Golfer Index: Masters stock up (LIV), stock down (Tiger’s foot) at Augusta National

Jon Rahm landed major no. 2 at the Masters on Sunday.

Darren Riehl

AUGUSTA, Ga. — What to get for the golfer who has everything?

It’s a fascinating question — and one likely being battled out at PGA Tour headquarters right now as a legion of business casual-wearing staffers deciphers how to properly honor the man who saved their Masters Sunday bacon, Jon Rahm.

Of course, those in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., will tell you it’s not that serious; that a LIV player (Brooks Koepka) winning the first full LIV-PGA Tour Masters wouldn’t change the complexity of golf’s greater Tour War. And maybe they’re right. But it’s sure nice to know they won’t have to find out.

The reason for Sunday night’s restful sleep, of course, is Rahm, who claimed his second major championship and first green jacket. At Augusta National, Rahm not only protected the Tour’s turf, but he also he bullied anyone who dared encroach upon it. Koepka was the biggest victim; a former major-killer who tried to go toe-to-toe with Rahm … and turned in a final-round 75.

Rahm out-alpha’d an alpha, winning the Masters in what turned out to be dominant fashion. After Sunday afternoon’s high-profile bludgeoning, it’s startling to think Rahm “only” has two major titles, a reflection of the brilliance he seems capable of summoning at will.

In this edition of Golfer Index, we take the temperature on everybody in golf after a raucous Masters week (excluding, of course, the green jacket winner). Which brings us back to PGA Tour HQ, where we’ll start our report.

Masters Index

Stock Up

The PGA Tour: It wasn’t pretty. Their top spokesman flamed out before reaching the weekend. Their pool of young(ish) stars never quite materialized at the top of the leaderboard. But arguably their best player provided his career’s signature performance in the moment they needed it most. Now, the Tour can claim the first major of the post-LIV/PGA Tour fracture (well, first one since Cam Smith hopped to LIV, anyway), and all three since the formation of the new rival league. Don’t be mistaken — this was a huge victory for the home team.

LIV: Both things can be true! In a week in which many in the media predicted LIV would crash and burn under its players’ lack of meaningful repetitions, 72-hole tournaments or top-tier competition, the rivals held up much better than expected at Augusta National. Even if they didn’t get the green jacket, landing three of the league’s most significant players in the top four finishers marked a massive victory for the Saudi-backed tour’s legitimacy. Yeah, there are jokes to be made about their 72-hole staying power (jokes we will make later in this column, to be clear), but the big picture was better than expected for LIV Golf.

Phil Mickelson: You show me one person who thought we’d be talking about Masters runner-up Phil Mickelson a week ago, and I’ll show you a liar. His brilliant performance on Sunday qualifies as the biggest surprise in the sport this year, and it’s not close. For a second, he seemed to step back in time at Augusta National. His post-round presser, however, was a reminder that nobody can ever truly turn back the clock.

phil mickelson masters
In a stunning Masters performance, Phil Mickelson glimpses into the past
By: James Colgan

Brooks Koepka: Major Brooks is back. Not back enough to, you know, win a major. But back enough to be tweeting out 69 jokes while holding a four-stroke lead on Masters Thursday. That was a good thing for everyone involved. His decision to embroil himself in the ethical minefield at LIV is worth questioning, but there’s no doubting the sport is better when Brooks is at his best.

Jordan Spieth: He’ll only spend forever wondering how his week might have been different had he turned Saturday’s 76 into a 72, but Augusta was the latest in a string of strong performances from him.

Fred Couples: 63 years old. The oldest Masters made-cut ever. And a sweet hoodie to top it off.

Team Theegala: The number of Theegala family members rocking white “Team Theegala” polos this week to cheer on Sahith’s first Masters start was astonishing. That he rewarded them with a final-round 67 to nab a ninth-place finish was even more remarkable. And that Tiger Woods-esque chip-in on No. 16? C’mon.

Jon Rahm’s driver: How might this tournament have played differently had Rahm not turned an opening-hole four-putt into an opening-round 65? For that we have Rahm’s Paradym driver to thank. He said on Thursday he’d swapped out a variety of heads this season before settling on the version that came with him to Augusta. On the second tee box after fumbling the opening hole, he exorcised some of those demons with a blistering drive that he estimated carried an extra 10 yards. He made birdie there, and the rest of his tournament was off to the races.

The Graber Olive Company: Which had one of its best days of business ever on the morning after a story detailing their history with the Masters Champions Dinner, and Augusta National, dropped. The Grabers had no idea our little story would have such a profound impact on golf fans, or evidently, upon their bottom line. They send their sincerest thanks. If you found yourself on their website in the last seven days and noticed the Augusta National favorite size-16 olives were sold out … well, that’s not a surprise.

Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches: They were back in 2023, but when I bit into my first one on Monday of tournament week, it was like they’d never left. I hope they never leave me again.

The Atlanta Braves logo: Which looks a heck of a lot like LIV’s 4Aces logo. It was everywhere at Augusta National this week, and for a hot second, I thought LIV might be invading the tournament. As it turned out, people in Georgia are pretty pumped about these Braves. As one Twitter commenter so eloquently put it, I need to get out more.

