Welcome again to the Monday End, the place we’re Venmo-requesting Viktor Hovland $1 million — simply in case he’s in a giving temper. Let’s get to it!
FIRST OFF THE TEE
Is the Tour Championship truly damaged?
The Tour Championship format is just not good. I would love that on the file. It’s very bizarre changing FedEx Cup factors into strokes earlier than the beginning of a PGA Tour occasion. That’s not how this foreign money works. Mulligans can’t be bought. Nothing might be transformed to strokes. And the one factor strokes convert to is cash — and that solely comes after 4 rounds. This format might be complicated, too, when the man who shoots the bottom rating for the week doesn’t essentially win. That’s not very golf. So yeah, I perceive your objections.
However right here’s my sizzling tackle the matter: I … truly don’t suppose it’s that unhealthy.
When Scottie Scheffler birdied three of the primary six holes on Thursday to open up a five-shot lead, you might really feel the inevitability of a Scheffler blowout win looming. Certain, he’d be a becoming, deserving champion. Nevertheless it wouldn’t precisely be appointment viewing if he was up a landing and simply held on for the final three rounds.
The second highlighted the issue of designing the proper Tour Championship. If you happen to give the No. 1 seed too nice a bonus, he’ll maintain taking part in the terrific golf that bought him there and run away from the sphere, leaving zero narrative pressure in his wake.
However what if the Tour Championship was simply winner-take-all? Then you definately’d introduce the opportunity of, say, Adam Schenk lifting the trophy. I’d be thrilled for Schenk, however he wouldn’t essentially really feel like a correct season-long champ.
This format settles someplace within the center. Scheffler didn’t run away with the trophy. Removed from it! He made triple bogey on No. 15, misplaced his lead earlier than Thursday was achieved and wound up T6 by week’s finish, along with his four-round complete decrease than simply six of his 29 rivals. In different phrases, the outcome was hardly a foregone conclusion.
Nor did Viktor Hovland run away with issues. Collin Morikawa was tied for the lead after the primary spherical and performed within the closing pairing on Saturday after starting the week at only one beneath par. Certain, Hovland opened up a six-shot lead on Saturday when he shot 66 and Morikawa shot 73. However by the 14th gap on Sunday he confronted a 24-foot par putt simply to maintain his lead from shrinking to 2 over a hard-charging Xander Schauffele.
He made the putt. After which he birdied 16-17-18, inflating the ultimate profitable margin to five. However how properly they’d every performed was outstanding; even in stroke play they’d have been seven pictures away from the third-place finisher. This was going to be a two-horse race whatever the format. Generally we get blowouts. However by means of 5 playings of this model of the Tour Championship we’ve seen nice duels most of the time.
In 2019 the Tour Championship gave us Rory McIlroy buzzing previous Brooks Koepka after a summer season wherein issues had gone the opposite approach round.
In 2020 Dustin Johnson began within the lead and held off Schauffele, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm to remain there, previewing his upcoming Masters win within the course of.
In 2021 Patrick Cantlay and Rahm traded blows down the stretch; Cantlay took the title by a single shot.
In 2022 Rory McIlroy chased down Scottie Scheffler in one other one-on-one duel, turning a six-stroke deficit right into a one-shot win.
And in 2023 we bought a duel between two of the highest 5 – 6 gamers on the earth. Hovland shot 63. Schauffele shot 62. Neither made a bogey.
I’m open to a inventive resolution that might enhance issues. I’m right down to work in match play, if there’s a option to keep away from the drudgery of simply two matches (a closing plus a comfort) on Sunday afternoon. I’m sport to maneuver the finale to totally different venues every year if that’d assist the spark (and sponsors would cooperate). I’m open! However you’re additionally allowed to benefit from the Tour Championship for what it’s. As a result of Viktor Hovland was an extremely deserving champion and Xander Schauffele pushed rattling exhausting en path to runner-up. We might do lots worse.
Who gained the week?
Viktor Hovland gained the Tour Championship, he gained the FedEx Cup, he gained $18 million, he gained for the second week in a row and he gained the hearts and minds of golf followers all over the place. I’d say kudos to Viktor however he looks like he doesn’t want something else in the intervening time.
Megan Khang bogeyed No. 17 on the CPKC Girls’s Open, which meant she stepped to the 18th tee down one chasing her first win in 191 tries on the LPGA Tour. Dangerous information: there had solely been 4 birdies on No. 18 all day.
However that’s didn’t appear to faze Khang. She striped her tee shot. After which she flagged her strategy, stiffing an iron to 5 ft earlier than pouring that in for birdie to drive a playoff with former World No. 1 Jin Younger Ko.
Her placing stroke was regular. However she got here off the course trembling.
“There have been positively nerves. I used to be shaking signing my scorecard. I triple-checked that scorecard to ensure every thing was appropriate,” she mentioned.
Because it seems, par was sufficient. Ko bought in bother off the tee within the first playoff gap and by no means recovered, leaving Khang to two-putt from the perimeter for the win.
“Eight years is a very long time,” she mentioned. “It’s nice to get the primary.”
Chan Kim hadn’t gained on the Korn Ferry Tour till final week. Now? He’s gained twice on the Korn Ferry Tour! Kim gained the Albertsons Boise Open, taking part in all the week (!) with out a bogey en path to a 66-62-64-64 exhibiting. The win strikes him to No. 2 on the KFT’s factors checklist, locking up his PGA Tour card for 2024. Nicely earned.
