Weekly Recap: Finishing with a Flourish

Weekly Recap: Finishing with a Flourish

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

There were finales on both the PGA and DP World Tours over the weekend and, with apologies to the Svensson family, what happened across the pond takes precedence for one of the few times all year.

Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai for his third victory of 2022 and Rory McIlroy finished third to secure the Tour's season-long title and retain the No. 1 ranking in the world. On the PGA Tour, 160-to-1 long shot Adam Svensson captured The RSM Classic, putting a lid on the fall portion of the schedule.

Rahm won the DP World Tour's season-ender for the third time in his career and afterward shot back at detractors who had said 2022 was an off year for him.

"Hopefully people can stop telling me that it was a bad year," Rahm told reporters in the United Arab Emirates. "Three wins worldwide, three wins in three different continents. Yeah, it wasn't a major championship but it's still a really, really good season. You know, had a second boy this year, a lot of changes at home, it also helps. I got a lot of videos from my kids back home laughing and doing things."

Okay, when you look at it like that, and with another child joining his family, it was a fantastic year for Rahm. But as for the golf portion of the year … he did cede the No. 1 ranking in the world to Scottie Scheffler in April and did not

There were finales on both the PGA and DP World Tours over the weekend and, with apologies to the Svensson family, what happened across the pond takes precedence for one of the few times all year.

Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai for his third victory of 2022 and Rory McIlroy finished third to secure the Tour's season-long title and retain the No. 1 ranking in the world. On the PGA Tour, 160-to-1 long shot Adam Svensson captured The RSM Classic, putting a lid on the fall portion of the schedule.

Rahm won the DP World Tour's season-ender for the third time in his career and afterward shot back at detractors who had said 2022 was an off year for him.

"Hopefully people can stop telling me that it was a bad year," Rahm told reporters in the United Arab Emirates. "Three wins worldwide, three wins in three different continents. Yeah, it wasn't a major championship but it's still a really, really good season. You know, had a second boy this year, a lot of changes at home, it also helps. I got a lot of videos from my kids back home laughing and doing things."

Okay, when you look at it like that, and with another child joining his family, it was a fantastic year for Rahm. But as for the golf portion of the year … he did cede the No. 1 ranking in the world to Scottie Scheffler in April and did not have a top-10 in a major. We're not sure what the geography reference has to do with anything.

As Rahm mentioned, he did win three tournaments. They were the PGA Tour's Mexico Open in a weak field, then two on the DP World Tour, also taking home the Spanish Open last month. Even though Sunday's win was a big one, the Spaniard remained at No. 5 in the world and was plagued all year in large part by short-game woes that still will need to be corrected in 2023. We should see Rahm once more before the year ends, at Tiger Woods' Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

McIlroy is one of only a few top-20 guys who will skip the Hero, so he is done for 2022. It was one of his best years in, um, years. He overtook Scheffler for No. 1 in the world and won the season-long races on both Tours; this was his fourth DP overall title. Like Rahm, McIlroy also won three times without a major, though one was the TOUR Championship and he did far better than Rahm in the majors, finishing 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th.

At the other end of the spectrum was Svensson, a 28-year-old Canadian who had never had so much as a top-5 result entering his 70th career PGA Tour event. His previous best was solo sixth at the Barbasol a few months back.

After opening with a 73, Svensson closed 64-62-64 to emerge from a scrum of 31 golfers who began the final round within five shots of the lead. He defeated Callum Tarren, Sahith Theegala and Brian Harman by a stroke.

Svensson was a decent enough golfer last season, finishing 97th in the FedExCup Standings to reach the playoffs and keep his PGA Tour card. He was an accurate driver and ranked 41st in Strokes Gained: Approach, indicating the potential was there. He finished top-100 in Strokes Gained: Putting -- also better than average.

As has been the case during fall seasons in general and specifically at The RSM Classic, there was little warning this performance was coming. Svensson had finished 39-MC-59-64-54 in his five previous starts. But no matter, he jumped from 174th in the world to 72nd. More importantly, of course, he gained access to a number of a big-time tournaments, none bigger than the Masters but also the 40-man, no-cut Tournament of Champions right after New Year's and numerous others.

