Kevin Na cashes in on one of the few venues that still gives him a chance, Jordan Spieth putts like he's never putted before, and Tiger Woods curses while wearing a microphone, which certainly has happened before. That and more in a Memorial Day Monday Scramble.
Kevin Na turned pro at age 17. He was the youngest member of the PGA Tour when he played the 2004 season at just 19 years old. It took him seven years to win his first Tour title, in 2011, and another seven to win his second, in 2018. Luckily, he didn’t have to wait until 2025 for No. 3, taking the Charles Schwab Challenge by four shots on Sunday at Colonial.
That Na continues to compete – that he’s won twice in the last year – is a testament to his persistence and his short game. In an era dominated by bombers like Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, Na – who has fought through the driver yips, who averages 280 yards a drive, who annually cedes three to four shots to his Tour colleagues in strokes gained: off the tee – finds a way.
Immediately after his victory, Na told CBS Sports’ Peter Kostis that he had mentally engraved his name on Colonial’s wall of champions before the final round. Now it’ll be on there for real, standing as proof that you don’t need to hit it 300 yards to win on the PGA Tour.
1. Assuming, of course, you’re playing the right course. Na on Friday cited Colonial as one of the just “seven or eight” Tour venues on which he can actually contend.
This feels like a good time to extoll the virtues of tighter Tour stops. Is it any surprise that a beast like Bethpage Black would produce a winner in Koepka and a runner-up in Johnson? Longer courses may restore certain shot values for the longest hitters – yippee! – but they distort them for players who aren’t built like Dwayne Johnson.
Colonial Country Club tips out at 7,200 yards. It’s narrow nature, per Na, leaves just about everyone in the same spot off the tee. “It’s more of a second-shot-and-in golf course, and I feel like I’m a really good player from the fairway in,” he said Saturday.
Hitting a long and straight drive is a vital part of the game, and players who can do so should enjoy an advantage. But longer golf courses only increase their advantage, epecially tracks with wide fairways. We can test something other than how far a pro can hit the ball.
2. Standing on the 18th green with his daughter in his hands, Na said he had long believed he would one day win this tournament. And why wouldn’t he?
He’s the only player in Tour history to have recorded three rounds of 62 or better at Colonial. He co-owns the course record of 61.
Might be time to rename the place Na’s Alley. (This is not a serious suggestion.)
3. Tony Finau is going to break through one of these days, we all say aloud, nodding in agreement.
This is his fifth runner-up finish on Tour and his 29th top-10. He remains in search of a follow-up to the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. Just keep picking him in fantasy. It’ll pay off, probably in a major, probably soon.
4. Oh, Jordo. Thought this was going to be the one, but Spieth’s putter finally cooled off on Sunday, because it had to. Over the first three rounds, he broke his personal record for total feet of putts holed in a tournament (434 feet, 4 inches), which, you know, typically takes four rounds. He topped out at 480 and signed for a final-round 72, dropping into a tie for eighth.
Not breaking any news here, but it doesn’t matter how well you putt if you’re only going to hit 10 fairways over the weekend.
Having rediscovered his touch on the greens, Spieth is facing the same problem as most of his Tour colleagues, but backwards. How often do we look at a player – say, McIlroy – and remark, “Man, with the way he hits the ball, if he putted even just average, he’d blow away the field.” If Jordan could hit the ball even slightly below average, with the way he’s putting, he’d end that winless drought of his, which is rapidly approaching two years.
Good news is that he was quite clear that he didn’t need to win on Sunday. #TrustTheProcess
5. Circling back to shorter hitters getting it done with guile, Jim Furyk! The 49-year-old was a runner-up to McIlroy earlier this year at The Players and T-13 at Colonial after falling apart on the back nine Sunday. He’ll be eligible for the PGA Tour Champions in another year, but has said he’s determined to stay on the PGA Tour as long as he’s still competitive. With seven top-25s in 13 starts this year, he’s still competitive.
6. Bernd Wiesberger resurfaced with a win at the European Tour’s Made in Denmark. The Austrian, who played alongside McIlroy in the final round at Valhalla back in 2014, picked up his first win in two years. Since the end of 2017, Wiesberger dropped from 39th in the Official World Golf Ranking to 389th, thanks in part to injuries.
