Tiger Woods’ reappearance, Patrick Cantlay’s comment, PGA Tour heartbreak | Monday Finish
Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we have once again failed to earn our PGA Tour cards. Let’s get to it!
FIRST OFF THE TEE
Dreams and nightmares.
The Ryder Cup is done. The Solheim Cup is done. The NFL is in full swing. Viktor Hovland is hiking across the frozen tundra. We’ve hit golf’s offseason.
But as you well know, dear readers, professional golf doesn’t have an offseason. Not really. Not when there are courses to be played and money to be made and arcane, bizarre rulings to be handed out, forever changing golfers’ careers.
That last bit brings us to this week’s highest drama: the final event of the Korn Ferry Tour season. The top 30 players on the points list by event’s end earn their PGA Tour cards for next season. The rest do not. Enter Shad Tuten, 31-year-old native of Augusta, Ga., who has never held a PGA Tour card but was awfully close on Sunday. So close, in fact, that he thought the deed was done and his dreams fulfilled.
Tuten hadn’t played his best golf but he’d played well enough; his final-round two-over 74 left him T19 for the tournament and in 30th place on the season-long list. In by a whisker.
But then golf happened. As it turned out, Tuten had placed his ball incorrectly while taking lift, clean and place relief on the par-5 15th hole. He’d placed the ball, watched it roll off its spot and then placed it again — apparently just off to the side of where he’d placed it initially.
Jim Duncan, who is the Korn Ferry Tour’s VP of Rules, Competition and Administration, clearly felt for Tuten as he explained the violation.
“Unfortunately that rule requires you to try to replace it on the exact same spot again, and then if it won’t stay at rest that’s when you find the nearest place, just like any other rule that requires placing. When he did not try to place that ball right back on the same spot, that’s when he was under penalty — two shots for playing from the wrong place.”
Here’s the video:
My reaction: I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! This is a penalty? Does he even put the ball back in a notably different place the second time? If so, is it more than an inch or two? Is it even perceptible? Did Tuten try to fight every rules official on site before accepting it? What am I missing here?
It seems likely that had the stakes of the moment been different — i.e. had these guys not been playing for their PGA Tour cards — this would never even have been considered. Heck, in most KFT events it wouldn’t have been on TV.
I’d like to propose that every golf tournament would have some sort of Common Sense Committee to look at things like this, conclude that there was literally zero intent to violate a rule and literally zero advantage gained and wave it off the way NFL refs might pick up a penalty flag after conferring. Nothing to see here! I am gutted for Shad Tuten.
Still, it’s worth noting there was a sliver of goodness that came from this. For every golfer who falls outside the top 30 there is another that climbs into it. And in this case that someone was Rafael Campos, who thought he’d fallen short by a single spot when he’d missed a short putt on No. 18. He knew what the putt meant, he said. He was clearly devastated when he missed it. And then, just minutes later, when he learned he’d found his way back in? He broke down.
“I just kept on thinking the amount of work I put in for this year — God, I put in so much work. I’m really happy it paid off.”
Who won the week?
Luke List won the Sanderson Farms in what turned out to be a positively chaotic final 90 minutes of golf. Several different players reached 19 and even 20 under par, led by 54-hole leader Ben Griffin, but all of ’em came back to 18 under, where five pros ultimately squared off in a playoff. List’s 45-footer was the only birdie putt to drop and the 38-year-old was suddenly a PGA Tour winner for the second time.
Just how unlikely was List’s win? After he finished out the 18th hole in regulation he literally gave away his hat to a fan. Once things started getting tight a few minutes later he went back to that kid and asked for it back.
“I think my mentality is just put one foot in front of the other and just keep going and try to birdie the next hole,” List said. “You never know what can happen, obviously, watching how it unfolded. Like I said, I never thought I was even going to make a playoff. To be sitting here is pretty unbelievable.”
Matthew Fitzpatrick won the Dunhill Links, which brought a different flavor of strange finish when the weekend was nearly washed out and the third round was completed on Monday across its three courses, which ranged from “soggy” to “flooded” and required serious creativity just to finish. But that hardly dampened Fitzpatrick’s spirits; he won his eighth DP World Tour title and did so alongside his mother Susan, who was his partner in the team event. They won, too.
