AK's return raises questions

Plus: 🥪 Masters party platters

Well, hello there. A strange weekend in professional golf — complete with a Monday finish in Florida — delayed me sending this newsletter earlier. I hope that’s alright!

Since this edition is going out at a different time, I figured I’d switch up the format a bit as well. If you like it, I’d love to hear from you!

For now, here are nine thoughts / questions / things that stuck with me from this weekend in golf:

Anthony Kim played his practice rounds in a white tee.

1. Anthony Kim’s comeback left me feeling kind of … sad. 

And not because he finished last or that his anticipated return took place in a Saudi Arabian desert in front of practically no fans.

Mostly, I think the sadness came from the murmurs throughout the week that maybe there was more than a $10 million insurance policy that had kept AK away from the game. LIV CEO Greg Norman alluded to AK’s struggles during the tournament broadcast, saying he’d fallen into a “dark hole” and “about a year ago, cleaned himself up.”

But Norman didn’t go into more detail. And, until AK decides to share more of his story (if he ever does), I guess we should do our best to focus on his golf. Though, it is hard not to wonder.

2. As for his golf, Kim said on Sunday that he looked forward to “being in contention at some point this year.”

Seeing AK with a chance to win again would be awesome, don’t get me wrong. That just feels so far away. And in the meantime, I wonder how long a mediocre-at-best AK can keep people’s attention?

I guess, as the Fried Egg’s Brendan Porath put it: “Much of the myth built over the last decade was always going to vanish once that seal was broken.” 

Joaquin Niemann has now won over $8 million in three LIV tournaments this year.

3. Joaquin Niemann won LIV Jeddah on Sunday, which makes the 25-year-old Chilean the hottest player in golf right now.

His last seven professional starts — Win, 3rd, T30, Win, T4, Win, 5th.

The victory also makes Niemann’s recent Masters and PGA Championship invites even more deserving. And, if the majors end up changing their qualifying criteria (like, letting in top LIV players regardless of their OWGR status), Niemann’s red hot start to 2024 could be seen as a catalyst.

4. Speaking of LIV players getting (or not getting) into majors …

Kyle Porter dedicated an entire edition of his Normal Sport newsletter to Talor Gooch’s Masters snub and subsequent asterisk comment. It’s worth a read!

Sam Harrop’s song on the asterisk matter is also very much worth your time.

5. We’re on point #5 and haven’t talked about the PGA Tour yet, which is wild. 

But, that’s what happens when the stars of your circuit aren’t winning.

Sure, this year’s winners have offered interesting storylines. But where are players like Viktor Hovland, Max Homa, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Collin Morikawa? It’s been a lackluster start to 2024 for many of the PGA Tour’s biggest names.

6. As for this week’s Cognizant Classic winner, his name is Austin Eckroat. 

On a Monday morning finish, the 25-year-old Eckroat was able to hold off a charging Erik van Rooyen and Min Woo Lee to claim his first ever PGA Tour victory.

7. Masters week starts in 34 days and wonderful things are starting to emerge online, like these “Taste of the Masters” party kits.

8. This is also wonderful. Big fan of the warm-up hole idea.

9. And, here’s what’s coming up this week:

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading ya’ll, and I’ll see you back here next week. — Nick Bastone

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