Thomas' tear continues, Spieth shows signs of life, Rory responds to Brooks' shot and Every suspended: What you missed
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here's every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of Oct. 21.
Thomas' tear continues with CJ Cup win
There are a handful of players who carry the "When [fill in name] is at his best, he is unbeatable" cliché. Justin Thomas is in that group, but this much is also true: When the scoreboards are burning down, Thomas is usually the fire starter. In five of his first 10 PGA Tour wins, Thomas' winning score was at least 20 under par and featured a 63 or better.
Make that six of 11, as a Thomas captured the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges with a 20-under 268. Fueled by a nine-under 63 on Friday, the 2017 PGA champ held steady over the weekend with a 70 and 67, good enough to beat Danny Lee by two.
Not that it was easy work. Thomas and Lee were tied until a Thomas birdie at the 14th hole. Lee followed with bogeys at the next two holes, putting the matter to rest.
The win marks Thomas' fourth career victory in the fall portion of the PGA Tour calendar, all of which have come at tour stops in Asia.
“It is kind of bizarre knowing that I’ve won four times here,” Thomas said. “I obviously like the golf courses, and I feel like they fit my game well, but it must be all the beef, maybe that’s what it is. No, I don’t know. I feel comfortable over here. I think it’s at a good time of year. But I worked really, really hard the last couple weeks to make sure I was ready for this tournament, and I was glad that it showed.”
Thomas’ triumph continues his hot streak, with eight consecutive T-12 or better worldwide finishes, highlighted by two wins and a T-4 at the Safeway Open. He is also cultivating the reputation of a closer, as the CJ Cup was the eighth time he’s converted a 54-hole lead into victory out of 11 tries.
It all shows that, though he may be the spur of an inferno, Thomas has no trouble putting it out.
Spieth shows signs of life
We know, the "Is Jordan Spieth back?" question has been asserted countless times the past two seasons after a solid performance, with a subsequent tournament finish leaving you saying, "Not quite." However, the revival has to eventually happen, which is why the inquiry persists.
And perhaps it is warranted after this weekend in South Korea, where Spieth turned in a top-10 finish in his first start of the 2019-'20 season.
“Certainly a better start than last season,” said Spieth, who finished T-8 at the CJ Cup. “Started with a missed cut and I got 55th, another missed cut, so good solid work throughout the season to start to kind of get my short game really back to the top. The rest of the ball-striking's certainly better than it was at the end of the season. Still needs some work to be able to contend here on Sunday.”
That would be putting it lightly. Despite ranking ninth and first in first-round and second-round scoring last season, Spieth stumbled come the weekend, ranking 170th in third-round scoring and 187th in fourth-round scoring. Those woes briefly returned, as Spieth bogeyed the first two holes of the third and final round. Moreover, his ball-striking remains under construction, as he tied for last in driving accuracy and 50th (out of 76) in greens in regulation.
Nevertheless, for one with just four top-10s in 23 appearances in 2019, the CJ Cup was an auspicious display.
"It's a work in progress, so it's sometimes difficult to trust on course with different lies, different shots and trouble in play versus a driving range," Spieth said. "But that's what I wanted to see. I wanted to kind of see and feel where everything was and where it can be adjusted as we go into next week."
Kang defends title
Last week Maverick McNealy credited LPGA star (and his girlfriend) Danielle Kang for helping him to his best career round on tour. This weekend, it was Kang on the receiving end of an assist.
Kang was bogey-free in the final round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai, her two-under 70 topping Jessica Korda by one stroke to repeat as champ and earn a third career LPGA title.
Kang, 27, said a video chat with McNealy put her in the right frame of mind before Saturday's round.
“I wasn’t feeling like myself yesterday before my tee time, and I was talking to him on FaceTime, up until tee-off,” she said. “Things like that, calming each other down, and talking through what you’re feeling … just to tell somebody who understands what you’re going through.”
Kang and Korda battled throughout the final round, with Korda facing a birdie attempt at the final hole to tie. That putt fell short, allowing Kang's two-putt par to grab the win.
A win that was especially celebratory, as it was Kang's birthday.
“It was one of those days where it just wasn’t meant to be, I guess,” Korda said.
Rory responds to Brooks' jab
Give Rory McIlroy this: The man can take a punch.
Days after being dismissed as a rival by Brooks Koepka—“I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn't won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour,” Koepka said, "so I just don’t view it as a rivalry"—McIlroy responded during Monday's MGM Resorts The Challenge: Japan Skins.
“I think it’s hard,” McIlroy said. “We all get asked about it in press conferences, about other players where it’s ‘Why are these guys asking me about someone else? Aren’t we supposed to be here to talk about me?’ And what Brooks said wasn’t wrong. He’s been the best player for a couple years, four majors."
And, to show there's no hard feelings, McIlroy added, "I don’t think he had to remind me I hadn’t won one in a while, but you know.”
To be clear, McIlroy reiterated that he and Koepka have no issues with one another. Or at least he has no issues with Koepka.
“I think if you take what Brooks said out of context, then obviously it can be this big thing that it had become,” McIlroy said. “But Brooks and I are good. We’re good friends. I’ve been really happy for him to see how good he’s played the last couple of years. And I’m sure he’ll continue to do so, just like we’re all trying to play as good as we can.”
We look forward to Brooks' response that he has no friends on tour, and the only person he's happy for is himself.
The PGA Tour announced Friday that Matt Every has been suspended for violating its Conduct Policy for drugs of abuse.
Though the tour did not specify what the two-time tour winner tested positive for, Every released a statement to Golf Channel that it was cannabis. According to Every, he has a legal prescription for the drug.
"I have been prescribed cannabis for a mental-health condition by my physician whom has managed my medical care for 30 years," Every said in a statement. "It has been determined that I am neither an acceptable candidate to use prescription 'Z' class drugs nor benzodiazepines. Additionally, these classes of drugs can be highly addictive and harmful to the human body. For me, cannabis has proven to be, by far, the safest and most effective treatment.
“With that being said, I have no choice but to accept this suspension and move on. I knew what WADA’s [World Anti-Doping Agency] policy was and I violated it. I don’t agree with it for many reasons, mainly for my overall well-being, but I’m excited for what lies ahead in my life and career. Over the last few years I have made massive strides and I know my best is still in front of me. I can’t wait to come back better than ever in January.”
Every, 35, has been suspended before by the tour after his 2010 arrest in Bettendorf, Iowa, for possession of marijuana. He is coming off a bounce-back season in 2019, making the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the first time in four years. Every is eligible to compete again on Jan. 7, 2020.