Monday Finish: 10 oddities from the Open Championship
Welcome to the Monday Finish! And a happy Morikawa Monday to you all. This is where we’ll tally the scores for the week that was and tee you up for the week to come. This week’s edition comes looking back at the week that was at Royal St. George’s…
First, let’s buzz through some housekeeping:
Who won what?
Collin Morikawa won that little jug in England.
Seamus Power won the off-field Barbasol Championship, capping off a startling run of six PGA Tour starts in which he has logged six top-20s and four top-10s. Before this year, the 34-year-old Irishman had never finished a year ranked better than No. 347 in the world. Now he’s up to 113 — and climbing.
Dylan Dethier and Sean Zak go deep on seven men’s majors in 11 months. Who overperformed? Who underperformed? Check out this week’s Drop Zone here:
At the LPGA Tour’s team event, the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, sisters Nelly and Jessica Korda shot the low round of the day on Thursday — but then the high round of the day on Friday. They were quickly supplanted by the Tour’s other best-known sister act, Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, who fired 59s on Friday and Sunday to win by three.
Down the ranks, Taylor “We Want Some” Moore won on the Korn Ferry Tour, Emma “Super Mario” Broze won her first Symetra Tour title and Stuart “Does This Shirt Make Me Look” Manley won on the Challenge Tour. No, those aren’t real nicknames. Yet. Let’s move on.
Who came up just short?
Jordan Spieth finished solo second, his best result at a major since winning the 2017 Open and the fourth time overall he has come in runner-up at a major. That’s still two fewer times than Louis Oosthuizen, who added to his medal cabinet with a T3 finish.
On the LPGA, Cyndey Clanton and Jasmine Suwannapurra came closest to the Sisters Jutanugarn, finishing three shots back at 21 under.
And at the Barbasol, J.T. Poston was in command of the tournament before his ball came to rest ever so unfortunately out of bounds at No. 15. He lost to Power on the sixth hole of a playoff.
Now let’s get to the fun stuff.
10 OPEN ODDITIES
The strangeness from St. George’s.
You already know the scores, so let’s dive into the minutiae from the week. Some consequential, some far less so. Ten of ’em. Let’s go!
10. Cheeseburgers in Paradise
Remember at last month’s U.S. Open, when Rory McIlroy said he’d been eating the same chicken sandwich all week? Well, that turned into a T7, which means if you’re looking for game improvement it might be time to switch to beef.
That’s because Collin Morikawa plowed his way to victory by sticking to every American’s safest European meal order.
“I never do this, but I had a burger for four straight days,” he said on Sunday night. Why stop at four?
9. The Tunnel Run
The entire end of Jordan Spieth‘s Saturday round was an oddity unto itself. He missed a two-footer for a final-hole bogey, then took off running up the tunnel, like he was either A. so frustrated he couldn’t just walk or B. desperate to find a restroom, which would explain some putting discomfort.
He followed that by hitting an estimated five hundred putts, took his putter home with him to work some more on a putting arc, then rolled in the next day with said putter — if no credential.
The approach still nearly worked.
8. Missed Cuts
Tyrrell Hatton got plenty of social-media attention for his second round at the Open, which included at least one flipped bird and a wedge he stomped into pieces.
That was actually all fairly typical, actually. But what’s particularly strange is the way Hatton — still the 12th-ranked golfer in the world — has performed at major championships of late. In the famous seven-major swing we’ve seen since last August, Hatton has missed five cuts and failed to contend at both the 2021 Masters (T18) or PGA (T38). That’s the sort of puzzling pattern that might make you want to stomp a wedge, too.
7. Speaking Of Wedges …
Marc Leishman opened with a five-over 75 on Thursday thanks in large part to his struggles on the green; he took 36 putts to navigate the opening round. By midway through the second round he’d had enough and reportedly “damaged” his flat stick somewhere between the 10th and 11th holes.
The strategy paid off. (I’m sure it was a strategy and not a moment of raw frustration.)
At No. 11, Leishman switched to wedge and poured in a lengthy par putt. He made birdie at the next hole. He added birdies at 17 and 18. Three-under 67 for the second round. Three under putting with his wedge. The only problem was that he should have started using it earlier; his two-day total of two over par left him one shot outside the cut line.
6. That Putting Stroke
Will Zalatoris entered the Open with three top-10s in his four previous major starts. But he sent ripples across Golf Channel’s viewership with one particularly sketchy short putting stroke.
My instinct was that this stroke was symptomatic of some sort of darkness in Zalatoris’ mind. Short putts are scary! Especially in major championships. And even on a scale of troubling putting strokes, this one looked extra-troubling. He barely made contact, after all.
