Koepka’s hands, Bryson’s future, Block’s confusion | Monday Finish

From Brooks Koepka’s hands to Tyrrell Hatton’s sneaky rally to LIV drama and more, here are 10 PGA Championship sights you might have missed.

The post Koepka’s hands, Bryson’s future, Block’s confusion | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

From Brooks Koepka’s hands to Tyrrell Hatton’s sneaky rally to LIV drama and more, here are 10 PGA Championship sights you might have missed.

The post Koepka’s hands, Bryson’s future, Block’s confusion | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we, too, are extending a sponsor’s exemption to Michael Block. Free access to next week’s column, Mike! Let’s get to it.

In lieu of our weekly programming I’d like to fun through a few sights and sounds still rattling around my notebook (and Notes app) from being on the ground at Oak Hill. It was a big-time golf course, a big-time leaderboard and a dramatic Sunday filled with twists and turns.

Before we dive in, big thanks to those of you who flagged me down and said nice things this week — it was really cool to be there and to mix it up with some fellow golf junkies, not to mention the best people in golf: regular readers of the Monday Finish. Without further ado, I present 10 learnings from the PGA:

1. Brooks Koepka’s hands do not shake

There’s a moment in The Departed where Leonardo DiCaprio is talking to his therapist and describing his ability to remain calm under intensely stressful circumstances.

“Your heart rate is jacked. Your hand? Steady,” he says. “That’s one thing I learned about myself in prison: My hand. Does not shake. Ever.”

That line kept popping into my head as I watched Brooks Koepka lag-putting on Sunday at the PGA Championship. I’m not sure why his lagging ability stood out rather than his short putting, say, or his laser-like iron shots. Perhaps it’s because lag putting has everything to do with feel, and in my experience feel is the first thing to go when you’re nervous.

I was curious enough that I asked Koepka to dive into some physiology after his win. What, specifically, does his body feel like under final-round major nerves? He gave a thoughtful response and said he doesn’t actually think of it as nerves.

“To me it’s excitement; right? I’ve got to slow down, for me,” he said. “I’ve got to start walking slower because my stride just wants to keep going. I want to be the first one to the ball and hit it and just play the quickest round of golf ever.”

Brooks Koepka won his fifth major championship at Oak Hill on Sunday.

Brooks Koepka won the PGA in 10 seconds — but it hurt to get there

By: Dylan Dethier

Koepka’s caddie Ricky Elliott spoke to that later, too, explaining that his guy is trying to control his own pace so that he’s playing on his terms instead of somebody else’s. As for those hands?

“I don’t think my hands or my heart rate gets up,” Koepka said. “I don’t think about the next shot. I always just think about what’s going on. Like, if you walk down 16, I’m not thinking, oh, I’ve got to do this on 17 or 18. I’m just thinking, whatever the next shot might be and then until I run out of shots.”

So, yeah. You might feel something in your hands over a four-footer for five bucks on No. 18. But Koepka doesn’t. Or, if he does, he’s not telling us. I’ll choose to believe this: His hands. Do not shake. Ever.

2. The Course Next Door was open for play.

On Sunday afternoon I was standing at the corner of Oak Hill’s property where the 14th green borders the 15th tee. It’s a sensational spot; you can see the action around a drivable par-4 as well as a short par-3. But you can also see something else: Another golf course. Irondequoit Country Club doesn’t just border Oak Hill. The two basically overlap. They share a view. They share an architect, too, as Donald Ross was also behind the original Irondequoit design.

And on Sunday, just after 5 p.m., as the twosome of Rory McIlroy and Michael Block inspected their putts at No. 14, a twosome in a cart rolled through in the background. They were playing quickly, as a twosome in a cart on an empty country club course would tend to. I wondered if they’d been inspired by the PGA or if they were rushing through their round to catch the end of play.

There’s Michael Block on the left, putting — and a golf cart in the distance from an evening round at Irondequoit. Dylan Dethier

It was a reminder that you can love golf without caring particularly about professional golf — even when the best players in the world are just a couple hundred yards away.

But just a couple minutes after they drove away, something funny happened…

3. In person, Michael Block’s ace was confusing for a moment.

I wonder what the Irondequoit twosome thought as they reached the next green and heard a thunderous roar come up from Oak Hill’s shortest hole.

