Bryson’s new caddie, LaCava’s new bag, Day’s new outlook | Monday Finish

This week's Monday Finish takes you through the week that was.

PGA Championship week has begun — but there's plenty to review from the week that was, too.

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Welcome back to the Monday Finish, which we’re typing from the media center at Oak Hill! Our directive for this column will be the same as Western New York’s own Hofmann Sausage Company every time they produce a new hot dog:

Make it snappy.

Let’s get to it!

FIRST OFF THE TEE

A five-year drought.

In 2020 I remember the jarring feeling of learning that Jason Day already had the end of his career in sight. In one interview he lamented the feeling of “your world kind of crumbling around yourself.” He’d always assumed he’d play until at least 40; suddenly he made a mental shift to 35.

“As an injured player you think, ‘Maybe my time is just coming around the corner and I might have to rack the clubs.’ And that’s a really terrible way of seeing it because I’m only 32,” he said.

But it wasn’t so long after that that he did a complete 180. In the summer of 2021, he declared his intention to return to World No. 1 — and stay for even longer once he got there. I was amazed by the despair the first time around and the resolve the second time. In the two-plus years since, we’ve seen which attitude won out.

In the aftermath of Day’s victory at Sunday’s AT&T Byron Nelson, he reflected on the five years since his last win. He got teary-eyed thinking about the meaning of winning on Mother’s Day, given his mother passed away last year after a lengthy battle with cancer. And he credited his wife Ellie — who is pregnant with their fifth child — with continuing to believe in him.

“To be honest, I was very close to calling it quits,” he said. “I never told my wife that, but I was okay with it, just because it was a very stressful part of my life. But Ellie, she never gave up on me trying to get back to the winner’s circle again. She just always was pushing me to try and get better.

“Yeah, I don’t know. It feels strange to be sitting here. I don’t know how else to explain it. To go through what I went through and then to be able to be a winner again and be in the winner’s circle is very pleasing, and I know that there’s been a lot of very hard work behind the scenes that a lot of people haven’t seen.”

There’s no way to see all the work; only Day would know that experience. But it was easy to be happy for him as he stuffed a wedge from 90 yards to two feet at No. 18, setting up a kick-in walk-off birdie at the last. His quest for World No. 1 is certainly a work in progress — this got him to World No. 20 — but a return to the winner’s circle is well worth celebrating.

WINNERS

Who won the week?

Jin Young Ko chased down Minjee Lee, pouring a birdie putt at No. 18 directly in the center of the cup to force a playoff at the Cognizant Founders Cup.

When Lee three-putted for bogey on the first playoff hole, Ko’s two-putt par made her a winner. It nearly got her back to World No. 1, too; Nelly Korda’s 8.40 points average is just a sliver ahead of Ko at 8.38.

Jason Day‘s win was hardly a sure thing; he began Sunday at TPC Craig Ranch two shots back of the lead and emerged from a ridiculously crowded leaderboard thanks to a final-round 62. Nobody would argue this was one of the PGA Tour’s stronger fields, but the presence of Day and World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler near the top of the leaderboard gave it some star power, while the sheer number of contenders yielded back-nine excitement.

Dustin Johnson emerged from a three-man playoff in Tulsa to win his second LIV event, putting himself in the conversation for this week’s PGA Championship. He’ll try to channel the form of Brooks Koepka, who won LIV Orlando and followed that with a near-miss at the Masters.

ALMOST-WINNERS

Second place isn’t just first loser.

Si Woo Kim finished one shot back at the Byron Nelson, his best result since winning the Sony Open in January. Austin Eckroat finished T2, too, his best result ever. C.T. Pan took home fourth, a surprising result given he was coming off four missed cuts in a row. And Scottie Scheffler finished T5, his 13th consecutive result inside the top 12.

Despite a sour finish, Minjee Lee left with a rosy outlook on her game.

“Obviously I would’ve liked to have won, but looking back at my whole year and just kind of assessing where I am, how I did this week, I think a lot more positives than negatives,” said the new World No. 5.

Ashleigh Buhai rounded out the podium at 10 under par, three shots outside the playoff.

Cameron Smith and Branden Grace finished T2 after losing to Johnson in the playoff. And Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau finished T5, an encouraging sign ahead of their trips to Oak Hill.

NOT-WINNERS

Blergh.

Jordan Spieth‘s WD from the Byron Nelson put his PGA Championship week into question; Spieth loves playing in Dallas and wouldn’t have pulled out if it wasn’t a big deal. His caddie Michael Greller was spotted in Rochester on Monday, but I didn’t see any sign of Spieth on site yet. He’s just one PGA Championship away from the career grand slam, making this a particularly agonizing week to enter at less than 100 percent.

