Maybe it’s the amazing golf we’ve watched over the past month, but man are we fired up for the rest of the season.
Some of us are also seeing grass for the first time in months. So that could have something to do with it.
Good for business
We began the week hoping for firm conditions, and Bay Hill delivered. The Arnold Palmer Invitational was an entertaining watch throughout the weekend, and the tournament came right down to the 72nd hole. In the end, it was Bryson DeChambeau who shot the lowest score, carrying many lakes in the process. API Results
Bryson’s path to victory can be encapsulated by the drives he hit on No. 6 on Saturday and Sunday. The Thicc Boi actually backed up his talk and took mega-aggressive lines over the lake on the crescent-shaped par 5. Both times he left himself inside 90 yards, and while neither of his second shots found the green, he was able to make fairly simple birdies.
Such was Bryson’s game plan. He exploited his length for every possible advantage, leading the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. But it wasn’t all about bombs: his approach play and putting were also strong. On a brutal final day that saw a scoring average of 75.5, he was one of just three players to break par.
On a tour that could use more personality, Bryson DeChambeau has plenty. Maybe too much. But we’ll be damned if he isn’t entertaining. His lake-carrying antics captivated the entire sports world this past weekend, and his skill with every club earned him the title. The guy has worked his face off to improve every aspect of his game. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat beret and give him the credit he deserves.
Young man’s game
In a battle of 27 years old vs. 47 years old, of protein shakes vs. pinot noir, Lee Westwood came up one shot short on Sunday. The Englishman fought bravely but was once again betrayed by his putter. In Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Westwood actually beat the younger, larger man this week. The difference was the flatstick. After missing a short putt to tie the lead on the 70th hole, Westwood could only watch as DeChambeau jarred a five-footer for the win two holes later.
Still, silver lining: this week proved that Westy has plenty of gas left in the tank. He may not have elite length or a super reliable putter, but his ball-striking can get him in position to win. (And we know he likes Augusta…)
Template for domination
It was the Austin Ernst Show on the LPGA Tour this weekend. She led wire-to-wire at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Golden Ocala, lapping the field on Sunday and finishing with a five-shot victory over Jennifer Kupcho. Just five women were within 10 shots of the winning score. Results
Quietly, Austin Ernst is in the midst of the best stretch of her career. She has notched two LPGA Tour victories since August and recorded her second top five in a major championship at the 2020 Women’s British Open. Add in the other six top-25 finishes she’s had since the beginning of last year, and we’re betting big on Ernst in 2021.
Jordan Spieth was in the mix once again at Bay Hill before faltering on Sunday to a T-4 finish. He now has four straight top 15s and three top-four finishes in his last four events. The second week of April can’t come soon enough.
She couldn’t quite keep up with Austin Ernst this weekend, but Jennifer Kupcho put together a solid performance in Ocala on her way to a runner-up finish. The (still) reigning Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion has three top 10s since August and is on her way to being a top-20 player in the world.
Brooks Koepka surprised everyone on Sunday by withdrawing from next week’s Players Championship with a knee injury. Koepka has played some great golf over the past month and spoken confidently about his health. This injury is not on the same knee that kept him out of previous events, so let’s hope he makes a quick recovery.
On his way to winning the Players Series Sydney on the Australasian Tour, Andrew Martin shot a final-round 61 that included four eagles, three of them coming back-to-back-to-back. Martin started the day eight shots back. Full Story from Zac Rayson
Phil Mickelson has dropped outside the top 100 in the OWGR for the first time since August 1993.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Our 2021 Events Calendar was released this past weekend! We’ll post full details about the events in the coming days. Registration for the Boomerang and the Steam Shovel is open, and we’ll start sign-ups for the rest of the events toward the end of March.
Fried Egg Stories (Rerelease): Alligator Pit – The Making of TPC Sawgrass
Programming note: We first released this episode on Thursday, March 12, 2020. That evening, the Players Championship was canceled in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. So with the 2021 Players approaching, we thought we’d give this story another chance.
In this installment of our audio documentary series, we detail how PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman and golf course architect Pete Dye turned an alligator-infested swamp in Ponte Vedra Beach into a new kind of tournament venue. We also tell the story of the pros’ first encounter with TPC Sawgrass at the 1982 Players Championship. This episode features interviews with Deane Beman, Jerry Pate, Vernon Kelly, Tom Doak, Sean Martin, and Adam Schupak. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Shotgun Start: Westy sadness, Thicc Boi madness, and respecting Arnold
A forlorn Andy signs on to chat about his idol Lee Westwood coming up short at Bay Hill. Brendan immediately inquires what hurt most—the bad breaks, the poor shots, or the wasted opportunities with the Thicc Boi not exactly running away from him. Then the marvel at the Bryson circus act, from the show at the 6th hole, the extremely sketchy drop at 16 green, the bunker complaints, and the triumphant primal scream on the 18th green. They ponder a re-worked PGA Tour schedule that makes these crackling Q1 events the actual playoffs. There is a speed round segment on Pat Reed messing around in the rough, anticipated preferred lies, the Robert Gamez disaster, and Baton Boy Billy. Brendan has some comments on the Arnold hagiography watering down the authenticity of what was actually so great about him. They close with a conspiracy theory on Brooksy’s WD from The Players and a chat on Austin Ernst’s runaway win at Golden Ocala. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
If you’re going to try to clear the lake on No. 6 at Bay Hill, you better have a shirt that moves with you. The Fried Egg Sport Polo fits that bill. Get yours today!