Kevin Tway Wins Safeway Open – First PGA Tour Victory
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
The start of the PGA Tour season began with a three-way playoff at the Safeway Open. Kevin Tway captured his first PGA Tour victory after downing Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker on the third hole of the playoff. Tway sealed the win by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt. Birdie was the 30-year-old players saving grace down the stretch of regulation and during the extra-holes.
Tway, son of former 8-time winning PGA Pro Bob Tway, outlasted the windy conditions to finish the last two holes in regulation by carding birdie on both for a 1-under 71. Then, during the playoff holes at Silverado Golf Club, he scored three additional straight birdies for the win. The former Oklahoma State player said his game improved after the front-nine.
“It was nice to get hot at the end,” Tway said following his first PGA Tour victory. “I wasn't really in it on the front nine. Brandt made a couple bogeys starting the back. I was kind of right there, but kind of hanging around. Birdied 17, 18 to get into the playoff and then kept it going in the playoff - and here I am.”
That string of five birdies helped put Tway into the hunt with Moore and Snedeker who entered the final day of play as the leader. While Tway maintained his game on Sunday by focusing on staying in the fairway, Snedeker was going the opposite direction. Tway said he was focusing on fairways and not carding a bogey.
“I was just trying to put the ball in the fairway, which was very difficult,'' Tway said of the windy conditions on the course located in Napa Valley area of California. “I knew the last few holes were a little bit easier, so tried to just keep making pars until then.”
Snedeker Sees Five-Stroke Lead Fade
Snedeker was five strokes ahead of his challengers at one point during the day but began to lose ground with eleven holes to go. The former Vanderbilt player with 9 PGA wins on his resume then scored four bodies on the back-nine which opened the door for both Tway and Moore.
A nine-foot putt missed the cup on 18 forcing Snedeker to tap in for par instead of winning outright by one-stroke. All three were tied for the victory with the 18-hole being the first up during the playoff. It was a hole that Snedeker had just failed to birdie, and his troubles continued. Both Tway and Moore scored birdies on the hole while Snedeker once again tapped in for par ending his day and allowing his two opponents to keep going.
“Really disappointing,” Snedeker said following the loss. “Played a really good front nine in tough conditions and made the turn on the back nine and actually drove the ball really well. Had a lot of opportunities, just hit some really-poor iron shots, left myself in places you can't do it. Didn't make any putts.”
While trying to find some positives on the final round, the Music City player said this loss was tough. Especially when he was five-strokes to the good only hours before.
“I’m going to look at that one in a few years and know I gave that one away - I had that full control.”
Moore Almost Gets 6th PGA Win
The way the pairing was set on Sunday meant that Moore finished his day earlier. The five-time PGA Tour winner from Tacoma, Washington, who played his college years at Nevada – Las Vegas, said he thought his day was finished. Moore didn’t expect to be in a playoff with Snedeker still leading when he had already finished his round on Sunday.
“I didn't even expect to be in this position,” Moore said about the playoff holes at Silverado. “When I finished my round, I really didn't think there was a chance of this. Golf is funny - and it can work its way out sometimes, so this was a bonus. I hit some good shots in the playoff, birdied a couple holes and today just wasn't good enough.”
Mickelson and Couples
Phil Mickelson was one of the favored players heading into day one on Thursday. The left-handed golfer finished T17 with 72 at 8-under. Mickelson felt he played well on the final day despite being down the leaderboard.
“It was challenging but yet very playable conditions,” Mickelson said. “Actually, I played pretty good, I hit two balls out of bounds on the fifth hole trying to go for the green, but other than that, I played pretty well.”
Hall-of-Famer Fred Couples played his final start in a regular PGA Tour Event and ended the tournament 5-under at 75 for a 41st finish. The 59-year-old player commented that he was “hoping for the best” during his final start.
“For a while, I didn't think we were going to play and then when we played, I didn't really play,” Couples said. “Then I just started hitting and hoping for the best.”