By Alex Myers
From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:
1. Rory McIlroy: It's been a few days since his British Open win, but there's still a buzz around the 25-year-old Northern Irishman. How many majors will he end up winning? Did he really drink Jagermeister from the claret jug? How many girlfriends does he have? It's McIlroymania in golf right now.
2. NFL training camps: People always make a big deal when pitchers and catchers report to spring training, but what about quarterbacks and wide receivers reporting to training camp? The start of these practices indicates the start of the actual season is about a month away. Get excited! Unlike in baseball, in the NFL your team actually has a chance to be good every year.
3. "Fifty Shades Of Grey": Has there ever been more hype for the release of a movie trailer? I haven't seen it yet, nor have I read the books, nor do I care about any of it or have I even heard of the movie's co-stars, Jamie Dornan or Dakota Johnson (below), but it doesn't matter. Having it come up in conversations seems almost unavoidable at this point.
4. Charles Barkley: We all know he's bad at golf, but he might have reached a new low last week. Barkley
competed participated embarrassed himself in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, making a total of zero pars or birdies in 54 holes. He made five bogeys and 49 double bogeys, and before you go, "Well, he didn't make any triple bogeys, at least," know this: There were no triple bogeys in the modified Stableford format. While Tiger Woods' post-Hank Haney struggles have made the instructor look good, Haney's inability to cure the game's worst celebrity golfer leaves a blemish on his teaching resume. When you're hacking it around this weekend, just think of this scorecard and know things could be worse:
5. Old golfers: We'll end with a thought that should be much more uplifting to amateur hacks all over the world: you can play great golf as a geezer. In fact, the Champions Tour should change its motto to "These OLD guys are good." Tom Watson leads this charge having recently made cuts playing with the young guys at the Greenbrier and the British Open. For the week at Hoylake, Old TW shot a final-round 68 to dust Young TW by five shots. Imagine a 50-year-old Michael Jordan being able to hang with today's NBA players? OK, bad example since MJ probably could, but you get the point. Keep playing golf -- and keep your fingers crossed that equipment keeps improving.
By Alex Myers
It's a technicality, but Yevgeny Kafelnikov, once the world's top-ranked tennis player, is now Russia's highest-ranked golfer. How did he accomplish this? Simply by having an official ranking.
With zero ranking points to his credit, Kafelnikov, 40, is currently tied with a bunch of his countrymen at No. 1,556 -- the lowest the ranking goes at the moment. Here's a look at Russia's ranking page from the OWGR's website:
Kafelnikov has played the most events (15) that count toward the ranking of any Russian male pro in the past two years. That includes four starts on the European Tour and 11 starts on the Challenge Tour. He's missed the cut in all 15 of those starts and has never played the weekend in 19 career starts on both tours.
Maria Balikoeva is the highest-ranked Russian female pro at No. 246, but only one other Russian, Galina Rotsmistrova (No. 622), has an official ranking. Not that we should be too surprised for a country that opened its first 18-hole golf course in 1994.
Despite his lack of success, Kafelnikov might be Russia's best golfer. He and Balikoeva both won their country's national championship in 2011.
We bring all this up because Kafelnikov and several other Russian pros are in the field at this week's Russian Open on the European Tour. However, we don't expect his ranking to get any better after an opening 83 on Thursday.
ESPN anchor faced with one of life's most difficult questions: do you take the car or the cash after a hole-in-one?
By Alex Myers
Attributing the weekend success of Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki to their recent breakup is nothing new. But when Stephen Colbert tackles any subject on his Comedy Central show, "The Colbert Report," he's bound to give a fresh take.
On Sunday, McIlroy won the British Open -- his third major, but first in nearly two years -- and Wozniacki won the Istanbul Cup, her first win in nine months. On Tuesday, Colbert noted that the two were in a "sixth stage of grief: winning an international sports tournament." He then declared, "Breakups are the ultimate performance-enhancing drug." Tiger Woods and others might disagree.
Here's the full clip:
By John Strege
John Cook was lining up a par putt to get him into a playoff at the 1981 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am when his playing partner, actor James Garner, became a verbal target of an inebriated fan shouting, “Hey, Rockford.”
