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Monday Scramble: Saying Aloha to Hawaii and bracing for 2023 LIV roster

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Si-woo Kim pulls off some late-night heroics, the PGA Tour kicks off with a West Coast swing, LIV Golf gears up for new shocks and more on this week’s Monday Scramble:

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It wasn’t quite Ram style rally but Si Woo Kim made another comeback to Hawaii on Sunday to win the Sony Open.

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Throughout Kim’s impressive but inconsistent career, he has always been a master of sharp shots on the field – only once did he finish a season under 32nd in hits scored: around the green.

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It never paid off like it did at Waialae Country Club, where his tee ball hit the 17th green, jumped over his back, and hit a grainy lie on the rough. Hearing Hayden Buckley crash into a house and a bird clog the hole behind him, Kim decided he had nothing to lose and went for a hero shot.

He managed by shaking his fist and playing to the audience:

An unlikely birdie kept Kim in the lead and sent a charge into what was otherwise a sleepy event.

On the last hole, Kim landed a brilliant shot from the fairway bunker, then hit two from 40 feet to take the lead for good. The Weekend 64s gave Kim his fourth tour title and his first in two years. He returned to the top 50 and was guaranteed a place in the Masters.

Buckley could use some of Kim’s skill in the short game.

His last hole shot leaked just right and hit the collection area off the green, leaving a risky serve on a raised green with the rear right pins loaded. Buckley couldn’t hit closer than 12 feet, and his playoff-forcing shot swerved to the right of the cup. He also missed a pair of putts within 5 feet of the back nine, ruining his bid for a title break.

“Winning the PGA Tour is the hardest part,” Buckley said, “and sometimes you just lose. I feel like that’s what happened today.”

we are only two weeks old into the “new era” of the PGA Tour, but so far at least it seems…very similar?

Even before it became one of the big-purse, top-field guaranteed Tour events, the Sentry Tournament of Champions always had the feel of a limited invite. And that’s because the seats were reserved exclusively for tournament winners, and the field has now been enlarged with the addition of the Tour Championship qualifiers. The new status just made an already good event even better.

The Sony Open was the first unscheduled event of the year, but it also continued as it had for many years. The event attracted almost the same number of top 50 players (14) as last year (16), with Jordan Spieth and Tom Kim as headliners, and the 144-man field made up an eclectic leaderboard with nine of the top 16 the players going on Sunday were looking for their first win.

So there’s something for everyone in Hawaiian swing – the all-stars in Kapalua, then the guys trying to change their career trajectory in Waialai. It has always been so. The only difference now is that they explicitly invoke this status.

But despite all the hype about a new A tour for stars and a B tour for the middle class, there’s a lot to like at the start of West Coast swing. This week American Express has five of the top seven players in the world. Several stars will be taking part in San Diego next week, including heavyweight John Rahm. At least early on, players will choose their favorite locations to set up their games and prepare for August.

As the season progresses, of course, there will be events that get squeezed – Honda, Mexico, Rocket Mortgage and 3M immediately come to mind – but these tournaments have always struggled to attract the big names. Instead, these unscheduled events will rely on what they MAY offer: a place in the Masters, full FedExCup points… and, oh yes, a place in the scheduled opener of the season in Kapalua.

This is a transitional year until the PGA Tour releases an updated schedule for 2024 and beyond.

This week should finally bring some clarity.

Following weeks of delays, board reshuffles and courtroom wrangling, LIV Golf is expected to officially announce its full roster for the league’s 2023 season this week, according to published reports.

As his colleague Rex Hoggard announced last August, Mito Pereira should be one of the last players to sign a contract. The world No. 45 Chilean was four strokes away from winning the PGA Championship last May before a disastrous final hole knocked him out of a playoff eventually won by Justin Thomas. Pereira is expected to join the LIV’s strong Latino contingent along with Joaquin Niemann, Abe Unser and Carlos Ortiz who have all been Tour winners.

However, after months of rumors, Pereira became the only player to be named in published reports. LIV CEO Greg Norman said in November that he expects to bring back “85 to 90%” of players this season – meaning he has been trying to find another six or seven players he says will be out of the top 20 in the world.

It doesn’t seem to be.

In other news related to LIV, Golfweek Reported Rookie of the Year Cameron Young and longtime Cameron Champ were among those allowed to play next month on the Saudi International, an Asian tour funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.

It remains to be seen if these players will actually play in the Feb. 2-5 tournament (which will take place opposite Pebble Beach), but Young’s inclusion would be particularly interesting – he said last year at East Lake that he was very intrigued by the LIV. model, and that he only regrets that a lucrative offer for a breakaway league came so early in his career, when he still had so much to achieve and did not want to jeopardize his position.




See you in Augusta: Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira. Betting on four strokes in one of the most significant amateur tournaments, the 22-year-old Argentine made only a too-easy 67 in the final round, which allowed him to rush to the title of the Latin American Championship among amateurs. Seriously impressive stuff, all things considered. Thanks to the victory, he is now invited to three major tournaments in 2023, including a few months later at the Masters. Fernández de Oliveira also joined Niemann and Alvaro Ortiz in winning the LAAC a year after finishing second.

Funny: Jan Poulter. It’s only January 16th, but we already have what will no doubt be one of the smallest quotes of the year, with Poulter whining that the official Ryder Cup European team Twitter account hasn’t officially wished him a happy birthday. Keep in mind, of course, that Poulter’s new employer, LIV Golf, didn’t do that either…until they rushed and kicked one out about 20 minutes after he complained. Yummy.

To be defined: The role of Tiger Woods in the Ryder Cup. At Sony, American Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson said of Woods, “He’s part of the team. The only question is to what extent, right? It would be a stretch to think that Woods would be viewed as a charged squad at all; he’ll probably just play big tournaments, if anything, and Marco Simone is “definitely more aggressive” than the Augusta National, according to Johnson. Woods also competed backstage at last year’s Presidents’ Cup at Quayle Hollow, but he was still not formally part of the cart team. Will he be there, physically, in Rome, or is he just another shadow captain?

One of those days Jordan Spit. You never, ever, ever want to go full Camilo, but that’s exactly what Spit did at Sony, where he shared the lead in the first round but missed by one after a bad, really bad 75 at Waialai. in which he said that he had done nothing wrong other than being slightly out of position. (For those wondering, the last player to move from 1st place to MC: Matt Avery, in 2020.) Spit wasn’t going to give a damn about leaving early, especially with how much golf he’s got to play: since Phoenix Open, he’s going to play seven of the next eight weeks.

Coming soon: Document PGA Tour Netflix. A docu-series chronicling the lives and dramas of the tour is slated to release on February 15, the day before the tour’s stars begin playing in the Riviera at the Genesis Invitational. In a trailer released last week, Rory McIlroy (who was not previously reported to have been involved) was being interviewed, but the cameras were also tracking others like Spit, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau, as well as LIV defectors Brooks Koepka. Dustin Johnson and Poulter. There will be memes – and, of course, some consequences too.

Possible Harbinger?: Hero Cup. Led by a rejuvenated Francesco Molinari, the Continental European team convincingly beat Great Britain and Ireland to win the Ryder Cup prep. Molinari’s 3.5 points was among the best of any player as the 2018 major champion, recently relegated from the world’s top 200, still believes he can contribute to the European side in a home game later this year. “This is a great motivation for me,” he said. Frankie in good shape would be bad news for the Americans – five years ago he became the first European player to post a 5-0 record on the board in Paris.

New look, new sticks: Nelly Korda. Over the weekend, Korda posted on social media that she had signed with Nike,…


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