Trish Johnson gained the U.S. Senior Girls’s Open, making par at No. 18 to hold tight to a one-stroke victory at Waverley Nation Membership in Portland, Ore.
Gross co-winners, issues of that nature.
Xander Schauffele completed second on the Tour Championship leaderboard and T1 within the secret gross leaderboard, incomes $6.5 million within the course of. In 5 years of this format, Schauffele has now completed runner-up thrice. He’s had the low gross rating twice. And that’s ignoring 2017, when he gained the event.
He sounded understandably involved in regards to the renovation coming to East Lake earlier than subsequent yr’s occasion.
“The man that’s going to return, Andrew Inexperienced, he mentioned he’s going to take out a number of bushes and it’s a bit regarding, to be trustworthy,” he mentioned. “I’m not a member right here. I hear members are excited. However as a Tour professional, we discuss distance and all these issues, however the factor that we are able to’t do is hit it by means of bushes. So whenever you begin taking a bunch of bushes off a property it positively can change the way it performs. And I’m hoping that East Lake retains its tooth. As a result of when it performs exhausting you shoot 10- or 12-under you’re going to win this golf event.”
The exhibiting additionally means one other sort-of win for Schauffele, who has spent the previous couple of years racking up victories which can be barely troublesome to place in a field. A sampling of wins that aren’t fairly PGA Tour particular person victories:
2020 Tour Championship, low gross
2020 Olympics gold medal
2022 Zurich Traditional staff win (with Patrick Cantlay)
2022 J.P. McManus Professional-Am winner
2023 Tour Championship, tied for low gross
It was a spectacular cap to a stable season for Schauffele, who hasn’t missed a reduce for the reason that 2022 Masters. Splendid.
It’s good when shedding nonetheless means profitable.
Scottie Scheffler had an odd finish to a spectacular (however unusual) season by ending T6 on the Tour Championship, a whopping 16 strokes behind Hovland. You already know the statistical breakdown that’s coming now: Scheffler hit it fairly properly (although his strategy numbers have been worse than standard) however had the worst placing numbers within the subject, shedding 5.5 strokes for the week simply on the greens. Credit score to him for not publicly snapping any flatsticks by this level, both over his knee or the knee of the following reporter to pry on the topic.
And Jon Rahm, who entered the playoffs as FedEx Cup No. 1 and is the frontrunner to win Participant of the Yr, completed T18 after an uncharacteristic five-over-par weekend, the second-highest rating within the subject. The World No. 3 logged his fourth win of 2023 by the second week of April and completed runner-up on the Open however completed the season with a little bit of a whimper. It nonetheless looks like a protected assumption that he’ll gear again up by the Ryder Cup.
Who’s working with who?!
I met Hovland’s coach-slash-confidante, Joe Mayo, at East Lake. He agreed to talk so long as it wasn’t an interview; he’s eager to remain behind the scenes. However Hovland shouted him out post-win anyway.
“When he got here on board he had no thought how I performed, what I used to be doing, what it regarded like. So he form of had a contemporary set of eyes,” he mentioned. “Yeah, he’s simply introduced a number of math and physics to my golf sport and we’ve simply utilized that, put a number of hours in, and humorous sufficient it really works.”
It positive does.
Once I arrived on the driving vary on Monday afternoon of the Tour Championship, Hovland and Mayo have been on one finish of the vary — lower than 24 hours after his win on the BMW, I would add — and on the different finish of the vary was Tom Kim and his coach, Chris Como. I didn’t understand that pair was working collectively however it looks like excellent news; Como has achieved some actually spectacular stuff with Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Day and Si Woo Kim in very latest reminiscence. Tom Kim logged a T2 on the Open shortly after they started working collectively; he completed high 10 on the BMW, too. Brilliant occasions forward.
NEWS FROM SEATTLE
Monday End HQ.
After spending the beginning of the week in full sweat mode on the Tour Championship I zipped again to run Hood to Coast, an enormous ol’ relay race in Oregon that begins at Mt. Hood and finishes (you guessed it!) on the coast, the place we took a cold, triumphant plunge into the Pacific.
I’d by no means achieved something fairly like this earlier than however it was infectious to be round such a optimistic assortment of individuals all striving for one thing, a bunch of unabashed try-hards on an journey, with completion way more essential than competitors. In golf I typically marvel on the sight of a jam-packed driving vary, everybody looking for self-improvement and enlightenment. This was like that however everybody cheering for one another. Good occasions. (And good that the Tour Championship streams to rural Oregon, too.)
3 issues to look at this week.
1. Viktor talks cash.
By no means change, child.
2. Viktor talks about his haters.
Sorry should you’ve seen this interview already; once we ran it initially I didn’t understand he’d win three of his subsequent eight begins. We’ve actually been milking this factor. However this clip was significantly enjoyable, on Hovland’s self-image, his public picture and his unknowability:
3. The PGA Tour offseason…
It’s right here! That doesn’t imply there’s no golf happening. Nevertheless it does imply the highest canine might be a bit bit quieter. And maybe the Monday End might be, too. However I like being right here, breaking it down with you guys. Thanks for studying all season and for studying what’s subsequent to return, too!
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