After a long wait, a prominent member of the 2012 University of Texas men’s golf team has won a PGA Tour event.
No, not THAT guy. Jordan Spieth is still on a surprising winless streak that is single-digit days away from hitting two years.
It was Spieth’s college teammate Dylan Frittelli, a two-time European Tour champion who made his first top-10 on the PGA Tour a victory, posting an impressive Sunday bogey-free 7-under 64 to come from behind and win the John Deere Classic by two strokes.
Starting the final day in a tie for fifth place, two strokes back of 54-hole leaders Andrew Landry and Cameron Tringale, Frittelli overcame the mental hurdle of having imploded on Sunday a week ago in Minnesota when he was in line for a good finish, losing very much-needed FedExCup points in the process, and having limited Tour success in the past to capture the title at TPC Deere Run.
Tour win No. 1 comes with a two-year Tour card, a healthy paycheck, and a large number of exemptions, but one perk has to feel especially nice this week: a spot on the charter flight heading from Silvis to Northern Ireland for this week’s Open Championship. With the victory, the 29-year-old Frittelli is now the last man in the field for the final major of the season.
A South Africa native, Frittelli became the 23rd player to make the John Deere Classic his first career PGA Tour victory. The pace was set early in the day when Russell Henley finished up his tournament-low 10-under 61 while Frittelli was still on the front nine, but once he reached Henley’s 19-under final number, the win felt nearly inevitable as Tringale faltered and neither Landry, nor anyone else who began the day near the lead, was able to put on much pressure.
Final Leaderboard: Top 10
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Dylan Frittelli -21 (-7)
2. Russell Henley -19 (-10)
3. Andrew Landry -18 (-2)
4. Collin Morikawa -17 (-5)
4. Chris Stroud -17 (-4)
6. Charles Howell III -16 (-6)
6. Vaughn Taylor -16 (-2)
6. Nick Watney -16 (-2)
6. Adam Schenk -16 (-1)
10. Joaquin Niemann -15 (-6)
10. Sam Saunders -15 (-6)
10. Wes Roach -15 (-4)
10. Lucas Glover -15 (-2)
10. Roger Sloan -15 (-2)
10. Bill Haas -15 (E)
16. Viktor Hovland -14
18. Kyle Stanley, Ryan Moore -13
26. Brian Harman, Sungjae Im -12
33. Daniel Berger -11
37. Zach Johnson, Pat Perez -10
53. Harold Varner III -8
56. Luke Donald -7
63. Stewart Cink -5
How Dylan Frittelli Won The John Deere Classic
On Friday, Frittelli hit a poor shot out of the bunker on the par-4 first hole, leading to a three-putt bogey. It was his only bogey of the entire week. Eight players in the field had more birdies than the 22 Frittelli posted for the week, but by making fewer mistakes than anyone, he was able to capture this important victory.
Henley’s phenomenal round changed the leaderboard a bit, but given the low final scores typically posted here, it seemed unlikely that 19-under would be enough. Early on, it appeared that a duel between Frittelli and Landry might be coming when Frittelli birdied his first three holes of the day and Landry birdied his first two.
However, Landry stagnated badly from there, playing the rest of his front nine in 1-over and playing just marginally better on the back. Frittelli hit 20-under for the day after birdies on 8, 10, and 11. Six pars and one birdie over the final seven holes was more than enough.
Frittelli’s work on and around the greens was the best part of his game for the week. He finished second in the field in both strokes gaines: around-the-green and strokes gained: putting. He also led the field in scrambling.
Driving: 313.9 yards (49th)
Fairways: 44/56, 78.57% (7th)
Greens: 56/72, 77.78% (10th)
Putts Per GIR: 95/1.696 (22nd)
Off the Tee: 3.069 (12th)
Around the Green: 4.842 (5th)
Putting: 7.461 (3rd)
Tee to Green: 6.982 (16th)
Total: 14.443 (1st)
What It Means For Frittelli
Frittelli will now be at Royal Portrush for this week’s Open Championship. He has played in seven previous majors, missing the cut in five of them. His other two results, both in the PGA Championship, were a T63 and a T31. t will be his third try at The Open.
Frittelli had been in large danger of missing the FedExCup Playoffs. Two weeks ago at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Frittelli came into the week ranked 151st in the FedExCup Standings. He shot a first-round 66 and reached 8-under through two rounds to give himself a chance, but an awful weekend dropped him to a T46, which kept him at the same spot in the FedExCup.
