September 23, 2023
Unlikely winners, Mickelson insults, closet criers, journey bans

Clockwise from high left: Nelly Korda, Tony Finau, Pat Perez speaking to Phil Mickelson (an previous photograph from 2012), Tommy Fleetwood.

Getty Photographs

Welcome again to the Monday End, the place we’re nonetheless counting mail-in ballots to find out this week’s winners. Within the meantime, listed below are our projections. Let’s get to it!

Some weeks the golf world is stuffed with consternation. With blown leads, unhealthy climate, nasty feedback, strife. This was not a type of weeks. This was every week for feel-good tales to poke their approach via the deluge of soccer headlines. Comebacks. Assertion victories. Heartwarming contenders. And whereas not everyone left this week feeling good — that’s sports activities, gang! — loads certain did. Let’s buzz via the tiers, getting happier as we go:


Murky territory, right here.

Houston Open: Now what?

We’ll get to the feel-good stuff, I promise. However the week started with the Cadence Financial institution Houston Open questioning what’s subsequent. With the PGA Tour’s fall future taking a distinctly completely different form (an excellent factor, by the best way) this match will likely be amongst these on the lookout for a brand new dwelling on the schedule. Loyal Texan Ryan Palmer summed it up: “It’s exhausting to inform what it will likely be like. I do know Vegas is nervous in regards to the fall, Mexico is nervous in regards to the fall and Houston needs to be nervous.”

Match organizers have been bullish about pivoting to an early summer time date, doubtlessly starting in 2024. There will likely be some kind of culling of occasions, and it will likely be attention-grabbing to see whether or not which means present tournaments are shuffled round, repurposed or eradicated. Time will inform. However there appears to be loads of neighborhood help across the Houston occasion, so right here’s hoping it finds a cheerful dwelling.

This week marks the 75th edition of the Cadence Bank Houston Open.

‘Houston needs to be nervous’: PGA Tour’s new fall plans elevate thorny questions


Artwork Stricklin

Linn Grant’s journey ban

Twenty-three-year-old Swedish golfer Linn Grant has performed some sensational golf this 12 months, profitable 4 occasions on the Girls European Tour (together with a nine-shot victory on the Scandinavian Blended) to guide the Order of Advantage and climb to No. 25 on this planet. She’s performed six LPGA occasions, all of them worldwide, and her 4 top-10 finishes in these occasions pushed her inside the highest 60, making her eligible for this week’s CME Group Tour Championship and its profitable payout.

However Grant received’t be capable to play the CME as a result of she hasn’t been vaccinated and due to this fact isn’t allowed to journey to america, underneath present restrictions. Whereas Beth Ann Nichols had reported that was the case, Grant defined the state of affairs in an announcement launched via her agent to Golf Channel.

“I perceive some folks need to know why I’m not taking part in within the U.S. I respect that,” the assertion learn. “The straightforward motive is that I’m not vaccinated. Concerning why, I ask the identical respect again. It’s one thing I need to hold internally with my household and group.”

Pat Perez’s emotions for Phil Mickelson

In an look on Claude Harmon’s podcast Son of a Butch, Pat Perez mentioned sufficient about his style for Phil Mickelson that he received everyone’s consideration. Right here’s Pat:

“With regards to Phil, I’ve a special hate for Phil than most individuals,” he informed Harmon. “Folks received’t know the story — I’m not going to enter the story once more — however Phil crossed the road with me that’s simply uncrossable and unforgivable.

“He is aware of that he screwed up. He apologized for the motion, however I can not forgive him for it as a result of I’ve recognized Phil for a protracted, very long time. I’ve recognized the man endlessly. And the truth that when he made this motion, not solely was it — he had intentions of doing it; he knew it was going to occur earlier than it occurred and when he did it — I used to be harm, for one. I used to be like ‘How can this man do that?’”

Whereas we on the Monday End are enormous followers of readers chasing down rumors, we’re staying out of this one. However, yeah, we’d like Pat to say extra.


They didn’t win — however they kinda did.

Lexi Thompson, runner-up

Going toe-to-toe with Nelly Korda is not any straightforward activity, however Lexi Thompson gave it a severe run on Sunday on the Pelican Ladies’s Championship. Korda started the day a shot behind Thompson however reeled off a number of front-nine birdies to attract stage. Thompson fought again in model, making 4 birdies in a row at 5-6-7-8. And whereas bogeys at 11 and 12 have been setbacks, she rebounded with birdies at 13 and 14 to present herself an opportunity down the stretch. She got here up one shot quick, ultimately — Korda made birdies at 16 and 17 to shut out a profitable 64 — however was inspired together with her efficiency.

