🏌️‍♂️ While you were away

Plus: Waste(d) Management

Patrick Mahomes delivered again on Sunday. And so did the drama at the Waste Management. But maybe the PGA Tour’s biggest party got a little too rowdy this year?

Let’s dive in …

Top stories:

  1. Nick Taylor’s triumph

  2. Waste(d) Management

  3. DJ’s no practice pays off

1. Canadian Nick Taylor catches fire late on Sunday to win the WM Phoenix Open — his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Nick Taylor was three strokes back of the leader Charlie Hoffman on Sunday when he decided to lay up on the Par 5 15th — a decision that could have cost him a chance at the tournament.

  • Instead, while much of the sports world was already watching the Super Bowl, the Winnipeg-native stuffed his third shot to 3-feet for an easy birdie.

  • Taylor went on to birdie the 16th and 18th, sinking a clutch 9.5 footer at the last to force a playoff with the veteran Hoffman.

Both made birdies on their first playoff hole.

Nick Taylor celebrates his walk-off birdie.

Asked after the round if he’d ever putted better in his life, Taylor — who shot an opening round 60 on Thursday — simply answered: “Probably not.”

My take: Not great that the weather delay put the Waste Management up against the Super Bowl. But for those who tuned-in, what a show!

  • After his last victory at the Canadian Open (when he drained a 72-footer to close out Tommy Fleetwood in a playoff), the 35-year-old Taylor is becoming one of the more clutch players on Tour.

  • As CBS’ Patrick McDonald noted, he’s likely going to be a menace in Montreal at this year’s President’s Cup.

2. Has the Waste Management gone too far?

Photo taken shortly after this person’s snow angel on 16 (and right before they were arrested).

The WM Phoenix Open (aka The People’s Open) has long been about the party. But even with its raucous reputation, this year was wild.

Videos of mud-sliding, mud-slipping, and … public urination flooded the internet. One woman fell from the grandstands on 16 on Friday, but thankfully, the injuries appear to be non-life-threatening.

Of note: While it’s hard to definitively measure if the crowds have gotten crazier at the Stadium Course, it did seem like more players this year were complaining about the distractions.

My take: Zach Johnson playing in the Waste Management was probably a bad idea from the start.

  • Still, it does seem like a lot of players have had enough with the party outside the ropes — especially when it impacts their play.

  • With the WM no longer holding Signature Event status (which means, smaller purses), we might start to see fewer and fewer top players make the trip to Scottsdale in the years to come.

Whether the drinking and shenanigans have gotten out of hand — who knows.

  • I wasn’t there, AND I’m getting too old to weigh-in on these types of questions.

  • From the outside, though, the WM does seem like one of those events (Coachella, Burning Man, etc.) that blew up in popularity and might be past its glory days.

3. Dustin Johnson wins LIV Las Vegas.

Dustin Johnson birdied two of his final four holes on Saturday to edge out Talor Gooch and Peter Uihlein, winning his third individual LIV title.

Of note: The victory comes after DJ told reporters earlier in the week that he didn’t spend much time at the golf course during his offseason.

  • “Woulda, coulda shoulda,” DJ said, regarding his regiment.

  • Still, the two-time major winner now has a first place and T5 so far this season.

Dustin Johnson took home $4 million for his win in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, Brooks Koepka’s revamped Smash GC took home the team title.

What I’m watching: Jon Rahm.

  • Last week in Mexico, Rahm was in contention late before a bogey-bogey finish derailed his chances of winning.

  • And this week, he had a similar final-round stumble that included a dead shank.

  • In a way, it’s cool to see one of golf’s best feeling the pressure in these LIV events. But, it also has to be frustrating (and a little concerning) for Rahm as he navigates his new circuit.

4. Good posts ⌨️

5. Up next, Riviera

Riviera Country Club

The PGA Tour heads to Los Angeles this week for the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.

  • Tournament host Tiger Woods will tee-it-up for the first time in 2024.

LIV, meanwhile, is off until March.

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all, and I’ll see you back here later this week. Talk soon! - Nick Bastone

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