David Letterman may be off the air, but Stupid Human Tricks are alive and well.
Joost Luiten, a Dutchman on the European Tour, decided to try and hit a golf ball over the Rijksmuseum, an art and history museum in Amsterdam. Why? Because why the hell not?
My friends and I used to have a similar bet regarding an attempt to sky the Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati, Ohio. Standing in at 230 feet, I always thought it was impossible.
But now Luiten, the No. 56 ranked player in the world, has rejuvenated this dormant dream by clearing the 95 meters (311 feet) of the Rijksmuseum’s towers. Oh, to put a cherry on top, Luiten manages to hit a green he cannot see.
Next time I’m in the Queen City, I’m going to clear that bridge!*
Reality set in for Rob Oppenheim last Monday morning. After taking it deep in a local Wichita bar celebrating his first Web.com Tour victory, Oppenheim awoke to a travel day that took him to Chicago, then Toronto, then Halifax. Just because he had won the Air Capital Classic didn’t mean Oppenheim was exempt from his life as a journeyman.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but there’s no question this has been the biggest win and the biggest step in my career,” Oppenheim said when I reached him at the Web.com Tour’s Nova Scotia Open. “To be that much closer to being a player on the PGA Tour is kind of like a dream.”
At 35, with a 2-year-old daughter and a pregnant wife at home in Winter Park, Fla., Oppenheim earned his first title in 129 Web.com Tour starts and moved to 13th on the money list with $146,227 after winning $108,000 with his closing 64. With seven events left in the regular season, he is virtually assured of finishing among the tour’s top 25 money winners and, for the first time, be exempt to play the big tour.
The veritable bonanza comes not long after a career crisis. In 2014, Oppenheim remembers being in a lonely hotel room in Ocala, Fla., on the verge of considering another job.
Without full exempt status on the Web.com Tour, Oppenheim was Monday qualifying and bouncing back to the mini-tours when he didn’t get into fields. Driving home after a T-33 on the SwingThought.com Tour, the $800 it paid not covering his $1,400 entry fee, Oppenheim received a call from Jay Golden, a teaching pro he has known since his days at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. “I didn’t have much money to pay him,” Oppenheim admits. “He was like, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ”
They worked at the Winter Park muny and, with Golden caddieing, Oppenheim finished T-4 a month later in the Web.com’s South Georgia Classic. That exempted Oppenheim for most of the remaining events in 2014. But he was still back at Web.com Tour Qualifying School in December, playing his final nine holes at PGA National, when he struck the most important shot of his life.
On the number to get a Web.com card, Oppenheim jarred a 5-iron on the par-3 fifth of the Champion course. That ace ultimately meant the difference between exempt status and another year of agonizing Mondays.
"I can honestly say I was more nervous trying to close out that Q school than I was at Wichita the last nine holes,” Oppenheim said. “At Wichita I was just trying to go as low as I could and shoot a number. At Q school you’re thinking, Try not to mess up. Try not to make a big number.”
The journeyman journeys on, knowing the Web.com is about the only way to get to the PGA Tour nowadays. When he arrived home in Orlando on Saturday after missing the cut in Nova Scotia, congratulatory letters were awaiting, including one from Arnold Palmer, whom Oppenheim met when Rollins practiced at Bay Hill.
Reality sets back in Tuesday morning, when he heads back to the airport for a flight to Idaho for the Albertsons Boise Open. “You’ve gotta love golf,” Oppenheim says. “I don’t think you can do this unless you really love the game.”
By this point, you've probably heard a lot of outrageous reactions to Rory McIlroy's ankle injury, from the ridiculous ("How dare he play anything other than golf!") to the even more ridiculous ("How dare he call it 'soccer!'"). But one opinion is in a league of its own thus far.
On Fox News' Outnumbered program on Monday, one reporter randomly called McIlroy a "leprechaun" and said she "can't stand him." A little harsh, no? Here's the odd clip (thanks to Twitter user @Wrong_Fairway for sharing) in which someone not on screen can be heard giving her extra-hot take on the situation following a report on McIlroy's injury:
Maybe she's upset that her bet on McIlroy winning two majors in 2015 probably isn't going to come through? In any matter, kudos to co-host Harris Faulkner for making such a smooth transition to the next segment. That's a pro's pro right there.
Joey Chestnut, the reigning eight-time champion of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, was usurped from this throne by Matt Stonie -- a man referred to as "the Jordan Spieth of tubed beef" -- this weekend in what the event’s emcee called “one of the greatest upsets in sports history.”
Granted, this might be a tad hyperbolic, but such is to be expected from an event that awards its winner a mustard-plated belt.
The proclamation did get us thinking: What are some of the biggest shockers in the history of golf?
Francis Ouimet’s legacy withstanding that terrible Shia LeBeouf movie
You would think pulling off the thriller of the century -- Ouimet, a 20-year-old amateur besting two of the game’s best in Harry Vardon and Ted Ray -- would be tough to tarnish. But that LeBeouf film came damn close.
