By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
LAS VEGAS -- They handed out more than $6 million in prize money on Sunday, but 6-year-old Matthew Houston might have been the happiest person leaving the golf course. He has battled cerebral palsy and for the last three years received treatment at the Shriners Hospital in Los Angeles.
Following his round, Las Vegas resident Nick Watney potted young Matthew on a hill behind the 18th green. Without prompting, Watney walked up that hill to say hello to Matthew and give him a souvenir ball and glove. The glow from Matthew’s smile produced enough energy to light every neon sign on the Vegas Strip.
The PGA TOUR donates millions of dollars to charity every year, and Shriners Hospitals for Children is one that is special. And thanks to Watney, Matthew is smiling tonight.
Champion: There is no doubt Webb Simpson played the best golf this week. Every metric worked in his favor. Simpson led the tournament in strokes gained-putting, was T2 hitting greens in regulation and was even 2 for 2 in bunker saves. He made a total of four bogeys and followed those mistakes with three bounce-back birdies. Simpson’s lead was never seriously threatened in the final round because he birdied two of the first three holes. Simpson began the day with a four-shot lead, then extended it with early birdies so he could just concentrate on hitting fairways and greens over the final 15 holes.
Coulda, shoulda: Jason Bohn has a good week with a T2 finish at 18 under, but he had a strange scoring split. He played hole Nos. 13-18 -- the most scoreable portion of the golf course with a pair of par 5s and a drivable par 4 -- in even par. Bohn was 18 under on the rest of the course but never solved that last stretch of holes. By contrast, Simpson was 11 under during that same stretch of holes.
Altitude: The mountains surrounding Las Vegas reach 10,000 feet and TPC Summerlin sits 2,500 feet above sea level. That altitude, combined with dry desert air, made it difficult to pick clubs. As a general rule, 5,000 feet adds about 10 percent distance to clubs, so distances played about 5 percent shorter than usual in Las Vegas. Players had a hard time dialing in their number this week, particularly with wedges.
Birdie runs: TPC Summerlin lends itself to birdie runs, and we saw several sprints in the final round. Charley Hoffman twice put together a trio of birdies in a row, but nobody strung together a run like Troy Matteson. He parred the first eight holes and then ran home birdies from No. 9 through No. 15. That string of seven in a row was stopped by a flagstick at the 16th. Matteson’s approach was a little too precise as it rattled off the flagstick, rebounding 24 feet away from the cup and leading to his first par since No. 8.
Happy Birthday: It was a good week for Ryan Moore. He defended his title with T9 finish that included a chip-in eagle at the 16th. As he came out of the scoring trailer, tournament officials had a birthday cake ready for Moore’s son. Tucker celebrated his first birthday on Saturday and reveled in the sweet pastry, chewing chunks off the top and putting his tiny fists into the icing.
Fred Albers is a correspondent for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- Players expect to birdie the 540-yard, par-5 16th hole at TPC Summerlin. Making 4 there would've given Troy Matteson his eighth consecutive birdie. His 106-yard approach shot hit the flagstick, though, and nearly went in the water fronting the green.
"I thought I was going to get that eighth one," Matteson said. "All in all, it's a great end to my week." Matteson tied for fifth at at 16-under 268 (67-69-68-64). He had those seven consecutive birdies and 11 pars Sunday. It was his first top-10 on TOUR since a T-10 at the 2012 Wyndham Championship.
Matteson had to regain his TOUR card at the Web.com Tour Finals after having just two top-25s in 24 starts in 2013. He made three of four cuts in the Finals, highlighted by a T-6 at the Chiquita Classic, to regain his card.
Matteson, who missed the cut at last week's Frys.com Open, said he has been working with instructor Buck Mayers for approximately seven months.
"And I'm starting to put it together a little bit," the two-time TOUR winner said.
By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. -- There’s a lot Troy Matteson admires about the golf course his former college teammate’s dad drew up on an old horse farm fast by the Rock River.
Friday, he very much appreciated the meandering walk from TPC Deere Run’s No. 3 green to its No. 4 tee.