Jim Nantz: His “CW” dig was about the corniest joke made on television in the last five decades, but his boldness to say it given Augusta National’s historically…erhm, despotic tendencies toward the media was pretty baller. Jimmy, if you’re reading this, we appreciate you.

Scott Van Pelt’s people skills: While we’re talking about TV talkers, we’d like to take a second to give Scott Van Pelt some kudos for his friendliness at Augusta this week. As I wrote in a profile that dropped on our website earlier this week, he’s about the most well-liked man at the tournament. It’s easy to understand why. (My coworker, Darren, would like to subsequently thank him for his salient advice on playing Augusta National in Monday’s media lottery: “Be present in your present.” Darren shot 82.)

scott van pelt espn at the masters
At the Masters, it’s hard to miss Scott Van Pelt
By: James Colgan

The Masters Media Committee: I don’t know who to thank for this specifically, so I’ll thank all of them. This year’s Masters TV coverage was the most tech-forward, open-minded tournament coverage in the history of the event. Augusta National is not known as a place for TV innovation, but this year’s tournament was an outlier. From the early-week walk-and-talk segments to the club’s schedule adjustment to allow for Sunday’s mega-broadcast, the Masters reminded us why it’s the best TV product in pro sports.

Darn Tough socks and Nike Dunks: Which survived 2 inches of rain and mud at Augusta National in shockingly good shape.

Stock Down

Zach Ertz: It’s not enough to be the worst YAC player in the history of Fantasy Football, now it seems Zach is inflicting golf with a case of premature stumbles. His text to the Masters champ just before his Thursday tee time and opening four-putt double bogey — “that first green is looking like a walk in the park” — nearly cost Rahm the whole tournament. Fortunately, it’s now a laughing matter (unlike my 2020 fantasy season … but I digress).

Rory McIlroy’s sleep: I don’t imagine he’s resting well after a surprising (and deeply disappointing) MC at the Masters — a point confirmed by his mysterious DQ at this weekend’s RBC Heritage. Doesn’t take away anything about the state of his game right now, but this tournament just seems to have his number. Something tells me he’s going to need to break through at another major before he finds success here at Augusta.

Tiger Woods’ foot: It hurt to see Tiger in so much pain on Saturday at Augusta National. It’s impressive he’s willing to go through all of this just to compete, but it’s upsetting to see him looking so far from contention. It doesn’t help that the state of his game seemed to decline from last year’s showing.

Justin Thomas’ luck: No MC looked more painful than Justin Thomas’, which came after a wicked start on the wrong side of the draw on Saturday morning. On the par-4 18th, he needed to swing driver-5-wood just to reach the putting surface. His par try missed, leaving him with a tap-in for his fifth bogey or worse in his final eight holes and a spot on the outside of the weekend looking in. It probably all evens out in the end, but it sure feels like this sorta thing happens to him a lot.

Augusta National’s trees: The video remains the most surreal moment of tournament week. The club is very lucky nobody was hurt on Friday afternoon. (My coworker Dylan’s video about Augusta National’s lone palm tree, however, remains a high point of the week.)

Arborist Twitter: Who had a surprisingly volatile few hours after tree-gate. May we never hear from them again.

Bryson DeChambeau: Seriously, what happened to Bryson? He never neared contention this weekend. Never even sniffed relevance. That feels like a strange thing to say after two years in which his name lived atop every news cycle.

Sandy Lyle’s swan song: Maybe Jason Kokrak is right. Maybe it was a “chickens–t” move for Augusta National to blow the horn on Friday just seconds before Lyle’s final putt as a Masters competitor. Still, we can appreciate Lyle’s decision to drink the night away on Friday before returning in time for a two-putt bogey on Saturday.

Thomas Pieters’ driver: Which was so bad for him, it literally wound up in a trash can.

Patrick Cantlay’s pace of play: Which did not earn rave reviews from Brooks Koepka on Sunday afternoon. “That group in front of us was brutally slow,” Koepka said. “Jon went to the bathroom like seven times during the round and we were still waiting.” When pressed on it later, Cantlay said it was slow for everybody. True as that may be, it’s rare to hear a player called out so specifically for slow play.

Brooks Koepka’s Sunday dominance: Brooks seemed a little out of practice playing four rounds in a week. Perhaps that’s because he was! (Yes, his performance probably means nothing about LIV’s ability to prepare players for the spotlight, but it was still notable.)

CBS’s Masters Saturday broadcast: It might have been great. We’ll never know. It lasted only 15 minutes before the green jackets suspended play on account of rain.

The Golf Shop: An incredible engine of business for the Masters that remains the single worst place in Georgia for a person with claustrophobia or agoraphobia (well, other than the Atlanta Airport).

Rochester, N.Y.: Which is going to be feeling some serious pressure to produce major championship-caliber weather at next month’s PGA Championship after a strange Masters weather week. As a former student at nearby Syracuse, I can confirm it usually doesn’t snow in May. The key word there: usually.

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at