In a regular weekly column on Rotoworld, we reflect on the tournaments just gone and also take an early peek at the action ahead on the PGA and European Tours.
1. (-11, 269) Cameron Smith (Odds: 50/1)
2. (-11, 269) Brendan Steele (Odds: 250/1)
3. (-10, 270) Webb Simpson (Odds: 12/1)
4. (-9, 271) Graeme McDowell (Odds: 110/1)
4. (-9, 271) Kevin Kisner (Odds: 45/1)
4. (-9, 271) Ryan Palmer (Odds: 80/1)
Notes: A 250/1 winner looked on the cards when Steele led by three going into the final day and he was still two clear with two to play. But Smith caught him on the line and then edged the playoff. For those who like looking beyond Strokes Gained numbers and course form, Smith had extra incentive this week after offering to donate $500 for every birdie he made to the bushfire crisis in his Australian homeland. He ranked T1 in birdies for the week, noting later: "Every birdie putt I had, just meant that little bit more. Rather than kind of wanting to make it I almost felt like I had to make it." This is his first individual win on the PGA TOUR and no surprises that it came in windy conditions. The bad weather meant this was the highest winning score since Vijay Singh also took victory with 11-under back in 2005.
Fate of the favorites
Notes: You'd have got long odds on Thomas and Reed - last week's two playoff protagonists - both missing the cut but they lacked energy here, putted poorly and crashed out at halfway. Simpson justified his position as third favorite while Matsuyama recovered well from an opening 4-over 74.
South African Open
1. (-21, 263) Branden Grace (Odds: 14/1)
2. (-18, 266) Louis Oosthuizen (Odds: 5/1)
2. (-16, 268) Marcus Armitage (Odds: 500/1)
4. (-15, 269) Jaco Ahlers (Odds: 80/1)
5. (-15, 269) Jack Senior (Odds: 175/1)
Notes: An epic final day which seemed as if it would be Oosthuizen's after he aced the eighth. But Grace wouldn't be denied, putted like a god (22 swishes) and secured his ninth European Tour win with a closing 62 - a familiar number to him as he shot that at the 2017 Open Championship to record the lowest ever round in the history of the majors. Talking of The Open, there were two qualifying spots available for Royal St. George's this summer and they were grabbed by Armitage and Ahlers (the latter courtesy of having a higher world ranking than Senior).
Fate of the favorites
Notes: A 1-2 for Grace and Oosthuizen as documented above. Van Rooyen played his way into the top 25 with a strong final round while a rusty Schwartzel missed the cut despite shooting 67 in round two. An opening 73 proved costly.
Coming up this week…
The American Express
Location: : TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, 7,113 yards, par 72, PGA West Nicklaus Tournament course, 7,159 yards, par 72, and La Quinta CC, 7,060 yards, par 72. California.
Who’s playing? Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson (tournament host), Paul Casey, Sungjae Im, Tony Finau, Francesco Molinari, Charles Howell III, Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner, Russell Knox, Ryan Moore, Matthew Wolff, Abraham Ancer.
Past winners of the American Express
2019 (-26, 262) Adam Long – 1st PGA TOUR win
2018 (-22, 266) Jon Rahm – 2nd PGA TOUR win
2017 (-20, 268) Hudson Swafford – 1st PGA TOUR win
2016 (-25, 263) Jason Dufner – 4th PGA TOUR win
2015 (-22, 266) Bill Haas – 6th PGA TOUR win
Notes: Two of the last three winners were first-time champs while there have been just five non-US winners since Arnold Palmer took the first edition in 1960. Many still refer to this pro-am event as the Bob Hope. It has a little extra poignancy this year as one of the courses was designed by Pete Dye, who passed away last week.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Location: Abu Dhabi GC, United Arab Emirates, 7,583 yards, par 72.
Who’s playing? Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay, Louis Oosthuizen, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Bryson DeChambeau, Danny Willett, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Bernd Wiesberger, Branden Grace.
Past winners of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
2019 (-18, 270) Shane Lowry – 4th European Tour win
2018 (-22, 266) Tommy Fleetwood – 4th European Tour win
2017 (-17, 271) Tommy Fleetwood – 2nd European Tour win
2016 (-16, 272) Rickie Fowler – 2nd European Tour win
2015 (-19, 269) Gary Stal – 1st European Tour win
Notes: The European Tour has already had five events on the schedule but it really kicks in here with the first of the money-spinning Rolex Series tournaments. It's also a big week for gamers as Abu Dhabi marks the start of the official European Tour season-long fantasy game so get registered! Unusually, there's been heavy flooding in the region ahead of the event.