Hilton Head, SC
Making his tournament debut, PGA TOUR rookie and World No. 73 Wesley Bryan styled a 4-under-par 34-33=67 in the final round of the RBC Heritage to post 13-under 271, good for a 1-shot win over Luke Donald.
For Donald, this was his 12th Heritage and seventh top-3 finish in his last nine tries. The runner-up is his fifth in the event and second straight, chasing T2 last year where he was the 54-hole leader by one and closed in even-par 71, while Branden Grace shot 66 to beat him by two.
Since 1934, Donald is one of only six players on TOUR to finish runner-up five times in the same tournament. Only Jack Nicklaus (7, RBC Canadian Open) and Phil Mickelson (6, U.S. Open) have more during that time span.
In 2014, Donald was the 54-hole leader (by two) and closed with 2-under 69, but lost by one to Matt Kuchar, who raced by 64.
In 2011, Donald again was the 54-hole leader (by one) and closed in 1-under 70, eventually losing in a 2-man playoff to Brandt Snedeker, who fired a final-round 64.
This rare odyssey of finishing second so many times in the same event began with the 2009 playing but that T2 probably didn’t feel quite as empty as he – and the rest of the field – had no chance. Brian Gay won that one by 10 shots and is the most recent golfer on TOUR to win by 10 or more strokes.
As for Bryan, a pre-tourney 60/1 outright, the 27-year-old bags his maiden TOUR title in his 18th career start, 14th as a member, and is the first South Carolina native to win the Heritage in its 49-year history. He won three times last year on the Web.com Tour (in 15 events) en route to the regular-season money title, Player of the Year honors and the battlefield promotion to the main stage.
After kicking off in 69-67-68, the University of South Carolina alum began in a three-way T6 on 9-under, four back of 54-hole leader Jason Dufner, who ballooned to 5-over 76 to finish T11, five adrift.
Playing out of the third-to-last twosome, Bryan conjured seven (of 14) fairways and landed 12 greens in regulation, gaining just 0.220 strokes tee-to-green but 3.969 on-the-greens.
He squared bogey-5s at three and eight (failed scrambles), sandwiching a 4-birdie run in between, two of those dropping from 15’0” and 19’11”, respectively.
Bryan came home in blemish-free 2-under, adding circles at 13 and 15, both from inside of 10 feet, finishing with a stellar 1.455 putts per GIR and 24 putts total.
This is his fourth top 25 of the season, all four doubling as top 10s, and third top 5. Bryan is the third rookie to win this season in 23 events, joining Cody Gribble (Sanderson Farms) and Mackenzie Hughes (The RSM Classic).
He is the NINTH straight winner on TOUR that had at least one week off prior to their respective wins, arriving off a disappointing T62 three weeks ago at the Puerto Rico Open, where he was a pre-tourney co-fave.
Bryan's 1st-place prize: $1,170,000; up $108,000 from last year.
With the win, the Augusta, Georgia, resident earns a 2-year exemption on TOUR (thru 2018-19) and invites to the 2017 PGA Championship and WGC-Bridgestone, and the 2018 SBS Tournament of Champions and the 2018 Masters.
With a Strength of Field (SOF) rating of 292 (down from 346 last year), Bryan collects 48.00 world-ranking points and jumps 36 places to career-high 37th in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
He banks 500 FedExCup (FEC) points for the victory and vaults 45 spots to a career-high 14th in the standings.
Bryan's Position by Round:
Field Scoring Average:
This was the 49th playing of the Heritage at the 7,099-yard par-71 (36-35) Harbour Town Golf Links. Bryan posted rounds of 69-67-68-67 for 11.813 SG: Total.
R1: 70.326; R2: 70.893; R3: 70.405; R4: 71.189
Bryan finished T1 in par-4 scoring; 1st in total putts (avg. 24.75 putts/round) and 1st in scrambling.
Donald was 2nd in scrambling, 2nd in total putts (one more than Bryan) and 1st in SG: Around-the-Green.
Bryan’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 74 players):
Eagles: 1 (T4)
Birdies: 16 (T21)
Bogeys: 5 (T3)
Par-3 Scoring: 2.81 (T4)
Par-4 Scoring: 3.86 (T1)
Par-5 Scoring: 4.67 (T37)
Driving Distance (all drives): 263.0 yards (70th)
Driving Accuracy: 31/56 (T55) at 55.36 percent
Greens in Regulation: 40/72 (T66) at 55.56 percent
Proximity to hole: 29’11” (7th)
Putts per GIR: 1.675 (16th)
Total Putts: 99 (1st)
Putts by Round: 25-25-25-24
Scrambling: 27/32 (1st) at 84.38 percent
SG: Off-the-Tee: -3.257 (67th)
SG: Approach-the-Green: 8.451 (2nd)
SG: Around-the-Green: 2.838 (10th)
SG: Tee-to-Green: 8.032 (6th)
SG: Putting: 3.782 (11th)
Luke Donald: The second-round co-leader and World No. 96 rallied for a 3-under-par 36-32=68 to reach 12-under 272, up four places but one shy of Bryan, who shot 67 one group ahead.
