ATLANTA (AP) — Two weeks after Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship with a record-tying comeback and a defining shot in a playoff, Dustin Johnson led a pack of players over to LIV Golf.
Two days after Tiger Woods strode across the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews for what may be the final time, Cameron Smith sat subsequent to the claret jug and sidestepped questions on his inevitable departure to the Saudi-funded rival league.
There was no escaping. Gamers saved speaking as a result of the media saved asking.
And now the PGA Tour season is over and LIV fills the void, claiming six extra gamers Tuesday, the most important of them Smith, the “champion golfer of the yr” and No. 2 on the planet.
The following huge occasion — not less than on community TV — would be the Presidents Cup at Quail Hole, the place LIV Golf is bound to be entrance and middle due to who’s not there. 5 gamers from the final Worldwide group at Royal Melbourne now are with LIV Golf (so are three Individuals from the 2019 matches).
As one former main champion mentioned in early June when LIV Golf was about to launch, “The tour misplaced market shares.” That’s 32 shares — the variety of PGA Tour gamers within the 48-man LIV field outside Boston.
What the tour additionally misplaced to LIV was a season of outstanding moments that have been overshadowed, generally inside hours, by the countless chatter a couple of rival league.
Scottie Scheffler went from no wins to No. 1 on the planet in span of six weeks after which two weeks later was fitted for a Masters green jacket. Smith had one of many greatest closing nines in British Open historical past. Rory McIlroy tied a pleasant bow across the season with a record comeback in the Tour Championship for a 3rd FedEx Cup title. It was an opportunity for him to lastly discuss his golf as an alternative of his opposition to LIV Golf. In fact, he managed to do both.
The most important second?
Depart that to the gamers, who had their very own standards.
“The very first thing that involves thoughts is Cam Smith’s again 9,” Adam Scott mentioned. “That’s obtained to go down as the most effective nines in Open historical past. Given it was the one hundred and fiftieth Open Championship and it was the head of the yr and he shot 30 on the again 9, I say that.”
Jordan Spieth, who grew up with Scheffler in Dallas, pointed to the 18th inexperienced at Augusta Nationwide. Scheffler had a five-shot lead going to the final gap and at last allowed it to sink in that he was about to develop into a Masters champion. After which he four-putted.
“For me, having watched him develop up, from my perspective it was Scottie’s snicker on the 18th inexperienced in Augusta earlier than his fourth putt,” Spieth mentioned. “It confirmed the lightness of him and the heaviness of the entire state of affairs.”
Jon Rahm was struck by the emotion of winless Will Zalatoris having twice misplaced in a playoff, twice been runner-up in a serious after which making a 10-foot putt in regulation and screaming in his greatest Steph Curry impersonation, “What are they gonna say now?” He went on to win the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the primary FedEx Cup playoffs occasion.
“I understand how laborious it’s to get your first win. I’m one of many fortunate ones that was capable of get it performed early,” Rahm mentioned. “For him to have heartbreaks this yr, particularly within the majors, to get to that state of affairs … I do know there are moments of much more magnitude, however I decide that simply due to how I really feel for him.”
Massive moments in golf are typically constructed across the majors, and there have been indelible moments: Smith’s putt across the Highway Gap bunker, Matt Fitzpatrick’s 9-iron from a bunker that secured his U.S. Open title at Brookline, the 3-wood Thomas hit onto the par-4 seventeenth inexperienced within the playoff at Southern Hills.
For a number of gamers, the most effective second of the yr concerned a man who didn’t win a serious and completed solely one in all them.
They pointed to a Friday afternoon at St. Andrews when Woods got here up the 18th gap with faces peering by window panes in lodges, straining to see by a fence alongside the highway and watching from balconies and rooftops.
“In all probability Tiger coming down 18 on the Open I’d say has plenty of clicks and plenty of views in everybody’s hearts,” Xander Schauffele mentioned.
Max Homa agreed, aside from the placement.
True, he had the privilege of enjoying with Woods that day at St. Andrews, so it was perplexing to listen to him discuss watching the scene unfold from a distance as his idol limped towards the 18th inexperienced.
“Not the Open, the Masters,” Homa mentioned. “He was within the group behind me.”
And whereas having the grey outdated city as a backdrop is historic and chilling, there was one thing particular about seeing Woods in a Sunday red shirt at Augusta simply 14 months after a automobile crash that almost claimed his proper leg.
“Simply with what’s happening in golf, watching Tiger limp up 18 like a warfare hero simply put what I really like about competitors into perspective,” Homa mentioned. “As a result of he doesn’t want to do that. He simply loves enjoying golf. It was a tremendous spectacle simply to see all people love him.
“They’re arguing LIV and do you play golf for the cash — whether or not that’s proper or flawed — and I’m taking a look at a man with all the cash on the planet who doesn’t must play anymore. He’s limping with an enormous outdated smile very pleased with himself. I assumed that was cool.”
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