7. Duke's women's team earned its seventh national title this past week, defeating conference rival Wake Forest in a hotly contested final at the NCAA Women's Championship. The men will crown a team and individual champion (Maria Fassi of Arkansas won the individual women's title) this week at Blessings Golf Club.
8. Bronte Law said she would “build on this experience” after a playoff loss three weeks ago at the Mediheal Championship, and unlike most everyone else who says that, she actually did. In her very next start, Law went out and won the Kingsmill Championship by two over Madelene Sagstrom, Brooke Henderson and Nasa Hataoka.
Law won’t make the minimum number of Ladies European Tour starts necessary to be an automatic qualifier for this year’s Solheim Cup, but she did go to LET Q-School last year with the intent of making herself a tour member and therefore an eligible captain’s pick. You can expect to see her in blue and yellow at Gleneagles in September.
9. Much in the same fashion, Scottie Scheffler bounced back from a runner-up showing three weeks ago to win his next start, the Web.com’s Evans Scholars Invitational. It’s his first victory as a professional and may not be his last this year. With a win, two runner-ups, five top-5s and seven top-10s in 11 starts, he’s already locked up his 2019-20 PGA Tour card. He now leads the race for the Web’s money title.
10. Justin Thomas will make his return to the Tour this week after nursing a wrist injury for the better part of two months. Absent since the Masters, Thomas looks to find the form that saw him finish third or better in three out of four starts in January and February. Having missed the year’s second major, he has two weeks to prepare for Pebble Beach, where the rough promises to put his wrist to the test.
11. And, finally, Tiger Woods will take his second crack at catching Sam Snead this week at Muirfield Village, where he’s won five times. Bethapge wasn’t going to be a great fit for the guy who missed it so far right and left at Augusta that it worked to his advantage, but Woods also looked unprepared at the PGA. It was clear that his 15th major title had taken a lot out of him, enough that he opted to skip an in-between start at the Wells Fargo.
With a competitive start under his belt – albeit a missed cut – Woods should be in a better place to focus more on what’s next than on what just happened at Augusta. This week at the Memorial will give us a better idea of where he stands in the quest for Nos. 82 and 16.
Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) didn't want me to tell this story -- but he relented, and good.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) May 26, 2019
He's only human.
After he walked off the course Friday, the cut was 6 over and he was 9 over. So he flew home. When he landed -- oops -- he learned he made the cut.https://t.co/UBVs13g1Px pic.twitter.com/Bf7Resh8i2
Tom Gillis was unavailable for his Saturday morning tee time at the Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill – because he was already back in Detroit.
When Gillis walked off the course Friday, following rounds of 74-75, he was 9 over for the week, three off what was then the projected cut line of plus-6. So he packed up and headed to the airport, ready to spend the long weekend at home with his family. It was only once he landed that he realized he had two more rounds to play back in Rochester.
Per The Detroit News, Gillis’ absence is being counted as a withdraw and he will receive a last-place payout.
This week's award winners ...
I can do 100 pushups in 20 minutes: After holing the winning putt, a 12-footer for birdie, Na immediately turned to Kenny Harms and informed him that the restored 1973 Dodge Charger awarded to the Charles Schwab winner was actually going to the Charles Schwab winner’s caddie:
He promised to give it to his caddie. pic.twitter.com/CyhIwLPP3Q— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 26, 2019
Perhaps more impressive than Na’s win was Harms’ predicting it and claiming the car five days in advance:
If only it were a Dodge Stratus.
Do no Harms: And you can’t say he didn’t earn it. After a a fan’s cell phone went off during Na’s backswing on the 11th Saturday, Harms did his job, maybe a little too well. “He was screaming at her, and he has every right to do so,” Na said. "[But] I felt bad for the lady. I was upset at first, and then I saw the lady's face, and I was like, 'Oh, my God. She's going to pee in her pants.' So I said, 'Come on, Kenny. Let's forget about it. Let's just go.'"
Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough: To Jaime Donaldson, the new King of the Beer Tent, if not the King of Pop:
Quit while you’re ahead: Play us out, Tiger.
This is the greatest video I’ve ever seen. (Tiger says a naughty word too so heads up.) 🐅👀 (credit to Adam Weinraub on Insta.) pic.twitter.com/tNcVIwEHpP— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) May 24, 2019