The Upshot: Bowditch hangs tough for first victory
Cards final-round 76 to survive a host of challengers at windy TPC San Antonio
March 30, 2014
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Aussie Steven Bowditch earned his first PGA TOUR victory and trip to the Masters. (Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO -- Steven Bowditch won his first PGA TOUR title Sunday at the Valero Texas Open, finishing one shot ahead of Will MacKenzie and Daniel Summerhays. Bowditch finished at 8-under 280 after a final-round 76.
Bowditch's final-round score was the highest by a winner since Vijay Singh at the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. The field averaged was 73.8 on a windy day at TPC San Antonio.
“I was able to stay pretty positive, to be honest,” Bowditch said. “After a period of time out there, with the way I was playing, I kind of just accepted the fact that I was going to be playing from cactuses, moving rocks, missing putts and just had to deal with it every time. It happened so frequently that it never really surprised me. I was just lucky enough that the wind was up enough today that no one else could squeeze in there and shoot a good score.”
Bowditch started the final round with a three-shot lead over Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe, but was 3 over on the first four holes and made the turn in 3-over 39 to fall into a tie for the lead with Kuchar.
Kuchar made bogey on three of the back nine’s first five holes, though, and shot a 39 of his own on the back side. Kuchar and Loupe tied for fourth at 6 under after both shooting 75 on Sunday.
Bowditch rose from 155th to 26th in the FedExCup after his 500-point win. He also earned his first Masters invitation; the Aussie will make his Masters debut the same year that Adam Scott defends the country's first Masters victory. A trio of Australians -- John Senden, Aaron Baddeley and Scott Gardiner -- greeted Bowditch near the 18th green to congratulate him on his victory. Senden, winner of the recent Valspar Championship, was fittingly wearing a white Masters T-shirt.
Bowditch’s lead was down to one shot after a bogey at the par-3 13th, but he birdied the next hole to regain a two-shot lead.
Bowditch, who ranked 64th in strokes gained-putting this week, switched putters after the first round, but said that is something he does on an almost weekly basis.
“After I played well on Thursday, with my ballstriking, I thought, ‘Hang on a moment, I might be able to get in contention this week with the way I was hitting the ball.’ I just wanted to go back to a putter that I was completely comfortable with,” he said.
The change worked, and it helped change his life.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: When asked how he was going to prepare for his upcoming Masters debut, Bowditch joked, “I don’t even know how to get there.”
He’s not completely unfamiliar with the course, though. He’s played it on PlayStation. “So I guess I know some of the breaks,” he said.
Here’s what Bowditch has to look forward to, courtesy of Luke Donald:
That's 3 Aussie winners in the last 7 events on the PGA tour, well done Steven bowditch #Augustabound— david speedie (@speeds57) March 30, 2014
VALERO TEXAS OPEN: RD. 4 HIGHLIGHTS
Bowditch takes home first TOUR title
RUSH HOUR: Matt Kuchar was tied with Bowditch for the lead with nine holes remaining. They were at 9 under and three clear of the field. Kuchar has won six times on TOUR; Bowditch was seeking his first TOUR victory. It was No. 11 in the Official World Golf Ranking vs. No. 339.
In the spirit of March Madness, Bowditch pulled the upset. Kuchar made bogey on three of the back nine’s first five holes and eventually finished fourth, three shots back. He three-putted Nos. 10 and 14.
“I felt enough rushed, I felt like it led to a couple mistakes: the three-putt on 10, rushing a little bit, the wedge shot on 11, the wind was kind of up and down and I felt like I just had to pull the trigger,” Kuchar said. “Being on the clock is just stressful. It’s not something you’re used to, so I felt a little more rushed, a little more stressed. Particularly with windy, difficult conditions like today, you just need to think things through more than normal.”
Kuchar’s fourth-place finish was his fifth top-10 in eight starts this season.
CARD-CARRYING MEMBER: Daniel Summerhays’ runner-up finish at the Valero Texas Open matched his career-best finish. He didn’t win, but there was one big bonus to his good play. He secured his playing privileges for next season.
“It’s always a relief once you’ve made enough to keep your card, keep your job for next year. That is a big relief,” Summerhays said. “A lot of these guys are out here trying to win every week. I do want to win, but I’m in a position now where I keep my card for another year. That’s a big deal for me. It’s a blessing. I feel really grateful.”
ON THE RISE: Will MacKenzie had to regain his PGA TOUR card at the Web.com Tour Finals. Now he’s in contention for the FedExCup. MacKenzie’s second-place finish was his third top-6 finish in his past four starts. He’s now 11th in the FedExCup standings.
“I got nervous a couple times. When I got to 6 under, I thought, ‘Man, here I come. I’m back in this a little bit.’ I got really excited. It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling,” MacKenzie said.
MacKenzie was second in strokes gained-putting this week.
CALL OF THE DAY: Fred Albers of PGA TOUR Radio calls Steven Bowditch's finish at the 18th to win the 2014 Valero Texas Open.
IN THE LOUPE: The Valero Texas Open was Loupe’s eighth start of his rookie PGA TOUR season. His first time contending for a TOUR title didn’t start as planned, though. He hit into bunkers on six of his first eight holes, and was 4 over par after seven holes. It looked like Loupe’s three days of hard work might be spoiled by a bad Sunday. He played his final 11 holes in 1 under – making 10 pars and a birdie – to salvage a 75 and tie for fourth with Kuchar, who also shot 75.
Loupe rose from 170th to 113th in the FedExCup. He missed the cut in his first five starts of the season, but has finished no worse than 27th in his past three starts.
COMING TO AN END: Chesson Hadley’s chance at the Masters ended Sunday with a final-round 80 at TPC San Antonio. Hadley started the day in 14th, three shots outside of a tie for sixth. He needed to finish seventh or better to qualify for the Masters.
He said the previous day that he was going to, “fire at every flag” in the final round. He made nine bogeys and one birdie Sunday, though.
Hadley has struggled each of the past two Sundays. He started the final round of the previous week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard in fifth place, but shot 79.
Ryan Palmer also had a chance Sunday to qualify for the Masters via the OWGR. He needed a top-three finish, and started the final round in eighth, four shots back of a tie for second. He shot 82.
Oops!— Chesson Hadley (@chadleyprogolf) March 30, 2014