Tiger’s Nike mystery, Hovland’s LIV takes, Kisner’s surprise | Monday Finish

Viktor Hovland let loose on LIV and the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods left us with questions and Kevin Kisner revealed a surprising new gig.

The post Tiger’s Nike mystery, Hovland’s LIV takes, Kisner’s surprise | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

Viktor Hovland let loose on LIV and the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods left us with questions and Kevin Kisner revealed a surprising new gig.

The post Tiger’s Nike mystery, Hovland’s LIV takes, Kisner’s surprise | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re just one major victory and one talented golfing relative away from next year’s PNC Championship. See you soon, John Daly II. Let’s get to it!


Who won the week?


In a professional golfing world defined by the PGA Tour vs. LIV, it’s somewhat refreshing to hear a golfer just go ahead and shred both of ’em. Last week, Viktor Hovland had once again found his name in the is-he-going-to-LIV rumor mill, and in the wake of World No. 3 Jon Rahm leaving, the potential departure of World No. 4 raised eyebrows. But Hovland confirmed to the FORE! podcast, hosted by Norway’s Espen Blaker, that he’s sticking with the superior competition on the PGA Tour — at least for now.

“I don’t think their product is that great,” he said of LIV. (The podcast was translated from Norwegian, so take specific word choice with a grain of salt.) “For example, I’m not such a fan of playing without a cut. You need the competition with 150 players and a cut and if you don’t play well enough, you’re out. There is something about it that makes your game a little sharper. If I had gone to LIV, I don’t think I would have become a better golfer.”

That, Hovland said, was the “end of the discussion.” But it wasn’t, really. The reason he considered LIV in the first place, Hovland said, is because of what he considered PGA Tour mismanagement’s “damn bad job.”

“To be clear: I’m not complaining about the position I’m in, and I’m very grateful for everything. But the management has not done a good job,” Hovland said. “They almost see the players as labor, and not as part of the membership. After all, we are the PGA Tour. Without the players, there is nothing.

“When you get to see what happens behind closed doors, how the management actually makes decisions, which are not in the players’ best interest, but best for themselves and what they think is best … they are businessmen who say that, ‘No, it should look like this and that.’ There is a great deal of arrogance behind it all.”

Those are strong words for the Tour’s latest and greatest star, particularly given Hovland just collected the FedEx Cup’s top prize and earned some $35 million on the course in 2023. But they’d certainly rather have him criticizing from within than from an introductory LIV press conference. And kudos to Hovland for speaking his mind. Even if I still have to brush up on my Norwegian.


A report from ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Mark Schlabach offered the latest info that the PGA Tour is nearing a combo deal with the Strategic Sports Group (a consortium of billionaire team owners that include Tom Werner and John Henry of the Boston Red Sox, Steve Cohen of the New York Mets, Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons and Wyc Grousbeck of the Boston Celtics) while talks continue with the Saudi PIF. The PIF deal was scheduled to be worked out by Dec. 31 but could be extended.

Sourcing from the ESPN article was particularly juicy, particularly the source who described the message behind the Rahm signing: “they have so much money, so much muscle — they can still destroy you.”

One other particularly wild selection:

“It was nothing more than a shot across the bow,” said a source familiar with the negotiations. “It was a f— you by PIF to the tour that they can grab anyone, even the guy who was adamant about not joining. Three hundred million dollars is a rounding error to the Saudis. Their message was: ‘You want to keep fighting with us, really? You want to keep talking to everyone and box us out? Good luck with that.’ That’s their message.”


Sources tell the Monday Finish that there are some pretty clear benefits to the Saudi PIF being in business (and having direct access to) the high-powered investors involved with the SSG. And some portion of the SSG investors are intrigued by the possibility of having direct access to the PIF. There is a good chance that this would help some of the savviest (and wealthiest) investors in the world get more and better investments.

Okay, you probably didn’t need sources to tell you that. Power players like this value being connected with each other. And most weeks, it turns out, are good for billionaires. Consider this one of ’em.


Let’s leave the minutiae of the professional golfing world for a minute and turn to our world, the golfer’s world, instead. There’s often hand-wringing about golf’s aging population. Even in the latest golf boom, there’s some concern that a younger generation won’t be into the game. But here’s some compelling evidence from the National Golf Foundation (NGF):

“What may be surprising to some is that interest in golf appears to be strongest among one of the game’s youngest generations – the 18- to 34-year-old age cohort.

