Bryson’s failed experiment, upset sponsors, coaching changes | Monday Finish
Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where the beer tents will never close. Let’s get to it!
FIRST OFF THE TEE
Remember when a super-sized Bryson DeChambeau put on 50 pounds and changed golf forever?
Turns out we might have gotten a little out over our skis on that one.
That’s not to say we should discount the ways in which DeChambeau demonstrated the advantage of increased distance, nor the impressiveness of his speed gains. That stuff all stands as called. But it was just a couple years ago that DeChambeau was chasing bulk as part of his golf revolution. He declared that he wanted to become “massive.” He did become massive. But that diet, which included a half-dozen protein shakes a day? Mulligan, please.
DeChambeau went on the 5 Clubs podcast last week and admitted that particular part of the experiment was a miss.
“I ate improperly for almost a year and a half and I was starting to feel weird,” DeChambeau said. Weird was a bit of an understatement. He experienced internal inflammation. His game and day-to-day life suffered. Facing all kinds of unpleasant side effects, DeChambeau decided to make a change. “My gut was all messed up, and so I went completely healthy, went on a Whole 30 diet, got a nutritionist, did blood work, measured stuff in my gut biome. I was super-inflamed.”
Now DeChambeau says he has leaned out. He feels better. He looks younger. And he’d caution others from trying the same weight-gain regimen he tackled in the first place.
“No. I mean, get stronger in a healthy way. Go get a blood sensitivity test and figure out what works best for your body to gain size and strength,” he told podcast host Emma Carpenter.
So consider this a public service announcement. Swing hard, kids! But mind the gut.
Who won the week?
Lydia Ko won the LPGA’s season finale, the CME Group Tour Championship, and took home its accompanying $2 million check, the largest prize in the sport. She credited an inner calm with her final-round 70 as she finished off the field with birdies at 16 and 17.
“Today I was surprised at how not shaky I was,” she said. “I get nervous even during pro-ams because I want to play good for our pro-am group. So I was surprised, but I think that might be because I wanted to totally focus on me, and I just said today I want to play golf that I won’t regret.”
Adam Svensson became a first-time PGA Tour winner at the RSM Classic, sending the fall season out in style with a spicy 62-64 weekend in Sea Island.
“It’s been dreams of mine since I was 10 years old, 8 years old. It’s just incredible,” he said. “I don’t think the money really does anything. It’s the feeling of coming down the stretch and winning and all that stuff, you just can’t beat it.”
We’re guessing the money doesn’t hurt once the feeling wears off.
And Jon Rahm took the DP World Tour Championship, finishing off the Euro Tour’s season with an impressive showing in Dubai. He shot 20 under despite — or perhaps because of — a chip placed firmly on his shoulder.
“Hopefully people can stop telling me that it was a bad year. Three wins worldwide, three wins in three different continents,” Rahm said, referring to his wins at the Spanish Open and Mexico Open. “Yeah, it wasn’t a major championship, but it’s still a really, really good season.”
They pay these guys, too.
Rory McIlroy put a fitting bow on his 2022, which was ridiculously impressive and saw him skyrocket to World No. 1. It’s easy to focus on what McIlroy didn’t do — win a major — but he did just about everything else. The fact that he’ll finish the year with the FedEx Cup, the Harry Vardon Trophy and the title of World No. 1 in his possession is really something.
“I’m as complete a golfer as I feel like I’ve ever been, and hopefully I can continue on that path,” he said.
Leona Maguire finished second behind Ko. She finished her season reflective — and satisfied with her progress.
“It’s mixed emotions,” she said. “Obviously I would have loved to have won, but four years ago, pretty much this week, I missed Q-school by a shot. I drove by that exit on Sunday driving down here, and to be here today in this position, it’s a big jump forward.”
Joel Dahmen logged his third-consecutive top-10 finish and his fifth top-20 of the fall when he shot 6 under par on Sunday to finish T5 at the RSM.
“Yeah, I was pretty sour after  yesterday,” Dahmen said. “It was nice to finish strong today. Yeah, I made the putt on 18, looked at [caddie] Geno, said ‘Christmas presents for everyone!’ So it’ll pay for some diapers as well.”
Dahmen earned $277,830 for his efforts.
Cole Hammer was another feel-good story from the week; he went to Q-school several weeks ago and finished T59, failing to secure any significant status. Then came an invite to the RSM Classic, and he took full advantage, shooting 65 to finish T5 alongside Dahmen. In the process, he secured another start — at the Sony Open in Hawaii — to begin his 2023.
“That’s the crazy thing about Q-school — it’s one week and sometimes it’s just not your time and that was the deal with me,” said Hammer, who shot 70-71-71-71 in qualifying. “I really just tried to stay positive. I had some tough finishes this summer and I kept taking punches, and I figured at some point maybe I could throw a punch back and I think that happened today.”
It seems as though Steve Williams has recharged.
Golf Digest‘s Evin Priest reported that Williams — best known as Tiger Woods’ longtime looper — will be working in a part-time capacity for Adam Scott in the coming year as Scott chases another major championship. Williams and Scott’s regular caddie, Greg Hearmon, are expected to split time.
“For me, it’s exciting to work again with Steve and see if we can rediscover the magic,” Scott told Digest on Sunday.
The duo will begin at this week’s Australian PGA Championship.
Who’s coaching who?
Hop aboard, folks. The coaching carousel is swinging ’round again.
First let’s check in on Webb Simpson, who announced he’s been working with swing coach Cameron McCormick after years with Butch Harmon. Simpson explained the move was due in large part to distance; Harmon has all but eliminated his travel schedule.
