June 18th – 21st, 2020
Harbour Town G.L.
Hilton Head, SC
Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,099
Purse: $7.1 million
with $1,278,000 to the winner
So the Charles Schwab Challenge was a big success with Daniel Berger beating Collin Morikawa on the first hole of a playoff. Have to give the PGA Tour and the folks at Colonial putting on a first-class event. A lot of work went into making sure that the tournament was safely played under these trying times. Even liked the job CBS did, they have always been good at prestigious events, and this week they were excellent.
The only thing that bothered me was that there was no crowd noise, and I feel this will get worse as we go along. I only hope that if something prevents golf from having fans attend significant events like the U.S. Open, Ryder Cup, or Masters that the folks that run those events will cancel them.
In this week’s prelude to the RBC Heritage, let’s look at some of the results and how it will affect the play at Harbour Town this week.
The big question for Colonial was if those who were doing great three months ago after Arnold Palmer would still have the mojo to play well after the break. The answer was yes, and no. Of those in the top-25 of the FedEx Cup after the Palmer, 22 of them played in the Charles Schwab with 11 of them making the cut and five of them placing in the top-ten at the Charles Schwab. No surprise as #1 Sungjae Im finished T-10th, #2 Justin Thomas also finished T-10th. We saw Daniel Berger win at Colonial, and it made sense when you realize that his three previous starts before the shutdown were top-ten finishes (T-9th Phoenix, T-5th Pebble & T-4th at Honda). Runner-up Collin Morikawa continued his excellent play, since turning professional last year he has played in 22 PGA Tour events without missing the cut. So we can give strong recommendations for all of the above.
In looking at others, number one Rory McIlroy continued his Jeckell and Hyde existence as he played great for three rounds and faltered in the final round shooting 74 to finish T-32nd. Gosh, I have to wonder how frustrating this has been for the last year and a half.
We also had some pleasant surprises, the biggest probably Bryson DeChambeau, who showed up at Colonial 20 pounds heavier than before the break for a total of 40 pounds gained since turning pro in 2016. With the added weight he has gone from being an average hitter, his first full year on tour in 2017, he averaged 299.4 yards per drive and ranked 45th. In 2020 before the break, he averaged 321.3 yards per drive and ranked 1st. With the added 20 pounds during the break, he averaged 340.4 per drive at Colonial. Of the 50 longest drives of the week, he owned ten of them with eight of them over 349 yards. Making that accomplished so deadly was the fact that he hit 33 of 56 fairways to rank T-28th as he finished T-3rd, one shot out of the playoff. With this combination of distance with a reasonable degree of accuracy, we can only speculate what a force he could become in the coming weeks. Now he may not have a good week at Hilton Head. The course is one of the hardest for those who try to bully it. So we will have to wait and see for the Rocket Mortgage on a course that he can overpower.
On the other end of the spectrum, we saw three players that took advantage of the break to work seriously on their games and break out of slumps.
Jason Kokrak, who since his first start in January, missing the cut at the American Express, has struggled, but at Colonial he finished T-3rd, one shot out of the playoff. We also saw some signs from Jordan Spieth, who has struggled since his last win at the 2017 British Open, that he could return to the winner’s circle soon. He began the week with rounds of 65-65, followed by a Saturday 68. But he stumbled on Sunday, shooting 71 but still showed signs of progress made. He had an awe-inspiring week considering he hit the ball out of bounds a couple of times and missed a boatload of putts inside five feet, something that he was good in the past. Last we have Justin Rose, who at the end of 2018 took a very lucrative offer to play with Honma Clubs after playing with TaylorMade clubs for 20 years. His game spiraled out of control, and when he missed the cut in three of his last four starts before the break, he decided to put the TaylorMade clubs back in the bag. Along with a lot of hard work during the break, he shot a first-round 63 followed by rounds of 69-68-66, and if he could have made an 18 footer on his 72nd hole, could have joined the Berger/Morikawa playoff. But he didn’t. These were just a few that show some promising play this week. We also have to add Xander Schauffele, who has played well all year and finished T-3rd. Patrick Reed, who won in March in Mexico, also played well-finished T-7th while Gary Woodland, who decided during the break to move from Florida to Kansas to be able to work on his game, was rewarded with a 9th place finish, even with a final round of 70. Finally, have to mention that Brooks Koepka looks like he is close, he shot four subpar rounds of 68-68-69-69 to finish T-32nd. In the coming weeks, look for these all to play well.
Now on the other end of the spectrum, it had to be tough on defending champion Kevin Na to miss the cut, Jim Nantz indicated he could be experiencing some back discomfort over the break, so be careful not to choose him until we find out what is happening. (UPDATE, just found out Na withdrew from RBC Heritage so something has to be up). Another player that I worry about is Patrick Cantlay, he has a history of back problems, and you never see him play more than a couple of weeks. I was surprised to see him not playing at Colonial but thought it was no problem he would play at RBC Heritage, an event he does well at, along with playing at the Travelers. After being on the roster to play at Hilton Head, his name disappeared on Friday. So I have to wonder if he has any problems, I know he had surgery during the WGC-Mexico Championship to correct a deviated septum. I will try and find out what the deal is with him.
Also missing the cut at Colonia to our surprise was Jon Rahm, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, and Ryan Palmer. I know they will all bounce back. As for Jason Day, who also missed the cut, I wonder how much longer he can go with his ailing back.
If you guys out there hear of any good gossip to help us choose better players, jot it down on our Speak Your Mind chat below.