“These young adults reported the highest itch to play green-grass golf among all age groups and characterized themselves as being even more “into golf” than prior to the pandemic. In quantifying the latter, this manifests most notably in reading about golf, watching the sport more (on TV, YouTube, social media, etc.), and spending more on golf trips and travel.”

Good news, golf! And good timing for a dose of optimism.

Full article paywalled here.


One of my favorite days of golf TV all year is, interestingly enough, the Friday practice round at the PNC Championship.

Sure, the weekend is terrific. I dig watching the competition. But Friday is when Golf Channel’s interviewers — mostly Todd Lewis, this time — bounce around from group to group, picking up bits of wisdom from top-tier golfers who double as parents and children and coaches and find themselves unusually at ease.

There was Lee Trevino, cracking jokes.

“I was hitting a little 5-hybrid,” he said. “I noticed the bugs were putting their helmets on before I hit!”

There was Tiger Woods with his son Charlie, trash-talking their way through some chip shots. There was Annika Sorenstam and her son Will, seemingly the sweetest 12-year-old alive.

And there was Padraig Harrington, asked about golf and parenting. What came next was an avalanche of wisdom that includes the following pearls:

“Golf’s always been easy [for my kids]. I have golf facilities at home. So I always say to a lot of people, you think providing these to your kids is good, but not really. When it’s easy for kids, they just tend not to want to do it.”

“Let them do what they like while you’re there, let them have a bit of fun. If they want to hit one shot, two shots, 10 shots, play in the bunker, look in the water, whatever they want to do, let them do. And generally bring them home before they get tired. So the best thing that you can do with a kid early on in golf is say hey, we have to go home. Don’t wait until they’re tired and hate it. Wait until they’re still enjoying themselves.”

“Go and have a Pepsi in the bar, wherever it is. Sit there and have an ice cream, and spend 10, 15 minutes … if every time they play golf it’s bringing that happy memory of when they were a kid and they just got a bit of alone time, a bit of quiet time, a bit of big-boy time, where they’re sitting there in the clubhouse and enjoying it…”

“Don’t bring them to the nice country club. That’s no use and makes them soft anyway.”

Three minutes of goodness below:


Look, there was probably too much hype for Team Tiger in a two-day, two-man scramble where the best team doesn’t necessarily win. But the sight of Tiger, Sam and Charlie strutting their way to a Sunday 61 was pretty cool to see. Seeing Woods complete another tournament at “game speed” (his new favorite phrase) without showing signs of crumbling was encouraging. Woods has plenty of room to improve if Bernhard Langer is wrecking him, of course. But so far this comeback there’s nothing to say he couldn’t do it.


King of the December DP World Tour events! Louis Oosthuizen won the Mauritius Open over the weekend. Better yet — he did so at La Reserve Golf Club, a course he helped design. Better than that? Last week Oosthuizen won the Alfred Dunhill Championship for his first worldwide win in five years. It only took a week to get his next one.

Oosthuizen’s victory also marked the fourth consecutive DP World event in South Africa won by a LIV golfer; Dean Burmester won two in a row before Oosthuizen won a pair of his own. Add in Joaquin Niemann‘s victory at the Australian Open and it’s been a nice offseason for the barnstorming LIV crew.


The guy just seems to be doing pretty well.


Add it to the list of preposterous honors for the ageless Bernhard Langer: He’s now the owner of a record five PNC Championship victories.


This time last year Kevin Kisner was coming off a Presidents Cup appearance and sitting at the edge of the top 30 in the world. That’s probably why, when Dan Hicks announced that Kisner would be joining NBC’s broadcast booth for the Sentry and the WM Phoenix Open, my first reaction was pure surprise — followed by a lightbulb reaction. Huh. That actually makes perfect sense.

Kisner’s dry humor has made him the star of many a podcast and video. His honesty (and cynicism) have made him a fan favorite. If he can find a way to be himself on TV, that’s a winning combination. And the fact that he suddenly lost the ability to hit a tee shot in competition means his competitive future may be something of a question mark anyway.

