A caddie breakup, a PGA Tour fix, Hatton’s soft side | Monday Finish
Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re calling in a PGA Tour rules official to help file our taxes. Free relief? Yes please! Let’s get to the rest of the week in golf.
FIRST OFF THE TEE
The earnest side of Tyrrell Hatton.
I first noticed it last week, when Tyrrell Hatton was asked about his round with Tiger Woods on Sunday at Riviera.
“With pretty much everyone my age, like, Tiger is their golfing idol,” Hatton said. “Guys that came up watching the game and watching him win most weeks, as kids you’re always drawn to superstars and obviously Tiger was definitely that.
“So going out there playing with him on Sunday at Riviera when he’s wearing the red, like, that was pretty cool. I’ll remember that day the rest of my life. I think that’s pretty special. I don’t think you should be ashamed in competing against someone, but still obviously admiring them for what they have achieved.”
This was a character with whom I wasn’t particularly familiar: Earnest Tyrrell! Hatton didn’t put on the show he’d planned on — he finished T40 — but called it a “very special day” with his boyhood idol. The two had played together before on a Saturday at the WGC event in Mexico, but this was far more significant.
“I think it feels different when you’re playing here in the States on Sunday, a PGA Tour event. Especially everything that he’s gone through to get back to where he is now, to be able to tee it up and play. I think the turnout with the crowds and them just showing their appreciation for him, yeah, it was pretty special to witness.”
That would have been a cool story from anybody, right? But it was especially cool coming from Hatton, whose public image is defined as much by gritted teeth and verbal self-flagellation as it is by his play.
Fast-forward to Sunday, when Hatton lit the back nine at TPC Sawgrass on fire, getting up-and-down from 203 yards away in the pine straw on No. 18 for his fifth consecutive birdie and seventh of the back nine. His second nine 29 was a Players record and also profited him more than $2 million. Hatton still had no chance of winning — Scottie Scheffler was up by nearly a touchdown at that point — but when he sat down with Mike Tirico on NBC’s telecast, I was struck by just how content he seemed. He was smiley, nearly giddy. He seemed grateful.
“You have to clip that, me actually smiling on the golf course,” he said as he watched himself grinning over the replay of his walk up 18.
Hatton’s solo second came with plenty of good news. That direct deposit for $2.7 million. The 330 FedEx Cup points, which moved him to No. 26 in the standings. The World Ranking points, which boosted him back inside the top 20, from No. 24 to No. 17. But as I watched his interview, I sensed Hatton was happy mostly because he’d just played a really good round. We can all understand that.
In his post-round press conference, Hatton even praised TPC Sawgrass.
“Sounds horrible to say something positive, I guess, but it’s one of my favorite golf courses,” he said. But he couldn’t resist finishing with something drearier. “I think it’s such a pretty golf course, visually, on the eye, I mean — aside from 8. We don’t need 235-yard par-3s; that kind of ruins it a bit. I got to say something negative, obviously.”
Don’t ever change, Tyrrell. But it was nice to see you smiling, too.
Who won the week?
Scottie Scheffler’s sweet tooth
Like Scottie Scheffler, I enjoy indulging in a well-earned cheeseburger plus something afterward that’s not good for me at all. So it was good to hear that after throwing down an absolutely dominant performance — one in which he finished (*takes deep breath*) inside the top five in strokes gained off the tee (driving), strokes gained approaching the green (irons) AND strokes gained around the green (chipping); led the field in driving distance (boom); won by five; left his two rivals (Rory McIlroy, MC and Jon Rahm, WD) at the bottom of the leaderboard; shot the lowest score in the final 10 groups of the day (69) plus the lowest in the final three groups by five shots (next best was 74) and reclaimed his World No. 1 ranking, now by a much wider margin — he’ll reward himself a little bit.
“Maybe Grandma’s got some food at home,” he said, asked how he’ll celebrate. “I know she has some dessert and so, yeah, we’ll see what’s in store.”
Jorge Campillo’s job security
The 36-year-old Spaniard claimed his third DP World Tour win — and his first since 2020 — at the Magical Kenya Open. What did it mean?
“Well, it’s a nice feeling. I have to save my card this year, so that was the main focus,” Jorge Campillo said. “You’re laughing now but these guys, they play so good, and I’m getting older, so you have to be ready for the season. Obviously, I can be more relaxed now and try to get more wins, maybe.”
He jumped from No. 257 to No. 159 in the OWGR, too. How will he celebrate?
“I will try and enjoy my moment now and get ready for the next tournament,” Campillo told the AP. “Because you know how golf is. You win now and then the next day you are not that good anymore.”
Wade Ormsby’s LIV bounce-back
A couple weeks ago I wrote about what happens to LIV golfers once they’re left off a roster. One intriguing character in the story was Australian pro Wade Ormsby, who began LIV London as a team captain but didn’t make a roster entering Season 2. But Ormsby got back on the wagon with a victory at this week’s International Series Thailand event. Excluding LIV events, this was Ormsby’s first top-30 finish in his last 12 worldwide starts and moved him up from No. 446 to No. 320 in the world. He won’t be joining the LIV contingent at the Masters anytime soon, but this one must have been reassuring for the mustachioed Aussie. He cited the win as a “massively important” step on the road back to LIV.
These guys did good, too.
