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Monday Leaderboard: The golfer the game needs right now

June 4th, 2024

Welcome to the Monday Leaderboard, where we run down the weekend’s top stories in the wonderful world of golf. Grab an Arnold Palmer, pull up a chair, and be ready to hoist a golf bag, just in case …

You know that old line about keeping your head when everyone else is losing theirs? That’s exactly what Yuka Saso did on Sunday, shaking off an early four-putt double bogey and a 17th-hole bogey to stay steady when the competition stumbled. Most notably, Minjee Lee surrendered the lead with a disastrous +8 final round. Saso managed a steady -2 round to finish at -4 overall and claim a three-stroke major victory. The win marked Saso’s second U.S. Open, three years after her win in San Francisco. Saso is the fourth Japanese player, male or female, to win one of golf’s majors.

Something about golf just generates unforgettable stories that link generations. The latest example: Robert MacIntyre, seeking his first career victory on the PGA Tour, came into Sunday’s final round with none other than his father Dougie serving as his last-minute-replacement caddie. MacIntyre held the 54-hole lead and stretched it to as many as five strokes, but crucial bogeys cut the lead to a single stroke. Big Shot Bob managed to par the final hole to clinch the victory, and shortly afterward, he dissolved into tears on live TV.

“He was a caddie for the week,” MacIntyre said afterward, “but at the end of the day, he’s my dad and it was just — the emotion that you seen at the end, it was just almost out of sheer disbelief that we done it with him on the bag.”

With all due respect to Ms. Saso and Mr. MacIntyre, the story of the weekend was LPGA vet Charley Hull. She didn’t win the tournament, but she won social media, and in 2024, that’s pretty much the same thing, right? Hull made waves earlier in the week when shots of her smoking on the course went viral:

If this were the 1980s, smoking on the course wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but these days, only John Daly rips heaters inside the ropes. (Hull insists that she doesn’t have as many of Daly’s vices: “I only smoke,” Hull said Sunday. “I hardly drink. I don’t need to drink because actually I can have a fun time without it.”)

Add to her lung-dart habit the fact that Hull is dealing with hecklers and swatting away requests for dates, and you’ve got the makings of a budding social media superstar. She doesn’t have quite the resume of some of her peers — her best finish in a major is second place — but she’s having fun, she looks like she’s enjoying herself, and that puts her miles ahead of pretty much everybody in the men’s game right now.

“It’s been a bit of a wild week,” she said on Sunday, after posing for selfies all over the course. “I wish the crowds were like this more often.” Soon enough, she might get her wish.

(Bruno Rouby / Yahoo Sports)

(Bruno Rouby / Yahoo Sports)

Lancaster Country Club took its pound of flesh from the LPGA field. Only two players finished under par — Saso and Hinako Shibuno — and the challenging course overwhelmed virtually every player, including the world’s best. Nelly Korda effectively knocked herself out of contention on Thursday when she posted a 10 on the par-3 12th hole and an 80 in the first round. That ended her dreams of a single-season grand slam, and led directly to her missing the cut on Friday afternoon. Korda will be back, but this one will sting for awhile … and conspiracy theorists might just wonder what this tough setup means for the men’s U.S. Open, teeing off next week.

No matter how big a star you become, you have to start somewhere, and every so often, your path leads you right back to where you began. Mackenzie Hughes learned to play the game just a few miles away from Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ontario, site of the RBC Heritage, and on Sunday, the gallery responded with the fondest of welcome-home messages:

Between Bob MacIntyre’s dad, C.T. Pan’s caddie (see below) and Hughes, this year’s RBC Canadian ended up being quite the tournament for making dreams come true.

It’s every golf fan’s fondest desire: There’s an emergency, and all of a sudden, they need you inside the ropes! Such a moment happened on Sunday when C.T. Pan’s caddie, the longtime looper Fluff Cowan, slipped and injured himself early in the round at the RBC. So a gentleman named Paul Emerson of Aurora, Ontario, offered to help, and Pan accepted the offer:

More established caddies took over after two holes, but in those holes, Pan managed a bogey and a birdie … so, nice work by Mr. Emerson. Solid memory of the weekend, too. Always be ready, you never know when the call is going to come.

Swing away and roll ‘em true this week, friends, and we’ll see you back here next Monday!

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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