It’s 2021, we don’t have to pretend like we like those chalky candy hearts anymore. Toss those things in the trash where they belong.
Cross My Heart and Hope to Vibe
Without amateurs in the field, all of the attention was on the professionals at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. And boy did they put on a show. Nearly a dozen players got within two shots of the lead on Sunday, and no one was able to pull away. In the end, Daniel Berger was the last man standing. Berger bested the field average by nearly six shots on Sunday, leading the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. Tied for the lead on the final hole, he knocked his approach to 30 feet on the par-5 18th and holed the eagle putt for the two-shot victory. Results
Very few players have been better than Daniel Berger since the beginning of 2020. He has two victories, five top fives, and 10 top 10s in the last 14 months and is now No. 13 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Berger has four career PGA Tour victories, but if not for a wrist injury that hampered his 2018 and 2019 seasons, he might well have had seven or eight by now. Elite in every skill area, Berger has become one of the biggest threats in the game.
Jordan Spieth has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead in the past two PGA Tour events, but he’ll have zero trophies to show for it. He got off to a sluggish start on Sunday at Pebble Beach but was still in contention on the back nine. His tournament hopes disappeared with a poor wedge into No. 14 that led to a bogey. Yet in true Spieth fashion, he birdied his final two holes and salvaged a T-3.
While he didn’t have his best on Sunday, Spieth played much better in the final round at Pebble than he did at TPC Scottsdale. Yes, his driver struggles reemerged as he hit many weak fades off the tee, but he was usually able to recover and give himself comfortable pars. It wasn’t the kind of round that loses you a golf tournament on Thursday; at the same time, it wasn’t the kind of round you need to close out a win on Sunday.
At the end of the day, Spieth has back-to-back top-five finishes for the first time since 2018. His driver still needs work, but the rest of his game appears strong. Hope lives!
To the surprise of many, the PGA Tour had some fun with course setup at Pebble Beach over the weekend. Different tees were used on different days, providing different angles and yardages that added intrigue to the event. The par-3 5th hole played 66 yards longer on Sunday than it did on Saturday, but the scoring average remained about the same. No. 10 played from a 1920s-era tee box right of the 9th green, about 130 yards ahead of the tee used the day before. And the tee on the par-4 4th hole was moved up 30 yards on Saturday to allow players a chance to drive the green. The added variety was great for viewers and helped showcase different skills from players throughout the tournament. More of that going forward, please!
An unexpected leader for most of the back nine on Sunday, Nate Lashley four-putted No. 16 from 13 feet. He finished T-5, four shots behind Daniel Berger.
After starting the day three shots behind Jordan Spieth, former Stanford star Maverick McNealy appeared to be out of the tournament heading to the closing stretch. He then birdied five of his final eight holes and held the clubhouse lead before Berger eagled his 72nd hole. The runner-up is McNealy’s best ever PGA Tour performance.
After a blistering 64 to start the event, 19-year-old Akshay Bhatia settled for a T-30 finish at Pebble Beach. Bhatia currently has conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour, so he still has to rely on sponsor exemptions to play on the big tour.
The Ladies European Tour announced its 27-event schedule for 2021. This will be a record-breaking year for the LET in terms of the number of events, prize money, and television coverage. Press Release
Always listen to Michael Greller. Jordan Spieth’s Sunday may have gone differently if he had.
Golf is hard. Just ask Francesco Molinari.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Big Golf and Small Golf – Guest contributor Colin Criss takes a critical look at the state of golf course design today. He argues for “small golf” over “big golf”—and defines those terms in a way that might surprise you.
Shotgun Start: Precipice of the Pancake Club, Spieth’s almost back, and rich man’s Kelly Kraft
This Monday episode begins with some thoughts on social media, a Saudi Arabia ad on Golf Channel, and Nate Lashley’s four wiggle and subsequent course desecration. Eventually, Andy and Brendan get to the more pertinent matters of Daniel Berger’s win and Jordan Spieth’s weekend. They marvel at the specifics of Berger’s squeeze cut and the more general whole package, while also discussing (or questioning) his putting line-up routine. Spieth’s weekend was more evidence of how close he is and they discuss just a few of missing parts while appreciating the up-and-down theater. The PGA Tour’s flexibility on tee box setup is also praised but they ask for more throughout the season. The nebulous rules process is spotlighted contrasting the Pat Reed kerfuffle against the penalties on Maverick McNealy and Roo Knox (now dubbed Rich Man’s Kelly Kraft). When is, or should, video be used? They close with a few thoughts on why this is the best stretch of the season. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.