Bryson’s $54 mil thought, Glover’s ‘awful, yippy’ fix, PGA Tour’s forgotten man | Monday Finish
Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we have officially missed the FedEx Cup Playoffs — yet again. Let’s get to it!
FIRST OFF THE TEE
Next man up.
It felt like the main storyline of this weekend’s Wyndham Championship was Justin Thomas and his quest for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Thomas began the week at No. 79 in the standings. He was gunning for No. 70. But he came up one spot (and one shot) shy.
But that meant someone else finished No. 70 instead.
That someone else? Ben Griffin. He entered the week at No. 68 in the standings but missed the cut, leaving him to wait and watch while others on the leaderboard came gunning for his spot. When Thomas made eagle at No. 15, Griffin was out. When Thomas made bogey at No. 16? He was back in. And that’s where he finished.
Classy tweet from Griffin. And spirited run from Thomas! But it’s worth noting that Griffin’s qualification for the playoffs was arguably a better storyline to begin with.
If you haven’t encountered Griffin until now, that’s understandable. This is his rookie season on the PGA Tour — and an unlikely rookie season, too. Griffin turned pro after graduating from UNC in 2018 but sputtered off the Korn Ferry Tour the following year and when Covid hit, facing limited prospects, he gave up the pro game for a desk job.
It was only after a few sparkling member-guest rounds and a well-timed sponsorship offer that Griffin agreed to play Q-School for the 2022 season. He earned his Korn Ferry Tour card. Then he played well enough to earn his PGA Tour card. And now he’s locked it up for next year, too, not only validating his decision to turn pro but proving that he belongs.
On Friday Griffin was asked on his way out of the Wyndham what was next for him. He appeared to embrace the uncertainty.
“I mean, I could be going all the way to East Lake potentially now and I don’t really have travel booked, but I’m just going to let things shake out the way they do,” he said. “Yeah, it’s tricky. It’s not like any other sport where you know your set schedule, you know what’s going to happen, when your game’s going to end. You don’t. You don’t know when your tee time’s going to be on Sunday, you don’t know if you’re going to make the cut, miss the cut. So it’s a lot of rebooking. It’s expensive, but fortunately I’m on the PGA Tour, so that helps.”
It’s nice to be assured of that spot for next year, too.
Who won the week?
Lucas Glover conquered the yips. He conquered a years-long slump. And he conquered the pressure down the stretch to win the Wyndham Championship on Sunday, triumphing by two in Greensboro.
There was a clear line of demarcation this summer when Glover decided to switch to a long putter. It was a sign of desperation more than anything; he said that after the long putter, his next move was going to be to putt left-handed.
“Nothing I did worked, nothing I practiced worked. Brain was just fried. Ten years of dealing with it and not understanding it and not realizing or not comprehending how it could happen that I could just lose all feelings over a 10-inch putt,” he said. “It was frustrating. I fought it for a long time.”
Glover felt a change right away with the long putter, which he ordered with Adam Scott’s specs. He brought it to his garage. He took it to the Memorial. The biggest difference wasn’t in the makes but in the misses.
“My misses weren’t that crazy, awful, yippy stroke, they were just misses. And that’s OK,” he said.
He admitted that talking openly about having the yips has helped, too. Naming the issue has helped him face the fear — and the stigma — head-on. Now he’s a PGA Tour winner. And the system’s most vocal critic is now into the FedEx Cup Playoffs, too, after a winning stroke that looked awfully pure:
SHOOTING (ONLY) 58
Bryson DeChambeau’s Sunday 58 to win LIV’s Greenbrier event was incredibly impressive. The bomb he made on No. 18 was, too. It was an electric moment for fans on site and also a distinctly DeChambeau moment. It wasn’t enough to win for the first time in more than two years nor to set LIV’s single-round scoring record. DeChambeau had to equal Jim Furyk’s PGA Tour-record 58, which came at the Travelers in 2016.
I thought this was intriguing advice from DeChambeau on training his mind to go low:
“For a good aspiring junior golfer that’s trying to be a professional golfer, you just go to the front tees, you try and shoot under 60,” he said. “If you can do that and you consistently are able to do that every single round you play, get in that comfortable mind of, okay, I’m 10-, 11-, 12-under, let’s keep going, pedal to the metal, that gets you in a great mindset.”
But there was one thing that I’d considered previously unthinkable — even laughable — that crept into DeChambeau’s mind after he made his sixth birdie in his first seven holes. The Greenbrier is a par 70. It’s been known to yield low scores to players in the zone. And LIV has promised to reward any player who shoots 54 with a $54 million bonus. There was a moment it crossed his mind.
