Home Sports Monday Qualifying: Brooks Koepka Ready to Stop Scottie Scheffler’s Train

Monday Qualifying: Brooks Koepka Ready to Stop Scottie Scheffler’s Train

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(Mallory Bielecki / Yahoo Sports)

(Mallory Bielecki / Yahoo Sports)

Welcome to the Monday Leaderboard, where we look back at the weekend’s top stories from the wonderful world of golf. Grab an Arnold Palmer, pull up a chair, and plan how you’re going to qualify for the US Open…

Brooks Koepka won his fourth LIV golf tournament last weekend in Singapore, and he sure looks in top shape to defend the PGA Championship after an unspectacular T45 at the Masters. Koepka has won more LIV tournaments than anyone in the history of the young circuit, and while it’s easy to make fun of LIV (which generates far more headlines than fan interest), the simple fact is that Koepka is beating guys like Jon Rahm, Cam Smith and other elite players. professionals when he wins these events.

And Koepka, when he’s on the hunt, is tough to beat. He has five majors, more than any active player not named Phil or Tiger. There was an eight-major streak before the pandemic in which he won three times, finished second twice and only finished lower than seventh once. That’s dominance, and even if he hasn’t returned to that level after injuries, he’s still a serious threat to Scottie Scheffler’s dominance.

Koepka is interested in exactly one goal: winning big tournaments. Everything else is prelude and training. He doesn’t care about most of LIV’s trappings;, for example, and he’s not much for the nonsense of golf’s green, airy cathedral. He knows exactly how many people are ranked above him in the professional race rankings, and that’s his focus.

Scheffler will be the favorite in the PGA Championship next week. But if he stumbles, Koepka, who has three PGAs to Scheffler’s zero, will be there to overcome him.

The 2024 Byron Nelson CJ Cup won’t go down in history as anyone’s favorite tournament… well, except Taylor Pendrith, who earned his first PGA Tour victory thanks to a two-shot swing on the 72nd hole. Unimaginative circuit , uninspiring field, strange name, difficult position on the schedule… it all broke against the CJ Cup and yet, despite all that drama, it broke through. Pendrith blew a lead when Ben Kohles mounted a late charge, and Kohles held a one-stroke lead on the 18th tee. But a wayward drive, a missed chip and a missed par putt cost Kohles dearly on the final hole, the easiest in the field.

Pendrith stood his ground and birdied the par 5 to make the two-stroke swing and claim the first victory of his career, which comes with an invitation to both the 2024 PGA Championship and the 2025 Masters. Golf gives and golf takes away.

On the bright side, the CJ Byron Nelson Cup gave us this indelible moment:

LIV players are now in the “discover” section of their decision to jump off the PGA Tour and join the new golf league; There is more money, but fewer paths to careers. At the moment, eight players are eligible for the PGA Championship based on previous wins: Koepka and Phil Mickelson, for example, have lifetime exemptions, while players like Cam Smith and Jon Rahm can trade on recent major wins. As for this summer’s Opens, most LIV players will need to qualify; Nearly 40 have announced plans to try to break through at the US Open and Open Championship.

One who is not: 2023 LIV champion Talor Gooch, who did not receive a special invitation to the Masters and for the other specialties either. Gooch has insisted that the majors lack gravitas without LIV players on the field; You can argue that angle and Gooch’s decision to not even try to qualify, but he stands his ground.

Another week, another kid younger than your socks finds success on the PGA Tour. This time, it’s 16-year-old Kris Kim, son of former LPGA player Ji-Hyun Suh. Kim made the cut at the CJ Cup, the youngest player to do so since Kyle Suppa in 2015. Kim finished 65th after struggling over the weekend, but he’ll have shots like this to remember:

Golf is a complicated game and there are many obstacles on the way up the mountain, but Kim has a good advantage. Furthermore, golf is now apparently the province of the young. We can expect a kindergartner to make a cut in November.

Sponsor exemptions are the gentleman’s C of the golf world, a useful benefit provided by tournament organizers to drum up interest or, in some cases, reward colleagues. That’s how teen stars and non-golfers like John Smoltz and Steph Curry get tournament invites. One player who is surprising in how many sponsor waivers he has received: 227th-ranked Webb Simpson, who has played in multiple signature events this season on sponsor waivers and is scheduled to play in another this weekend. Sponsor exemptions on big-money flagship events are valuable commodities, so there are questions about why Simpson continues to receive them. One possible answer: Simpson is a member of the Tour’s Player Advisory Council and an important figure in the current schism in the world of golf. Golf takes care of itself, regardless of how the outside world sees it.

Look, Spieth may not be winning many majors anymore, but he’s still golf’s agent of chaos, guaranteed to unleash something you’ve never seen before in virtually every round he plays. So, we’ve named this section after him… and you’ll never guess who the first honoree is.

Yes, that’s Spieth himself, offering a ball (and a neatly folded bill) to the fan who caught Spieth’s errant shot with his elbow. The fan’s deflection sent the ball back into the fairway: good luck for Spieth, but not good enough, as he missed the cut. At least that bruise lasted all weekend.

Friends, go out and make them happen this week, and we’ll see you here next Monday!

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