Monday Leaderboard: Weirdest golf injury of the year; Nelly stays dominant

Two of the wildest finishes you'll ever see happened this weekend, including a dislocated shoulder and a gutter ball.

(Bruno Rouby / Yahoo Sports)
(Bruno Rouby / Yahoo Sports)

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 celebrate very carefully …

1. Weirdest golf injury of the year

It’s the perpetual question surrounding this sport: Are golfers athletes? Well, we may now have our answer, because Akshay Bhatia, winner of the Valero Texas Open, apparently dislocated his shoulder … by fist-pumping.

Yes, Bhatia celebrated a little too hard when he made a 12-foot putt to force a playoff with Denny McCarthy (more on him below). Bhatia won on the first hole of the playoff, but not before requiring actual on-course treatment from his physio for the injured shoulder. It was a painful moment, but the victory — and its accompanying last-second, just-under-the-wire invitation to play in the Masters — probably helped dull the pain. Bhatia is just 22 years old, but he might not ever play in a tournament as strange as this one again.

2. Nelly maintains her dominance

You could make a convincing argument that the world’s most impressive golfer right now isn’t in the field at the Masters. Nelly Korda, who has the entire LPGA in a headlock, won her fourth straight event Sunday at the T-Mobile Match Play in Las Vegas. Korda triumphed even in a format designed to produce random outcomes — 54 holes of stroke play followed by an 8-woman bracket — and triumphed in all three of her matches with little trouble. She now trails only Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sorenstam (2004-05), who both carded five straight victories. To match them, she’ll need to win the LPGA’s first major of the season, the Chevron Championship, in two weeks. Nelly or the field, who ya got?

3. Burmester dispatches Sergio in a playoff

Over in LIV Golf, a dozen or so players tuned up for the Masters at the season’s latest stop in Doral. As it turned out, the winner — Dean Burmester — won’t be going to Augusta, but the guy he topped in a playoff, 2017 champion Sergio Garcia, will be. Garcia held a two-shot lead on Saturday night, and a one-shot lead on the 18th tee, but neither held up. Burmester forced a playoff and won when Garcia found water on the second playoff hole. Maybe in some future year a LIV win will be enough to get a Masters invite, but not yet.

4. Augusta amateur’s fiery finish

When you read a recap of how a player finished strong to win a tournament, you can appreciate the feat. When you read how a player finished strong at Augusta National, you can truly understand the magnitude of the feat. Lottie Woad won the fifth Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Saturday with a birdie-birdie finish on 17 and 18 at Augusta, a feat that has eluded most of the game’s finest players. Woad was down a stroke on the 17th tee and a champion when she walked off the 18th green. Now that is how you close a tournament … and open Masters Week.

5. McCarthy’s magnificent back nine

By all normal laws of golf, the Valero Texas Open should have been over at the turn on Sunday. Bhatia held a six-stroke lead on the field and was playing strong golf. But Denny McCarthy decided to launch himself into orbit, carding seven straight birdies for a back-nine 28 (!) and forcing a playoff with Bhatia. Alas, on the first playoff hole, McCarthy dunked his approach into the creek fronting the green, and his day was over. Not the way McCarthy wanted the tournament to end, but that back-nine 28 is the kind of run he can build on for the future.

The Mulligan: Spieth’s rooftop journey

Jordan Spieth is an agent of chaos. The 2015 Masters champion is an unpredictable Tasmanian devil capable of generating some of the most brilliant, and most ridiculous, shots you’ll ever see in your life, often on the same hole. Exactly that happened on the par-5 18th at TPC San Antonio on Saturday afternoon.

Wild. (Brennan Asplen/Getty Images)
Wild. (Brennan Asplen/Getty Images)

Spieth’s tee shot ended up underneath a tree in a cacti-filled native area. His second shot hit a branch and rolled into a drainage ditch. Weird, but not transcendent. That would come next, when Spieth decided to mangle the Rules of Golf to his own advantage and hit his shot onto the roof of the TPC San Antonio clubhouse. Since the somehow-in-bounds clubhouse is, rightly, considered an immovable obstruction but the nearby scoreboard was only a temporary immovable instruction, he was entitled to a drop by the scoreboard, which left him 100 yards to get up and down for par. Alas, he couldn’t get that done, three-putting for a double bogey. But on the plus side, he gave us golf’s first-ever gutter ball.

Bring that energy to Augusta this week, Jordan, and let’s ride.

Enjoy the azaleas and pimentos this week, friends, and we’ll see you back here next Monday!