Week on Tour: Spieth's incredible win, and why McIlroy tried three putters in four days
Spieth hole-out lands Travelers
Jordan Spieth produced a magical moment, holing out in the play-off to win the Travelers Championship against Daniel Berger. Spieth now has 10 wins on the PGA Tour before his 24th birthday, only Tiger Woods was younger to achieve that feat.
Spieth had been particularly out of sorts in the final round, missing a variety of short putts but he was incredibly fortunate to avoid the water twice on the back nine, the second time at 15 where he made a birdie even though he thought his putt had missed.
Berger joined him at the top of the leaderboard with three birdies in the last six holes but needed a sand save at the 72nd hole – as did Spieth – to finish at 12 under. In the play-off Berger went left but avoided the tree while Spieth went low and left and found the timber.
In regulation play he had a sand wedge in, this time it was a 5-iron which found the same bunker but the recovery was sublime. Berger had a 40-footer to keep it going but it slipped by and Spieth, for all the talk of being out of form, has two wins in 2017.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 25, 2017
Three putters in four days for Rory
Rory McIlroy’s new TaylorMade Spider Tour Red putter had been given a stay of execution with the Northern Irishman blaming his grip and green reading for his ordinary run of putting stats.
McIlroy works with the putting guru Phil Kenyon and he did have faith in the Spider.
“If I keep working on stuff and working on the right things and believing in it, hopefully it will turn around sooner rather than later.
“It’s nothing to do with the putter. It’s mostly what I’m doing with it.”
Of his grip he made a small adjustment to try and keep his palms facing each other through the stroke.
But by day three he was on to a TaylorMade TP Collection Soto and it was all change again as he went for the Juno model on Sunday which appeared to work well as he signed off a confusing week with a 64.
The stats told a familiar story. In strokes gained tee-to-green McIlroy was +9.960 which is phenomenally good and he was ranked first at the Travelers. He was also +6.995 for strokes gained off the tee which is what you would expect from someone who drives like like Rory.
But he lost nearly four shots through putting. His strokes gained number with the putter was -3.680.
But before we get carried away saying ‘if only he putted better this week’ – he finished six shots back.
There’s obviously more testing and technique work for McIlroy over the coming weeks. Who knows what will be in the bottom end of the bag at Royal Birkdale?
Romero back from nowhere
You might remember Andres Romero, he was the Argentine who so nearly won the 2007 Open Championship after 10 birdies on the Sunday. Well he came into the BMW International Open in Germany on an invite and ranked 837 in the world, but he is now a winner again – his first and last victory in Europe came the week after Carnoustie.
Romero closed with a 65 – he had a hole-in-one on Thursday – to beat Richard Bland, Sergio Garcia and Thomas Detry by a shot. Englishman Bland will rue a bogey at 17 while Garcia missed a short one at the previous. Both made brave efforts to eagle the 72nd hole but came up just wide. The Belgian finished with a brilliant 66 but his regret will be just a par at the last.
Romero made six birdies in eight holes from the eighth and he added another at the last after leaving his eagle putt 10 feet short.
Bland remains winless after more than 400 starts.
Romero said: “I haven’t been in that position for a long time, so it felt a little funny, but only on that 18th hole, because I was playing great golf. And then I was looking at the leaderboard and I saw that the other guys missed the green on 17, but I didn’t want to look at that. I was a little nervous.”
Bogey-free final rounds by winners this season:
Romero (BMW Intl) pic.twitter.com/GY4rSeyxfP
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) June 25, 2017
Up and down of 2017?
Here’s Bland on Saturday in Germany..
Up and down from water. ✔️
Hole-out eagle. ✔️
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) June 24, 2017
Ellis claims dramatic Amateur triumph
Hampshire’s Harry Ellis produced an incredible comeback to win the 122nd Amateur Championship in a play-off with Australian Dylan Perry.
The 21-year-old was four down with five to play at Royal St George’s but Perry bogeyed the 14th and a hat-trick of dropped shots to finish saw the match go into extra holes.
The first was halved but the Aussie doubled the next while Ellis made his seventh straight par to book his ticket to next month’s Open at Birkdale as well as Augusta and Shinnecock, for the US Open, in 2018.
Ellis has been on the radar since winning the English Amateur at just 16 in 2012.
Brace yourself – Phil and Bones are no more
Both released statements, neither of which told us very much, Bones thinks Mickelson will win the Masters while Mickelson said Bones was “one of the most important and special people in my life”.
There was the odd rumour that there has been a bit of tension at a couple of events and a bit of a heated exchange at the Players but no single incident was blamed. Their race was run and, after a brilliant five majors and 41 PGA Tour wins. Bones’ last act was to scout out Erin Hills for the US Open, a tournament his boss never got to play in.
For the rest of this season Mickelson’s brother Tim, who also manages Jon Rahm, will be on the bag. They should start at the Greenbrier next month.
For 51-year-old Bones there will be no shortage of offers. What has been ruled out is the one-time veto that Bones has every season for when he is able to call off a shot that Mickelson fancies playing. The left-hander explains that “for the record, vetoes are non-transferable”.
Tiger on the mend (wherever he is)
This week’s Tiger Update is a bit more upbeat. On Monday he released the tweet below though we don’t know where his recovery is taking place.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) June 19, 2017
“I’m not at liberty to say where he is, but he is receiving in-patient treatment,” Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent said. “Tiger has been dealing with so much pain physically. And that leads to insomnia and sleep issues. This has been going on for a long time.”
Though the previous week he was watching some of the coverage from the US Open as good friend Jason Day revealed: “He texted me after I shot and said, ‘Hey, before you work on something call me because I saw something. I was like, yeah, you saw 79 shots. I didn’t call him because I was so angry.”
Scottish Open returns to Gullane
Gullane has got the nod, ahead of the nearby Renaissance Club, to stage the men’s and women’s Scottish Opens next year in a space of two weeks as each event raises the curtain for the Open Championship and Women’s British Open the following week.
The men’s tournament will be held on July 12-15, with the women playing over the same composite course from July 26-29. From there the men will head to Carnoustie while the women will be playing at Royal Lytham. This year Dundonald are the pre-major hosts.
The Ladies Scottish Open will be a very different event this summer after becoming co-sanctioned with the LPGA which has seen the prize money triple to £1.2 million.