2021 PGA Championship
Matthew Wolff's season gets stranger with his withdrawal from PGA Championship
Matthew Wolff’s odd and unsettling season took another strange turn on Tuesday night when the PGA of America announced that the 22-year-old has withdrawn from next week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Wolff will be replaced by Tom Hoge, and no reason was given for the WD.
Only six months ago, Wolff entered the final round of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot with a two-shot lead and the opportunity to join Francis Ouimet—with a 107-year gap between them—as the only players to win the national championship in their first appearance. Wolff shot 75 that day and lost to Bryson DeChambeau by six, and after a tie for second in Las Vegas three weeks later, he has been in an alarming tailspin—one that could not have been expected from the former NCAA champion who won 2019 3M Open in his third pro start.
Last August, the California native tied for fourth in the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.
Wolff, who has fallen in the World Ranking from 15th at the end of 2020 to 27th now, has in his last four starts: a WD after a first-round 83 at the WGC-Workday; an elimination after group play in the WGC-Match Play; a disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard in the Masters, and a missed cut with partner Collin Morikawa in the Zurich Classic. He looked not injured, but extremely disheartened after the struggles in New Orleans.
In late January, Wolff made a pair of 7s and shot 78 in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and then withdrew, citing an injury to his right hand. Wolff said later on Instagram that he aggravated a previous injury, but he also was seen flicking his club against the ground in anger on several occasions.
Wolff’s troubles have been most notable with the driver, which has been so wild that he’s 205th on the tour in driving accuracy and 202nd in strokes gained/off-the-tee. His scoring average of 71.57 puts him 144th on tour.
Wolff had been on a fast-rising trajectory, backing up his impressive 2019 with three top-20 finishes in 2020 before COVID-19 forced the tour into an extended break. Upon the return, Wolff notched a solo second at the Rocket Mortgage in July and closed out the season with a T-16 in the FedEx Cup Playoffs’ penultimate event, the BMW Championship.
In Austin, Texas, for the Match Play in late March, Wolff acknowledged that the expectations he puts on himself are as taxing as any others lay on him.
“I think internally I put so much pressure on myself,” Wolff said, “and on top of that—I'm not saying anyone in particular—but I think there's just a lot of pressure on everyone out here to play well in front of the fans and for their family and everything like that.
“To be thinking about all that is—it might make you focus, but for me it just kind of added everything and made me a little jumbled up, up in the head, and I feel like I've really settled down and learned how to enjoy the game again."