Sometimes a three wood off the tee to make sure a player gets in the fairway to protect a two-shot lead with three holes to play is the prudent play, but Chesson Hadley, the third-round leader of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree, decided otherwise. Perhaps it’s not a mystery why Hadley has gone seven years without a win and had missed five consecutive cuts coming into this week’s tournament.
Twenty-two-year-old South African Garrick Higgo, in just his second PGA Tour, start and coming off two wins in his last three European Tour starts, took a three wood off the tee on his final hole, managed to make par, and won the tournament because Hadley bogeyed his last three holes after hitting driver on all of them. Higgo shot a final round 68 to run down Hadley, who limped home with a closing 75, to win the Palmetto Championship at Congaree and take home $1.314 million dollars in the process.
With the win, Higgo gained immediate PGA Tour membership, but to retain that status will need to commit to the Tour’s minimum number of tournament appearances. Since he attended college at UNLV, it’s very likely Higgo will opt to compete in the United States and take advantage of his two-year Tour exemption.
Higgo came into the Palmetto Championship at +4500 odds to win.
A Crazy Final Round
Chesson Hadley led by four shots as he teed off in Sunday’s final round, a margin that was quickly eliminated after he bogeyed the reachable par-five second hole and the driveable par-four third, both of which were birdied by Harris English, bringing a dozen players into contention. That group included world number one Dustin Johnson, who found himself eight shots out of the lead after taking a bogey on the first hole.
With four holes left in his round, Johnson found himself within a shot of the lead as he played the par-four 15th hole, which most players were able to get close enough to the green on their drive that a birdie seemed almost inevitable for the long-hitting player. Instead, he put his tee shot in an awkward position and had to settle for par.
Johnson, who was trying to win in his home state, proceeded to make a mess of the par-four 16th hole by taking a triple-bogey seven to take himself totally out of contention as he dropped to eight under par, five shots behind the leader. Hadley failed to par the 15th as well, but because the players behind him continued to falter, he got to the 16th tee at 13 under par, two shots clear of Higgo, who was playing the 18th hole.
All Hadley needed was two pars, and he was almost assured of victory, if not at least a spot in a playoff. The smart play off the tee was a three wood, but instead, Hadley took a driver and barely found the fairway, but still bogeyed the hole, then did it again on the 17th hole, and finally on the 72nd and final hole.
Three drivers, three bogeys, and a six-way tie for second paying $411,233. For those in need of a calculator, that’s a loss of over $900,000, and Hadley is still fighting for his playing privileges instead of continuing to play on a two-year exemption and rising to 48th in the FedEx Cup point standings.