Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we’re giving these high-tops more thought. Rickie Fowler’s finishing flourish in Abu Dhabi added fuel to the fire that was ignited by Jordan Spieth at Kapalua. First, a long bunker hole out for eagle on No. 8. Then, a chip-in birdie that all but sealed the victory on No. 17. What do you think, Mars Blackmon?
That’s what we thought. While we consider switching over to the, um, high side, here’s what else is on our mind.
Rickie Fowler: BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! RICKIE! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! RICKIE! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! RICKIE! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! RICKIE! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! BIG FOUR! RICKIE!
Sorry, couldn’t help it. Actually, as Rickie himself pointed out, there can’t be a Big Four until he wins a major. But after four wins in the past eight months that have moved him to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, it looks like that next goal can’t be too far off.
Jason Dufner: Forty-seven winless starts. A divorce. The Johnny Manziel debacle in Cleveland. Dufner has been through a lot since his last PGA Tour victory at the 2013 PGA Championship. But Dufner got back into the winner’s circle at the CareerBuilders Challenge, proving that he can win without the long hair and the beer gut.
Euro Tour shorts: The European Tour officially made shorts acceptable in practice rounds, much to the joy of Ian Poulter:
Honestly, does it really matter? Especially in practice? Unless, of course, players start wearing trouser socks with shorts. If there hasn’t been an amendment to this new rule that outlaws that look, there really should be.
Jim Nantz: The CBS announcer told Sports Illustrated his goal is to retire after the 2036 Masters. That would give Nantz an odd 51 times covering the event, but it would allow him to be there for the tournament’s 100th anniversary. We applaud his passion for the Masters -- and his willingness to still be working when he’s 76. Then again, it helps when you have arguably the best gig in the world.
Bryson DeChambeau’s weekend: Yes, he’s still an amateur, but he’s also an amateur who dropped out of school three months ago and has already finished runner-up at the Australian Masters. So we’re allowed to point out DeChambeau’s poor performance after taking the 36-hole lead in Abu Dhabi. Paired with Rory McIlroy in the final round, the Hogan-capped golfer shot an un-Hogan-like 78, and wound up finishing T-54.
Jordan Spieth’s pace: Everyone loves Jordan, but his pace of play isn't perfect. Spieth was warned under the European Tour’s new system during his first round in Abu Dhabi for taking too long to putt. He didn’t wind up receiving a fine (and there was no threat of a penalty) since he didn’t get flagged again, but it was a good reminder that no one, not even the World No. 1, is above the rules. Now if we could just see the PGA Tour get a little tougher on this issue. . . And besides, Spieth is capable of playing fast!
Bogus juggling record: When soccer star Aaron Ramsey broke the Guinness World Record for most times juggling a golf ball in 30 seconds (15? Really?) on the TV show "A League of Their Own," I mocked the accomplishment. Not because I could do better (Sadly, I can’t come close), but because I know many people who could do better. And one of those people, Matty Duplessis, decided to prove this point, videoing himself doing 75 “keepy-uppies” (James Corden’s words, not ours).
Well done, Matty.
The PGA Tour heads to San Diego's Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open, aka that event where Tiger Woods usually starts his season.
Random tournament fact: Tiger Woods is not starting his season there this week.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- I will challenge that juggling record some day: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
-- I will actually wear the Rickie high-tops on the course some day: 10 MILLION-to-1 odds
-- Jim Nantz falls asleep to the soothing sounds of the Masters theme song: LOCK
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (BEST SHOT CATEGORY)
Truth be told, there was a lot more skill to either of Fowler’s hole outs, but neither were as spectacular as Dufner’s “escape from Alcatraz” (Thanks, Dan Hicks):
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (BEST CALL CATEGORY)
The best thing about watching European Tour coverage on the Golf Channel might be listening to the guys in the booth: Dougie Donnelly, Ken Brown and Tony Johnstone. In this case, Donnelly and Brown jumped into a little two-man comedy routine after Jordan Spieth hit a wayward drive that bounced off a fan’s butt. Have a watch/listen:
"Dear, dear, that was nearly a plugged lie," is going to be tough for any announcer to top in 2016.
THIS WEEK IN
NATALIE GULBIS RORY MCILROY MAKING US FEEL BAD WITH HER HIS TRAINING
Lunges are the absolute worst. And he’s doing them with weights the size of microwaves? SMH, as the kids say.
THIS WEEK IN PAIGE SPIRANAC BEING PAIGE SPIRANAC
This week’s obligatory selfie contains an important message:
THIS WEEK IN OTHER MODELS PLAYING GOLF
Introducing Sara Winter, who was a Miss Universe Canada finalist in 2014:
And who is the latest person to record a hole-in-one before me:
THIS WEEK IN PHIL BEING PHIL
Off the flag and then spinning it 15 feet back and into the hole? Whether he finished T-3 (nice start to 2016, by the way) or T-73, this guy is a highlight goldmine:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Who takes nine minutes over a tee shot? I could of played the hole, read a book, took a shower, washed my hair and got dry in that time!” – The Secret Tour Pro on Jason Day’s slow play. We now know STP is a fast reader. That might be the most revealing tip he’s left us yet!
THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY-THE CLAUSENS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
It looks like Dustin Johnson, who would certainly have to be considered at least a part of the BIG NINE, has not been playing much golf of late, but is instead working on his skiing. Here he, Paulina and the Clausens, Jimmy (the Carolina Panthers’ QB of the future before they drafted Cam Newton) and Jess, hit the slopes in Aspen.
And then the bar in Aspen.
But DJ’s love of golf appears to have worn off on Jess:
Way to do your part to help grow the game, Dustin.
THIS AND THAT
Duffy Waldorf won the season-opening event of the
Champions Tour PGA Tour Champions. That gives him two wins in his last three events after failing to win in his first 72 starts on the senior circuit. . . . Clemson University is building a new $55 million facility that includes a mini-golf course to attract football recruits. For that much money, we’d hope there’s a golf simulator as well. . . . As you’re probably aware, the Northeast was hit with a blizzard named Jonas. And as a new homeowner, I was forced to come out of retirement as a snow shoveler. Damn you, Jonas. . . . And in honor of Golf Digest’s ASME nomination for General Excellence, the GD crew hit the town in NYC for the second consecutive week:
Watch out for us in the Big City! (Provided it’s before 9 p.m., of course.)
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Do the Broncos have a chance against the Panthers?
What’s it like to be a big-time college recruit?
Should I invest in a snow blower?