PGA Tour stars swap coaches, Scheffler’s saga continues | Monday Finish

This week’s golf news: An intriguing coaching trend continues, a PGA Tour-PIF deal grows murky, Scottie Scheffler’s saga drags on and more.

The post PGA Tour stars swap coaches, Scheffler’s saga continues | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

This week’s golf news: An intriguing coaching trend continues, a PGA Tour-PIF deal grows murky, Scottie Scheffler’s saga drags on and more.

The post PGA Tour stars swap coaches, Scheffler’s saga continues | Monday Finish appeared first on Golf.

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re still trying to figure out if “Davis Riley” has two first names or two last names. To the news!

GOLF STUFF I LIKE

Going back to what works.

As I tried to make sense of Davis Riley‘s Sunday steamroll over the rest of a talented PGA Tour field, one detail stood out: He’d recently reunited with his former swing coach Jeff Smith.

“We haven’t re-invented the wheel or done anything different,” Riley said after a Friday 64. “I feel like I’m in a good head space and comfortable there and I feel like simplicity has been the key for me.”

Riley made things look simple on the weekend, particularly on Sunday; while most of his competition struggled with gusty conditions and a firm golf course, the talented Alabama grad plotted his way through a challenging golf course, making a birdie for every bogey and cruising to a five-shot victory.

What’s interesting about Riley returning to an old coach and finding success? The fact that we’ve recently heard other top pros say the same thing.

Take Collin Morikawa. Before the Masters he talked about being “in transition”; he’d split with his lifelong swing coach Rick Sessinghaus in the fall but scuffled in the months that followed. Ahead of the Masters he got on the phone with Sessinghaus a couple times again. Then he finished T3.

More good results followed as they formalized their relationship again. Ninth at the RBC Heritage. Tied for 16th at the Wells Fargo. Then back-to-back fourth-place results at the PGA Championship and the Charles Schwab Challenge. Something is working.

“Much better,” Morikawa said post-round on Sunday, asked about his mental space now compared with the start of the year. “I owe a lot of that to Rick. Obviously joining back up with him, it’s been awesome. It’s not like we’ve done anything new, it’s just being able to talk.”

Then take Viktor Hovland. He finished 2023 as the FedEx Cup champ and the hottest golfer on the planet but changed coaches, changed philosophies and lost his way — until he reunited with Joe Mayo, the man who’d helped rebuild his short game, the week before the PGA Championship. Then he finished third.

Viktor Hovland is in the mix at the 2024 PGA Championship.

Viktor Hovland made a mysterious coaching change. Now he’s going back

By: Dylan Dethier

“I thought this was potentially going to be a little bit of a project and maybe take six, eight weeks before I would see kind of immediate improvement,” Hovland said. Instead he contended for the win all of Sunday. “Yeah, that was kind of best-case scenario right there.”

There was also Rory McIlroy’s trip to Las Vegas to see Butch Harmon, who always seems to set him straight with the same advice.

“The work I did with him wasn’t a tremendous amount of changing what he did, it was his attitude and the way he played certain shots,” Harmon said on the Son of a Butch podcast. From “150 yards and in he made a full swing like he was hitting a driver and I wanted him to make more 3 quarter swings and chop the follow through off a little.”

McIlroy won the Zurich Classic with Shane Lowry and ran away from the field at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow before a T12 at the PGA Championship. His swing seems to be working, too.

It’s easy to cherry-pick the coaching changes of winners and contenders, of course. If coaching changes don’t work out we often wouldn’t even hear much about them. So it’s tough to parse out correlation or causation in any meaningful way. But there’s something satisfying about top golfers losing their way, returning to something essential and finding success. It was in there all along.

Tapping into your past to better prepare for your present? That’s golf stuff I like.

WINNERS

Who won the week?

Davis Riley won the Charles Schwab Challenge by 5; it was his first individual PGA Tour victory, he moves from No. 250 to No. 78 in the world and he locks up PGA Tour status for years to come.

Richard Bland won the Senior PGA Championship in his first-ever senior tour start; it was a particularly intriguing victory given Bland’s status on LIV. He won’t be eligible for the PGA Tour Champions but will continue teeing it up for the Cleeks the rest of the season.

Nacho Elvira won the Soudal Open in Belgium, holding off three golfers by a single shot — including another LIV player in Belgian native Thomas Pieters — to claim the second DP World Tour victory of his career.

Harry Higgs won in incredible fashion for the second consecutive week on the Korn Ferry Tour, draining a 37-footer for eagle on the second playoff hole to essentially guarantee he’ll be back on the PGA Tour next season. he followed the win with a touching speech honoring Grayson Murray, whose tragic death hung over the golf world this weekend.

NOT-WINNERS

Not everybody can win everything.

Scottie Scheffler made his worst single-hole score in nine months on Thursday — a triple-bogey 6 that sent him to 3 over par — but he rebounded and played his way into the final group on Sunday, where he was outgunned by Riley but still finished T2.

“I battled back very nicely on Friday and Saturday. As far as today goes, I just wasn’t able to put as much pressure as I would have hoped to put on Davis early in the round and he just kind of cruised all day,” Scheffler said Sunday. “He played great golf.”

Keegan Bradley finished T2 alongside Scheffler and was delighted with his gritty final round, calling it “my best round of the year, probably.” He’s up to No. 16 in the world, said he’s looking forward to what he called basically back-to-back U.S. Opens with Memorial followed by Pinehurst and feels generally encouraged staring down the summer season.

“I’m playing good golf right now. I had a tough stretch there in the Florida swing, and now I feel like I’m back playing the way I should play.”

