Brandel interview reaction, Ryder Cup drama, Viktor’s key to 28 | Monday Finish

Viktor Hovland's mindset, Ryder Cup contenders and a startling response to a Brandel Chamblee interview — all in this week's Monday Finish.

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Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re starting the week the old-fashioned way: at even par. Time to make some birdies! Let’s get to it.


Shooting 28.

After shooting nine-under 61 in a thrilling come-from-behind win at Sunday’s BMW Championship, Viktor Hovland accepted the trophy, posed for photos and then headed to the interview room. That’s where the Tour’s moderator listed off the feats he’d just accomplished:

-61 in the final round

-Low round by a winner this season on Tour

-Lowest final round in FedEx Cup Playoffs history

-Lowest round of Hovland’s career

-28 on the back nine was the lowest nine of Hovland’s career

-Fifth win on Tour, second this season

That’s where Hovland jumped in.

“That’s it?”

It was a terrific win for Hovland, an unforgettable final round and the perfect accompaniment to his Memorial victory earlier this season. That double victory cements Hovland as a clutch performer on every stage; his wins are no longer at beach-vacation destinations like the Hero World Challenge or Mayakoba but two major championship-style venues with demanding setups and deep fields. Hovland got a reminder on Sunday of something very simple: He’s really good at hitting the ball at his target.

“I’m a good driver of the ball, so I’m going to have a lot of opportunities from the fairway, and whenever I kind of feel the shot with my irons and can just aim left of the pin and swing as committed as I want to, I know it’s going to cut and I can almost feel how much it’s going to cut towards the pin. I just feel like if you put me in the fairway, I’m going to hit it somewhere close to the pin,” he said. “When I do that and I get the putter rolling, I’m trusting my reads, I’ve got the speed dialed in, and it’s just one of those days that just everything seemed to flow and seemed to happen.”

It’s pretty simple, when you say it like that. That’s how eight 3s on the back nine happen. That’s how seven birdies happen. That’s how you make up four shots in nine holes on the No. 1 player in the world. What a win.


Who won the week?

I’m in Atlanta for this week’s Tour Championship, which means it’s time to get out into the blazing heat and see what players are up to in preparation at East Lake. But first let’s buzz through some of this week’s champs.

Viktor Hovland we’ve already covered; it’s worth adding that he earned $3.6 million and jumped to No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings with the win. Nice haul.

Alexa Pano won the women’s half of the ISPS Handa World Invitational, a tournament in Northern Ireland co-sanctioned by the LPGA and Ladies European Tour and played alongside a men’s event on the DP World Tour. Pano shot six-under 66 in the final round at Galgorm Castle (epic name!) and birdied the third playoff hole to win. Pano is just 19 but has been on golf fans’ radar for more than half her life thanks to her 7-year-old self’s appearance in “The Short Game,” a Netflix documentary about the wild world of junior golf. Safe to say things have panned out (Pano-ed out?) pretty well since then. Oh yeah, and the win came on her birthday, too. Not a bad way to celebrate.

Daniel Brown won his first-ever DP World Tour title at the same course in Northern Ireland; he ran away from the field on the weekend and won by five. The 28-year-old has battled his way through the European ranks in recent years and said he still couldn’t quite believe it.

“I almost still feel like someone’s going to crop up and say there’s another day left or something,” he said. “Crazy.”

Ken Duke earned his first-ever Champions Tour victory at the Shaw Charity Classic and brought the house down with a thunderous fist-pump:

And Chan Kim shot eight under in the final round — and six under in his final seven holes — at Metedeconk in the Magnit Championship. The longtime Japan Tour standout came back to the U.S., played his way onto the Korn Ferry Tour and is now destined for a PGA Tour card next year.

“Call it a resurrection, I guess,” he said.

And Andy Ogletree won at the International Series event in England, beating a LIV-heavy field by seven strokes and logging his third victory in his last eight OWGR-sanctioned starts. He’s now atop the Asian Tour’s order of merit, making it likely he’ll earn a full-time spot on LIV next season.


Not the best. But still good.