Overall, this was his 16th runner-up finish on TOUR in 320 career events (315 pro), first since solo 2nd at the 2016 Wyndham. It’s the 39-year-old’s third top 25 of the season in nine starts and first top 10.
After opening in 65-67, he co-led at the midpoint but dipped to T6 after a third-round 72, four back of Dufner. Playing out of the fourth-to-last twosome, the Northwestern alum found nine (of 14) fairways and 11 GIR, losing 1.385 strokes off-the-tee but gaining 2.189 around-the-green, the tourney-leader in the latter.
He ate double bogey-7 at the second (tee ball OB) and was seemingly out of contention after playing his last 15 holes in birdie-less 3-over, but leveled the card in the finale with birdies at 5 and 9.
Donald’s signal that he was truly back in the conversation came at the 11th, holing out from a greenside bunker (75'0" away) for birdie-3 and moving to T9 on the jammed-up leaderboard, now just two strokes shy of the on-course pace-setters.
He added two circles at 13 and 14, 4-under for his last six, but finished with four pars, unable to birdie the par-5 15th after another errant tee shot.
Donald is a 5-time TOUR winner but not since the 2012 Transitions (now Valspar) Championship 105 starts ago. He drops to 0-for-9 as 36-hole leader/co-leader but climbs 27 spots to 69th in OWGR and 91 places to 45th in the FEC standings.
For the week, Donald was 1st in SG: Around-the-Green (6.267) and 4th in SG: Putting (6.444), but 70th (of 74) in SG: Off-the-Tee (-4.357).
A total of 74 pros from a field of 131 pros and one amateur made the 36-hole cut of 1-under 141:
32 (of 65) EARLY/late; 1 WD
42 (of 66) LATE/early
10 players finished in the top 10, split evenly among both waves, however, four of the top-5 finishers were EARLY/late, including the champ and runner-up:
EARLY/late: Wesley Bryan (Won); Luke Donald (2nd); Patrick Cantlay (T3); Ollie Schniederjans (T3); J.J. Spaun (T6)
LATE/early: William McGirt (T3); Brian Gay (T6); Graham DeLaet (T6); Bud Cauley (T9); Brian Harman (T9)
Yahoo! Low Rounds:
R1: Bud Cauley (63)
R2: Kevin Kisner (64)
R3: Jason Dufner (65)
R4: Matt Kuchar (64)
Top 10 in FEC standings (points):
1. Dustin Johnson (1,903)
2. Hideki Matsuyama (1,822)
3. Justin Thomas (1,793)
4. Jon Rahm (1,361)
5. Adam Hadwin (1,198)
6. Jordan Spieth (1,104)
7. Pat Perez (1,096)
8. Rickie Fowler (1,069)
9. Justin Rose (980)
10. Brendan Steele (960)
Top 10 in OWGR (this week’s finishes):
1. Dustin Johnson (idle)
2. Rory McIlroy (idle)
3. Jason Day (idle)
4. Hideki Matsuyama (idle)
5. Jordan Spieth (idle)
6. Henrik Stenson (idle)
7. Sergio Garcia (idle)
8. Justin Rose (idle)
9. Rickie Fowler (idle)
10. Adam Scott (idle); UP one
Note: Justin Thomas (idle) dropped from 10th to 11th.
18 of the Top 50 in OWGR were in the field; ONE finished in the top 10:
William McGirt: The World No. 50, who checked in off a T22 in his Masters debut, signed for a 2-under-par 34-35=69 to post 11-under 273, up three places to a season-best T3, two adrift.
A total of 33 players that competed in last week's Masters teed it up at Harbour Town and the South Carolina resident was the only one of them to finish in the top 10 this week.
This was his seventh straight RBC and third top 10, second consecutive, bettering a pair of T9s in 2016 and 2014. It was the 37-year-old's 13th start of the season and third top 10, brushing aside a duo of T9s (SBS TOC; WGC-Match Play).
After opening in trip 68s, he began four back (T6) and outpaced bogey-5 at 12 with birdies at Nos. 1, 5 and 16. McGirt striped 11 (of 14) fairways and pelted 16 GIR, posting a pedestrian 1.813 putts per GIR and a disappointing -0.634 SG: Putting, missing five scoring tries from inside of 15 feet.
Avg. world ranking of the top-10 RBC finishers: 161st
No. 16 Tyrrell Hatton (T29); top-ranked OWGR; tourney debut
No. 17 Matt Kuchar (T11); 2014 champ
No. 19 Danny Willett (CUT); tourney debut
No. 22 Branden Grace (T11); defender
No. 25 Brandt Snedeker (T11); 2011 champ
First-timers and/or Rookies:
Top-10 finishes: 4
TOUR Rookies: 10
Top-10 finishes: 4
Bryan took top honors in both categories. It’s the third time this season where he’s been top rookie (T4, Genesis; T4, Honda). Bryan co-led the Honda after 18 and 36 holes, respectively (64-67-72-70).
The other three debutants who finished top 10 are also rookies:
Patrick Cantlay: The World No. 214 closed with 4-under-par 34-33=67 to wrap on 11-under 273, up 10 places into a three-way T3, two back.
