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Reviewing a Week of Agony, Ecstasy, Comebacks, Paybacks, Fines and a Runaway Golf Cart

Gary Van Sickle returns with his ranking of notable storylines from the week in golf, leaving no stone unturned and no cart brake engaged.
Sahith Theegala, Haotong Li and Lexi Thompson are pictured from the week in golf.

Sahith Theegala and Lexi Thompson suffered on Sunday, while Haotong Li celebrated.

The most important news of the last week, which is why Brooks Koepka isn’t mentioned …

10. Age is such an old topic. Jay Haas became the oldest player to make a PGA Tour cut when he and son Bill made the cut at this year’s Zurich Classic in April. At last week’s U.S. Senior Open, Haas shot his age, 67, at tough Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was the seventh time Haas has shot his age on tour. The only others to do it in the Senior Open are Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Jerry Barber and Harold (Jug) McSpaden.

Sure, Haas’ feat was impressive … but can he eat his age in corn dogs?

9. Hair revival in New York. PGA Tour pros aren’t usually found in New York City’s trendy SoHo district but English golfer Tommy Fleetwood — you know, the guy with rock-star hair — made an appearance at a pop-up store for the unveiling of a new Tag Heuer luxury smart-watch. The Connected Calibre E4 Golf Edition has an automated shot tracker, golf software and a built-in ball marker. Fleetwood praised the automatic shot-tracking display and how “the integrated ball marker is so easy to use and store away.”

For $2,650, I’ll be interested when it can make my four-foot putts …

8. Irish green over Badger red. Padraig Harrington held off Steve Stricker to win the U.S. Senior Open. The two men were opposing captains at last year’s Ryder Cup, which the U.S. won by a score of 270-0 or something like that. “He’s certainly had my number a few times,” Harrington said of Stricker. “Maybe I owed him one today.”

After that lopsided demolition in Wisconsin, Padraig, you may owe him two more. Moo-ving on …

7. Unstoppable, The Sequel. It was more or less video nirvana when the telecast of the Travelers Championship was interrupted by the sight of an unattended golf cart hurtling down a hill near the 16th green and splashing into the pond at TPC River Highlands. The incident was captured on a video that, for reasons undetermined, is unreasonably entertaining on a loop. Fortunately, no one was hurt by the runaway cart.

In a possibly unrelated note, The Invisible Man has gone missing since attending last week’s Travelers Championship.

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6. The way to get kids into golf? Buy them! The rival LIV Tour signed Oklahoma State University’s Eugenio Chacarra, the No. 2 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, to a three-year deal. It was a first. Chacarra, 22, from Spain, is the first active collegian to give up eligibility to sign with LIV. Let’s see, even if he finishes last every week, which pays about $120,000, for 30 or so events over three years, that adds up to … well, a lot.

5. The new fall series sounds a lot like … leftovers. Starting next year, the top 70 players on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup points list get to play in the richer-than-ever playoff series. Those who fail to make the lucrative playoffs will compete in a fall series of tournaments in a race to retain their exempt status and perhaps eventually qualify for three new big-money — dare we say “LIV-like” — tournaments. So your new PGA Tour fall series events, which will go up against college and pro football, will likely feature few or none of the world’s top 70 players. Line up, sponsors, for this potential TV ratings gold!

4. Two holes, too little, too late. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship’s final pairing was told with two holes left that it was on the clock for slow play. With two holes left, what, exactly, were they supposed to do, sprint? The title was on the line. Lexi Thompson lost a two-shot lead over the final three holes, losing to In Gee Chun. Upon leaving the 18th green, Thompson and Hye-Jin Choi were informed they drew fines for slow play. Thompson’s was $2,000, Golfweek reported. It made little sense although for Thompson and Choi, it meant a lot of cents.

3. How to win from a 72nd-hole fairway bunker … oops. It doesn’t always work out the way it did for Matt Fitzpatrick, who won the U.S. Open with a shot for the ages from the final hole’s fairway bunker at The Country Club. Sahith Theegala, a 24-year-old California native, held a one-shot lead at the Travelers Championship until his final drive found a steep-faced fairway bunker. Theegala bladed his first shot and didn’t escape the sand. His second try did but was still 80-plus yards short of the green.

Fast-forward: Theegala made double-bogey to lose the lead, then Xander Schauffele calmly wedged to three feet and birdied the 18th to win by two. “You’re on the PGA Tour, no one’s going to hand you a win,” said Schauffele. Except this time, someone did.

2. A Top 100 triple crown: Believe it or not, three courses in Golf Magazine’s new list of the Top 100 Courses in the U.K. and Ireland have something in common: Donald Trump.

The ex-President owns three listings: No. 6 Trump Turnberry (Ailsa Course), which has hosted multiple British Opens; No. 37 Trump International Scotland, a course he built in northern Scotland amid multiple controversies; and No. 64, Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg, an Irish course originally designed by another popular fellow, Greg Norman. One more thing about the magazine’s rankings: There won’t be a recount.

1. Quitters never win on account of, you know, quitting. It was good to be a non-quitter last week. When South Korea’s In Gee Chun heard her sister suggest she should quit golf if she wasn’t happy, Chun realized she didn’t want to and Sunday, Chun won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, one of the tour’s five designated majors.

Last year, China’s Haotong Li didn’t make a cut until October, dropped to 460th in the world rankings and nearly gave up. Sunday, he won the BMW International in Munich in a playoff after he bladed a chip-shot 50 feet past the hole, then sank the putt.

There’s more to both stories but sorry, it’s quitting time here in the bar office …