2 stars change coaches, Rory talks LIV, Scheffler’s feedback | Monday Finish

Scottie Scheffler won the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Scottie Scheffler won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where Scottie Scheffler has won the Academy Awards. Let’s get to the golf news!


Let’s start with the good.

You likely remember the end of the 2009 Open Championship, where 59-year-old Tom Watson suffered a heartbreaking playoff loss at the hands of Stewart Cink. But what you may not remember is that he played the first two rounds alongside a smiley, sweet-swinging 16-year-old Italian superstar in the making. That was the week the world wept for Watson, but it was also the week we met Matteo Manassero, the prodigy from Verona, who turned in a remarkable performance as low amateur with a T13 finish.

The world met him again the following spring, when he became the youngest cut-maker in Masters history. Later in 2010, 17-year-old Manassero became the youngest winner in the history of the DP World Tour. He won again at 17 and again in 2012 and again in 2013, when he climbed inside the top 25 in the world.

Matteo Manassero and Tom Watson at the 2009 Open Championship.
Matteo Manassero and Tom Watson at the 2009 Open Championship. Getty Images

But what’s difficult about being golf’s next big thing is that you can stop being the next big thing at any moment. Manassero’s game fell off slowly — and then seemingly all at once. Browse his results page and you’ll see what happened. You’ll see the streak of 16 consecutive missed cuts in 2016. He missed 11 of 13 cuts to finish 2018 and made just one cut in 18 starts in 2019 and missed his first three cuts of 2020, by which point he was playing the Nordic Golf League.

It was that much more meaningful, then, to see Manassero on Sunday, hoisting the Jonsson Workwear Open trophy, effectively completing his comeback to the DP World Tour. He played his way back on via the Alps Tour and Challenge Tour, and now, after more than a decade, he’s a winner again.

“This is the best day of my life on the golf course, for sure,” he said after posting a four-day score of 26 under, securing a three-shot win.

We’re sure to get a fuller Manassero comeback story someday soon. In the meantime, I’m optimistic there are intriguing chapters still to be written.


Who won the week?

Scottie Scheffler won at Bay Hill, blitzing the Arnold Palmer Invitational field by five shots en route to his seventh PGA Tour win.

Bailey Tardy played her final 11 holes in seven-under par to win her first-ever LPGA title at the Blue Bay in China, a massive breakthrough win in her sophomore year on tour after an arduous journey to get there.

Matteo Manassero won on the DP World Tour — see above!

Brice Garnett won the Puerto Rico Open — the PGA Tour’s opposite-field event — in a playoff over Erik Barnes.

Abraham Ancer won LIV’s event in Hong Kong in a playoff over Cameron Smith and Paul Casey, securing his first win on the circuit.

Alexandra Forsterling took down the LET’s Aramco Series title in Tampa, posting 12 under at Feather Sound Country Club to win by 3.

And Joe Durant won the Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Ariz., by two strokes thanks to an eagle at No. 11 and pars all the way home.


5 big things.

In an effort to keep you readers on your toes, let’s change the format of this column again.

5 nice things about Scottie Scheffler

His peers are impressed.

1. From World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, who mentioned just a few weeks ago that Scheffler should try the mallet putter with which he torched the field this week:

“Anyone can pop up and win an event here or there or get on a good run, but the consistent performances that Scottie’s been putting in week-in and week-out every time he tees it up, it is incredible,” he said. “Then what he’s doing this week, I mean, this is a super tough golf course and to be six-under today going out with the lead and just sort of lapping the field is, it’s super impressive.

“But we all knew that he had this in him. His ball-striking is, honestly, on another level compared to everyone else right now. We knew if he started to hole putts, then this sort of stuff would happen.”

2. From Wyndham Clark, who finished second to Scheffler at Bay Hill:

“It would be borderline unfair if he starts putting really good,” he said. “I never want to wish ill on anybody, but if he starts putting positive (strokes gained) each week it’s going to be really hard to beat. But that’s good. It’s just going to push me to get better in my ball striking and every part of the game. He’s kind of the barometer right now and I’ve got a lot of room to catch up and get better.”

3. From Shane Lowry, who played alongside Scheffler in the final group on Sunday:

“There’s probably only a couple of players in the world that can live with him playing like that. Not sure I’m one of them.”

4. From Will Zalatoris, Scheffler’s longtime sparring mate dating back to junior golf in Texas:

“He’s the No. 1 player in the world for a reason. The kid’s been a world beater his entire career, junior golf, amateur golf, college golf and now on the professional level.”

5. From Scottie Scheffler, undisputed World No. 1:

“Yeah, I think this one’s pretty special. Like some of y’all had mentioned, it had been awhile since I won. I did win in the Bahamas [at the Hero World Challenge], but as far as a PGA Tour event, it had been almost a year, and so there had been a lot of chatter about my game and the state of where it was at, and so it was nice to kind of come in here with a good mental attitude and to perform well under pressure and I think today’s round was really special for me going forward.”

4 comebacks worth monitoring

1. Matteo Manassero is now up to No. 13 in the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai and officially worth monitoring.

2. Anthony Kim shot a final-round five-under 65 at LIV Hong Kong. While he finished just 50th of 54 players, his Sunday marked significant progress in his return to competitive golf after a dozen years away.

3. Will Zalatoris looks good. Like, really good. After disappearing for most of 2023, Zalatoris returned with a new putting style, a new golf swing and a new college degree. Now he’s finished T2 and T4 in his designated events, locking up a berth in all four majors and establishing himself as a Masters candidate.

4. Gary Koch and Roger Maltbie are making a one-week return to NBC’s broadcast booth for this week’s Players Championship in celebration of the event’s 50th anniversary. While NBC has moved on from the beloved duo, it’ll be fun to see the band get back together at the PGA Tour’s flagship stop.

