Steven Bowditch chipped his way into happy places time and again to bag the AT&T Byron Nelson on familiar ground at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas. The native Australian, who now calls the Dallas area home, used his tight short game, solid putting stroke and a fortunate break at 17 to lock down the title by four shots over Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker and Scott Pinckney.
The relentless rainstorms that pummeled Texas and caused horrific devastation throughout the state made the fairway on the 14th hole unplayable on Friday, transforming the 406-yard par 4 into a pitch-and-putt 104-yard par 3. The change turned TPC Four Seasons into a par-69 event, the first since 1983, according to PGA Tour officials. Despite the weather and the shortened course, Bowditch kept his composure and came out of the event ahead.
Dustin Johnson had put some heat on the Aussie in the beginning stages of the final round, but blocked a booming drive way right and OB at the par-4 sixth. Johnson followed the disastrous shot by overcompensating and pounding the penalty drive left into high grass. It took a couple of chop shots out of the hay before he made a see-you-later eight on the hole.
When Bowditch launched his tee-shot at the elevated par-3 17th, he and the fans lining the hole were pretty much convinced that it was destined to go for a rinse in the green-side pond guarding the right side. It didn’t. The ball had enough carry to stay dry, rolling to and finally settling on the back-right portion of the putting surface. He sank that medium-range shot for a birdie. Bowditch made a kick-in par on 18, just a few feet away from where he married his wife Amanda in 2011, to close the deal at 18-under 259 and land the champ’s $1,278,000 check.
Next On The Tee: The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide
Jack Nicklaus hosts the PGA Tour this week in Ohio at his hometown Muirfield Village Golf Club. Tiger Woods returns to the scene of his five Memorial championships after a three-week break following a T69 in The Players Championship. Phil Mickelson makes his way to Jack’s Place, looking to build on the momentum he forged via a T4 at the Wells Fargo Championship. Jordan Spieth rolls into The Golden Bear’s tournament on the heels of a solid T30 performance in the AT&T Byron Nelson. This year’s Masters and Valspar champion is on a mission to hit the 2015 victory trifecta on Jack’s track.
Rickie Fowler flies back over the pond to compete in his first PGA Tour event since winning the Players Championship in a three-hole aggregate playoff over Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner. Last week, Fowler played the European Tour’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open where his luck of the Irish vanished in a flash on Saturday. Fowler had chipped in for eagle on the par-4 16th before constructing a pair of snowmen on 17 and 18 to kill his dream of stitching together back-to-back victories. He’s no doubt hoping to bring a quick end to his human elevator impression.
Muirfield Village Golf Club plays 7,392 yards long and is a par 72.
Favorites: Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose
Players To Watch: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler
Ron Patey covered the golf industry for 21 years as a special sections editor with Sun Media. During the past five years, Patey has been a golf writer for Examiner.com.