Kyle Stanley Wins Quicken Loans National

After beginning the final round four shots off the lead, Kyle Stanley fired a four-under 66 and defeated Charles Howell III on the first playoff hole to win the Quicken Loans National.

The playoff between Stanley and Howell III matchup of a pair of long winning droughts. Howell III last won on the PGA Tour in 2007 when he defeated Phil Mickelson in a playoff at Riviera. Stanley’s previous, and only, tournament win came at the 2012 Waste Management Open.

Stanley saved his winning chances with scrambling pars on the final two holes of regulation. In the midst of a sudden deluge, Stanley pushed his six-iron on the par-3 17th, the ball seemed destined for the water, but carried the hazard by a few feet leaving him with a thick lie in the rough.

Stanley managed to get his chip on the green and drained a 15-foot par putt to maintain his tie with Howell III. Stanley then drove the ball in the fairway bunker on 18, but hit an exceptional approach shot on the green and two-putted for par.

Howell III, who was playing with Stanley, had 20-feet for birdie and the win only to see the attempt slide across the edge of the cup.

Stanley missed wide right off the tee on the playoff hole, but his was so off line that he had a barren lie with a good angle to the hole and his approach rolled just off the green – 30 feet from the hole.

Howell III’s tee shot finished in the semi rough and his approach finished in the rough and a poor chip shot left him 15-feet for par. Howell III missed on the high side, while Stanley converted his five-foot par putt for the win.

Thoughts:

– Stanley was a stud at Clemson, but his pro career hasn’t lived up to his amateur hype. While at Clemson, Stanley would play the team’s golf course during home football games, because he could play 36-54 holes per day with everyone at the football games.

– When Stanley first got on tour, he had “KFS” printed on on his golf balls – Kyle Fuckin Stanley.

– Stanley contended at The Players this year and now has two wins to his name, but the most notable, or infamous, moment of his career came at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2012. Stanley had a three-shot lead on the final hole before putting his wedge approach shot in the water, posting a triple bogey, and eventually losing in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker.

– To Stanley’s credit, he won the very next week in Phoenix while overcoming an eight-shot deficit on Sunday.

– Howell III’s runner-up performance was theΒ 16th second-place finish of his career. He has two victories to his credit.

– Fun fact, Howell III, Jim Furyk, and Mickelson are the only players to finish in the top 125 on the money list every year since 2000.

– David Lingmerth led after each of the first three rounds, but shot a 73 Sunday and finished T-5.

– Lingmerth was -10 after two rounds and built a two-shot lead heading into the weekend, but most of the leaderboard went backwards on Saturday and Sunday.

– There was not a round under-par in the final eight groups Saturday and the leaders did not fare much better on Sunday. Sunday’s final leaderboard was mostly made up of players that teed off well before the 54-hole leaders.

– After a quiet first three rounds, Rickie Fowler climbed up the leaderboard Sunday. Fowler reached -5 and was one back after 13. He approached the driveable par-4 14th with a prime opportunity to tie or take the lead. Instead, his drive found the water and he made double bogey to quell his chances. Fowler would make two birdies coming in and eventually finished in a tie for third.

– Fowler made a career-high nine birdie on the day.

– Sung Kang finished at -4 in a tie for fifth, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of his final round. Kang hung around the lead for most of Sunday and had a chance to tie on 16 with an eight-foot birdie putt. Right before the putt, the skies opened and Kang, with no rain gear because there was 0% chance of rain forecasted, let the elements get to him and missed the putt.

– Moments later, the horn was blown to temporarily halt play. If Kang had just waited another minute, horn would have blown and he could have attempted his birdie putt under sunny skies. When play resumed, Kang hit his tee shot on 17 in the water and made double bogey.

– One of the main stories of the week turned out to be the course. TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, formerly TPC Avenel, was the host of the old Kemper Open for nearly 20 years and was far from a favorite of tour players. “Avenel is not a bad golf course,” Davis Love III once said, “unless you have to drive past Congressional to get there.”

– While the advent of Tiger’s tournament brought tournament golf to Congressional, Avenel underwent an extensive renovation (ironically with Davis Love III had a big hand in the changes) and hosted a Champions Tour event and Web.com event, but did not host a PGA Tour tournament until this week.

– The front nine was altered, but not as much as the extensive changes to the beginning of the backΒ nine. The hazard on the left was brought into play more and the players had very little room to bailout to the right.

– The course was narrowed throughout and the rough became brutal after the the rains – example below…

– The course was fiery the first two days, but high scores were still abundant even after the rains that rolled through the grounds on Saturday.

– The course evolved from Love III’s quote above to Justin Thomas saying the course could host a U.S. Open tomorrow in his pre-tournament press conference.

– While the renovations have boasted Avenel’s stature, the future of the actual tournament is murky.

– The current state of the tournament is in stark contrast to the environment it was born into in 2007. With Tiger’s desire to follow in Nicklaus’ shoes and have his own tournament and with The International’s demise, circumstances were perfect for a new marquee event.

– The normally stuffy Congressional membership who often prioritize playing time in the summer over hosting a PGA Tour event, jumped at the chance to host Tiger’s event. After so many years of mediocre fields at Avenel, DC seemed primed to host a prominent PGA Tour event.

– For a few years, the tournament excelled with strong fields and had an impressive list of winners, but as Tiger’s reputations faltered, so did the prominence of the event.

– The tournament still benefits Tiger’s foundation, but his involvement is minimal even in a non-playing capacity. He wasn’t on site at all this past week and even in past years when he wasn’t playing, he would show up for the opening ceremonies, leave town, and come back for the trophy presentation.

– As of now, the tournament is scheduled to bounce between Congressional and Avenel until 2020, but it might not get that far. The president of Quicken Loans has roots in Michigan and there are rumors that the tournament could move there and return to the site of the old Buick Open.

– This year’s field was far from elite and with so many prominent players already in Europe prepping for the British Open, the event’s spot on the calendar isn’t doing it any favors either.

Shot(s) of the Week:

– Martin Laid was in the tick of contention when he approached the 14th. His drive left him in an awkward position above the bunker and it forced him to play away from the hole. His second shot left him 40 yards from the hole where he holed out for birdie. Laird finished at -5 in a tie for third.

– Keegan Bradley holed out his second shot on 18 in Saturday’s third round. The eagle pulled him to -1 and put him in a spot to make a run on Sunday. Bradley never put himself into serious contention, but he finished at -4, tied for fifth.

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