Honda Classic 2022 standings, grades: Sepp Straka becomes first Austrian to win on PGA Tour


The golfer with the most control of his ball on Sunday thrived when conditions turned untenable late at the 2022 Honda Classic. Sepp Straka, the most statistically proficient player from tee to green in the final round, birdied the 18th in a rainstorm that would have been more appropriate for an open championship to defeat Shane Lowry by one stroke and Kurt Kitayama by two.

The victory is the first on the PGA Tour in Straka’s career and the first by an Austrian in the organization’s history.

Straka’s birdie on the last saw him go 3 under the final five holes and hit a 66, which nearly fell as the round of the day. It was emblematic of the total control he had coming home.

“Hang on,” Straka told NBC of what he will remember from the week. “Third round, I definitely didn’t have my best bits, I hung on and got a good round. I hit the ball really well today and I could really enjoy it.”

Straka started the final round five shots behind Daniel Berger, who finished fourth after shooting a 74, one before the worst rounds of the day.

The turning point of the tournament came on the par-4 16th where Straka dumped a birdie putt from the green. It tied him on top with Lowry for the first time and set up the closing kick on the No. 18. Straka, a good hitter off the tee, beat the driver 334 yards to the last, reached the green and threw two 48-foot putts for the win.

Amid Berger’s mini-crisis and Lowry’s scuffle on the final hole, Straka’s presence and poise stood out, especially given the (literally) swirling weather conditions.

Straka’s win marks the start of a nice little run in which he finished in the top 20 in two big boy tournaments at the Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. It’s not a win that will change the career trajectory of 29-year-old Straka, but it’s certainly a win that could alter his season and create new opportunities. He is now in the Masters and has world ranking momentum as well.

While his game will probably never be at the level of the two men he beat coming home (Lowry and Berger), on that day he was better than both. He had more control over what he was doing. He hit the shots that mattered and closed when it was time to win. It’s easy to try to project into the future or talk broadly about what victories mean, but as Straka displayed on Sunday’s No. 18, it’s often far more meaningful to simply live in the moment. Rating: A+

Here are the rest of our 2022 Honda Classic ratings.

Shane Lowry (2nd): Lowry, playing alongside Berger, seemed like the man to dive in and clean up his mess. He played the last 29 holes bogey-free, but failed to get a late birdie when he needed to. He pointed to the weather, and he’s not wrong.

“I played golf, good enough golf to win the tournament,” Lowry said. “That bad weather came just as we were hitting our tee shot on the 18th, which was the worst break I’ve had in a while. Yeah, it’s hard to take. There’s obviously a lot of points positives to take from the whole event. You know, I probably played some of the best golf in my entire career this week, I think, around a very challenging golf course. And you know, I’m going to take that in The Players, and hopefully I can have a good week there.”

Lowry hit a bad tee shot on the No. 18 which seemed to be affected by the rain and had to play the whole hole in bad weather while Straka, playing in front of him, only had to play his approach in the rain . Lowry finished second in the field from tee to green and is already asking the golf gods to make it whole in just over a month. Rating: A

Journalist: They say the breaks balance each other out.
Lowry: “Hopefully in about five or six weeks in Augusta.”

Daniel Berger (4th): I said Sunday morning we had to be prepared to watch Berger waltz to his fifth title and then he lost his lead midway through the front nine when he doubled the third bogey and passed 4 for the day through its first six holes. What were his problems? Well, how long do you have? He hit the ball badly but mostly made up for it by coming out of a bunker late up front and tackling early at the back. The biggest problem on Sunday was his putter. Berger made a (one!) putt over 29 inches.

“I felt good today,” Berger said. “Honestly, I warmed up well and felt good. I just didn’t make that many putts, or any putts, and if you don’t make putts, you’re not going to shoot a good score. C that’s what happened today.”

It’s a shame when you’re the best player in a field not to become the eighth player in a row to convert a five-shot (or more) 54-hole lead, but I’d be much more worried if Berger never won. He wins. Maybe not as much as he should given his statistical neighborhood, but enough that I’m disinterested in attributing this slump to anything like a bad, really bad day at PGA National. Rating: A-

Brooks Koepka (T16): The quadruple major winner achieved a fine finish on Sunday to climb into the top 20 of this ranking. It was actually an encouraging display considering the way he was playing. With two missed cuts in his last three tournaments (sandwiched around a T3 in Phoenix), it’s nice to see him crack the top-20 on a tough course in a field that’s about as far apart as possible major championships. He also finished in the top 20 from tee to green, which is another good sign with the Players Championship and Masters just around the corner. Grade: B+

Rickie Fowler (T42): As a former champion of this event, I thought now would be a good time to check out Fowler. He finished T42 on the week, which is actually his best finish of the year, but the stats weren’t good. Fowler did most of his damage on the greens and was mediocre (at best!) from tee to green. Fowler has work to do if he hopes to qualify for the Masters in April. The part that has to be the most frustrating if you’re Fowler is that you’ve seen (and felt) what it takes to be one of the top 10 players in the world, which he was when he won. here in 2017, and now even sniffing out the world top 100 seems herculean. Category B-


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