Matthew Wolff's dream finish at Rocket Mortgage Classic melts amid wobbly showing on front nine
Not even the jingle of a distant ice cream truck could save the day for Matthew Wolff.
The young up-and-comer on the PGA Tour surged to a three-shot lead by the end of the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic Saturday at Detroit Golf Club, and he credited the soothing sounds of the bomb pop peddler as a reason he played so well.
In the final round on Sunday, however, nothing was able to smooth on the balky putter that betrayed Wolff, namely on the front nine, as he shot a 1-under 71 and finished at 20-under, three shots behind winner Bryson DeChambeau.
“It was definitely a grind out there,” Wolff said. “Didn't start off really well at all, wasn't hitting it how I was the beginning of the week and feel like I was really getting some bad breaks as well, which was pretty unfortunate … The bad lie in the bunker on 10. I feel like I hit a couple putts out there that I really didn't feel like I pulled them or pushed them or anything, they just didn't go in. I misread them or they hit some bumps or stuff like that.
“But overall I'm really happy with where I'm at right now.”
Where’s he at isn’t bad, at all. A year ago, Wolff was celebrating his first PGA Tour victory not long after turning pro. Now he’s doing his best to take all the good from the past week and springing it forward the rest of the season as he took a huge jump in the FedExCup standings as he looks to make the playoffs at the end of a shortened season.
“It’s all learning,” Wolff said. “I feel like I got it done last time I was in the lead after 54 holes, but this time I didn't. But I've only been in that position twice, so I'm really excited and I feel like I'm going to be in that position a lot more in the future. The only thing you can do is learn from this experience and feel more and more comfortable the more times you're in that position, so next time I'll feel more comfortable and the time after that I'll feel even more comfortable.”
There wasn’t much comfort for Wolff on Sunday, namely on the opening nine holes. He bogeyed the first and finished with four on the front nine as he carded a 38.
The back nine started the same as Wolff bogeyed No. 10, but he mustered a bit of a surge down the stretch. He pulled within three shots of DeChambeau heading to the par-5 14th, but he missed the green on his approach, chipped poorly and missed a birdie putt when an eagle would have tied him for the lead.
It still wasn’t over, though, as Wolff made birdie on 15 to pull within a shot. But as DeChambeau was in the midst of closing the round with three straight birdies, Wolff’s eagle bid at No. 17 was inches short, guaranteeing there would be no thrilling finish like the last time Wolff and DeChambeau battled down the stretch.
That came at last year’s 3M Open when Wolff eagled the 18th hole to beat DeChambeau and Colin Morikawa by a shot in just his third professional event. The second career win didn’t come on Sunday, but Wolff is sure he gained his share of valuable lessons.
“Obviously, it would be really nice to win,” Wolff said. “But how I started off the day, I feel like I was letting things get to me a little more than I had at the beginning of the week, just little bad breaks, bad shots, stuff like that. You know, next time I'm in this position I feel like I'll be a lot more comfortable and so on. I've taken all positives out of this week and looking to carry it on into the near future.”