Sang-Moon Bae shot a one-under-par 69 to win the 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship by two strokes on Sunday, beating out major champion Keegan Bradley at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas.
This marks Bae’s maiden victory on the PGA Tour, and he did it in style in being pressed by world-class competitors in the final round. As a former leading money winner on the Japan Tour, the 26-year-old Bae’s game was bound to translate to a PGA victory eventually.
The fortitude he displayed in weathering a tough stretch in the middle of the round and the aggressive lines he took over the final two holes was impressive en route to clinching his breakthrough triumph.
Below is an overview of the top performers, and for complete scores, head over to PGA.com.
Note: All statistics, videos and other information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of PGATour.com.
The day got off to a marvelous start for Bae, as he birdied the par-four third hole before rattling off consecutive birdies at Nos. 5 through 7. The beginning of that run came at the par-three fifth, with this wonderful 22-foot putt:
Bae followed that up with this laser-like approach to the next hole, where he subsequently converted from close distance:
Overcoming adversity was the name of the game, though. Blustery conditions made it difficult enough, as Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman highlighted earlier in the day:
20-25 mph winds (with gusts up to 35 mph) for final round of HP Byron Nelson Championship. Play is underway. — Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) May 19, 2013
As he approached the turn, Bae dunked his approach to the par-four ninth hole into the water, resulting in a double bogey. That was followed by another dropped shot, and when he lipped out for par on No. 15, he found himself knotted with Bradley at 12-under.
Fortunately for Bae, Bradley had flatstick issues throughout the round, and failed to birdie until the 15th. A cruel lip-out for birdie on the par-five 16th from inside four feet put Bae back in the lead, as the Korean birdied that hole himself:
Shane Bacon of Yahoo! tweeted a clever play on words after Bradley’s short miss:
Kee-gah! – Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) 2:19 PM – 19 May 2013
Bae boldly fired at the flag—perhaps unintentionally—at the par-three 17th and managed to two-putt for par. Bradley airmailed the green with a six-iron and failed to get up and down, which thwarted his bid to become a two-time champion at this event.
Let’s take a look at the other noteworthy developments from yet another thrilling week on the PGA Tour.
Schwartzel’s Short Game Fizzles
The 2011 Masters champion struck it as well as anyone in the final round, but similar to Bradley, his putter let him down frequently. Still, Schwartzel had a shot at applying pressure playing a few groups ahead, but he bogeyed the finishing hole.
That wasted a phenomenal ball-striking round in which Schwartzel hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation and gave himself golden opportunities throughout.
Having said that, it was still a positive sign for Schwartzel, and he will be in the field next week at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
As the year’s second major approaches, the sweet-swinging South African will to continue his strong play. If he can maintain his premium ball-striking, Schwartzel should be counted amongst the favorites at the U.S Open.
Martin Kaymer Returns to Form
Though he’s shown flashes over the past couple of years—most notably as Team Europe’s Ryder Cup hero—the German didn’t have a Top 10 on Tour this season prior to Sunday.
Kaymer finally got off that skid, and showed that his game could hold up even in the midst of arduous conditions.
Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram documented what Kaymer had to say following the round, specifying how the Byron Nelson had a major championship-like atmosphere in terms of difficulty:
Martin Kaymer said playing at #Nelson in challenging winds “feel a little like the British Open without rain.” @hpbnc
2:34 PM – Jimmy Burch (@Jimmy_Burch) 19 May 2013
As the former top-ranked player in the world and 2010 PGA Championship winner, there’s no question that Kaymer has the talent to be an elite golfer. Whether this serves as a precursor to long-term improvement remains to be seen, though.
Ryo Ishikawa’s 2013 Inception
At just 18 years old, the Japanese prodigy fired a round of 58 in a professional event, which raised expectations significantly on his extremely promising career.
Ishikawa hasn’t lived up to the hype to say the least since then, with his strong finishes being too few and far between to gain any traction or momentum. This week was a different story, however, as he finished with a flurry to sneak into the Top 10.
The PGA Tour’s official Twitter page noted how long it had been since Ishikawa had experienced similar success:
A birdie at 15 and an eagle at 16 and Ryo Ishikawa has moved into a share of 10th. Looking for 1st top 10 since 2012 @MemorialGolf. #HPBNC – PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) 11:29 AM – 19 May 2013
Though he did drop a shot at the 18th hole, it was nevertheless wonderful to see one of golf’s premier young guns recapture some of the magic that raised his profile so significantly at such a young age.
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