Weekly Recap: The Postman Delivers

Weekly Recap: The Postman Delivers

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

Every year, a lot of golfers look at the John Deere Classic and start salivating. "I can win that," they undoubtedly say to themselves.

And it's true. With one of the weakest fields of the year, it's wide open for many long shots. This year, however, one of the top golfers in the field, No. 99-ranked J.T. Poston, won it, going wire-to-wire after an opening-round 62.

Poston is now ranked a career-best No. 58 and, along with all the perks that come with a Tour win, he – along with runners-up Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Emiliano Grillo – locked up one of three available berths in the upcoming Open Championship as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

About two months ago, Poston looked lost, having missed 12 of his past 18 cuts. He had fallen outside the top 200 in the world rankings.  But since then he's finished third at the RBC Heritage, ninth at the Wells Fargo and second last week at the Travelers. Now, he has his second career win. The Deere may feature a weak field, but the other three tournaments surely did not.

What changed? Putting, it seems. Poston ranked second on Tour in Strokes-Gained: Putting last season, and he was known as one of the best on Tour. But two-plus months ago, he ranked around 150th in putting. Now, he's up to 75th. To jump 75ish spots in two months this late in the season takes some serious improvement. He's also ranked 57th in SG:

Every year, a lot of golfers look at the John Deere Classic and start salivating. "I can win that," they undoubtedly say to themselves.

And it's true. With one of the weakest fields of the year, it's wide open for many long shots. This year, however, one of the top golfers in the field, No. 99-ranked J.T. Poston, won it, going wire-to-wire after an opening-round 62.

Poston is now ranked a career-best No. 58 and, along with all the perks that come with a Tour win, he – along with runners-up Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Emiliano Grillo – locked up one of three available berths in the upcoming Open Championship as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

About two months ago, Poston looked lost, having missed 12 of his past 18 cuts. He had fallen outside the top 200 in the world rankings.  But since then he's finished third at the RBC Heritage, ninth at the Wells Fargo and second last week at the Travelers. Now, he has his second career win. The Deere may feature a weak field, but the other three tournaments surely did not.

What changed? Putting, it seems. Poston ranked second on Tour in Strokes-Gained: Putting last season, and he was known as one of the best on Tour. But two-plus months ago, he ranked around 150th in putting. Now, he's up to 75th. To jump 75ish spots in two months this late in the season takes some serious improvement. He's also ranked 57th in SG: Tee-to-Green, so that's a pretty darn good combination.

Poston had one win and one runner-up in his first 153 tournaments, capturing the 2019 Wyndham Championship. He doubled each of those in two weeks. He's up to 22nd in the FedExCup Standings and, while we often ignore those, it's now late enough in the season to pay attention.

Poston is not a youngster – he's 29 – so maybe he'll stay levelheaded going forward. Because a guy with a hot putter and a better-than-average tee-to-green game can be a factor on the PGA Tour – even in the upcoming playoffs.

MONDAY BACKSPIN

Christiaan Bezuidenhout
The 28-year-old Bezuidenhout has been ranked as high as 33rd in the world. He's won four times combined in his native South Africa and on the DP World Tour. But as with many internationals, he hasn't done it on the PGA Tour. He had to head to the Korn Ferry playoffs last season to keep his card. Outside of finishing seventh at Bay Hill last year, Bezuidenhout hadn't had a PGA Tour top-10. Now he has his best finish. But because it came in the Deere, we still have to wait and see what the future holds for him.

Emiliano Grillo
Grillo burst on the scene when he won his first tournament as a member of the PGA Tour in 2015, the old Frys.com tournament that is now the Fortinet. He's still looking for win No. 2.  Known as a great ball striker and poor putter, even the ball striking has eluded him in recent years. This runner-up was his first top-10 since last year at Colonial, so like with a lot of guys this week, we can't trust one result in a weak field.

Scott Stallings
Stallings has had some very good weeks this season, but this tie for fourth was one shot short of getting one of the Open Championship berths. Still, he has back-to-back top-10s along with last week's Travelers and in three of his past five starts, along with two missed cuts. That's the thing with Stallings this season: He's been all or nothing. Our job is to figure when he's "all."

Chris Gotterup
Gotterup is clearly this year's college import to make the biggest dent on Tour. He tied for fourth in just his fourth start as a pro, and he's already inside the top-500 in the world – which is better than almost half the Deere field. With three made cuts in a row, including at the U.S. Open, the Oklahoma alum has likely secured enough points to immediately qualify for the Korn Ferry finals, where 25 Tour cards for next season will be up for grabs. There isn't much time left in the regular season, but Gotterup will continue to get sponsor invites, and he should be considered whenever he's playing.

Denny McCarthy
McCarthy tied for sixth, giving him top-10s in three of his past four starts. The other two were slightly better than the Deere – at the Memorial and U.S. Open. He is now up to a career-best 88th in the world, and maybe this is the start of what a lot of people expected from McCarthy, one of the best putters in all of golf (currently ranked fourth on Tour).

Callum Tarren
The Englishman tied for sixth for his second top-10 and second top-25 in his rookie season. The other came in the opposite-field Puerto Rico Open, so we can't really look at this as anything more than a great result in a bad field.

Maverick McNealy
McNealy tied for eighth for his first top-10 since February in what has to be considered a disappointing season to date. The top-10 is good, of course, but that's what was expected this week from one of the highest-ranked golfers in the field. It's akin to treading water.

Sahith Theegala
Tying for 16th in this field is no biggie for the rising Theegala. But when he was struggling to make the cut after a first-round 74, then had to shoot 30 on his back-nine on Friday just to reach the weekend, this result shows his mental toughness and desire. A missed cut wouldn't have mattered much in the scheme of things to those of us who play DFS, but this shows us Theegala's makeup.

Chris Naegel
Outside of Poston, Nagel was the story of the tournament. He is 39 years old and had to Monday qualify. It was just his second tournament anywhere in 2022, after he qualified for the U.S. Open and made the cut. Naegel shot three rounds in the 60s at the Deere to begin Sunday inside the top-10. But he shot a 73 to fall to 16th place. Still, a great week for someone who's never been higher than 769th in the world rankings and now has zoomed 700 spots in two tournaments to stand at 1,030.

Nick Hardy
Hardy arrived as a bit of a celebrity, a University of Illinois alum who had one of the few pre-tournament media sessions. For a while, it looked as if he'd miss the cut in front of friends and family, but he shot a 68 on Friday to get through. Beginning the final round far back, he lit it up with a 64 to climb more than 30 spots to tie for 30th. Let's see whether he can keep it going.

Morgan Hoffmann
Okay, Hoffmann was also a pretty good story himself besides Naegel and Poston. After missing his first two cuts in his return from muscular dystrophy, he has now made two in a row, following up a solo 68th at the Travelers with a tie for 51st at the Deere. No word when we'll see him next, but we'll be watching.

Doug Ghim
We're not sure why we're picking on Ghim, who missed the cut. More accomplished golfers in Webb Simpson, Adam Hadwin and defending champion Lucas Glover also missed. It's just that when we look at guys who missed the cut, we saw Ghim and thought: Here's a young player who really needs to use a tournament like this as a springboard. He's played in 16 tournaments in 2022 and missed half his cuts, but the Deere simply shouldn't be one of them for a player hoping to take the next step. This is a tournament where guys take the next step. Ghim was even born in Illinois. He recently had a great week with a top-20 at the Canadian Open. But then he MCed at the Travelers and now the Deere. Maybe we're being too hard on a young player (he's not that young, he's 26). But only because he's shown signs of becoming a decent Tour player.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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