This past weekend’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone saw Dustin Johnson claim his second victory in a row after his US Open victory. Here are five things we learned from the week’s golf, from Jordan Spieth regaining some sort of momentum to a $50,000 one-shot week.
Day’s Late Slip Costly
Jason Day was tied for the lead with three holes to go teeing off from the 16th. However, a double bogey from the Australian world number one on 16 prematurely ended his hopes. Having been seven under with four holes to play at Firestone Country Club, Day missed a four-foot par putt on the 15th before butchering the par-five 16th with a double bogey seven.
His tee shot went way left and ended up behind dense trees, a punch shot under them ended up in the right rough and despite a fortunate ruling of a free drop after a spectator moved his ball behind a tree, Day then punched his third into water.
His fifth shot went long and two shots later his championship was effectively over.
Johnson Wins Again
Is there a better golfer on the planet right now that Dustin Johnson? Probably not. Johnson closed his round out with an impressive 66 for a six-under par total to back up his win at the US Open with another victory here. DJ, who had come off a week away in the Bahamas to celebrate his birthday, found his stride at the weekend, carding a 66-66 finish.
“I feel great,” remarked Johnson. “I feel like my game is where it has been all year. I just haven’t been putting quite as well as I’d like. The last couple of weeks, I just putted a little better.”
Now ranked number 2 in the world, Johnson goes to Royal Troon for The Open Championship as the man to beat following his recent string of victories.
Spieth Emerges from the Ashes
From his own incredibly high standards, Spieth has been a bit off-form as of late. The 23-year old Texan, arguably the world’s most talented golfer, got back to catching a glimpse of his best with a strong 67 finish on his final round for a share of third place. He will go to The Open feeling a lot better about himself.
“I feel a lot better now than I did on Thursday,” Spieth said. “I felt like I had a two-way miss going, back even through Colonial, and that's rare for me. I felt kind of loose in my swing, and I started to really pick lines, trust it, and commit through the ball, be more aggressive through the ball, and today I was able to hit both ball flights with my irons, trust them, and pull them off, which are really good shots that I can take forward.”
Berger’s One and Done
WGC events are a mark of how far golf has come. Match play, big money and world travel highlight these four-time-a-year tournaments that include some of the better fields we'll ever see. Are they somewhat flawed, though? Perhaps. If you make it into the field at all, you're getting paid. There is no cut so even if you shoot four straight 100s, you still make $40,000-$50,000 just for showing up.
And Daniel Berger put a new twist on it this past week when he hit a single shot at the Bridgestone invitational, withdrew because of an injury, and collected $50,500 for his efforts.
The shot meant he got to put the money in his account instead of giving it to charity. Because he hit one shot in competition, Berger will receive unofficial last-place money as part of the 61-player, no-cut field. Not so bad.
American Team Set for Rio
The American Olympic golf team is set, or at least on paper. While there is a lot that could happen between now and the second week in August when the Olympics start in terms of players pulling out of Rio for various reasons, in terms of qualifying, nobody can do anything on the course to surpass the four Americans out in front of qualifying as of July 3.
Part of that is because the Greenbrier Classic was cancelled next weekend. Official qualifying ends on July 11th, but the American team will look exactly like it does this week with Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler representing.
No Americans have pulled out yet due to the Zika virus, but Spieth does not seem like a certainty by any stretch of the imagination.
"Right now I'm uncertain," said Spieth. "Always been excited about the possible opportunity, but there are quite a few different factors that would turn somebody away from going. It's not just one, there are quite a few factors.”
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