Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re avoiding back-nine collapses by refusing to get anywhere near contention. Wild week – Let’s get to it!
FIRST OFF THE TEE
Something you might have missed.
The last time Morgan Hoffman made a cut was in the summer of 2019, when he finished T31 at the Greenbriar.
Until this week.
Even back then, doctors told him that he was defying the odds. Hoffman had been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 2017 and faced an uncertain future with no clear recovery plan.
Frustrated by a lack of options for treatment, Hoffman explored alternative methods, eschewing Western medicine, moving to Costa Rica and, well, you can read the rest here.
Favorite this week’s PGA Tour medical extension. To take full advantage of that extension, it would be necessary to give it a full week. When he opened with a round of two-under 68, maybe that was still in play.
There was no dream ending, but Hoffman did accomplish something significant: He rallied on Friday to make the cut. After shooting two-over 37 on the front nine, he made four birdies coming home to shoot 70 and make the cut on the number. The weekend was less than special – Hoffman shot 73-71 to finish 68th – but it’s tough to see that as anything but a big-time win.
BIG WINS AND BIG HEARTBREAKS
BIG WIN: In Gee Chun, major champ
It’s fitting that In Gee Chun won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship after opening with eight-under 64, fully five shots better than anyone else in the field. It’s fitting that she won after a second-round 69 left her six shot clear. It’s strange that you won after shooting 75-75 on the weekend, but that’s the luxury of playing the first two rounds on a different golf course than your competition. You get a little leeway on Sunday.
The victory marked the third major championship of her career. It is also allowed for, who has spoken openly about struggling with depression, and a moment to reflect on the highs and lows of her recent career.
“To be honest last week, I’m talking to my older sister, and then I really cried,” To him. “I said, ‘It’s really hard to stay in the US, I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t have any goal because I can’t feel the goal because I feel really hurt. ‘
“They said, ‘In Gee, just quit golf. You’re the important thing. ‘”
The freedom of her sister’s words made her realize she could quit. And for that reason she chose not to. You still want to play golfshe told herself.
“Then I’m just so happy to make it happen,” she said, getting emotional. “I just want to keep saying, like, I’m so proud of myself.”
BIG HEARTBREAK: Lexi Thompson, runner-up
I can only imagine how Lexi Thompson must have felt coming down the stretch on Sunday. How does it feel when you want to break the heart – puts you at risk of further heartbreak? Once Thompson took a two-shot lead midway through Sunday’s round, it ensured that her day would end either in redemption, or further, deeper heartbreak.
Things looked suddenly dire when he missed the hole on a 14-footer on 14, but he did a birdie putt on the brutish par-4 15th, opening the lead to two once again. And when she was greenside in two at the par-5 16th, it was tough to see a path to victory for anyone else.
But then Thompson missed the green with her chip shot and raced the following putt well past the hole. Her ensuing bogey – plus a birdie from Chun – suddenly tied things up. A bogey at 17 men that Thompson walked to No. 18 one shot back, and that’s where she finished – T2, again. Thompson now has 10 top-five finishes at majors since her lone title in 2014. So we’re left to imagine.
BIG WIN: Xander Schauffele, finally
It’s funny to think of all the ways Xander Schauffele has won the last few years. He made his Presidents Cup debut in 2019 and came away victorious. He made his Ryder Cup debut in 2021 and won there, too. He had the low 72-hole score at the 2020 Tour Championship. He won Olympic gold last summer! And he even claimed a PGA Tour title at this Kab Zurich Classic, where he partnered with Patrick Cantlay.
But we still keep score around here (for now) through two metrics in particular: PGA Tour wins and major championship wins. Schauffele still hasn’t conquered the latter. As for the former? He has been 3.5 years since his most recent official win at the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
It turns out the same guy who slammed the door with a shot on the final hole of the Olympics still had that shot on speed dial. Schauffele’s wedge fixed inside four feet on No. 18 at TPC River Highlands on Sunday.
