The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

PGA Tour Update: What Did We Find Out At The Sentry Tournament of Champions?

What Did We Find Out At The Sentry Tournament of Champions?

BY Kevin Krest

@KevinKrest

The first PGA Tour event of 2018 featured one of the best shots in golf history and a field of young stars that could carry the game for a couple of decades. On an interesting layout amid spectacular scenes of surfers and whales, the traditional calendar year opener gave golf fans plenty to be excited about for the rest of the season.

The second most exclusive official tournament of the entire season featured the top five and seven of the top eight golfers in the world golf rankings. In order to play at the Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort on the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii, a participant needed to win a tournament on the PGA Tour since last year’s event. Thirty-four of the best players in the game teed it up for four rounds with plenty of FedEx Cup, Ryder Cup and World Golf Rankings points on the line.

There was plenty of rust on display, but in the ninth official event of the wrap around FedEx Cup season, it was evident that the players we’ve come to expect to see hit spectacular shots didn’t disappoint over the course of the tournament. Jordan Spieth, a Tour stalwart at the advanced age of 24, shook off an opening round 75 to get himself close to contention with multiple chip-ins and stellar iron play.

Newcomer Jon Rahm, in just his second full season on tour, showed why he has risen to fourth in the world by driving the ball long and hitting precision shots into the greens to fashion a second place finish. Ricky Fowler continued his fashionable and steady play, sporting an untucked look in round one that received mainly complimentary comments from the golfing world.

But the star of the weekend was undoubtedly world number one Dustin Johnson. His prolific driving distance and the casual way he commands a golf course solidified the thought that at the age of 33, Johnson could very well put together three or four seasons of dominant play. The highlight of the week, on his way to an eight-shot win over Rahm, was a 432 yard, 10-inch drive on the 433-yard twelfth hole on Sunday. The tee shot inexplicably came up two inches short of giving Johnson an ace on the downhill, downwind hole. The thirty-three-year-old led the field in driving distance and eagles, usually a strong indication that DJ would end up in the winner’s circle. The victory guaranteed that Johnson would win at least one tournament for the eleventh consecutive season and vaulted him into second place in the current FedEx Cup standings.

On the disappointing side, defending champion Justin Thomas never got it going, but he already has a victory and is sixth in the FedEx Cup standings. After a tough three and a half rounds, the reigning FedEx Cup champion and player of the year, Thomas finished with an eagle to cap off a five-under back nine and final round 67 to give him some momentum heading into next week’s Sony Open a couple of islands away at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu on the island of Oahu.

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka looked a bit disinterested in limping home a whopping thirty-seven shot behind the leader and six short of next to last place finisher D.A. Points. Since his major win at Erin Hills in June, the twenty-seven-year-old has two top tens, sixth place finishes at the British Open and the Tour Championship. Maybe it was the great weather or lack of intensity, but Koepka needs to match the intensity of the rest of the very strong crop of young players to remain competitive going forward.

If the opening tournament of 2018 is any indication, golf fans are in for quite a season as the young guns continue their solid play and Tiger Woods prepares for his highly anticipated return to competitive golf.

 

[Photo: Golf Digest]

 

 

For more follow Kevin Krest on Twitter @KevinKrest and don’t forget to check out my new book, “Offsetting Penalties – A PK Frazier Novel” and my first two, “Illegal Procedure – A PK Frazier Novel” and “Roughing the Passer – A PK Frazier Novel”, available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.  Tune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on “Lou in the Morning” with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

The USGA is About Far More Than the U.S. Opens
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The USGA is About Far More Than the U.S. Opens

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