The gods of golf have spoken. It was time for Rickie Fowler to cash in and win a golf tournament. Fowler had the 54 hole lead at the US Open but crumbled in the final round. He played well at the Traveler’s but no cigar. This week he did not squander his 54 hole but got caught by Colin Morakawa and Adam Hadwin to force a playoff in the final round. The “gods” wanted to get this over with thunderstorms in the area that were on the way within the hour. Strange things happened in the playoff. Hadwin and Morakawa striped their drives down the middle of the fairway. Rickie’s drive was pushed far right heading for the 18th fairway grandstands–after all this good play, would Fowler be denied again.? The gods interceded. It was hard to see where the ball actually landed but a free drop from the grandstands and he had a nice clean lie on pedestrian trampled ground. He still had to execute a shot of some 185 yards and he did this smartly as the ball nestled about 11 feet from the hole. Next up, Hadwin from 163 yards, hit a 9 iron that flew beautifully towards the hole and it looked like it would be closer than Fowler. Alas, the usual gift of spin caused the ball to land and roll backwards to about 20 feet right in Fowler’s line. No matter, Morakawa had 151 yards to the hole and his pitching wedge looked like it was all over the flag. Oops! The ball flew over the flagstick and caught the rough in the back of the green where backspin would not be possible. Morakawa would have to chip out of the thick stuff for his birdie attempt. Morakawa and Hadwin’s shots plus Fowler’s “drop” out of the grandstand would be the omen that presented Fowler with the opportunity. Morikawa’s chip shot was indifferent and Hadwin’s putt nearly missed but gave Fowler the read of his putt. Fowler nailed the putt and he was back in the winner’s circle. It’s the culmination of Fowler’s long road back into the winner’s circle and another feather for the cap of teacher Butch Harmon.
Kudos to the staff of the Detroit Country Club for getting the course prepared for the tournament. In April, vandals literally killed the 11th and 12th greens with grass and weed killer chemicals, which caused the closure of these greens while the maintenance staff scrambled to get the greens repaired and ready for tournament play. Some sod was brought in from Oakmont Country Club and the crew at Detroit did a terrific job getting the holes into a tournament ready condition. Some would say that this could happen only in Detroit, but the important thing is that the holes were ready for the tournament while being a bit slower than the other holes, they were ready for play.
US Senior Open
Bernard Langer lapped a very competitive field to win the US Senior Open by two shots over hometown favorite Steve Stricker at the SentryWorld Golf Course in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Langer led from beginning to end but started to leak oil at the end as he bogeyed the last 3 holes. Until the end, Langer seemed to me a “man alone” lapping the field as the competitors struggled with the tough course. It was quite enjoyable watching Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelley playing together in the third round as both are Wisconsin natives, as the crowd cheered on both players, which really demonstrated the sportsmanship that golf affords. It seemed like a $5 nassau on a weekend with Stricker’s wife caddying for me and Kelley’s mother cheering him on from the gallery. Stricker and Kelley have been playing against each other for years and I’m sure have a huge ledger of bets that have been satisfied over the years. For Langer it was his 46th victory on the senior tour, and he is now the winningest player on the US Senior Tour surpassing Hale Irwin with this victory. Langer was extremely focused in this final round and at one time led by 6 shots before his mini collapse at the end. He is now the most successful Champions Tour player of all time.