Martin Kaymer won’t be entering this week’s PGA; the former champ played last week’s LIV event, he’ll play next week’s, too, and he told a LIV reporter he didn’t have “the mindset of I can actually win the golf tournament.” Kaymer is recovering from wrist surgery and has finished outside the top 40 (of 48) in each of his last three LIV starts.

The last time Phil Mickelson played the PGA Championship, he won. But Lefty beat just two players at LIV Tulsa, which means he’ll need to tap into the same out-of-nowhere form that fueled him to a T2 at the Masters. He’s done it before…

LESSON LEARNED

Keep your head on a swivel.

There are many benefits to being a famous YouTube golfer. Club deals. Fan adulation. Fame, fortune and a job so dreamy that even referring to it as a job seems like an insult to jobs.

The downside? When you assemble a large group of those adoring fans at a golf event and smoke one of them in the arm with a driver at close range, you can bet your group of hyper-online followers will be filming and posting from every possible angle.

Enter Garrett Clark, the frontman for Good Good, a YouTube golf group with over a million subscribers and plenty of cachet in the online golf world. Clark, 23, has developed into an excellent golfer; in the most recent video posted to his own channel (gm_golf, which boasts an additional 876,000 subs) he posts a round of four-under 67.

Playing on camera provides its own pressures, but Clark is likely all but immune to those by now. But the Good Good Championship is a whole different deal; the group invited spectators and a significant number of its avid fanbase showed up. What happened next? Clark missed low, he missed left, and he absolutely drilled one of the assembled.

Everyone came out alive, but different angles of the shot quickly racked up seven-figure view counts across social media. As for the shot shape? That was reminiscent of one of golf’s all-time bean-shots, which came courtesy of Tom Kite at the 1992 PGA Championship at Bellerive.

And if you like this genre, the LIV pro-am produced another amateur bonk when Oklahoma City Thunder coach Mark Daigneault dinked one off the heel of his driver and directly into the camera of local news reporter TJ Eckert.

The lesson: Beware the amateur golfer. (And, I guess, Tom Kite.)

CADDIE CORNER

Bryson’s new caddie — and Joe LaCava is where?

Let’s start with that LaCava bit: A week after going full-time with Patrick Cantlay, Joe LaCava picked up a loop with Nelly Korda at the Cognizant Founders. It didn’t go particularly well; Korda made two double bogeys in her second round to miss the cut by a single shot.

The other Joe LaCava — Joe’s son, who goes by Joey — had more success looping on the weekend. That’s because he carried for Steve Stricker in his win at the Regions Tradition.

“It’s nice to get him his first win on any tour,” Stricker said. “He’s a hard worker and a good kid as well.”

The younger LaCava has been caddying regularly for Brandon Hagy on the Korn Ferry Tour, which means the two LaCavas actually worked four tournaments on four tours in the last two weekends. That’s generational stuff.

To Bryson DeChambeau, then: He’s on to a new caddie! Greg Bodine, best known for his tenure on Tony Finau‘s bag from 2014-2020, made his DeChambeau debut (DeBut?) at LIV Tulsa and piloted his player to the best result of his LIV career.

Bodine had spent the last several years focusing his efforts on the launch of Evergreen G.C., an indoor golf facility just outside Seattle he’d opened in conjunction with former Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse. Now he’s back on the bag. That’s not the only change DeChambeau has made, either: With swing coach Chris Como in the past, he was spotted working with Dana Dahlquist on the range Monday afternoon.

NEWS FROM SEATTLE

Monday Finish HQ.

If you like perfect weather, you’d like Seattle at the moment. The same may not be true for Rochester this week; highs on Wednesday should peak in the mid-40s and that could trickle into a chilly Thursday morning, too. May in upstate New York is hardly a sure thing. But when it’s good, it’s really good — and the weekend could get really good.

WHAT’S NEXT

3 things to watch this week.

1. The rough.

The early-week guessing game at majors always involves some score predictions. Just how hard will they make it? This week, the rough isn’t cartoonishly long but it sure seems thick, and it gets thick directly off the fairway. One pro told me it reminded him of Winged Foot’s U.S. Open setup because it gets so penal so fast.

2. The Big 2.

Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler have been so good in nearly every event they’ve played that it would be particularly satisfying to see them around the top of the leaderboard this weekend. Since there’s no faking it around this course, I’d be surprised if they weren’t.

3. Brooks Koepka.

His Masters run returned him to the ranks of must-watch major competitor. How will he fare at an event he’s won twice in the last five years?

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. 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.

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