Quicken Loans National 2014: Winners and Losers from Congressional
The winners and losers from this week's Quicken Loans National are an interesting bunch. Everyone from tournament winner Justin Rose to the game of golf as a whole lands on the good side of the ledger.
The early part of the tournament was dominated by "Tiger Woods watch," as all eyes were fixed on the man who moves the needle in the sport as he made his return from a back surgery. The final round began with a simple question regarding another man with a penchant for Sunday red: "Will Patrick Reed be able to close this thing out?"
If you tuned in, you know the answer to that question, but do you know who the rest of the winners and losers at the Quicken Loans National were?
Read on to see.
Winner: Tiger Woods
If you hadn't heard, Tiger Woods made his return to professional golf at the Quicken Loans National. The former world No. 1 carded rounds of 74 and 75 to miss the cut by four strokes.
Woods was encouraged by his play, however, and the absence of any back pain was a victory. As he said in his post-round comments:
I'm really encouraged by what happened this week. I missed the cut by four shots -- that's a lot. But the fact that what I was able to do physically, and the speed I had and the distance that I was hitting the golf ball again, I had not done that in a very long time.
Felt great today. Then, as I said, I made so many little mistakes ... all the little things that I know I can fix. But as I said, that's very encouraging.
It was always going to be difficult for Woods to make the cut this week on such short work and at one of the most difficult non-major tracks on the PGA Tour. After getting some reps and not suffering any setbacks, Woods was a winner at Congressional.
Loser: Good Decision-Making
There was a disgusting bounty of questionable decisions by professional golf's best down the stretch at Congressional Country Club. However, none was more boneheaded than the one Rose made at the 18th hole and Shawn Stefani reprised on the first hole of the playoff.
After errant tee shots, both golfers elected to play low, running punch shots from left of the fairway. Both golfers' balls raced along the hard, fast fairway and into the water hazard beside the green.
The error cost Rose victory outright, as he dropped a stroke and landed in the playoff with Stefani. Stefani missed his opportunity to win the playoff as a result of the shot, carding a double-bogey six to Rose's four on the hole.
The right decision for both golfers would have been to play a shorter shot that had no chance of running into the hazard to leave a 20- to 30-yard wedge shot in.
Fortunately, thanks to Stefani's aforementioned faux pas, the error didn't prevent Rose from capturing his sixth career PGA Tour victory.
Winner: The Game of Golf
Golf has missed Woods. And whether you're a lover or a hater of golf's Chosen One, the fact remains: When Woods is in the field, galleries swell and TV viewership increases. Even at 38 years of age, Woods moves the needle.
Certainly, with his foundation as the organizer and charitable recipient of the Quicken Loans National, his return helps that cause as well.
No other figure transcends the sport and has an appeal in the broader world of sports the way he does. Thus, with Tiger back inside the ropes, golf wins.
Loser: Putting for Dough
First-round leader Greg Chalmers is routinely among the best putters on tour.
But as Rex Hoggard of Golf Channel related, Chalmers is aware that playing great golf involves a lot more than putting.
As Chalmers said:
(Putting) is part of the game that you need to do well if you want to be successful. If you look at who wins tournaments each week, they do a lot more than that,” said Chalmers, who leads by one stroke at the Quicken Loans National.
I’m a great story for that because I led (the Tour) in strokes gained-putting last year but finished 122nd in FedEx Cup (regular-season points).
Unfortunately, Chalmers' words proved prophetic, as he hit only 44 percent of greens in regulation during his second round, struggling to 78. He eventually finished tied for 30th.
Winner: Plus Twos
Referring to plus twos, Freddie Jacobson's trouser of choice during the Quicken Loans National, Sutherland Sporting Company's website indicates that "a correct plus two should give a two inch fold (two inch down and two inch up). If one is doing a lot of bering an even longer leg length may be required or even wider in the leg, however Plus Twos are widely used in walking, golfing any out door sporting pursuit."
Jacobson executed the plus two to perfection en route to a tie for 11th, and the fathers of golfing tradition would be proud of his comportment in Bethesda.
Loser: Patrick Reed's Sunday Red
Patrick Reed wears red on Sunday, just like that other guy. What's his name? Ah, yes...Tiger Woods.
Reed's decision to don Tiger's signature color on Sunday is bold, to say the least. However, he's won three times on tour and closed the deal in convincing fashion each time.
So he was getting away with it (narrowly) until this week.
Unfortunately for the derivative Mr. Reed, Sunday at the Quicken Loans National was a different story. Entering the final round with the lead, Reed double-bogeyed the second hole and never really got on track after that.
A six-over 77 saw Reed fall to a tie for 11th. As he tapped in his final putt at the 72nd hole, he looked anything but Tigeresque.
Congressional Country Club, a course much maligned for being too easy after Rory McIlroy's romp at the 2011 U.S. Open, fought back this year. The winner of the 2013 edition of the event, Bill Haas, finished at 12 under.
Justin Rose, this year's winner, tallied a final score of four under, as Congressional was something of a "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" on Sunday.
For the week, there were only 10 players under par. Thus, the course, which got harder, faster and more difficult as the week progressed, solidified its reputation as one of the toughest tracks on the PGA Tour.
Further, it was the backdrop for a tightly bunched Sunday leaderboard and a sudden-death playoff. What could be better?
Loser: Ricky Barnes
In one sense, Ricky Barnes was a winner this week. After clawing his way back on tour via strong play on the Web.com Tour last year, a solid finish at the Quicken Loans National goes a long way for the golfer.
In another sense, though, one of the more promising amateurs in recent memory is still a professional disappointment.
Barnes, who won the 2002 U.S. Amateur, was expected to do great things as a professional golfer. Now 33 years old, he's yet to win on the PGA Tour. He's recorded 11 top-10 finishes and challenged for the 2009 U.S. Open, but his performance at the Quicken Loans National is the most fitting summation of his career thus far.
Barnes opened with rounds of 67 and 69 to surge to the front page of the leaderboard. However, he stumbled with rounds of 75 and 73 over the weekend as his putter faltered. The native Californian finished tied for 11th. In other words, he's still winless.