On the one hand, Thompson’s end represented one other near-miss in a profession that has, of late, been riddled with them. However that is the feel-good part, and Thompson was speaking optimistic post-round.

“I believe in earlier years if that will’ve occurred I’d’ve let it get to me,” Thompson mentioned of her back-nine bogeys. “And even after hitting it within the water I might have let that get to me. [This time] I used to be like, all proper, snap out of it. Yeah, you’re not glad proper now, however getting much more upset isn’t going to do me any good.

“So I used to be like, all proper, let’s get the bogey, bounce again with a couple of birdies coming in and see the place that goes.”

Memorial Park, neighborhood asset

Greens charges are on the rise and have been for a number of years as golf has boomed within the Covid period. That’s doubly true for high-profile programs, like PGA Tour hosts or golf vacation spot websites. I spotted final week that TPC Sawgrass fetches as a lot as $840 per tee time. Yowza!

It was a breath of contemporary air, then, to appreciate that this week’s Tour host — Memorial Park, in Houston — isn’t just a cleverly redone municipal course. It’s a cleverly redone municipal course that may maintain as much as Tour professionals whereas additionally truly serving its mission as a neighborhood useful resource offering inexpensive golf. Right here’s the pricing for Memorial Park:

RESIDENTS: $21-$38

That’s proper — residents max out at $38 for a PGA Tour course. Shoutout to the decision-makers at Memorial Park for chasing affordability over maximizing earnings. Little doubt a wider array of golfers can benefit from the Houston Open host because of this.

Tiger Woods Szn

On this week’s Drop Zone podcast we dived into what the current and future may appear like for Tiger Woods — starting with a Tiger-filled December. You possibly can hear on the embedded podcast under or on Apple or Spotify.

Houston Open podium

Second place is, as they are saying, first loser. However on the Houston Open the silver and bronze medalists have been every delighted to be there. Runner-up Tyson Alexander, a 34-year-old Tour rookie, felt very very like a winner regardless of shedding by 4.

“Nice week for me,” he mentioned. “I want Tony [Finau] would have taken the week off, however, yeah, , 132 gamers, I believe one man’s going to beat me, in order that’s what it’s all about — simply making an attempt to beat as many individuals as potential.” Alexander moved from No. 320 to No. 162 on this planet and improved on his earlier excessive end on Tour, which was…T64.

Third-place Ben Taylor was equally happy when requested how he felt about his week.

“Completed,” he mentioned. “I imply, now I’ve put myself in rivalry at a PGA Tour occasion, and I believe with how properly Tony performed in the present day, I believe I dealt with every thing fairly strong.”

The end was additionally the most effective of Taylor’s profession; whereas he’s bounced between the Korn Ferry and PGA Excursions the final a number of years, Taylor had by no means cracked the highest 20 on golf’s high stage. Till now.

Willie Mack, nearer

There have been a complete slew of nice tales popping out of Korn Ferry Tour Q-Faculty. Arguably the most effective was that of Willie Mack III, a 34-year-old mini-tour lifer and legend on the APGA (Advocates Professional Golf Affiliation) the place he was this 12 months’s Participant of the Yr.

At Q-Faculty’s remaining stage it’s essential to complete inside the highest 40 — and the upper the higher —  however Mack started the ultimate spherical T41. Regardless of: He got here out scorching with a birdie at 1 and an eagle at 2. A bogey at 3 introduced him again to actuality however then he reeled off birdies at 4, 6 and seven to torpedo via the leaderboard. Then he did one thing almost as spectacular, suffocating the remainder of the spherical like an NFL group establishing the run within the second half, ending with 11 pars in a row to shine off a 66, end T12 and earn his card after seven earlier unsuccessful missions.

Mack, who’s Black, has performed in a handful of Korn Ferry and PGA Tour occasions lately, making cuts eventually 12 months’s John Deere and Rocket Mortgage. He hopes a full schedule will enable him to settle into life on the Korn Ferry — after which earn his solution to the massive Tour full-time.


The VIP part.

