In our final edition of the recap of the 2012 PGA TOUR season, we will pick up with the second tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs at the Deutsche Bank, and ride the wave all the way to Disney. Without wasting any time, here we go:
Deutsche Bank Championship - Rory McIlroy (20-under) continued his summer to remember by backing up his PGA Championship win with a victory on TPC Boston just three weeks later. He bested Louis Oosthuizen by a stroke and Tiger Woods by two. Tied for fourth were Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. Think length off the tee is important here? Me too.
BMW Championship - The TOUR returned to Crooked Stick, site of John Daly's improbably PGA Championship win, and something a little more probable happened this time around. Rory McIlroy went back-to-back. At 20-under, he was two clear of Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson, while Tiger Woods and Robert Garrigus shared fourth. As if John Daly's name on a trophy already contested here didn't give it away already, length off the tee was a big factor. In fact, that was the case in each of the first three FedExCup Playoff tournaments. The venues rotate, so that won't always be the case. Interesting is that McIlroy, Woods and Mickelson were all in the top four in each of the last two weeks.
TOUR Championship - With the points reset, it wasn't a lock that Rory McIlroy would win the FedExCup even though he was the best golfer on the planet (and TOUR) in 2012. As fate would have it, a smooth-putting Brandt Snedeker (10-under) stole the Cup and the tournament at East Lake. Justin Rose was a distant second at 7-under. Snedeker's solid play down the stretch earned him a captain's pick on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Ryder Cup - I'm going to largely dodge the Ryder Cup, since it has little future value for the 2013 season. The highlights include Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley going 3-0-0 in team competitions, but choosing to sit out the last stanza while Ian Poulter was his typical Yankee-killing self at Medinah. The U.S. blew a huge lead by losing the first four matches of Sunday Singles and Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk did not pull their weight.
JT Shriners Hospital for Children Open - It's a Vegas tournament and a Vegas guy won it. Ryan Moore entered the final round tied for the lead with Brendon de Jonge, but his 5-under bested de Jonge by one to finish at 24-under, earning him his second TOUR win. Jonas Blixt was third, giving us a healthy hint at things to come for him. Perhaps the most important take away from this was de Jonge's ability to play a solid weekend. He's long been known as a guy that is in the hunt through 36 holes only to fade on weekends without fail. It will be worth watching de Jonge early in 2013 to see if he's broken that trend.
Frys.com Open - Jonas Blixt spun a 3-under final round to finish the week at 16-under, holding off a hard-charging Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak by a stroke to secure his first win in his rookie year. Blixt has proven to be an able putter even as a rookie, and should be a dangerous player on several tracks in 2013. Not surprising, the Swede led the field in Strokes Gained-Putting.
The McGladrey Classic - Tommy Gainey came out of nowhere with a final-round 60 to steal The McGladrey Classic at 16-under. He finished one clear of David Toms and two clear of 54-hole leader Jim Furyk. Surprise. Furyk once again couldn't hold a 54-hole lead. Gainey began the final round in a tie for 29th before going nuts, with 7-under on his last 10 holes including an eagle on the par-5 15th. The 2013 lesson from this is to always consider Gainey when a tournament seems to suit a streaky player. While we won't cover it in any more detail than this, Gainey also won the Calloway Pebble Beach Invitational just before Thanksgiving, and might be the hottest player on the globe not named McIlroy.
Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic - The year came to an end at Disney with Charlie Beljan overcoming a severe panic attack during his second round to end his rookie year with a win at 16-under. It was so bad that Beljan said he would have withdrawn if not for his desperate spot outside the top 125 on the money list to start the week. Matt Every and Robert Garrigus shared second at 14-under. Garrigus is a past winner here and should always be considered dangerous. Beljan also played well at The Greenbrier and The McGladrey in what are both tournaments known for streaky players getting hot. Those are three tournaments to keep an eye on him for in 2013, although the last two will be the beginning of the 2013-2014 wrap-around season.
It is my hope that this review has provided a fun trip down memory lane, but also a basis for which to start your research for 2013 tournaments. Remembering how a guy won (or dramatically failed to close the deal) may prove useful in identifying next year's winners.
Best of luck to all!
Let's talk the Final Stage of Q School soon!