The second weekend in June was one for comebacks on the world’s professional golf tours. Three events saw unanticipated collapses by third-round leaders. With six events in the week before the U.S. Open, let’s spin those beaters and mash up some scores.
PGA Tour: Berger goes back to back in Memphis
It's not how you start …
it's how you finish. ???? pic.twitter.com/X2LhvZSJHS
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 12, 2017
No lead was safe on any tour this Sunday. Rafa Cabrera-Bello seemed as safe a bet as anyone, but he gave two strokes away on his outward nine and could not recover. His loose play opened wide the gate for the thoroughbreds of the PGA Tour, and Daniel Berger made the final burst to defend his 2016 FedEx St. Jude Classic title and collect his first win of 2017.
Charl Schwartzel looked very good for a very long time on Sunday, but his bid at a first PGA Tour victory since the 2016 Valspar came up shy by one stroke. Phil Mickelson had a share of the lead at one point; his run at the title was derailed by a triple-bogey 7 at the 12th hole. Even amateur Braden Thornberry, the recently-crowned, 2017 NCAA individual champion was in the mix. Thornberry played a flawless round, highlighted by one eagle, three birdies and no bogeys, but he could only reach 8-under, two shots behind the champion.
Related: Berger’s Winning WITB
It was left to Berger to finish off an unexpected title defense. The 24-year-old counted four birdies against 14 pars in his Sunday 66, and he took up residence in the top-10 of the FedEx Cup pursuit. His title defense was the first in Memphis since David Toms won in 2003 and 2004.
European Tour: Lyoness Open is Frittelli’s 1st Euro Tour win
One clear, one hole to play for Frittelli. pic.twitter.com/r65fOYcDSS
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) June 11, 2017
As third-round leader Felipe Aguilar’s Sunday turned sour, a handful of golfers seized the opportunity to claim Austria’s Lyoness Open. Throughout the final nine holes, Jbe Kruger, Richard McEvoy, David Horsey, and Mikko Korhonen all had a hand on the top rung or were within a stroke. One name stood out from the rest, and it was his that would be inscribed on the winner’s 2017 trophy: Dylan Frittelli.
The 27-year old South African was no stranger to the pressure that comes with winning a tournament. As a college golfer at the University of Texas, Frittelli won the decisive match in the 2012 NCAA finals. He also won twice on the Challenge Tour and had lost two playoffs on the European Tour. On this day, Frittelli was up to the challenge.
Despite a glorious hole-out for eagle from Kruger, a four-birdie start for Horsey, and buckets of low numbers all around, Frittelli was the show horse. He birdied five of his first 11 holes, withstood a missed two-footer for another and a bogey on the 14th, and benefited from bumpy finishes from Kruger (bogey at the last) and McEvoy (bogey-bogey finish.) With the maiden win behind him, Frittelli moves inside the top 15 of the season-long Race To Dubai.
LPGA Tour: Manulife Classic goes to Jutanugarn in playoff
— LPGA (@LPGA) June 11, 2017
No one likes to write about the golfer who lost the tournament, who found a way to snatch defeat from the comfortable lap of victory. We’ll hold off on that for a paragraph or two. Ariya Jutanugarn made a 30-odd foot, hard-turning putt for birdie on the first extra hole, and left Cambridge, Ontario, as the 2017 Manulife champion.
To secure the title, the soon-to-be-ranked No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings made par after par over the final 90 minute of her round. Then she watched as In Gee Chun made a pair of birdies at Nos. 15 and 16 to join her at 17-under. Both must have felt that their bids were for second place, as the lead was securely in the hands of Lexi Thompson.
And then, in Greg Normanesque-fashion, Thompson gave the tournament away. She bogeyed Nos. 12 and 13, the former a par-5 hole that she normally devours for a snack. With two shots in hand on the penultimate tee, she bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 to fall into a tie. In the playoff, pars from Thompson and Chun were not enough, and Jutanugarn had her first win of 2017.
Web.com: Jaeger wins No. 3 at Rust-Oleum Championship
Four holes to play. pic.twitter.com/v1R9OI3al0
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) June 11, 2017
Last July, Stephan Jaeger fashioned a 58 at the Ellie Mae Classic, his first Web.com Tour victory. This week at the Rust-Oleum championship, the German-born, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga educated golfer claimed his third tour victory in two seasons, by two strokes over Ted Potter, Jr.
Jaeger began the day with a four-stroke lead over Potter, and he never wavered. A bogey on No. 9 (on a par-5, no less) was his only hiccup of the day, until the last. Potter made three birdies in his first five holes, and the game was on. Thanks to strong play from Jaeger, the lead never dipped and the meaningless bogey on No. 18 reduced Jaeger’s margin of victory to two strokes.
Champions Tour: Jobe claims 1st Champions Tour win at Principal Charity Classic
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) June 11, 2017
Brandt Jobe was known as a travelling man during his PGA Tour days. The UCLA golfer won in Canada, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and Thailand, but never in the U.S. On Sunday, Jobe teed off in a first-place tie with Glen Day. While Day was Wrong-Way Day in the final round, Jobe fired a 69 to finish at 14-under.
In front of him were a several of golfers, all bent on unseating him and taking the tournament’s prize. Scott McCarron had the day’s low round (66), but he came up one agonizing stroke shy of a playoff. Kevin Sutherland did the same, signing for 68 when 67 was needed for a shot at glory. Both golfers shared the runner-up space on the podium.
Bernhard Langer, who seems to win every week, had his sight set on a third-consecutive win (and fourth overall in 2017.) The German giant gave all that he had, but his final-day 67 brought him to the clubhouse two strokes in arrears and in solo-4th position.
PGA Tour LA: Puerto Plata Open to relentless Tee-K Kelly
— PGATOURLA (@PGATOUR_LA) June 11, 2017
Tee-K Kelly made 10 birdies in Round 1. The he made five birdies and one eagle in both Rounds 2 and 3. In Round 4, he produced a mere three chirps. If he had finally run out of birdies, it was of no consequence. He began the final round with a nine-shot advantage, and he ended it 21-under, seven strokes clear of runner-up Ryan Ruffels.
Kelly completed his eligibility last spring at Ohio State University, and then he embarked on a professional career that would earn him status on PGA Tour Latinoamerica. Two top-20 finishes in his first five events suggested that the Illinois native might figure in the race for promotion at season’s end. After this week’s performance in the Dominican Republic, expectations have risen.
Kelly was dominant from the start. Thursday’s 61 was a course record, but it was the middle rounds of 67 and 66 that separated him from all pursuers and made Sunday an informal chase for second place. It was Ruffels, the young Australian from whom much is expected, who responded with a 66 of his own to surge ahead of Brandon Matthews and Patrick Newcomb into the second-place spot. Ruffels moved into the sixth spot on the tour’s Order of Merit, one slot above Kelly.