Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here’s every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of April 1.
Kisner continues Match Play dominance
The Presidents Cup teams won’t be finalized until the end of the season. Nevertheless, captain Tiger Woods should pencil in Kevin Kisner for the red, white and blue.
Kisner, whose sweet swing belies a competitive spirit that’s anything but, disposed of Matt Kuchar 3&2 in the finals to win the WGC-Dell Match Play at Austin C.C.
“I was thinking out there it might be the hardest [event] just because you have the physical aspect more than any other week,” Kisner said. “It was grueling, definitely with the winds, the temperature today. Overall it was a long week, but I prevailed.”
Playing seven rounds in five days is a gauntlet in itself. But Kisner’s obstacle course was particularly taxing: To get to Kuchar (who’s already notched two wins this season), the Kiz had to survive a round robin of Tony Finau, recent-winner Keith Mitchell, and Ian Poulter (beating the Englishman in a playoff) before taking down Haotong Li, Louis Oosthuizen and world-beater Francesco Molinari. Though both competitors were showing fatigue by the final nine, Kisner eagled the par-5 11th for a 2 Up lead, and dropped the hammer on the 16th:
The run was especially impressive given Kisner reached the finals last year before losing to Bubba Watson.
“Last year I felt like I rushed around to get ready to play in the second match,” Kisner said. “I ran around in eight really fast, ran back out. Tried to go through my whole normal routine in an hour to get ready, and that’s just not feasible and how much golf you played. I hung out, took a shower, chilled out, got some treatment on my body and really went to the range at 2:05, and teed off at 2:25…I think that greatly helped my mental side of the game as much as anything. I wasn’t overhyped for it and just tried to go play a casual round of golf.”
As for the Team USA talk? Kisner—whose exclusion from the 2018 Ryder Cup grew in stature following the pummeling in Paris—sounds like he’s ready to suit up in Australia.
“That’s the most fun I’ve probably ever had playing golf was playing team golf,” Kisner said. “I played team sports growing up and missed the camaraderie of team golf and being a part of it, especially the way we won [in 2017 at Liberty National]. It was so much fun…I’d love to get a try on foreign soil and see if we couldn’t be the bad guys.”
“Try?” Think it’s safe to say the Internationals already consider Kiz a bad, bad man.
Kuch, Garcia involved in concession controversy
Even by the vagaries of match play, this Kuchar-Sergio Garcia story is as idiosyncratic as golf can get.
For those that missed the Saturday fireworks, Garcia and Kuchar were locked in a quarterfinal duel when things went awry at the par-3 seventh. Trailing Kuchar by one, Garcia missed a seven-footer for par to win the hole, his ball coming to rest an inch or two away from the cup. It was a distance even Suzann Pettersen would concede as good.
However, Garcia went after his putt and gave it a quick-rake, and the ball lipped out. Due to the Spaniard’s swiftness, Kuchar did not have a chance to concede the putt. As such, Garcia lost the hole.
It was a circumstance that clearly did not sit well with Garcia, evidenced by this reaction at the following green:
Cameras then caught a tense back and forth between Kuchar and Garcia at the 10th hole. Tensions (relatively) returned to normal for the rest of the match, which Kuchar won, 2 up.
But the oddness returned when Kuchar gave his side of the story to the media after the round.
“Sergio, I saw, missed it. And as I looked up again, I saw he had missed the next one,” Kuchar said. “And I saw him off the green, I said, ‘Sergio, I didn’t say anything, I’m not sure how this works out.’ I didn’t want that to be an issue. So I asked [rules official] Robby Ware, I said, ‘Listen, I don’t know how to handle this, but I didn’t concede the putt, Sergio missed the putt.’ Sergio said, totally his mistake. He knew he made a mistake.”
In essence, all of this could have been avoided had Kuchar not called on an official. So simple misunderstanding, right? But then Kuchar continued, and here’s where things went off the rails.
“I said, I didn’t want that to be how a hole was won or lost. And he said, Well, you can concede a hole. I’m not sure I’m ready to concede a hole. And just the rule played out with Robby stating how the rule works. It’s not a— certainly I don’t use any gamesmanship, it’s not a match-play tactic, it’s not anything. It was just one of those mistakes that Sergio made. And I said it’s kind of one of those tough deals in the game of golf.”
The remark that Sergio asked Kuchar concede the next hole clearly caught the media off guard, so much so that Kuchar was immediately asked, “Sergio potentially suggested you conceded the hole?” Kuchar was steadfast in his response.
“I apologized. I said, I don’t like the way this was played out. He said, You can concede a hole. I thought about it and said I don’t like that idea, either. … What didn’t I like about it? It’s hard to say other than I kind of just stuck to what the rules official said the rule was.”