While his quote in the press release didn’t exactly inspire (“I’m excited to have this opportunity with NBC Sports to watch the game of golf from the other side and comment on what I’m seeing on the course.”) I’m counting on the real thing to include some really good stuff. Let’s see this man in action from golf’s biggest party and see what comes of it.


There are a lot of lawyers winning all over the golf world at the moment. PGA Tour lawyers. PIF lawyers. SSG lawyers. And as a special bonus, PGA Tour players hiring lawyers to ask for more information from their PGA Tour peers! The Tour is funding an internal investigation from a group of its second-tier players, which you can read about here. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for Tour unity. But it sure bodes well for the lawyers. They always seem to win.


Life is all about balance.


Word on the Orlando streets seemed to be that this could be Tiger Woods‘ final week as a Nike Golf athlete. How strange is that?! Woods used to wear Nike shoes and head-to-toe clothes while playing Nike clubs and Nike balls. Even now, after the discontinuation of their hard goods line, we’ve gotten so used to the swoosh on his shirt that it’s hard to picture Woods wearing anything else.

Asked about the chatter surrounding Woods’ Nike deal, he offered a terse reply.

There’s been a lot of chatter the last month or so on your relationship with Nike, and where that’s going. Can you give any clarity to that?

Woods: “I’m still wearing their product.” 

Is this the end of it, coming up? 

Woods: “I’m still wearing their product.” 

So, there’s that.

There’s also the FootJoy shoe thing. There’s the Charlie-wearing-Greyson thing. And there’s the fact that Woods will likely bring his TW brand and logo wherever he ends up next.

There’s a stable of high-profile players who wear Nike Golf clothing including Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood and Woods. We won’t just be eager to see them play in 2024 — we’ll be eager to see what they’re wearing when they do.


Jack Clarke, who was serving as Ludvig Aberg‘s caddie until last week’s breakup, admitted to National Club Golfer that he didn’t see it coming.

Asked by NCG whether he felt any shock or disappointment, Clarke said he felt a little bit of both. “Having the success we had, I thought it was going to last a little bit longer than expected, so I think it was a little bit of both,” he said.

The issue, he said, stemmed from Aberg wanting someone on the bag who’d been in pressure situations at the highest levels of men’s pro golf.

“From that point, I can’t really argue too much from the men’s side,” Clarke said. “But obviously from my experience and doing the big women’s majors and big women’s events, I know it’s not the same, but I can understand it on the men’s side of things. I couldn’t really argue my case there.”

Clarke went out of his way to wish the best to Aberg and his new caddie Joe Skovron, who was most recently on the bag for Tom Kim.

“Joe is a really nice guy, and hopefully it works out well for both of them,” he said.


That’s not waiters as in servers at a restaurant. That’s waiters as in the golfers who just played three rounds in miserable conditions, fighting for the opportunity of their lives — and then spent all day Sunday just killing time! Bad weather pushed Sunday’s final round of Q-school to Monday, which means five PGA Tour cards plus plenty of Korn Ferry Tour status will get doled out after an extra 24 hours of nerviness. Wesley Bryan seemed to make the most of it…


Monday Finish HQ.

This week’s news isn’t from Seattle but in fact from my hometown of Williamstown, Mass., where I spent the weekend. My Saturday afternoon included a stroll around Taconic Golf Club, which closes in early November, as is customary ’round here. That’s a marked contrast to the courses of Seattle, where the temperature dips below freezing much less often and thus courses remain open all season. It was a pleasant day on Taconic, where the grass was green and the sun was shining. And while it was somewhat torturous to walk my favorite course in the world without a club in hand, it was a good reminder just how great golf courses are to walk.

And I didn’t miss a shot.


3 things to watch this week.

Since August I’ve been claiming we’re headed to golf’s offseason. Now there’s really no denying it. Not until next week, at least, when preseason begins in earnest.

1. Q-school.

Monday afternoon means five PGA Tour cards on the line. Check it out if you like professional golf distilled to its purest form of anxiety.

2. The meeting.

After a couple delays, this is allegedly the week we’ll get the long-awaited meeting between PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV head Yasir Al-Rumayyan. That seems like a big one.

3. Christmas!

We at the Monday Finish will be taking next Monday off, gang. I hope that all your golf wishes come true — and seriously, thanks for reading. Consider that your gift to me.

See you when I see you!

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

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