Well, what a Sunday that was! All anyone talked about heading into Honda Classic week was the poor field strength and the inevitable doom of the tournament. Sunday proved to be the most exciting finish of 2019 to date and brought Keith Mitchell his first career PGA Tour victory. Mitchell made a fifteen-foot birdie on 18 to beat Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler by one shot at PGA National. Honda Classic Leaderboard
Keith Mitchell was not exactly coming into the Honda Classic with his best game. His previous four starts were three missed cuts and a 73rd. He was then in the top twelve in SG off the tee, approach, and around the green before making his winning putt on the 72nd hole. He started the day with two bogies but birdied four of his last seven to take the victory.
The last two years have been a whirlwind for Mitchell. He was the bubble boy after the 2017 Web.com season, missing his 2018 PGA Tour card by one spot before getting it through finals. He then notched four top 10s in 2018 and is now ranked inside the top 70 in the world. He is lethal off the tee, and his finishes are predicated on his approach game each week. With this weight off his shoulders, expect KM to settle in and have a great year.
Mitchell’s performance was impressive enough, but knowing he needed his putt on 18 to avoid a playoff with Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler added to the drama. Brooks birdied two of his final three while Rickie played his last eight in four-under to grab the clubhouse lead at -8. These two were some of the only local big names that remained committed to the event despite the heavy schedule, and they nearly walked away with wins.
Other Leaderboard Notes
Ryan Palmer began the day seven shots off the lead in a tie for 39th place. He then shot a blistering 63 and sat with the clubhouse lead for three hours before Brooks and Rickie knocked him off. He gained 7.8 strokes on the field in the final round and nearly grabbed his first win in over nine years.
Fifty-six-year-old Vijay Singh was in the thick of the tournament until a 71st-hole water ball. He finished 6th alone. The big Fijian hasn’t had a top 10 on the PGA Tour since 2016, but his generic brand shoes, glove-on putting style, and languid stride nearly won this week.
Wyndham Clark started the day with the lead and got off to a hot start on Sunday. He made two early birdies but made five bogies on the day and finished four shots off the pace. Clark is a burgeoning player on tour and is due to break through in the near future.
Kurt Kitayama won his second European Tour event in the last three months on Sunday. Kitayama came from three shots back to win by one over four players at the Oman Open, continuing his charge up the world ranks. KK was ranked outside the top 1000 one year ago, but this victory will move him up to #104. The 26-year-old is finally hitting his stride and will be getting more opportunities to play high profile events. Oman Open Leaderboard
(Shoutout to Joakim Lagergren for his 14 on Saturday)
World #2 Sung Hyun Park completed a furious comeback on Sunday to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. Park made nine birdies on her way to a final-round 64 and won by two shots over Minjee Lee. This is her first victory of 2019, but she won three times last season including the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. World #1 Ariya Jutanugarn finished T-8 and the red hot Nelly Korda finished 10th. Korda now has a win and five other top 10s in her last seven events. Leaderboard
Adam Schenk was assessed a two-stroke penalty on Saturday because of the “caddy alignment” rule. Schenk and his caddy were having a conversation as he prepared to hit a bunker shot, but apparently that is all it takes these days. Full Story from Randall Mell
Schenk’s penalty led to a back and forth between star Justin Thomas and the USGA’s PR Twitter account, neither came away looking like winners.
For the kids
Golf architect David Kahn’s twin daughters were tragically diagnosed with Batten Disease, which is best described as a cross between Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The disease is so rare that it lacks funding for research necessary to find treatments and therapies that can stop the disease and help regenerate lost function of motor skills, speech, memory and eyesight caused by the cruel disease.
Today marks the family’s second ForeBatten Foundation fundraiser to help raise money for the cause, and we can all help our golf family by participating in the live auction online. Show your support while getting the chance to play some of the most exclusive clubs in the country, like Sand Hills, Friar’s Head, Maidstone, Oakmont, Cal Club and many more. Click here to donate
Read the Kahns’ full story in Alan Shipnuck’s powerful piece here
Spring Steam Shovel
The first Fried Egg event has officially been announced and is just two months away! Join us at Lawsonia Links for the first annual Spring Steam Shovel. The event will be 36 holes of team play, 18 best-ball and 18 alternate shot. We’ll have lunch, post-round appetizers, tee gifts, and plenty of golf camaraderie. You’ll find full details as well as travel/accommodation suggestions at the following link: Spring Shovel Registration
The Latest Podcasts and Articles
Shotgun Start: Judging the USGA vs. PGA Tour fight, reactions to wild Honda weekend, and Seminole Pro-Member
We return from the weekend ready to discuss the Honda Classic, which, despite the weakened field, managed to entertain us as much as any final round this season. We get into the Keith Mitchell story and why his win makes the PGA Tour great. We also hit on Brooksy’s close call, Rickie’s macho finish, and Vijay turning back the clock. Then we get into a lengthy discussion on the USGA vs. Justin Thomas, and really the PGA Tour at large. We try to sort out the timeline and analyze a complicated issue, picking where both sides are wrong and where they might have a point. We go down a path that has us falling more on the side of the USGA and concluding that JT may be a little whiny. In the Masters “Fact of the Day” segment, we get into some of the origins of Augusta National during the 1930s building phase of the course. Finally, we wrap with a call to action for a friend and some quick thoughts on the tee sheet at the Seminole Pro-Member. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify
Climbing the hill: Calusa Pines
Check out our latest course profile on one of Florida’s finest courses, Calusa Pines. Read profile here.