Weekly 18: Losses lead to wins -- just ask Kizzire, who edged Fowler

From ESPN - November 12, 2017

That sound you hear echoing around the country? All the Auburn University folks screaming "War Eagle!"

One day after the school's football team thumped previously undefeated Georgia, alum Patton Kizzire claimed his first PGA Tour victory.

Pretty decent weekend for the Tigers.

Kizzire did not make it look quite as easy as the football team, but there were some similarities. This edition of the Weekly 18 begins with an examination of how a loss last year prepared him for the win this week.

1. Thirteen months ago, Kizzire led the Safeway Open on the back nine Sunday, only to finish discouragingly short of the win. He was asked afterward about what he'd take from that and offered, "I am definitely disappointed. That was probably as close as I have been to winning, but I am going to take the positives from it and try to put myself back in a good spot. I learned a lot today." There's little doubt that loss helped him win this weekend.

2. I say this all the time, but I still feel like I ca not say it enough: Fans too often view close calls as negative outcomes, but players themselves usually take more positives from the experience than anything else. Maybe it's because there often is not a direct correlation and the fans do not see it, while a guy like Kizzire can point to his best previous finish and know that he learned something from that situation.

3. There were certainly better golf shots this week, but none was more important than Kizzire's approach into the final hole. His ball lying about 2 feet right of the left fairway bunker, he set up for the shot with his heels hanging over the hazard, then hit a beautiful shot -- considering the circumstances -- to the front-left part of the green. From there, he two-putted for par and the win.

4. Early in his career, I always thought Rickie Fowler would have benefited from playing against more fields that did not necessarily include the best players. As you will recall, Fowler's rapid ascendancy meant that he was quickly qualified for major championships, WGCs and invitationals. One byproduct is that it helped him earn ranking points and gave him invaluable experience against the stiffest competition. Another is that he struggled to "learn" how to win, claiming only a single victory in his first five PGA Tour seasons.

5. Granted, Fowler is past the point of his career where he has anything to prove to himself or anyone else in these types of events, but it was still good to see him teeing it up at Mayakoba as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 10. There was a time when finishing in second place would have caused him more heartache than hopefulness, but this should be a nice performance to build on as he prepares for next year.

6. If I am Keith Mitchell, I would have at least considered pulling a Costanza. The PGA Tour rookie made a hole-in-one on his opening hole of the first round this week, which means he could have simply walked off the tee box, waved to his playing partners, and in true George Costanza form, said, "All right, that's it for me! Be good everybody!"

7. Jason Day turned 30 on Sunday -- and with it, he might find himself at the crossroads of his career. The former world No. 1 is now ranked outside the top 10 after a year in which he failed (so far) to win a single tournament. Add to that a third child expected soon, a balky back, a caddie change and continued insistence that he does not expect to have a lengthy career, and it's difficult to see Day's performance being as fruitful in his 30s as it was in his 20s.

8. This is getting silly. The business of announcing tournament venues years in advance might have jumped the shark on Wednesday, when Olympic Club was named host of the 2028 PGA Championship and -- mark your calendars here -- the 2032 Ryder Cup. For the mathematically challenged, the latter is 15 years away, which means that your favorite 8-year-old should start practicing a little harder if he hopes to make that team.


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