It’s taken months for LIV Golf to deliver what it has long promised to bring to the golf world, but it finally arrived Sunday: the first LIV Golf playoff, a highlight for one of the best golfers in the world and, before that, an hour of absolutely chaotic golf.
Thanks to its everyone-on-the-course-at-once nature, the ending of LIV Golf’s Boston Invitational saw a host of its best players sprinting to the finish. There was Cameron Smith, the No. 2 player in the world and perhaps the most polarizing LIV commit to date. There was Dustin Johnson, two-time major winner and the biggest fish to join at its launch. There was Lee Westwood carding the best round of his season, and Anirban Lahiri nearly making eagle to win the event and Joaquin Niemann, another recent signee, trying to finish what he started. All around them were thousands of lubricated fans, creating a boisterous setting at The International Golf Club. Mix it all up in a blender, and that’s exactly what LIV wants to serve at its cookouts.
It was Lahiri who who locked up a score of 15 under first, about 10 minutes before the others. Then came Niemann, who preceded Johnson by only a couple minutes. When Johnson got up and down for a par to earn his spot in the playoff, it figured to be a lengthy one that dragged into the night. They’d play the par-5 18th as many times as necessary to crown a champion.
Just seconds later, at least according to the TV broadcast, Westwood stood over his par putt on the 3rd hole, in a completely different part of the course, and for the first time the balance of a tournament hung in the air somewhere other than the 18th hole. Deeply important shots, just seconds apart, adding immediate context to this sprinting format. It’s unlike pro golf as we’ve known it, and it’s still imperfect. You weren’t always sure what hole was a par-4 or a par-5, and it isn’t always obvious whether it was a putt for birdie or a par-saver, but the goods are being served constantly. Do you like this golfy chaos? That’s up to you.
Rich wasn’t speaking for for LIV Golf, as he was quickly ushered off the broadcast, nor the PGA Tour, which was off this week before a new season begins later this month. But he did seem to represent the fans at the Boston event. They were as loud and discordant as any LIV event we’ve seen thus far. That’s LIV’s motto: Golf, but Louder. Do you like it? That’s up to you.
The three-man playoff lasted only a few more shots, which was probably best for all. Niemann failed to give himself a birdie chance, and though Lahiri had a 3-foot birdie attempt waiting for him, he didn’t even get the chance to try it. Johnson took that away when he rammed in a 40-foot bomb for eagle. It smashed into the back of the cup, popped up and then dropped into the jar. Playoff over. The fans and the announcers went wild. It doesn’t matter what tour that happens on — most everyone is going to love it.
Lahiri couldn’t be angry. Nor could Niemann. They both smiled and dapped up DJ. They were both also set to make more money than they ever have before.
To this point, LIV Golf finishes have exclusively been about that one thing: cash. Charl Schwartzel made a quiet bogey in London to finish a wire-to-wire victory in the inaugural event. The focus afterward largely was on his winnings. Branden Grace won by two in Portland, and it never really felt that close. Henrik Stenson won the New Jersey iteration of LIV Golf by two as well. There seemingly were no nervy shots along the way, only Stenson preparing a jab for the cameras about having his Ryder Cup captaincy taken from him. Through three events, the talk was mostly about the money, little about the shots, even less about the courses and holes the winning was happening on. That flipped, if only slightly, Sunday night in Massachusetts.
Do you like it? That’s up to you. The next LIV event is just 12 days from now.
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Date Posted: SEPTEMBER 4, 2022
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Who's in, who's out of the FedEx Cup top 30 and the Tour Championship
When Sahith Theegala finished his final round at the BMW Championship, he was projected to qualify as one of the top 30 in the FedEx Cup points standings. But there were too many players still on the course for him to celebrate.
“It would mean the world to make the Tour Championship and stand along 29 of the other best golfers in the world,” he said.
“A dream season,” is how Theegala, who a year ago was sweating out getting into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals when he boarded a plane for Boise not knowing whether he was in the field.