Jack Fleck over Ben Hogan, 1955 U.S. Open
Hogan was the unquestioned face of the game, while Fleck was a club pro in Davenport, Iowa. Tied after 72 holes at the Olympic Club, the two faced off in an 18-hole playoff, with Fleck winning by three shots. To rub salt in the wound, Fleck won with a set of clubs manufactured by Hogan’s company.
If something similar happened today, the First Take guys would have a collective heart attack.
Rory McIlroy defeats alarm clock, Keegan Bradley
McIlroy almost missed his tee time on the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup, excusing his tardiness for time-zone confusion. The explanation was flimsy; if McIlroy thought he was on the East Coast, wouldn’t he be early for his match at Medinah, which, thanks to its Illinois location, resides in Central Standard Time?
Despite only getting a few practice putts, McIlroy managed to beat his Sunday singles foe, Bradley, and helped spur the European team to an epic comeback.
Orville Moody, 1969 U.S. Open
A military man, Moody retired from the Army to attempt a career on the PGA Tour. In his third year on the professional circuit, Moody won the 1969 U.S. Open, finishing ahead of a crowded leader board featuring Al Geiberger, Bob Rosburg, Deane Beman, Miller Barber and Arnold Palmer.
Alas, it would be Moody’s lone victory, further adding to the aura of his national championship.
John Daly’s “Hit it Hard” song charting
When an athlete produces a record, 99.9 percent of the time, it will make one’s ears bleed. But Daly’s “Hit it Hard” ballad, shockingly, isn’t terrible! You know, for a country song, that is. It even reached as high as No. 10 on the HIGHWAY Hot 45 Countdown, which I’m told is a real thing.
Larry Mize, 1987 Masters
Not sure what’s more impressive: Mize, an Augusta native, winning the Masters in a playoff over Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros with a chip-in at the 11th, or somehow avoiding scorn for that purple ensemble he was rocking. C’mon, Larry, only the Hornets can make the lavender-n-green combo work.
Zero streaker incidents at the 16th hole, Waste Management Open
Perhaps we should add the caveat of “Yet.”
Jack Nicklaus, 1986 Masters
It would be blasphemy to even consider making light of this moment. Long live the Golden Bear.
Happy Gilmore over Shooter McGavin, Tour Championship
Bonus points to Happy for overcoming a hit-n-run from a Volkswagen, the death of his mentor and a TV tower blocking his line on the 18th green.
Y.E. Yang beats Tiger Woods, 2009 PGA Championship
Not sure if you’ve been keeping up with Woods, but he's been in a tad of a major slump ever since his runner-up finish at Hazeltine.
Top 50 teacher Kevin Weeks works with a half dozen tour players on their putting, but the technique Robert Streb used at The Greenbrier Classic was one Weeks usually only teaches on the practice green.
After breaking his putter with a careless toss toward his bag behind the ninth green, Streb was forced to putt with his 56-degree sand wedge. It apparently wasn't much of a handicap. Streb made five birdies with the alternative flatstick, and made it into a playoff with Danny Lee, David Hearn and Kevin Kisner.
"Some people go with driver, some people go with hybrid, but I think he made the right call using wedge there," says Weeks, who is based at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill. "If you're going to try it, take your normal putting setup and normal putting grip, and favor your lead leg while tilting your spine slightly back. Move the ball slightly forward in your stance to make sure you hit up on the ball with the leading edge of the wedge, then make your same putting stroke."
If you hit the ball near the equator, it will come off the leading edge of the wedge and roll just like it would with a putter. "It's actually a great way to practice even if you have your putter with you," Weeks says. "If you can consistently hit the equator of the ball with your wedge, you're doing lots of nice things with your putting stroke. You aren't flipping your hands or hitting down on the ball, and you're staying nice and quiet with your body."
Streb was able to replace his putter before the playoff, but he didn't get a chance to try the new blade. He missed the green on the first hole, and watched Hearn and Lee make birdie putts that knocked him out.
Poor Kevin Kisner. In less than three months, he's lost three playoffs following his latest close call at The Greenbrier Classic. Even Greg Norman must feel bad for him.
If you're saying, "That seems like an awful lot of playoffs for one guy to be involved in," you're right! In fact, Kisner is just the fourth active PGA Tour pro to have played in three playoffs in a single season, according to Golf News Net.
Kisner joins Steve Elkington (1992), Sergio Garcia (2008), Bill Haas (2011) and Webb Simpson (2011) on this rare list. The difference is all four of those guys at least one won of their attempts in extra holes.
In contrast, Bubba Watson won the week before at the Travelers Championship to run his career playoff record to a sparkling 5-1. And Tiger Woods is an incredible 11-1 in his career on tour.
