Rory’s tweets, LIV bank accounts, surprise caddie switch | Monday Finish

Rory McIlroy has logged back on, the PGA Tour and PIF are set for a meeting, LIV added new players and more in this week’s Monday Finish.

The post Rory’s tweets, LIV bank accounts, surprise caddie switch | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

Rory McIlroy has logged back on, the PGA Tour and PIF are set for a meeting, LIV added new players and more in this week’s Monday Finish.

The post Rory’s tweets, LIV bank accounts, surprise caddie switch | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re hiking up the sleeves on our letterman jacket to dive into the week that was. Let’s get to it!


10 people, places and things who won the golfing week.

10. Jon Rahm’s bank account

Let’s start with the obvious. Jon Rahm just kicked off the latest round of LIV poaching, he became a leverage play as PIF begins its latest round of PGA Tour negotiations and he got paid handsomely as a result! How much, exactly? That’s tough to say — LIV doesn’t disclose its contracts and Rahm wouldn’t say, either. Whatever the biggest number you saw ($600 million, say) would include down-the-road payments and equity projections, so it’s not like that sum arrived via direct deposit on Monday morning. But it seems as though he got a lot of money. (Why Rahm and why now? I wrote about that here.)

9. Kalle Samooja’s bank account

It wasn’t just Rahm that joined LIV. Three more players locked in their places for the 2024 season thanks to LIV’s Promotions event. The event’s bizarre structure amounted to an 18-hole qualifying round followed by a second 18-hole qualifying round before scores reset for a 36-hole shootout and Kalle Samooja, 35-year-old Finnish pro, took down medalist honors thanks to birdies on the final two holes.

Samooja is World No. 291. He’ll be joined on LIV by Japanese pro Jinichiro Kozuma, (World No. 523) and Kieran Vincent (World No. 415), who each advanced in a three-for-two playoff. While the goal with Rahm was to create a top-end signing splash, the goal of the Promotions event was to show off LIV’s openness — and provide a spectacle in the process. If last year’s purses were an accurate indication, that means these three have guaranteed themselves some $1.6 million even if they finish last place every week. Not a bad baseline.

8. Aussie golf fans

One neat side-effect of the PGA Tour’s increased offseason (plus LIV’s lengthy offseason) is that we’re seeing more pros get to play more places they wouldn’t otherwise get to.

It’s cool having Min Woo Lee win the Australian PGA Championship. It’s cool seeing he and his sister Minjee Lee in contention in their respective Australian Opens. And it’s cool having Adam Scott and Cameron Smith play both of the above and then stick around to play the Cathedral Invitational, a two-day event won by Scott last week. That looks like the good stuff.

7. LIV golfers in South Africa (again!)

Louis Oosthuizen won the Alfred Dunhill Championship, a co-sanctioned DP World Tour event held in South Africa that finished on Monday after some inclement weather. It was Oosthuizen’s first victory anywhere since the South African Open in 2018. It also marked the third consecutive DP World event in South Africa to be won by a LIV player; Dean Burmester (also of LIV’s Stinger GC) won the other two. Fellow LIV pro Charl Schwartzel (a third teammate!) finished second.

What does this mean? It’s an indicator of the way in which the top South African pros went to LIV. And while the field is hardly reminiscent of a top DP World Tour event, it’s a reminder these guys still have plenty of game.

6. Free-swinging Rory

Make that free-tweeting Rory, I guess. By my accounting, Rory McIlroy — who used to regularly let loose on the bird app — had not sent an original, off-the-cuff tweet since 2017. That changed with last week’s missive on the ball rollback…

…and continued with some clarity that emphasized he feels bifurcation should have been the USGA’s move…

…followed by a suggestion that the average golfer wouldn’t enjoy golf differently by hitting it shorter off the tee…

…which was all followed by a couple particularly spicy Ryder Cup takes, first that the Europeans didn’t need nor miss any LIV players, past or present, at this year’s Ryder Cup…

…and followed by this shot at Henrik Stenson (slash praise of Luke Donald), who was the team captain before leaving for LIV…

It’s safe to say McIlroy’s return to the socials did not generate a universally positive response. So why is he a winner? I’m not sure he is, to be honest. It’s hard to declare anyone spending more time on social media as a “winner.”

