Tour Rundown: Casey stumbles, Bubba wins his third Travelers Championship
The third week of June 2K18 brought a respite from the men’s U.S. Open madness. The PGA Tour traveled a bit north, to Connecticut, while the Webbies went to Kansas. The Champions tour found itself in the Cheese state, while the Euros trekked to Germany. Oh, and the LPGA Tour took the week off, preparing for its Women’s PGA Championship this week. After the mayhem of Shinnecock Hills, and with anticipation high for the Open Championship at Carnoustie next month, a bit of leisure was a fit prescription. Here’s a rundown of all the week’s scores.
Watson leads parade of horses for courses at Travelers
The Travelers Championship was one of the first to practice awarding spots to highly-ranked amateurs. For that reason, golfers who might normally skip Connecticut, feel a loyalty to the tournament. Bubba Watson wasn’t one of them, but his affinity for the course is evident. His third career win at TPC River Highlands came by 3 strokes on Sunday, over a quartet of runners-up. Bubba’s card wasn’t clean on the week, but he found a way to make a few more birdies (and a few less bogeys) each round, than the competition. A third of the lanky Floridian’s PGA Tour titles have come along the banks of the Connecticut river, so expect another one soon.
Stewart Cink doesn’t win often on tour (apologies to 59-year old Tom Watson) but he tends to contend at the Travelers. The same affection can be applied to J.B. Holmes, Paul Casey and young Beau Hossler. Those four edged their way past Kevin Tway and Brian Harman, to 14-under and a tie for second place. Cink birdied 7 of his first 10 holes on Sunday, and made 3 more coming home. Those would have brought him within a whisker of the magical 59, but alas, he had 2 ill-advised bogeys during that same, closing stretch. Hossler charged at the end, with 4 birdies over the closing sextet. If any young golfer catches our eye these days, as the next to break through for victory, it is the Californian-turned-UTexas alum. He lost to Ian Poulter in Houston this spring, and should break through before trees shed their leaves.
Of all the also-rans, it was a gutted Casey who leaves town with regret. A day after starting his own 62, the Englishman stumbled home with 72. He made one birdie on day 4, and that was at the 1st hole. Still in the mix at the closing bell, the expat bogeyed 2 of his final 3 holes to complete his wretched story.
Schnell accepts props for first Web.Com Tour title
Brady Schnell received a decorative propeller as trophy for his inaugural Web win, but we suspect a print of the closing hole might have been more suitable. After flirting with the cut line on Friday, Schnell finished with a firm handshake, including birdie at the last. On Sunday, he birdied the hole 2 times in a 3-man playoff. The first helped to send Scott Pinckney away, and the second dismissed Brandon Hagy. Hagy went out in 30 on Sunday, but could apply enough tour sauce coming home, to end the event in regulation. Pinckney held the reigns on Saturday night, but 2 bogey bumps over the final 7 holes undid his fine week of work. With the trophy, Schnell jumped all the way from 68th to 12th in the chase for a PGA Tour card. Both Hagy and Pinckney moved inside the top 60 on the same list.
McCarron’s first 2018 win comes at American Family
Scott McCarron came out on PGA Tour Champions in 2016, and rolled 2 wins during that inaugural campaign. When he followed it up with a stellar 2017, including his first senior major among 4 triumphs, aficionados wondered if a dynasty was brewing. Since September, the McCarron train left the tracks for the yard, but it seems to be back. The California native held off home-stater Jerry Kelly by a stroke, thanks to a 3-birdie run from holes 14-16 on day 3. The victory was his 7th on the senior circuit, and elevated him to 3rd on the season points list, behind leader Kelly and Bernhard Langer. With a slim lead on the home hole, McCarron stuck an approach from a slightly-hanging lie to 15 feet, then 2-putted for the win.
Esteban Toledo had the 36-hole lead, but he found out what a closing 73 gets you on the Champions Tour: very little. The 4-time winner on Tour Champions faded away with 3 front-nine bogeys on Sunday. In addition to Kelly, Colin Montgomerie (64) and Steve Stricker (65) finished strong, joining defending champion Fred Couples at 13-under, one behind Kelly, in a third-place tie.
Wallace wins second of campaign at BMW International
Matt Wallace inserted himself into a trend of young Englishmen breaking through. Along with lads like Andy Sullivan and Andrew “Beef” Johnston, Wallace has quietly started a noteworthy, professional golf career. His third career title, and 2nd of 2018, came by one stroke over a trio of dissimilar runners-up. A resurgent Martin Kaymer nearly made good in front of the home crowd. Although he birdied the last, a bogey at the penultimate hole cost him a playoff spot. Mikko Korhonen won his 1st tour title a fortnight ago, and nearly doubled-down in Germany. After birdies at 15 through 17, the Fin could not add a 4th at the closer, and matched only Kaymer.
Try as Wallace and company might, they could not steal the spotlight from the capricious Dane, Thorbjorn Olesen. The Mighty One’s erratic week went like this: open with 73, then improve by 5 strokes to make the cut. Drop 9 strokes higher on Saturday to enter afterthought status. Close Sunday 16 strokes better with 61 and tie for second. Now…breathe. Olesen had 9 birdies and 1 eagle on day four, elevating his standing by 40 places over the final 18 holes. In the end, it was Wallace who accepted the hardware and moved into 11th spot in the season-long Race To Dubai.