Hard-hitting Bryson, Magical Spieth: Golf Talking Points
Bryson DeChambeau claimed his first victory since last year’s US Open at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this weekend in a tournament best remembered for his monstrous tee shots on the sixth par-five hole .
Here, AFP Sport takes a look at three talking points this week in golf, ahead of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday:
DeChambeau rediscovers touch
– DeChambeau’s big hit off the tee has been well documented and it helped him lift his first major trophy at the 2020 US Open, but his excellent putting was also the foundation of his game that week.
The 27-year-old has struggled to find his best form since his triumph at Winged Foot last September, although he remained the best on the league in strokes won initially.
But his putt came back on time at Bay Hill on Sunday, with a long birdie putt in the fourth, followed by a monster 49-foot save on the 11th hole to keep one shot ahead of Lee Westwood.
“It was huge,” DeChambeau said. “I mean, knowing what I know now, this was obviously the highlight of the day for me.”
For most fans, the shot of the day would have been the new world number six’s massive run over the lake on the sixth, leaving him just 88 yards for his second shot in the par-five.
But, rightly so, it was a cool five-and-a-half-foot putt under heavy pressure that secured victory on the final green.
“Bryson hit a lot of good shots and put in some great putts, especially the last one,” runner-up Westwood told Sky Sports Golf. “When I put a little pressure on him, it would have been easy to miss that one.”
Spieth finds old magic
– Jordan Spieth remains winless since his third major title at the 2017 British Open, but his return to form has continued in Florida.
While still not at his best, especially from the tee, the former world number one wowed the crowd with 25 percent capacity with stunning shots during the week.
A par-three hole-in-one on Saturday was the highlight, but a hole-in-a-bunker shot and two signature long putts were a reminder of what made Spieth the best golfer on the planet.
“I took a step in the right direction today regardless of the outcome,” said Spieth after tied for fourth, his third among the top five in four events.
The 27-year-old had only finished in the top five once in his previous 60 tournaments, dating back to the 2018 Masters.
Westwood boosts Ryder Cup hopes
– Westwood, 47, narrowly came close to becoming the oldest non-American to win the PGA Tour, but has proven he can still mix it up with the current generation of star players.
The former world number one played an excellent final round to almost keep pace with DeChambeau, but missed putts cost him a first PGA Tour title since 2010.
The performance of the Dubai racing champion Westwood has bolstered his hopes of making it to Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup squad for matches at Whistling Straits later this year.
He missed the winning team of 2018, having played 10 successive Ryder Cups starting in 1997.
Male Top 20 for the week starting March 8, 2021 (change from last week):
1. Dustin Johnson (USA) 12.00 pts average
2. Jon Rahm (ESP) 8.83
3. Justin Thomas (United States) 8.18
4. Collin Morikawa (United States) 8.01
5. Alex ScHotele (United States) 7.21
6. Bryson DeChambeau (United States) 7.12 (+5)
7. Tyrrell Hatton (ANG) 6.47 (-1)
8. Patrick Reed 6.35 (+1)
9. Patrick Cantlay (United States) 6.35 (-2)
10. Webb Simpson (United States) 6.34
11. Rory McIlroy (NIR) 6.31 (-3)
12. Brooks Koepka (United States) 6.03
13. Viktor Hovland (NOR) 5.54
14. Tony Finau (United States) 5.51
15. Daniel Berger (United States) 4.78
16. Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 4.52
17. I am Sung-jae (KOR) 4.23
18. Harris English (US) 4.18 (+1)
19. Paul Casey (ENG) 4.14 (-1)
20. Matthew Wolff (United States) 4.08
© 2021 AFP