Griffin wins Houston, Wiesberger stays hot and a pace-of-play story that's finally positive: What you missed
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 Oct. 14.
Griffin earns breakthrough in Houston
It wasn't too long ago that Lanto Griffin was broke. He had $30,000 on his credit cards, his mom was paying his health insurance and his career was going sideways. "I was ready to quit," he told Golf Digest last year.
Which makes his Sunday performance that much richer.
With a birdie at the 16th and a two-putt par from 60 feet on the final hole, Griffin won the Houston Open by one shot over Scott Harrington and Mark Hubbard.
"This is surreal,” Griffin said, fighting back tears.
It was, broadly speaking. After a bumpy rookie season on the PGA Tour in 2018—171st in the FedEx Cup forcing him to win back his card playing the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019—Griffin has five consecutive top-20 finishes in the fall. Yet his win is also surreal in the abstract. For Griffin is named after Lord Lanto, an ascended spiritual master. Thanks to his Texas triumph, Griffin has earned a trip to the Masters, which is as spiritual as the sport gets.
“It's mind-boggling,” Griffin added. “Just didn't seem like it would ever happen, but at the same time, I believe in myself, and I was extremely calm out there today. Just bizarre. … So many different things that I can't even fathom that are going to happen after this week.”
That includes a look at his bank account, which just received $1.35 million. But here's the best part of Griffin's Houston breakthrough and the treasures it will bring: You can't put a price on it.
Wiesberger's run continues
Bernd Wiesberger was No. 378 in the World Ranking as of May. His position has slightly improved in the ensuing months.
Wiesberger shot a a bogey-free six-under-par 65 at Olgiata Golf Club on Sunday to beat Matthew Fitzpatrick by one shot at the Italian Open.
“Amazing, isn’t it?" Wiesberger said. "It’s been a great summer for me. I’ve had a lot of good golf showing and lovely progress coming back after last year. I’m just enjoying my time out there, enjoying getting back into these situations.”
The Austrian is referring to a wrist injury that kept him on the sidelines for most of 2018 and led to a rough return at the beginning of this season. But Wiesberger has played inspired golf since, winning the Made In Denmark in May and the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in July, to go with a runner-up finish at the Irish Open.
Despite beginning the day three back of Fitzpatrick, Wiesberger tied things up with a birdie at the ninth hole, and gained a two-stroke lead minutes later thanks to a Fitzpatrick double. The advantage held until the final hole, with Fitzpatrick unable to convert a 10-foot eagle to force sudden death.
Wiesberger's third win of the year, and seventh of his career, moves him into first on the European Tour's Race to Dubai rankings with six tournaments remaining. Wiesberger also vaults to No. 22 in the World Ranking, a personal best that puts him on the 2020 Ryder Cup radar.
Pieters' Sunday-morning sprint
Finally, a pace-of-play story with a positive spin.
Thomas Pieters proved Sunday that professional golf doesn't need to be as long as a trans-Atlantic flight, touring Olgiata in two hours during the final round of the Italian Open. It was a finish that Pieters proudly trumpeted on Twitter.
At this point we would like to remind the reader that Eliud Kipchoge ran a marathon in this span on Saturday, so keep the confetti and streamers in the rafters. Conversely, that Pieters managed to shoot an even-par 71—a number he posted during the tournament's first two rounds—shows that one's score does not have to be sacrificed in the name of speed.
Then again, Pieters was not exactly taking a brisk walk, at least up the 18th hole …
For the record, we are all for golfers running between shots. If only to give Brooks Koepka a realistic shot at the Grand Slam next year.
Im builds Presidents Cup case
The International Team is in desperate need of vitality for this year's Presidents Cup. The Internationals haven't won the biennial event in two decades, and the 2017 match was such a smackdown it nearly ended a day early.
So International captain Ernie Els had to be thanking the golf gods at the sight of Sungjae Im this weekend.
Im, recently named the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, overcame a seven-shot deficit on Sunday to win the Korean Tour's Genesis Championship.
"I continue to rise," Im said after the win, the third in his career.
Granted, it was not the fiercest of competitions, and Im was aided by 54-hole leader Kyongjun Moon going south in the final round. Yet the fortitude and conviction it takes to hurdle seven shots are the attributes the International team—or any team, for that matter—crave.
Im, 21, is now No. 44 in the World Ranking. Els will name his four captain's picks in two weeks. A strong showing by Im the C.J. Cup, played in his native South Korea, could bring that number down to three.
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