Ten Notes to Know: March 11, 2019

March 11, 2019
Justin Ray
  1. Francesco Molinari began yesterday’s final round at Bay Hill tied for 17th place. He shattered the old record for biggest final round comeback by position at Bay Hill Club and Lodge: before Sunday, that mark belonged to Tom Kite, who was tied for ninth in 1982.
  1. Sunday at Bay Hill was the first time that no American player finished in the top-five in a PGA Tour event since the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
  1. Molinari played the last 28 holes of his Bay Hill victory bogey-free. Francesco has made a habit out of this in recent months: each of his last four worldwide wins featured long bogey-free streaks to finish the tournament. At the BMW PGA, it was 44 holes, at Quicken Loans it was 28 holes, at The Open, it was the last 37 holes without a blemish on the card.
  1.  Sunday was the fifth time since the beginning of the 2018 FedExCup Playoffs that Rory McIlroy was either first or second entering the final round of a PGA Tour event. Rory’s putter has let him down those Sundays: he’s averaged -1.16 strokes gained putting in those five final rounds.
  1. On the bright side, Rory still has more than a month left to pick up his 15th PGA Tour win and join some exclusive company. Since the first Masters was held in 1934, only two players have won 15 PGA Tour titles, including four majors, before turning 30 years old: Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. McIlroy (14 PGA Tour wins, four majors) turns 30 on May 4.
  1. It was a strong week for Rafa Cabrera Bello, who finished tied for third. Since the beginning of the 2015-16 season, Cabrera Bello has 14 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour – most of any player without a victory in that span.
  1. Keith Mitchell (finished tied for sixth) put together a charge on Sunday one week after picking up his first PGA Tour victory at The Honda Classic. Mitchell was trying to become the first player since 1997 to win his first two PGA Tour titles in consecutive weeks: former world number one David Duval was the last player to do it.
  1. Aaron Baddeley gained a remarkable 9.97 strokes around the green at Bay Hill, by far the most in the field. Baddeley was 14-for-15 scrambling from greenside bunkers for the week, averaging a field-best 4’3” proximity on those sand shots.
  1. For a pair of top performers at Bay Hill, here’s a number to consider: over the last five years, there are three players with a scoring average of 70.5 or better at TPC Sawgrass (at least ten rounds played). Cabrera Bello and Molinari are two of them.
  1. This is the first Players Championship held in March since 2006. Expect higher scores at Sawgrass – in the 12 years it was held in May, the field average was 72.5, with 18% of rounds being in the 60s. The previous 12 times it was held in March, the field average was nearly a stroke tougher (73.4) and 11.6 percent of rounds were in the 60s.