November 14, 2022
Clockwise from high left: Nelly Korda, Tony Finau, Pat Perez speaking to Phil Mickelson (an outdated photograph from 2012), Tommy Fleetwood.
Welcome again to the Monday End, the place we’re nonetheless counting mail-in ballots to find out this week’s winners. Within the meantime, listed below are our projections. Let’s get to it!
Some weeks the golf world is crammed with consternation. With blown leads, unhealthy climate, nasty feedback, strife. This was not a kind of weeks. This was every week for feel-good tales to poke their manner by way of the deluge of soccer headlines. Comebacks. Assertion victories. Heartwarming contenders. And whereas not everyone left this week feeling good — that’s sports activities, gang! — a lot positive did. Let’s buzz by way of the tiers, getting happier as we go:
Murky territory, right here.
Houston Open: Now what?
We’ll get to the feel-good stuff, I promise. However the week started with the Cadence Financial institution Houston Open questioning what’s subsequent. With the PGA Tour’s fall future taking a distinctly totally different form (a very good factor, by the way in which) this match will probably be amongst these in search of a brand new residence on the schedule. Loyal Texan Ryan Palmer summed it up: “It’s laborious to inform what will probably be like. I do know Vegas is anxious in regards to the fall, Mexico is anxious in regards to the fall and Houston ought to be anxious.”
Match organizers have been bullish about pivoting to an early summer season date, doubtlessly starting in 2024. There will probably be some form of culling of occasions, and will probably be fascinating to see whether or not meaning current tournaments are shuffled round, repurposed or eradicated. Time will inform. However there appears to be loads of group help across the Houston occasion, so right here’s hoping it finds a cheerful residence.
‘Houston ought to be anxious’: PGA Tour’s new fall plans elevate thorny questions
Linn Grant’s journey ban
Twenty-three-year-old Swedish golfer Linn Grant has performed some sensational golf this 12 months, successful 4 instances on the Girls European Tour (together with a nine-shot victory on the Scandinavian Combined) to guide the Order of Advantage and climb to No. 25 on this planet. She’s performed six LPGA occasions, all of them worldwide, and her 4 top-10 finishes in these occasions pushed her inside the highest 60, making her eligible for this week’s CME Group Tour Championship and its profitable payout.
However Grant gained’t be capable of play the CME as a result of she hasn’t been vaccinated and subsequently isn’t allowed to journey to the USA, underneath present restrictions. Whereas Beth Ann Nichols had reported that was the case, Grant defined the state of affairs in an announcement launched by way of her agent to Golf Channel.
“I perceive some individuals need to know why I’m not enjoying within the U.S. I respect that,” the assertion learn. “The straightforward purpose is that I’m not vaccinated. Relating to why, I ask the identical respect again. It’s one thing I need to hold internally with my household and crew.”
Pat Perez’s emotions for Phil Mickelson
In an look on Claude Harmon’s podcast Son of a Butch, Pat Perez mentioned sufficient about his style for Phil Mickelson that he acquired everyone’s consideration. Right here’s Pat:
“In terms of Phil, I’ve a special hate for Phil than most individuals,” he advised Harmon. “Individuals gained’t know the story — I’m not going to enter the story once more — however Phil crossed the road with me that’s simply uncrossable and unforgivable.
“He is aware of that he screwed up. He apologized for the motion, however I can not forgive him for it as a result of I’ve identified Phil for a protracted, very long time. I’ve identified the man endlessly. And the truth that when he made this motion, not solely was it — he had intentions of doing it; he knew it was going to occur earlier than it occurred and when he did it — I used to be damage, for one. I used to be like ‘How can this man do that?’”
Whereas we on the Monday End are enormous followers of readers chasing down rumors, we’re staying out of this one. However, yeah, we’d like Pat to say extra.
They didn’t win — however they kinda did.
Lexi Thompson, runner-up
Going toe-to-toe with Nelly Korda isn’t any straightforward activity, however Lexi Thompson gave it a severe run on Sunday on the Pelican Girls’s Championship. Korda started the day a shot behind Thompson however reeled off a number of front-nine birdies to attract degree. Thompson fought again in type, making 4 birdies in a row at 5-6-7-8. And whereas bogeys at 11 and 12 have been setbacks, she rebounded with birdies at 13 and 14 to provide herself an opportunity down the stretch. She got here up one shot quick, in the long run — Korda made birdies at 16 and 17 to shut out a successful 64 — however was inspired along with her efficiency.
