Hudson Swafford joined the litany of Georgia Bulldogs as PGA Tour winners as Swafford emerged from a crowded leaderboard Sunday to earn his first career PGA Tour win.
What the leaderboard lacked in marquee names it made up for in drama. The outcome of the Hawaiian tournaments was pretty much a foregone conclusion on Sunday, but the outcome of the CareerBulder was in doubt all day.
Swafford’s closing 67 was enough to edge Adam Hadwin, the Canadian who shoot 59 in the third round, by one shot. Swafford birdied three of the final four holes en route to the victory.
The outcome was in doubt through much of the back nine Sunday and saw as many as eight players within one shot of the lead. The critical hole turned out to be the island green par-3 17th hole. Chad Campbell, who took the lead on the front nine, found the water, other contenders made par, but Hadwin and Swafford both tallied birdies.
Trailing by one on 18, Hadwin pushed his drive and was unable to give himself a realistic attempt at a tying birdie. Swafford drove it in the fairway, hit his approach to the middle of the green and two-putted for an easy par to clinch the tournament.
The event was effected by weather throughout the week and although Swafford finished at 20-under, the cool temperatures, rain, and wind contributed to some higher than normal scoring.
– I’m not going to lie, unless you were a true golf nerd, this was a tough watch. The drama was there, but there was not anything close to a marquee name on the leaderboard.
– I was struck that while promoting the Farmers Insurance Open event at Torrey Pines next week, the Golf Channel mentioned Tiger and Phil’s name, but did not mention Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, and Rickie Fowler. A lot is made about a changing of the guard to a new generation of golfers, but Tiger and Phil still move the needle like no one else.
– Speaking of Phil, Mickelson had a relatively strong week considering that he was thinking off withdrawing Tuesday. Lefty was in prime position to make a run on the weekend, but an over-par third round and a balky putter on Sunday were too much to overcome as he finished 11-under. Mickelson’s week, however, was not without its fair share of highlights.
— Eagle Golf Tours (@EaglegolfLtd) January 20, 2017
– It’s raining 59s on the PGA Tour. Adam Hadwin’s 59 on Saturday was the ninth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history and the second in nine days. After the Tour had just three 59s from the tour’s inception until 2010, there has been six sup-60 rounds in the last six and a half years. It begs the question, are the courses becoming too easy or are the golfers just becoming that good?
– The answer is somewhere in between. Every course the tour visits is in immaculate shape – there is not a blade of grass out of place, which allows for pure putting surfaces. Another factor is that most courses hardly have penalizing rough and every bunker is beautifully manicured which makes getting up and down from the trap routine and eliminates any variables for a player to consider.
– The No. 1 reason for these low scores, and the most pressing issue facing the game and the future of the game, is simply the fact that the ball goes too far and golf ball technology is mostly unregulated. Instead of penalizing Dustin Johnson for his ball oscillating on a green that is stimping at 16 at last year’s U.S. Open, the governing bodies should be more concerned about enacting legislation to regulate the golf ball before too many courses are rendered obsolete.
– Hadwin’s 59 is even more impressive considering that the La Quinta course is a par-72. His 13 birdies tied Chip Beck’s PGA Tour record.
— RBC (@RBC) January 22, 2017
– The CareerBuilder also marked the final event broadcasted by the NBC/Golf Channel production crew until the Honda Classic in the final week of February. Starting next week at Torrey Pines, CBS will take over coverage, which is bad news for any golf fan. Golf may be the hardest sport to broadcast – it takes place over a large plot of land and with 150+ players competing. It is extremely challenging to catch all of the pertinent shots and finding the appropriate storylines. That being said, the NBC/Golf Channel crew does a great job of showing as many live golf shots as possible as well as properly utilizing technology like Shot Tracker.
– CBS on the other hand, has an inordinate amount of commercials, shows a ton of shots on tape delay, and with the exception of Jim Nantz, their commentators are not as good as NBC’s. The late Frank Chirkinian (former director of CBS’ golf coverage) made CBS the gold standard for golf broadcasting from the 1980s until the mid-2000s, but since his departure, the quality of their broadcast has dramatically deteriorated.
– Throughout both of their careers I have always mixed up Hudson Swafford and Harris English. Not only to the look alike, but their games mirror each other. It turns out their similarities don’t end there – they both went to Georgia and were roommates during their time in Athens. With a name like Hudson Swafford, you are destined for an SEC school.
Like twins, right?
Weird Stat of the Week:
Prior to this week’s play, Swafford had zero top-10s and zero missed cuts in his previous 18 starts (h/t Jason Sobel).
Otter Room Picks:
My dark horse pick of Mark Wilson missed the cut by seven shots at +3 – that horse may have been too dark. My pick to win was Patrick Reed. While Reed started started out of the gate a little slow, he fired a 65 Sunday to finish T-12 at 13-under.
Unintentional F-Bomb of the Week:
Still not sure if it was Johnny Miller, Hadwin, or one of Hadwin’s playing partners, but I am sure that it was hilarious.
— Chris Dawson (@thechrisdawson) January 21, 2017
Shot of the Week:
I am going to cop out and put three shots here.
The first is a hole-in-one from amateur David Colby on the par-3 17th en route to his win in the amateur portion of the competition. Too bad he didn’t see the ball go in.
— Jay Armour (@jay_armour) January 22, 2017
The second is Adam Hadwin’s 59 clinching putt on Saturday. Hadwin actually had a shot at 58 if he were able to birdie the final hole, but he pushed his approach shot and needed to get up and down from just off the green to secure his 59.
Adam Hadwin becomes the eighth player in PGA TOUR history to shoot a 59. pic.twitter.com/RUi7KukWMQ
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 21, 2017
The final shot of the week is the one that pretty much clinched the title for Swafford as he hit it to gimmie range on the penultimate hole. Although 17 was only paying about 150 yards, it is incredibly difficult to get the ball close to that back-right hole location, especially for a right-hander.
The difficulty is rooted in the challenge of cutting a short iron or wedge. Most players tend to play a little draw with the shorter clubs and in order to stuff it close to that pin placement, a player has to start the ball over the water. Because of those factors, Swafford made a difficult shot look relatively routine.
Entering Alcatraz with a one-shot lead …
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 22, 2017
Stay tuned to The Otter Room this week for a complete preview for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.