The gods of golf convened and decided that enough was enough for Jon Rahm. As Rahm vaulted on top of the leaderboard again in the first round, eventually his putter finally ran into cold storage and by Sunday, he was no longer a factor. Kurt Kitayama has been knocking on the door for weeks coming up empty but certainly in contention week by week. He started the final round with a one shot lead over a stellar field that included Scheffler, Hatton, Spieth, Cantlay, and English. It seemed that with seven players within a shot, this tournament was headed for a playoff especially as the greens at Bayhill got faster and dryer. One by one the competitors fell by the wayside. McIlroy couldn’t convert on the holes coming in. Speith had the best opportunity and started missing putts within 6 feet on the way to the house and squandered birdie opportunity after opportunity. He also bogeyed 3 of the last five holes with those missed short putts finishing in a tie for fourth. Scheffler had a similar fate bogeying two of the last three holes. Kitayama was true grit. A triple bogey on the ninth hole and his fate seemed to be sealed. On the back side, he hit a number of clutch shots out of the difficult Bayhill rough and held on while the leaderboard swayed back and forth. Kitayama steadied the ship while the others missed opportunities to take advantage and then lightning struck on the 17th hole with a 10 foot birdie putt, which thrust him into a one shot lead going into eighteen. Kitayama then drove his tee shot into some deep rough on the left side of the fairway. He managed to extricate himself out of that rough with a 50 foot putt for the victory–he hit the putt 49 feet+ to a breath of going into the hole and blew it into the hole for the one shot victory.
LIV/PGA Tour Drama
The publicity stunts, acrimony and general bad behavior by players, agents, lawyers, media and pundits is becoming tiresome and boring. The controversy between the two tours is beginning to resemble the political divide of the US political arena. Greg Norman is beginning to sound like Marjorie Taylor Green and Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy comment on the virtues of the PGA Tour through various guest appearances equivalent to the wisdom spouted by MSNBC and/or CNN. The point is “Who Cares!” The golfing public wants to see the best players competing for tournament victories every week. The LIV players are now flush with cash but are completely out of the limelight as if they were playing in the XFL. We have no idea how Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Cam Smith, Brooks Koepka and others are faring. My sense of their plight is that they really like the balances in their bank account but they miss the publicity and attention they used to receive as marquee players on the PGA Tour. Norman boasted of a major TV contract on the CV network. My first take was, “What in the world is the CV network.?” I discovered a few weeks ago that I get the CV network in my world of hundreds of channels on Direct TV. CV is right up there with the Home Shopping Network, GRIT, Univision, or adjacent channels like CRTV2. You can watch the LIV on CV and then pray for them on CRTV2 or buy them something on the Home Shopping Network. This is a pretty sad state of affairs for professional golf but the PGA Tour is having a banner year with excitement and players like Kurt Kitayama emerging from the pack. Eventually cooler heads will prevail, lawsuits will be dismissed and LIV Commissioner Extraordinaire Greg Normal will be replaced by Patrick Reed.