Matteson scored his seventh career ace, his fifth in PGA TOUR competition and his second at TPC Deere Run at the typically testy uphill par-3 third at the D.A. Weibring-designed golf course. He flushed a pitching wedge from 132 yards from the most generous of the hole’s four tee blocks.
Matteson’s vast hole-in-one experience tells him an ace can throw off the equilibrium of a golf round. “Sometimes going to that next tee, it’s hard to settle yourself down,” he said.
Thanks to the long green-to-tee walk, coupled with the sparseness of the early-morning gallery, there was no such problem Friday.
Matteson went on to post a 7-under 64 to climb into contention for a second straight year. He lost a playoff to Zach Johnson a year ago, after holding the lead after each of the first three rounds. It was his third top 10 finish in seven John Deere starts.
Any wonder Matt Weibring’s former Georgia Tech teammate is huge fan of TPC Deere Run?
Matteson said he shared that appreciation with the course designer when he played a few holes with both Weibrings earlier this year.
“He’s glad that guys like the course,” Matteson said of the senior Weibring. “As a designer, that’s the biggest compliment you can get is people saying ‘This is a fun course.’’’
Matteson would love to have more fun this weekend. He is in the midst of a challenging year, having missed more cuts (11) than he has made (now nine).
A two-time winner in his eight years on TOUR, Matteson well understands the up-and-down nature of the game.
Interestingly, he said he has no regrets about last year’s missed opportunity here. That’s largely, he said, because he knows the native Iowan Johnson’s “hometown” win was good for both the tournament and the TOUR.
“Obviously, you want to win anytime you get a chance, and it’s nice to be the story,” he said. “But at the same time, there are bigger things in motion. … A lot of people come to this tournament to watch Zach, to watch Steve Stricker. They’re not buying tickets to watch guys like me.
“I do think it was the best thing for the tournament.”
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Troy Matteson found a good time to get hot last year -- posting all three of his top-10s in a five-tournament span heading into the FedExCup Playoffs on the way to a career-best finish of 45th. Finding consistency throughout the year will be the key in 2013.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Matteson started his surge into the FedExCup Playoffs with a playoff loss to Zach Johnson at the John Deere Classic. After opening with a 61, Matteson drained a 52-foot eagle putt on the 71st hole of regulation to force sudden death, eventually losing on the second extra hole. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: I walked with Mattesson the final round at John Deere where he lost a playoff to Zach Johnson. It took one of the great shots of the year out of Zach -- out of a fairway bunker for tap in birdie during the playoff -- in order for Johnson to win. I wondered at the time if the defeat would encourage Troy or leave a scar. Troy went on to miss just one more cut during the regular season. Troy Mattesson is a mentally disciplined player. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Not sure there's another guy on TOUR that requires as much patience. Since his rookie year of 2006, he's averaged 12.71 missed cuts per season, but he's also averaged 29.43 starts. Notoriously streaky. Conservative gamers might have a spot for him, but they might not mind taking a pass on the absence of production for the majority of the year. Meanwhile, like most things counterintuitive in fantasy golf, his unpredictability week-to-week translates into known value since he's repeatedly proven that he'll solve his problems before painting himself into a corner. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||2nd||John Deere Classic|
|By the Numbers Starts: 32 Cuts made: 17 Rounds played: 98 Top-10 finishes: 3 Money List rank: 77th||TOUR ranking Driving distance: 26th Driving accuracy: 182nd Greens in regulation: 124th Strokes gained-putting: 66th Scoring average: 134th|
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN What is your prediction for Troy Matteson in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know
Five players -- Troy Matteson, Bo Van Pelt, Jhonattan Vegas, Stuart Appleby and Charl Schwartzel -- currently share the clubhouse lead at 5-under 65 in the opening round of the RBC Canadian Open, where they’re playing lift, clean and place after an overnight storm swept through the area and soaked the golf course.
Here’s what some of the leaders had to say about the opening round:
Vegas on the course conditions: “It is really soft. You can really throw anything at the pins and it's going to stop there.”
