Wise beyond his years
This week’s PGA tournament, the AT&T Byron Nelson, may be in Dallas, Texas, but the headlines aren’t being dominated by a young Prodigal Texan (Jordan Spieth.) In fact, it’s a different just-of-legal-drinking-age player named Aaron Wise.
Through 54 holes, the 21-year-old entered the final round in Dallas tied with Australian Marc Leishman for the lead. Wise and Leishman are at 17 under through three rounds.
It’s not as big of a cushion as Webb Simpson had last week at The Player Championship, when he entered the final round with a seven-stroke lead. Webb finished 18 under at TPC Sawgrass to claim his fifth PGA title. His lead kept him four shots clear of Jimmy Walker (67), Charl Schwartzel (67) and PGA Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele (67). Walker, Schwartzel and Schauffele all tied for second place at 14 under in Ponte Verde, Fla.
This week in Dallas, Wise and Leishman hold a four-stroke lead on Kevin Na and Matt Jones.
PGA Titles at age 21
While Leishman is the favorite. The 2009 Rookie of the Year has three PGA Tour wins. But winning a PGA Tour event at age 21 isn’t unheard of. Wise almost won the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago. Then, he went 65-63 to start the week before turning in a 3-under 68. His final three holes on Saturday included two birdies. Wise is the former NCAA Champion at Oregon. In fact, two of golf’s biggest superstars—Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas—won big at the same age.
Starts vs. Short game
This is Wise’s 26th PGA Tour start. Two stars who have won bigger sooner were Rory McIllroy winning his 18th PGA Tour event at age 20 and Jordan Spieth, winning his 24th event at age 19. Justin Thomas won his 43rd event at age 22, while Jason Day picked up his first win in his 64th event at age 22. And Rickie Fowler won his in his 73rd event at age 23.
But the 34-year-old Leishman won’t be focused on those stats. He is looking to pick up his third title in the last 14 months. Entering the event, he ranked 125th on stroke-gained/putting. This week, he ranks first.
The American or The Australian
Four stroke clear of the rest of the field, there’s a large chance this Sunday showdown sticks between the American and the Australian that entered the day with the lead.
And both are on a bit of a hot streak. Leishman with his three recent PGA wins and Wise with a tie for second at Wells Fargo. He enters Sunday with his first career 54-hole lead.
But we stay stick with the rookie. Leishman’s short game will need to be on point. And Wise really has nothing to lose.