Grading the Byron Nelson Championship
Sang-Moon Bae was true to his game and it resulted in his first PGA Tour win. Charl Schwartzel and Keegan Bradley also scored high marks.
IRVING, Texas -- "That's him."
I overheard Sang-Moon Bae's golf coach, Rick Smith, say these words as Bae blew his birdie putt three feet past the hole on No. 18 on Sunday at the Byron Nelson Championship.
The safe play for Bae, who had a two-shot lead on Keegan Bradley at the time, would have been to lag something down close to the hole and tap in for par and the win. Bae wanted another birdie, though (it would have been just the third of the day on No. 18).
When I asked Smith what he meant about Bae when he said "that's him," he said, "He doesn't have any real let up in him. He hits his first putt three feet by and he was just trying to make another birdie. He was excited and I was just proud of how he finished after the wheels fell off a little bit for a few holes."
The wheels did fall off for a few holes.
Bae double-bogeyed No. 9 then bogeyed No. 10 after grabbing a four-stroke lead early on Bradley. He recovered with a clutch birdie on No. 16, though, and followed that up with two pars on the last two holes -- two of the toughest on the course.
And it was Bae who pulled a Bradley on Bradley on Sunday by getting his first-ever PGA Tour win at the Byron Nelson. It was Bradley who, two years ago, got his first-ever win here in Dallas, which he followed up later in the year with a PGA Championship.
Up to this point Bae was probably just "the guy in the Golf Boys 2.Oh video about whom the following line was written":
"Gonna take a vacay at Sang-Moon Bae."
But he's a real talent and should compete for titles on tour for years to come. He has good company -- the last three winners of this tournament are Jason Dufner, Bradley and Jason Day -- all stars on Tour.
Bae has yet to prove he's in their league, but he's well on his way with a win this week.
And he can certainly afford to take plenty of "vacays" now with his $1.2 million in earnings.
Here are our grades for the Byron Nelson Championship:
|A||Sang-Moon Bae went at pins all week and didn't back off on the back nine on Sunday. A worthy champion capped a really fun week.|
|A||Keegan Bradley just didn't have the goods on Sunday. A 60 on Thursday carried him for 69 holes but a missed birdie on the 70th and a bogey on the 71st really killed his chances.|
|A||It felt like Charl Schwartzel missed 39 putts on Sunday (it was probably more like three or four) so what could have been a win turned into a third-place finish. Still a great outing for the South African.|
|B||Jason Day made the most of just sneaking inside the cut to play the weekend. He shot a 66-72 on the weekend to get inside the top 30.|
|B||Nothing special here for Matt Kuchar -- just a slow and steady 69-70-71-69. He didn't play poorly but you probably expect more from the second-highest ranked golfer in the field.|
|C||Ben Crane has traditionally played this tournament pretty well (best finish was T7 in 2010), but not so much this year. Crane backed up a solid first two rounds with a pair of 73s on the weekend.|
|D||Nike bet big on Noh Seung-Yul this year and he hasn't been great so far (best finish was T16 at the Northern Trust Open). This week at the Byron Nelson was no different as he shot 68-71-72-78 to finish last of all golfers who made the cut.|
|F||Goodness, Robert Karlsson. The Swede shot a 64 on Thursday but turned around with a 78 on Friday (including a 41 on the back nine) to miss the cut by two.|
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