7 things we learned from the fall portion of the PGA Tour's wraparound season
The seven-event fall swing of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season is in the books. With no more official tour events until the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January, we identify seven things we've learned from the early part of the slate:
1. Robert Streb is this year's Jimmy Walker (so far): Most people didn't make much of Walker's first tour title last fall, but he stayed near the top of the FedEx Standings the rest of the season and earned a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. This year, Streb could be poised for a similar breakout season after winning the McGladrey Classic and posting two other top 10s in five events. He'll carry a streak of 17 straight rounds of par or better into 2015.
2. Ryan Moore LOVES Malaysia: The CIMB Classic in Malaysia has been an official PGA Tour event for two years and Moore has won it both times. Moore defended his 2013 title with a three-shot win earlier this month. Those two victories account for half of Moore's career tour wins.
3. Big names take a break: In theory, the wraparound season was supposed to get more marquee golfers playing in the fall, but that hasn't been the case. Matt Kuchar is the only player ranked in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking who played a fall event in the U.S. and only the World Golf Championship event in Shanghai (HSBC Champions) drew what could be categorized as a strong field.
4. Bubba Golf is entertaining golf: One big name who took advantage of his lone fall start at the HSBC was Bubba Watson. And he did it in spectacular fashion by holing a 60-yard bunker shot for eagle on the final hole of regulation -- a shot-of-the-season candidate that will be tough for anyone to beat in 2015. Watson made a 20-footer for birdie to win on the first playoff hole and ascend to the highest world ranking (No. 3) of his career.
5. This year's rookie class is legit: Chesson Hadley headlined a relatively weak class of first-year players in 2013-14, but this season's rookies are already producing at a rapid rate. Nick Taylor picked up his first win, Tony Finau has four top 15s in five starts, Justin Thomas had a T-4, and Carlos Ortiz, the 2014 Web.com Tour player of the year, picked up his first career PGA Tour top 10. Speaking of Taylor. . .
6. Canada has some game: In addition to Taylor's win at the Sanderson Farms Championship, fellow Canadian David Hearn already has three top-16 finishes this season, and rookie Adam Hadwin already has a top 10. Graham DeLaet is nursing a neck injury, but is one of the game's best ball-strikers when healthy and there are others coming up through the ranks. Also, Taylor's victory in his 13th PGA Tour start probably isn't a fluke. Now 26, he was formerly the world's top-ranked amateur golfer during his days at the University of Washington.
7. Brooks Koepka is a stud: Technically, Koepka's first big win as a pro -- a victory in Turkey on the European Tour -- wasn't part of the PGA Tour fall season, but he was nearly as impressive when playing in the U.S. Koepka, 24, finished T-8 at the Frys.com Open and T-4 at the Shriners in his two PGA Tour starts. Koepka, who spent a couple seasons on the European Challenge Tour, is fully exempt on the PGA Tour this season for the first time. His win vaulted him into the top 50 in the world ranking (No. 35) and ensures he'll play in all four major championships in 2015. In other words, we've learned Koepka is someone you might want to keep an eye on in your Masters pool. . .