Then last week at the 3M Open, he was in contention through three rounds, but imploded on Sunday to drop 37 spots down the final leaderboard, again finishing T46. He dropped three positions in the FedExCup Standings.
Now, after today’s victory, Frittelli has jumped all the way to 48th in the standings, making him a lock for at least the first two rounds of next month’s playoffs.
Frittelli’s 2019 PGA Tour Season
Missed Cuts: 6
Wins: 1 (John Deere Classic)
Addtl Top 10s/20s: 0/1
Money Earned: $1,471,560 (67th)
FedExCup Pts: 712 (48th)
World Rank Before/After: 133/92
Setting Your Watch To Hovland
Another week, another hot Sunday and another finish one spot outside the top 10 for young Norweigan star Viktor Hovland.
In his last start before turning pro last month, the 21-year-old finished T12 at the U.S. Open, setting the amateur scoring record in the process. After a T54 in his first start as a pro, one where he got off to a hot start and faded late, he has been the opposite each of the past three weeks. A final round 64 elevated him to a T13 finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
One week later (last week, actually), he shot a final-round 65 to finish T13 at the 3M Classic. Now this week, sitting at T39 through 54 holes, Hovland again saved his best for Sunday, carding eight birdies and an eagle on his way to a 7-under 64 to move 23 spots up the leaderboard into a share of 16th place.
With 10th place in the field being a six-way tie, Hovland, again, finished just one position outside the top 10. His first victory, and first finish of a single-digit number both feel imminent, but they will not be happening this week. He did not qualify for The Open Championship and he is not in the field for the opposite-field Barbasol Championship, signifying his first week off since before the U.S. Open (five weeks in a row), a well-deserved, and probably much-needed break.
Russell Henley, a three-time Tour winner, was in the midst of an awful season by his standards, and had missed his last four cuts, but breathed some life into his year with his Sunday 61. He was 3-under through eight holes, but then birdied six of his next seven to get himself on 59 watch with three holes to go.
His 28 birdies led the field for the week, and with the runner-up finish, Henley moved from 165th to 83rd in the FedExCup Standings.
Rookie Collin Morikawa was a 54-hole leader a week ago at the 3M open, and battled Matthew Wolff down to the last hole, finishing runner-up.
The 22-year-old, who also turned pro this year, followed up that fantastic performance with a T4 at the John Deere Classic. His Sunday was his best, as he carded two eagles, one birdie, and no bogeys to shoot a 5-under 66 and move eight spots up the final leaderboard. Morikawa locked up PGA Tour membership in the process.
Charles Howell III was the highest-ranked player in the week’s field (at No. 55 in the world rankings), but had been struggling on the weekends lately in events where he had gotten himself into early contention. He took the opposite approach at TPC Deere Run this week.
After a so-so first two rounds, Howell III followed up a Saturday 6-under 65 with another on Sunday, jumping him from T21 to T6 on the final leaderboard. It was his fifth top-10 of the season, but his first since February. He will in the field for next week’s Open Championship.
Cameron Tringale was the big Sunday disappointment this week. Struggling to keep his card in recent years, and coming off two awful seasons in a row, the 31-year-old had put himself in potential life-changing position after opening with rounds of 66, 66, and 65 to capture the 54-hole co-lead.
Tringale failed to card a birdie on the front nine, and bogeyed Nos. 7 and 9 to effectively knock himself out of contention by the turn. He ended up shooting a 2-over 73 to fall from the co-lead into a share of 16th.
However, with his 7th top 25 on the season, he moved to 97th on the FedExCup standings, locking up a spot in the playoffs and locking up his Tour card for next season.
Ryan Moore won this event four years ago, and was considered one of the best players in this week’s field. That made it extra surprising that he shot a 1-over 72 on Sunday, which dropped him from T5 to T18. He will be in the field for this week’s Open Championship, but was hoping to come in with more momentum, given his massively disappointing major championship career, where he has nothing better than a T9 in 43 starts after one of the best amateur careers in golf history.
Another player heading to Northern Ireland after a difficult Sunday at the John Deere was 21-year-old rookie Sungjae Im, who snapped a streak of four straight top 25 finishes after a mediocre 1-under 70 in his final round dropped him from T14 to T26. At 21st in the FedExCup Standings, however, it cannot be debated that he is having a fantastic first season on Tour.
“It’s huge; moving up the FedExCup rankings. I was looking at post-season possibly playing the Web final and trying to figure out a schedule and take some time off, and it has really been stressing me out. But now I can sit back and have a clear mind and play for another two-and-a-half years.”
– Dylan Frittelli, John Deere Classic Champion