The Shortest Off-Season In Sports Is Over
That’s right, golf’s off-season is over and the boys of the PGA Tour were back in action this week in Napa Valley at the Frys.com Open. Sang-Moon Bae entered the final round at 16 under with a huge lead. He played great through 3 rounds and put the cruise control on in the final round to ease into what ended up being a 2 shot victory. For Bae, this was one of those weeks in which a world class player could summon his many talents to outclass the field. While dominant and back in the winner’s circle, his great play makes you wonder, where the fuck has he been?
Bae won the Byron Nelson Invitational in 2013 and hasn’t had a top ten finish since. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 36 tournaments played in which he didn’t finish better than 12th place. On the Golf Channel telecast today the Terry Gannon and Roger Maltbie discussed this issue with Johnny Miller and Miller noted that several guys take a mental vacation right after they win. I think he’s on to something here. Once you win you get exemptions into any event you want and don’t have to worry about your card for 2 years. I think it is only natural for a player to let up on the gas after their virgin victory.
2014-2015 could be different for Bae. Now he knows he belongs and he’ll have a 2nd victory in his back pocket going forward. He might just stay hot and win again soon like Jimmy Walker did last year, or Patrick Reed. We know he has the talent, now he’s playing with house money.
At one point in the final round Bae had a putt for birdie that would have resulted in a 7 shot lead. After making 3 bogies out of 4 holes in the middle of his back nine, Bae saw his lead dwindle down to 3 when Hunter Mahan pulled off the Shot of the Day.
That makes up for also having the Shit Shot of the Week. Mahan double hit his chip from the fairway in round 1 on Thursday to remind us all of his failure at the 2010 Ryder Cup and why he hasn’t won a major.
Now, back to his eagle for a second. Having closed the gap with that shot, Mahan went on to bogey the 15th hole, par the downwind par five 18th, and barely held his ground in the top 5 in doing so. Outside of one good week in New Jersey this year, that seems to be Hunter’s M.O. It starts with his short game, which cost him big again today.
The rest of the field didn’t put up much of a fight to take down Bae either. Conditions were tough thanks to the firm ground and gusts of wind. Kuchar, Koepka, Laird, and others simply could string together enough birdies to mount a charge.
Lyle Livin’ Large
One player that did show some fight at the Frys, albeit for other reasons, was Jarrod Lyle. As you might know, the Frys was Lyle’s first official event back after beating cancer. Jarrod had to Monday qualify this week to get into the field thanks to having limited status on the tour. The tournament staff of the Frys denied his request for a sponsors exemption. That seems shitty, doesn’t it? So he showed up Monday determined to stick that snub up their ass. He survived a playoff and then then stuck around for the weekend to make a decent check.
Lyle took nearly 2 years off to fight leukemia for the 2nd time in his life. Because of his story, beating the disease again, and his limited status on the tour, I think you’re going to see plenty coverage of Mr. Lyle’s plight over the next 6 to 9 months. And why wouldn’t you? Shit like that is a feel good story for everyone. Let’s hope the big Aussie stays healthy and plays well in this wrap-around PGA Tour season. Good luck, mate.