Missed putts, broken drivers, bad swing advice | Monday Finish

Akshay Bhatia missed a putt that would have forced a playoff in Detroit.

Akshay Bhatia missed a putt that would have forced a playoff in Detroit.

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Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re just a couple hypnotherapy sessions [and a good golf game] away from winning on the PGA Tour. Let’s get to the news!

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Winning is hard.

Some weekends professional golf serves to remind of our own inadequacy. Drives flying 330 yards. Towering long-irons stopping on a dime. Birdie after birdie after birdie.

But not this weekend.

Sunday’s late-stage collapses began in Italy. When Tom McKibbin, who’d begun the final round in the middle of the pack, finished off a 65 at the Italian Open, he reached 10 under par — but DataGolf gave him just a 0.1 percent chance to win.

Sean Crocker and Jannik De Bruyn were tied with him, after all. Shubhankar Sharma was at 11 under. Antoine Rozner and Marcel Siem were each at 12 under. And they each had more holes to play.

But then golf happened, one shot after another. Crocker bogeyed 14 and wouldn’t make another birdie to finish at nine under. De Bruyn made bogey at 18 to post nine under. Sharma made double at 14 and bogey at 15; he’d finish eight under. Rozner actually reached 13 under but played his final six holes in five over par. And Siem made one bogey after another — 11, 14, 15 and 17 — to trail by one going to the last. Some three hours after he’d finished, McKibbin’s chances were now pushing 90 percent.

But then Siem, the pink-pantsed, man-bunned 43-year-old German showman, reached deep within himself and found something spectacular. He poured in a 22-foot birdie putt at 18 to force a playoff. And then he made another birdie on the first playoff hole. He’d gone from kicking away the lead to an ecstatic champ.

“Holing that putt on 18 was one the coolest moments in golf for me and doing it again in a playoff was fantastic,” he said post-round. “I love this sport, I just love it and it’s so much fun to work hard for it if you get rewards like this now. I love life, I love golf, it can’t get any better at the moment.”

On the PGA Tour the process didn’t quite repeat itself but it echoed. The winning score proved to be 18 under par but for a while it seemed like several players would get there.

Cameron Young, who entered among the pre-tournament favorites, reached 17 under with nine holes — and two par-5s — to play. He’s finished runner-up on the PGA Tour seven times but has yet to win; now the door was wide open. But he failed to make a birdie the rest of the way, broke his driver shaft on No. 14 out of frustration and bogeyed two of his final three holes to slip to T6.

Min Woo Lee at least went down in a blaze of glory. He was just 14 under heading to the back nine but birdied 10, 14, 15 and 17 to get to 18 under. But then he nuked his approach shot over the 18th green and made bogey to finish one shot back.

And then there was Akshay Bhatia, who reached 18 under par with a birdie at No. 7 and then shifted into neutral; he made pars on each of the next 10 holes. But when he needed just one more to force a playoff he tugged a four-footer wide of his target.

“It sucks, no other way to put it,” he told reporters. “Yeah, just a little bit of nerves, honestly. I’m human.”

That made a winner out of Cam Davis, who’d birdied the par-5 17th to reach 18 under and then got up and down for par at 18 to stay there. He was hitting balls when Bhatia’s putt missed; by the time CBS’s Amanda Balionis reached him for a winner’s interview he was as emotional as we’ve ever seen him.

In that interview and again later at his winner’s press conference Davis described the dark places he’d gone in his golf game, the frustration of losing and the jubilation of winning.

“It kind of puts a little spark back into — I want to be out here, I want to be winning tournaments,” he said. “All these things that come with winning are so much fun because you know you’ve done something great. To do it again, yeah, it feels pretty special now.”

The road to victory is precarious and it’s pot-holed. But if you get there? Something sweet awaits. A perilous journey with a rewarding destination — that’s golf stuff I like.


Who won the week?

Cam Davis, the 29-year-old Australian, won his second PGA Tour title and second Rocket Mortgage Classic; he also jumped to No. 40 in the FedEx Cup and No. 9 on the International Team’s Presidents Cup standings.

Atthaya Thitikul and Ruoning Yin teamed up to win the Dow Championship at Midland Country Club in Michigan; Thitikul birdied the par-3 18th to boost them to a one-shot win. Each has reached World No. 1 early in their respective LPGA careers and now each has a third victory, too.

Marcel Siem won the Italian Open for his sixth DP World Tour title; this one comes more than 20 years after his first in 2004. The win takes him to No. 129 in the world.

Max McGreevy won on the Korn Ferry Tour, ensuring he’ll return to the PGA Tour for the 2025 season.

And Richard Bland won the U.S. Senior Open on Monday in dramatic fashion; he was three shots behind when play resumed but wound up in a playoff — which he won with a sand-save par on the fourth extra hole. The English pro, who plays for LIV, is now two for two in senior major starts.


Cameron Young, guys.

Sometimes it seems like coming up short helps golfers find another gear their next time out, like when Xander Schauffele finished second at Quail Hollow and then won the PGA Championship the following week.

But with Cameron Young it feels like the burden of not winning has gotten heavier and heavier. The tension has grown thicker. And Sunday looked especially not fun. I mean, who breaks their driver in contention on the back nine on Sunday?! And still, even after the snap-hook on 14 and the snapped driver that followed, he could have made it into a playoff had he done the following:

-Made a four-footer at 16

-Two-putted 17

-Parred 18

Throw in a made seven-footer at 14 and you could pencil in Young as the outright winner. Instead? None of the above. The drought continues. The frustration continues to build.


A few things you should know, in brief.

Seth Waugh is leaving his post as CEO of the PGA of America; golf will now see new leaders atop the PGA, DP World Tour and R&A as the pro game continues to sort through questions about its future.

Superstar Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner has come down with a serious case of golf fever — though we’re worried about him soliciting swing tips on Twitter.

Chambers Bay is considering hosting a LIV event — though it sounds like discussions are in early stages.

The biggest news to come out of the Trump-Biden debate was undoubtedly their dispute about who’s better at golf.


Scotties, Camerons and Scotty Camerons.


From Padraig Harrington.

Our Zephyr Melton asked Padraig Harrington for the best golf advice he’s ever gotten. Harrington countered with the worst:

“Staying still is probably the worst thing. Keeping your feet still on the ground. Keeping your head still. Keeping your head down. Swinging slowly. These are all terrible things. Golf is quite counterintuitive. People who don’t play golf, if they came to golf and did the absolute opposite of what they think, they’d be better off.”


Where will Spieth’s season go next?

Jordan Spieth is reporting to this week’s John Deere Classic for the first time since 2015 — but he’s not even one of the top favorites. Spieth enters having finished T29 or worse in nine consecutive starts. He’s at risk of falling outside the PGA Tour’s coveted top 50 and he’s just 24th in U.S. Presidents Cup standings. But could there be some Spieth magic lurking in the Quad Cities?


Bryson knows ball.

It was enlightening, confusing, compelling and more to have Bryson DeChambeau on the latest episode of Warming Up. We talked about why he “almost never” plays golf at home, how he calibrates his irons pre-round, why it’s useful to practice with your eyes closed, why he always hits a draw and more.

I feel incredibly lucky to do these and even luckier that people seem to enjoy ’em. Give a watch, if you would:


Monday Finish HQ.

We have a local champion again! Cam Davis is one of a relatively small number of Washington residents playing big-time professional golf (shoutout Andrew Putnam), but he made the Evergreen State and Aldarra Golf Club proud with his second PGA Tour title. Next up: Can I convince him to play one of Seattle’s munis with me…

We’ll see you next week!

Before I let you go, here’s one more chance to subscribe to the email version of the Monday Finish — for free — RIGHT HERE! Appreciate you.

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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