On the one hand, Thompson’s end represented one other near-miss in a profession that has, of late, been riddled with them. However that is the feel-good part, and Thompson was speaking optimistic post-round.
“I feel in earlier years if that might’ve occurred I’d’ve let it get to me,” Thompson mentioned of her back-nine bogeys. “And even after hitting it within the water I may have let that get to me. [This time] I used to be like, all proper, snap out of it. Yeah, you’re not joyful proper now, however getting much more upset isn’t going to do me any good.
“So I used to be like, all proper, let’s get the bogey, bounce again with just a few birdies coming in and see the place that goes.”
Memorial Park, group asset
Greens charges are on the rise and have been for a number of years as golf has boomed within the Covid period. That’s doubly true for high-profile programs, like PGA Tour hosts or golf vacation spot websites. I spotted final week that TPC Sawgrass fetches as a lot as $840 per tee time. Yowza!
It was a breath of recent air, then, to comprehend that this week’s Tour host — Memorial Park, in Houston — is not only a cleverly redone municipal course. It’s a cleverly redone municipal course that may maintain as much as Tour execs whereas additionally truly serving its mission as a group useful resource offering reasonably priced golf. Right here’s the pricing for Memorial Park:
That’s proper — residents max out at $38 for a PGA Tour course. Shoutout to the decision-makers at Memorial Park for chasing affordability over maximizing earnings. Little doubt a wider array of golfers can benefit from the Houston Open host in consequence.
Tiger Woods Szn
On this week’s Drop Zone podcast we dived into what the current and future would possibly seem like for Tiger Woods — starting with a Tiger-filled December. You may hear on the embedded podcast under or on Apple or Spotify.
Houston Open podium
Second place is, as they are saying, first loser. However on the Houston Open the silver and bronze medalists have been every delighted to be there. Runner-up Tyson Alexander, a 34-year-old Tour rookie, felt very very similar to a winner regardless of shedding by 4.
“Nice week for me,” he mentioned. “I want Tony [Finau] would have taken the week off, however, yeah, you recognize, 132 gamers, I feel one man’s going to beat me, in order that’s what it’s all about — simply making an attempt to beat as many individuals as potential.” Alexander moved from No. 320 to No. 162 on this planet and improved on his earlier excessive end on Tour, which was…T64.
Third-place Ben Taylor was equally happy when requested how he felt about his week.
“Completed,” he mentioned. “I imply, now I’ve put myself in rivalry at a PGA Tour occasion, and I feel with how effectively Tony performed right now, I feel I dealt with every little thing fairly strong.”
The end was additionally the perfect of Taylor’s profession; whereas he’s bounced between the Korn Ferry and PGA Excursions the final a number of years, Taylor had by no means cracked the highest 20 on golf’s high degree. Till now.
Willie Mack, nearer
There have been an entire slew of nice tales popping out of Korn Ferry Tour Q-Faculty. Arguably the perfect was that of Willie Mack III, a 34-year-old mini-tour lifer and legend on the APGA (Advocates Professional Golf Affiliation) the place he was this 12 months’s Participant of the Yr.
At Q-Faculty’s remaining stage it’s essential to complete inside the highest 40 — and the upper the higher — however Mack started the ultimate spherical T41. Regardless of: He got here out scorching with a birdie at 1 and an eagle at 2. A bogey at 3 introduced him again to actuality however then he reeled off birdies at 4, 6 and seven to torpedo by way of the leaderboard. Then he did one thing practically as spectacular, suffocating the remainder of the spherical like an NFL crew establishing the run within the second half, ending with 11 pars in a row to shine off a 66, end T12 and earn his card after seven earlier unsuccessful missions.
Mack, who’s Black, has performed in a handful of Korn Ferry and PGA Tour occasions in recent times, making cuts ultimately 12 months’s John Deere and Rocket Mortgage. He hopes a full schedule will permit him to settle into life on the Korn Ferry — after which earn his solution to the massive Tour full-time.
The VIP part.
Andy Ogletree, first-time champ
Andy Ogletree had a giant week in Egypt. He noticed the Pyramids, for one factor. He gained knowledgeable golf match, for an additional. Each have been firsts for him.
