Weekly PGA Recap: In the Nick of Time

Weekly PGA Recap: In the Nick of Time

This article is part of our Weekly PGA Recap series.

At the same time Christian McCaffrey was rumbling into the end zone shortly before halftime to score the first touchdown of Super Bowl LVIII, Nick Taylor and Charley Hoffman were still playing golf. In the dark.

A WM Phoenix Open that had been plagued by rain and early-morning frost all week long refused to end. Taylor must share some of the blame.

The Canadian overcame a three-shot deficit with four holes to play -- birdieing Nos. 15, 16 and also 18 with a make-or-go-home 10-footer -- then birdied both holes of his playoff with Hoffman to finally put an end to another eternal week on the PGA Tour.

Taylor notched his fourth career win and second in the past eight months to move to a career-best 26th in the world rankings. At 35 years old, he is playing by far the best golf of his life. He gained almost nine strokes on the field on the greens alone. Taylor finished second here a year ago to Scottie Scheffler.

It was a crushing finish for Hoffman, who, at age 47, had had only one top-10 in the past three years. He hasn't won in almost eight.

With the Super Bowl having moved into the second quarter, thousands of fans were still at TPC Scottsdale as the wildest week in golf wound down. They were rewarded for their loyalty with a thrilling finish. But there could not have been many people left watching on TV.

It was the second straight Murphy's Law week for the PGA Tour. Last week's tournament at Pebble Beach was called after 54 holes.

If Taylor hadn't sunk his 11-footer for birdie on 18 on the second extra hole – both golfers had birdied 18 to start the playoff -- darkness would've forced a Monday finish.

And that would've been worse than Murphy's Law.

But there appear to be sunny skies in the Tour's immediate future. Figuratively and literally.

Taylor and Hoffman now head to Los Angeles, where decent weather and Tiger Woods await. Woods will make his 2024 debut at his Genesis Invitational, the third Signature Event of the season.

The L.A. weather forecast says there will be no frost -- highs around 70 -- and no rain, at least for the first two days. Some showers will move in on the weekend. But all things considered, and Woods is one of those things to consider, this week should be a complete win for the Tour.

Unlike the Kansas City Chiefs, the PGA Tour hasn't had one of those is a while.

MONDAY BACKSPIN

Charley Hoffman
It has been nearly eight years since Hoffman won on the PGA Tour. He's 47 years old. He was in the field on a career-money exemption -- though being a Waste Management pitchman, he surely would've gotten a sponsor's invite if he needed one. With a three-stroke lead with four holes to play, he came oh-so-close to what may have been a final hurrah on Tour before heading to the Champions circuit in three years. A guy who ranks second in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, greens in regulation and SG: Putting will win a tournament, oh, 98 percent of the time. Hoffman was that two percent who didn't. Brutal. But … his finish moved him up to fourth in the Aon Swing 5 standings, which gets him into this week's Signature Event at Riviera. The other four getting in are Grayson Murray, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Kevin Yu and Justin Thomas. Matthieu Pavon actually finished first, but he chose to not enter Riviera, so Thomas qualified that way at No. 5 -- but would have qualified regardless via his world ranking. Hoffman also moved from No. 300 in the world rankings to 107th.

Scottie Scheffler
Going for a Phoenix three-peat, Scheffler was right there till the end. As per usual, he led the field in SG: Approach. Also as per usual, his putting cost him. Scheffler ranked 44th in the field in SG: Putting for the week, but an even worse 63rd on Sunday. That won't get it done no matter how good the rest of your game is. It's coming up on a year since the No. 1 golfer in the world has won a PGA Tour event. Unreal.

Sam Burns
Burns quietly snuck into the conversation on Sunday by shooting a 7-under 64 to tie Scheffler for third. Normally, Burns will go only as far as his putter will carry him. But there were other encouraging signs in Phoenix: Burns led the field in SG: Off-the-Tee, ranked fifth in greens in regulation and seventh in scrambling. He also was 12th in SG: Putting. We've often noted how inconsistent Burns is, and that makes him hard to back. But he now has three top-10s already this season. If he could continue to combine that tee-to-green play with his putting, well, that would be a game changer for him.

