July 09, 2019: Hitch. Shake. Shimmy. Call it a dance for all he cares. Matthew Wolff was already a disruptor in the world of golf given his funky unorthodox swing, but now you might just see imitation take hold because you can’t argue with results.
Welcome to the Monday Finish where we dissect the Wolff man’s win at the inaugural 3M Open in Minnesota – one for the ages… well the young ages at least.
1. Wolff is certainly a disruptor… and that’s not a bad thing.
Matthew Wolff certainly brought plenty of notoriety with him when he came to the PGA TOUR this season. The 20-year-old was a stud in college golf, the best in the country actually, and on top of that has an unconventional YouTube swing that is riveting to some, but has been dismissed by many long-term analysts and coaches publicly and privately. Yet here he is, in just his fourth start, winning the 3M Open. In the days of hyper hype in sports those people who thought the noise around Wolff was over the top can be forgiven. But he called himself a disruptor leading into his pro debut on TOUR a few weeks ago and he was right. Whether this all translates into long-term success remains to be seen, but you can’t start trying to build that road without the first win. And that has come in rapid time. Only Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods previously won the NCAA title and a TOUR event in the same year… they went on to do pretty decent things.
2. Winners win.
While golf swings can differ greatly and still be successful, one thing always needs to be present to win on the TOUR. Mental guts and execution under pressure. You often hear people say that this guy or girl is a winner. It’s thrown around as a vague term. But what it means is when the blowtorch is applied they don’t back down. They step up and execute when their body is in a new state. Heightened adrenalin. Faster breathing. Quicker decision making. Wolff was watching five-time TOUR winner Bryson DeChambeau make eagle ahead of him on the 72nd hole. He still had to take on a water carry if he was to have a real chance to win outright. Cometh the hour… Wolff found his way into eagle range, even if it was mid-range and from the collar of the green, and the rest is history. That’s brilliant from any player, let alone a 20-year-old chasing his first TOUR win just weeks after turning pro. Bravo
3. We remain blessed with the production line of talent.
Wolff is just 20 years old. Runner up Collin Morikawa is just 22. Viktor Hovland is 21 and was T13 in his third start as a professional. (He was T13 last week also). DeChambeau was also runner up and he’s just 25. Wyndham Clark is also just a quarter of a century old and he was fifth. Since Tiger Woods proved well and truly you don’t need to bide your time as a youngster anymore, a new breed of kid has come onto the scene. They have no fear. Thought Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas and co would dominate for decades? They might… but they’ll have to contend with the seemingly endless production line of new talented kids coming right behind them. Golf is lucky in this sense.
“For the most part, it’s just playing on the PGA TOUR, that job security. I’m a 20-year-old and I’m saying, ‘job security,’ but it’s just, it really is. I knew as soon as I left college that I’m out here with the best players in the world and I have to prove myself, and I did that. Now I’m just free to play my game,” Wolff said almost ominously about becoming a TOUR member.
Morikawa earned special temporary membership and has a chance to join his friend on TOUR next season.
“Heading down to the end of the season and obviously there’s one more notch I want to reach, but it is a good feeling, you know, to finish T-2,” he said.
“You’re never going to be fully disappointed on that. I think this is really going to help me just kind of move forward in the next month or so.”
4. Is Bryson back and ready to peak for Playoffs?
Last season, Bryson DeChambeau was undoubtedly in rare form in the back half of the season. He won the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide and also claimed the opening two FedExCup Playoffs. While he was unable to close the deal to take the FedExCup at the TOUR Championship, he did win again soon after at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open early in the new season. However, then he cooled off a little and coming into the Travelers Championship a few weeks ago, he’d slipped to 27th in the FedExCup standings and hadn’t had a top-10 since early January. But he was tied for eighth at the Travelers, signaling he might have turned a corner. This week when the tournament was on the line, he stiffed his approach on the 72nd hole and made eagle only to see a likely playoff spot taken by Wolff’s incredible eagle of his own. DeChambeau is now 14th in the FedExCup and eyeing a potential run towards the Wyndham Rewards Top-10 before the Playoffs. Could he be peaking at the right time for redemption?
5. Should Ernie Els be concerned?
International Presidents Team Captain Ernie Els knows there is still six months before his team takes on the USA at Royal Melbourne. But you can’t help but think he might be a little worried as the deadline for the first eight spots gets closer and closer. Just four weeks of regular season remain on the TOUR before the three FedExCup Playoffs, after which the top eight on the International Team standings make the team. The 3M Open was another week of small promising signs, but ultimately no win. Adam Hadwin was fourth. Carlos Ortiz tied for fifth… but Hideki Matsuyama failed to take advantage of a good 54-hole position and was seventh. Big gun Jason Day, who is barely inside the top eight on the standings in seventh was 66th this week. Since the turn of the calendar in 2019, just three of the winners on the TOUR are eligible for the International Team. In the same span, just four winners on the European Tour are eligible players. Only one of those players, C.T. Pan, is currently inside the top eight of the standings. Now sure, winning tournaments individually doesn’t instantly correlate to team golf, but it would certainly help with confidence going up against the American juggernaut. Consider this, the current top eight Americans have, with the exception of Justin Thomas, won on the TOUR or the European Tour in 2019. Els will be hoping some International stars can create some momentum into and through the FedExCup Playoffs to perhaps inspire those who will later rely on captains picks. All 12 members will need to bring form and confidence to Melbourne if they are to win their first Cup since 1998.
1. Matthew Wolff became the first player since Russell Henley (2013) to win in four or fewer starts on TOUR. Wolff became the second youngest winner on TOUR since Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic in 2013 at the age of 19. He is the ninth youngest in TOUR history and the second youngest since 1940.
2. He is the first player to win after receiving a sponsor invitation since Billy Hurley III at the 2016 Quicken Loans National and becomes the third player to win NCAA individual championship title and TOUR event in same year, joining Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods.
3. A total of 95 percent of Wolff’s strokes gained for the week were a result of his play from tee-to-green. Wolff ranked second in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, outperforming the field by a combined +2.361 strokes per round.
4. For the week, Wolff outperformed the field by +3.329 strokes per round from tee to green compared to losing -0.453 strokes per round in his first nine rounds of his TOUR career. Further comparison between this week and his first nine rounds – Greens in Regulation: 83.3% vs 66.7%; Proximity to Hole: 28 feet, 4 inches vs 40 feet, 2 inches; Birdie Average: 6.5 vs 3.7; Score to Par: -21 vs -2.
5. Wolff made a field leading 26 total birdies for the week marking the 26th of 35 TOUR stroke play winners this season to make 20 or more birdies and go onto win.
The Wyndham Rewards Top 10 is in its first season and adds another layer of excitement to the FedExCup Regular Season. The top 10 players at the end of the FedExCup Regular Season will earn bonus payouts from the Wyndham Rewards Top 10.
Matt Kuchar remains No. 1, and there were no changes among the rest of the all-important Top 10. Just three weeks and five tournaments remain until the start of the Wyndham Championship, the last event of the FedExCup Regular Season.
|Rank||Rank last week||Player||What Top 10 gets (End of Regular Season)|
|1st||1st||Matt Kuchar||$2 million|
|2nd||2nd||Brooks Koepka||$1.5 million|
|3rd||3rd||Rory McIlroy||$1.2 million|
|4th||4th||Xander Schauffele||$1.1 million|
|5th||5th||Gary Woodland||$1 million|