Andy Ogletree, first-time champ

Andy Ogletree had an enormous week in Egypt. He noticed the Pyramids, for one factor. He received knowledgeable golf match, for an additional. Each have been firsts for him.

You could know Ogletree’s identify from his win on the 2019 U.S. Am or his efficiency as low am on the Masters in 2020. You may additionally know him from his cup of espresso on LIV, a one-tournament stint through which he completed useless final at 24 over par that had the unlucky side-effect of banning him from PGA Tour competitors for not less than the remainder of 2022.

All the above led him to the Asian Tour’s Worldwide Sequence occasion in Egypt. He shot 23 underneath par, beating runner-up Bernd Wiesberger by 4 photographs to win the first-place examine of $270,000. He jumped from No. 1,714 to No. 880 on this planet, too. That’s large for a golfer who faces unsure futures on each LIV and the PGA Tour.

Steven Alker, sudden champ

Should you’re not dialed into the week-in, week-out goings on of the PGA Tour Champions you could have missed the wholly unbelievable story of Steven Alker. The New Zealander had made a profession of touring the globe and taking part in whichever tournaments would have him; not like the star-studded resumes of his compatriots on the PGA Tour Champions, Alker peaked at No. 191 on this planet in 2002.

However he struck gold final 12 months by Monday qualifying into the Boeing Traditional and ending inside the highest 10, incomes one other begin. He reeled off a string of top-10s and eventually logged a postseason win, incomes his card for 2022.

This 12 months? All Alker did was win 5 occasions and earn properly greater than $3 million. And on Sunday he completed third place behind winner Padraig Harrington within the remaining occasion of the Charles Schwab Cup season, incomes a $1 million bonus within the course of.

Nelly Korda, triumphant defending champ

This one, Nelly Korda mentioned, meant a little bit one thing additional. Why? As a result of she was defending her title on the Pelican Ladies’s Championship. As a result of she regained the title of World No. 1. And since this was the primary victory since Korda’s prolonged absence after being identified with a blood clot in her arm.

Korda received emotional because the win sunk in post-round.

“I’ve all the time sort of been emotional after wins. I don’t know why. I’m not a crier. Folks say I’m a closet crier, I suppose, however each single time I’ve received I believe I’ve had a tear in my eye,” she mentioned.

“I’ve mentioned it so many occasions, however [this year] has simply been such a rollercoaster. I imply, I suppose that’s life, although. There was extra downs than ups this 12 months I believe, and I believe that that’s what makes this a lot sweeter to me.”

Tommy Fleetwood, delayed defending champ

Fleetwood was thought-about the defending champion at this week’s Nedbank Golf Problem in Solar Metropolis, South Africa. Which will have felt odd contemplating Fleetwood hadn’t received anyplace since 2019. However as a result of the 2020 and ’21 editions of the Nedbank have been canceled on account of Covid, Fleetwood got here in as the person to beat. He performed prefer it, too, piecing collectively a final-round 64 to get to the highest of the leaderboard.

When Ryan Fox made bogey at 18, the title was his. Fleetwood’s first win in three years comes with an ascent to World No. 23 and, if that is any indication, a spot on Crew Europe in Rome.

Tony Finau, three-time champ

That’s 3 times in 2022 and 4 occasions in 15 months. It’s additionally the primary win of Finau’s 2022-23 season and now means Finau — who had gained a popularity for coming shut and not profitable — has now received an occasion in three consecutive seasons. And whereas no one is mistaking the Cadence Financial institution Houston Open for the U.S. Open, Finau gapped the sphere over the weekend and established himself because the alpha presence on website. When he made 4 front-nine birdies on Sunday he stretched his result in eight photographs. Although he gave some again coming dwelling — his remaining profitable margin was 4 — there was no questioning his dominance.

Publish-round, Finau cited his five-year winless drought as essential to the success that has come since.

“That was crucial stretch of my PGA Tour profession,” he mentioned. “I continued to imagine, I didn’t hand over on myself, I continued to work exhausting on my physique and on my sport and I simply knew that — I used to be all the time hopeful that I might go on particular runs, and I believe we’re beginning to see that now.”

We’re certainly.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior author for GOLF Journal/ The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams Faculty, the place he majored in English, and he’s the writer of 18 in America, which particulars the 12 months he spent as an 18-year-old residing from his automotive and taking part in a spherical of golf in each state.

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