You might know Ogletree’s title from his win on the 2019 U.S. Am or his efficiency as low am on the Masters in 2020. You may additionally know him from his cup of espresso on LIV, a one-tournament stint wherein he completed useless final at 24 over par that had the unlucky side-effect of banning him from PGA Tour competitors for at the least the remainder of 2022.
All the above led him to the Asian Tour’s Worldwide Sequence occasion in Egypt. He shot 23 underneath par, beating runner-up Bernd Wiesberger by 4 photographs to win the first-place examine of $270,000. He jumped from No. 1,714 to No. 880 on this planet, too. That’s large for a golfer who faces unsure futures on each LIV and the PGA Tour.
Steven Alker, surprising champ
For those who’re not dialed into the week-in, week-out goings on of the PGA Tour Champions you’ll have missed the wholly unbelievable story of Steven Alker. The New Zealander had made a profession of touring the globe and enjoying whichever tournaments would have him; not like the star-studded resumes of his compatriots on the PGA Tour Champions, Alker peaked at No. 191 on this planet in 2002.
However he struck gold final 12 months by Monday qualifying into the Boeing Traditional and ending inside the highest 10, incomes one other begin. He reeled off a string of top-10s and at last logged a postseason win, incomes his card for 2022.
This 12 months? All Alker did was win 5 instances and earn effectively greater than $3 million. And on Sunday he completed third place behind winner Padraig Harrington within the remaining occasion of the Charles Schwab Cup season, incomes a $1 million bonus within the course of.
Nelly Korda, triumphant defending champ
This one, Nelly Korda mentioned, meant just a little one thing further. Why? As a result of she was defending her title on the Pelican Girls’s Championship. As a result of she regained the title of World No. 1. And since this was the primary victory since Korda’s prolonged absence after being recognized with a blood clot in her arm.
Korda acquired emotional because the win sunk in post-round.
“I’ve at all times form of been emotional after wins. I don’t know why. I’m not a crier. Individuals say I’m a closet crier, I assume, however each single time I’ve gained I feel I’ve had a tear in my eye,” she mentioned.
“I’ve mentioned it so many instances, however [this year] has simply been such a rollercoaster. I imply, I assume that’s life, although. There was extra downs than ups this 12 months I feel, and I feel that that’s what makes this a lot sweeter to me.”
Tommy Fleetwood, delayed defending champ
Fleetwood was thought-about the defending champion at this week’s Nedbank Golf Problem in Solar Metropolis, South Africa. That will have felt odd contemplating Fleetwood hadn’t gained wherever since 2019. However as a result of the 2020 and ’21 editions of the Nedbank have been canceled because of Covid, Fleetwood got here in as the person to beat. He performed prefer it, too, piecing collectively a final-round 64 to get to the highest of the leaderboard.
When Ryan Fox made bogey at 18, the title was his. Fleetwood’s first win in three years comes with an ascent to World No. 23 and, if that is any indication, a spot on Crew Europe in Rome.
Tony Finau, three-time champ
That’s thrice in 2022 and 4 instances in 15 months. It’s additionally the primary win of Finau’s 2022-23 season and now means Finau — who had gained a popularity for coming shut and never successful — has now gained an occasion in three consecutive seasons. And whereas no one is mistaking the Cadence Financial institution Houston Open for the U.S. Open, Finau gapped the sphere over the weekend and established himself because the alpha presence on web site. When he made 4 front-nine birdies on Sunday he stretched his result in eight photographs. Regardless that he gave some again coming residence — his remaining successful margin was 4 — there was no questioning his dominance.
Submit-round, Finau cited his five-year winless drought as essential to the success that has come since.
“That was a very powerful stretch of my PGA Tour profession,” he mentioned. “I continued to consider, I didn’t hand over on myself, I continued to work laborious on my physique and on my recreation and I simply knew that — I used to be at all times hopeful that I may go on particular runs, and I feel we’re beginning to see that now.”
Dylan Dethier is a senior author for GOLF Journal/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams Faculty, the place he majored in English, and he’s the writer of 18 in America, which particulars the 12 months he spent as an 18-year-old dwelling from his automobile and enjoying a spherical of golf in each state.