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer share the record for most wins in playoffs with 14, but both also had 10 losses. Ben Hogan holds the record for most playoff losses with 12, so Kisner has a long way to go. But he also has a long way to go to match the Hawk's eight playoff wins. Norman, who lost in a playoff at all four majors, lost seven of his first eight playoffs on the PGA Tour before finishing with a 4-8 career record.
At Harbour Town, Kisner birdied the first extra hole, but so did Furyk, who also birdied the second to end his long winless drought. At the Players, Kisner played the three-hole aggregate playoff in one under to tie with Fowler. Then Fowler birdied the 17th hole again to beat Kisner's par. Dagger.
"It's tough to win out here, man. I've had a heckuva year," Kisner said after his third P-2 finish on Sunday. "If I keep playing like this, I'll get plenty of wins."
That's right, Kevin. Keep posting the low 72-hole score at tournaments and eventually you'll have to win. We think.
So does Rory deserve criticism for his off-the-course injury? Or should we give the 26-year-old a pass for enjoying himself with his friends? The Twitter reaction has been mixed, but this much is true: The issue will remain a polarizing one, particularly if the defending Open champion must formally withdraw from St. Andrews in the next few days.
✔ￏRun away with a major at young age
✔ￏWin @ Hoylake & Valhalla
✔ￏAwkwardly end a marriage
✔ￏInjure left leg
Rory or Big Cat?
Depending on where you looked, Rory McIlroy was either the favorite or the co-favorite with Jordan Spieth heading into the Open Championship at St. Andrews. News of his ankle injury obviously has changed that, but not as much as you might think.
Jeff Sherman, the golf oddsmaker at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, now lists McIlroy at 8-to-1 odds to win, up from his previous 5-to-1. Not surprisingly, Spieth, winner of the year's first two majors, is now a heavy favorite.
British Open odds updated with McIlroy injury
J Spieth 9/2
R McIlroy 8/1
D Johnson 12/1
J Rose 15/1
A Scott 20/1
H Stenson 20/1
T Woods 25/1
Ah, OK. Still, it doesn't seem like a smart bet. Sherman also addressed questions about pending bets on McIlroy's number of major wins this year. Essentially, unless you made the bet after the U.S. Open, those wagers still stand. Bad news if you thought McIlroy would add to his major total this year, but good news if you thought he'd get shut out.
One non-Rory betting note: Tiger Woods is now 25-to-1 odds to win at St. Andrews, where he won two of his Open titles. Following his missed cut at the U.S. Open, Woods had fallen to 60-to-1. Apparently, a T-32 at the Greenbrier Classic goes a long way these days.
Callaway’s most extensive wedge offering, the new MD3 (or Mack Daddy 3), came about because wedge fitting today isn’t merely about a math problem or a numbers game. Wedge fitting is about getting the right spin for each wedge in your bag—even if that means less spin for certain shots.
The new line debuts at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour this week. There will be three sole grinds and three different grooves, all in an effort to produce the optimal amount of spin for the type of shot normally played by a particular wedge loft.
For example, the grooves on the lower lofts in the set (46-52) will have a groove in line with the groove typically found in an iron set since these wedges tend to be used in a full-swing mode most often. The grooves in the middle lofts (54-56 degrees) will transition to a more aggressive edge (in line with the groove on the 47-54 degree wedges in the MD2 line). And the highest loft wedges (58-60 degrees) will have the widest grooves with the steepest sidewall. Weight is drilled out of the back of each wedge with a row of four dots. The effect is to slightly raise the center of gravity to better control spin and trajectory.
“The flow of spin really matches up well all the way through your set to where you need the most spin in your lob category,” Cleveland says. “You want as aggressive a groove as you can to wick out as much material when you short-side yourself or get into the rough around the green. But that type of groove is not ideal in your gap wedge.
“It’s a very thought out line and it really helps you control your spin and trajectory for shots like trying to hit a back pin. You don’t want a 52-degree to a back pin ripping back. ”
The 15 lofts in the MD3 line are spread across three sole grinds: a standard “S” grind aimed at the broadest array of conditions and swing types; a heel-and-toe relief “C” grind aimed at firmer conditions; and a more forgiving wide-sole “W” grind geared to softer conditions and steeper swing types.
The thinking is that wedge fitting needs to be more subtle than fitting to a particular bounce angle, and that things like the attack angle of your swing, your typical turf and bunker conditions and even the types of shots you hit are more in line with a type of sole grind than a particular bounce angle measurement. The company considered some 48 prototypes before settling on the new designs, involving the input of its tour staff in settling on the new shapes.
Cleveland calls the new “C” grind “a little more generous” than previous Callaway “C” grinds and refers to the “S” grind as “universal,” and simply calls the “W” “really a friendly wedge.”
“We’ve learned a lot from the MD2 and we’ve received extensive input from the tour,” said Callaway wedge guru Roger Cleveland. “We’ve incorporated some of the best ideas from the X Tour and Tour Grind in the MD3 silhouette.”
The MD3 line debuts at retail Sept. 4 in both satin chrome and black finishes ($130).