3 things Rory McIlroy said this week

Rory McIlroy is playing some strange golf. Take Saturday’s back nine, where he shot a blistering six-birdie 30 coming home to play his way back into contention. And then take his front nine Sunday, where he bogeyed 3 and bogeyed 4 and doubled 6 and bogeyed 8 and played his way out of coverage en route to a T21 finish. What’s up with the World No. 2?

1. He’s driving it better than ever.

“Another great week off the tee,” he said. “I feel like I found a good feeling with the putting as well. I putted well the last three days. Just the iron play’s let me down.”

McIlroy explained that he’s struggling with a left miss with his irons and that his woods and irons feel like “two different swings” right now. That’s not ideal — especially when there’s trouble left, like on No. 6 at Bay Hill.

2. He’s not joining LIV.

There’d been some speculation based on his softening stance towards the controversial startup league. McIlroy clarified things in an interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith:

“It’s not for me,” he said. “It’s the — I’m too much of a traditionalist. I’m too much of a — I’m steeped in the — I love winning golf tournaments and looking at the trophy and seeing that Sam Snead won this trophy or Ben Hogan or Gene Sarazen or Jack Nicklaus or Gary Player or Tiger Woods or Nick Faldo, whoever it is, the people that came before me. That, to me, is a big deal in our game. 

“If we were to all put our heads together and be like, OK, what can we do to all come back together and move forward and be a little more cohesive, then I would sort of be for that.”

3. He’s ready to shrink the PGA Tour.

This was a finishing line in a press conference that was mostly about his putting, so its gravity wasn’t really felt until later.

“I’m all for making it more cutthroat, more competitive,” he said after his second round at Bay Hill. “Probably won’t be very popular for saying this, but I’m all for less players and less Tour cards, and the best of the best.”

Yowza! I think I agree with him. And I think I’m impressed that he just went for it and said so. But I also think he’s probably right — he won’t get any more popular with players who might not qualify for the tour he describes.

2 PGA Tour stars working with new coaches

1. Xander Schauffele has been working with Chris Como for a few months. Como is best known for his past work with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau. If you watched ‘Full Swing’ on Netflix you’ll see that he’s been working with Tom Kim, too. And now he has his hands on one of the world’s best golfers.

Schauffele spoke to their relationship early in the week at Bay Hill, explaining how he’s made the transition from his father, Stefan, as full-time swing coach and brought in Como.

“Yeah, I’ve sort of tapered off with my dad a little bit,” he said. “He’s still sort of my eyes day-to-day. I’m on the East Coast now, so him being on the west it’s a bit tricky. So, besides a phone call, it’s hard to sort of get him to watch me to hit a lot.

“I did a consultation in my first ever away from my dad in 2021, I believe, with Mark Blackburn. Now, I’ve been speaking and talking with Chris since December, and it’s been great. I think he’s just sort of been trying to get some of my swing patterns back to 2017-2018 and then adding in a few things that he likes to see.”

A half-decade ago, Schauffele explained, the club was more on-plane at the top of his backswing. He’s trying to recapture that.

“It’s been a bit of work, but I think it’s coming along,” he said. Schauffele finished T25 at Bay Hill but has four top-10s in six starts this year and hasn’t missed a cut since [scrolls] the 2022 Masters.

2. Viktor Hovland went through a much-scrutinized split with Joe Mayo at the end of 2023 and has now been working with New Zealander Grant Waite.

“Sometimes when you ask a question and you get some answers, that leads you down a different path and opens up some new questions and you pursue a different path,” Hovland said before Bay Hill. “I just want to kind of see where it goes. I always like to improve and expand my knowledge, and it just happened to lead me down to Grant Waite.”

Hovland, like Schauffele, recently relocated to south Florida. He’s coming off a massive season in which he conquered his chipping, contended at majors, won Signature Events and took home the FedEx Cup — but he admitted he preferred the 2021 version of his golf swing to last year’s. He cited Waite’s well-rounded understanding of golf swing, technology and competition.

“Obviously his knowledge is very impressive, he knows what he’s talking about. At the same time, he’s had playing experiences himself. He’s won on the PGA Tour. One thing is kind of knowing the 3D data and whatever, what the data says, but then also equating that to feels, and we can kind of talk on that level as well. I find that very helpful. So, yeah, a mix of both worlds,” he said.


From Bailey Tardy, coming off her first LPGA win:

“Last year is a great example. I missed a bunch of cuts early in the season. It’s expensive being out here. I wasn’t making any money. I’m 27, so it’s kind of like either you make it or you go get a job.

“And so there are just so many nights where you think, especially when things are going bad, it’s like — you can’t take a week off because that’s an opportunity to make money, but then you need to work on your game.

“So it’s a very fine line of whether or not you stay on the road and you push through or take a week off and try to fix things. I struggled with that a lot last year.

“So, yeah, it’s a life that’s not for everybody. You have to really love being out here and love golf, and that’s what I do.”


Monday Finish HQ.

I made my return to men’s league hoops this week, expecting the perspective of fatherhood (I have a one-month-old daughter) to boost me to new heights. My night ended early with a teammate’s forearm to the face so I now have a fat lip and a black eye. Hoping to recover in time for a magazine photoshoot next week. So, yeah. Things are going great!


3 things to watch this week.

1. The PGA Tour’s State of the Union

There are an incredible number of questions facing PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, but most of ’em orbit around one big question: What’s going on with the PGA Tour and the PIF? He’ll address the media on Tuesday.

2. ‘Full Swing,’ Season 2

Huge week for Keegan Bradley sympathizers. Welcome aboard, my good people. It’s nice to have you here.

3. Fred Couples, living smooth

I’m there, too. Check it out below. And 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 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.