The golfer in control of his ball thrived on Sunday as conditions faltered late in the 2022 Honda Classic. Seb Straka, the most statistically efficient player on the field from tee to green in the final round, battled for 18th in Rainstorm Cannes It could be more suitable in an open tournament to defeat Shane Lowry with a blow and Kurt Kitayama with a blow.
This victory is the first on the PGA Tour in Straka’s career and the first by an Austrian in the organization’s history.
Straka’s birdie in the latter allowed him to finish a 3-under through the last five holes and hit 66, which almost went down in today’s round. It was a symbol of the complete control he had in the house.
“Hang in there,” Straka told NBC of what he’d remember about the week. “Round three definitely wasn’t my best, I just stuck there and had a good run. I hit the ball really well today and I can really benefit.”
Straca started the final round with five strokes over Daniel Berger, who finished fourth with his 74th shot, one ahead of the day’s worst round.
The turning point in the tournament came at 4 16th as Straka poured a birdie from outside the green. I hooked it up on top with Lowry for the first time and replayed the closing kick on No. 18. Straka, a gentle hitter from a tee, pounded the driver 334 yards into the finish, hit the green and two from 48 feet for the win.
Amid Berger’s mini-crash and last-hole lorry brawl, Straka’s presence and poise stood out, especially under the (literally) twisting weather conditions.
Straka’s win was a nice little start in which he finished in the top 20 in two major tournaments at the Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. It’s not a win that will change the career path for Straka, 29, but it could certainly change his season and create new opportunities. He belongs to the Masters now and has some momentum in the world rankings as well.
While his game likely isn’t quite up to the two guys he beat back home (Laurie and Berger), on this day, he was better than both. He had more control over what he was doing. He hit shots that were important and closed in when time was winning. It’s easy to try out into the future or talk broadly about what the wins mean, but like Straka’s show at 18th on Sunday, it’s often very rewarding to simply live in the moment. Grade: A +
Here are the rest of our classes from the 2022 Honda Classic.
Shane Lowry (second): Laurie, who was playing alongside Berger, seemed to be the man to pounce and clean up the mess. He played the last 29 holes free of stealth but couldn’t rally a late bird when he had to get it. He referred to the weather and he is not mistaken.
“I played golf, good enough to feel like winning the championship,” Lowry said. “That bad weather came just as we were firing off our starting point at 18, which was a bad break as I’ve had in a while. Yeah, it’s tough. There are obviously a lot of positives to take from the whole event. You know, I probably played some of the best Kinds of golf throughout my career this week, I feel, around a really tough golf course. And you know, I’m going to take that to The Players, and I hope to get there a week.”
Lowry hit a weak shot at No. 18 that seemed to be affected by the rain and had to play that entire hole in bad weather while Straca, who was playing in front of him, had to play his approach only in the rain. Lowry finished second on the field from the tee to the green and he’s already pleading with the golf gods to make it complete in just over a month. Grade: A
Reporter: They say breaks up off.
Laurie: “Hopefully in about five or six weeks in Augusta.”
Daniel Berger (fourth): I said Sunday morning that we should be ready to watch Berger Waltz take his fifth title, then lost his lead halfway through the ninth lead when he double-faulted in third and went 4 times a day through his first six holes. What were his issues? Well, how much time do you have? He hit the ball poorly but made up for it horribly by locking in a bunker late in front and cutting his back early. Sunday’s biggest problem was his racket. Berger made one (one!) shot taller than 29 inches.
“I felt really good today,” Berger said. “Honestly, I prepared really well and felt good. I just didn’t take that many shots, or any shots, and if you don’t shoot, you don’t score well. That’s what happened today.”
It’s tragic when you’re the top player in a field to fail to be the eighth in a row to convert a five-stroke (or more) lead from 54 holes, but I’d be more worried if Berger never wins. He wins. Maybe not as much as his statistic beard has to offer but enough that I’m not interested in attributing this breakdown to anything so bad in the PGA National. Grade: A-
Brooks Koepka (T16): The four-time main winner made a great finish on Sunday to climb into the top 20 on the leaderboard. This was actually an encouraging proposition considering the way he plays. With a couple of cuts missing in his last three tournaments (confined around T3 in Phoenix), it’s good to see him advance within the top 20 on a tough track in a field a far cry from the big leagues. He also finished in the top 20 from the tee to the green, another great mark with the Players and Masters Championship just around the corner. Grade: B +
Ricky Fowler (T42): As a former champion of this event, I thought this would be a good time to check out Fowler. He finished T42 in the week, which is actually his best finish of the year, but the stats weren’t very good. Fowler did the most damage to the green and was average (at best!) from the tee to the green. Fowler has some work to do if he hopes to qualify for the master’s in April. The part that must be more frustrating if you’re Fowler is that you saw (and felt) what it takes to be a top 10 player in the world, which it was when he won here in 2017, and now even smelling the Top 100 looks emaciated. B-grade
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