“Even with all my wins, aside from a major, you forget about them in the future, and you’ll always remember the one that you won with your mum, so doesn’t get better than that,” Fitzpatrick said.
Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea won wire-to-wire at the Ascendant LPGA in Texas. Kim’s wire-to-wire win was the sixth LPGA title of her career, though her first of the season.
“My results this year weren’t bad, but there was some disappointment because I didn’t have a win,” she said. “I had a lot of the time to think just for myself, and before this year passes I really want to win. This week I was able to accomplish that and it was just a really happy week for me.”
Xi Yu Lin won in another bizarre playoff scenario at the LET Aramco Series in Hong Kong, where weather forced the tournament into just 36 holes followed by a two-golfer playoff; she took down former World No. 1 Jin Young Ko. The tournament was sponsored by the Saudi PIF, featured top stars like Ko, Lilia Vu and Rose Zhang and served as a reminder that while the men’s side continues to work out how it will look to normalize Saudi investment in the sport, the women’s game is already further along in that regard.
David Puig won for the first time as a professional at the International Series Singapore, the LIV-backed portion of the Asian Tour. The talented 21-year-old won wire-to-wire by five shots ahead of this week’s penultimate LIV event in Saudi Arabia.
Auston Kim won the Epson Tour Championship with back-to-back 65s, jumping from 15th to third on the points list and earning her LPGA Tour card in the process. Gabi Ruffels won the season-long points race and you can meet all 10 LPGA card-earners here.
And Paul Barjon won the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, vaulting himself from No. 45 in the standings to No. 8, comfortably earning his PGA Tour card for next season. Ben Kohles won the season-long points list and you can meet all 30 card-earners here.
Some losing feels better than others.
An incomplete list:
Ben Griffin gave away the Sanderson Farms with bogeys on the final two holes in regulation. “I just didn’t hit very good shots pretty much all day,” he said succinctly. “Yeah, it’s hard closing out on the PGA Tour, and I should have got it done. It’s a bummer. But I’ll be back.”
Ludvig Aberg‘s post-Ryder Cup week nearly resulted in a win; he joined List, Griffin, Henrik Norlander and Scott Stallings in the five-man playoff.
From Aberg, the much-hyped Ryder Cup rookie: “I think playing those last couple of holes when you’re in contention, when you’re close to the lead or chasing down the lead, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have on the golf course.
“I had that experience in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago, and I just want to do it again and again and again.”
From Norlander: “I’m super proud. I went from thinking I wasn’t good enough to play this Tour to actually believing I can win out here. Things happen, change quickly.”
And from Carl Yuan, who holed out from the fairway on No. 17 to give himself a miraculous chance (before making bogey at No. 18): “All I was thinking was trying to hole the shot, and fortunately it happened … There’s always hope; never quit. If you’ve got a shot, the ball can always go in the hole. That was a really cool moment for me.”
Lexi Thompson finished fifth in Texas; she acknowledged she’ll need “everything, really,” as she tees it up at the Shriners this week.
Ryder Cup vice captain Nicolas Colsaerts played inspired golf en route to a T6 finish at the Dunhill; he bested the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Robert MacIntyre, who he was assisting just a week before.
And Anne Van Dam jumped inside the top 100 in the world with a third-place finish in Hong Kong; the result was her fourth podium finish on the LET this year after a couple down seasons.
WHAT WE’RE SEEING
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright.
Tiger Woods spent the weekend at Pebble Beach for the TGR Jr. Invitational, where he hit some shots at The Hay, Pebble’s short course — which was recently redesigned by Woods himself. Here’s how he looked:
What can we learn from Woods’ appearance? Probably not a ton. Todd Lewis of Golf Channel teased the idea that Woods might target his Hero World Challenge as a spot to return — but based on the videos and conversations with a few people in attendance, he wasn’t exactly jogging around at Pebble.
Woods hosts the Hero, but it’s more than likely he’ll be keyed in on playing the PNC Championship with his son Charlie just two weeks later, too. My guess is that, like last year, he’ll prioritize his wellness for the team event as he and Charlie look to take down their first title.
Also shoutout to this participant, 11-year-old Holden Bautista, who made two aces (!) at the Hay, the second in front of Woods himself…
And then delivered this dagger in that evening’s Q&A.
