Scottie Scheffler’s beer story, how Nelly Korda changed | Monday Finish

Nelly Korda is a major champion again.

Nelly Korda is a major champion again after Sunday's Chevron Championship.

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Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re further from World No. 1 than ever. To the golf news!


Nelly Korda, Scottie Scheffler and what’s different.

Late on Sunday night I got a call back from Nelly Korda‘s coach Jamie Mulligan. He was at the Houston airport, sipping on a celebratory beverage, dried off from his plunge into (the new) Poppie’s Pond but still soaked in the secondhand satisfaction of a dream delivered. That’s what Korda’s Sunday win — her fifth in a row and the second major of her career — amounted to. A dream.

“It’s everything that I’ve always wanted as a little girl, to lift that major trophy,” Korda said Sunday evening.

Mulligan has worked with Korda for several years, which is why I’d messaged him asking a simple, impossible question: what’s the difference? Korda was an excellent golfer a couple years ago, but she wasn’t like this. What’s changed?

He paused.

“There isn’t really a difference,” he said. “More simplicity in her own bubble is all. But it’s the same thing. Cleaner, more efficient.”

He cited Korda’s shots coming home, protecting a dwindling lead. The short iron into the par-3 17th. The drive and second into the finishing par-5. The way they’d demanded different things and the way she’d delivered.

“Imagine a ship,” Mulligan continued. “She’s been throwing stuff off the ship. Anything she didn’t need. And right now the ship is cruising along pretty good.”

MULLIGAN’S LINE REMINDED ME of a different description from a different person about a different golfer. That was Max Homa on men’s No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who was on the doorstep of victory at the RBC Heritage before play was called for the day on Sunday night.

“Scottie is tremendously talented and a hard worker and sadly, a better person,” Homa said. “I wish I could hate him. But it’s not utterly shocking what he does. He just does it over and over and over again. That’s amazing. I feel like he almost makes it seem very realistic that we should do that. He just seems like he’s playing on the driving range every day.”

There’s more to be said of this current professional golfing moment, particularly the two golfers — Korda and Scheffler — in the midst of historic runs. There’s more to be said of the fact that Korda has won five in a row and Scheffler has won four of five and finished runner-up in that fifth. Of the way this very rarely happens on either the LPGA or PGA Tour and right now it’s happening on both. Of the way it’s happening against the backdrop of a pro game mired in toxic discourse, with our focus too often centered on money and ratings and that dreaded phrase the product and not often enough on excellence. Of the way they’re making their competitors look flawed and ordinary. That’s what excellence does. This weekend was excellence continued. That’s worth celebrating. That’s golf stuff we like.


Who else won the week?

Max Homa’s Masters moment

Before the bad moment came a good moment.

Last week Max Homa was in contention for the first time in any major, ever. This wasn’t just any major and it wasn’t just any contention; Homa was in second place at the Masters and he was hitting arguably its most iconic shot, the tee shot at No. 12, knowing he had a chance to win. The ball flew the green, hit the worst spot it could have and bounded forward into the ivy, setting up a double bogey that would all but eliminate him from contention.

That was the bad moment.

But how ’bout the good one?

“Walking on Sunday from 11 green to 12 tee,” Homa said at the RBC this week. “I had a good buddy of mine remind me going into Saturday that I need to look around and smell the roses and appreciate what I get to do because I’ve seen some not-so-great parts of professional golf. So I was very aware on the weekend to smile. Joe [Homa’s caddie] kept reminding me this is the most fun we’ve ever had. Appreciate that and then get back to work.

“I tried every day to walk up to that 12th tee with my eyes up and look around and scan the crowd. I got basically like a standing ovation walking to that tee, and I just tried to stare as it as long as I could and enjoy it. We got it on Saturday, as well. Just something about walking to that 12th tee is pretty amazing feeling.”

Your moments are what you decide they are, I guess. Homa chose well.

Scheffler’s tavern trip

Scottie Scheffler said he surprised himself on Masters Sunday when he woke up and realized just how much he wanted to win. He wished he felt differently. Who needs more pressure? Luckily he won anyway.

