Fabian Gomez wins the Sony Open
Fabian Gomez held off a group of contenders on Sunday at the Sony Open, eventually beating Brandt Snedeker in a playoff to capture his second career PGA Tour win.
On Sunday at Waialae, five players were seemingly near the top of the board all day in the final round. Snedeker and Zac Blair were tied at the top at 16-under par at the start of the round, and they were joined by Gomez, Kevin Kisner and Si Woo Kim. A pair of double bogeys derailed Kisner, who ended up shooting an even par round, while a bogey on the 13th ended any hopes for the 20-year old Kim. Blair was solid all day despite two bogeys and gave us one of the sauciest moments of the early season, stuffing this shot from 275 yards and calling it pretty much right at impact:
Unfortunately for Blair, he fell one shot short of the playoff thanks to the 8-under par round fired by Gomez, who closed with birdies on 17 and 18 to post 20-under in the clubhouse. Included in that 20-under total was this unlikely birdie from off the green on the final hole:
Snedeker joined Gomez at 20-under with a birdie on the 18th, and the two would head back to the tee for the playoff. After both players made par, they went back to the tee to play the 18th again. Snedeker would miss the fairway and be forced to lay up out of the bunker, while Gomez had the green light from the middle of the fairway and he took advantage, parking one just on the front right portion of the green. He would two putt, forcing Snedeker to hit this putt to extend the playoff:
- 1. Fabian Gomez -20 *wins in playoff*
- 2. Brandt Snedeker -20
- 3. Zac Blair -19
- 4. Si Woo Kim -16
- T5. Kevin Kisner -15
- T5. Greg Owen -15
What The Win Means For Gomez
You’ll be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of Gomez prior to winning on Sunday. Even though I knew he won last year, I was struggling to place the actual tournament (FedEx St. Jude) until it was shown on the air by Golf Channel, but it’s clear based on what we saw on Sunday that Gomez is a real player. He made seven birdies in a row from the 6th to the 12th, and just as impressively, he bounced back after bogeys on 13 and 14 to get back into the tournament and he actually forced the other players to come get him. Throw in the fact that he beat a much more established player in Snedeker in the playoff and you have a pretty impressive performance. The embrace and tears with his caddie after winning on Sunday, just a few weeks after the passing of his caddie’s father, was as emotional of a moment as you’ll find on the PGA Tour.
The cool thing for Gomez is that at age 37, this win guarantees him more starts and an extension of his exempt status. He’s already going to the Masters this year, but now he has a guaranteed spot in the Players and the PGA Championship as well. More particulars listed below:
- Earns $1,044,000 for the win.
- 500 FedEx Cup points, moving him to fifth overall.
- Jumps from 112th to 55th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Just Like Us
- GIFs of the Week are posted here.
- Notable finishes: Graham DeLaet (T7), Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner (T9), Jimmy Walker, Morgan Hoffmann, Harold Varner III, Ryan Palmer, Gary Woodland, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson (T13), Luke Donald, Marc Leishman and Kevin Na (T28), Emiliano Grillo and Danny Lee (T33), Adam Scott (T56), Steve Stricker and Tony Finau (T64).
- Notables to miss the cut: Chris Kirk, Justin Thomas, Keegan Bradley and Graeme McDowell.
- Zac Blair really impressed me this week, even though he leans towards Keegan on the fidgety scale. As long as he doesn’t end up playing as slowly as Keegan does, we’ll be all good.
- On a side note, Blair was caught up in a rules situation after his round on Sunday when it appeared that he may have anchored his hybrid against his chest when he was putting from off of the green. He was asked about it after the round and was cleared of any wrongdoing, but man, you can definitely see this being a major storyline as the season goes along. Just wait until it happens in a bigger event with a bigger name player.
- Overall, it’s been a great start to the season for Snedeker, who has put himself in a great spot to be back on the Ryder Cup team after missing out in 2014. After the round, he said that he didn’t really have a feel for the greens all week, which makes a little bit of sense when you look at his +.659 strokes gained for the week with the putter. Keep in mind that this is a player who still shot 20-under par while not really having a great week on the greens, so he’s someone to really keep an eye on.
- Si Woo Kim’s golf swing is gorgeous to watch, but I can only imagine the heckling he gets for having his caddie line him up for every shot and putt, which is something you’d think was more important for the USGA and R&A to tackle than anchoring, but hey, maybe they’ll get to it at some point.
- Kevin Kisner had a great week but just didn’t have it on Sunday. Have to think that much like Snedeker, he’s put himself in a good spot for the Ryder Cup in September.
- On anchoring again: Tim Clark was one of the biggest opposers to the rule, partly because he has a disability related to his forearms, so using a “regular” putter has always been an issue for him. So, he went out and tested all kinds of putters to get himself ready for the season, and he had a pretty great week overall with a strokes gained putting total of +1.201. Small sample size for sure, but still a great first step.
- The flip side of that was Adam Scott who managed to finish at 7-under par despite a strokes gained putting total of -.747.
- Good to see Luke Donald have a solid start to the season. He didn’t have the best weekend with scores of 71 and 68, but the opening pair of 65’s was really good and it’s not like he blew up on the weekend. It’ll be interesting to see what happens from here with him and how he progresses throughout the season.
- Must reads for the week: Alan Shipnuck on Kevin Na, Jeff Babineau with a great story on Jacklin Jean at the Latin American Amateur and Richie Hunt’s annual Pro Golf Synopsis.
The Champions Tour gets their season underway in Hawaii, while the PGA Tour moves to California for the newly named CareerBuilder Challenge, formerly the Humana/Bob Hope where Phil Mickelson will make his 2016 debut. The main event is on the European Tour where Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler head up a world class field at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.