Five things from the Vivint Houston OpenOrtiz notches first victory since his Korn Ferry Tour run in 2014
November 09, 2020
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- November 09, 2020
Carlos Ortiz’s Round 4 highlights from Vivint Houston Open
He’s an overnight success, six years in the making.
After racking up three Korn Ferry Tour victories in 2014, Carlos Ortiz graduated to the PGA TOUR and went winless until shooting a final-round 65 at historic Memorial Park on Sunday in his 118th TOUR start. Ortiz birdied two of the last three to beat Dustin Johnson (65) and Hideki Matsuyama (63) by two and become the third Mexican to win on TOUR.
He had no doubles or three-putt bogeys, led in scrambling, and was fifth in Strokes Gained: Putting on the tricky green complexes. He moved from 146th to 7th in the FedExCup.
Here are five stories you might have missed from the Vivint Houston Open.
1. Players felt the return of the fans
In a sense, Ortiz’s victory in Houston began exactly a year ago. He started last season with T4 finishes at the Sanderson Farms Championship and Houston Open, then thrilled the home fans with a T2 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
“It’s awesome to have the energy pulling for you,” Ortiz, who is from Guadalajara, said after the final round in Mexico, which he began with a double and ended with a 66, just a shot back.
There was energy, too, on Sunday at the Vivint Houston Open, which was the first U.S.-based TOUR event with fans back on site. Ortiz, who attended the University of North Texas and lives in Dallas, said he could feel the love playing in his adopted home state.
He also learned from his close calls last year.
“I've been putting myself in those spots quite a bit the last year,” he said.
For more on Ortiz’s victory, click here.
2. Memorial Park was a star
One story heading into the week was the tournament’s return to iconic Memorial Park after nearly 60 years and a renovation by Tom Doak. Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka also gave input, his first course-design project. How would it hold up? Very well.
Despite not playing overly long, Memorial Park was defended by its tricky green complexes, and the field averaged more than a stroke over par. It’s one of just six courses to host a TOUR event this calendar year that can make that claim. Koepka even called it a little U.S. Open-like.
“It's very tough,” he said. “You know, with the rough being the way it is, you've got to put the ball in the fairway and then it's a second-shot golf course. You really have to putt a good strike on the ball, being able to spin it, be good with your long irons, there's quite a few long holes.
“But at the same time,” he added, “it makes it quite fun if you do miss the green because you have so many options. You could putt it, you could bump-and-run it, you could flop it. It really gives the player a lot of options where I feel like you're never quite out of it.”
For more on Memorial Park, click here.
Carlos Ortiz sinks a 22-foot birdie to win Vivint Houston Open
3. Day, DJ, Koepka have Masters momentum
No. 1 Dustin Johnson (T2, two back) and Memorial Park design consultant Brooks Koepka (T5) each shot 65 in the final round, and now head to Augusta, where each finished T2 in 2019.
It was Johnson’s first start since he quarantined for 11 days in a hotel room with the coronavirus, and while he was second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, his short game showed rust.
This was just the third top-10 finish of the 2020 calendar year for Koepka, who shot 72-70 in the first two rounds after putting a new driver in the bag. He switched back for the weekend (65-65).
Although more experienced than playing partners Ortiz or Sam Burns (72, T7), Jason Day shot 1-over 71 to fade to a T7 finish in Houston. He’s still chasing his first win since 2018, but at least the 12-time TOUR winner birdied three of the last six holes with Augusta up next.
A perennial contender at the Masters, Day is coming off a T5 finish there last year.
“It's just a work in progress,” he said after the third round of his recent swing changes, which he’s making to take pressure off his back. “I've got to be patient with it.”
For more on Johnson and Koepka, click here.
4. Gooch: I don’t have to be perfect
Ortiz became the seventh player to make Houston the site of his first win on TOUR since 2000, and third in the last five years after Lanto Griffin (2019) and Jim Herman (2016).
Talor Gooch also would have loved to have broken through for his maiden W, but couldn’t argue with a final-round 63 to finish solo fourth with his parents watching on site.
“I didn't have my A-game for the first three days,” he said, “and I found it today.” The lesson, he said, was more of a reminder: “I can get in the thick of things without having to be perfect,” he said. “I figured out I'm good enough that I don't have to be perfect to give myself a chance.”
5. Matsuyama closer to 2017 form
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama hasn’t won on TOUR since his three-victory season in 2017, but he could be back in the winner’s circle soon after his final-round 63 and T2 finish.
He led the field with 21 birdies or better, giving him the victory in the RSM Birdies Fore Love competition to earn $50,000 for a charity of his choice.
Now he’s headed for the Masters, where he was solo fifth in 2015, T7 in ’16, and T11 in ’17.
“You know, my game is getting better,” he said after recording the 14th bogey-free round of his career, “and it's definitely going to give me a lot of confidence going forward.”
TOUR TOP 10
The PGA TOUR Regular Season top 10 will receive bonuses for their efforts.
This week Last week Player Points 1 1 Bryson DeChambeau 675 2 2 Stewart Cink 671 3 3 Patrick Cantlay 604 4 4 Jason Kokrak 596 5 5 Matthew Wolff 585 6 6 Sergio Garcia 548 7 146 Carlos Ortiz 537 8 7 Martin Laird 532 9 8 Hudson Swafford 510 10 9 Brian Gay 500