Smylie Kaufman became the second rookie winner in two tournaments of the new PGA Tour season, claiming victory in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Smylie Kaufman closed with a superb, 10-under-par 61 at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas and then faced a two-hour wait to see if any of those following could match the 16-under-par clubhouse total he had set.
The 23-year-old made seven birdies and an eagle over his final 11 holes to post the target number at Summerlin. Kevin Na had a chance to match him and was tied with Kaufman on 16-under after a birdie at the 16th. But he duffed a chip at the 17th and was unable to make up for the mistake on the home hole.
Na ended the week in a tie for second with five other players, just a shot behind Kaufman. Two of the men who shared the runner up spot were also rookies – Patton Kizzire and Brett Stegmaier.
4 Talking points from the Shriners Open
1 – This was a career-changing week for Kaufman. He earned his card for this season by finishing 6th on last season’s Web.com Tour. After coming home in 29 at TPC Summerlin and securing this win, he will now receive an invitation to play at next year’s Masters.
“It’s unbelievable,” Kaufman said. “If you would’ve told me that I had a round at the Masters … if somebody was going to take me out and not completely with the Masters, just to play Augusta National, I would have freaked out. But now I’m playing the Masters. It’s a joke. It’s unbelievable.”
Following Emiliano Grillo’s victory in last week’s Frys.com Open, this is the second straight week that a Web.com Tour graduate has tasted success on the main circuit.
2 – Kevin Na finished second for the second week running. At the Frys.com Open he lost in a playoff to Emiliano Grillo, this time out he was beaten by another rookie who played an awesome final round.
“I’m sure he’s a great player. I don’t know him very well,” A shocked Na said of Kaufman. “But he played a hell of a round, and hats off to him.”
3 – William McGirt was another man to come from nowhere in the final round. He fired a 62 that included an incredible run of holes. He was nine-under par for a nine-hole stretch ending with an eagle on the par-5 16th.
“I found something out there with the putter,” he said. “Starting where I started the day, to end up where I did, I’m tickled to death.”
4 – Jimmy Walker was one of the favourites going into this week and he put himself into a strong position with one round to play, going out in the second to last group on Sunday. But be stumbled to a closing 78 and fell right back into a tie for 50th place – his final round was 17 shots worse than Kaufman’s. Rickie Fowler closed with a 68 to end the week tied for 25th.
Rickie Fowler swing sequence:
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada
Purse: $6,400,000, par 71
1 Smylie Kaufman (USA) 67 72 68 61 268 $1,152,000
T2 Patton Kizzire (USA) 65 69 72 63 269 $355,733
T2 Cameron Tringale (USA) 68 65 70 66 269 $355,733
T2 Jason Bohn (USA) 68 66 69 66 269 $355,733
T2 Alex Cejka (Ger) 67 70 66 66 269 $355,733
T2 Kevin Na (USA) 68 66 68 67 269 $355,733
T2 Brett Stegmaier (USA) 66 66 68 69 269 $355,733
T8 Chad Campbell (USA) 65 67 70 68 270 $192,000
T8 William McGirt (USA) 66 73 69 62 270 $192,000
10 Russell Henley (USA) 68 69 68 66 271 $172,800
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage