Nick Faldo’s teary farewell, PGA Tour pros losing cards, how to make 8 | Monday Finish

Nick Faldo had an emotional signoff from CBS on Sunday.

CBS

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we have once again missed out on the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Let’s get to it!

FIRST OFF THE TEE

Making crooked numbers cool.

Ashleigh Buhai entered Sunday at the AIG Women’s British Open with a five-shot lead. It crumbled slowly, then quickly; first came the one-over 37 on the front nine, ceding ground to the competition. Then came a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 15th, completely eliminating a three-shot lead. Our Sean Zak was there watching with her family as it happened. “I just want to cry,” said her aunt Mandy. Aunt Mandy, we get it!

Derailed trains don’t get back on the tracks. That’s how we understand struggling final-round leaders and it’s how we understand trains. But if we switch metaphors and modes of transportation, Buhai steadied the ship with a par at 16, nearly made birdie at 17 and made a solid two-putt par at 18 to force a playoff. Four holes later she made another unforced error, blocking her approach shot into the 18th green way right, where it settled awkwardly into the greenside bunker. But she responded with a delicious bunker shot that all but sealed it: As darkness fell over Muirfield, the 33-year-old was a major champion.

FedEx Cup trophy
How do the FedEx Cup Playoffs work? Here’s a quick explainer
By: Zephyr Melton

Tom Kim got his big number out of the way early when he began his Wyndham Championship with a quadruple-bogey 8. I understand the strategy; sometimes it’s nice to get a couple over par early on to calm the nerves. But I would have stopped with a simple double bogey. Quad seems like getting carried away.

You already know how it went from there. Kim birdied 3, 5 and 7 to turn in 1-over 36. Then he birdied four holes on the back nine to finish off an opening three-under 67. Friday he shot 64. Saturday he shot 68. But on Sunday he really got going, shooting eight-under 27 on the front nine. Let’s revisit that. On Sunday he shot eight-under 27 on the front nine. He made six birdies and an eagle. By the time he’d signed for a final-round 61 he was the winner by five shots over his nearest competitors, Sungjae Im and John Huh. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re exactly right: Kim could have made 12 on his first hole instead, just to make things exciting.

The lesson, as always: You’re not defined by your lowest moments, nor your worst holes. Instead you’re defined by your ability to make such a preposterous number of birdies on all the others that the quadruple bogeys are rendered effectively meaningless.

WINNERS

Who won the week?

Tom Kim became a PGA Tour winner, became a PGA Tour member, became a FedEx Cup Playoff competitor and became the proud new owner of $1.31 million — all on Sunday afternoon! Oh, and he was born in 2002. The power of “I think I can….”

Ashleigh Buhai finished major championship season in style, and she deserves everything she gets after pulling off this shot more than an hour into the playoff, with a Monday Finish (shoutout to this column) looming if they’d had to play another playoff hole.

NOT-WINNERS

Four unlucky losers, in this case.

The Wyndham is significant because it marks the final opportunity for PGA Tour pros to improve their standing in the FedEx Cup, earning their cards or at least bettering their chances to keep significant status for next season. The basic breakdown goes like this: The top 125 keep their cards, Nos. 126-150 go to Korn Ferry Tour Finals plus keep conditional status (play in some PGA Tour events, when fields allow it) and Nos. 151-200 get a trip to Korn Ferry Finals. The focus understandably hovers around the No. 125-126 bubble, but there’s plenty of intrigue at No. 200, too.

Enter Sunday, when Kim torpedoed the front nine, setting himself up for a victory and a berth in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Because Kim wasn’t a PGA Tour member until now, his win thrust him into the standings for the first time.

That meant bad news for four interested onlookers. Any non-member who earns the equivalent of top-200 points also gets a berth in the Korn Ferry Finals, and four had earned an extremely precarious number: Chris Naegel, Rick Lamb, Anthony Quayle and Mattias Schmid each were between Nos. 199 (Jason Dufner, 58.757 points) and 200 (Jonas Blixt, 49.679 points) entering Sunday. But when Kim won, Dufner dropped a spot to No. 200, Blixt was out to No. 201 and those four were suddenly bounced alongside him.

Where this gets even thornier is that the FedEx Cup list has been adjusted to remove golfers who have left for LIV, but only those who have actually teed it up in a rival event. That means Bubba Watson, who has announced he’ll be joining LIV but is still returning from injury, remains on the list at No. 151, holding an extra spot he’s unlikely to use.

(Shoutout to guru Kevin Prise for getting this on our radar.)

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Nick Faldo’s farewell.

“I blew it!”

Thus began Nick Faldo’s final stretch of commentary on CBS on Sunday. Jim Nantz had just tossed it to him to close out the show, but Faldo found himself suddenly overcome with emotion.

“I was all ready,” he said, sobbing into his hands, attempting to collect himself. But then, suddenly, Faldo gathered his breathing and delivered a memory.

“I was in a boat in Ireland and they gave me a call and said ‘how’d you like to sit next to Jim Nantz?’ And I literally fell out of the boat, I really did. That was 2006, and here we are, 16 years later,” he said.

I found parts of CBS’s final half-hour rather awkward. It was difficult to balance the excitement of Kim’s maiden win with Faldo’s swan song. But the sum total reminded me of why we watch sports themselves. There was emotion, there was sentiment, there was unpredictability, there was pressure to perform in a final moment — and there was Faldo, trying to keep it together.

But he stuck the landing. He thanked those on set — “They put the pictures out, we do the rattling; we have an easy job” — and then managed one last golden line, referencing Nantz, Ian Baker-Finch and Frank Nobilo, who sat beside him. “I’m a single child and I’ve found, at 65, three brothers.”

The only real contract we as sports fans make with those that compete in and present us the games is that they care as much as we do. Faldo’s signoff resonated because he proved exactly that.

NEWS FROM SEATTLE

Monday Finish HQ.

My local sushi place has a new policy, as of last week: they no longer serve fish. No fish! At a sushi place! I can’t stop thinking about this. Either they’ve decided to corner the plant-based sushi market, fish were too difficult and/or expensive to acquire or they decided to suddenly take a stand against the morality of eating fish. The latter would be the most interesting explanation but would also mark quite the 180-degree shift. I’ll see if I can get to the bottom of this.

WHAT’S NEXT

Three things to watch this week.

1. Lawsuit drama!

It’s Mickelson, et al vs. the PGA Tour and it’s coming to a Zoom courtroom near you! And I will gladly confess I have no idea how it will end.

2. FedEx Cup Playoffs!

Memphis in August, gang. It’s about to get hot.

3. Callum Shinkwin’s celebration.

You want emotional signoffs? We’ll give you emotional signoffs! Here’s Callum Shinkwin, DP World Tour winner.

We’ll see you next week!

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 2014 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.