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Monday Leaderboard: It ain’t over ’til the final putt drops … or misses

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(Bruno Rouby/Yahoo Sports illustration)

Welcome to the Monday Leaderboard, where we run down the weekend’s top stories in the wonderful world of golf. Grab an Arnold Palmer, pull up a chair, and — no, wait, grab a Muirfield milkshake for Jack this week…

One glorious, and wicked, aspect of golf is that the game is literally in doubt right up until the final putt, no matter how short it might be. Not only that, the right round at the right time can flip an entire tournament. Sebastian Soderberg had a nightmare of a Sunday on the DP World Tour’s Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed tournament, which includes both male and female players. Soderberg opened the day with an eight-shot lead, but utterly collapsed with a 77, missing short putt after short putt. He needed only a bogey on the 18th to force a playoff, but missed a three-foot putt. Meanwhile, Linn Grant shot a 65 to surge from 11 shots back to take the title. And that wasn’t the end of the day’s comebacks; at the LPGA’s ShopRite Classic, Linnea Ström, also of Sweden, shot an 11-under 60 to surge from 52nd place and win by a stroke. Keep your head in the game, always.

You know you’re absolutely dominating when it’s news if you don’t win a tournament. Scottie Scheffler hasn’t had that problem much lately, winning five of the last eight tournaments he’s played. For most players, capturing a Masters, a Players Championship and the Memorial would be a good career; Scheffler has done it all in a matter of weeks. Scheffler held off Collin Morikawa to win the Memorial on Sunday by a stroke, entitling him to that prized greenside handshake from Jack Nicklaus … and probably one of those famous Muirfield milkshakes too. If it weren’t for that unpleasantness in Louisville a few weeks back, he might be looking at a single-season grand slam. As it is, he’s on a heater that’s as hot as anything since the finest days of Tiger Woods. We’ll find out soon enough if he’s able to keep the locomotive rolling at the season’s third major, this week at the U.S. Open.

The one-year anniversary of the would-be sport-changing “framework agreement” between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund passed last week, with little to show for it. Perhaps coincidentally, representatives from the PGA Tour and the PIF also met last week to hash out whatever can be salvaged of the long-dormant agreement. A cynic might say that the two sides met in advance of the U.S. Open, when significant national media attention will be focused on the status of the game, but whatever the reason, there’s at least some movement. “Very productive, very constructive, very collaborative,” Rory McIlroy said Saturday. “Yeah, it was really good. Definitely things are heading in the right direction. A lot of progress was made. I can’t really say much more than that, but it was really positive.” We’ve heard all these kinds of promises before, and more, so we’ll have to wait to see if there’s more than words behind this latest update.

Tough news for Jon Rahm this week, as the two-time major winner had to withdraw from the LIV Golf Houston event on Saturday, apparently due to a lingering foot injury. The news muddies his status for the U.S. Open this week, and given that he’s one of the favorites, there will be plenty of attention on Rahm’s hoof. He’s scheduled to speak on Tuesday at Pinehurst, so we’ll get an update then. So far, it’s been a tough major run for Rahm in 2024, with a T45 finish in Augusta and a missed cut at Valhalla. (For the record, Carlos Ortiz won the individual LIV trophy this weekend, and Cleeks GC captured the team victory.)

Unlike you and your crew on a Saturday morning, pro players don’t get forever to search for their wayward shots. They get only three minutes, matter of fact, and that hard deadline bit Nasa Hataoka at the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Friday afternoon. Hataoka’s second shot on the par-5 9th, her final hole of the day, ended up in the deep fescue. After a lengthy search, a cameraman found her ball, and after taking an unplayable lie, Hataoka got up and down for a par. On Saturday, though, LPGA officials DQ’ed Hataoka, saying the search had taken too long … this, despite the fact that a rules official was on-site. The tough DQ didn’t just cost Hataoka a paycheck; it could cost her a spot in the Paris Olympics, since she’s in a tough fight for one of Japan’s slots.

Some courses, like Augusta National and Pebble Beach, exist in their own ecosystem, far removed from the everyday humdrum of reality. But over across the pond, the golf courses hunch up hard against real life, and in St. Andrews, that presents a challenge … and also an opportunity:

That’s a fella named Wyatt Messmer, participating in a pretty common St. Andrews stunt outside the famous Dunvegan pub, but also making the crucial mistake of filming and posting it. The St. Andrews Links Trust decried the bit, saying “This is an irresponsible & reckless act which shows disregard for the safety of both public and property. This kind of behaviour [sic] is not welcome at the Home of Golf and we would discourage anyone from repeating it.”

So, yeah … don’t be an idiot, and for God’s sake, don’t shank that shot.

It’s time for the U.S. Open! Swing away and roll ‘em true this week, friends, and we’ll see you back here next Monday!

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