We covered Hatton, who had a terrific week. There were several other Tour pros with final-round charges, though: Viktor Hovland shot 68 to move from T14 to T3. He was joined on the podium by Tom Hoge, who flew coach home despite his big-time check. Hideki Matsuyama felt like a legitimate contender midway through his final round when he’d made seven birdies in his first 13 holes but immediately made double at 14; his 68 left him fifth. And Min Woo Lee was a breakout star despite his final-round 76. He’ll be back.
Not everybody can be a winner.
It seems the only thing that can stop Jon Rahm is an illness, and this one must have been pretty bad to force a Friday WD. It’s tough to know whether Rory McIlroy‘s MC was a referendum on his game, his off-course workload or just the fact that he and TPC Sawgrass haven’t been a particularly strong pairing. He now has three missed cuts and just one top-30 finish in his last six starts at the Players; that top-30 just happened to be a win. There was also everybody that hit it in the water on 17 on Sunday. Plus Lucas Herbert shot 82-85 and his game seems amiss. Max McGreevy was in contention after a first-round 69 and followed that with a second-round 89. Yowza! He seemed in good humor about the whole thing, though.
Shane Lowry finished an unremarkable T35 at the Players, but given he opened with 77, his 69-68-70 close was quite strong. After his round he broke down the progress on his game as well as his split with longtime looper Brian “Bo” Martin, who’d been with him for his Open Championship win in 2019, his BMW PGA Championship win in 2022 and everything in between.
“At the time, it kind of came out of nowhere,” Lowry said after final round at the Players Championship. “We started in the Middle East, and I had a bad couple of weeks, and we just kind of — we had a chat and things weren’t going — when I sit down and look at it, things weren’t going as well as I probably thought.
“It got to me a little bit, and I just needed some fresh — I knew, when it happened, I had no one in mind, no one lined up, so I didn’t know what to do.”
Lowry has turned to the services of Darren Reynolds, a fellow Irishman who has caddied for other golfers from the Emerald Isle including Paul McGinley, Paul Dunne and Roger Chapman.
“I’ve known Darren for years,” Lowry said. “He had just started with Alex Levy on the European Tour. That’s almost why I didn’t want to ask him, because I knew he just got a new job and I didn’t want to take him away and then it not work out for us. But, frankly, he was one of the few options I had, and we just had a chat. He caddied for me during Covid for a few weeks when Bo couldn’t, and yeah, it’s been going pretty good.”
The Dezzies need some order.
Somebody needs to take control of the PGA Tour’s designated events, and if nobody else is volunteering for the job, I’ll step in and do my best.
Last week’s scheduling news clarified some details around the future of these events. But questions remain, namely these two: 1. What are we going to call the Designated Events? And 2. How are we gonna keep track of ’em?
After watching last night’s Oscars I’m declaring a working title of “The Dezzies” until some massive sponsor comes in to claim the whole thing. As for keeping track? I’m partial to Formula 1 scoring. And where F1 has the Drivers Championship, the PGA Tour can have the Drivers (and Chippers and Putters) Championship, sponsored (until they find someone willing to pay money) by the Drop Zone Podcast.
It was a wild week in the DCPC, with Jon Rahm forced to retire his car midway through the second lap while his chief rival went on to win the event, picking up 25 points in the process and edging past him into first in the season-long standings.
I’m actually only sort of kidding about this — it does a great job highlighting which pros have thrown down in the biggest events and reminds us just how good Max Homa and Tyrrell Hatton have been in these, plus two podium finishes for Tom Hoge after his T3 at Sawgrass. Here’s the top 20:
NEWS FROM SEATTLE
Monday Finish HQ.
Daylight savings hits different here — it feels like just a few weeks ago the sun was setting pre-5 p.m., and with last week’s adjustment we’ve got light until well after 7. I’ve been trying to figure out how to define “golf season” in the Pacific Northwest and I think that’s the answer: It begins at Daylight Savings. Twilight Golf Szn has begun.
3 things to watch this week.
1. Keegan Bradley opens up
I’d love for you to listen and/or watch this Drop Zone interview I did with Keegan Bradley last week. He was honest about chasing the Ryder Cup, insightful about friends leaving for LIV, revealing about what it’s like to play professional golf as an anxious person and fascinating about drawing motivation from being left out of the Delaware Club. You can watch a snippet of our conversation in the video below. The complete interview is on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
2. LIV vs. the PGA Tour, Season 2, Episode 2
LIV’s season rolls on in Tucson this week. The PGA Tour’s season rolls on just north of Tampa at the Valspar. While LIV will have all of its top pros on hand, the Valspar’s list boasts an impressive (but not overwhelming) field including five top-25 pros: Justin Thomas, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sam Burns, Jordan Spieth and Keegan Bradley. It’ll be interesting to see how the events do head to head, with viewers now more aware of LIV’s programming. (For more details on LIV’s first-event viewership numbers, reference James Colgan‘s piece here.)
3. Come to work with GOLF.com!
We had a good crew at the Players for much of the week: Myself (Dylan Dethier), fellow writer James Colgan, visual mastermind Darren Riehl and social media guru slash professional observer Claire Rogers. We made a video about going to work on Tuesday. It’s possible you’ll find it exceedingly boring, but I thought it was fun to make and if you want to spend a few minutes hanging out behind the scenes en route to the media center, stick around. Free of charge to all Monday Finish readers.
We’ll see you next week!