Cook still made the putt and ended up winning the tournament, but Garner got into a set-to with the fan and wound up punching him.
It wasn’t Garner’s finest moment in the game, but it was one of the most memorable for this avid golfer and Hollywood icon who died on Saturday at 86.
Garner, who starred in the television shows “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files,” was a member of Bel-Air Country Club who, according to Eddie Merrins, the long-time pro there, bettered his age when at 68 he shot a 67. Garner never took formal lessons, though his brother Jack Garner, a long-time teaching pro at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, Calif., gave him some tips, as did Cook and Gary Player.
In his book, “The Garner Files: A Memoir,” Garner wrote how he once played with his friend Bill Saxon and Golf Digest’s Dan Jenkins in an LPGA pro-am in Las Vegas. “Bill took a practice swing and accidentally hit me in the head with his driver,” Garner wrote. “It didn’t hurt me, but I played it to the hilt, dropping to the ground, pretending to be unconscious. It gave Dan quite a start until he realized I was acting. Said he thought he’d witnessed James Garner being murdered by his best friend.”
Garner, who frequently played in the Crosby, played a match with Sam Snead for a television show called “Celebrity Golf.” They tied. “He wasn’t happy about that, I can tell you,” Garner wrote. “Snead was a curmudgeon and full of himself.”
(Getty Images photo)
By John Strege
ESPN asked several of those playing in the British Open at Hoylake to name the four Beatles, who hailed from nearby Liverpool. They failed, none to the degree that Bubba Watson did.
"The lead singer, the drummer, the guitarist and the guy who packed things up," Watson said. "I have no clue."
Rory McIlroy tripped up on George Harrison, calling him George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars. Here is video proof:
By John Strege
Hopefully, walk-up songs will never become a part of first-tee introductions in professional golf, but if they do, John Daly has a renowned band volunteering to provide his.
The Metallica song “Enter Sandman” greeted former New York Yankee relief pitcher Mariano Rivera every time he came in from the Yankee Stadium bullpen for more a decade. But Rivera has retired, which leaves Metallica with John Daly? Watch this amusing new ESPN SportsCenter ad:
By Alex Myers
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we're still recovering from that shocking sports "decision" Friday. We all thought LeBron James was going home to Cleveland, but who knew Holly Sonders was even a free agent?! The Golf Channel star and "Morning Drive" co-host left for Fox Sports, where she'll also cover other sports since just covering golf for them would be a part-time job. So cue up the Sarah McLachlan and enjoy some of our favorite Holly moments, from her Golf Digest cover shoot to her appearance in this year's Humana Challenge Pro-Am to creatively chipping out the first pitch at a Rays game to her recent "win" in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Good luck, Holly. You will be missed.
Holly with a stroke of genius.
Mo Martin: You could watch golf for the rest of your life and not see a finish this unexpected. First of all, it was Mo Martin. The 31-year-old American had never even had a share of a lead at an LPGA event before this week and her best career finish at a major was a T-29. Secondly, she trailed by two shots on the final hole when her "full 3-wood" from about 240 yards away (100 of which were on the ground) rattled off the flagstick. She barely missed an unfathomable walk-off albatross, but still made an eagle that wound up winning the Women's British Open. Oh yeah, it was her first eagle of the year and just the third of her career. Talk about winning out of Mo-where!
We'd be laughing if we hit the flagstick from 240 yards out, too.
Justin Rose: A two-shot victory at the Scottish Open gave Rose a second straight win, moved him to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking and has him as many people's No. 1 choice to win this week's British Open. In fact, he went first in Golf Digest's fantasy draft. Tough to argue with that, especially if you remember who won last year's Scottish Open . . .
University of Georgia men: Brian Harman could have been named Brian Anyman. As long as he went to college in Athens, Ga., he was bound to win on the PGA Tour. Harman became the sixth Bulldog to win on the tour this year with his one-shot victory over Zach Johnson at the John Deere Classic. Heck, Harman lost his caddie for most of the first round, picked some random dude out of the crowd and still shot six under for 12 holes. Hopefully, that guy is getting a nice check in the mail this week.
