PGA Tour cards, huge LPGA payday, Transatlantic double: 8 things to watch for Sunday
It may be the “offseason” but there’s plenty at stake as three of the world’s biggest global golf tours wrap up their seasons on Sunday.
As each steams toward a climax for the season, storylines abound.
Here are the TK biggest storylines we’ll be watching Sunday, on what figures to be a jammed packed day of golf.
DP World Tour Championship
TV/Streaming: 1:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. ET – Golf Channel/Peacock
Viktor Hovland seeks a rare Transatlantic double
Viktor Hovland has been on an absolute tear since May. The Norwegian finished second at the PGA Championship and then doubled his career PGA Tour win total on his way to claiming the season-long FedEx Cup title.
While he can’t win the season-long Race to Dubai title and join Rory McIlroy as the only players to win both major tour’s order of merit in the same season (McIlroy clinched it after last week), he can accomplish something the Ulsterman hasn’t.
Hovland, who enters the final round of the DP World Tour Championship one shot back of leader Matt Wallace, can become the first player since Henrik Stenson in 2013 to win the Transatlantic double, by capturing both the PGA Tour’s and European Tour’s Tour Championships.
“It’s been a crazy year,” Hovland said. “It kind of feels like it has been the off-season. I have had six weeks off.
“This is another big one and would be really nice to have on the resumé and I feel like I’m playing some good golf.”
It would also be his fourth worldwide win of 2023, tying him with Jon Rahm for the most.
Tommy Fleetwood looking for breakthrough victory
Very few golfers have played as well as Tommy Fleetwood over the past two seasons with less to show for it.
The Englishman and World No. 15 has 17 top-10s since the start of 2022, including his first win on the DP World Tour since 2019, but he is still searching for a PGA Tour win.
While he can’t accomplish that this week in Dubai, he could collect by far the biggest win of his career as he’ll start Sunday tied for second with Hovland at 15 under. Both golfers will chase Matt Wallace, we posted an immaculate, nine-birdie back nine 27 Saturday to grab the lead by one.
RSM Classic (PGA Tour)
TV/Streaming: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Golf Channel/Peacock
Ludvig Aberg in command for first PGA Tour win
Ludvig Aberg began Saturday in the lead by one at the RSM Classic. Ludvig Aberg shot 61 Saturday. Ludvig Aberg will still lead by one to begin Sunday.
Yea, you got that all right.
On a day of wild scoring at Sea Island, when the top four places on the leaderboard shot 61, 61, 60 and 62, Aberg hung on to pole position as the budding Swedish superstar seeks his first PGA Tour victory.
You may recall Aberg got his maiden DP World Tour victory earlier this year on the eve of the European Ryder Cup captain’s selections at the Omega European Masters. Now he’s got a chance to cap his rookie season on the PGA Tour with a victory as well.
That could also complicate what was seemingly a cut-and-dry PGA Tour Rookie of the Year decision.
Rookie of the Year debate
After a debut campaign in which he racked up six top-10s, including five top-5s, Eric Cole enters the final round at Sea Island looking to lock up the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Player of the Year award.
The award was seemingly Cole’s for the taking entering the week as he was the only Rookie to make the field at the BMW Championship and secure spots in all of 2024’s Signature Events. However, an Aberg win might be enough to steal the award away from the former mini-tour legend.
The two will be paired together in the final group Sunday at Sea Island along with Mackenzie Hughes, who posted a 60 Saturday to sit solo third, one behind Cole at 19 under and two behind Aberg.
PGA Tour card crunch
For first time in RSM Classic history, PGA Tour cards will be secured or lost on Sunday.
With the Top 125 in the FedEx Cup Fall rankings retaining full status on the PGA Tour next year and top 150 retaining conditional status, it’s officially do-or-die Sunday in Georgia.
After three rounds, just one player, No. 128 Ryan Moore, has played his way into the top 125, moving up to 120th in the projected standings on the strength of his current tie for 8th.
Moore’s move has bumped Troy Merritt out of the projected Top 125, although Merritt being a past PGA Tour winner means he can play out of the past champion category next season if he chooses.
Another player to watch for is Peter Kuest, a special temporary member who entered the week needing to finish with more non-member FedEx Cup points than No. 125 on the final points list. He came into the week needing 155 points, likely meaning a share of third or better and he’ll enter the final round in a tie for eighth, five back of that position.
Kevin Tway has also made a big move up the projected standings, moving from 161st to 147th after a third-round 63 to share eighth as well.
Signature Event berths
A win this week gets a player into the first event of next season at the Sentry at Kapalua, but this is also the final event to finalize the “Next 10” players who will earn spots in the next two Signature events of 2024, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational.
Heading into the week, the “Next 10” was Beau Hossler, Matt Kuchar, Hughes, Ben Griffin, Taylor Montgomery, Nick Hardy, Alex Smalley, Luke List, J.J. Spaun and Sam Ryder.
A win by Aberg would move him up to 54th and bump out Spaun. Ryder is in a good position to hang onto his spot as he is currently tied for fifth.
CME Group Tour Championship (LPGA)
TV/Streaming: 8:50 AM to 3 PM – ESPN+ Featured Group Coverage
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – NBC/Peacock
Birdie-fest for $2 million
Tiburon Golf Club has become a race track as two players share a three-shot lead over the field at the LPGA’s CME Group Tour Championship.
Amy Yang and Nasa Hataoka are tied at the top at 21 under. The 72-hole record at the Tour Championship, which offers a $2 million first-place prize, was set just two years ago at 23 under.
Alison Lee started the third round tied with Hataoka for the lead and shot 68, but that wasn’t enough to keep pace with Hataoka’s 65 or Yang’s 64 and she now finds herself as the closest pursuer at 18 under.
LPGA Player of the Year race
Lilia Vu has all but locked up the LPGA’s player of the year race as she has a chance to add to her already impressive four wins on the season.
Celine Boutier was the only player who could challenge the World No. 1, but Boutier will enter the final round trailing by 14 shots in a tie for 35th. Meanwhile, Vu heads into Sunday in joint seventh, but still seven shots off the pace.