Each Thursday, the Boston Globe hands out its weekly golf award, goes inside the numbers, and looks at the week ahead on the tours:
Player of the week: Jason Dufner. A month ago Dufner was looking for his first PGA Tour win after three runner-up finishes, two coming in 2011. Now he’s maybe the hottest player on the planet. He won in New Orleans, and just won the Byron Nelson, draining a 25-footer for birdie on the 18th hole to win by one. Prior to the victories he was the co-leader after two rounds at the Masters (he tied for 24th), and should play in his first Ryder Cup come September. Along with Hunter Mahan, Dufner is the only player with multiple tour wins this year.
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Slow play hogged the spotlight for the second straight weekend when Morgan Pressel was hit with a costly penalty in her semifinal match against Azahara Munoz. Instead of winning the 12th hole and going 3-up with six holes left, the slow-play infraction in match play is loss of hole, which reduced Pressel’s lead to 1-up. She went on to lose the match. Reaction – some critical of the LPGA’s decision, others defending it – has been varied but vocal. Change can’t possibly occur unless incidents like this take place, sending the message to golfers that there will be strong consequences for slow-pokes (take note, PGA Tour). Pressel knew the rule and ignored the warning after she and Munoz were put on the clock. She was in such blatant violation of it, which left the LPGA little choice. Bravo.
Better to be lucky than good
Did you see the timely, fortunate bounce Nick Flanagan got? Standing in the 18th fairway in the final round of the BMW Charity Pro-Am, Flanagan trailed by one stroke and needed a birdie to force a playoff. His approach from 190 yards airmailed the green, but caromed off the grandstands and bounced back onto the putting surface, stopping 12 feet away from the hole. Flanagan drained the birdie, then beat Cameron Percy on the third playoff hole for his fourth Nationwide Tour win.
He’s got the cool trophies (including the US Open’s), a sports celebrity girlfriend (Caroline Wozniacki of tennis fame), the world’s No. 1 ranking, and probably more money than he knows what to do with. But you haven’t arrived until you get a bobblehead made in your likeness, so consider Rory McIlroy officially legitimate now. McIlroy, the reigning US Open champion, will be given the popular mini-statue treatment by the San Francisco Giants during this year’s tournament, which is June 14-17 at the Olympic Club. The Giants will celebrate Irish Heritage Night on June 12 against the Astros, and a McIlroy bobblehead will be handed out to the first 4,000 who sign up for the special ticket package. The Giants were kind enough to provide us with a sneak peek. What do you think?
This week’s tour schedules:
PGA Tour: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Fort Worth, Texas. Purse: $6.4 million (winner’s share $1.152 million). Defending champion: David Toms. Number of top-10 players in field: Two (Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan). TV: Thursday/Friday 3-6 p.m. (Golf Channel), Saturday/Sunday 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
Champions Tour: Senior PGA Championship, Benton Harbor, Mich. Purse: $2 million (winner’s share $360,000). Defending champion: Tom Watson. TV: Thursday/Friday noon-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), Saturday/Sunday 3-6 p.m. (NBC).
European Tour: BMW PGA Championship, Surrey, England. Purse: 4.5 million euros. Defending champion: Luke Donald. TV: Thursday/Friday 9 a.m.-noon, Saturday/Sunday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (all on Golf Channel).
Tweet of the week: “Sounds like you played good today @Harris_English … 123 isn’t bad … for 18 yes but 36 that’s just insane!” – Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowlerPGA), in a nod to Harris English, who was the medalist at a British Open qualifier held in Plano, Texas, on Monday. English shot 60-63.