It took Australian Steven Bowditch, ranked No. 339 in the world, 110 events to win for the first time on the PGATOUR as he claimed top prize at the TPC San Antonio Oaks Course Sunday. Bowditch posted eight-under-par, 280 to hold off Americans Will MacKenzie and Daniel Summerhays by a one shot. Americans Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe, playing in the final group, finished T4 on 282.
For the second week in a row, a first-timer hoisted the trophy on Sunday afternoon as Steven Bowditch joined the club that Matt Every entered last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Australian, who led after 36 and 54 holes, became the first player on TOUR to win an event while firing 76 in the final round since Vijay Singh did so at Whistling Straits in 2004. Unlike Singh, who needed a playoff to defeat Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco, Bowditch just needed, and took, three putts from 51 feet to claim the title. It wasn’t an easy Sunday as he struggled to find fairways and greens plus his short game which carried him on Saturday was nowhere to be found. After beginning the round three-over after four, the 30-year old Dallas resident found himself all square with Matt Kuchar entering the back nine. He played the inward side even before his meaningless bogey on the final hole saw him sign for 76 and his first title.
Beginning the day ranked No. 339 and ending it with victory, a trip to the Masters, THE PLAYERS, the PGA and the 2015 HTOC on top of a two-year exemption is pretty awesome. Holding off perennial star Matt Kuchar down the stretch should make it even sweeter. Bowditch was on gamer’s radar last summer when his T2 at Greenbrier kicked off a run of three weeks that included T12 the following week at the John Deere Classic and wrapped up with T17 at the Sanderson Farms Classic. That spurt was just enough to keep him inside the top 125 for 2014.
Leading into this week at Valero there weren’t any clear signs that jumped off the page that suggested THIS WEEK would be the week for Bowditch. In 2014, his best, and only, top 25 was T19 at Pebble Beach. He entered the week with MC in three of his last four events with only a T37 in Puerto Rico being the exception. His pedigree includes a world junior runner up in 2000, a T7 at the 2000 Australian Open where he was the low amateur and he won on the Web.com Tour at age 21. His TOUR credentials didn’t have the same luster as this is just his third top 10 in over 100 events.
Moving forward, I always find it interesting to watch how first-timers react to such a life-changing event. Some players embrace the new hurdles and some return to the places where they had come from previously. I think it’s a bit of stretch to say it was “fluked” so I won’t; but this doesn’t elevate Bowditch into my thinking week-in and week-out, especially after 76 of them on Sunday. If he takes this experience and puts together a consistent run of golf, I’ll start to take notes. Sadly we live in gamer’s world where reward is based on NEXT time, not last week.
With his victory, Bowditch collects $1,116,000 and 500 FedExCup Points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 17 of 20 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson, Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley and Matt Every have collected the hardware this year for the stars and stripes. Steven Bowditch now joins John Senden and Jason Day as only Australia is representing the rest of the world with the other three victories. You wouldn’t think it’s a Ryder Cup year with the absence of Euro victories!
Steven Bowditch joins Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler and Chesson Hadley as the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year. As we hit the halfway point of the TOUR season, last year’s number looks safer and safer.
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. I’m always trying to figure out if this is a trend or not. In 2013-14 10 of 19 leaders have gone on to win on Sunday. Bowditch breaks a two week streak of 54-hole leaders not being able to finish what they started as his three-shot lead held up. Barely.
He joins Adam Scott as Australian winners at TPC San Antonio Oaks Course. Maybe that Greg Norman guy knows what his countrymen like in course design!
He joins Brendan Steele as two of the five winners to procure their first titles on TOUR on this layout.
Entering the week, Bowditch had played 10 rounds here. In six of those rounds he posted 74 or worse.
No player has defended their title as last year’s champ, Martin Laird, fired 72-77 and MC.
For the week, just 25 players ended up under par as TPC San Antonio showed its teeth through bunkers, slick greens and wind. The Oaks Course will probably be in the top 10 of toughest courses again once the 2013-14 season ends.
Only four players had four rounds of par or better. #golfishard
Young Guns VS Prime Time VS Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. For the second week in a row a 30-year old joins the party as Steven Bowditch joins Matt Every in back-to-back weeks for the Prime Timers. This victory levels the ledger with the Young Guns at nine victories apiece.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board.
The Old Guys fired this week with Jerry Kelly and Jim Furyk finishing at T6. Australian John Senden, 42, has the only victory for the Old Guys. #AustraliaAustraliaAustralia