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Monday Scramble: Deal with it

Justin Rose, Cristie Kerr and Tiger Woods.
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Justin Rose rallies, Dustin Johnson collapses, Tiger Woods makes the rounds, a high-schooler gets edged out by a bylaw and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

Rose left China with the trophy, but this will be remembered as the one that got away from Johnson.

The world No. 1 started the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions with a seemingly insurmountable six-shot lead, then spent the afternoon proving why the word "seemingly" has to be interjected into the sentence.

Johnson picked a bad time to have perhaps his worst round of the year, failing to make a single birdie after notching 22 over the first 54 holes. It added up to a two-shot win for Rose, who entered the final round admittedly playing for second place.

A few hours on the paddleboard back home in Florida should help DJ put to bed any lingering regrets about his final-round woes amid blustery conditions, but it was certainly a surprising result for the American fans who went to bed Saturday night expecting to wake up to news of a Johnson coronation.


1. But let's not shortchange Rose, who put up a closing 67 on a difficult day when no one else in the top 10 managed to break 70.

The Englishman was a hard-luck runner-up at the Masters earlier this year, and he appeared to be closing in on his first winless year since 2009. But he remained patient amid Johnson's surprising collapse, and managed to take advantage when the slimmest of opportunities presented itself.

It's his first win since a gold medal was placed around his neck at the Rio Olympics, and his first PGA Tour victory since the 2015 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

2. As an Englishman born in South Africa who currently resides in the Bahamas, it should come as no surprise that Rose possesses a global resume. He has won tournaments on every continent except Antarctica and has lifted trophies in 10 different countries: China, England, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Scotland, Hong Kong, Japan, Turkey and the U.S.

3. Rose came from eight shots back to begin the final round, the third largest comeback in Tour history.

The only players to erase larger deficits on the final day? Paul Lawrie, who was 11 shots back at The Open in 1999 and Stewart Cink, who blew past Ted Purdy at the RBC Heritage in 2004 from nine shots off the pace.


4. To put Johnson's stunning demise in perspective, this was just the seventh time in his career that he didn't record at least a single birdie or better, and the first such round since June.

Johnson was in position to become the first player to ever win three WGC events in a calendar year, and he was hoping to extend his active streak of seasons with at least one win to 11. It turns out both will have to wait until at least 2018.

5. Johnson's Sunday melt took a little bit of heat off of Brooks Koepka's rough patch during the third round.

Playing alongside Johnson in the final group and holding a share of the lead, Koepka made a quad on the par-5 eighth hole en route to dropping well off the pace. He ended up alongside Johnson in second place at 12 under.

Earlier in the week, Koepka estimated that he and Johnson had hung out together for 14 of the 21 days following the Presidents Cup, talking about anything but golf. Neither will likely look to dwell on how things ended this week in China.


6. For a guy who hasn't played competitively in months, Tiger Woods sure found a way to be relevant in the news cycle this past week.

First there was the "stinger" social media post, which drove speculation about his possible return to a new high. Then there was an appearance at Game 2 of the World Series in Los Angeles, followed by his guilty plea Friday to reckless driving charges stemming from a May DUI arrest.

That's a full week, and it yielded Woods a solid chunk of the news cycle while many of the game's best played overnight in Asia.

7. Amid all the appearances, the question remains whether or not Woods will decide to tee it up two months from now at the Hero World Challenge.

The tournament made the unconventional move of announcing 16 of its 18 players earlier this month, perhaps paving the way for Woods to take one of two remaining sponsor exemptions should he so choose. It amounts to a far-fetched scenario for anyone who listened to Woods at the Presidents Cup, when he acknowledged the possibility of never again playing competitively.

The themes from Woods and agent Mark Steinberg have been to take it slow following back fusion surgery in April. But with each passing social media swing video, the lure of a return in the controlled environment of the Bahamas may be too tempting to pass up.

8. One person who seems confident about Woods' return is former swing coach Hank Haney.

Haney hasn't worked with Woods since 2010, but the two were together for six major wins. Haney explained on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio that he expects Woods to tee it up at Albany, even though his most recent return to competition lasted only seven rounds before back issues flared up that led to another surgery.

"They're going to toy with everybody, because it's just what they do. But he's playing at the Hero World Challenge," Haney said. "He's not going to wait until February to play again."


9. In an era of 20-somethings dominating the LPGA tour, Cristie Kerr continues to turn back the clock.

Kerr won her 20th career title at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia over the weekend, becoming the first player to win over the age of 40 since Catriona Matthew back in 2011.

She did so with a 35-foot bomb on the final green, and with yet another trophy on her shelf she trails only Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb on the LPGA's all-time money list.

"Yes, I'm 40," Kerr told reporters. "And a winner."

And clearly still with plenty left in the tank.

10. Kudos to the USGA for taking the top event in women's golf to one of the most iconic courses in the country.

Pebble Beach will host the 2023 U.S. Women's Open, creating a Northern California double-dip with The Olympic Club hosting in 2021. It'll be the first time the top women in the game play a major on the scenic oceanside layout, and it's about time they were afforded the opportunity.

Pebble will also host the men in 2027, creating a 10-year run of blueblood venues that means a possible return to a course like Chambers Bay or Erin Hills will have to wait until at least 2028.


When is a win not a win?

The riddle was answered this week with the plight of high-schooler Emily Nash, who dusted a field of boys at a regional competition only to be denied both the first-place trophy and a deserving spot at the state tournament.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association dug its heels in while clinging to an arcane bylaw that insists girls can compete in boys' events, but that their scores can only count for the team portion - not the individual race.

The subsequent social media firestorm had pros from both genders weighing in with support for Nash, while LPGA stars crafted a video tribute to Nash under the hashtag #EmilyWon.

It's an unfortunate situation, and one that should have been easily resolved. Hopefully the resulting controversy ensures a similar scenario won't play out in the future.

This week's award winners ... 


In the Winner's Circle: Ryan Armour, who earned his first Tour win at age 41 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Armour has bounced between the PGA and Web.com circuits for a decade and had only one prior top-10 finish since 2008.

Making the Most of It: Scott Strohmeyer. After surviving a pre-qualifier and winning a Monday qualifier with a holed bunker shot, Strohmeyer tied for fourth in his first career Tour start. The top-10 finish earns him a spot this week in Las Vegas.

Taking Notice: Chesson Hadley, who was a runner-up in Mississippi and came away impressed with the aerial display from Strohmeyer over the weekend:

Thanks for Stopping By: Shugo Imahira, who was disqualified from the WGC-HSBC Champions because he apparently saw an incorrect starting time and failed to show up for his 10:35 a.m. start to Round 3. But in the no-cut, limited-field event, he still went home with $43,000 in (unofficial) prize money.


On the Mend: John Daly, who had to abruptly withdraw from the same event after re-injuring his knee in an on-course fall. Hopefully the two-time major champ can come back stronger in 2018, as he remains an asset for the tour.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Bernhard Langer, who won a PGA Tour Champions playoff event for the second straight week. We ran out of superlatives long ago for the ageless German, who is now just nine wins shy of Hale Irwin's all-time mark on the over-50 circuit.

Back in the Saddle: Paul Casey, who will reportedly reinstate his European Tour membership for 2018. Suddenly, the European chances of winning back the Ryder Cup next fall at Paris seem decidedly better with the Englishman back in the fold.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Hideki Matsuyama. A return to the site of his seven-shot romp from a year ago wasn't enough to snap the Japanese phenom out of his months-long slide, as he tied for 50th and never broke par. Sigh.