Matt Kuchar and Scott Brown tied for second in last week’s PGA Tour event at Riviera CC in Los Angeles to highlight successful showings for a number of Georgia golfers on both the PGA and KF Tours.
Three Georgia residents posted top-10 finishes in the KF Tour Suncoast Classic in Sarasota, Fla., including a tie for fourth by former Georgia Bulldog Greyson Sigg of Augusta.
Kuchar, the winner of a recent event in Singapore, led in Los Angeles after both the first and second rounds and shared the 54-hole lead with Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy.But he could do better than a 1-over 72 in the final round and wound up two shots behind Scott in a 3-way tie for second.
Brown, an Augusta native who now lives in nearby Aiken, S.C., also tied for second, closing with three straight scores of 68. A 25-foot birdie putt on the difficult 18thhole at Riviera lifted him into the 3-way tie for second.
Kuchar fired a 7-under 64 in the opening round to take a 3-stroke lead after 18 holes, and followed with a 69 the next day to remain two shots in front. He held his lead until the back nine Saturday, when he made three bogeys in a 4-hole stretch to drop into a share of the lead with Scott and McIlroy going to the final round.
After a birdie on the par-5 first hole at Riviera, one of the easiest holes on the PGA Tour, Kuchar managed just one more birdie, that coming on the par-5 17th. With Sunday’s low score a 3-under 68 by Brown and several others, Scott was able to win by two shots with a final round 70.
Kuchar enjoyed an exceptional week putting on Riviera’s perplexing poa annua greens, placing second in strokes gained putting, picking up almost 10 shots on the field. But he cooled off a bit over the final two rounds, playing them in even par after going 9-under the first two days.
The tie for second improved Kuchar from 95th to 39thon the FedExCup points list, and he moved up from 20 to 15 in the World Golf Rankings. The former Georgia Tech golfer, who is living on St. Simons Island, had finished between 14thand 16ththree times previously this season before making a run at his 10thcareer PGA Tour victory last week.
Brown made a huge move in the FedExCup standings, vaulting from 146 to 57. Brown is in his ninth season on the PGA Tour, with his lone victory coming in 2013 in Puerto Rico, where he will be one of the favorites in this week’s opposite field event.
Like Kuchar, Brown was excellent on Riviera’s greens, finishing fourth in putting with seven strokes gained. He also tied for third in fairways hit. It was a consistent week for Brown, who carded five birdies in each of his last three rounds.
Prior to last week, Brown’s best finish this season was a tie for 14thin the RSM Classic at Sea Island GC, the final event of the 2019 portion of the wraparound PGA Tour schedule. He began 2020 with four straight missed cuts before his strong effort in Los Angeles.
Augusta’s Vaughn Taylor continued his solid play in 2019-20, tying for 13that 278 to hold steady at 36thin the FedExCup standings. It was his fourth finish of 13thor better in his last seven starts, including a tie for second in the 2019 Mayakoba Classic..
The 43-year-old Taylor was among the leaders after scores of 69-67 the first two days, but five bogeys left him with a 74 in the third round. He matched Brown for low round of the day with a 68 Sunday, recording six birdies on his scorecard. A bogey at the 18th cost him a third top-10 finish this season, but he still moved into the top 100 in the World Golf Rankings, improving 12 spots to 97th.
Taylor has been a PGA Tour member since 2004, but spent several years playing a limited schedule before winning a final round duel overPhil Mickelson at Pebble Beach in 2016 for his third career victory.
Macon native Russell Henley began the final round just one shot off the lead, but closed with a 75 to tie for 17that 5-under 279. Henley shot 67-69-68 the first three days, each of which had some significant swings.
Henley’s opening round began with nine straight pars before he went eagle-birdie-birdie at holes 1, 2 and 3, followed by six more pars. He was 4-under after seven holes the next day before closing with three bogeys on his final six holes. Henley was 1-over through eight holes Saturday, but went birdie-birdie-eagle on holes 9, 10 and 11 to end the day within one of the lead.
After beginning his final round at 1-under through five holes, Henley played the last four holes of the front nine in 4-over to drop off the leader board.
Henley came into Los Angeles off five straight missed cuts and the former Georgia Bulldog was 191 in the FedExCup standings before his T17 finish moved him up 32 spots to 159. Henley scored the last f his three PGA Tour wins in 2017, but has struggled since, saving his 2018-19 season with a late runner-up finish in the John Deere Classic.
Augusta resident Luke List also shot 75 in the final round to drop from a tie for 11thto a T30. List got off to a rough start Sunday, playing his first three holes in 5-over, and ended his day with a double bogey on the 18th. List stands 107 in the FedExCup.
Kuchar is among six golfers with Georgia ties competing in this week’s WGC Mexico Championship. Joining him in the field are ex-Bulldogs Kevin Kisner, Brendon Todd and Bubba Watson, Augusta native Charles Howell and former Augusta State standout Patrick Reed.
KORN FERRY TOUR
Sigg, a rookie on the KF Tour, had a chance to win Sunday before bogeys on the last two holes dropped him into a tie for fourth, three shots behind former Wofford golfer Andrew Novak. Sigg posted scores of 66-67-68-67 for a 20-under 268 total, and was 7-under after 16 holes Sunday before his bogey-bogey finish.
The tie for seventh was a continuation ofSigg’ssuccessful start in his first KF season, and followed four top-25 finishes in his first four starts of 2020. He is 11thon the points list after an outstanding week tee to green. He tied for second in fairways hit (49 of 52) and was second in greens in regulation (65 of 72), exceeding 90 percent in both categories.
Prior to this year, Sigg played the last three seasons on the Canadian Tour, placing 20, 18 and 9 in the final standings.
Tying for seventh at 269 was former Georgia Tech golfer J.T. Griffin and fellow Atlanta resident Drew Weaver. Griffin carded scores of 69-66-67-67, while Weaver shot 70-67-66-66. .
Griffin played his final 54 holes with just one bogey, that coming in the fourth round. He moved into contention by playing his final three holes of the second round in 4-under, and closed out the week with five birdies on the five par 5s at Lakewood National.
It was Griffin’s second top 10 in three starts this season, his third on the KF Tour. He opened his 2020 schedule with a tie for 10thin Panama, and is 21stin points despite not getting into the field for the first two tournaments in the Bahamas. This is Griffin’s third season on the tour.
Weaver is in his fourth season and is coming off his best year in 2019, when he placed 39thon the money list. He vaulted into contention in Sunday’s final round with a 7-hole stretch in which he went 6-under beginning with an eagle on the 300-yard, par-4 fourth, where he drove the green. But he managed just one birdie over the final eight holes to finish T7.
The top-10 finish improved Weaver’s standings on the points list from 80 to 38. Weaver, a former British Amateur champion while he was a member of the golf team at Virginia Tech, won on the Canadian Tour in 2015 and had a pair of third place finishes in ’18 before moving up to the KF Tour.
Joey Garber, a teammate of Sigg at Georgia, tied for 20that 272 in the tournament, and fellow St. Simons resident Dru Love was T38 at 275 after playing his way into the field in a Monday qualifier.
Recent Georgia Tech golfer Anders Albertson of Woodstock made his first start of 2020 and missed the cut after a rough opening round before shooting 67 the next day. Ollie Schniederjans, Albertson’s college teammate, missed his second straight tournament after withdrawing prior to the final round two weeks ago in Panama.
The KF Tour plays in Mexico next week before making consecutive stops in Louisiana in late March. The tour returns to the Landings in Savannah April 2-5.