Well, well, well. I guess the feared beast that Torrey Pine South was supposed to be this week took a vacation and let the players have some fun. In all seriousness, the scoring we saw this year was the best in recent memory at Torrey, and mother nature had much to do with that. With very low wind, a lot of sunshine, and weather in the mid 70’s everyday, the players simply had to worry about their own game and not the wind or cold or rain that so often presents itself when the Farmers rolls around. It is a relatively scary proposition for course designers to see what some of the elite players on the planet did to one of the most widely regarded “tough tests” in the golf world. It’s starting to look like unless weather plays a role, there are very few courses in the world that can contain these guys. Hideki was sticking 5 woods from fairway bunkers 240+ yards out, and I watched Jason Day and Tony Finau fly the ball on the green on a 615 yard Par 5 that plays a bit uphill. The skill and power on display are something to behold every week. This week we have a very strong field, and the guys did not disappoint.
We saw great performances from Adam Scott (welcome back, Scotty!), Jason Day, Jon Rahm (although he may have some words for me calling that “great”), Hideki, Rory, and more. However, while their finishing totals (-14 and better) would be great most years on Torrey, one man was simply outstanding all week. That man is Justin Rose. Rosey played machine like golf for about 67 holes, and while he did mix in a few doubles and a rough start on Sunday, he never looked like he was going to do anything but win the tournament. Without further ado, lets get to some of the main takeaways from this week:
- The Rose is in full bloom– As mentioned above, JR played amazing golf all week. He fired rounds of 63-66 to put himself in position, and then fired a pair of 69’s on the weekend to close the door, setting the scoring record at Torrey (-21) in the process. Some immaculate ball striking and impressive putting made Rose look more and more like the best player in the world. For some context as to what Rose has done over the last year or so: This was Rose’s 10th PGA Tour win, most by an Englishmen since 1945…..Three of Rose’s wins have come since the start of last season….He’s finished in the top 10 in 13 of his last 21 TOUR starts…including eight Top 3 finishes and just one missed cut (credit: PGAtour.com). Some staggering numbers for a guy who seems to be peaking in his late 30’s. Rosey was for so long a great player and exceptional ball striker who was not thought to be a winner, per say, even after his triumph at Merion. Those days are long gone. Make no mistake about it: Justin Rose is the best player on tour right now.
- Oh, Rors: Armed with all the talent in the world, McIlroy just can’t seem to keep that switch on when he is in contention on the weekends. Another week where Rory hit it just about as good as anyone, but lost strokes putting each round, and once he began his Sunday charge with a front nine 33, it immediately flamed out. Rory went 1 over par the first 8 holes of his back nine before birdieing 18 to get to -14 and salvage a top 5. I’m beginning to think Rory’s talent is taking a toll on his winning. While a fresh faced McIlroy seemed to be a guy gunning for peoples’ throats, he now seems to lack that killer instinct and will that the other top players possess. Rory will never have his talent questioned: he hits it a mile and has great hands around the greens. But people will continue to question his grit and desire if he doesn’t start to rattle off more wins soon. I think that’s foolish, to me its a confidence thing: when Rory believes his game in invincible, it usually is. When he overthinks and becomes timid, he changes from a star to a good player. It is a very interesting dilemma for a still very young golfer to be going through. I, for one, hope we see him get that little edge back, as it would be awesome to see in a battle with Tiger, Thomas, Rose, Koepka, Spieth, Rahm etc.
- The Gooch is Loose: How about Talor Gooch? The pride of Midwest City, Oklahoma is on an absolute tear right now, going solo 4th in the desert followed by a T3 at Torrey. Not a well known name, Gooch has shown serious stones and contended for two weeks in a row. He eluded to the fact after his 3rd round at Torrey how last week was his first time being in real contention, and taking confidence from that performance. I’d say you’re 2 for 2 now, brother. Shout out to a guy who is clearly taking advantage of the opportunity when he puts himself there.
- Fowler and the TP5x: A lot of people will write off Rickie’s performance this week. He hasn’t had great success here, it was a sponsor week, etc. But I am a bit concerned about how quickly Rickie can adjust to his new golf ball. I keep hearing on the broadcast how the ball is the hardest piece of equipment to get used to after a change, and it remains to be seen how quickly Fowler will feel fully confident. He is a feel player, and likes to work the ball both ways, mixing in different ball flights often. While I am sure Rickie knows exactly what he’s doing, I am hoping the ball change can spring him to some W’s, and not another lost year.
That’s all we got for this week, folks. Quick shout out to JDay on his Top 5, giving me some mojo in the One and Done pool. Let’s keep it rolling. As always we appreciate you reading, and please feel free to comment or send in questions to us on social media! Now onto Phoenix, where a few of us will be in attendance…The Amateur Hour is making moves!