Pat Perez cruises, Tiger Woods dons the Sunday red, Tyrrell Hatton stays hot, President Donald Trump goes low and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:
If only the PGA Tour still gave out a Comeback Player of the Year award. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better candidate than Pat Perez.
A year ago, the often-combustible journeyman had turned 40, was coming off shoulder surgery and was ranked outside the top 300 in the world. He accepted a sponsor exemption into the CIMB Classic, and his career turned upside down (in a good way).
After his impressive victory in Malaysia, he now has twice as many Tour wins in the past 11 months as he did in his previous 15 years on Tour.
It’s a product of hard work, good health, and maybe even a little revenge, after one of his equipment companies dropped him.
For one of golf's most unique characters, it's been a unique path back to competitive relevance.
1. Perez is already well on his way to backing up one career year with another.
Check out all his career bests a year ago: Best FedExCup finish (15th – his first time reaching the Tour Championship). Most money earned ($4.36 million). Most top-25s (14). And the fewest cuts missed (three).
“I’m not going to change anything,” he said. “I’m still not going to work out. I’ll still have a bad diet and I’m going to enjoy myself. I’ve got my group of friends and that type of stuff. But I’m just taking it a day at a time. That’s all I’m doing. I don’t look in the past. I’m just kind of doing it.”
2. Speaking of career resurrections … Keegan Bradley is in the midst of one, too.
Once one of the most promising young players on Tour, Bradley is now 31 and trying to find himself without his trusty belly putter.
Last season he finally showed progress, recording five top-10s and making a run for the Tour Championship until a rocky stretch in the playoffs. After missing the cut in Napa, he played bogey-free on the weekend at the CIMB, going 65-67, to earn runner-up honors and $756,000.
“I played well enough to win,” Bradley said, “but Pat Perez is playing exceptionally. So happy for him.”
3. There was little rest for the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, who headed to the CIMB just three weeks after the Tour Championship.
Despite being admittedly “low on gas” at the end of a long, breakout year, Thomas turned in a tie for 17th.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Thomas keeps this event on his schedule moving forward. Clearly, after back-to-back wins, TPC Kuala Lumpur suits his game. But he also added the event during his sophomore season on Tour, when he was trying to get a head start in the FedExCup race. He just so happened to win in his tournament debut, and again the next year, which necessitated his appearance this year.
The situation is not unlike Jordan Spieth’s relationship with the John Deere Classic. He won the event at a young age, and rather than turn his back on the tournament that launched his star, he paid it forward. It's a move that should be applauded ... and yet it was only a matter of time before he began to skip the event, with the Deere played a week before The Open. It made for a long, unnecessarily hectic stretch.
Thomas is one of the game’s few bona fide stars who tees it up in the fall. (He is also in this week's CJ Cup field.) Now that he’s in a new stratosphere, he could be excused for taking more downtime next year.
4. While the rest of the sports world was watching the Red Zone Channel, Tiger Woods was working on his game.
For the first time, Woods posted a video of himself hitting a driver (in his Sunday red, no less!). Until as recently as the Presidents Cup, he said he hadn’t been cleared to hit anything more than 60-yard wedge shots.
Apparently, things have escalated quickly.
Making Progress pic.twitter.com/I3MZhJ74kI— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) October 15, 2017
5. When you’re hot, you’re hot …
Tyrrell Hatton kept rolling after last week’s win at the Dunhill Links, firing a back-nine 30 Sunday to steal the Italian Open.
His 65-65 weekend was enough to eke him past Ross Fisher – again! – and move all the way up to No. 5 in the season-long Race to Dubai standings.
Over the past two weeks, Hatton has made 54 birdies and only seven bogeys, posted a scoring average of 65.9 and, most importantly, earned two titles and about $2 million.
6. Pour some out for Fisher.
Faced with another large final-round deficit, he is a combined 19 under par over his past two Sundays. Each time he finished second to Hatton.
7. Matt Parziale will need to take some more time off from the firehouse after his dominant victory last week at the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Parziale, a 30-year-old firefighter from Brockton, Mass., used 10 birdies in the scheduled 36-hole championship match to defeat Josh Nichols and earn the premier title for players 25 and older.
With the victory, Parziale will be exempt into next year’s U.S. Open (thanks to a new USGA rule announced two weeks ago) and likely receive an invitation to the Masters.
Parziale, a reinstated amateur who toiled on the mini-tours a few years ago, made eight birdies in the first 18 holes. Including the usual match-play concessions, his morning 7-under 63 was the best in the final since the USGA switched to a 36-hole format in 2001.
His 8-and-6 margin of victory was the third-largest in championship history.
8. At least one Ko is getting into the LPGA winner’s circle.
This time it was Jin Young Ko who won the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship to earn her first LPGA Title.
Ko, a nine-time winner on the KLPGA, closed with 68 to hold off S.H. Park.
Golf’s most famous Ko, Lydia, is still looking for her first win since July 2016.
9. Searching for her third LPGA title of the year, Park was denied a chance to move to world No. 1.
“There are still many events left this season,” she said, “and I think that’s the type of goal you continue to work hard to reach. I’ll just give it my best shot.”
From the Gonna-Have-to-See-It-to-Believe-It Files:
Really enjoyed a round of golf with President @realDonaldTrump today.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 9, 2017
President Trump shot a 73 in windy and wet conditions!
That would mean that Trump, who is 71, nearly shot his age.
That would mean that, from 6,800 yards, or roughly the same yardage as the seniors played their recent PGA Championship, he beat more than half of the field, which shot 74 or higher.
That would mean that, despite a 250-yard average off the tee, he made “only one or two” bogeys, even with this choppy chipping action.
"I can say without hesitation," Graham bragged to Golf.com, "Donald Trump did not come close to making a double bogey all day," as if that was some sort of accomplishment for a guy who just shot 1 over.
Clearly this has nothing to do with Senator Graham trying to curry favor with the president by talking up his golf game ...
This week's award winners ...
Best Use of Social Media: European Tour. Sergio Garcia and Austin Connelly, reunited after 18 years.
Missed Opportunity: College Gameday. ESPN’s iconic college football pregame show easily could have had both Jordan Spieth and Oklahoma star Brad Dalke on the set as the celebrity guest pickers – they represented their schools in the coin toss at the Red River Rivalry.
More Than One Way to a T-69: Grayson Murray. The second-year player had a wild tournament in Malaysia, going 82-74-64-73. Alas, his throwing aim wasn't much better ...
Well, That’s a Tough Break: Ryan Fox. The New Zealander missed the cut at the Italian Open, which wasn’t a surprise after his unfortunate start to the week. Fox was docked a two-shot penalty in the opening round because it wasn’t “virtually certain” that a fan picked up his ball.
Let’s Try That Again: Leona Maguire. Fresh off her ninth career college title, the Duke senior and world No. 1 is entered into this week’s second stage of LPGA Q-School. (The top 80 and ties advance.) She bailed before final stage last year to stay in school.
Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Kevin Na. Heading into the week with a 68.08 scoring average at TPC Kuala Lumpur, he followed an opening 66 with rounds of 73-75 to balloon to a tie for 44th. Sigh.