A 2012 Texas Longhorns national championship golfer gets his first PGA Tour win at the John Deere Classic to play his way into the Open Championship. Where have I heard that before?
In 2013, it was Jordan Spieth who launched his stratospheric career at TPC Deere run, and six years later his former teammate Dylan Frittelli did the same. Frittelli shot a 7-under 64 on Sunday (to back up a 6-under 65 on Saturday) to beat Russell Henley (who shot a 61 on Sunday!) by two strokes.
It was an odd victory in that Frittelli finished well ahead of the leaders, but such is life when you go 13 deep on the weekend. It’s also nothing new for this event. Five of the last six winners have finished 20 under or better.
Frittelli played brilliantly all week, but especially on the weekend. He made one bogey in 72 holes, which came on the first hole on Friday, and he saved a sub-standard ball-striking week with some all-time putting and chipping (he finished second in both categories for the week).
The victory also gets him back to his roots (sort of). After his success at Texas, the South African Frittelli played mostly in Europe, and this was just his 33rd PGA Tour start. Next week will be his 34th, though, as he gets into the Open at Royal Portrush with this title. Spieth, by the way, finished T44 at the 2013 Open after winning this tournament.
A win like this is always multi-faceted. For Frittelli, it’s the culmination of a lifetime worth of work. It provides job security for somebody who was well outside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup. It gets him into his third Open, just his second major of 2019 and it also nets him more money than he’d won in his entire career combined on the PGA Tour.
“It’s still sinking in. It means a lot,” Frittelli told CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis. “Perspective is going to change big time. I’m going to jump on that flight and head over to the Open next week. Hopefully I can be calm by the time I get there, but I’m sure it’s going to be a fun flight.”
By any measurement — statistical or otherwise — Frittelli was perfect on the weekend at TPC Deere Run. For his efforts, he’ll reap all the rewards of a first-time champ on the PGA Tour. And hey, if he follows even one of the footsteps his former teammate walked after his John Deere win, we’ll be talking about him a lot more over the next few years. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2019 John Deere Classic.
Collin Morikawa (T3): What a stud. He finished first in the field in approach shots and strokes gained tee to green, and earned his PGA Tour card with his second straight top-five finish. It’s a nice reparation after that heartbreaking loss last week to Matthew Wolff at the 3M Open, and he did it under pressure, too! After firing just a 1-under 70 in Round 1, Morikawa reeled off a 66-65-66 close to earn his card. Grade: A
Viktor Hovland (17th): Another closer. Hovland is running into a math problem that Wolff and Morikawa don’t have just because he’s failed to notch a top-five finish thus far and earn enough FedEx Cup points to grab his card for 2019-20. Still, he’s playing awesome golf and should be able to ride some momentum into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals here in about a month, where he’ll likely get his card that route anyway. Grade: A-