“It’s kind of weird living through those times in your life where you’ve dreamt about having moments like that and then all of a sudden they’re happening,” he said, speaking to an audience of media members who have very likely not approached that specific sports feeling. “So Sunday was really fun just to kind of have some good friends and celebrate and enjoy the moment. Those are guys that we’ve walked through a lot of stuff over the last eight to ten years or so, and so it was very special, all of us getting to be together and celebrating something great happening together.”

His return home to Dallas — and to his wife Meredith, in her ninth month of pregnancy — culminated in a trip to Inwood Tavern in Dallas. The media’s focus on the imminent arrival of his first child, he said, was overblown. Instead, Meredith led the charge to the town. She picked ’em up.

“I don’t know if I’d actually been to that place before,” Scheffler said of Inwood. He’d been to a bar around the corner but that one wasn’t open (“shockingly,” Scheffler said) at 1:30 a.m. Monday morning.

“So on the plane ride home, I was with my manager Blake and my coach Randy and then I had four of my good buddies with me, and I don’t remember who suggested it, but it seemed like a good idea, and when Meredith picked us up at the airport it still seemed like a good idea, and Meredith was down, so we went for probably 20 minutes and went home. Took a few photos, had a drink and then went home and went to bed,” Scheffler said.

“That was more for Meredith, and then it was like, okay, it closes at 2:00. I think Meredith finished her Heineken Zero and it was like, now we can go.”

The chip on Wyndham Clark’s shoulder

If Monday finishes the way Sunday finished, Wyndham Clark will, for the third time this young season, end up in second place behind Scottie Scheffler. Clark doesn’t seem like a golfer particularly interested in consolation prizes, but still — this one felt good. It came on the heels of a disappointing Masters missed cut. It came via final-round 65. And it came on a golf course he heard doubters say he couldn’t play.

“I feel like I’ve worked so hard at my game to be able to play at any golf course, and so you come to a place like Harbour Town and yes, it is not a bomber’s golf course, but I would like to think my game is more refined than just being someone that hits it far and then wedges it somewhat close and plays the par-5s good,” Clark said. “Yeah, so courses like this kind of give me a little chip on my shoulder to try to go prove that I can play any kind of golf course and I can be really accurate and hit it straight and do things like that.”

Mission accomplished. But still room for improvement.

Maja Stark, water-dodger

I particularly liked this quote from Chevron runner-up Maja Stark, who was just proud she hadn’t made a splash.

“I don’t think I’ve hit a ball in the water this week, and there’s so much water,” she said. “It used to be like, there was a magnet to the water for my ball before because I would just say, ooh, don’t go there, and then I would mess up and go there.”

But not this week. Stark hung around the lead with a steady Sunday start, making pars on each of the first 12 holes. Then she made birdie on three of the final six. It wasn’t enough. But it was by far the best finish of the young Swede’s major career. Stark and countrywoman Linn Grant are each 24; Ludvig Åberg is, too, fresh off a major runner-up finish of his own. The Swedes are doing something right. Like avoiding the water.

This shot…

Jasmine Koo is an 18-year-old amateur. She performed admirably at the Chevron, finishing T13. But she wouldn’t have been quite so high on the leaderboard were it not for this particularly special brand activation:


Not their week.

Tom Hoge and his costly 9

Rain and wind and dark came to Hilton Head and players finished up their final rounds in less-than-ideal weather, desperate for a clean finish and desperate not to have to return Monday morning. But into the wind, No. 18 is a brute, and as the afternoon wore on the scoring average skyrocketed.

Enter Tom Hoge.

Hoge stepped to the 18th tee at 14 under par for the tournament and hoping for a top-five result. Instead? Hoge hit his first tee shot out of play. He hit his eventual approach shot into the hazard, too. Before long Hoge was staring down a four-footer for triple bogey. He missed it, tapped in for 9 and walked around shaking hands, shell-shocked.

