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For the first time in four weeks, it feels like the golf world can finally take a step back and take a breath. The last month on the PGA Tour felt like a marathon – an enjoyable one, if those exist – and crossing the finish line at the RBC Heritage was the perfect photo finish with Matt Fitzpatrick taking down Jordan Spieth in an epic three-hole playoff.
Speaking of epic, Scottie Scheffler showing some frustration at the expense of a bunker in Hilton Head was interesting to see simply because it proved that he is, in fact, a human.
Outside of Fitzpatrick picking up his second win on U.S. soil on Sunday, Patrick Cantlay cementing himself as the poster boy of slow play was the biggest takeaway of the week. Whether or not he deserves that title, that’s up for interpretation. But one video, in particular, puts things into a very clear perspective.
Let’s dive into this week’s edition of Par Talk.
Put Some (More) Respect On Matt Fitzpatrick’s Name
Matt Fitzpatrick won the U.S. Open 10 months ago in dramatic fashion, and while winning a major championship automatically earns you a rarified level of respect, it still hadn’t felt like the Englishman had officially arrived yet.
Fitzpatrick already had eight wins on the European Tour under his belt before his win at Brookline, his first win States-side, but it’s always felt like something was missing. Maybe it’s his unintimidating presence, and the fact that he’s 28 but looks 17 and wears braces. But after Sunday’s win at the RBC Heritage, nobody is allowed to slander Fitzpatrick anymore.
We’re now talking about a major champion with 11 worldwide wins and 28 Top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour to his name who happened to take down Spieth in a playoff for significant win No. 2 of his still young career.
Sure, Spieth’s putt should have fallen on the first playoff hole and I shouldn’t be writing about Fitzpatrick right now, but the putt didn’t fall, and here we are.
Fitzpatrick took advantage of his opportunity and delivered what could end up being the shot of 2023.
A smooth 9-iron on the third playoff hole to within a foot while every person on the property without the last name Fitzpatrick was rooting for Spieth, takes some serious stones.
Fitzpatrick has always had the game to be in the same conversation as the other top young players on the planet, but now he has the distance and the resume to be mentioned in that group each time he tees it up.
Scottie Scheffler Wants Someone Fined Over Sand
The vibes with Scottie Scheffler seem to always be high. He’s an even-keel, normal guy who just happens to be one of the greatest golfers alive. It’s incredibly rare that we see any sort of negative emotion out of the 26-year-old, but he did show the world he is an actual human on Sunday thanks to a plugged lie in a greenside bunker.
After tugging his approach shot into the Par 4 11th, Scheffler was dealt an unlucky hand by catching a fried egg and short siding himself. It was the exact opposite break he needed as he was playing chaser to Fitzpatrick, Spieth, and others on Sunday.
While some may not like Scheffler’s comment calling for someone to be fined for the amount of sand that was in the bunker, I think you have to look at the situation in a different way.
We’re used to seeing Scheffler smile and somehow get that type of short-sided shot up and down for par. For him to catch a bad break, and then actually get upset about it with a snide comment, makes him that much more relatable.
The No. 2 player in the world shouting like a weekend warrior at a bad lie will never not be good for the game. Unlike a weekend warrior, he flushed the poor shot away and was able to save bogey on the hole, while you and I would have walked away with a double or triple bogey.
It’s Embarrassing How Slow Patrick Cantlay Plays
While Scheffler showing frustration is good for the brand, Patrick Cantlay playing at a dying snail’s pace is not.
Cantlay has never been considered to be a fast player, by any means, but the whole situation has quickly compounded after his lack of pace was on full display during the final round of the Masters. Every person who has a Twitter account seemingly called him out over his slow play at Augusta National with Brooks Koepka putting in perspective just how brutally slow it was out there.
While there may be a select few people (his girlfriend and family members) going to bat for Cantlay and his pace of play, video does not lie, and the fact that it took him longer to hit a four-foot putt than the final putt in ‘Happy Gilmore’ must be the final straw.
Until the Tour actually does something like put him on the clock consistently or actually penalize him, Cantlay isn’t going to change, why would he?
To his credit, Cantlay is leaning into the criticism and could very well be using it as extra motivation. Not only did he snap back at Koepka’s comments at Augusta National, but also he fed the trolls on Twitter after making a hole-in-one earlier in the week.
You Know There Is Too Much Golf On The PGA Tour When…
I grilled out on Sunday night and standing around the grill not drinking Bud Light was my PGA professional brother, two plus handicap golfers who very closely follow professional golf, and myself who is somehow lucky enough to be paid to write about golf.
As per usual, all we talked about was golf, and after arguing about whether or not the ball should be rolled back or if Spieth will ever win another golf tournament in his career, the PGA Tour schedule came up, specifically, what tournament was next on the schedule.
The four of us looked at each other playing the guessing game of where the PGA Tour was headed this week. Three of us gave up before someone finally guessed that it was Zurich Classic week.
For us not to know what tournament was being played this upcoming week, in late April and not some Fall event in November, is a problem. The Zurich Classic could very well be the most forgotten event on the schedule given that it’s a team event, but that simply should not be the case, but it is, because the PGA Tour calendar is simply too full.
While the newly-added elevated events have been a killer addition to this year’s schedule, it feels like we’ve already been through a gauntlet, yet we still have three major championships and a Ryder Cup still to come.
Spieth even admitted after the Masters that he was completely worn out, but still teed it up at the RBC Heritage given that it was an elevated event. Rory McIlroy, the loudest proponent of these elevated events, simply skipped the tournament and forfeited $3 million in the process.
This year is this year, and next year’s PGA Tour schedule will be more structured with elevated events being more staggered, but I don’t think anyone will complain about a much more laid-back event this week after a month of all-out warfare between the ropes.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris