How was that for a comeback?
At the beginning of the week, just having live golf to watch was a win in itself. For the live golf to deliver a 10-out-of-10 on the entertainment scale was an added bonus. After a wild day of lipped-out putts, clutch shots and a number of lead changes, Daniel Berger wound up outlasting everybody for his third career PGA Tour victory. It may not have been the outcome some had hoped for, but the ride did not disappoint. Here are our five takeaways from the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge.
That golf tournament was blackout drunk
Seriously, was that any good?
I know, I know, a Daniel Berger victory probably wasn’t everybody’s No. 1 favorite potential storyline at the beginning of the final round. He probably wasn’t No. 2, 3, 4 or 5 either. You had Jordan Spieth looking for his first win since the 2017 Open Championship (so crazy to still be typing that out). Rory McIlroy was in contention. Bulked-up Bryson DeChambeau was, too. Justin Thomas, Harold Varner III and the young stud Collin Morikawa would have all made for great stories as well.
But Berger wasn’t having it, which should shock no one. You may not find a guy with more guts on the PGA Tour than the 27-year-old, and I feel confident making that declaration given the manner in which he won. A final-round 66 that included a 10-footer for birdie at the 72nd hole to get into an eventual playoff, then going on to win said playoff, is a type of grit only a handful of guys have. It’s no wonder he won the first tour event post-coronavirus.
Of course, a lot of other things had to fall into place for Berger to wear the plaid jacket. The Schauffele lip out, the Morikawa lip out in the playoff, Bryson bogeying 17, Justin Rose leaving a birdie putt short on 18, etc. Somebody should have grabbed the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge’s keys, because it was drunk.
So many chances squandered
I sort of just mentioned all the guys who let the tournament slip away, but they deserve their own paragraph. Man, the chances that were squandered. Rose leaving that birdie putt on 18 short is a crime. Bryson bogeying the 71st hole, just like he did at the WGC-Mexico, where he also lost by one, will give me nightmares for years to come (I bet him both times). Xander, poor Xander. Morikawa will be fine, but that missed shorty on the first playoff hole will sting for awhile. Jason Kokrak, who was, in fact, playing in the tournament this week, just missed a birdie putt on 18 that would have gotten him into the playoff. As for Spieth, Gary Woodland and Justin Thomas, not shooting under par on Sunday ain’t gonna get it done, boys. Unless you’re up a few shots, of course. Breaking: water also wet.
No player on earth makes the game look more effortless. No player on earth makes the game look more frustrating. Talkin’ about Rory McIlroy, folks.
At 10 under heading into the final round, the World No. 1 needed to take it pretty deep to have a chance. Instead, he imploded to the tune of a four-over 74, and that was with two birdies on the final three holes. Just a nightmarish final day for a guy who has sadly made those seem all too familiar. Yes, he did just win a WGC in November, and his three wins a season ago were all wildly impressive. But he still can’t shake the Sunday blues, which shows you just how often he fades in the final round. No one with 18 PGA Tour wins, 14 European Tour wins and four majors should ever have to be asked “what is it about Sundays that you struggle with?” And yet we find ourselves asking this question time and time again with McIlroy. It’s truly maddening. All that said, this Rory-stinks-on-Sundays take only exists because he’s constantly in contention, which is not easy to do. There, left him with a compliment.
Given everything that’s going on in the world, and the limitations CBS surely had during this crazy time, you’d think the coverage haters would give it a rest this week. But they did not, and how could you blame them? At times on Sunday, it felt like you got to see one golf shot for every five commercials, which were usually followed by one more golf shot and then an overhead 25-second blimp shot, and that’s only a slight exaggeration. The biggest complaint, however, was that the broadcast pretended Rory McIlroy did not exist, and failed to show us a few wayward Jordan Spieth shots multiple times. Don’t get me wrong, the point of watching golf is to see the best in the world be the best in the world, but it’s absolutely fascinating to watch them struggle, too. Spieth especially, with all his conversations with himself and penchant for spraying it off the tee. CBS does not seem to share that sentiment.
Speaking of things that seem silly to talk about right now, there were some serious moves in the FedEx Cup race! Please, hear me out.
With the season becoming significantly shorter due to the coronavirus, some guys need all the points they can get to have a legitimate shot at making it to East Lake. Looking at you, Justin Rose. After all the early-season struggles, Rose changed the whole course of his year with a final-round 66, which earned him a T-3 and jumped him from 205th to 123rd in the FedEx Cup standings (top 125 make it to first playoff event). Jason Kokrak vaulted from 116th to 69th. As for Berger, his strong start to 2019-’20 had him at 45th coming into the week, and he’s now 11th. Again, people want to hear about the FEC race as much as they want to see another Rocket Mortgage commercial during the broadcast, but those were huge leaps.