Scottie Scheffler and Matthew Fitzpatrick were locked in a dead heat atop the BMW leaderboard for much of the day; midway through Sunday’s round the two of them were four shots ahead of everybody else. Then Hovland blew past ’em like he was Michael Phelps and they were locals doing laps at the YMCA; they finished tied for second, two shots back. For Scheffler the runner-up finish was yet another top-five near-miss. For Fitzpatrick it was by far his best result since winning the RBC Heritage in April and clinched his spot at East Lake.

Oh, and Scheffler’s ball-striking remains (almost literally) off the charts, while his putting can’t keep up:

Ryann O’Toole held a three-stroke lead after an eagle at No. 10 but negated that with a costly double at No. 13. She finished one shot outside the three-women playoff. German Esther Henseleit and Englishwoman Gabriella Cowley joined Pano in the playoff but came up short in their respective quests for win No. 1.

Alex Fitzpatrick finished runner-up in the DP World Tour event, a worthy counterpart to his brother’s second-place result at the BMW. That bumped him inside the top 100 in the DP World’s Order of Merit. And Eddie Pepperell finished third, his best result in quite some time, to move to No. 103 in the Race to Dubai.


Not their week.

Hideki Matsuyama birdied four of his first seven holes at Olympia Fields. Whatever happened next wasn’t good; he doubled No. 9, shot three over par on the back and withdrew the next day, leaving him outside the Tour Championship and his health future uncertain.

Other pros were close to big weeks but couldn’t quite get across the line; Chris Kirk entered the week at No. 29 in the FedEx Cup, played his way into the final group on Saturday and then shot six over par on the weekend to finish at No. 32.

And Sahith Theegala rallied with birdies at 15-16-17 to get himself in position to move up from his starting spot of No. 31 — but then he bogeyed No. 18, falling into a six-way tie for 15th that ended his season one spot shy of East Lake.



Last week I published a lengthy interview with Brandel Chamblee, going deep first on his origin story and then pivoting to the state of the current golf landscape (i.e. LIV, the PGA Tour, the PIF deal, etc.). I wanted to talk to Chamblee in part because he has become so polarizing, so I guess I should have seen this coming — but I couldn’t believe just how fierce the reaction was. I understand some of the eye-rolling that happens in his direction but generally consider him excellent at making golf analysis deep, meaningful and entertaining, which is hardly an easy gig. But it’s safe to say many others do not feel the same way. The vitriol on, for instance, this Instagram post was pretty wild.

But that’s not how everybody felt by any means. By contrast, the folks who filled my email inbox with their own reactions to the interview were at least 90% favorable on Chamblee — on the preparation he does, on how seriously he takes the job, on how entertaining he makes round recaps — and were delighted at the chance to learn more about his background as a young Texan riding horses and jumping ramps in his backyard.

My biggest takeaway probably seems incredibly obvious: where we consume something changes how we consume it. Shorter clips mean less context. Scrolling through feeds means shallower engagement. Diving into a long conversation seems to generate an entirely different reaction. That’s how Jeez, enough of this guy becomes Huh. There’s way more to this guy than I realized. I didn’t go into the interview trying to make you feel any type of way about Chamblee. But I learned more about how you do feel about him.

The other lesson is also obvious: the people who write emails and the people who leave rude Instagram comments aren’t exactly the same group to begin with…

(You can read the whole Brandel Chamblee interview here or listen to it on the Drop Zone podcast here.)


Last three in, first four out.

Let’s tackle Team Europe next week. We’ll walk though the U.S. team’s looming decision now. With six players now locked in and Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler all but locks, here’s where I think U.S. captain Zach Johnson will turn next. (This is excerpted from a longer Ryder Cup breakdown which you can find here.)


Collin Morikawa finished the year No. 10 in qualifying points. He has played with Max Homa both at the Presidents Cup and at the Zurich Classic, so he’d slot into a natural spot there. But even though he hasn’t contended much in recent months, Morikawa may be playing better than you might think; strokes gained numbers suggest he’s still performing at a top-10 level even as his World Ranking slides outside the top 20. A T2 at the Rocket Mortgage was encouraging, as was a T13 last week in Memphis. It seems like he’ll be in Rome.