Sahith Theegala
Theegala burst upon the scene here two years ago, when he led for a big chunk only to end up tied for third. He was in the mix again most of this week, but he had nothing much going on Sunday and finished solo fifth. He was quite good: fifth in Approach, 15th in Putting. It's just that some guys were better. A good week, but that's golf.

Jordan Spieth
Spieth plays here every year and does well just about every year. He tied for sixth. Most encouraging was his putting – he ranked eighth in the field. Least encouraging? He ranked 65th in SG: Approach.

Maverick McNealy
McNealy showed he is just about all the way back from last year's debilitating shoulder injury. He tied for sixth, his best finish since returning late last year. His game was sound across the board, ranking good or great in every strokes-gained stat. Putting (31st in the field) was his worst.

Adam Scott
We were as surprised as anyone to see Scott rank so highly in our pre-tournament model, which showed strong play off the tee, as well as ball striking and putting. Good work, model! Scott tied for eighth thanks to a boffo 65-66 weekend.

Kurt Kitayama
Kitayama is another inconsistent player that is therefore hard to back and predict. But he put it together a great week, at least from 100 yards on in. He ranked second in scrambling and 11th in SG: Putting to tie for eighth.

Cameron Young
If we would've told you that Young ranked seventh in the field in SG: Putting and third in scrambling, you'd be right to think he might've won the whole tournament. His approach play wasn't terrible – he ranked 29th – so it seems he played better than he scored. Young tied for eighth.

Andrew Novak
Novak has often been a long-shot option that we have liked. His numbers show he could be good. He put it together for three rounds before falling off to a 1-over on Sunday. Still, Novak's tie for eighth was his best career showing on Tour. It came after three missed cuts to start the season. Maybe this will kick-start a player who ranked eighth in the field in SG: Approach and 17th in Putting.

Justin Thomas
Thomas has looked like his old self the past few months, and he was on many people's short list this week. Like, a short list of one. Thomas' normally excellent tee-to-green game was a little off, and his putting was its usual so-so-self, ranking 47th in the field. So, you could say that his tie for 12th was pretty good all things considering.

Daniel Berger
Berger tied for 28th – his best showing in his third start back after missing 19 months with a back injury. He shot three rounds in the 60s, including on Sunday. In other words, he's looking good.

Jim Knous
They call him Hard-K because his last name is pronounced Kuh-NOOSE. This was the 34-year-old Knous' final PGA Tour event before retiring to work for PING. It also was his first start since the 2022 Wyndham, and he needed to Monday qualify just to get in. Then he made the cut and tied for 28th, with birdies on his final two holes. That's a pretty darn good swan song for someone who has played in only 44 career PGA Tour events.

Bud Cauley
Cauley returned to the Tour for the first time since a serious car accident way back in 2020. He's playing under a major medical exemption, and he made the most of it with a made cut. He tied for 65th – and that was with a terrible Sunday 75 that sent him plummeting down the leaderboard. But of course, the result is secondary at this time.

MISSED CUTS

J.T. Poston, Max Homa, Akshay Bhatia, Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler. Poston had been one of the hottest players in the early going. … Let's call this a one-week blip for Homa. … Bhatia had been putting very well in the early going with his new broomstick but was terrible on the greens across his 36 holes. That's something to keep an eye on. … Kuchar has had a very slow start to 2024 with three missed cuts and a T39 at Pebble Beach. … Woodland missed his third straight cut since returning from brain surgery. Tiger Woods gave him a sponsor invite into this week's Genesis Invitational. … Fowler has looked pretty bad in the early going with three missed cuts and a T47 at Pebble Beach.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for nine years. Len is a three-time winner of the FSWA DFS Writer of the Year Award (2020, '22 and '23) and a five-time nominee (2019-23). He is also a writer and editor for MLB Advanced Media.
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