The First Cut: Tommy Fleetwood returns to European Tour glory, Brendon Todd goes back-to-back
The weekend that was in golf was filled with all kinds of wacky moments and notable victories
The PGA Tour didn't wrap until Monday morning as Brendon Todd finished off his second straight (!) victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, but there were plenty of fascinating subplots in the golf world that unfolded before then. From horrific shots turned great to a Ryder Cupper getting his fifth win on the European Tour, here's a look at what you may have missed over the weekend.
Fleetwood flushes: After a poor 73 on Saturday, Tommy Fleetwood closed on Sunday at the Nedbank Golf Challenge with a 65 and beat Marcus Kinhult in a playoff in the penultimate European Tour event on this season's slate. It was Fleetwood's fifth win on the European Tour but first in nearly two years.
"It has been a long time coming, and I'm not one to complain, but I really did want to win something," said Fleetwood. "You know, it's the best. Winning is just such a good feeling. Everybody puts a lot of hard work in week in, week out and you wait for your time to come. Probably impatient most of the time. But I feel happy and lucky that it's been my time this week."
Fleetwood is a certified stud who maybe doesn't win as much as he should. He still lacks that PGA Tour win, and like he noted, it had been nearly 24 months since he last entered the winner's circle on the European Tour. Winning isn't everything, but it certainly still matters, and even more so for somebody as talented and ranked as high as Fleetwood is (top 20 in the world).
Unintended benefit: Fleetwood has jumped all the way to second in the Race to Dubai rankings, which means he has a real shot at winning that award (the European Tour's answer to the FedEx Cup) at the DP World Tour Championship this week in Dubai. Only five players are still in it, and leader Bernd Wiesberger joins Fleetwood at the top followed by Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Back-to-back Brendon: I did not envision, at the start of the year, Brendon Todd winning more 2019 golf tournaments than Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day combined. It would not have been wise to bet on such a thing. And yet, here we are. Todd took the Mayakoba Golf Classic by one over a trio of players to follow his Bermuda Championship win a few weeks ago, and the man who ended 2018 outside the top 2,000 in the world is likely now back inside the top 100 with two straight wins.
"I've been playing well for a while," Todd said in the wake of his win. "The confidence I gained from winning Bermuda and putting up four rounds in the 60s, it's natural to take that confidence to the next event."
Natural, maybe, but still wildly unexpected.
Tough scene for Henley: Russell Henley took eight penalty strokes because a ball that wasn't the brand he uses was found in his bag (by him) after he carded a 69 in Round 2. It resulted in a missed cut. Because nobody knew how many holes he used it for, he used the average number of holes he normally plays a ball for (four) and multiplied that by two strokes per hole for a total of eight.
Kudos to him for being honest and forthright, but this rule (like most golf rules) is completely insane and should be catapulted into the sun. When we're asking guys to assess the average number of holes they normally use a golf ball and then doing arithmetic to calculate penalty strokes, I have to draw a line. Like Henley noted, at the very least there needs to be a cap on how many penalty strokes you can receive for something like this.
A very expensive flagpole: Thomas Detry hit a next-to-a-water hazard during his play at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. He went on to finish third on the week and net $380,000 for his work. It's not a one-to-one comparison because the math is more complicated than this, but the players two shots behind him won $140,000. So you could say that pole was worth $240,000.
Speaking of bad shots: This bunker shank-turned-near-make by Joachim Hansen was unbelievable. The best part was the look he gave after he saw where it ended up. Like he can't believe this game is as stupid as it is. So, just like the rest of us.
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