Woods was back hitting balls alongside Max Homa on Monday, giving kids a front-row seat to the best player of this generation and the top points-getter for the U.S. team at last week’s Ryder Cup. Play hard, kids — this is a hell of an event.
Pat in a Hat
Let’s offer one final word on Patrick Cantlay‘s hat saga. Actually, scratch that — once he finishes his honeymoon we’ll have no choice but to track down Cantlay for some answers, so this will be the second-to-last word. The story continued over the weekend with reporting from Michael Bamberger, who relayed a quote from Cantlay on the first tee during a practice round at the Ryder Cup.
“I’ll wear a hat when I’m paid to be here like he is,” Cantlay reportedly said to NBC’s Steve Sands, gesturing to PGA of America’s Julius Mason.
The quote circulated widely on social media and was held up as some sort of confirmation that Cantlay was, in fact, going hat-free as some sort of protest against the PGA of America. If that was true, Cantlay hadn’t been forthcoming in his post-round answers where he’d laughed off the idea of it being a protest. That seemed to be the conclusion reached by the jury in social-media court.
Once again I feel like I am going nuts. The quote itself? That seems very believable. Bamberger wouldn’t pass it along if it wasn’t. But I don’t know how that corroborates some sort of “protest.” Does it point to Cantlay’s general feeling that players should get paid to be at the Ryder Cup? Yes, probably. But not wearing a hat seems to be Cantlay’s personal inclination going back to the 2011 Walker Cup. It seems to me that he’d like to go no-hat in PGA Tour events, too, if he wasn’t being paid to rep Goldman Sachs. His comment seems like a flippant way to say hey, I’m all good on the hat unless I am contractually obligated to wear it. In other words, it’s his preference — not some protest. It’s not like the PGA of America is being advertised on the hat, anyway. The hats say USA. They have American flags. And I think, given the rest of his wardrobe, it was still pretty clear who Cantlay was playing for. Plus, what kind of protest is it if you just act surprised when somebody asks you about it?
Maybe I’m splitting hairs here. And maybe he should have just worn the hat? But given the intensity of people’s feelings on the subject these seem like important hairs to split.
NEWS FROM SEATTLE
Monday Finish HQ.
My wife and I had just finished up a hike yesterday when we got back to our car and both realized at the same time that something was off.
That wasn’t our license plate.
I went around to check the front of the car. Plot twist: Not only was that one a different license plate, it wasn’t even the same license plate as the one on the back! So license plates A (front) and A (back) had been replaced by B (front) and C (back). We’re talking about a multi-vehicle incident here, folks.
Some mischief was afoot.
According to the police, our new plates came from two other cars in our neighborhood which had also been swapped/switched. Ours had probably been transferred to either a stolen car or one used to do something shady, they said.
Why am I sharing this? I guess because that’s what’s happening at Monday Finish HQ, and because it was a particularly strange, mildly creepy realization. Also maybe the plate theft is a Monday Finish reader. If so, can you just give the license plates back? This is shaping up to be a DMV nightmare.
3 things to watch this week.
1. Jon in Spain
World No. 3 Jon Rahm hasn’t won in ages (a few months) but heads to his home open as the favorite by far; he opened at roughly 2 to 1 odds, which is preposterous for any golfer at any full-field golf tournament. Justin Rose is second-favorite at 14-1; nobody else is shorter than 25-1. Jon Rahm is very good at golf and it’s worth seeing whether he’ll be able to live up to those wild expectations.
2. Lexi in Vegas
Lexi Thompson has accepted a sponsor’s invite to the Shriner’s, and honestly this one has me slightly nervous. I’m excited to see an LPGA player teeing it up alongside the men, and Thompson’s length off the tee makes her a solid candidate — but her play this season doesn’t. Before the Solheim Cup she was struggling through the worst slump of her career, posting seven missed cuts and zero top-30s in nine stroke-play starts. While her last two tournaments have been encouraging, the idea of putting her under this sort of pressure and scrutiny has me uneasy, knowing the inevitable online trolling that would come with a less-than-stellar performance. Hopefully that uneasiness is unfounded.
3. Tommy in Rome
Just to remember how the Cup was won…
We’ll see you next week!
Dylan (cautiously) welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.