Vegas on how much of a difference there is between playing lift, clean and place and playing the ball down: “You take the doubt out of your mind. When you have your eye on the ball, you don't know which way the ball is going to go. So cleaning it takes it completely out of your mind. You can put a good spin on it, and usually you can get a result. It's huge.”
Appleby, who shot a 59 in the final round to win at The Greenbrier two years ago, on the similarities between that course and this one: “The greens, probably similar speed. The topography of this course is a lot hillier, a lot more demanding I think on the tee shots. The golf course now at Greenbrier is a lot more demanding than it was when I shot it.”
Schwartzel on being healthy again after missing a month between the U.S. and British Open due to a rib injury: “Before I had the injury, that second Masters before the British Open I thought that was the best I've hit the ball in my career. I hit it so good. Then the injury came and I was pretty upset about it because I thought I was really close to breaking through and winning again. I had to sit around for three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks without being able to hit a ball. I had sort of a rushed recuperation for the British Open, wasn't quite 100 percent. But at the British Open I didn't hit it as good as I did when I took off, but I kept practicing, and on Monday when I came here, things started falling into place.”
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
At an average of 305.1 yards per drive for the week, runner-up Troy Matteson had the highest driving distance among the top 15 finishers at the John Deere Classic.
It took a little work to get there from an equipment standpoint.
Matteson, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, came to TPC Deere Run telling TaylorMade reps he was ‘killing’ his RBZ fairway wood but was not able to hit a power draw on command with his driver. Instead, he was hitting pulls.
Matteson’s original driver, an 8-degree TaylorMade R11S, had been tuned to a lower position while the ASP sole plate was in the closed setting – in short, a low-lofted driver with a open face, setting up closed. To help fix, TaylorMade reps gave him a higher-lofted driver with a closed clubface that appeared square, shortened by an inch to get the club more vertical and promote the draw.
In the end, going from a 7.5-degree/2-degree open face to an 8.5 degree/1-degree closed/1-inch shorter club immediately promoted more ball speed, higher launch and a higher spin rate, allowing the ball to stay in the air and turn right-to-left.
How much the switch pay off? In the first round at the John Deere, Matteson made 10 birdies in a round of 61 and ultimately lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson.
ANSER MEN: At the other end of driver spectrum was Ping, a holdout in the adjustable driver craze – until earlier this month. Ping’s new Anser driver is its first entry into the adjustable market, with lofts able to be tuned a half-degree up or down.
Louis Oosthuizen (pictured at right) put a Anser driver in the bag at last week’s Scottish Open and brought it to the British Open, where he’s the defending champion. Former Masters champion Angel Cabrera has been working with an Anser 3-wood.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Callaway’s X Utility Prototype irons have been hot on TOUR and will continue to be this week at the British Open, where accuracy is far more important than distance. The company has been frantically shipping clubheads from its PGA TOUR trailer overseas; clubmaker Roger Cleveland even traveled to England with five 18-degree X Utility Prototype heads in his baggage.
BAG BITS: K.J. Choi won the 2011 PLAYERS with Miura irons; last week he finished T13 at John Deere with Callaway RAZR Musclebacks. … Blake Adams switched from steel shafts in his TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC irons to Aldila-prototype graphites at the John Deere. Most PGA TOUR pros prefer steel in irons. … Chez Reavie first began working with a TaylorMade Ghost Spider belly putter at the AT&T National, finally putting it into play at TPC Deere Run and finishing T68.
SCRIPT: You know you’re important when your apparel supplier dresses you. Check out how Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose are scripted by TaylorMade-adidas.
WINNER’S BAG: Johnson at the John Deere
Driver: Titleist 910D2 (Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board, 9.5 degrees)
Fairway woods: Titleist 910F (15.0 degrees) and 909 F2 (18.5 degrees)
Hybrid: Titleist 909H (21 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP1 (4) and AP2 (5-9)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design (48, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: SeeMore FGP
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Check out the top five shots of the week from the John Deere Classic and Utah Championship featuring highlights from Zach Johnson, Troy Matteson, Sam Saunders, John Senden, and Steve Stricker.
Following his third-round 66, Troy Matteson reflects on his play with Doug Bell from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.