Weekend Wrap: Wins For Homa, McIlroy and CBS
Plus, a Reed rules situation and Mickelson laments joggers.
Torrey Pines and Emirates Golf Club produced dynamic finishes, worthy winners and no shortage of intrigue. And golf even had a case of questionable officiating on a weekend full of hotly debated calls.
Homa Collects His Fourth California Win
Max Homa charged from five strokes back to win his sixth PGA Tour title and fourth in California. The SoCal native posted rounds of 68-70-71-66—275 to finish two clear of Keegan Bradley, who posted a final round 66.
Homa’s win came in his 156th start at the age of 32 years, 2 months, 9 days.
Homa led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green (10.620) and Strokes Gained: Approach The Green (8.387)
Third round leader Sam Ryder struggled to a final round 75.
Jon Rahm, winner of his last two starts and primed for a third, closed with a 2-over 74 to finish T7th. It was his sixth top-10 in seven tournament appearances.
Two more southern California natives finished third and T4: Collin Morikawa 67-72-70-69—278 (-10) and Sahith Theegala 66-72-71-70—279 (-9).
Betting markets were not phased (or it’s just way too early): Homa remains somewhere between 28-1 and 35-1 to win the U.S. Open at LA North where he captured the 2013 Pac 12’s following an opening 61.
Two-time Farmers Insurance Open winner Jason Day (T7/-8) recorded a second consecutive top-10 and seventh overall at Torrey Pines.
The highlight package:
McIlroy Survives And Wins Dubai’s Monday Finish
Rory McIlroy cemented his world No. 1 status with a third victory in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
He had to birdie the 17th and 18th to finish at 19 under, one clear of his former buddy Patrick Reed (65). The winning putt:
It is the first time McIlroy’s won his opening event of the year.
This was his 15th DP World Tour win.
McIlroy put a fantastic baseball swing on this shot Saturday.
McIlroy: “It was a battle all day. Honestly it’s been a battle all week. I really feel like I haven't had my best all week but I just managed my game so well and played really smart. I feel like I showed a lot of mental strength out there today, something to really build on for the rest of the year.
More McIlroy: “I'm going to enjoy this. This is probably sweeter than it should be or needs to be but I feel like I've still got some stuff to work on. It's a great start to the year and a really good foundation to work from.”
View all McIlroy final round shots:
Captain America: From Teegate To Treegate
For those who lamenting the Chiefs-Bengals officiating, a few things to consider:
The Lakers were hosed in far worse fashion against the Celtics. I know the refs would like to get to Logan alive, but come on it’s not even the same Garden!
Patrick Reed confidently identified his ball in a palm tree using binoculars and what he spotted was confirmed by an on-site referee.
Reed then took an unplayable lie during round three of the Dubai Desert Classic and ended up finishing second by a stroke to McIlroy.
Reed’s ball finished in a different tree than the one he was told had gobbled up his Titleist feauting a modified arrow marking.
He likely received bad intel from marshals. It happens more than you think. Not that we don’t love the volunteers!
Here’s the issue: Reed was “100% sure” he spotted his ball through binoculars that looked somewhat like something Prince Philip employed to watch races at Royal Ascot. In the 1960s. But in identifying his ball, he was able to take an unplayable lie instead of a lost ball and subsequent need to re-tee.
“I would have gone back to the tee if I wasn't 100%,” Reed said after his round. “I got lucky that we were able to look through the binoculars and you have to make sure it's your ball, and how I mark my golf balls is I always put an arrow on the end of my line, because the Pro VI, the arrow on the end stop before it, so you can see the arrow.”
“And you could definitely see and identify the line with the arrow on the end, and the rules official, luckily, was there to reconfirm and check it to make sure it was mine as well.”
Reviewing the incident on Golf Channel, Brandel Chamblee took viewers through a replay of the ball’s flight. I know what your thinking: isn’t Reed still trying to sue Chamblee and others for calling him a cheater? (The $820 million case was thrown out in late November but Reed’s attorney promised on December 17th, 2022 to file an amendment. He has not done so as this Quad goes to press.)
Either way, it’s somewhat surprising that NBC/Golf Channel allowed Chamblee to review the tape given the litigious ways of Reed and his attorney, who subpoenaed Rory McIlroy on Christmas Eve. But these are different times, so Chamblee gently laid out the devastating case for Reed having identified a ball that was in a different tree than the one his tee shot found:
After some on site questioned how Reed spotted his ball in the wrong tree through skimpy binoculars, the DP World Tour issued a statement following Sunday’s third round:
“Two on-course referees and several marshals identified that Patrick Reed's ball had become lodged in a specific tree following his tee shot on 17. The DP World Tour chief referee joined the player in the area and asked him to identify his distinctive ball markings. Using binoculars, the chief referee was satisfied that a ball with those markings was lodged in the tree.
