A heroic triple bogey, LIV’s shifting strategy, Tiger Woods’ surprise showing | Monday Finish

From Tiger Woods, Tom Kim and Greg Norman to Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Spencer Levin and the MENA Tour, golf had no lack of drama this week.

The post A heroic triple bogey, LIV’s shifting strategy, Tiger Woods’ surprise showing | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

From Tiger Woods, Tom Kim and Greg Norman to Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Spencer Levin and the MENA Tour, golf had no lack of drama this week.

The post A heroic triple bogey, LIV’s shifting strategy, Tiger Woods’ surprise showing | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re considering adding a cut halfway through the column, so the MF Tour is better positioned for world ranking points. Let’s get to it!

An intriguing hodgepodge of golf action this week — let’s fork through it with a rousing round of WINNERS AND NOT-WINNERS. (We don’t call people “losers” in this space. Unless they really deserve it.)


The card in question belongs to Tom Kim, and by “clean card” we actually mean four clean cards in a row, because Kim did not make a single bogey en route to a three-shot win at the Shriners Children’s Open. Zero bogeys! Instead, Kim kept a satisfying ratio of two pars for every birdie, finishing the week with 48 pars and 24 birdies to post his winning score of 24 under par. (That’s math even a golf writer can do.)

What does going bogey-free actually look like? It means keeping the ball in play off the tee; Kim hit 41 of 56 fairways. It means hitting a lot of greens; Kim went 63 for 72 on the week, including 33 for 36 on the weekend. And it means getting up and down; this is self-explanatory given the zero bogeys but Kim was nine for nine in scrambling on the week.

In addition to becoming just the third player since 1974 to win and stay bogey-free over 72 holes (shoutout Justin Ray), Kim is the first to win twice on Tour before the age of 21 since his hero, Tiger Woods. (And yeah, Kim did it six months earlier.) Not a bad way to join good company.


There’s losing and then there’s going down swinging. Patrick Cantlay went down swinging (and dropping, and swinging, and dropping…). There would be no coward’s death for the World No. 4, who battled his way to the 72nd tee tied with Kim atop the Shriners leaderboard before hooking his tee shot into a bush down the left side, where his ball stayed.

Cantlay was characteristically literal in his description of what happened next.

“Yeah, not too unlucky. I made a bad swing, and it went where it went,” he said. “After it was kind of in the bush there, I figured the only chance I had to stay in the tournament was to try to get it back in the fairway. Obviously I couldn’t get it back in the fairway.”

That all checks out. Cantlay could have taken an unplayable, laid up and secured a comfy solo second-place finish. Instead he took a lash at the ball, moving it just a few inches and failing to get it out of the bush. Then he took an unplayable, hit his next in the water, dropped again, hit wedge to 36 feet and made the putt for a memorable triple bogey. As far as 72nd-hole 7s go, this one was a real keeper.


I always have a special admiration for a golfer who is expected to win and then actually goes out there and does it. Enter Jon Rahm at this week’s Spanish Open, where he was the main attraction and heavy, heavy favorite. At, say, the PGA Championship, there are so many elite players that the favorites are typically in the 15-1 to 20-1 range. But Rahm teed it up at preposterous +225 odds, a number generally reserved for Tiger Woods in his prime.

Rahm took it from there, closing a wild week with a final-round 62 that landed him a six-shot victory in what he called a “perfect” week. He won in front of family and friends and, in doing so, equaled childhood hero Seve Ballesteros‘ career total of three Spanish Open wins.

“I’ve spoken many times about how that 1997 Ryder Cup and Seve making the win that week, some friends of my dad’s started me playing golf,” Rahm said. “Otherwise, who knows what else I’d be? I’m here because of that alone, and everything else is down to the path that he’s paved for so many of us.”


The golf world went understandably bonkers over Monday qualifier and cult hero Spencer Levin’s new Happy Gilmore-style putter.

“I just wasn’t putting very good, and then I was fooling around with a split-grip on a normal putter,” he told the PGA Tour pre-tournament. “Then I remembered that my old man had this putter in his garage where it was kinda designed the way I’m doing it.”

“I just borrowed it and the first day I used it I putted it great,” he added. “So I’ve been using it ever since.”

The bad news is that the putter let him down. Levin went ice-cold on the greens in Round 1 and never quite found his stroke; he finished 76th in strokes gained putting out of 77 players to make the cut. But there’s good news buried in there: He made the cut! Levin hadn’t played the weekend of a PGA Tour event since October 2017, and he hit it so well he was on the edge of weekend contention. Levin finished the week first in the field in driving accuracy, hitting 46 of 56 fairways, and was 14th in strokes gained tee-to-green. That added up to a T44 finish, which won’t earn Levin any awards but jumps him from 1618 to 1305 in the world and inches him closer to 150 career made cuts (he’s currently at 147). Progress!


Shoutout to Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who at 34 years young finally got across the line in an LPGA event over the weekend. The Englishwoman played her first LPGA season in 2012; she’s battled through close calls, self-doubt and serious injury since then. Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship looked like it might be another near-miss when her four-stroke lead evaporated on the front nine, but three birdies in the middle of her round helped her regain the lead and playing the final seven holes in two under par was enough to stay there. As she entered her winner’s press conference on Sunday, she said the congratulatory texts were pouring in — 118 and counting.

“Surreal,” she said. “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I’ve waited a long time for this. It’s been many times in my career that I didn’t think this was ever going to happen, so just really grateful in this moment.”


