A PGA Tour WAG's big arm, a country club cheating brawl, and a caddie who deserves his own reality TV show
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we made a critical mistake by getting our hopes up as the calendar turned this month. The beginning of March caused my mind to drift to the beginning of the golf season in the Northeast. Whoops. Three days later, I’ve spent more time shoveling snow than Vijay Singh spends on the driving range. Anyway, while my golf game remains dormant, there was a LOT happening on the course in other parts of the country. Let's get to it before I have to crank up the snow blower again.
Keith Mitchell: In 82 previous starts on the Web.com and PGA Tours, the 27-year-old University of Georgia product had never won. But after bogeying his first two holes of the final round at the Honda Classic, this (Georgia) Bulldog birdied four of his final seven to beat a couple of guys named Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler:
Yeah, this is one for the scrapbook:
Vijay Singh: The three-time major champ’s crazy workout videos have been a Grind staple this year and now we know Vijay wasn’t just doing that for our amusement. Eligible for just about any senior discount out there at 56, Singh shared the lead at PGA National with four holes to play, nearly becoming the PGA Tour’s oldest winner by more than three years before finishing sixth. And as a reward to himself, Singh took some time off to celebr—
”Crunchy Pete": Thanks to Mitchell’s win, the golf world was introduced to his caddie, Pete Persolja, a man who goes by the nickname Crunchy Pete and deserves his own reality TV show. The self proclaimed “caddie version of Bear Grylls” claims to have bought his car/house for $100 and only takes showers under waterfalls. In short, he is basically the caddie from Happy Gilmore.
And he’s awesome. The man has so many choice tweets, but this is my favorite:
"Formal Pete" or “Date Mike”?
Tough choice, ladies.
”Crusty Pete": OK, I made this nickname up for former Golf Channel host Peter Kessler, but it’s fitting. Not that I’m complaining. The self-appointed Voice of Golf is Twitter’s hot-take czar, going after everything and everyone from the USGA to backstopping to Jack Nicklaus (as a course designer). Even when I don’t agree with PK (I usually do), I find his tweets, especially his videos that often include him playing guitar and singing, entertaining.
Keep the videos—and photos—coming, PK.
Tiger’s neck injury: Please, PLEASE don’t let this be serious. Tiger Woods withdrew on Monday from this week’s tournament with a neck strain, and while he says it has nothing to do with his back and that he has “no long-term concerns," it’s hard not to panic. Heck, even Starbucks baristas are bummed out:
Fingers crossed Woods will be back soon. In the meantime, Tiger, let me know if you need anything. An ice pack, some chicken noodle soup, my neck. Seriously, let me know.
USGA calling out Justin Thomas: We appear headed toward a golf Civil War between the PGA Tour and the USGA as tensions over the new rules continue to escalate. And while there is certainly blame all around, the USGA's tweet at Thomas on Saturday was the low point:
Calling out one of the game's most popular stars like that? Bold. JT called the message "a little shocking" and "inaccurate" the next day. And on Tuesday, the USGA issued this follow-up tweet:
Guys, can’t we all just get along?
This headline: If Keith Mitchell's mom is going to make a nice scrapbook for her boy’s first win, then she probably won’t include this:
That’s messed up. The Palm Beach Post's editor later apologized and claimed the headline was in reference to Mitchell saying a friend had sent him another newspaper clipping calling him a “no-name” earlier in the week, but still, this wasn’t a good look. I just hope Mrs. Mitchell didn’t see it.
The PGA Tour continues its Florida Swing with the Arnold Palmer Invitational, AKA that event that Tiger Woods used to win all the time that now gives out a dope red cardigan to the winner.
Random tournament fact: Not so much a fact, but a reminder that THE KING once did this:
That might be the most re-watchable clip in golf history. What a legend.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
— Someone will hit a better driver off the deck at Bay Hill this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
— Tiger Woods will win the 2019 Masters: 12-to-1 odds (Actual odds, holding steady)
— The guy who bet $10,000 on Tiger at 12-to-1 odds is regretting that right now: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Rickie Fowler mocked the new drop rule by imitating dropping something else:
This is getting, um, messy. . .
VIRAL VIDEO(S) OF THE WEEK
At least no one from the PGA Tour has head-butted anyone from the USGA through a window. Yet. But that’s what happened during a club championship awards ceremony at South Africa’s Lake Club Benoni when one man accused another of cheating. Viewer discretion (Violence AND graphic language!) advised:
We're guessing those two won't be teaming up in the club's member-member this year.
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS
Not only did Kid Rock make a hole-in-one before me, but Jack Nicklaus bragged about it:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"[Koepka] is not the kind of guy goes to see the sports psychologist. He's going to end up being the kind of guy that the sports psychologists come to see him.” — Paul Azinger is starting to COOK in the NBC booth.
THIS WEEK IN "PROS ARE JUST LIKE US!"
As Azinger noted during this wild sequence, Drew Nesbitt must not have a shirt deal, so he’s kind of like us:
Only, I don’t think I would have made par from there. And I’ll never be that skinny again. I will have a golfer’s tan like that again, though. Eventually. Damn this interminable winter.
THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
In case you didn’t notice DJ’s comment below PG posing in a bathtub, here it is up close:
THIS WEEK IN BROOKS KOEPKA-JENA SIMS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Not to be outdone, check out Jena's comment to her man's bench-press video:
Jena, you sly dog, you. . .
THIS WEEK IN OTHER TOUR PRO-WAGS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION ATHLETICISM
Amid the NFL Draft Combine, the golf star and Kelley Cahill decided to show of their football skills:
I'm no scout, but Kelly throws a better spiral than Tim Tebow. Impressive.
THIS AND THAT
Cameron Tringale and Mike McCroy won the coveted Seminole pro-member on Monday. Considering the field, Triangle might deserve more world ranking points than Keith Mitchell for winning the Honda Classic. . . . With 62-year-old Mark O’Meara winning the Cologuard Classic, the average age of the four Champions Tour winners in 2019 is now 59.25. In other words, Vijay Singh is still a spring chicken on the senior tour. . . . Speaking of the senior tour, John Smoltz (Yes, THAT John Smoltz) shot a very respectable one over for three days to finish T-53 out of 78 players. Suddenly, those three sponsor exemptions seem well warranted. . . . And finally, after stocking up on original Coke Zero in July of 2017 after the announcement of the new recipe, I’m down to my final can:
What to do with this liquid gold? I took up colleague Ryan Herrington’s suggestion to crack it open to celebrate when Tiger Woods wins next. Man, that's going to taste good.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Is Vijay Singh done winning PGA Tour events?
Am I done snow blowing/shoveling for the year?
How long is that Coke Zero going to sit in my fridge?