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“Fore” Takeaways from the Charles Schwab Challenge

1. Did Daniel Berger win it or did Collin Morikawa lose it?

It seems like the winner of the Charles Schwab Challenge is being overshadowed by those who failed to get it done. Collin Morikawa’s short birdie miss on 18 and then his 3-foot lip out on 18 cost him the title. Xander Schauffele cost himself a chance of being in the playoff by also missing a nasty 3-footer on 17 which did a horseshoe around the cup. There were also the near misses on 18 by Justin Rose, Bryson DeChambeau, and Jason Kokrak. But give credit to the guy who didn’t miss the putts.

Daniel Berger won it by playing spectacular golf all four days and making the shots when he needed to. He executed a birdie on 18 where others couldn’t. On top of that, he picked up right where he left off before the long layoff. He was playing some of the best golf on the PGA Tour going into the Players Championship, posting three straight top-10s.

Berger’s worth keeping an eye on. He doesn’t garner the attention of some of the younger golfers but he’s quietly built a solid resume on Tour. He’s now won three times and was tied for the lead going into the final round of the 2018 U.S. Open. He’s getting experience and all that’s you can ask for before finally breaking through in an even bigger tournament.

2. What’s Wrong with Dustin Johnson?

For the longest time, Dustin Johnson would finish in the top-10 almost every single week. He was either No. 1 in the world or right around it. However, since last year’s PGA Championship in May 2019, Johnson hasn’t been the same.

In the last 13 months, Johnson has zero wins, just one top-5 and two top-10s. He missed the cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge, his second missed cut in 11 events. Contrast that from May 2018 to May 2019 where Johnson had four wins and ten top-10s. He’s dropped to the fifth in the world and it could tumble more next week.

Johnson skirted the questions about his game for a while, but it will likely start to pick up again. Whether there’s issues in his personal life as has been rumored, I don’t know, but Dustin Johnson is nowhere near the same golfer in the past year as he was prior to that. You can no longer bank on him being near the top of the leaderboard every wee.

3. Is Collin Morikawa the future face of golf?

He’s one of them. Three new stars that golf fans need to become accustomed to are Morikawa, Matthew Wolff, and Victor Hovland. Many already know a lot about Hovland who won the U.S. Amateur in 2018 and made a splash at the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach. Many also are becoming familiar with Wolff, the Oklahoma State star with the quirky swing who played in a four-ball made-for-TV event with Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Ricke Fowler. But Morikawa is the quietest of the three and yet may be the best of the bunch.

Morikawa is a standout from Cal-Berkeley who has a pure swing and has already made an impact on the PGA Tour. Since becoming a professional last June, Morikawa has a win and four top-5 finishes. Even more impressive, he hasn’t missed a single cut and has only finished outside the top-50 in a tournament once.

Many times, it takes a while for young stars to make an impact in the game. Justin Thomas struggled for a while when he first turned pro, as did Fowler and Justin Rose. But Morikawa is ready to win a major championship now and Hovland and Wolff will also be making their name known on the leaderboard very soon.

4. Was having no fans in the stands really that strange?

Not really. Honestly, I didn’t really notice it as much as I thought. Now when we get to the majors and if they have no fans, that will be strange. I can’t picture the Masters without any patrons. But the tournament was so good and thrilling that you really didn’t notice that there were fans missing. Perhaps in this new COVID-19 world, having no fans is nothing compared to some of the strange scenes we’ve already witnessed the past few months.

Three Foods for Thought

DeChambeau is the Incredible Hulk

When I heard in the offseason that Bryson DeChambeau put on some 25 pounds, I figured he would look a lot different. I didn’t expect it to look like this. He makes Brooks Koepka look small. His shoulders are bigger than Shaquille O’Neal’s head. Whether he’s crossing the line of overdoing it with the muscle, I don’t know. It seems to be paying off, though. The new jacked-up DeChambeau now has four straight top-5 finishes.

It was Good to See Jordan Spieth Back

I know he didn’t win, but it’s been a long time since we saw Jordan Spieth high up on the leaderboard on Sunday in any tournament. The young star who very nearly won the Grand Slam in 2015 and was a regular fixture atop the leaderboards in tournaments his first five years on Tour disappeared since the 2019 season. He’s good for golf and hopefully this is the beginning of his comeback.

What a First Week Back

Golf couldn’t have asked for a better debut after the long absence. You had several major champions like Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, and Justin Thomas in contention. You also had future stars like Morikawa, Schauffele, and DeChambeau in the lead late on Sunday. In the end, you got a solid champion in Berger. To have so many guys within a couple shots of the lead going into the back 9 on Sunday was, well, you couldn’t have scripted it any better.

Two Early Picks for the RBC Heritage

Sungjae Im

Im has played as good this year as anyone on Tour. He leads the FedEx Cup points and put together a top-10 finish at Colonial, his third straight top-10 this year. He also won at the Honda Classic back in March. Hilton Head is a great course for his game and he figures to be a factor yet again this upcoming week.

J.T. Poston

Poston contended at HIlton Head a year ago, finishing with a 67 and 66 on the weekend which was good enough for a 6th place finish. Poston also quietly had a good weekend in Dallas and has slowly made a name for himself on the Tour.

One Final Thought

Even though there was no Tiger, it’s still great to have golf back.

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