Slow-play controversy rocks Northern Trust, Koepka and DeChambeau meet to clear air, and Day parts way with caddie: 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 Aug. 12.
Reed wins Northern Trust
Captain America has been without his shield for most of 2019. A trip to Lady Liberty got it back.
Patrick Reed overcame a shaky front nine on Sunday to convert his 54-hole lead and win the Northern Trust.
“Yeah, I don’t like long gaps [between wins],” said Reed, who won for the first time since his breakthrough at the 2018 Masters. “It’s not fun, you know what I mean. I’ve always played golf to win golf tournaments. I’ve always wanted to compete to win. I’m not really satisfied with a second, third, fourth, 10th place finish. I’ve always played events to win golf tournaments and any time I tee it up, trying to win.”
Since the fallout at last year's Ryder Cup in France, Reed had been a non-factor on the PGA Tour this year, going so far as to employ famed instructor David Leadbetter to rescue him from a slump. But Reed chalked his revival to a self-imposed sabbatical following a missed cut at the PGA Championship, taking 10 days off from the sport, the longest period Reed said he's had in his life.
It worked: Heading into Liberty National, Reed had three top-12s in his last five starts, and shot two 66s and a 67 for a one-stroke 54-hole lead.
Three bogeys in the first six holes surrendered that advantage, and the focus shifted to Jon Rahm, who grabbed a two-shot lead. But the Spaniard bogeyed the 14th and 15th and failed to make birdie at the drivable 16th, while Reed answered with three birdies. Abraham Ancer made a final push with birdies at the 16th and 17th but came up just short, Reed taking the title by one.
The win moves Reed to 12th in the U.S. Presidents Cup standings with one week to play before the top eight lock in their spots for Australia. Given his Team USA record, and the sense that France's sins have been forgiven—it was Reed, not Jordan Spieth, at an American meeting earlier in the week—it would be a shock if Reed hasn't locked up one of the four captain's picks.
“You know, it was definitely on my mind a little more than other weeks because of where we are,” Reed said of his Presidents Cup candidacy. “At Liberty National where we won in 2017, and you know, having the dinner with Tiger and the guys earlier this week, and seeing the Statue of Liberty on every hole, and then having the fans yell ‘Captain America’ and ‘USA’ all week, it definitely was on my mind.”
Unfortunately for Reed, his win was overshadowed by …
Bryson’s pace (again) under fire
Bryson DeChambeau’s pace, or lack thereof, has been picked on before. This weekend, it was blitzkrieged.
On Friday, videos circulated on social media of DeChambeau taking longer than a Yankees-Red Sox game over a chip shot and putt, with an indignant Justin Thomas in the background serving as a proxy for fan frustration.
A bit of context was missing—on one of the shots, DeChambeau was waiting for a tee box to clear—but his regimen on the green was inexcusable. Such sentiments were felt by his fellow pros, a number of whom called DeChambeau out, and harshly. (There are too many to list, but Eddie Pepperell was particularly damning: “Problem is, the unaffected single minded twit in this instance, doesn’t care much for others.” Good gravy.)
However, when asked about backlash, Bryson was not apologetic, but defiant.
“It’s more than just me,” said DeChambeau on Saturday. “There’s a lot going on out here.
“I play a different way out there. I take my 40 seconds that’s been allotted, sometimes over, absolutely. Totally agree. It’s maybe 5 percent of the time. But I’ll tell you that it’s really kind of unfortunate the way it’s perceived because there’s a lot of other guys that take a lot of time. They don’t talk about this matter, and for me personally, it is an attack. … People don’t realize the harm they are doing to the individuals.
“There’s a deeper issue here, and I’m somehow being singled out.”
Certainly enough logs there to keep the slow play narrative going. And then Sunday came and rammed a gas tanker into the proceedings …
Brooks and Bryson have impromptu slow-play discussion
According to Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch, “a visibly irritated DeChambeau” approached Brooks Koepka’s caddie Ricky Elliott on the practice putting green Sunday telling Elliot that Koepka—who has not been shy on his thoughts on slow play—should direct any comments about slow play “to my face.” (No word if the irony of telling someone to tell another to “say it to my face” was lost on those involved.)
