On The Tee: Kisner stakes Ryder Cup claim with Wyndham win

Matthew Hill
LiveScore
16/08/202116:00
Kevin Kisner's Wyndham Championship win has propelled him into Ryder Cup contention
Kevin Kisner's Wyndham Championship win has propelled him into Ryder Cup contention

LiveScore's resident golf expert Matthew Hill reflects on a wild Wyndham Championship that was settled by the first six-way play-off in 20 years on the PGA Tour.

Kevin Kisner boosted his prospects of a Ryder Cup berth for Team USA next month by landing the Wyndham Championship on Sunday in a six-man play-off.

Kisner, 37, found a birdie on the second extra hole to see off the pars of Adam Scott, Si Woo Kim, Branden Grace, Roger Sloan and Kevin Na – all of whom had finished their rounds locked on 15 under par.

It marked an upturn in fortunes for the popular ‘Kis’, who had lost all five of his previous career play-offs and was without a win since the 2019 WGC Dell Technologies Match Play. 

Having started the final day four shots off the pace, the world No34 made a hot start with four birdies in his opening seven holes.

Despite giving two shots back during a tough middle stretch, late gains at 16 and 17 coupled with a gutsy par on the last would prove enough for a spot in the joint-largest play-off in tour history.

Grace, Na and Sloan equalled Kisner’s score of 66 to seal their spot, with experienced Aussie Scott needing a 65 and former Players champion Kim producing a breathtaking 64.

Yet it was Kisner who would prevail, stuffing his approach to 4ft on the second additional hole before tapping in for his fourth career title.

Kisner said: “To be honest, coming into the final three or four holes I didn’t think I had a chance to win.

“I wasn’t really looking at the leaderboards but then I saw I was only one back at 16 — and I knew 17 was a birdie hole.

“It was a pretty crazy way to end my no wins in playoffs streak but I’ll take it.

Kevin Kisner has made no secret of his desire to represent Team USA at Whistling Straits
Kevin Kisner has made no secret of his desire to represent Team USA at Whistling Straits

“I have never been picked [for the Ryder Cup] before so I’m not going to go out there on a limb and say I’ll get picked this year!

“I love [Steve] Stricker. He’s a great friend and a great guy so I’m sure he will do what is best for the team and the country.

“I would love more than anything to represent our country and be a part of that team but I have to continue to play well in these FedEx play-offs and continue to show great form.”

Hadley holes out to land last FedEx spot

There is more to professional sport than simply finishing first — as anybody following Chesson Hadley around this Sunday afternoon could testify.

When landing the 2014 Puerto Rico Open as a fresh-faced 26-year-old, Hadley appeared to have the golfing world at his feet, but things have not really gone to plan since then.  

Years in the golfing wilderness have been anything but fun, even losing his card in 2016 and being forced to scramble on the Web.com Tour just to keep food on the table.

And when he bogeyed the last three holes of this June’s Palmetto Championship to lose the trophy by a single stroke, it appeared his best chance of redemption had come and gone.

Back in his home state this weekend however, Hadley had other ideas.

Shooting a week-low round of 62 — which featured a spectacular hole-in-one on 16 — Hadley’s T15 finish sees him leap up eight spots in the FedEx Cup rankings to 125th position.

Fittingly, that gives him the final spot in the season-ending FedEx Cup play-offs, where he will join the other 124 qualifiers in battle for over £43million in prize money.

It could hardly have happened in more dramatic style — and the nature of his achievement had clearly overwhelmed a teary Hadley after his round.

He said: “It was a great day. You know, it has been a really tough few years.

“I haven’t felt like a lot of good has happened and I had some success at Congaree but that ended up feeling more bitter than sweet given how it worked out.

“As for the celebration [after the hole-in-one], you could call that the flying baby giraffe!

“I don’t know what happened really, I was just going nuts. 

“I have seen the clip of my celebration since though and my legs just kind of go out to the side — it isn’t very good and I have to apologise for it.

“I am not doing much good for the stereotype of us golfers not being athletes!”

The week ahead

Collin Morikawa leads the FedEx Cup standings ahead of the opening event
Collin Morikawa leads the FedEx Cup standings ahead of the opening event

While the season is effectively over for those PGA Tour stars who didn’t make the play-offs, things really heat up for those still in the mix.

The Northern Trust will bring all 125 qualifiers together for what is sure to be a high-quality affair — and only 70 players can advance to the following week’s BMW Championship.

We will have all the fallout covered in next week’s On The Tee, along with the latest news ahead of next month’s hotly-anticipated Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. 

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