5 Things: Todd's first; Weir's run; more
Monday, May 19, 2014
Good things do come to those who wait. Brendon Todd, 28, had to wait five years between his two Web.com Tour wins. He had to endure 2010 when he missed all 13 cuts on the Nationwide Tour and never cashed a check. He failed to finish in the top 125 on PGA Tour in 2009 and 2012. But Todd never stopped believing he could become a PGA Tour winner and it showed Sunday. Todd shot a 4-under 66 at TPC Four Seasons Resort to win the HP Byron Nelson Championship with a 72-hole total of 14 under 266.
“I think since I became a solid college golfer I felt I could win on the Tour,” the University of Georgia graduate said. “It’s taken a little while but now that I’m here, it’s a dream come true.”
Mike Weir took second, coming up two shots short while making a run at his first win since the 2007 Fry's.com Open. Charles Howell III and Marc Leishman finished tied for third at 10 under.
Here are 5 Things to know from the HP Byron Nelson Championship:
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1. TODD TAKES OVER: Starting Sunday tied for the lead with Louis Oosthuizen, Brendon Todd turned in his fourth round in the 60s to become the eighth first-time winner on PGA Tour this season.
Todd opened with 68, then shot to the top of the leaderboard with 64 in the second round. He followed with another 68 for his share of the third-round lead. For the week, Todd led the field in driving accuracy (71.4 percent), strokes gained putting (9.744), and tied for first in total putts with 99. That’s a pretty deadly combination.
“I made that one double bogey in the first round and after that felt like I absolutely scored my pants off,” Todd said.
When he wasn’t going low, he proved to be an agile escape artist, too. At the par-3 13th, his tee shot veered left of the green and the lie wasn’t pretty.
“I couldn't believe when we were walking up to the green I saw my ball up against the tree,” Todd said.
Fortunately, he had enough room to stand left-handed and flip his 4-iron – his longest club in the bag – upside-down.
“I had to hood it a little bit to try and get it to come off to the right so I hit like a little draw putt,” Todd said. “And it ran down there perfect. I didn't care about where it went. I was just trying to get it away from the tree, toward the hole.”
Perfect from 67 feet away, in Todd’s estimation, meant recovering to 7 feet from the hole. Then, for good measure, he rapped in the putt to save par. When asked if it was the most unique shot he’s made in a competitive tournament, he didn’t hesitate. “Definitely,” he answered. “Without a doubt.”
It’s not one of those shots you can prepare for, but Todd said he had a little more than luck on his side.
“The only thing I could say I drew on is my brother‑in‑law is left‑handed and I putted with his left‑handed putter before and I'm pretty good at it,” he said. “So I tried to use that stroke.”
He sailed through the next few holes with pars and pumped his fist when he drained a clutch 13-footer on the 17th hole to retain a two-stroke lead heading to the last.
“That was huge,” Todd said. “It allowed me to play 18 with the confidence knowing I don’t have to worry about screwing up, really.”
Todd had all the answers Sunday, including holing a bunker shot on the second hole to kick-start his round. Before he even had a chance to let victory sink in, Todd was asked what the win means to his career.
“It gives me that extra belief that I can go on and have the career that I want to have and really start chasing my goals,” he said.
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2. WEIR MAKES RUN: Mike Weir, who celebrated his 44th birthday on May 12, turned back the clocks with a final round performance reminiscent of when he was winning eight Tour titles between 1999 and 2007, including the 2003 Masters.
Weir’s tough times have been well documented, but here’s a quick refresher: He suffered an elbow injury that required surgery and missed 17 straight cuts during a span from 2011 to 2013. He hadn’t finished in the top 25 since 2010 and had recorded just one round in the 60s all year (a 69 at the Humana Challenge).
But that was then and this is now. Weir opened with four birdies in his first five holes of the final round to surge to the top of the leaderboard. He nearly had a hole-in-one at the second, his 6-iron from 195 yards lipping out. He then bogeyed two of his next four to fall back before making the turn.
Three straight pars steadied the veteran from Canada, keeping him within three of Todd's lead at that point, and twice Weir birdied to pull within two. But a 9-foot birdie attempt refused to fall at the par-3 17th, along with a bogey at No. 15, proved too much to overcome with Todd playing mistake-free golf. Weir closed with a 3-under 67 for his fourth straight round in the 60’s.
“Best golf I played in a long time,” he said. “Probably better than the other three days.”
Weir's second-place showing at the Nelson eclipsed his previous best this season, a T-44 at the Masters, and validated all the effort to re-discover his game. For Weir, who was using a one-time top-50 all-time Tour money list exemption this season, his big payday also locked up his card for 2014-2015.
“This has taken a long time and it’s only one week but this week was great and very satisfying,” he said. “I look forward to the rest of the year.”
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3. D.J. FINDS TOP 10: Having played just three other events since finishing T-4 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in early March, Dustin Johnson had lost the momentum he'd garnered early in the year.
The tie for fourth at Doral was Johnson's fifth top-10 finish in six starts to that point; but scattered entries (Shell Houston Open, Masters, Players Championship) left him with a WD, an MC and a T-33.
Steady improvement this week (69-68-68-66), however, might have shaken the rust off Johnson's game. Sunday he had but one miscue, a double bogey that saw him three-putt after missing the green. It erased an eagle from the previous hole, but Johnson scattered four other birdies in his round to end the week on a positive note.
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4. SCHEFFLER SURVIVES: There's a rivalry brewing in the Scheffler household, what with Callie Scheffler playing for the Texas A&M Aggies and Scottie set to join the Texas Longhorns in the fall.
For now, they're a team – sister caddieing while brother plays as an amateur against the PGA Tour's stars. And Scottie Scheffler rebounded from a tough first round to finish the week 4 under at T-22.
"It gives me a little bit of confidence and now I have some more stuff that I can work on going forward," Scheffler said. ". . . Fine tuning things, each day there was something a little bit wrong with the way I was playing, like Friday was fairways; yesterday I was missing short putts; today my speed was off on the greens; and the first day, I got off to a rough start."
It's quite a way for Scheffler to build on the recent success of winning the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. And he's headed to the FedEx St. Jude Classic in a few weeks.
"I've got to let everything sink in first, and I really don't know what to say right now," Scheffler said.
Apparently he's spoken to another young phenom in the sport with Longhorns ties. Jordan Spieth brought up the fact that Scheffler could well be just another college student digging in the couch for change despite his success on the course.
"Jordan told me I would be mad when I get down to Austin next year and I don't have any money," Scheffler said, prompting laughs. "I guess I'll be mad then. I'm not too upset right now."
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5. SHORT SHOTS: James Hahn and Boo Weekley shot 70 and 68 respectively to tie for fifth. … Third-round co-leader Louis Oosthuizen shot 74 to finish outside the top 10 and eight shots back, T-11 alongside four others at 6 under. … Brian Harman had the low round of the day, a 65 that lifted him to T-29 at 3 under alongside seven others – including course record holder Keegan Bradley, who closed with 71. … Jordan Spieth had his second round under par of the week, a 68 that got him to T-37 at 2 under.
– Bill Zimmerman contributed