For his part, Garcia admitted as much in a separate talk with the media.
“Yeah, it’s a loss of hole. I understand that. The only issue that it was, was that Kuch was like, I didn’t see it good, but I don’t want to take the hole. I don’t want to do this like this. So I was like OK, it’s fine, what do you want to do? Because there are many options that you can do if you don’t want to take the hole, even though I’ve already lost that hole. But obviously he didn’t like any of the options that were there.
“It’s fine. At the end of the day, I’m the one that made the mistake.”
Kuchar also took ownership for how things played out. “It happened so fast. I knew I hadn’t conceded it. But it was never a tactic or anything. And as I told Sergio, he said, ‘That was my bad. I know I screwed that one up.'”
As for the icy conversation on the 10th? Kuchar merely said the two were trying to get “on the same page.”
Anyway, whoever is manning the “Weeks since last rules controversy” sign can flip that bad boy to “0.” The biggest takeaway from this ordeal? The thought of telling your 2018 self that Matt Kuchar is involved in two of the three biggest controversies of 2019.
Euro streak continues thanks to G-Mac
It might have been an all-American final in Austin. But the Europeans’ winning streak on tour continued.
A final-round 69 was enough cushion for Graeme McDowell at the alternative-event Corales Puntacana, as the former U.S. Open champ’s 270 score outpaced Chris Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes by one.
“This is big,” said McDowell. “This is big for those who stood by me the last few years because it’s been a rough few years. It’s been a grind.”
Has it ever. A fixture among the world’s top 30 for the better part of a decade, the Northern Irishman’s game had tanked the last few seasons as family and business interests diverted his attention outside the ropes, resulting in the 39-year-old losing his tour card at the end of last year.
Yet McDowell showed signs of life at Bay Hill, and entered the final day at the Dominican Republic tournament in the lead. Despite opening with birdies on four of his first seven holes, McDowell was caught by Stroud on the back. But McDowell birdied to Stroud’s bogey on the par-3 17th, and a three-putt by Stroud on the final hole sealed the deal.
With McDowell’s win, a European player has now won a PGA Tour event in four straight weeks, the first time that’s happened in golf’s modern era according to 15th Club’s Justin Ray. So, for those reading the tea leaves, worth noting that Rory McIlroy remains the Masters favorite at 8-1.
Journeyman wins with son on the bag
Father’s Day is on June 16. For the Gallacher clan, it came early.
The final round of the European Tour’s Hero Indian Open was chaotic, with eight players shooting in the 80s on the eccentric—some would say cartoonish—DLF Golf & Country Club in New Delhi. Some victims of the Mickey Mouse set-up included Julian Suri—whose two-shot lead with five to play vanished after it took him six tries to get down from just off the green at the 461-yard 14th—and India’s Rahil Gangjee, who carded a sextuple-bogey 11 on the 624-yard closing hole. Stephen Gallacher also came on the business end of DLF (more like FML, am I right?), making a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 456-yard seventh thanks to two lost balls.
However, the journeyman was one of the few players to get in his own punches, answering with seven birdies on the day. Despite his quad, Gallacher’s one-under 71 was good enough for a one-shot victory over Masahiro Kawamura.
“I got off to a ropey start. Five off the tee on seven wasn’t good,” Gallacher said. “I was pretty calm even after that hole though. There’s nothing really much you can do other than keep hitting shots and focus on the process. “
It was the first win in five years for the 44-year-old Gallacher, and his fourth career victory. Better yet, it carried some emotional weight as his 17-year-old son Jack was on the bag.
“He’s a great caddie, quite chilled,” Gallacher said. “When you’re 44 you’re in the sort of twilight so it’s a big win for me. It was good to finish it out the way I did.”
Eagle of the Year
Kevin Dougherty was author of one of the most heartbreaking viral moments in golf last season when his bid for a tour card came up, literally, one inch short. Though the following clip doesn’t carry the same amount of gravitas, it resides on the other end of the happiness spectrum.
Playing in the Web.com Tour’s Savannah Golf Championship, Dougherty’s drive found the drink at the par-4 fifth at the Landings Club, but the ball was not totally submerged. The 27-year-old, clearly cognizant of the potential dry-cleaning bill at hand, husked his shirt for the recovery shot. A fiscal responsibility that added panache to this unbelievable sequence.
After watching this approximately 19 times, still not sure if we’re more impressed by the execution of the shot or that the video is edited—with delayed cuts to Dougherty to the flag to the crowd—like a junior high AV club film.
Dougherty didn’t do much else in Savannah, a two-over 74 dropping him 25 spots to a T-37 finish at the event (won by Dan McCarthy). But, at least in this viral moment, he came out on top.