Yes, we know what week it is, but we have some business to attend to before we can roll down Magnolia Lane.

There’s a first time for everything

With everyone saving room for the main course that is the Masters, the Vivint Houston Open delivered a tasty appetizer. Sunday’s leaderboard included Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, and Sam Burns, but it was Carlos Ortiz who ended up on top. The 29-year-old shot birdied the 72nd hole to finish off a 65, becoming the first Mexican player to win on the PGA Tour in more than 40 years. Vivint Houston Open Results

In 2016, Carlos Ortiz missed 19 cuts in 29 PGA Tour starts and lost his card. After two seasons on the Korn Ferry Tour, he made it back to the big show and placed 51st in the 2019-20 FedEx Cup standings, the highest finish of his career. The Houston Open is his first PGA Tour win in 118 starts, and it secures his card through the end of the 2022-23 season. Oh, and he’ll play his first Masters in 2021. It was a dream come true for Carlos Ortiz and a genuinely meaningful moment in what has been a sleepy fall season.


After a hot start to his final round, Dustin Johnson struggled to make the putts he needed to catch Ortiz on Sunday. Still, DJ rattled off a 65 to jump into a tie for second with Hideki Matsuyama. Comfortably No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Dustin has six straight top-six finishes going back to the PGA Championship in August. Those performances have all come against great fields, including at two major championships and three FedEx Cup Playoff events.

DJ has finished inside the top 10 in each of his past four Masters appearances. Is it his time?

Also rounding into form at the last minute is Johnson’s erstwhile lifting buddy. Brooks Koepka tried out a new driver in the first two rounds of the Houston Open before returning to his old one. It was a good call. In each of his weekend rounds, he finished in the top five of Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and shot 65, and he ended up T-5 for the event. He also finished the week second in SG: Putting. Off to Augusta!

Mark the calendar

The Houston Open saw some lower scores on Sunday, but overall, Memorial Park held its own against the best in the world. Tom Doak’s renovation produced a playable course for the public, but one that PGA Tour players had trouble overpowering.

Assuming the event stays on the fall slate, the Houston Open likely won’t ever be played the week before the Masters again. That may mean fewer big names in the field, but the battle between the players and the course will always be compelling. Bravo to Jim Crane and the Astros Golf Foundation for spearheading the effort, and to Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design for the execution. The Houston Open is now the rare must-watch on the PGA Tour’s fall schedule.

Quick Hooks

Robert MacIntyre won the European Tour’s Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown over the weekend. In a unique format, all scores were reset for the final round for the 16 remaining players, and the lowest round of the day won it all. MacIntyre shot a Sunday 64 to take the title. The up-and-coming Scot is now No. 62 in the OWGR. Cyprus Showdown Results

ESPN’s Bob Harig caught up with Rory McIlroy ahead of the Masters. According to Rory, the golf course is playing rather soft and slow at the moment, but that all could change by the time Thursday rolls around.

Paul Broadhurst and Kevin Sutherland played five holes of a playoff to decide the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Sunday, but five wasn’t enough. They’ll continue with the sixth hole of the playoff on Monday at Phoenix Country Club. Results

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Architecture Newsletter Vol. 1 – In case you missed our email on Sunday, our first Architecture Newsletter is available! This newsletter will not be a consistent burden on your inbox but will occasionally provide you with updates on architecture news. The first edition includes thoughts about a new Coore & Crenshaw course in Florida, Congressional Country Club’s renovation, a new Doak project in Oklahoma, and more!

The Fried Egg Podcast, Episode 194: Lukas Michel – 2020 Masters prep and playing America’s best golf courses

2019 U.S. Mid Am Champion Lukas Michel joins the podcast to discuss his preparations for the Masters as well as his travels in the U.S. since the U.S. Amateur. Lukas details his work on Mike DeVries’s restoration crew at Bloomfield Hills and the great golf he has played all over the country. Lukas last appeared on The Fried Egg Podcast after his U.S. Mid Am win in Episode 155. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Shotgun Start: Plumb bobbing wedge shots, early Augusta conditions, and Bryson’s yardages

The year 2020 is not all bad—we got an extra day of Champions Tour golf! And what better way to start Masters week than with a chat about the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, where Ernie was plumb bobbing from 110 yards, microphones picked up ample grumpy cursing, and a playoff went deep into the dark night without a resolution. Then Brendan and Andy transition to a review of the Houston Open, celebrating Carlos Ortiz’s victory against the “battlefield curse,” which Andy explains. They also commend DJ and Brooksy’s showings as well as how the new Memorial Park showed for a Tour event. Big Shot Bob is praised for his maiden victory on the Euro Tour, even though he didn’t capture low gross. Then they transition to early Masters chatter, pondering what an unexpected Fred Ridley press conference announced for Monday could be about. They also hit on some of Rory’s comments about conditions and how it will play “very different” and then go over the early reports of Bryson’s yardages and landing areas in a recent practice round with Mr. Flimper. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

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