Matthew Wolff's howling arrival, Jon Rahm's Irish luck continues and Beef Johnston opens up on mental health issues: 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 July 8.
Wolff wins in just third pro start
His voice went up as his putt disappeared. It was less of a shout and more of a howl, apropos for a man named Matthew Wolff.
And it was a cry that quickly reverberated across the sport.
In just his third start as a professional, Wolff—the phenom dubbed a "disruptor"—did just that, eagling the final hole of the inaugural 3M Open to best Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa by one.
"I just proved to myself that I can be out here, I knew I could, and as soon as I got to Oklahoma State my coaches told me that I was a talent that they'd never seen before," said Wolff. "And I think this week I just really believed in myself. It's still settling in."
Playing in the final group with fellow fledgling star Morikawa, the two All-Americans traded haymakers throughout the round, as well as withstanding a share of runs from the rest of the field (Oakmont, this was not). That included an eagle on the 18th from DeChambeau, who stuck his approach from 200 yards to six feet.
But Wolff—who went from T-35 after 36 holes to 54-hole co-leader thanks to a 62 on Saturday—answered, and answered with vigor. From just off the green, Wolff's 26-footer was true, hitting the stick and sending Minnesota into chaos.
It wasn't a walk-off; Wolff had to watch as Morikawa had his own 21-foot eagle attempt. But he failed to convert, giving Wolff the improbable victory.
"Had to hit a little down on it because it was right up against the collar. I told myself, just give it a chance," Wolff said, who finished with a 65. "About a foot out I knew it was in and just hit the center of the flagstick and dropped. And I've changed forever, I guess."
Wolff, who won the NCAA individual championship six weeks ago, becomes just the 10th player to bypass Q-School/Web Finals to earn a tour card since 1980 (the others: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Scott Verplank, Joaquin Niemann, Jon Rahm, Bud Cauley, Ryan Moore, Gary Hallberg). And at 20 years old, Wolff is the youngest winner on tour since Jordan Spieth's breakthrough at the 2013 John Deere Classic. The win gives him a two-year PGA Tour exemption as well as invites into the 2020 Masters and PGA Championship.
There is a lot to unpack in the upcoming days and weeks and months and years on what this means. On Wolff's ceiling, the permanence of his swing (which is part baseball stance, part piñata cut), his marketability outside golf. What's clear on Sunday is that, in a game that can get carried away with its prodigies, Wolff's bite lives up to the bark.
Morikawa secures temporary status
Even in the context of consolation prizes, it's not much. (We mentioned Wolff is going to Augusta, right?) But Morikawa's runner-up finish did confer special temporary status for the rest of the tour campaign.
"Heading down to the end of the season and obviously there's one more notch I want to reach, but it is a good feeling, you know, to finish T-2. You're never going to be fully disappointed on that," Morikawa said. "It's another week and I think this is really going to help me just kind of move forward in the next month or so."
Along with Sunday's silver medal, Morikawa has a T-14 at the RBC Canadian Open, T-35 at the U.S. Open and T-36 at the Travelers Championship, accumulating enough points to earn unlimited tour invites until the FedEx Cup Playoffs (non-members are capped at seven). If he can get inside the No. 125 spot on the FedEx Cup standings between now and then—his total, 334 points, is currently the equivalent of No. 114—he’ll secure a PGA Tour card for the 2019-’20 season.
Morikawa didn't have the hype of Wolff or Victor Hovland, yet he's quickly proved his mettle. The former Cal-Berkeley golfer gets his next chance at this week's John Deere Classic, with a shot at Royal Portrush on the line.
"I love this, I love being out here," Morikawa said. "This is exactly what I've wanted to do my entire life. It's kind of emotional just being here because this is what I want to do. I can't see anything else. So I'm excited to keep playing. Next week should be fun, and hopefully, we'll keep going from there."
Rahm's Irish luck
Jon Rahm said Ireland holds a special place in his heart. That affinity will grow if he replicates his Lahinch performance at Portrush.
For the second time in three years, the Spaniard took home the Irish Open, putting his signature on the event with a Sunday 62.
"I keep saying I love this tournament, I love this country, I love the people,” Rahm said after closing out the victory, his fourth career W on the European Tour.
Entering the weekend seven strokes behind the leaders, Rahm began his comeback with a 64 to jump 27 spots on the leader board. Alas, with Robert Rock going lights-out to the tune of 60 strokes in Round 3, Rahm remained five strokes back after 54 holes.