It must have been a bit surreal for Rickie Fowler to see his ex-caddie Joe Skovron earn his first win in his first PGA Tour start on the bag of Tom Kim. While we’re sure Fowler was delighted for Skovron — the two say they remain good friends — it’s a strange juxtaposition. Kim’s first win was the final week Fowler and Skovron worked together. His second win came this week, when Fowler missed the cut.

It’s a season of change for Fowler, who has a new caddie, Ricky Romano, some new Cobra irons, and has returned to working with swing guru Butch Harmon. The changes got off to a hot start when he finished T6 at the Fortinet, but this week was a slight setback: During Thursday’s opening round Fowler had the worst statistical driving day (-3.607 SG) of anybody in the field, and while everything else was fine, Fowler shot 70-70 to miss the cut by two shots. Brighter times ahead.


It was interesting hearing LIV winner Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra, who won in Bangkok over the weekend, describe how he views his decision to go from college to LIV instead of a more traditional path.

“Yeah, it wasn’t easy, but I feel this was the best for me and for my future, and what LIV is doing is something unbelievable,” the former Oklahoma State All-American said. “The PGA Tour University doesn’t give you much; it can just give you six events, and then if you don’t play good — one of my best friends Austin Eckroat was playing Monday qualifying all year.”

By contrast, Chacarra described his current situation as one in which money is not even a consideration, thanks to his simple tastes and large guaranteed contract. Having won $4.75 million on Sunday ($4 million for the individual win plus a winning team bonus) we’re guessing he’ll figure something out.

Jon Rahm was among those to offer noteworthy congratulations to Chacarra.


After Bryson DeChambeau‘s impressive run in Long Drive last week, it was interesting to see how that speed-specific training would affect his actual golf game. We see a similar trend every year at the Home Run Derby, where the offshoot of mindbending power is sometimes second-half batting average. According to DeChambeau, it’s not an easy transition.

“Yeah, it was definitely a struggle with my driver,” he said after the first round. “Coming off of Long Drive, it’s not the same swing, so trying to rekindle that driver swing I have that helps it go straight. I have the distance, just not accurate one bit.”

DeChambeau finished 14th in the 48-player field, nine strokes behind Chacarra.


We still don’t know when we’ll next see Tiger Woods playing in a real-life golf tournament. That much has been true since his emotional missed cut at the St. Andrews Open in July. But we did see him over the weekend, when footage came out from Woods’ trip to Pebble Beach for his TGR Junior Invitational, which hosted 60 boys and girls for a two-day event across The Hay — Pebble’s short course, recently redesigned by Woods — and nearby Spanish Bay.

Thanks to one passerby who happened to stop in and capture Woods making his way around the Hay, we got to see a few clipped wedges and one long-range made putt. And it was neat to see Woods standing on the first tee, shaking hands and taking pictures with each of the contestants. This is the next chapter of Woods’ career and of his legacy — but we’re not quite done with the on-course stuff, either.


This status could change to “winner” as soon as this week, I suppose. But thus far, LIV’s end-around strategy to acquire world ranking points has just thrown things into further disarray. Its “strategic alliance” with the shell of the MENA Tour seemed to be trolling the process, essentially taking over an existing mini-tour to exploit a loophole in the system while alternating $20 million purses (LIV events) with $75,000 ones (MENA events).

Why can’t LIV get points? Inside LIV Golf’s controversial World Ranking quest

By: Dylan Dethier

While the OWGR said it would have to review LIV’s attempt for points via MENA, in an interview with journalist Hugo Costa, Chacarra said there was a plan afoot to add a 36-hole “cut” to LIV events that would check that box of the world ranking board. (Shoutout to my translation consultant, Tomas.) The cut he described would only eliminate the lowest three competitors from final-round individual competition and they would still be allowed to play for their team scores. Per Chacarra, that plan looks promising, pending a meeting that commissioner Greg Norman will have on Tuesday.

While LIV has made no final decisions on instituting a cut, the idea of eliminating just three players from the field — going from 48 to 45 — would obviously fly in the face of the spirit of an actual 36-hole cut. LIV seems determined to gain access to the world ranking system or to further undermine the institution that upholds it. Maybe it’ll do both. Stay tuned!


This belongs to Matt NeSmith, who tied for second with Cantlay at the Shriners and has been working hard at intentionally upping his mental game. Today’s lesson: patience.

“It’s the same thing that I’ve been working on for eight, nine months now. Just being patient. This is just a bookmark for the next week. I know the tournament ends, but we still tee it up on Thursday in Japan, and the last putt I hit today is just a bookmark for the next week.

“They all mean something at the end of the day. There’s no reason to get worked up over certain kind of putts and shots and things like that. Yeah, you still get nervous, but I’m working on it. It’s hard, but I’m working on it.”

The last putt I hit today is just a bookmark for the next week. There’s a lesson there about consistency, about persistence, about showing up with a good attitude. And shoutout to a professional athlete for using a “bookmark” metaphor.


The Monday Finish (specifically me, Dylan) headed to Northern Ireland to sneak in some end-of-summer dreamy links golf with pal and Drop Zone podcast co-host Sean Zak. Check out Episode 1 of Destination Golf: Linksland below! (The podcast version is below that.)

See you next week!

The author (cautiously) welcomes your comments at dylan_dethier@golf.com.


The post A heroic triple bogey, LIV’s shifting strategy, Tiger Woods’ surprise showing | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.