Hoge’s inside the top 20 in the FedEx Cup standings. He’s made plenty of money. But still, working for 71 holes for a top-five finish at a Signature Event only to eject on the 72nd and finish in a 10-way tie for 18th has to hurt. It’ll cost him in the neighborhood of a half-million dollars. It’ll cost him big-time points. You get the idea: Not the way you’d like to finish your weekend.

Nick Dunlap’s pro start

Of course Nick Dunlap was going to turn pro. He’d been a member of Alabama’s golf team, sure. But then he joined golf history by winning the American Express as an amateur and earning his way into the PGA Tour’s Signature Events for the rest of the year.

So how’s it going since then? Not that great. He finished last in his next start at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He missed the cut at the Genesis Invitational. He finished T48 at Bay Hill and missed the cut at the Players Championship. Then he missed the cut at the Masters, too, before finishing in last place at Hilton Head this week. He slipped in a T11 finish at the Houston Open, but the Siggies aren’t going great.

What’s the point? Nothing, really, except that it’s tough out here. There are different pressures to the pro game. Different cadences. A promising golf game doesn’t promise much week in, week out. We’ll see plenty more of Dunlap in the coming years, I’m sure. It just hasn’t come easy since that first wild win.

Rory and the gang

Rory McIlroy remains the second-ranked golfer in the world. But that really just means he’s the leader of a pack of golfers thoroughly outclassed by Scheffler. Still, there’s hope. McIlroy finished outside the top 30 at Hilton Head and offered an explanation of why he’s enjoying golf when it’s both dispiriting and encouraging at the same time.

“I think [I’m enjoying] the challenge more than anything else,” he said. “Don’t feel like I’m quite on top of my game. But I’m determined to sort of get on top of it. Yeah, I’m liking the challenge at the minute and liking trying to figure it out.”

In particular McIlroy mentioned his iron play, which felt lacking in comparison to playing partner Ludvig Aberg on Thursday and Friday.

“I’m hitting the ball pretty good off the tee,” he said. “And look, I see signs that the iron play is getting a little bit better, but it’s just not — playing with someone like Ludvig who is completely in control of his game at the minute, yeah, I just need to get a little bit more in control, and if I do that, then I’m going to be a bit more sure of myself and make more committed swings.

“At the minute, it’s just — it’s a process, but I’m working at it.”

Monday Finishes

Unlike this column, Monday Finishes on Tour are best avoided. So why didn’t the PGA Tour move up tee times to dodge impending bad weather? How’d we get here? Some combination of preferred TV window and overly optimistic meterorology. Here was the explanation from Gary Young, the Tour’s SVP of Rules and Competitions:

“The golf course was really very dry. We felt that could handle it easily. It actually held up very well through the rain that we got, but it was really the thunder and lightning that put us down. We did not expect that. Our meteorologist Stewart Williams felt that the front would be to our south when we came in in the morning, so we would be on the cooler side of the front, and it would keep the probability of thunderstorms down quite a bit.

“Unfortunately when we arrived this morning, the front had stalled to our north, which kept us on the warmer side and allowed for the temperatures to warm up, and of course late in the day we saw the thunderstorms develop.”

They sure did.

“Kelly Norda”

Ah, man.


Monday Finish HQ.

With the NBA and NHL playoffs now underway and the Kraken officially eliminated from contention it’s time to join the excitable Seattleites in their one true pursuit: Getting a basketball team back in town. The Sonics are coming, gang. Just a matter of time.


3 things to watch this week.

1. Ireland goes to Paris.

Rory McIlroy is headlining the Zurich Classic; he and Shane Lowry should promise to have a good time. Will McIlroy’s game click?

2. Adelaide, Vol. II

What will LIV’s triumphant return to Australia have in store?

LIV Golf’s Adelaide event was hailed as a smashing success. Now what?

3. Nelly guns for six

Yes, she’s playing this week, back in action at the JM Eagle LA Championship. No rest for the weary. No rest for the winners.

We’ll see you next week!

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