles, as he missed a handful of putts within 5 feet. More than anything it seemed like he was following his runner-up US Open script. Let’s hope he re-writes that ending next time he’s back in North Carolina.
4) Martin Flores was a revelation. He stuck around all weekend displaying a nice swing, solid game, and phenomenal flow. He came into this week without a top-10, so his solo 3rd will be a big boon to potentially retaining his privileges next year. This being his first real breakthrough of the season, we should note he’s now finished inside the top-20 in five of his last seven events dating back to the Honda Classic. Keep an eye out for him in the coming weeks as he’s on a nice, sustained run of form.
5) Angel Cabrera opened 66-69 then somebody informed him this wasn’t a major. He promptly bounced, shooting 75-75 and saying something about being back in 2017.
6) Pat Perez was headed toward a top-10 and another great check but wrecked his rig coming in. He played #13 through #18 Sunday at 5-over, shooting 77 and finishing T44. The six hole stretch absolutely will not disabuse us of the belief that he’s going to win very soon. Read Brian Wacker’s piece about Double P finding his happy zone if you’re still on the fence.
7) The greens disaster of 2013 was nowhere in sight this week, which was extremely refreshing. The entire course looked almost (I shouldn’t say it, but I’m going to) Augusta green, and had a fantastic mix of risk reward holes that were gettable, and some demanding holes that you couldn’t hide from coming in. First class to Rees Jones and the entire staff at Quail Hollow.
How Our Picks Fared
On the day following the Kentucky Derby, we hit the Exacta! We hadn’t picked a winner since our double-dip in the WGC Cadillac Championship and Puerto Rico Open, and this win puts us up 63.5 units on the year (if you’re scoring at home, which we know you’re not).
- J.B. Holmes (50/1) – WINNER
- Jim Furyk – 2
- Ryan Moore – T18
- Rickie Fowler – T40
- Pat Perez – T44
- Kyle Stanley – T60
- Jamie Donaldson – MC
- Robert Karlsson – MC
Here’s what we wrote on Holmes on Wednesday (nice work from Tron):
“Hunching on this one. Decent track record here with a top 10 back in 2011, but this pick is MUCH about form. Holmes is in a good place again with his health and you can tell he’s gaining momentum. Played well at Bay Hill, Houston, Hilton Head and New Orleans, not finishing worse than 18th. I’m buying on Holmes over the next two months.”
Oil Spill of the Week (Brought to you by BP)
This classy four putt by Peter Hanson on Thursday took the early lead for Oil Spill of the Week, and never looked back. It’s never good when all of your shots around the hole can’t even fit on shot tracker.
NLU Shot Tracker of the Week
J.B. Holmes’ fascinating length was on display all weekend, and his tee shot on the 8th on Sunday was one of the best examples. This was INTO THE WIND.
This fan’s reaction to the drive was perfect, as was Feherty’s call:
This fan is very entertained by J.B. Holmes' "blunt force trauma" https://t.co/gVcDXB6P3w
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) May 4, 2014
#TourSauce of the Week
Justin Rose blesses us with the double dip: The Follow Through Club Drop, and the Wayward Drive Directional Point!
Fantastic #TourSauce from Justin Rose. The Club Drop and the Directional Point! https://t.co/wvJIghSx4i
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) May 4, 2014
May can be overlooked on the schedule as it’s the only month from April to August that doesn’t have a major, but this is arguably the best stretch on the PGA Tour (Wells Fargo, The Players, The Colonial, The Memorial) that doesn’t feature a major. A lot of people have mixed thoughts on The Players Championship, but I’ve come around on it. It might have been the perfect storm of Tiger winning and Sergio collapsing last year that turned me, but I’m going to be glued to the TV next weekend. Unless Jeff Maggert makes a run at this thing again.