Morikawa’s fourth-place result has him chomping at the bit.

It’s a lot better than where it was at the beginning of the year, and we’re getting there, I just — obviously you want it sooner rather than later, and with two more majors to go, you know, I really want it.

And Kevin Kisner showed some promise through three rounds, making the cut and sitting T32 before a Sunday 79 sent him to T65. Still, it was one of his more promising showings of the past year as he looks to regain form.

SHORT HITTERS

5 intriguing stories, in brief.

1. The Louisville PD released videos of the moments around Scottie Scheffler’s arrest, yielding few new details but leaving me believing two things are true: First, the video misses a key moment in the incident where Scheffler and the arresting officer first make contact. But second, unless there’s something really dramatic that happened in those few off-camera moments, what’re we still doing dragging this case forward? Surely there are better uses of the judicial system than a trumped-up felony charge based on a misunderstanding. Nobody wins by this moving forward.

2. Mark Flaherty became the latest member of the PGA Tour’s Policy Board to step down and did so at a strange time: Sunday night of the PGA Championship. In his resignation letter he thanked Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and the board chairman Ed Herlihy but, notably, nobody else on the board.

3. The brains (and names) behind Bandon Dunes are expanding south: The Keiser family announced 36-hole resort Wild Spring Dunes will feature one course by famed architect Tom Doak and another by the legendary team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

4. Jim Nantz is building another backyard golf hole, this time replicating the green of Augusta National’s par-5 13th — and he’s turning a patio on his house into a tee box.

5. Jon Rahm finished No. 2 on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes, earning an estimated $218 million thanks to a massive signing bonus from his signing with LIV Golf. Cristiano Ronaldo — also playing for a Saudi sports league — topped the list at $260 million. Rory McIlroy (19th, $80.1 million total), Tiger Woods (23rd, $67.2 million), Scottie Scheffler (29th, $59.2 million) and Cameron Smith (43rd, $48 million) also cracked the top 50.

ONE SWING THOUGHT

From the U.S. Open champ.

Fighting a slice on the course? Wyndham Clark has a tip for you: Tee up your wedges on the range. Try to hit draws, which is a little easier to do with the ball’s teed up. That’ll help zero you out.

“I tend to be steep,” Clark said on our latest episode of Warming Up. “So under pressure … I start swinging really left, big divots, swipey cuts. And so what I’m trying to do here is neutralize that and do the opposite so when I get into competition [my ball flight] is where I want it to be.”

Here’s the rest:

ONE BIG QUESTION

Will we have any PIF-PGA Tour clarity by June 6th?

The one-year anniversary of the framework agreement fast approaches. So … now what?

We discussed this in Tour Confidential, too, but what indications do we have that a deal is close? Rory McIlroy said there’s been no progress made. Tiger Woods said there’s a long way to go and that the situation is fluid. Jimmy Dunne was so frustrated with the lack of progress that he stepped down from the board. Mark Flaherty stepped down, too. Jordan Spieth called stories of stalled talks a “false narrative,” which may be true, but Spieth also said earlier this year that he’s okay if a deal doesn’t get done right away. Immediacy does not seem to be a priority.

So is a deal close? It doesn’t seem like it. What seems more likely is that nobody knows what’s going to happen. In the event of some sort of reconciliation between tours, it’s still up in the air about what would happen to LIV. And without some sort of reconciliation, what’s the point of any of this? In the meantime, Spieth and his peers are focused on not making a bad deal. That’s priority No. 1: not ceding control to an unpredictable investor. Maybe there’s an in-between stopgap solution here where they secure a PIF investment for the PGA Tour without meaningful change in the professional golf landscape. But if I’m a golf fan rooting for LIV stars to return to the PGA Tour by the end of this season or next? I’m not holding my breath.

ONE THING TO WATCH

Patrick Reed tells his side of the story.

Some unnecessary context: We released this Patrick Reed interview around the Masters but it was such a busy time that we never published the condensed Q&A version that ran in the magazine. But now? That’s live, too!

What’s in the interview? I wanted to ask Reed about his background and about his breakthrough moments and about his reputation — both good and bad, from Captain America to rules controversies to lawsuits and more — and whether it’s deserved. Here’s that full sitdown:

NEWS FROM SEATTLE

Monday Finish HQ.

Seattle has been in the golfing news left and right. Bryson DeChambeau, coming off a terrific runner-up finish at the PGA, credited much of his recent success to Washingtonian caddie Greg Bodine. RJ Manke just Monday-qualified into last week’s Korn Ferry Tour event and finished inside the top 20. Max Herendeen, repping the Pacific Northwest at the University of Illinois, starts Monday in prime position at the NCAA Championships — and he’s team’s leading with one round to play. Plus there’s a major coming to town in less than a month!

REFLECTIONS ON GRAYSON MURRAY

Gone too soon.

It was touching to read and hear tributes after the tragic loss of Grayson Murray, who died Saturday at the age of 30. A statement from his family confirmed that Murray had taken his own life. “Life wasn’t always easy for Grayson,” the statement read. “We know he rests peacefully now.”

I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around of Murray’s sudden loss and it was clear his peers were, too; from Scheffler to Bradley to Webb Simpson and more they described the eeriness of seeing him one day and knowing he was gone the next, while his name still sat on a placard in the locker room and on the bottom of the leaderboard. There’s no making sense of it, not really. But the best thing I read this weekend was a powerful essay by Gary Williams, who reflects on his own journey with alcoholism, his bond with Murray and the dangerous powers of addiction — cunning, baffling, powerful — that always lurk.

You can read that here.

Be well, pals. We’ll see you next week.

Dylan welcomes your comments at [email protected].

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