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 Jan. 27.
Leishman triumphs at Torrey
Marc Leishman celebrated Australia Day in style.
Leishman, 35, shot a seven-under 65 on Sunday at Torrey Pines to win the Farmers Insurance Open by one over Jon Rahm.
Beginning the fourth round four shots behind Rahm, Leishman posted five birdies in the first eight holes and seven through 13, a streak that coincided with Rahm stumbling out of the gate with a bogey on the first and a double on the third. Despite finding just three fairways on the day, Leishman maintained a healthy lead for most of the back nine, his lone mistake—a bogey on the 17th—atoned by a birdie at the last.
Rahm made a valiant charge with an eagle at the 13th and birdies at the 14th, 16th and 17th, but his eagle try at the final hole came up short (although apparently he didn’t know the score, which couldn’t have helped), giving Leishman the title.
It is Leishman’s fifth career PGA Tour win, each trophy captured in comeback fashion.
“Playing well helps,” Leishman said of his flair for coming from behind. “I didn’t actually hit it that well off the tee today, so I don’t know what the knack is. Putting, always, you’re not going to win tour events if you’re not putting well. I putted probably as good as I’ve ever putted today.”
Leishman was rolling it true, to the tune of a tournament-best 8.031 sg/putting. But it was a performance set up by his iron play, hitting 14 greens and finishing fifth in sg/approach. That it came on a national holiday Down Under—Leishman hails from Warrnambool, Australia—was not lost on the big fella.
“Australia’s going through some tough times at the moment,” Leishman said, referring to the fires that are devastating his country. “It’s gotten a little better, but it’s still bad. For us to do this and maybe bring some joy to everyone back home.”
Rory McIlroy and Brandt Snedeker finished three back.
Tiger strong in 2020 debut
It wasn’t happening for Tiger Woods on Sunday. That was evident early.
Woods bogeyed the first, the hole that has given the man nightmares. On the second, he appeared to hole his approach—the ball literally disappeared for a wink—only to defy physics and all that we hold to be good by popping out of the cup, bestowing one of the all-time disappointing birdies.
A birdie at the sixth was erased by a bogey at the 10th, and with Leishman on a red-figure tear, Woods was mostly a bystander the rest of the afternoon. Birdies at the 13th and 18th equated to a two-under 70 and four-round 279, a score six short of Leishman.
Nevertheless, the week was positive for Woods. He was third in scrambling and sixth in tee-to-green, the lone weak spot a shaky putter (60th in putts per GIR, 47th in sg/putting). Making his first appearance since the Presidents Cup and first official start since the Zozo Championship in the fall, the T-9 finish was as respectable and promising display as one could have hopped for at Torrey Pines, a once safe haven that has delivered Woods body blows in recent years.
Conversely, golf was secondary on Sunday…
Tiger, golf would mourn Kobe Bryant
Around 2 p.m. ET, the world learned that NBA legend Kobe Bryant had perished in a helicopter accident, with reports later stating Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna had also died in the crash. The news spread throughout Torrey Pines, leading to a sedated and somber crowd.
However, most of the players did not learn of his passing until after their round. Many of them remarked on Bryant afterwards, including Woods, who was friends with the Lakers star for two decades.
“It’s unbelievable the reality that he’s no longer here,” Woods said. “LeBron [James] breaks his [scoring] record, and he passes today.
“We really connected on more the mental side of it, the prep, how much it takes to be prepared,” Woods later added. “That’s where he and I really connected, because we’re very similar. We both came in the league—well, he came in the league and I turned pro right around the same time and we had our 20-year run together. It’s shocking.
“Life is very fragile, as we all know. You can be gone at any given time and we have to appreciate the moments we have.”
Max Homa, who grew up in Southern California and has cited Bryant’s mentality as a catalyst for his career revival, spoke with reverence and a broken heart.
“It’s devastating. He’s a hero to so many people,” said Homa. “The way he competed. I talk to Justin Thomas about this all the time, how much we try to emulate that. He’s a lot like Tiger for us.
“His mentality meant a lot to me. … He was Superman. He played basketball with about eight broken fingers. He shot free throws with a torn Achilles. It’s hard to imagine he could have the sniffles, let alone have something like this happen.”
Many others, like Thomas and Brooks Koepka, shared their thoughts on social media, while Jason Day summed up the sadness that has engulfed fans and athletes alike.
“It actually makes you feel physically sick,” Day said. “He obviously had an unbelievable career, and he was doing some great stuff off the basketball court. For this to happen to someone that a lot of people idolize, it makes you feel sick. There are really no words to describe what is happened. I cannot imagine what his wife his going through, what his family is going through.
“You never know when time is up. He was a very healthy man, in the prime of his life, accomplishing so many things off the court.”
According to multiple outlets, Bryant was on his way to a basketball game for his daughter. He was 41 years old.
Bryson hit with slow-play warning
Sebastian Soderberg played the fastest round in European Tour history on Sunday. Bryson DeChambeau, not so much.
DeChambeau, the focus of pace-of-play criticism over the past year, was hit with a slow-play warning during the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Cameras caught an official relaying the news to DeChambeau on the 10th hole. If there was any immediate frustration, DeChambeau kept it at bay by making a par on the hole, and held a share of the lead after the 14th.
Alas, DeChambeau would finish with four consecutive bogeys, falling to T-8 in the event.
How, or if, the warning affected Bryson is unknown, as according to Golf Digest’s John Huggan, DeChambeau’s agent declined to let the media speak to the American star. Considering DeChambeau has been adamantly against the cries lobbed in his direction, his take on the matter —DeChambeau is scheduled to play in this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open—should be a doozy.
But, lest you think the game is piling on DeChambeau, he did have one defender on Sunday: Eddie Pepperell. The Englishman, who has taken multiple jabs at Bryson’s deliberate pace, offered praise to Bryson following their round.
“We actually got on quite well,” Pepperell tweeted. “And to his credit, he’s sped up.”
Aussie delivers quote of the year
Leishman wasn’t the only Aussie to hit pay dirt on Sunday.
Lucas Herbert overcame a six-shot deficit thanks to a final-round 68 in Dubai, good enough to earn a spot in a playoff against Christiaan Bezuidenhout. After matching on the first hole of sudden death, Herbet bettered Bezuidenhout with a birdie at the par-5 18th to grab his first career win on the Euro Tour.
Following his victory, Herbet was asked, “With this to build on, what do you think you’re capable of?” Herbert, 24, delivered the clubhouse leader for Quote of the Year:
May we all aspire to the level of chill that’s inherent to Australians.
As Herbet later explained, “We’ve got a bottle of scotch at home to celebrate with back in Australia, so I can’t wait to get into that with the boys.” Drink up, mate. You deserve it.