By Ron Patey
Fabian Gomez of Argentina took a step back early in the final round. Then he turned up his touch game a few notches to catch and pass England’s Greg Owen on the second nine to win the FedEx St. Jude Classic on Sunday. The third-round co-leaders began the final round tied at 9-under; Gomez had dropped behind Owen by a couple of strokes during front nine play before getting even again at No. 9 after Owen dropped a shot and Gomez made par. Thanks to a laser tee-shot that stopped inside 10 feet from the cup, Gomez brushed in a stress-free birdie putt. He went to the top of the leaderboard on No. 11 and perched there alone for the rest of the tournament.
Owen was pretty much done on No. 16 when Gomez dunked another birdie to open a three-shot spread with two holes to go. Gomez’s first victory on the PGA Tour arrived in his 70th event. He logged four rock-solid rounds of 66, 68, 67 and 66 to finish 13-under, four strokes better than Owen.
Next On The Tee: The U.S. Open
Masters champion Jordan Spieth lands at Chambers Bay in the Pacific Northwest focused on picking up another major this season. The Texan is riding a solid momentum streak due to a T3 in the Memorial Tournament. In the 14 of 16 events he’s made the cut for during the 2014-2015 campaign, Spieth has added to his resume a win at the Valspar Championship in March, two second-place finishes, a third place and nine top 10s.
Defending U.S. Open champ Martin Kaymer needs to quickly shake the swing demons that have plagued him in 2015 if he’s to have any hope of a repeat performance. The German’s play in North America has been journeyman-level at best. The two-time major winner is coming off a T56 at The Players Championship on May 10, a T34 in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play on May 3 and three straight missed cuts during early spring.
And then there’s the curious case of Rory McIlroy. The world’s top-ranked player really should feel cozy and confident at Chambers Bay; its links design is similar to the courses he played as a young pup in his native Northern Ireland. However, McIlroy missed the cut at the recent Irish Open, and that debacle included a mind-bending first round 80. The breakdown, however, came on the heels of a marvelous May, when he won the Wells Fargo Championship, closed T8 at The Players and carried away the champ’s WGC-Cadillac Match Play hardware. Adding to the delicious drama is if he triumphs at Chambers Bay, he’ll have bagged his fifth major and third of the last four.
Phil Mickelson decided not to take last week off, and it appears to have been a wise move, as he comes into the tournament feeling at peace about his game. His strong showing at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, a T3 placing and final-round 65, has the six-time U.S. Open runner-up believing the stars have aligned as he looks to finally earn the career grand slam.
Chambers Bay plays 7,742 yards long and is a par 70.
Favorites: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar
Players To Watch: Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson
Ron Patey covered the golf industry for 21 years as a special sections editor with Sun Media. During the past five years, Patey has been a golf writer for Examiner.com.