I also would have advised McIlroy on his messaging, which got a bit combative. Like, the phrase “You think we play the same stuff you do?” That one’s unlikely to build any bridges. What’s the point in trash-talking your followers?

But it’s entertaining, for one thing. And there also may be some benefit to McIlroy letting it rip. He’s off the Policy Board now. He’s stepped down from his unofficial position as PGA Tour spokesman. He’s free to do and say as he pleases, and as long as he continues to win over fans at golf tournaments he needn’t worry about the negativity in his replies. Shooting from the hip? Why not? This is who McIlroy’s always been. To quote Kevin Durant, arguably sport’s greatest combative tweeter:

“There’s No relax champ. No relax when I’m on Twitter. I’m on 10 until the second I close the app. You relax!!”

Stay dialed up to 10, Rory. Do you.

5. The USGA’s comms team

Remember when people were mad about the rollback? Okay, some of ’em are still very mad. But the golf world’s collective response was cut short by the uproar around Rahm’s announcement. Then the weekend hit. It’s going to be tough to keep up momentum on this thing for four-plus years (the changes don’t take effect until 2028), which makes me think eventually everyone will fall in line behind them. We haven’t heard the end of the objections yet, of course. But it’s nice that everyone got to take a deep breath.

4. Ludvig’s new caddie

The biggest news coming out of the Grant Thornton Invitational was that Ludvig Aberg will be joined by new caddie Joe Skovron for the beginning of the 2024 season, per reporting from Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine.

For those of us who find intrigue in player-caddie pairings, that’s big news for two reasons. No. 1, because Aberg just finished off an incredible debut season on the PGA Tour with a victory at the RSM Classic. No. 2, because Skovron had, up to this point, been on the bag for young star Tom Kim. This leaves his caddie situation in question, too.

Up to this point, Aberg had Jack Clarke on the bag. Clarke’s engaged to Madelene Sagstrom, the Swedish pro who was Aberg’s partner at the Grant Thornton. The duo finished third after a final-round 12-under 60, the best score of the day by three shots. They went out on a high note, at least.

Aberg is now up to No. 32 in the world but analytics suggest he should be higher; DataGolf has him at No. 13 less than a year into his professional career.

3. Lydia Ko and Jason Day

They’d each gone through injury, through coaching changes, through periods of doubt. They’d each experienced career renaissance and satisfying triumphs. And so even though New Zealander Lydia Ko and Aussie Jason Day come from countries that are traditionally rivals, these two made a perfect pair at the Grant Thornton. Their first-round scramble score of 58 wasn’t even the lowest in the field and served as a reminder of just how good the level of golf is. But their second-round alternate-shot score of 66 was even better, outpacing the field by two shots.

When Day and Ko closed out the event with a Sunday 66 it was clear just how much satisfaction they each took from the accomplishment.

“I don’t need to give her advice. I think she’s an absolute gun,” Day said of his partner. “I know she said she has had an off year, and we go through that in golf. That’s just — a long career will be like that. But she’s going to have many more good years than the off years just because of the way she carries herself on the golf course, the way she plays, and her mind.”

Ko grinned as she responded.

“It’s very weird sitting here and getting all these compliments.”

The leaderboard would suggest she earned ’em.

2. The artist formerly known at the Shark Shootout

Let’s be honest, for a moment, about the former Shark Shootout. It was not good. Maybe it was different in person, and maybe it was an enjoyable spectator event, and maybe there were all sorts of benefits of which I’m unaware, and I’m sure there were nice charitable donations! But as a fall season event going up against football I never had a problem skipping right past it.

This week, though, felt different. It felt like the beginning of something cool. The LPGA Tour’s crossover with the PGA Tour meant the Grant Thornton Invitational, the arrival of something we’ve asked for for decades — certainly far longer than I’ve been doing this job. According to SI’s Gabby Herzig, ticket sales more than doubled. According to the broadcast, the crowds were excellent. Rose Zhang said she couldn’t believe how many people were following their group. Sagstrom said she was impressed when the crowd cheered louder for Lexi Thompson than for Thompson’s partner Rickie Fowler.

