Monday Leaderboard: Scottie's agony, Tiger's Masters prep, Nelly's trifecta

Welcome to the Monday Leaderboard, where we run down the weekend’s top stories in the wonderful world of golf. Grab an Arnold Palmer, pull up a chair, and get ready to cringe at some painful putting …

1. Scheffler proves he’s human … barely

Turns out pretty much the only player who can beat Scottie Scheffler is … Scottie Scheffler. The undisputed world heavyweight champion saw a couple streaks end this week thanks, unfortunately, to his own wobbly putter. Get the kids out of the room, this one is going to be unsettling viewing.

First, Scheffler’s record streak of 28 rounds below par came to an ugly end at the Texas Children’s Houston Open when he three-putted inside six feet to finish his Friday round at even par:

Then, on Sunday, he had a five-footer to force a playoff against Stephen Jaeger, and, well …

Scheffler was attempting to win his third straight tournament, and would have been the first PGA Tour player to do it since Dustin Johnson in 2017. Worth noting, though: Until Sunday, Scheffler was one of the best putters in the field at the Houston Open. He just came up a touch short at the worst possible time. Scheffler remains the overwhelming favorite heading into The Masters, and a 1-1-T2 finish over the last three tournaments is still a pretty decent performance.

(Taylor Wilhelm / Yahoo Sports)
(Taylor Wilhelm / Yahoo Sports)

2. Nelly Korda’s spectacular trifecta

Right around the same time Scheffler was attempting to win three tournaments in a row, Nelly Korda pulled off the exact same trick over in the LPGA. On the Sunday back nine of the chaotic Ford Championship in Arizona, four players were tied for the lead and 11 were within two shots. Korda, who came in riding the momentum of two straight victories in playoffs, remained steady in wicked conditions to birdie the 18th and capture another title.

Korda is the first LPGA player to win three straight tournaments since Ariya Jutanugarn in 2016, and the first American to pull off the feat since Nancy Lopez won five straight way back in 1978. Next up for Korda, the world No. 1 player: T-Mobile Match Play this week in Las Vegas.

3. Jaeger bombs his way to Augusta

Stephen Jaeger has played 135 tournaments on the PGA Tour, but until Sunday, he hadn’t won a single one. But a run of nine straight pars to close out his final round — plus that Scheffler miss — set him up for the victory. Jaeger also outplayed Alejandro Tosti, who was in position to win until he overcooked his approach on 18 and ended up part of a four-way tie for second place.

The win could well be one of those proverbial life-changing events, as Jaeger is now eligible to play in the PGA Tour’s four remaining $20 million signature events of the season. Jaeger is also now the 87th player in the field at The Masters, and he’s withdrawn from this week’s Valero Texas Open to prepare. That seems like a reasonable excuse for skipping work.

4. Tiger Woods’ pre-Masters prep

One of the benefits of an invitation to play in The Masters is the opportunity to play the course ahead of time. (Not every day. Don’t get greedy.) As a green jacket champion, Tiger Woods has basically a standing invitation to play Augusta National, and he reportedly took advantage of that this past week with a friendly little round that included Justin Thomas and ANGC chairman Fred Ridley. No word on how well Woods played, but the fact that he’s out there hiking the hills of Augusta is a good indication he’s planning to tee it up in a couple weeks’ time at the first major of the season. (Yes, “He’s going to play in a tournament” is what qualifies as news for Woods now.)

5. DeChambeau proves the wrong point

Bryson DeChambeau made his bones on the PGA Tour with drives as prodigious as his name, booming low-Earth-orbit blasts that defied comprehension and common sense. Now that rollback — the mandatory use of shorter-flying golf balls — is coming to the sport soon, DeChambeau and other big hitters aren’t thrilled. DeChambeau, now with LIV Golf, attempted to show the effects of a rolled-back ball during a little training session … and accidentally ended up proving something very different.

On his YouTube channel, DeChambeau posted a video of himself playing with a 15-year-old Nike Tour One ball, which he claims is roughly the equivalent of the future rolled-back ball pros will play starting in 2028. “Do you think we should roll the golf ball back?” he asks in the video. “Everything I saw today, from my perspective, I personally wouldn’t want it.”

While the ball did fly a shorter distance — somewhere around 15 to 25 yards — it also flew straighter and more true. DeChambeau, understandably, doesn’t want to give up any distance, but the stewards of increasingly overwhelmed golf courses, and the great mass of everyday amateur golfers, would be just fine trading a few yards of distance for a few more degrees of reliable accuracy.

The Mulligan: Malnati’s magnificence

Good things (sometimes) happen to good people: Peter Malnati, who’s repped the cause of the PGA Tour’s rank-and-file in the ongoing reorganization/Saudi money debates, won his first tournament in more than eight years last week. And this week, he carded this lovely little ace:

All that in a bucket hat, with a yellow ball. Sometimes the golf gods just smile on you.

Swing away and roll ‘em true this week, friends, and we’ll see you back here next Monday!