“That was actually right after the first six out of seven,” he said. “I was like, okay, if I eagle one of the par-5s and I keep going at this pace, it could be dangerous.”
That quickly went by the wayside when he bogeyed No. 8. But settling for 12-under 58, a win and a $4 million first-place check seemed like a satisfactory consolation prize.
Scoring was low on Sunday; soft conditions and preferred lies sent the scoring average under 67, making DeChambeau’s pursuit more feasible. I wonder if the moment made LIV organizers rethink their course setup, nervous that someone actually will shoot 54 and collect. I think it’s more likely that they’ll notice the attention DeChambeau’s 58 received and figure the $54 million would pay for itself.
After Celine Boutier won the Evian Championship in her home country of France, I wrote about how cool it was that she essentially followed that up by saying she was all set for the year. There was no need for any further heroics. She was content.
But then Boutier went ahead and won the Freed Group’s Women’s Scottish Open, triumphing by two at Dundonald Links. Ill-timed Sunday bogeys at 14 and 16 brought the tournament result into question, but Boutier cemented the victory with a lengthy birdie putt at No. 17.
“I’m honestly going to try not to think too hard about the consequences of what it means and all that because I feel like that freaks me out,” she said post-round. “But yeah, I mean, it’s just been very, very good weeks.”
Next up? Another major. This week’s AIG Women’s British Open means a chance for a legendary three-peat.
Let’s hope Boutier gets in the mix.
If you’re not first, you can still be second.
In brief, and not in order:
Ben An and Russell Henley finished T2 in Greensboro, validating their playoff qualifications. But the next three pros on the leaderboard, despite each missing the playoffs, showed up in a big way. There was Billy Horschel, whose solo fourth represented his best tournament in months. There was Webb Simpson finishing T5 after just one other top 20 on Tour this year. There was Michael Kim, an increasingly popular Twitter presence who rallied with a Saturday 62 that got him within sneezing distance of the playoffs. And there was Adam Scott, who made an admirable charge with Sunday’s seven-under 63 to finish T7 and No. 72 on the final FedEx Cup list. That leaves him on the outside of the playoffs for the first time in their history.
Hyo Joo Kim and Ruoning Yin shot 65 and 66 to finish second and third, respectively, at the Scottish Open, no doubt a promising sign ahead of this week at Walton Heath.
And Matthew Wolff finished T3 at LIV Greenbrier, a shot behind runner-up Mito Pereira and easily the best performance of his LIV season. His opening 61 represented a significant bounce-back in the wake of his team captain Brooks Koepka’s comments about him earlier this year.
Not their week.
It’s remarkable just how close Justin Thomas came to making the playoffs in every measurable sense. If the Tour had changed to 75 pros instead of 70, he’d be comfortably in. If his tee shot at No. 16 had carried another few yards, he’d be in. If his chip shot at No. 18 had struck the pin just slightly differently, he’d be in.
Instead he was out by a single shot, stuck at No. 71. To Thomas’ credit, he hasn’t blamed anything but himself, he’s continued to talk a confident game and, even though this puts his Ryder Cup eligibility in definite doubt, seemed to leave Sunday with a sporting takeaway.
PGA TOUR SCHEDULE
We’ll have more on this in the hours and days ahead; I think my colleague Sean Zak is working on a list of takeaways as we speak. I’ll just leave you with a photo of the new schedule and my expression of excitement for the PGA Tour once again treating Pebble Beach like a big-time (“Signature”) event.
NEWS FROM SEATTLE
Monday Finish HQ.
I’ve made this point here before but in the summer, Seattle is basically the best place on Earth. Incredible weather. Long, warm, sunny days. I’m squeezing in extra evening golf and already dreading the wind-down as August creeps into its second week.
3 things to watch this week.
1. One more major
Boutier’s chance at a three-peat is just one in a long list of potential storylines at this week’s Women’s Open, which also closes the door on our major championship season. Let’s go out with a bang.
2. Memphis vs. New Jersey
This week’s FedEx Cup Playoffs run directly against LIV’s event in Bedminster. This is hardly LIV going opposite the Honda Classic; this is truly a test of product vs. product, with the top pros from each league teeing it up in their respective competitions. It’ll be interesting to see how that looks and feels.
3. Ryder Cup drama
Can DeChambeau follow up this week’s heroics with a showing that would place him squarely in the attention of captain Zach Johnson? Is there a playoff performance that’s going to change the way we feel about this whole thing? It’s getting late early when it comes to proving yourself for Rome. That’s fun. Happy viewing.
See you next week!