But a sensible explanation emerged on Friday when Zalatoris withdrew from the event with a tweaked back. He said a shot out of the rough at No. 15 sent a tingling down his leg and that he’d been advised not to continue — but that he felt an obligation to finish the first round, “even if it meant embarrassing myself a little at the end ha!” he wrote on Instagram. Pros with back pain (notably Tiger Woods) have always described how standing over a putt can be particularly excruciating, so the account checks out. Here’s to a healthy back and a healthy stroke moving forward.
5. Good Weather
No rain. No real wind. Ample sunshine. Since I didn’t get to actually attend this Open in person, I’m particularly upset we didn’t get a proper dose of English misery to keep the lads on their toes. Hopefully next year?
4. Aspirational Phone Usage
An oddity of professional golf is that it’s one of the few professions than can be performed with zero access to one’s mobile device. Phil Mickelson has talked about turning off his phone for tournament weeks. Will Zalatoris talked about ditching his for the Masters. And Marcus Armitage shared his post-tournament phone plans and they sound — incredibly freeing.
“So I’m excited for a week off. I am, actually,” he said after a Sunday 70 left him T53. I’m charging my phone tonight. When it runs out of batteries tomorrow, I ain’t charging it for another week. So I’m totally going into no media, no phone calls, no text messages. It’s just going to be me and my dogs and Lucy back at home relaxing and just doing what we want to do.”
Wise words from The Bullet. Bonus points if you can follow suit.
3. Marcel Siem’s Payout
Among the strangest payouts at The Open went to Marcel Siem, the most emotive man in the tournament, who wound up T15 and earned 12,114.4 points on the Challenge Tour rankings, moving from third to second on the season-long list.
Siem was playing his 14th week in a row, desperately chasing status — and enjoying the ride. After holing a birdie putt on No. 18, he let out a yell and a series of fist-pumps, a particularly memorable reaction for a non-winner. It was terrific.
“I thought, I have to be careful what I’m doing here. It’s a bit embarrassing maybe because I’m not winner of the tournament. But I think they want to see something like this…that’s what they pay the money for as well,” he said afterwards.
“I don’t know how much money I made. I didn’t look at the money breakdown. I hope that’s enough to keep my card on the Challenge Tour, and if that’s the case, then I will take my family and, yeah, have a good rest,” he said. Most top-15 finishers at The Open aren’t worried about their Challenge Tour status, but Siem said the key to his good play has included accepting and embracing his current station in the game.
He also earned $143,063 for the week, of course. That’s not a bad haul either.
2. My Favorite Spectator
She sat perched just behind the 4th green, taking in the show all week, the VIP Tent to end all VIP tents, life fully in her grasp.
1. Age, Just A Number
There was an interesting moment in Jordan Spieth‘s post-tournament press conference where he was singing the praises of the tournament champion and then took a stab at his age.
“Is he 21? Is that it? How old is he? I don’t even know,” Spieth said.
Morikawa is, in fact, 24. This is not a shot at Spieth for not knowing. But it is interesting the way we think about golfers and their ages. Morikawa still feels extremely fresh on the scene, but he’s still a college graduate. He didn’t come out early enough to match the prodigy of Rory McIlroy or of Spieth himself. He’s young — but so were those guys.
When McIlroy won the last of his four majors, he was 25 years and 3 months old, about eight months older than Morikawa is now. When Spieth won the last of his three majors, he was four days shy of his 24th birthday. When Justin Thomas won his first and (so far) only major, he was 24, a couple months younger than Morikawa is now.
The point here is not that Morikawa is old. He’s not! Brooks Koepka was 27 before he won his first of four majors. Instead, the point is that when McIlroy, Spieth and Thomas won their most recent majors, it felt like the floodgates were just opening. It’s not always that easy. There’s an instinct to pencil Morikawa in for 10 majors over the course of his career. Instead, for now, let’s appreciate this one.
He’s still quite young, after all.
NEWS FROM SEATTLE
Monday Finish HQ.
Monday marks the final day of the summer on which the sun sets after 9 p.m. This is regrettable. The Open Championship is over, indeed.
Three things to watch this week.
- Major Szn rolls on.
And thank goodness! The Evian Championship kicks off this week in France after it was canceled last season, which means you can stick to your 5 a.m. golf-watching routine. Coffee! Golf! France! We’re in.
2. Ivor Robson.
If you, like me, woke up filled with post-Open nostalgia come Monday morning, throw it back to the longtime voice of the Championship, Ivor Robson. For more than four decades, Robson greeted players on the first tee and then introduced them to the world. I’m guessing you can hear his voice in your head now, if I type it:
“On the tee from USA — Tiger Woods!”
GolfWorld made a terrific video with Robson after his 2015 retirement that you can watch here:
3. Anything from Carnoustie.
The AIG Women’s British Open brings us back across the pond in just a matter of weeks — and we’re headed to one of the world’s great championship courses. Because this segment is entitled three things to watch “this week,” the best we’ll do here is Francesco Molinari‘s Open Championship film from 2018:
We’ll see you next week!