But Rock went sideways in the final round while Rahm made an eagle and eight birdies, including three red figures on his final five holes.
“That eagle on 12 just completely got me going,” Rahm said. “Even though I had that little mistake on 13 [one of his two bogeys], I knew my target number was 15 under. I’m definitely thrilled with the back nine I had.”
Rahm finished at 16 under, two better than Andy Sullivan and Bernd Wiesberger. It's his third-consecutive top-three finish, and 10th top-10 in 15 starts in 2019.
Despite struggling in his three past Open appearances, he is now listed among the claret jug favorites. History, on the surface, is not on his side: just two players—Padraig Harrington in 2007, Nick Faldo in 1992—have captured the Irish and British Opens in the same year. Conversely, the Irish has usually been played two months prior to the R&A's flagship event, to say nothing of the tournament visiting the Emerald Isle this summer for the first time since 1951.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will be the crowd favorites at Portrush. But don't be surprised if Rahm is the one that feels at home.
Daly denied cart for British Open
John Daly will be in the field at Royal Portrush for the 2019 Open Championship. And he will traverse the venerable links on foot.
Daly, who was granted permission by the PGA of America to ride in a cart during the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black under the Americans with Disabilities Act, said on Saturday his request to ride at the Open was denied by the R&A.
"Quite disappointed they do not see it in the same way our PGA of America and PGA Tour sees it," Daly wrote on social media. "Different continent different laws?
"While I trust the R&A's decision was made with good intentions, I could not disagree more with their conclusions."
Daly wrote that a recent visit to an orthopedic surgeon confirmed bi-compartmental degenerative arthritis in his right knee, and that he will need a knee replacement. "Before that time comes my plan is to give it a shot in two weeks at Portrush," Daly said.
The 53-year-old's use of a cart at Bethpage was somewhat controversial. While some believed Daly's injury fell under disability rights, others deemed it an unnecessary sideshow. The R&A said all considerations were factored into the decision.
"The R&A believe that walking the course is an integral part of the Championship and is central to the tradition of links golf which is synonymous with the Open," read a statement. "We must also ensure that, as far as possible, the challenge is the same for all players in the field.
"The terrain at Royal Portrush is not suited to buggies and indeed the club itself does not permit their use. We have a serious concern that some parts of the course, where there are severe slopes and swales, would be inaccessible."
Daly's knee problems sidelined him from the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie, although he was able to tee it up at Bellerive for the PGA Championship. He also withdrew from the U.S. Senior Open last year after his request for a cart under the ADA was denied. He regularly plays on the Champions Tour, which allows its players to use golf carts during competition. He has not walked in an official event since the European Tour's Omega European Masters last fall. Daly is in the tournament thanks to his 1995 Open triumph at St. Andrews. In 19 Open starts since his victory at the Old Course, he has made just six cuts and finished inside the top 25 once.
Beef opens up about mental health issues
Andrew (Beef) Johnston is known for a jovial disposition. However, the Englishman admitted over the holiday that things have been far from sunny in his life.
In a blog for the European Tour's website, Johnston wrote that he has battled mental health issues over the past year. The 30-year-old said that a break-up from a longtime girlfriend and a burglary at his loft took their toll on his psyche, yet he believes the root of the problem stems from his overnight popularity starting in 2016.
"The attention I got was just crazy," Johnston said. "It's my nature to take pictures with fans and sign autographs. I'm a friendly person, a caring person. I want to take a picture with a kid who asks me, sign an autograph, sign a ball and make their day and let them have a good day. But it happened so quickly, I didn't know what was going on."
His game suffered; after reaching No. 74 in the world, Johnston is now outside the top 325. The nadir was in November at the Nedbank Challenge. Johnson said he couldn't even bring himself to get his clubs from the locker, instead going straight back to the hotel to cry. A week later, he nearly walked off the course at the Australian PGA Championship.
"I hit two bad shots and I couldn't mentally handle it at all," Johnston said. "I came off there and cried. I knew then that something wasn’t right.”
Johnston, who finished T-9 at the Australian PGA, has started seeing a psychologist. Though he says there's a long way to go, it sounds like Johnston is getting a handle on the situation.
"As long as you've got your family and friends and you're healthy, they are the most important things, and we are so lucky to be able to do this as a job," he said. "It comes with demands, but every job does. It's just a learning curve."
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