He entered Sunday sitting on the bubble and knowing what he had to do. That sort of pressure can do funny things to some golfers.
“I was like, I’m in 30th place out of 70 people, and I’m as nervous as if I were near the lead,” he said. “I had a little bit of the shakes warming up. I couldn’t hold my hands still.”
Theegala made birdie at the first hole to settle the nerves temporarily, but as he put it, his round was “a wild ride.”
He was one over for the day through 11 holes when strung together three straight birdies and then drained a 37-foot birdie at 17. Still, he’d hit only 1 of 14 fairways all day, dead last in the field, and tried something different, anything to find a fairway.
“I don’t know why I tried to hit a draw. My natural shot is a cut. Tried to draw a 5-wood, and it started 20 yards right of my target and then cut, so I hit it 50 right,” Theegala said.
He caught a good lie in order to slice one up near the green, but left himself a 7-foot par putt that was worth at least $500,000 – last place money next week when the rich get richer.
“That was such a grind,” he said after drilling the putt to shoot 3-under 68 and finish T-15.
His “dream season” continues another week as he improved to No. 28 in the FedEx Cup points standings, one of two rookies along with Cameron Young to make it to Atlanta and East Lake Golf Club for the Tour Championship.
“It’s another step for me to feel like I really belong because I still don’t feel like I’m really there at the top of the game,” he said.
Next week, he’ll be alongside 29 of the best in the world.
Here’s a look at others who are in the field at the Tour Championship and those who aren’t:
By: Adam Schupak
Link to article
August 21, 2022
How Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns propelled each other to PGA TOUR success
Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns held the top two spots in the FedExCup standings for much of the season.
GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – Scottie Scheffler added a green jacket to his wardrobe this year, but he’s wearing something slightly more casual on this Wednesday evening. A Dunder-Mifflin Paper Co. T-shirt and sweatpants cover the thick, 6-foot-3 frame of this former high-school basketball player as he sprawls out on a couch in a rented home in the Memphis suburbs, recovering after a long day in the summer heat at the end of a long year.
Sam Burns and his wife, Caroline, walk in the front door carrying plastic bags filled with the barbecue that this area is famous for, and soon the dining room table is obscured by enough red meat to give a cardiologist chest pains. The next day, Scottie and Sam will tee off in the headlining group of the FedEx St. Jude Championship, but tonight they feast.
Scheffler and his wife, Meredith, sit at the table alongside the Burnses and Brad Payne, the president of College Golf Fellowship and one of the leaders of the TOUR’s Bible study. Plates are filled with brisket, ribs and macaroni and cheese. Sarcastic barbs are exchanged, existential matters discussed. The conversation shifts at whiplash speed between the mundane and the profound.
The scene feels exceedingly normal considering two of the participants are among the best golfers in the world. Professional golfers, they’re just like us.
The desire for normalcy is a fundamental part of the relationship between Scottie and Sam, one that’s been mentioned on television broadcasts and in articles throughout the year as the two 26-year-olds have continued to win – seven tournaments combined and counting this season.
It’s easy to forget that the two friends, promising prospects since their amateur days, began this season with one TOUR title between them. So much has happened, so fast. Burns has cracked the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time and Scheffler reached No. 1. They were the top two players in the FedExCup for much of the season, as well.
“When we get home every night, we are with our wives doing the exact same thing we did a year ago,” says Scottie. “If we are 100th in the FedExCup next year, it’s going to be the same. I harp on that a lot; we don’t want our lives to change a lot off the course. (Staying with the Burnses) is such an easy reminder. If my head actually gets too big, he will be the first to say, ‘You’re being a real jackwagon.’”
To which Sam quickly replies, “I would love to.” His smile shows the pleasure he would take in putting the Masters champion in his place. Both couples enjoy a simple existence, even as they’ve earned millions of dollars. Scottie famously drives a decade-old SUV and the Burnses still live in the small Louisiana town of Choudrant, which had less than 1,000 residents and no Chipotles as of 2020.
By Sean Martin , PGATOUR.COM
August 15, 2022