2023 Netflix Cup results, takeaways: Justin Thomas, Carlos Sainz outlast Tony Finau, Pierre Gasly in Las Vegas

The team of Justin Thomas and Carlos Sainz won the inaugural Netflix Cup on Tuesday after defeating Tony Finau and Pierre Gasly in a closest-to-the-pin competition on the final hole. After Sainz and Gasly missed the green, Thomas hit it inside of Finau for the victory.

But it took a while to get to the end. First, J.T. and Sainz had to defeat a team of Rickie Fowler and Lando Norris, which they did easily. Then, Finau and Gasly had to beat Max Homa and Alex Albon, which took a bit longer. Thomas and Sainz looked like the strongest team throughout, though, and were the deserving champions.

The entire night was festive and fun, if a bit slower than anticipated. The golf, for the most part, seemed incidental to a big party in Las Vegas to celebrate the first ever Formula 1 race in that city, which will take place on Saturday evening. 

Here are a few more thoughts on the first-ever Netflix Cup. 

1. Complete chaos

The first hole featured a starting grid, lights that turned on and went out to mimick an F1 race, a golf cart race to the hole and absolutely no indication of who won the hole or why. And that was how the whole thing started. But, listen, the pace of play was extraordinary, which I am always a proponent of no matter how we get there.

2. The sphere is unsettling

I am not terribly familiar with the Las Vegas sphere, which apparently hosts concerts and shows and can display pretty much anything you want it to on the exterior. But watching guys hit draws and fades off the emoji-like eyeballs was a fairly bizarre experience.

3. Carlos Sainz can play

Sainz is a hitter. With teammate Justin Thomas struggling in spots, they used some of Sainz’s shots in the two-man scramble. He’s consistent, has a good move and stays within himself. When I played with Pierre Gasly recently at an event in Austin, Texas, he noted that Sainz is one of the better players — maybe the best player — of any of the F1 racers who play golf.

4. Rickie unleashed

The most newsy thing that happened came when Netflix showed a clip from “Full Swing” season 2 which featured Rickie Fowler sitting in a chair, discussing his struggles from the last few years.

“People saying, ‘It’s because of this why he’s struggling. Well you shouldn’t be doing that, you should be working harder at golf.’ I think it’s all bullsh** to be honest,” Fowler said. “If those people talking sh** had the opportunity to have partnerships and do commercials and that was part of the deal, then they would do it too.”

This is way off script for the normally media-safe Fowler, but it was pretty great to see because 1) it’s true and 2) it’s a great promo for “Full Swing,” which should be even better this time around. 

5. It’s fun, but is it entertaining? 

The question I kept asking myself throughout was, “Who exactly is this for?” It was even sillier and more off the rails than some of the one-off matches we’ve seen featuring athletes from other sports, but also with much worse golf. I understand why Netflix would feature it — to help promote its “Full Swing” and “Drive to Survive” series for golf and F1, respectively — I’m just not sure audiences are asking for a crossover event featuring the stars from both shows.


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