Even though the PGA Tour was half a world away in Malaysia, there were still a few lessons for fantasy golf fans this week based on last week’s play. Here are five things we learned this week:
1. A Second PGA Tour Win is Close for Kevin Na.
Okay, he didn’t win. Hell, he didn’t even make a single birdie on the final eight holes, on a course that was giving away birdies faster than Billy Hamilton goes from first to third. But make no mistake, a PGA Tour win is in Kevin Na‘s not too distant future.
Three consecutive top three finishes is amazing consistency and any pro will tell you the hardest thing about winning is actually putting yourself in a position to win. If you do it enough, winning just happens. That was the Jack Nicklaus’ and Tiger Woods’ philosophy for years.
Na has shown he can do the first part, and it shouldn’t be too long before he accomplishes part two.
2. No Matter How Talented You are, Winning for the First Time is Never Easy
Just ask Justin Thomas. Regarded as one of the most talented young players on the tour, the 22-year old has had his share of final round blow-ups already in his relatively brief career. The experts say you have to learn how to win, and it can be a painful process.
So it came as no surprise that when he was seemingly sailing along, cruising to his first PGA tour win, young Mr. Thomas met the 14th hole. A dicey downhill lie, the exuberance and inexperience of youth and a well place water hazard, leading to a predictable and gut-checking double bogey.
The fact that Thomas was able to answer the bell and bounce back with birdies on 15, 16 and 17 told us a lot about his character and what his future might hold on the PGA Tour. The six-footer for par on 18, to seal the win, told us even more.
3. Whatever Method He Uses to Putt, Adam Scott is a Really Good Player
Definitely regarded as one of the players who could be the most negatively affected by the anchoring ban, Adam Scott answered a lot of the critics and naysayers this week. His second place finish and stellar 63 in the final round, showed many that the Australian can find ways to get the ball in the hole.
Of course we shouldn’t get carried away. The only people who compare the greens at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club to those at Augusta National work for the Malaysian Tourist Bureau. The real test will come in April at Augusta, when the pressure of a major championship and greens hitting 14 on the stimpmeter will give us a better idea if Scott can return to being a top 10 player in the world.
But any golfer will tell you putting is mostly about confidence and belief, and the 2013 Masters Champion’s confidence must have received a real boost in the Malaysian heat.
4. Unless Your Name is Tiger Woods It’s Tough to Contend after a Long Layoff
Of the many seeming miraculous things that Tiger Woods was able to accomplish when he was the number one ranked player in the world, one of the most amazing was his ability to win tournaments after long layoffs. This is a difficult, if not impossible, task for mere mortals.
Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia probably figured that out on the weekend at the CIMB classic. Stenson, the seventh ranked player in the world, didn’t fire from start to finish, and shot 71-72 on the weekend to finish T47. Garcia was slightly better, but the Spaniard’s -13 total was only good for a tie for 24th.
Both should be better this weekend when the World Golf Championship HSBC Champions tees off in Shanghai, China.
5. The Real 2015-2016 PGA Starts This Week in China
With all due respect to the folks at the Frys,com Open, The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and the CIMB Classic, the real PGA Tour season starts this week in Shanghai at the WGC HSBC Champions.
With 11 of the Top 15 players in the Official World Golf Ranking in the field, including #2 Jordan Spieth, #3 Rory McIlroy, #4 Bubba Watson, the defending champion, and #5 Rickie Fowler, golf fans finally get a chance to see the top players in action after a seemingly long layoff.
Okay, so it’s only been six weeks, but you know what I mean. Let the fun begin!