“I had a tremendous run with Butch, I loved working with Butch,” Simpson said. “It got to a point where he’s in Vegas and it was so hard to get to him, you know, for just one lesson and make it back to Charlotte. So I just started thinking. Not only that, I want to work with a guy I’m going to see on the road more. You know, Butch is not traveling. I’ve known Cameron from a number of years out here, but I just, I remember seeing him on the road quite a bit. So I thought, man, that would be a great start of having a guy like that who’s had tons of success.”
Simpson says that with the help of McCormick — who is best known for his work with Jordan Spieth — he’s ditching distance-chasing and dipping into the vault instead.
“I think I’m going to blame myself,” Simpson said. “For a couple years there, I tried to hit the ball so much further that I got into a number of bad habits that it was hard to see because it happens incrementally over time. But Cameron, he pulled out a bunch of swings from 2011 and 2020 and showed those similarities, so we’re just trying to get it back to where that was.”
Next up is Lydia Ko, the aforementioned CME winner, who swapped out Sean Foley for her former instructor, Ted Oh. She’d been working with both for a while, she said, but now she’s all in with Oh.
“I had a period of time where I was working with Sean and Ted kind of together this year as well, so I don’t think they’re on completely opposite sides of the spectrum,” she said. “Having worked with Ted before a few years ago obviously makes it a little bit easier transition where I’m not having to get used to the person and the style of coaching.”
According to Ko, the philosophy behind their swing work is similar.
“I think both Sean and Ted wanted me to, like, swing as most naturally to how I should be swinging, not to try and make a picture-perfect swing. I think those are probably some of the common things and differences,” she explained.
She added that there are things she learned from Foley that she won’t get from Oh — and vice versa — but it’s tough to argue with the results thus far.
“I think sometimes you hear things and depending on how they word it, it can, like, connect better,” she explained. “Then sometimes it’s like, A, C, B compared to A, B, C, and it doesn’t sound as right. They’re not totally different. I think they’re both not, like, super technical.”
Finally let’s stop by and see Seamus Power, who finishes the fall season at No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings. He’s gone coach-free to great success.
“I haven’t really had a swing coach for a couple years now,” he explained after finishing T5 at the RSM. “I found myself kind of chasing my tail for a long time. Just constantly, if I have a bad round, I was out there trying to look for a fix.
“You know, you realize it’s just golf, some days are going to be better than others. Staying in [my] lane and figuring out, again, what works and what doesn’t and just kind of sticking to that through thick and thin has been really one of the keys for me.”
New coach, old coach, no coach — there’s a lot of ways to prep for getting that ball in the hole.
Do sour sponsors have a point?
After 42 years, Honda is pulling its sponsorship of the Honda Classic after the 2023 playing of the tournament. The company told Golfweek in a statement that it had evolved its “marketing mix” and underscored that its business is distinctly different from when it started as a sponsor, which coincided with the U.S. launch of the Honda Accord.
But it would be silly to ignore the fact that this year’s Honda is in a horrendous spot on the PGA Tour schedule.
The 2023 event begins on Feb. 23, right on the heels of back-to-back elevated events, at the WM Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational, each of which will offer a $20 million purse. The Honda’s purse is $8.4 million, and the tournament is followed by two more elevated events: the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship. Guess which event players will skip as a result?
This is inevitable; if some Tour events are elevated, others won’t be. Honda has gone from the backyard battlefield of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to a relegated second-tier event on Tour. It still has plenty to offer; we can just be honest about its place in the schedule. Hopefully there will be another sponsor willing to step in, knowing what that means.
Over at the CME, meanwhile, the distribution of that $2 million check didn’t go off without incident. Beth Ann Nichols was all over an interesting story from a Tuesday night dinner where a dozen or so players had committed to attend. Serena Williams was scheduled to speak, but her late cancelation apparently coincided with some player cancelations, too. Nichols laid out the scene:
Earlier this week, when Duffy asked for the houselights to be turned on so that he could applaud the players in the room, the only people standing were those serving the tables.
Not a single player showed up.
“It’s an embarrassment to a company of my size and an embarrassment to me personally,” said [Terry] Duffy, two days after the event.
That’s some seriously awkward imagery. And while things seemed smoothed over by the time Duffy greeted Ko on the 18th green — “This is a tournament we’re all very proud of, and we have an amazing winner and dear friend in Lydia Ko,” he said at the ceremony — there’s no question LPGA leadership will be revisiting this over the offseason.
More money comes with more expectations. Golf tours around the world are experiencing exactly that. And the sponsors are letting it be known what they expect in return.
NEWS FROM SEATTLE
Monday Finish HQ.
It’s my third fall in Seattle, and I’m experiencing something for the first time: A true crunchy season. The leaves are falling and — thanks to a relatively dry stretch — they’ve stayed on the ground just asking for a good stomp. The rain is coming, which will mean dark, soggy leaf season. But I’m enjoying the crunch while it lasts.
Three things to watch this week.
1. Golf’s Wild West
My colleague Sean Zak and I hit Gamble Sands, an epic golf destination in central Washington. We also booted up a YouTube channel to launch this vid and more good ones like it! Here’s what we found. (Consider subscribing if you dig what you see.)
2. Welcome to the new season!
Remember how the DP World Tour just ended, like, yesterday? It starts again in [checks watch] three days. In two places. The circuit is co-sanctioning events in both Australia and South Africa this season. The golf season legitimately never sleeps.
3. The Match
Remember Thanksgiving 2018? When Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson squared off for a humble $9 million? Simpler times.
We’ll see you next week! More listening below.