After opening in 70-66-70, the 25-year-old began T13, six shy. Playing out of the seventh-to-last twosome, he landed seven (of 14) fairways and 10 GIR, posting 2.491 SGTTG and 1.698 SGP.
The UCLA product squared two bogeys, camouflaged by six birdies at 2, 4, 7, 9, 14 and 18, walking off with a 15'6" birdie-3 and 1.500 putts per GIR.
This was just his fourth start of the season and had previously met the terms of a medical extension out of the reshuffle category (in earnings) with a career-best solo 2nd at the Valspar two starts and five weeks ago.
Cantlay however, entered 81.15 FEC points short, but hauled in 145.00, gaining an exemption into THE PLAYERS. He leapfrogs 83 places to a career-high 131st in OWGR and 24 spots to a career-high 40th in FEC points.
Ollie Schniederjans: The World No. 136 concluded with 3-under-par 31-37=68 to post 11-under 273, up six places to a career-best T3.
This was the Georgia Tech alum's 28th career start (25 pro) and 14th as a member. It's his fourth career top 10, all this season, eclipsing a previous-best T6 (RSM).
After opening in 68-68-69, the Dallas native began in a four-way T9, five back. Playing out of the fifth-to-last twosome, two groups in front of Bryan, he found nine (of 14) fairways and 13 GIR, posting 1.924 in SG: Approaching-the-Green, the tourney-leader in the latter (8.651).
The 23-year-old went out in blemish-free 5-under, circling Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6, and took the lead with birdie-3 at nine, one clear of four players. He came home in birdie-less 2-over however, squaring the 11th and 17th.
The Georgia resident vaults 34 places to a career-high 102nd in OWGR and 24 spots to 38th in FEC points.
J.J. Spaun: The World No. 120 closed with bogey-free 2-under-par 35-34=69 to conclude on 10-under 274, up three spots to T6 and three back. His effort was one of only two blemish-free laps in R4 (Sung Kang, 68).
After kicking off in 67-72-66, the 26-year-old began in a four-way T9, five in arrears. He conjured eight (of 14) fairways and 11 GIR, gaining just 0.139 strokes tee-to-green but 2.050 on the greens.
The SDSU alum circled Nos. 5 (from 24'4") and 16, posting a pedestrian 1.818 putts per GIR but did knock in a 21'8" par-saver at 13 to keep the card clean.
This was his 16th start of the season, fifth top 25 and third top 10, just shy of a season- and career-best T4 at the Phoenix Open. Spaun bumps 17 places to a career-high 103rd in OWGR and 17 spots to 48th in FEC points.
As mentioned, Bryan is the NINTH straight winner to have at least one week off prior to the win.
14 of 23 winners were in their 20s (Bryan: age: 27)
6 were in their 30s
3 were in their 40s
17 of the 22 winners (minus Match Play) have emerged out of the FINAL group on Sunday. Bryan became the fifth to buck the trend. The other four outliers:
Marc Leishman: Penultimate twosome: erased 3-shot deficit w/ 3-under 69; won API by 1.
Hideki Matsuyama: Penultimate threesome: erased 4-shot deficit w/ 5-under 66; won WMPO in playoff.
Jon Rahm: Fifth-to-last threesome: erased 3-shot deficit w/ 7-under 65; won Farmers by 3.
Brendan Steele: Third-to-last threesome: erased 4-shot deficit w/ 7-under 65; won Safeway by 1.
54-hole leaders/co-leaders are now 9-for-22 converting:
Converted: Hideki Matsuyama (WGC-HSBC); Mackenzie Hughes (RSM Classic); Justin Thomas x2 (SBS TOC and Sony); Jordan Spieth (AT&T Pro-Am); Dustin Johnson (Genesis); Rickie Fowler (Honda); Adam Hadwin (Valspar); Sergio Garcia (Masters)
Failed: Patton Kizzire (Safeway); Anirban Lahiri (CIMB); Luke List, Chris Kirk (Sanderson Farms); Lucas Glover (Shriners); Gary Woodland (OHL); Adam Hadwin (CareerBuilder); Patrick Rodgers, Brandt Snedeker (FIO); Byeong Hun An (WMPO); Justin Thomas (WGC-Mexico); Kevin Kisner, Charley Hoffman (API); Chris Stroud (PRO); Sung Kang (SHO); Justin Rose (co-Masters); Jason Dufner (Heritage)
Consecutive top 10s on TOUR:
Dustin Johnson (1st-1st-1st-3rd)
Paul Casey (6th-T9)
Consecutive top-10 streaks ended:
Rafael Campos (T32-6th-T9)
Note: Campos did receive a sponsor invite to this week’s Valero Texas Open.
The TOUR heads back to The Lone Star State for the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio where Charley Hoffman is the defending champion.
Hoffman erased a 2-shot deficit with a closing 3-under 69 to beat hometown product Patrick Reed by one.
Stay tuned to this space for all the latest player news and analysis as the TOUR readies for its 24th tournament of the season (of 47).