PGA Tour stars swap coaches, Scheffler’s saga continues |details below ⬇️ Finish

PGA Tour stars swap coaches, Scheffler’s saga continues |details below ⬇️ Finish

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re still trying to figure out if “Davis Riley” has two first names or two last names. To the news!

GOLF STUFF I LIKE

Going back to what works.

As I tried to make sense of Davis Riley‘s Sunday steamroll over the rest of a talented PGA Tour field, one detail stood out: He’d recently reunited with his former swing coach Jeff Smith.

“We haven’t re-invented the wheel or done anything different,” Riley said after a Friday 64. “I feel like I’m in a good head space and comfortable there and I feel like simplicity has been the key for me.”

Riley made things look simple on the weekend, particularly on Sunday; while most of his competition struggled with gusty conditions and a firm golf course, the talented Alabama grad plotted his way through a challenging golf course, making a birdie for every bogey and cruising to a five-shot victory.

What’s interesting about Riley returning to an old coach and finding success? The fact that we’ve recently heard other top pros say the same thing.

Take Collin Morikawa. Before the Masters he talked about being “in transition”; he’d split with his lifelong swing coach Rick Sessinghaus in the fall but scuffled in the months that followed. Ahead of the Masters he got on the phone with Sessinghaus a couple times again. Then he finished T3.

More good results followed as they formalized their relationship again. Ninth at the RBC Heritage. Tied for 16th at the Wells Fargo. Then back-to-back fourth-place results at the PGA Championship and the Charles Schwab Challenge. Something is working.

Much better,” Morikawa said post-round on Sunday, asked about his mental space now compared with the start of the year. “I owe a lot of that to Rick. Obviously joining back up with him, it’s been awesome. It’s not like we’ve done anything new, it’s just being able to talk.”

Then take Viktor Hovland. He finished 2023 as the FedEx Cup champ and the hottest golfer on the planet but changed coaches, changed philosophies and lost his way — until he reunited with Joe Mayo, the man who’d helped rebuild his short game, the week before the PGA Championship. Then he finished third.

I thought this was potentially going to be a little bit of a project and maybe take six, eight weeks before I would see kind of immediate improvement,” Hovland said. Instead he contended for the win all of Sunday. “Yeah, that was kind of best-case scenario right there.”

There was also Rory McIlroy’s trip to Las Vegas to see Butch Harmon, who always seems to set him straight with the same advice.

The work I did with him wasn’t a tremendous amount of changing what he did, it was his attitude and the way he played certain shots,” Harmon said on the Son of a Butch podcast. From “150 yards and in he made a full swing like he was hitting a driver and I wanted him to make more 3 quarter swings and chop the follow through off a little.”

McIlroy won the Zurich Classic with Shane Lowry and ran away from the field at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow before a T12 at the PGA Championship. His swing seems to be working, too.

It’s easy to cherry-pick the coaching changes of winners and contenders, of course. If coaching changes don’t work out we often wouldn’t even hear much about them. So it’s tough to parse out correlation or causation in any meaningful way. But there’s something satisfying about top golfers losing their way, returning to something essential and finding success. It was in there all along.

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