“It’s something that we’ve been waiting for and looking forward to for a long time. I played a couple mixed events before but not in this format,” Sagstrom added. “It’s just amazing.”

“It’s really good for the game,” Aberg agreed. “It builds relationships that — these guys I would never meet, so it was really cool to hang out with some other people and actually spend time together and play together. The women’s golf is really, really good.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen so many female junior golfers out at an event, especially a PGA Tour event, as I did see them this week,” Day said. It was cool seeing him sign autographs next to LPGA stars, and cool to see top LPGA talents like Ko and Lilia Vu and Ruoning Yin and Nelly Korda alongside Day and Fowler and Aberg and Tony Finau. There’s room for improvement, of course. There are all sorts of ways the event could and should grow. But this felt like a terrific start.

1. The Merger

It just feels more likely now, the long-rumored merger that would join the interests of the PIF with the existing PGA Tour and DP World Tour. Given the PGA Tour’s Policy Board selected an investment group over the weekend (spurred into furious action by LIV’s aggressiveness) and given PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV chairman/PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan are set for a meeting this week, it feels like we’re headed for some sort of collision. LIV is continuing to prove that it’s successful as a disruptor but it still has a long way to go as a viable product with meaningful golf tournaments. The PGA Tour has meaningful tournaments within a meaningful infrastructure — but it needs some money and it needs LIV to stop taking its players. There’s common ground to be found.

Let’s see where we shake out this time next week. Will we see more defections? Or will we see signs of reconciliation?


Not their week.

3. Suspended PGA Tour players

It’s tough enough to fly to Abu Dhabi for a single golf tournament.

It’s even tougher to fly to Abu Dhabi, play 18 holes, shoot 75 and head home with a PGA Tour suspension hanging over your head.

That was the story of Jason Dufner’s weekend after he crashed out of the LIV Promotions event without advancing. And while it’s tough to say how the Tour will mete out punishment for pros who defied Tour recommendations, it was 18 and done for Chris Stroud, a particularly vocal PGA Tour critic, as well as for Dufner, Kyle Stanley and others. In fairness, most of those who signed up have minimal status for next season. But they took a calculated risk in hopes it would pay off.

Two PGA Tour pros with minimal status, Kevin Chappell and Martin Trainer, didn’t get LIV status but finished inside the top 10 on Sunday, granting them passes to the LIV-sponsored International Series on the Asian Tour for next year. That’ll give them somewhere to play, at least, while the rest gets sorted out.

2. Laurie Canter’s Playoff

On the first playoff hole at LIV’s Promotions event, English pro Laurie Canter needed to two-putt to advance and failed to do so. On the second playoff hole? Oh boy.

1. PGA Tour event sponsors

The news that Wells Fargo was ceding its position atop a PGA Tour Signature Event doesn’t bode well for the entire structure — especially considering the terrific turnout year in and year out at Quail Hollow. But that’s the situation we’re in, according to the Charlotte Business Journal, which reports that Wells Fargo wouldn’t meet the Tour’s request for an increase in sponsor funding for the 2025 event.

One-off? Sign of things to come? Further motivation for the Tour to get a deal done? The sponsorship and merger questions are fully intertwined; we won’t have the answer to the former until we know more about the latter.


Monday Finish HQ.

Today is Dec. 11, which happens to also be the earliest sunset of the year in Seattle — 4:17 p.m. (The sun rose at 7:48 this morning, so we’re not working with a ton of daylight.) The afternoons all get brighter from here, gang. Afternoon golf will be back before we know it.


You too, I hope.

I laughed out loud when I first saw this tweet from Carolyn Zacharias and I am still laughing looking at it again now.


3 things to watch this week.

1. Tiger and Charlie

It’s PNC Championship Week, gang. Fun for the whole family!

2. Jay and Yasir

This week’s meet-up is less likely to be streamed but is probably slightly more consequential for the future of the professional golf landscape.

3. Q-School!

It’s back. It’s giving out PGA Tour status. And it’s dishing out heartbreak, too. Even in golf’s era of mega-millions, the stakes don’t get much higher than this event.

We’ll see you next week!

The post Rory’s tweets, LIV bank accounts, surprise caddie switch | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.