Colin Montgomerie: Now he's not just winning majors in the U.S., he's winning majors in playoffs in the U.S.? Wow, how things have changed. This time Monty captured the biggest event on the Champions Tour, the U.S. Senior Open, topping Gene Sauers in three extra holes after Sauers lipped out a six-footer on the final hole of regulation. It appears the golf gods are finally in Monty's corner. Better late than never, right?
Steve Stricker: We had the Strick Show penciled into this space at the beginning of the week for opting (again) to be a no-show at the British Open. Then he went out and did the unthinkable: shoot over par Sunday at the John Deere Classic to blow a chance to win his favorite tournament (again). OK, so that might be as surprising as Mo Martin winning an women's major.
Rory McIlroy's Fridays: This is just getting ridiculous. McIlroy followed up an opening 64 at the Scottish Open with a second-round 78. Sound familiar? He recently shot 63-78 at the Memorial and is now 0-for-4 on the year when opening a tournament with a 64 or better. McIlroy leads the PGA Tour in first-round scoring, but averages nearly five shots worse on Day 2. According to Golf Channel's Justin Ray, McIlroy is nine over in second rounds worldwide in 2014 and a staggering 90 under in all other rounds combined. I picked Rory No. 5 in our fantasy draft. Can someone across the pond make sure he gets a good night's sleep on Thursday for me? Thanks.
Scott Verplank: It's not often that a golfer turns 50 the day before the U.S. Senior Open. It's more rare when that event just happens to be at the site where you had arguably your best week ever (winning the 1984 U.S. Amateur). But Verplank didn't take advantage, shooting a pair of 75s in his Champions Tour debut and missing the cut. After one final bad drive on Friday, he gave his driver to a kid in the crowd. "I asked him if he was a golfer and he said he was so I gave him my driver. He will hit it better than I will.
The world's best golfers head to the Open Championship, aka the British Open, aka the British, aka the Open. Look, no matter what people call this week's major at Hoylake, we all know what people are referring to. Let's not get too hung up on names. Please?
Random tournament fact: We'll let Will Ferrell handle this one:
Some good info there, Will.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- That kid will actually hit that driver better than Scott Verplank: 1 million-to-1 odds
-- Martin Kaymer will win the U.S. Open AND Germany will win the World Cup: 265-1 odds (actual odds before the U.S. Open)
-- I will regret switching to a combo of Sergio Garcia and Spain at the last minute for the rest of my life: LOCK
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"You can be standing over a putt and the ball's kind of ovulating a little bit." -- Jessica Korda, who quickly laughed off her vocab slip up on Twitter and blamed it on being blonde.
THIS WEEK IN
PAULINA GRETZKY-DUSTIN JOHNSON AMANDA DUFNER-JASON DUFNER-A WILD CHEETAH PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
This was a #TBT post from Amanda, but it's a classic.
She also posted a pic of Jason on the August cover of Golf Digest and called him a "stud." It's all about the Dufners right now. Paulina, however, did post this solo photo:
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Luke Donald hit a bunker shot lefty. Phil Mickelson hit a bunker shot righty. They both hit it to about six feet. These guys are good.
VIRAL VIDEO(S) OF THE WEEK
Jesper Parnevik breaks a rib while riding a Segway. Ouch.
And from a golfer getting hurt to a golfer's girlfriend appearing indestructible, there's this video of Lindsey Vonn taking the "ab test." She passed.
THIS AND THAT
Golf Digest's Dan Jenkins will not be at the British Open, ending a remarkable streak of covering 179 straight major championships. Jenkins says he plans to start a new streak at this year's PGA Championship, which will be his 223rd major overall. Good luck to anyone trying to top that. . . . Andres Gonzales went wire-to-wire at the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship, winning by four shots. . . . A new ranking system for determining qualifiers for the 2016 Olympics in Rio started this week. Great, another ranking to keep track of. . . . That's me appearing on ESPN's "Outside The Lines" discussing golf addiction. No, I was not asked to be on the show because I'm a golf addict. I don't think . . .
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Has Paulina already given up on golf?
What does Rory McIlroy do on Thursday nights?
Am I a golf addict?