Curiously, Brett Wetterich, who opened with a 67 at Brookside, hit driver on the 18th hole at the Lakes, the easier of the two venues, after playing conservatively all day and hitting mostly two-irons and 3-woods off the tee. His drive landed in a fairway bunker and he closed with a bogey to shoot 70.
He finished at seven-under and found himself in a six-man playoff for the three remaining spots. Unfortunately, he was eliminated on the third extra hole after missing his birdie putt.
Ouch. That one stings. If you miss by three or four strokes, chances are you’re upset, but it’s nothing a six-pack or two can’t fix. Losing in a playoff, especially after bogeying the final hole in regulation, is probably one of the rare cases when you’re going to beat yourself up for a few days.
Let’s just chalk it up to a brain fart? It happens.
Several players stayed to support their friends in the six-for-three playoff. I’d been looking forward to this all day. I was hoping for something more along the lines of a 15-for-2 situation, but I wasn’t going to get too picky. Obviously, I’ve seen countless playoffs, but I’ve never watched one with more than three people (at least since I’ve been covering golf). It was well worth the wait and lived up to my expectations.
Tim Petrovic, Scott Hend, Webb Simpson, Brett Wetterich, JJ Henry and Kyle Stanley all shot 7-under. For a while, it appeared like there might be a playoff at six-under, but then some guys came in with low(er) scores late. All six survived the first hole in sudden death. Stanley was eliminated after bogeying the second extra hole, the 9th. The remaining five returned to No. 1 and Wetterich and Henry missed their putts for birdies, while Petrovic rolled in a 15-footer and Hend drained a 10-footer.
Simpson drained an eight-footer for birdie to take the final slot. Afterward, when I and two other reporters chased after Webb in the parking lot, he was downright giddy. He looked like a little kid whose parents had just surprised him with a golden retriever puppy named Skip. His enthusiasm was contagious, putting me in an even better mood.
“I’m thrilled to death,” said Simpson. “It’d be worth it if I had to play more holes tomorrow…It’ll be a good feeling to drive up on Monday.”
Believe it or not, this will be Webb’s first appearance at a major championship.