Charles Schwab Challenge Wrap-up

Well, the PGA Tour is finally back, and as Pee Wee Herman once said, “certain questions get answered, others spring up! Your mind plays tricks on you…you play tricks back!” Here are the stories you need to know about:

Rory: Things didn’t look good for Rory on Sunday when he bogeyed the first (the easiest hole on the course) and parred the second (the second-easiest hole) after poor drives. From there, he played 6 other holes above par. For comparison, he only made four bogeys in the first 3 rounds combined. Let’s hope this isn’t a return to him struggling under pressure on Sundays.  

Beefy Bryson: I’m not sure what more can be said here than hasn’t been already (see TTAF’s takes here and here for starters), but hoo boy that was interesting. Besides his physical appearance, his swing looks more at home on the long drive tour than the PGA Tour. It’ll be interesting to see if any other pros take his size over finesse approach to heart.  

Tom Lehman: At the age of 61, Tom kicked things off impressively when he shot 65 in the first round and had people remembering when Tom Watson won one for the old guys at Colonial at the age of 48 in 1998. Unfortunately, Lehman followed it up with a 74 and missed the cut by one. Ouch.  

Strong Closers: Berger and Morikawa were rock solid every day, but Jason Kokrak and Patrick Reed were in a class by themselves on the weekend. They were both at -3 after the first two rounds, but hit the gas on Saturday and put themselves in contention by Sunday. Reed shot 129 on the weekend with no bogeys, and Kokrak shot 130 with 2 bogeys, both on the back 9 on Sunday, or he might have run away with it. The next closest scores on the weekend were Daniel Berger, Bubba Watson, and Cameron Champ at 133.   

Dustin Johnson: He looked a little flat at the skins event back in May, and still looked rusty in all phases at Colonial. On his way to two meh 71s, his putter continued to fail him, with a -0.7 strokes gained putting. By comparison, Daniel Berger had +1.3 and Collin Morikawa +1.1. Since coming in 2nd at the 2019 PGA Championship, Johnson’s best finish in the 13 tournaments since then has been a T7 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. It’s not hard to see where the problem lies – this season he’s 166th in GIR %, and 136th in Strokes Gained Putting.  

Keith Mitchell: After winning the Honda somewhat out of nowhere in 2019, in 2020 he’s had only one top 10 (Bay Hill) and 5 missed cuts in 13 starts, and was worse in just about every statistical category before the break. So it was great to see him make the cut at Colonial, although he finished third to last among those making the cut. When you watch this guy hit balls on the range, you would assume he’d win every week. Hopefully his play at Colonial is a step in the right direction. 

Peter Uihlein: Another sweet swinger, Uihlein finished T14, which is his best finish since finishing T13 at last year’s Charles Schwab Challenge. Uihlein hits it far enough, averaging 301 yards per drive, but has hit less than half the fairways this season (223rd in driving accuracy). You hear TV commentators preach all the time that you have to hit lots of fairways at Colonial to be successful, but guys like Uihlein and DeChambeau are proving that to be false.  

1990 US Open: The Colonial fell on the 30th anniversary of the US Open at Medinah, where Hale Irwin edged out Mike Donald on the 91st hole to win his third US Open title. I volunteered at that tournament as a young buck (and still have the hat somewhere). One of my favorite memories of that experience was watching David Frost hit one handed 6-irons on the range with either hand dead straight every time. And it was at that moment that I realized I could never be a professional golfer. Frosty played at Colonial last week as a former champion and finished dead last. Time will get to you. The 1990 US Open also marked the major championship debut of two decent amateurs – Phil Mickelson and David Duval, both of whom made the cut. 

Jim Furyk: It’s pretty impressive to lead the PGA Tour in Driving Accuracy (80.4%) and Greens in Regulation (76.3%) at the age of 50, but unfortunately he can’t get the ball in the hole (148th in Strokes Gained Putting). We’ve talked about how underrated Furyk’s career is, and look for him to contend in regular Tour events if he can get his stroke back. As recently as 2018, he was 24th in Strokes Gained Putting, slipped to 69th in 2019 and stands at 106th this season. 

Maverick McNealy: Finally, at the risk of my being accused of slinging gossip, both Mav and his girlfriend, LPGA player Danielle Kang, have deactivated their Instagram accounts for the past 10 days or so. I hope that doesn’t mean trouble in paradise for two seemingly super-nice people (although a somewhat unlikely personality fit). 

 There you have it – look for more recaps as the season continues!

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