All day Sunday, I was contemplating themes for my Sunday night Tour recap post. Rory enters the winning circle again and ends his highly publicized ‘Tiger’ slump. Or Hooray for Billy, Billy’s number 1. Horschel Wins! If he made a late run, I was thinking of a Jim Furyk ends all doubts he can’t close tournaments, recaptures his finishing abilities. At the end of the day, it was Scotsman Martin Laird who stole all headlines.
The lowest score scratched on the treacherous TPC San Antonio course before the final round. was a 67 posted by some 5 golfers over the course of the week. Rory McIlroy saw those 67s and on Sunday raised them a 66 in hopes of winning for the first time since he became Nike’s newest poster child. Despite his excellent performance, his score wasn’t a blip on the radar of Mr. Laird, who cleanly and calmly strolled to victory with an absolutely fabulous final round 63 and a tournament low by 3 strokes. I don’t typically use the word ‘fabulous’, but Laird’s round personified the word.
Laird was eloquently efficient and curiously clutch. With his matching blue putter grip and shirt (see below), Laird holed extremely clutch birdie putts on the final holes of his round to close out the field and win comfortably over McIlroy by 2 strokes. He was gobbling on 16, 17 and 18 with three straight birdies, a term many golfers (along with bowlers) deem a ‘turkey’. Any turkey’s are impressive, but to finish the final 3 holes with one to win an event on Tour is impressive^2.
Laird’s accomplishment was staggering to me. To trump the field with a bogey-free 63 in conditions less than perfect was, as Rory even said, “phenominal.” Maybe it is an easier thing to accomplish, playing a few groups ahead of the leaders but Laird had yet to clinch a spot in the Masters. This was his last shot. He got off to a great start in Sunday’s final round and continued to pour in the birdies. He seemed almost comatose aside from a few triumphant fist pumps on the final holes. I was extremely impressed by his poise. Especially off a missed cut in Houston – very impressive Marty.
The victory was the 30-year olds first win since he won at Bay Hill in 2011 and the 3rd of his career. Laird surprisingly has yet to play on a European Ryder Cup team.
Aside from Laird, other events happened Sunday at the Valero Texas Open. Rory is back in form for the Masters as we all know, prepping to seize revenge on the green jacket’s elusive behavior in 2011. Billy Horschel proved his stature as a contender on Tour, stretching his cuts made streak to 21 and coming within a few strokes from his first career Tour victory.
Jim Furyk had an awesome chip in to finish his round, giving the crowd one last hoorah to finish the week in Texas. And how can I forget, Marcel Siem’s dashing ponytail which literally made me click ‘view’ on my cable to see if I was on the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
All in all, the story in Texas was a 63, a steely blue putter and a Scotsman in his new boots heading to Augusta.
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