The breeze seemed to pick up right as the Block-McIlroy pair reached the tee. And while the Northern Irishman committed the hole’s cardinal sin — short-siding himself down the hill right of the green — his club-pro compatriot chose better. Block’s chipped 7-iron flew dead at the pin. But what happened next was slightly confusing.

Because 15 plays into the sun in the evening, it was tough to see exactly where the ball landed. It was doubly tough to see where the ball landed because it landed in the hole. It vanished immediately.

From my vantage point I figured it was knocked stiff. But there were two roars: an initial roar from the people who’d seen it slam-dunk and then, a couple seconds later, a louder roar as the message spread: it went in! The second tier of response came with screaming, with hugging, with beer-tossing. Block’s story already seemed unbelievable and then this happened? It was literally unbelievable. There was one part you did see on TV: Block seemed to be among the last to know that it had gone in.

“Rory. Did it go in?!”

Either he didn’t know or he wanted the satisfaction of hearing the World No. 3 tell him the good news. Either way, well played.

I understand why he wouldn’t believe it at first, either. It seemed too good to be true.

(Sidenote: as evidenced from the lead image of this story, McIlroy enjoyed his final-round pairing but felt some frustration coming home, too.)

4. Tyrrell Hatton had a nice long weekend.

If you don’t count Thursday, that is. Tyrrell Hatton opened his PGA with a disappointing round of 77. But then he battled back with a two-under 68 on Friday to make the cut on the number. He shot 69 on a trying Saturday, just one of nine players to shoot under par. And then he closed with a Sunday 67. His T15 didn’t get as much play as that of Michael Block, but I’m not sure any T15 ever has.

Just how good was Hatton Friday through Sunday? So good that only Koepka was better. Hatton was six under par for those three days, well behind Koepka (11 under) but at least one shot better than anybody else in the field. Hatton is obviously demonstrative on the course, but he actually tends to reset pretty well between shots — and he’s playing some of the best golf of anyone in the world.

Keep him in mind for Royal Liverpool, plus everything between now and then.

5. Viktor Hovland cares a lot about how he plays — and very little about your opinion on his outfits.

For the second major in a row, Viktor Hovland finished inside the top five. For the second major in a row Hovland’s outfits got dragged on social media. And for the second major in a row Hovland very much does not care.

Not caring is, of course, the correct attitude here. I’m all in favor of outfit jokes on social media — the players wear outfits to generate a reaction! it’s all good! — but Hovland is a 25-year-old star professional athlete. He looks good in basically anything. Golf fans, on the other hand, are unlikely to know much about the frontier of fashion. Hovland donned a series of red-orange-yellow J. Lindeberg fits that seemed to range from “Oklahoma State orange” to “tequila sunrise.”

Hovland made his feelings on the subject pretty clear in a press conference. Day-to-day, he said, he wears “a lot of gray, black, and that’s about it.”

Why the bold on-course choices, then?

“Well, J. Lindeberg, they give me this stuff and pay me money to do so, so I just show up and wear what they want me to wear,” he said.

Afterwards he expanded to the GOLF.com cameras.

“I don’t give a s— anyways,” he said with a laugh.

This really just doubles as an opportunity to plug our behind-the-scenes video series from the week, Seen and Heard, where we took you from the rental house to the media center to the range to the press conferences. We’ve never done anything quite like it and I’d encourage you to toss the playlist of videos on YouTube in the background and let the week that was wash over you.

6. Bryson and Brooks are looking forward in different ways.

Most of the time pros who play well for a day or two are quick to point out that it’s just one round and therefore means very little. But this week Bryson DeChambeau seemed to view his opening-round 66 as proof he was back. And not just back — better than ever.

DeChambeau seemed a little bit different. Not just because he’s lost weight (he has!) nor because he played well (he did!) but because he seemed slightly more appreciative, more grateful, less eager to stand out and more focused on shooting the lowest score he could. DeChambeau has gone through a lot of change over the last year-plus; his on-course life transformed when he joined LIV and his off-course life transformed when he lost his father. As life and golf have ticked on, DeChambeau has a new goal, one that sounded somewhat un-Bryson-like:

“I want to be just stable now,” he said. “I’m tired of changing, trying different things.”

I thought that struck an interesting contrast with Brooks Koepka, particularly when the two frenemies were paired together on Saturday. While DeChambeau seemed to be reinventing a new, more stable version of himself, Koepka seemed to be looking into the past, knowing that if he could just be that guy again, he’d do just fine.