MONDAY BACKSPIN

DP World Tour Championship

Tyrrell Hatton
Hatton tied for second behind Rahm, completing a very successful finish to the Euro season with three top-10s in his final five starts. Hatton is a top-25 golfer and capable of winning in any field – he was second at Bay Hill and 13th at the PGA Championship – but he does have many off weeks, especially on the PGA Tour, making him difficult to count on and very hard to handicap.

Alex Noren
Noren also tied for second, cementing his spot in the top-50 in the world at year's end (he's currently 41st) and with it a return to Augusta. A week ago, he was fourth in Houston, then flew all the way to Dubai and was co-runner-up. Noren is an underrated player, still going strong as a 40-year-old.
 
Matt Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick finished fifth in Dubai, and earlier this fall he was runner-up at the Italian Open, and before than fifth at the FedEx St. Jude. In other words, he didn't slow down after he won the U.S. Open in June. Fitzpatrick remains at No. 9 in the world and will play the Hero in two weeks.

The RSM CLASSIC

Sahith Theegala
Theegala tied for second at Sea Island, his third top-six of the fall and a result that moved him into the top-50 in the world rankings for the first time, at 43rd. Theegala was already into the Masters next April based on reaching the Tour Championship, but the number is a way of identifying just how good the 24-year-old really is. It wouldn't surprise anyone if his first Tour win came early in 2023.
 
Brian Harman
Unofficially representing the big Georgia contingent on St. Simons Island, Harman also shared second place. This was his sixth top-25 in his past eight starts going back to the Open Championship. Harman is ranked in the top-25 OWGR and is still going strong at age 35. He had seven top-10s in 2022 and there's no reason that can't be duplicated in 2023.

Callum Tarren
The third golfer to finish runner-up, this was the 32-year-old Englishman's best finish on the PGA Tour (34 starts). Tarren also had fifth-, sixth- and seventh-place finishes earlier this year. While all of these have come in weak to moderate fields, it shows that there is some upside here.
 
Joel Dahmen
Dahmen tied for fifth, and with his third top-10 in a row he probably does not want the winter break to start right now. He's up to 87th in the world.

Cole Hammer
Hammer, one of the two big-name college players -- along with Chris Gotterup -- to turn pro this had played five Tour events since the summer and missed every cut. At The RSM, he tied for fifth after leading for part of the tournament. Turning pro is not seamless for most players – we have gotten spoiled by the Collin Morikawas of the world – so let's see how Hammer does in 2023. This top-10 will get him into the Sony Open, the second tournament in January, and he needs only 55 more points for Special Temporary Membership. For what it's worth, the T5 was worth 93 points.

Chris Stroud
The 40-year-old also tied for fifth, his first top-10 in over three years. Stroud does not have any fantasy relevance -- unless you somehow had him last week -- but we thought it was just neat to point out. Stroud has no status anywhere, other than playing via a Korn Ferry Tour medical extension. Also interesting: Stroud began the week ranked 915th in the world, one spot behind Hammer.

Chris Gotterup
Gotterup, who has his Korn Ferry Tour card for this season, tied for 35th, giving him three straight made cuts on the PGA Tour.

Akshay Bhatia
The Korn Ferry player made the cut for the second straight time on the PGA Tour, tying for 45th.

Justin Suh
After missing his first three cuts this season, Suh finished with four cashes in a row. He tied for 66th.

Jason Day
After four good tournaments in a row, Day came back to earth with a missed cut. It was fun while it lasted. Seriously, we saw how good Day can still be. We just shouldn't expect it with any regularity anymore.

Matthew NeSmith
Priced in the $9,000s, NeSmith missed the cut. Ouch.

Webb Simpson
Simpson has traditionally had a few go-to tournaments where his success was a virtual lock – the RBC Heritage, the Wyndham and The RSM. As his career has slid over the past year, we have seen bad finishes at the RBC (59th) and the Wyndham (WD). But his fans/backers still had hope with The RSM, where he tied for eighth last year. Alas, Simpson missed the cut this year. He is outside the top-100 in the world and, while not especially old at 37, who knows what the future holds for him?
 
Withdrawals

Danny Willett, Trey Mullinax and David Lipsky all withdrew from The RSM Classic after the first round. Willett tweeted that he had a shoulder injury. The PGA Tour said Mullinax had an ankle problem. No reason was given for Lipsky's exit. The winter break might give them plenty of time to recover, but it's still worth monitoring these guys come January.

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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 many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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