The drama that gripped the world of golf in 2022 became guaranteed to hit Netflix in 2023 when the eight-episode documentary “Full Swing” premiered last month. Much like its spiritual predecessors, Formula 1’s “Drive to Survive,” the “Full Swing” turned players into celebrities, introducing the wider world to the check-and-cash-obsessed Justin Thomas, the check-and-cash-obsessed Dustin Johnson, the hilarious playball Joel Dahmen, the data-minded Matt Fitzpatrick, and much more.
Now that we’re in the heart of the 2023 season, it’s time to catch up with the characters — sorry, players — that we followed through the episodes of “Full Swing.” We will rank them throughout the 2023 season based on a highly sophisticated algorithm that combines performance on the course, overall sentiment, and actions that will end up in season two. We have a clear leader already…
1. Scottie Scheffler: Episode 2, “Win or Go Home,” was great because of Brooks Koepa’s downfall. (More on that later.) Scheffler was an afterthought in his own episode, which suits him because he still gets overlooked on the Tour—until the moment he completely wrecks, as he did this past weekend at Sawgrass. Call him boring if you like, but call him “sir” when you want.
2 – Jordan Spieth: The downbeat tone of what would become Episode 2 forced the producers to move “Frenemies,” the Spieth-Thomas episode, to the lead position. Wise choice. Spieth spent the 2000s as golf’s golden child, and though he’s backed off the pace, he still has the potential to turn a routine tournament into an event – like this past weekend, where he made the cut mainly by A shot bounces off a fan’s knee. .
3 – Rory McIlroy: The season finale “Everything Leads Up To This” focused not only on McIlroy’s tragic fall at last year’s Open Championship, but how he became the PGA Tour’s White Knight in his ongoing battle against LIV Golf. “I’d love to go back to being a golfer, yeah,” he said, after missing an appearance this week on The Players. “Honestly, it’s been a busy six or eight months.” Bad for him, but good for “full swing” viewers.
4 – Joel Dahmen: The undisputed star of “Full Swing” was Dahmen, a playful eccentric whose gleeful disbelief in his success was a stark contrast to the stern, arrogant security of most of the other players. He didn’t do anything particularly important in The Players, but he didn’t need to; He’s already a favorite on the show because of his star role in the documentary. “It’s hard to get used to” . “Especially when I was overextended for most of the tournament.”
5. Colleen Morikawa: Morikawa suffered a bit in comparison to the free-spirited Tony Finau in Episode 6, “Don’t Be Bitter, Be Better,” his methodical approach a sharp contrast to the familial chaos of Finau’s crew. Morikawa cruised to the top of the leaderboard at TPC Sawgrass this weekend, but fell slightly off the pace, finishing T13 after a couple of wobbly runs.
6. True Thijala: He barely made the cut, then crashed into the players weekend. But the co-star of Episode 7, “Golf Is Hard,” got a nod here for his insistence on the quote. When asked if he felt like one of the 30 best players in the world, he didn’t hesitate. “I’m not. I’m exaggerating. Are you telling me there are 28 men better than me? No way. There are good parts of my game. But there are other bad parts.”
7 – Tony Finno: Backed by a strong 66-sat, Finau finished T19 in players. Not a bad rebound considering he was drenched on the first day at Island Green:
Everyone is just waiting to see the entire Finau crew in the small caddy in Par 3 competition, of course.
8. Justin Thomas: An unremarkable, albeit similar, weekend for the current PGA champ: 73-73-71-71. His relentless driving in the first episode prompted some laughs on social media – he was sharper than many Formula 1 drivers who risk death at every turn – but he admitted the overall effect was positive while he was on board for the second season. Before The Players, he said: “I’ve heard a lot of good things from abroad or from some friends, so I think that’s good enough for me.”
9. Ian Poulter: LIV-iest of golfers was LIV in “Full Swing,” Poulter is unapologetic about his wishes in Ep. 3, “Money or Legacy.” At the first event of the LIV season in February, Poulter finished 12th and took home $405,000. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but if Poulter had shot the same -4-in At the same location, he’d take home…about $17,000. Upgrade is not bad.
10. Matt Fitzpatrick: In the fifth episode, “American Dreams,” Fitzpatrick is shown documenting literally every shot he ever takes. The good news this weekend: He only had to track half of what he usually does, because he missed the cut and came home early. It will get better.
11 – Mito Pereira: The saddest story of both “Full Swing” and the 2022 season in general thanks to his 72-hole loss in the PGA Championship. He finished 15th in his first LIV event, not quite a substitute.
12 – Brooks Koepka: The “Full Swing”‘s most tragic fall belonged to Koepka, who appeared adrift and lost when Scheffler won the Masters last year. He finished T27 at the LIV Mayakoba event, and will be watching for a better performance in Augusta in a few weeks.
13. Dustin Johnson: Pretty much the only LIV maverick who escaped unharmed, mainly because he was upfront about his motives – money, man, money – and quit the PGA Tour. He won it all last year and took home $35 million, so finishing T35 in the first LIV event of the year wouldn’t exactly mean him.
The next LIV event kicks off this weekend in Tucson. Several “Full Swing” notables, including Thomas, Spieth and Fitzpatrick, will play the next stop on the tour at the Valspar Championship. Three weeks from now, they’ll all meet at The Masters…and that’s where the fireworks start.