Justin Thomas overcomes miscues for Maui win, Jordan Spieth drops out of Sony Open and Tiger Woods parts from longtime aide: What you missed
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 Jan. 6.
Thomas overcomes miscues to win in Maui
It's said the Pacific Ocean has no memory. That's good, because Justin Thomas would like to forget the final hour or so of his Sunday at Kapalua. Save for the ending, that is.
Thomas overcame late miscues to defeat Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele in a playoff to win the the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
"For some reason I was supposed to win this week," Thomas said after winning the TOC for the second time in his career. "Just tried to tell myself there's a reason I'm still here, and we've still got a chance to win, and we were fortunate enough to do that."
Through 12 holes, the issue didn't seem in doubt. Starting his round one back of Schauffele, Thomas racked up five birdies in his first 11 holes to take a three-shot lead on a blustery day in Maui. But Thomas bogeyed the 16th and unfathomably hit his approach at the par-5 18th into a penalty area, failing to get up-and-down to save par. With Schauffele on in two, it appeared the X-Man would repeat in Hawaii.
Except Schauffele three-jacked, forcing sudden death with Thomas and Reed, the latter who turned in a Sunday-best 66 to get to 14 under and then waited to see if it was good enough. Replaying the 18th, Schauffele made par to the birdies of Thomas and Reed, with Thomas and Reed trading pars on the second playoff hole. On the third playoff hole (and fourth go-around of the 18th), Thomas—whose second shot barely cleared the left-side penalty area—put his third shot to five feet. Despite being just off the green in two, Reed could not make birdie, giving the event to Thomas.
"A decent amount of them I got fortunate like I did today, that's what happens when you win, stuff goes your way," Thomas said of his 18th hole adventures. "Obviously you have to play well and make some putts and hit some shots, but at the end of the day you need stuff to go your way, and it definitely did today."
It is Thomas' third win in his last six PGA Tour starts, and his 12th career tour victory. If that sounds impressive, it is: Thomas joined Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players with 12 wins before the age of 27.
Monahan speaks on Reed, gambling and slow play
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan spoke to the media before the final round of the Tournament of Champions, which has become a de facto "state of the Tour" address, as he begins his fourth year in the role. One of the subjects discussed was the fallout from Patrick Reed's penalty in a waste bunker in December's Hero World Challenge. (And a subject that manifested in the duel between Reed and Thomas, with a fan yelling "Cheater!" at Reed following a putt.)
According to Monahan, Reed will face no further disciplinary action, and the commissioner considers the matter closed.
“Golf is a game of honor and integrity, and you've heard from Patrick,” Monahan said. “I've had an opportunity to talk to Patrick at length, and I believe Patrick when he says that [he] did not intentionally improve [his] lie. And so you go back to that moment, and the conversation that he had with [rules official] Slugger [White], and the fact that a violation was applied and he agreed to it, and they signed his card and he moved on."
Other topics Monahan touched on were:
-- Slow Play. Monahan said a new pace-of-play policy will be presented to Tour members at the American Express in La Quinta, Calif., in two weeks, and confirmed that the one of the changes, reported first by Golf Digest in November, includes a focus on individual player violations as opposed to pace of play of a group.
-- Gambling. In October, Monahan announced the Tour would allow betting at its tournaments. IMG Arena is helping the Tour develop a program that can be accessed on mobile devices, and Monahan said “we’re close” on delivery of the system within the first six months of 2020.
-- New TV deal. Though the Sports Business Journal wrote that a new agreement was close to complete, Monahan suggested there's more work to be done than reported. Still, he remains positive of the progress and optimistic about what will come to fruition. "I've been bullish on our prospects before we entered the process, and I'm as, if not more, bullish as we get through it.”
Spieth pulls out of Sony
Jordan Spieth's quest to reverse his fortunes will have to wait two more weeks.
Spieth, who's been mired in a slump for the better part of two seasons, was expected to make his 2020 debut at the Sony Open, a tournament where he posted a T-3 in 2017. However, the three-time major winner withdrew from the event on Saturday, as he's battling a cold. The news was first reported by the Associated Press and Golf Channel.
Instead, Speith will make his first start of the new year at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, which begins Jan. 23.
Spieth, 26, is currently No. 44 in the World Rankings, his worst position since the summer of 2013. He has made three starts in the 2019-'20 PGA Tour season, highlighted by a T-8 at the CJ Cup, and finished 16th out of 18 players at Tiger Woods' Hero World Challenge in early December. In spite of his struggles, the Texan remains confident a turnaround is on the horizon.
“Just working on some stuff to try and get it back to where it was kinda years 2015-'17," he said at the Hero. "We found some stuff that was certainly different so we’re trying to work it back … we’ll just see."
Tiger parts with publicist
Glenn Greenspan, a longtime publicist for Tiger Woods, is no longer working for Woods or his company, TGR Ventures. Golfweek was the first to report on the split.
Greenspan—one of the first people Woods embraced after winning the Masters last spring—had been Woods' spokesperson since 2008, and held a vice president title with TGR Ventures.
Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent, confirmed Greenspan's departure but declined to comment further.
When reached via text, Greenspan offered only a brief appreciation for Woods' team. "My very best to everyone there," Greenspan said. "Great people."
Prior to teaming up with Woods, Greenspan worked for Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters for over a decade, becoming the tournament's first director of communications.
Prior to those positions, Greenspan covered golf for Florida State University's sports information department (where he was a graduate), and worked in various roles for the PGA Tour and Gary Player Design.
Despite winning twice in 2019, Woods elected not to play in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. His next start is expected to come at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Fan sinks $5K putt
Success is a foreign concept to Baylor athletics (shoutout to those who took Georgia at 3.5 in the Sugar Bowl). It could explain why, in 16 years of a putting contest at Baylor basketball games, preciously zero Bears fans have converted a full-court putt for a $5,000 prize.
That is, until this weekend, when a man named Ky Carson drilled this shot from deep:
"As soon as I hit it, I know I pushed it off to the right, but as it goes past half court, it starts to curl back in," Carlson told Waco's KWTX. "It keeps getting closer and closer, and then all of a sudden, it's pandemonium. It pops on the green and goes in. Nobody could believe it, including me, so that was pretty amazing."
The best part? Carlson made the $5,000 putt after missing the green with an attempt from the free-throw line. Golf, a game for those with short-term memory loss.
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