The message was delivered, as Koepka approached DeChambeau on the range. Though the discussion was civil—Kopeka said it was “fine” after the round—the optics of golf’s best player squaring off against its most polarizing proved the nadir of the ongoing slow-play debate, and the PGA Tour responded in kind.
On Sunday afternoon, the tour made an unprecedented statement on pace of play, saying it is exploring ways to address the matter.
“We are currently in the process of reviewing this aspect of pace of play and asking ourselves, ‘Is there a better way to do it?’” said Tyler Dennis, the PGA Tour’s chief of operations.
The tour’s current rule only deals with players whose groups have fallen out of position during their rounds. However, even this remains a source of controversy, as the PGA Tour has only used its ultimate punishment, handing out a one-stroke penalty to an offender, just once in a tournament since 1995.
Certainly the dialogue around slow play is nothing new, but until now the governing bodies have appeared to want no part of this storm. Yet with players publicly roasting their own on pace, and subsequently diverting attention from the tournaments themselves, the issue has reached a fever pitch of sorts. How the tour proceeds will be a fascinating study.
Also, kudos to Koepka; without his continued outcry, the sport is nowhere near the precipice it finds itself. Credit that as his fourth win of the season.
Kevin C. Cox
Tiger WDs, rest of season uncertain
Tiger Woods pulled out of the Northern Trust on Friday morning, hours before he was scheduled to play his second round.
According to tournament officials, the 15-time major winner cited an oblique strain as the reason for withdrawing.
According to Woods' longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, a determination on Woods' availability for the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs was to be made after the weekend. Steinberg said the decision to withdraw from the Northern Trust was largely a precaution, and there is little indication this is a long-term injury.
Earlier in the week, Woods stopped taking full swings during his pro-am round after noticeably wincing following a handful of swings. For the rest of the round, he refrained from hitting drives and full iron shots, saying his body felt stiff, but continued walking with his group to work on his short game.
“This is how it is,” Woods said by the Liberty National clubhouse Wednesday afternoon. “Some days I’m stiffer than others. Yesterday, I was out there driving it great. … Today, I'm stiff. Hopefully I'm not that way tomorrow."
Woods looked physically fine during Thursday's first round in Liberty National—his swings were loose and powerful, and he didn't appear to be in pain in his walk around the property—but had a rough day, his four-over 75 the second-highest score of the day. After the round, Woods said he was still a little stiff, yet attributed his score to merely having a bad day.
“I didn't play well,” Woods said. “Just one of those things where I just didn't hit any good shots and didn't make any putts.”
Since his April win at Augusta National, Woods has made four starts, missing the cut at the PGA Championship and Open Championship to go with a T-9 at the Memorial and T-21 at the U.S. Open.
This was the first WD for Woods since he dropped out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year, citing a lingering neck issue.
Jason Day parts ways with Steve Williams
Jason Day has been in a post-Masters rut (aren't we all?), posting one top-20 finish and four missed cuts since Augusta. He's 50th in the FedEx Cup standings, needing a massive push at the BMW Championship to make it to East Lake. And with one week to go before the automatic Presidents Cup picks are announced, the former PGA champ is on the outside looking in on the International squad.
Which is what makes Day's departure from caddie Stevie Williams shocking, but not surprising. According to the AAP, Day and Williams parted aways following the Northern Trust.
“Parting with Steve was a mutual decision and not an easy one to make,” Day told AAP. “He is the ultimate pro; it was a real learning experience being exposed to a caddie who has achieved what Steve has. He has worked with the best."
Day initially brought on Williams because, according to Day, he had "severely underachieved." But following initial success at the U.S. Open (T-21) and Travelers Championship (T-8), it was clear the wake-up call wasn't permanent, as Day missed two of his next four cuts, his best finish a T-40 at the no-cut FedEx Cup St. Jude.
According to the AAP, Day will have friend and fellow pro David Lutterus as his loop in Chicago.