Monday Leaderboard: Matsuyama rewrites Genesis, Spieth's DQ, Tiger's new woes

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports illustration)
(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports illustration)

Welcome to the Monday Leaderboard, where we run down the weekend’s top stories in the wonderful world of golf. Grab an Arnold Palmer and pull up a chair … and don’t forget to add up your scores properly.

1. Hideki Matsuyama rewrites Genesis

There are victories, there are comebacks, and then there’s what Hideki Matsuyama pulled off Sunday at the Genesis Invitational: birdieing three of the final four holes and flipping a six-shot deficit into a three-stroke victory. Matsuyama charged up the leaderboard with three separate three-birdie runs as three-day leader Patrick Cantlay faded on Sunday. Matsuyama's Sunday 62 was the lowest final round ever recorded at the esteemed tournament.

Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, has been an inconsistent player in recent years due to a nagging neck injury. He hasn’t won a tournament since the 2022 Sony Open more than two years ago, and hadn’t even carded a top-10 tournament finish since last year’s Players. His dry streak reached the point that he’d dropped out of the world top 50 last month.

But when he’s on, Matsuyama is absolutely one of the finest players in the world. Neither Tiger Woods nor Jack Nicklaus ever won at Riviera, but Matsuyama mastered it, further establishing himself as one of this generation’s finest players and giving the PGA Tour a much-needed star hoisting the Sunday night trophy.

2. Jordan Spieth’s costly math mistake

The NFL has its “worst rule in football” — losing the ball if you fumble it through the end zone — but that’s nothing compared to what some observers consider the worst rule in golf: Instant disqualification if you sign an incorrect scorecard. At least in football, you’re allowed to keep playing in the game.

Jordan Spieth found himself on the pointy end of that rule Friday when he incorrectly signed for a 3 on the fourth hole; he made a 4. (He made 3s on the next three holes, possibly leading to the confusion. He also sprinted from the course into the clubhouse after finishing his round, which again, may have contributed to the missed score.)

Spieth accepted his punishment as part of the game, but other observers weren’t quite so calm. Many critics frothed about the absurdity of golf requiring players to verify what a thousand cameras, leaderboards and ShotLinks already know. Others, in support of the rule, noted that the heart of golf, at all levels, is the personal responsibility of keeping your own score. The punishment doesn’t really fit the crime in this case, but everyone knows the risk of failing to get the numbers in line.

At least Spieth kept his sense of humor, offering up some advice for Matsuyama after Hideki’s victory:

3. LIV leaps into the British Open

LIV Golf was off this weekend, but one LIV player — Fireballs’ David Puig — had himself a very good week. Puig won the IRS Prima Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur to qualify for this year’s Open Championship.

It’s a rare opportunity for a rank-and-file LIV player to compete in the majors — and also yet another rebuttal to the idea that LIV players can’t compete at golf’s elite level. Puig made the cut on the number, then shot 62-62 on the weekend to claim the title.

Puig has played in exactly one major in his career: last year’s U.S. Open, where he finished T39. At 22, he’s exactly the kind of player LIV Golf needs to attract if it’s going to survive — and exactly the kind of player that has a substantial incentive not to join LIV. Without exemptions into any majors, Puig is locked out of the Masters and the PGA Championship, and must qualify his way into the two Opens. His performance in July at Royal Troon — and in the U.S. Open, if he qualifies — will help him make his way into future events, since at the moment he can’t rely on the Official World Golf Rankings to play his way in.

4. Will Zalatoris is back in the mix

Back in 2022, Will Zalatoris appeared ready to seize the golf world by the throat. He went T6-2-T2 in the year’s first three majors, and missed claiming two of those by mere inches’ worth of putts. But a series of back injuries derailed him for most of 2023, and he’s only now starting to get his touch back. He finished T2 behind Matsuyama on the weekend despite playing with a heavy heart.

Oh, and he won himself and his caddy a couple new cars with a pretty little hole-in-one:

Not a bad week, not a bad way to return to the top of the leaderboard. The Tour is more fun with him in the hunt.

Another tournament, another early end for Tiger Woods. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Another tournament, another early end for Tiger Woods. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) (Gina Ferazzi via Getty Images)

5. Tiger Woods’ new woes

If it wasn’t for bad luck, Tiger Woods wouldn’t have any luck at all anymore. The host of the Genesis Invitational used this week to mark both his return to the PGA Tour and the debut of his new “Sun Day Red” clothing line. Woods hadn’t appeared in a full-field tournament since withdrawing from last year’s Masters just after making the cut … and he didn’t even last that long this week.

Woods left the course Friday afternoon after playing just six holes. Always cagey with his medical info, Woods’ team didn’t release any information on his reasons, and the arrival of an ambulance and fire trucks on scene at Riviera only deepened speculation. Woods later indicated in a statement that he’d been suffering from dehydration and the effects of the flu.

The departure marked yet another early end to a Woods tournament, something that’s surely more frustrating to Woods himself than any observer. Although Woods has expressed a desire to play about once a month, it’s not certain yet where he will tee it up again.

Whenever he does, though, there will always be fans like these guys ready to watch:

(David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)
(David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images) (MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

The Mulligan

You know the feeling — oversleeping, traffic, a breakfast burrito that’s just not sitting right, and boom, you’re running way late for your tee time. Difference between you and Tom Kim is, running late at the local muni will get you a scowl from the starter; running late at a PGA Tour event will get you disqualified.

Golfers run stranger than any other athletes, but probably because they don’t need to do it much. Kim would go on to finish the tournament at 5-under and collect a tidy little $164,857 paycheck for four days’ work. Now that’s enough to make anyone sprint.