Cleat Geeks

The 19th Hole: At&T Byron Nelson Classic

The grey hairs in Sergio Garcia’s beard are a reminder that he’s not the baby-faced teenage phemon we remember from his duel with Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship.sergio-garcia-9a

But in his mid-30s, the fiery Spaniard still has plenty of game on the golf course, and he showed it over the weekend in a victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic, where he outlasted Brooks Koepka on the first hole of a sudden death playoff.

It marks PGA Tour win No. 9 for Garcia, matching him with his idol, Severiano Ballesteros, for most PGA wins by a player from Spain.

“To be up there with Seve it means the world to me and I kind of went a little bit a la Seve today,” Garcia told reporters after the win. “I definitely wasn’t driving the ball great until the end and a couple of iron shots here and there but I was chipping and putting great. Some of his wins were like that and I’m very proud of it today.

As he said, Garcia wasn’t quite as sharp striking the ball as he had been in being among the leaders each of the first three days. But his putter and scrambling kept him within striking distance of Koepka, who had the lead most of the day.

Then in the closing holes, Garcia made his move, despite a ball in the water and bogey at the 14th after a birdie at No. 13. He narrowly missed eagle before a tap-in birdie at 16 and then parred in to post a 68 and 15-under overall.

The big-hitting Koepka, meanwhile, struggled to the house, making bogey at 14 and 15 before failing to birdie the par-5 16th. He scrambled for par at 17, then missed a 20-foot putt at 18 that would have won the tournament in regulation.

The playoff was anticlimactic, as Koepka found the lake left of the 18th fairway with his first swing on the way to double bogey. Garcia hit two solid shots and two-putted for par and his second Byron Nelson win, this one 12 years after his first.

Matt Kuchar finished with a 69 to take third place at 14-under. It’s the second week in a row Kuchar has finished third on tour.

Playing essentially a home game in his hometown of Dallas, Jordan Spieth was in the final group Sunday with Koepka but never got going, shooting a disappointing 74 to drop back out of the top 10.rory-mcilroy-golf-t

 

Rory wins too

Across the pond at the European Tour’s Irish Open, Rory McIlroy had his own home game, and the world’s No. 3 ranked player made it count.

McIlroy closed with a dramatic eagle on the final to score the victory over Russell Knox and Bradley Dredge.
It’s his first win anywhere since November, when he won on the European Tour. He hasn’t won in the United States since last May.

 

Byron Nelson Picks

Sergio Garcia – That’s a winner! And it could be a springboard for a big summer for the Spaniard. 15-under par, 1st.bencranewinsjpeg-34f1cc708226dc5c

Dustin Johnson – D.J. made a big move Sunday before a couple of late bogeys dropped him back. It was still a solid week. 11-under par, tied for 12th

Ben Crane – I was maybe the only person outside of immediate family members picking Crane, but he looked great in setting a tournament record for 36 holes and leading. The weekend wasn’t quite as strong. 9-under par, tied for 24th

Jimmy Walker – After a so-so week, Walker closed strong with a 63. 9-under par, tied for 24th

 

Up next

The Dean and Deluca Invitational at Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas.

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