Merritt's experience guides him toward first win
August 02, 2015
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Troy Merritt reacts after making birdie on the 72nd hole en route to winning his first career title. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. -- A few observations following Sunday’s final round of the Quicken Loans National at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club:
THINGS TO KNOW
Merritt gets first win. Five years ago, Troy Merritt won a playoff for the $1 million Kodak Challenge, a since-defunct season-long contest that designated a hole at 30 tournaments with the prize money going to the player with the lowest total for the year.
It was the biggest payday of his career -- until Sunday when he shot 67 to win the Quicken Loans National by three strokes over Rickie Fowler for his first career victory on the PGA TOUR.
The win locks up his card for two more years -- something that was in jeopardy coming into the week after five straight missed cuts -- and gets him among other things in the field for next week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, the PGA Championship, secures a spot in the upcoming FedExCup Playoffs, a trip to Kapalua in January and a spot in next year’s Masters.
“It's been a long journey the last five, six years,” Merritt said. “Several life changes, couple moves, two boys, but I wouldn't have done it any other way.”
As for that playoff a handful of years ago? One of the players he beat that day was the same one he beat on Sunday.
Success doesn’t always translate. When Merritt was in college, he won a record 21 tournaments, including seven his senior year at Boise State.
Professional success didn’t come nearly as often.
After his rookie year in 2010, when he also secured his card for the following season in the year’s final event (and won that $1 million), Merritt made just eight cuts in 23 starts the next year on TOUR.
He bounced back, but it wasn’t easy on him.
“Just to know that I can play this game and not having the results,” Merritt said when asked what the most frustrating part about the last five years was. “When you struggle and can’t find it, it’s frustrating. But I’ve had some peace on and off the course the last two years and it’s really helped me out this year.
“When you’ve had so much success throughout your life and now you’re just trying to keep your head above water for years and years and years it’s tough. It’s a culture shock.”
If there was anything that helped him through missing the last five cuts, it was that experience -- and that he’d shot over par just twice in those 10 rounds.
Fowler’s wild finish. Rickie Fowler went eight holes Sunday without making par. In the end, it ended up costing him his second victory of the year.
“I’ve been swinging really well,” Fowler said. “I made some mistakes here and kind of put myself behind the 8-ball today but really looking forward to next week, one of my favorites courses of the year, Firestone. Then we got the final major and off into the Playoffs. Great time to be playing well.”
Among the many mistakes: failing to get up-and-down on the fourth, seventh and ninth holes. Then he missed a four-footer to save par on the 10th and three-putted from 50 feet on 13.
Fowler rallied with three birdies over his last five holes and made five in his last eight, but the sloppy mistakes were too much to overcome.
Tiger ties for 18th. For just the second time this year Tiger Woods recorded three rounds in the 60s in the same tournament, capping his week at the Quicken Loans National with a 68 to finish at 8-under 276. As a result, he moved up to 185th in the FedExCup standings as he tries to avoid missing the Playoffs for a second straight year. Only the top 125 qualify following the Wyndham Championship in three weeks.
As for Woods’ assessment of his day and week?
“Today I started off well and really hit the ball well and I looked at the whole week in general,” Woods said. “Felt like I made some big strides.”
To read more about Woods’ round, click here.
Tough 12th. The 490-yard par-4 12th at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club played as the most difficult hole of the week -- and was at its toughest on Sunday when the tee was pushed back another 10 yards.
The result? Just three birdies -- by Rickie Fowler, Ernie Els and Danny Lee -- and a staggering 31 bogeys, 13 double bogeys and four “others.” It played to a stroke average of 4.88.
Even those near the lead weren’t immune to the carnage with only six of the top 20 names on the leaderboard at the end of the day making par or better there.
Bill Haas wasn't one of them. The leader with Merritt by two at one point Sunday, Haas bogeyed 12 and played his next six holes in 4 over with three bogeys, a double, a birdie and a par to shoot 70 and finish six strokes back in a tie for fourth.
Troy Merritt rolls into the winners circle at the Quicken Loans National
QUOTE OF THE DAYIt's amazing how you can dream about winning a golf tournament for your entire life. And you've got it scripted. And when it happens, you're not thinking. You don't remember what your name is. You're just reacting.
CALL OF THE DAY
Mark Immelman calls Troy Merritt's birdie at No. 18 to win the Quicken Loans National.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Troy Merritt’s incredible walk-off birdie to win at Quicken Loans
Headed to Akron! pic.twitter.com/lpU6YogUqf— Danny Lee (@dannygolf72) August 3, 2015