Cameron Young was declared as “going to Rome” by assistant captain Fred Couples a few weeks ago, so maybe it’s silly to have him in questionable territory at all. Young is among the best young Americans and figures to be a part of this team’s future, which incentivizes leadership to make him part of its present, too. The good news is he finished T8 at The Open. The less-good-news is he’s had an uneven summer, with three missed cuts and just two top-20s since the Masters until a T15 at this week’s BMW. He won’t be in East Lake, leaving him in a slightly vulnerable spot as others make their case…

Justin Thomas seems like the guy most likely to end up with this final spot if nobody seizes it from him at East Lake. Why? Because composing a Ryder Cup roster is a strange combination of deciding who’s the most deserving, leaning on players’ past team performances and projecting forward to who will show the best form in team match-play competition a month-plus from now. Thomas isn’t “deserving” in the sense that he just hasn’t been all that good this year and missed the FedEx Cup Playoffs. But he’s also been the heart and soul of recent U.S. teams and has the record to back that up. When the likes of Sergio Garcia or Ian Poulter were in an equivalent position on past European teams, they were picked without question. Because Thomas is in a similar role as emotional leader for this U.S. team, he may get the nod, too. But there are other deserving players…


Sam Burns would like you to remember that he won this year’s Match Play in Austin. He would also like you to remember that the Ryder Cup … is match play! He’s No. 12 on the points list, which is automatically in the conversation. He’s close with Scottie Scheffler, and although the two didn’t play particularly well together at Quail Hollow last fall there’s no doubt the World No. 1 would like his buddy there. Burns has been in reasonable form all summer, he finished T15 at the BMW and would be a perfectly acceptable selection.

Russell Henley shot 63 on Sunday at the BMW and is quietly playing some of the steadiest golf on Tour; he finished T2 at the Wyndham and now has T6 and T8 finishes in the first two playoff events. He’s finished in the top 20 in 11 of his last 14 starts dating back to the Players Championship. In other words, Henley has played well throughout the meat of the season. Ryder Cup points reward very high finishes over Henley’s less flashy results, but if he throws down a strong showing at East Lake I’d expect the buzz to get buzzier…

Lucas Glover has the hot hand; he won at Wyndham and then won again at the playoff opener in Memphis. A new long putter has given him new life and he finished top six in three consecutive lower-tier Tour events before the back-to-back wins. The argument against Glover is that he was in the wilderness just a couple months ago; he didn’t even qualify for a major championship this year. Another top finish at the Tour Championship, though, would make it tough for Zach Johnson not to choose him.

Keegan Bradley is the top-ranked guy (at No. 11) who appears to be on the outside looking in. Yeah, he won the Travelers. And yeah, he thinks about the Ryder Cup like, all day every day. That’s what’ll make it that much more heartbreaking if he’s Unlucky No. 13. Bradley’s win at TPC River Highlands was among the moments of the year for the Tour, but he doesn’t have another top 20 since March. He might need to win the Tour Championship — or come close — to reassert himself here.

I’d like to add that Tony Finau doing something crazy in Atlanta like winning the Tour Championship would also likely earn him the nod, but I think he’s in that next tier less likely to be selected. At least he has one final chance to prove himself, unlike others on the sidelines like Bryson DeChambeau or Sahith Theegala, whose hay is in the barn.


Monday Finish HQ.

It’s blackberry season, which means the least likely places to pick berries — the side of the highway, say, where they’ve tried to beat back the bushes — are now positively overflowing with the good stuff.


3 things to watch this week.

1. $18 million

Are we destined for another round of Rory vs. Scottie? Viktor vs. Scottie? Rahm vs. Scottie? The pressure of all that cash does something to these guys, even as they accumulate more and more…

2. Ryder Cup hopefuls

I’ve stayed neutral this long, but let me say the New Englander in me would like Keegan Bradley to contend this week and at the very least leave the Ryder Cup conversation on a high note.

3. Brandel Chamblee

In video form:

See you next week!

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/ The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.