“The player subsequently took an unplayable penalty drop (Rule 19.2c) at the point directly below the ball on the ground. To clarify, the player was not asked to specify the tree but to identify his distinctive ball markings to confirm it was his ball.”
As this image notes and the replay confirmed, the parties involved were looking in the wrong tree.
While Reed received incorrect information in this latest run-in, it’s still not an ideal look for Captain America to, (A) not rely on his superhero powers to see the ball without binoculars, and (B) claim he’s 100% sure of seeing his arrow marking so definitively when replays suggested he was binocularing up the wrong tree.
It’s never dull with these Avengers!
CBS Off To A Strong Start
Despite the Farmers not carrying “designated” status where telecast upgrades have been teased, CBS offered a far more robust production compared to NBC/Golf Channel’s first three efforts. A tight leaderboard and fantastic fan energy on Saturday certainly helped. But producer Sellers Shy took full advantage of a robust production to rarely linger too long on one camera shot unless the announce team was setting up a shot. He ordered up quick cuts between ground views, close-ups and aerials to give the proceedings a sense of urgency so rarely present in a golf broadcast. While the commercial load was heavy until the final hour (when they took just two big breaks), the combination of sound, aerials and information-heavy graphics made the Farmers feel big.
A few other observations:
Thanks to an increase in the number of Sony depth-of-field cameras helmed by aggressive operators, viewers enjoyed some fantastic close-ups and sound to give us a genuine inside-the-ropes sensibility. CBS was also not afraid to use the “Venice” camera for showing shots. While we lost the tracer effect, the depth of field looks beautiful.
The graphics style refreshed a couple of years ago continues to look more modern and seems filled with more useful information than we get with the NBC productions.
A new Shotlink-fueled hole detail popped up from the translucent scoreboard and still needs tweaking or more time to be useful. But solid intent is there and with time, it could become a nice add-on.
Trevor Immelman’s start as lead analyst got off to a good start despite a tricky setting with Jim Nantz doing play-by-play from Kansas City. Immelman delivers his points cleanly and without any indecipherable filler, though he did go full Faldo by letting us know how he saw Sam Ryder in the gym that morning.
This was a nice chance for Immelman to explain how conditions were impacting scoring and to give viewers a sense of the layout:
Amanda Renner interviewed Sam Ryder’s mother Sunday. And while the discussion about seeing his first win turned out to be wrong, credit to CBS for giving us something different and to Kelly for being such a great interview. It’s not easy to walk and talk when you’re nervously watching!
The media highlight of the week came thanks to Homa and his special Saturday 13th hole walk-and-chat with the announce team. Using an Airpod to communicate, the 13th hole conversation was especially notable because the chatter was smart. Heck, let’s call it wonky. Mercifully, the announcers did not dumb down the chatter for some imaginary new fan who can’t handle that golf is a sophisticated sport with fascinating complexity for make it their profession. And then the real fun began when Homa’s ball was impossible to see and he jokingly refused to touch it while calling on an official. He was mere yards from where Patrick Reed put his hands on his embedded ball in the 2021 Farmers.
Still, don’t get used to this even though Jim Nantz teased it as an expected feature in 2023. Homa’s affable, can and play golf at the same time and won’t spout lunatic fringe conspiracy theories. This makes an extreme outlier in men’s pro golf. Jay Rigdon summed up why this segment worked so well at Awful Announcing. Here is some of sequence posted by the Tour:
Phil Takes On Joggers From His Couch
Warning: the views expressed below come from a man who won many important tournaments while wearing a gold chain with his collar up, later gravitated to a matching reptile belt/shoe wardrobe motif and, more recently, played in moisture-wicking dress shirts infused with love-handle stretch technology that he demonstrated in a wildly painful ad campaign.
While watching the PGA Tour stop in his home town and presumably on his couch in Rancho Santa Fe, LIV defector Phil Mickelson jumped on Twitter to take issue with Sam Ryder’s joggers. Here’s how it went on Twitter:
I happen to think (non-Merlot) joggers offer a fun compromise between slacks and shorts. They exude athleticism while sticking to the golf pant aesthetic that is the professional uniform in golf. They’re really just a modern version of plus-fours. Debate!
Maybe someone already mentioned this somewhere but was Brandel going full Oliver Stone with the repeated replay of the cheater in chief's palmshot? I thought I was watching Kevin Costner watching the Zapruder film in JFK. Reed is such a turd.
Regarding the Lakers-Celtics, watch the replay and you will see LeBron clearly travelled before being fouled. Three full steps.