“You just lock in. I don’t really know how to describe it, ”Schauffele said. “Yeah, after I saw what happened I knew that there’s a chance par would win, and birdie for sure. So I had to hit the fairway. So I was just so stuck in that moment that I could off that tee. Nothing else really mattered. ”
Out for what happened? Well…
BIG HEARTBREAK: Sahith Theegala
If he had to do it all again, Sahith Theegala wouldn’t change a thing about how he’d play the 72nd hole of the Travelers.
He came to the finisher with a one-shot lead, but he has no doubt made the right call by hitting driver.
“It’s just a perfect tee ball for me. Just a high cut over the tree. I hit that a thousand times this year, ”he said.
The ball found the fairway bunker down the left, leaving him 130 yards to the hole – if he could just clear the embankment. His wedge never stood a chance after impact, catching the lip and coming back to the exact same spot. But Theegala wasn’t second-guessing that decision either.
“I had room there. I don’t know how it looked, but I had room there, ”he said post-round.
That’s the one thing Theegala would change: His execution.
“Never in a million years did I think I would allow myself to blade it,” he said. “All I had to do was chunk it. We even said, like, this is a 50/50 member. Just basically hit a hair behind it. Somehow my body just, I just straight bladed it. ”
There’s no question Theegala will be back. But that doesn’t mean he won’t feel the sting of a 72nd-hole double bogey.
BIG WIN: Haotong Li
Last year Haotong Li bottomed out at No. 542 in the world. He finished in the top 60 just once in 16 starch. He finally decided this was his golf career.
“No one knows how much I have gone through over the last couple of years,” Li told the DP World Tour. “Ten months ago I decided to not play golf. I thought I couldn’t play golf again. ”
He added this: “If someone told me again, I wouldn’t believe that.”
There were plenty of opportunities for Li not to win on Sunday. He started the final round of the BMW International Open with a three-shot lead and birdied three of his first five holes to extend that lead to five. But he lost that lead with a string of bogeys midway through the round and needed birdies at 16 and 17 just to force a playoff against Thomas Pieters. That first playoff hole was hardly perfect either; Li’s eagle pitch skittered 40 feet past the hole. But then he can come back and unleashed a celebration that shows exactly how much it all.
BIG HEARTBREAK: Minjee Lee
It’s tough to fault Minjee Lee for firing the second-best round of the day on Sunday. And it’s tough for a US Women’s Open victory with a T2 finish at a very next major. There is no question about the unforced three-putt at 17 on Sunday, given she finished just one shot behind Chun’s final tally of five under par.
BIG WIN: Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington Sunday’s final round at the US Senior Open with a five-shot lead. He never quite lost it, winning the event in his first single shot over a hard-charging Steve Strickerwho started the day eight shots back but closed with six-under 65.
The senior major is the first of Harrington’s career and serves as a late-career complement to the three major championships he won in 2008-9.
BIG HEARTBREAK: Patrick Cantlay
Sunday must have been bittersweet for Patrick Cantlay. Schauffele’s victory. The competitor must have been thrilled about losing eight shots in the final round. And the golfer must have been miffed by an uncharacteristically uneven round in which he drove it poorly, hit his irons poorly and struggled around the greens, too. His six-over 76 was the second-worst round of the day and sent him from a second place to T13.
Three things to watch this week.
1. LIV’s American Chapter
This week, golfers touch down at LIV’s second event – and its first in North America. The field is going to look different at the Centurion Club.
The first event was headlined by Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. This field includes Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Abraham Ancer and Patrick Reed. And on Sunday several outlets reported that Matthew Wolff and Carlos Ortiz are joining the LIV contingent, too. That means it’s tougher to dismiss this field as mostly no-names and has-beens. Johnson at No. is the top-ranked PGA Tour 17 – but there’s a sturdy field behind him. How Portland (and America) reacts to LIV’s next step is well worth watching.
2. Haotong Li’s celebration (again)
This should bring a smile to your face:
3. The backboard putt
This is where I could tell you to dial in the John Deere Classic – but instead I’ll direct you to this simple bit of golfing goodness, courtesy of Tim Petrovic at the US Senior Open:
Nice par, Tim.
We’ll see you next week!