The most interesting part? Both succeeded. Koepka succeeded more, of course. He won the tournament and it felt like old times when he did; his style of win felt very similar to major triumphs in 2017 and 2018 and 2019. He wound back the clock. And DeChambeau’s slightly muted version of himself seemed to work, too; he didn’t win but threw down a T4, his best major-championship result since winning the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Now we’ll see if this Brooks and this Bryson are here to stay.

7. Garbage plates just aren’t all that good.

I’m sorry. I really am. I wanted to love a garbage plate. I love many of the things that exist in a garbage plate. If it was late at night, I was heavily intoxicated and extremely hungry, I might be more amenable to embracing the garbage. But I was left wanting more. If you’re coming to the area, sure. Go check ’em out. Split one with a buddy or two. But then get some wings and call it a day before somebody gets hurt.

8. Water, grass and people remain a slippery combination.

Things began to get messy after a little rain on Friday. They got a lot messier after significant rainfall on Saturday. And things only got worse with increased foot traffic from Bills Mafia and friends, who turned out in droves all week and were slip-sliding their way through muddy corridors by Sunday afternoon, just looking to catch a glimpse of the action. It was a pretty striking sight, the green of the grass on the holes versus the brown of the walkways in between. I saw a few days ruined. In-person golf spectating requires balance. And vigilance.

9. A lot of people seemed happy for Brooks Koepka.

As Koepka made his way from the 18th green to the scoring area, Block was the first player to interrupt the parade to congratulate him on his win. He was hardly the last. McIlroy was notably congratulatory, too; the two have been particularly chummy in recent months. McIlroy shared an embrace with Koepka and another with Elliott, a fellow Northern Irishman. Scottie Scheffler gave Koepka a warm greeting, too, as did DeChambeau. Rivalries past and present deferred to the gravity of the moment. World No. 1 Jon Rahm sang his praises on CBS’ broadcast, too:

“When he gets in contention he’s like a shark in the water. He smells blood,” he said.

Koepka’s win was the first for an active LIV golfer, and while that dumped fuel on the fires that are golf’s ongoing culture wars, on the grounds the animosity was far less obvious. Nobody from the PGA Tour side of things seemed put off by Koepka’s win (although it’s still unclear how U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson feels about his team’s makeup). But the LIV guys on site didn’t do much in the way of gloating, either. DeChambeau said the win was validating for LIV, and Cameron Smith pointed out the circuit still has excellent players. But Koepka is hardly the league’s standard-bearer and downplayed the idea that his win was a win for LIV. This was, first and foremost, a win for him.

I don’t know what this means for the future of professional golf; I’m taking a break from the prediction business. But my favorite quote of the week came from Rahm, who’d been asked to make a LIV-Tour prediction.

“It all depends who you talk to,” he said. “If you talk to a LIV player, this is going to be great, it’s only going to get better. You talk to people on the other side, in two years they’re going to be done. I really couldn’t tell you. I have no clue. I really have no clue.”


10. The Rochester airport was overrun Monday morning.

I was up late on Sunday night, first writing and then recording a podcast and then reliving the week over a lukewarm Genessee Cream Ale. But then I was up early, arriving at the Rochester airport just before 5 a.m. for the first flight of the day to Chicago and then on to Seattle from there.

It was mobbed.

When I arrived at the rental-car center I was encouraged to basically park in the corner, wherever I could fit the car, check-out and receipts be damned. When I walked into the terminal, the security line already snaked one direction and then wrapped around in the other, even the TSA pre-check line, jam-packed with hundreds of quarter-zipped, Oak Hill-logoed flyers.

“We should be getting paid double for this,” one security person muttered.

The stars were out: Think CBS’s Trevor Immelman, ESPN’s Michael Collins, a smattering of Tour coaches, agents, industry types. It was a reminder of two realities of the golfing world. The first is that when the Tour comes to a mid-sized city, it’s the best. It’s the thing happening that week. The community rallies around it and embraces the event, giving it a real sense of local ownership. Oak Hill earned significant praise all week but the crowds were sensational, too.

The second reminder was just how quickly the circus moves on. Every flight was full. By breakfast on Monday, nearly everyone who’d traveled in for the weekend would be gone. One employee told me this was the busiest he’d seen the airport in a decade. That would be 2013, when Rochester hosted its last PGA Championship.

We’ll see when it comes back next.

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