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The Grind

An amazing Grayson Murray bet, a controversial sponsor’s exemption and the world premiere of 'A Rahm December'

January 16, 2024

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we wish we took more piano lessons as a kid. There's nothing like the feeling of hitting a pure golf shot, but connecting on a juicy chord is up there. Anyway, despite my lack of ability (My dad was a pro, but I assure you the apple falls far from the tree) and no one asking for it, a moment of silly inspiration led me to create my latest song parody to the tune of Counting Crows' classic "A Long December." Without further ado, here's the world premiere of "A Rahm December":

Thanks for watching and listening—and apologies to Adam Duritz. OK, let's get back to talking about golf. Emphasis on talking.

WE’RE BUYING

Grayson Murray: For a second consecutive week, the PGA Tour has quite a comeback story. Like Sentry winner Chris Kirk, Murray has re-found his game—and more importantly, gotten his life back on track—after finding sobriety. The former junior phenom was in particularly bad shape following a scooter accident in Bermuda 15 months ago, but now he’s driving circles around the competition. Murray won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2023 and wasted little time getting back into the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour after getting his card back. How about this 38-footer on the first playoff hole to win the Sony Open?

Pretty snazzy, especially since he looked to be in trouble after his tee shot hit a palm tree on the par 5. Murray has been a divisive figure on Twitter and on tour, getting into spats with Rory McIlroy and Kevin Na (who both happen to be key figures in “A Rahm December”!), but he sounds like a new man. As our Joel Beall eloquently writes, at least, it seems that way. And if Rory really told him to “Play better” at a players meeting last year, well, Grayson certainly listened to that advice.

Tommy Fleetwood: The Brit won a seventh career DP World Tour title, but this will be his most memorable for topping Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy (more on that in a bit) down the stretch at the Dubai Invitational. Not known as the greatest closer, Fleetwood birdied the final two holes to hoist his latest trophy:

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Alex Burstow

"I've watched him do amazing things down the stretch in golf tournaments," Fleetwood said of his pal McIlroy, "and today was my turn." Well said. With all the good golf this guy has played, it’s crazy that Fleetwood has still only won twice in the past four years worldwide and that he’s still looking for that maiden PGA Tour title. But perhaps this will be the boost needed to get him over the hump and quiet Paul Azinger in the booth. (Well, Azinger’s not in the booth anymore, but you get the point.)

Longshots: At least, if you’re betting on them, which, of course, I am not. But seriously, this is one of the craziest back-to-back gambling stretches in golf history with a 200-to-1 Chris Kirk winning in Kapalua followed by a 500-to-1 Grayson Murray at the Sony. A $10 bet on those two things happening would have won you $1 million. That being said, no one except Biff Tannen in "Back To The Future II" could have seen that coming. But at least one lucky gambler had Grayson winning:

Must be nice.

WE’RE SELLING

Rory’s rocky finish: Over the final eight holes in Dubai, McIlroy made five birdies, two bogeys, hit a tee shot in the water, and three-putted from two(!) feet:

Even Jordan Spieth had to be impressed by that roller-coaster ride. The final bogey cost McIlroy a season-starting victory and added to a long list of close calls in his career. To be fair, part of that is a testament to his greatness, because he’s almost always in contention. But I firmly believe no one in the history of golf has more bad losses than this guy.

Ben An’s playoff putt: Speaking of tough losses (and brutal putts), An was in control in that three-man playoff with Murray and Keegan Bradley after hitting his third shot to four feet on the par-5 18th at Waialae Country Club. But then VAGARIES of golf struck as Murray drained his 38-footer and An did this:

Yikes. We’re also selling that caption. “Narrowly” missed? That’s being kind.

Ken Weyand: Or rather, his inclusion in the Dubai Invitational as a (controversial) sponsor’s exemption. We’re sure the Director of Golf at Michael Jordan’s Grove XXIII is a perfectly nice guy and a great golfer in his own right, but how in the world did this 54-year-old get into a limited-field event on the DP World Tour? Many, including Eddie Pepperell, were not happy about it.

Because it was a no-cut event, Weyand got to shoot four rounds in the 80s and finish at 53 over par, 39(!) shots behind anyone, and 72(!) shots behind winner Tommy Fleetwood. Tommy could have given him 18 strokes per day and still tied him. Wild, weird stuff.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour returns to the mainland for The American Express, AKA that event Jon Rahm famously once called a “putting contest,” only he used much more colorful language. Once again, the suspended LIV defector won’t be around to defend a PGA Tour title (after "A Rahm December!"), but golf fans can rejoice at the return of one of the game’s most-entertaining players, Min Woo Lee. And we were thrilled to have the Aussie star on this week’s The Loop podcast:

Random tournament fact: Rahm is part of an elite group of golfers to have won this event two times, including Phil Mickelson, Johnny Miller, Billy Casper and my Wake Forest guy Bill Haas. And Arnold Palmer is the only guy to win more in Palm Springs with five victories. Go Deacs! (I can start repping my alma mater more since our basketball team is finally good again.)

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

—Bill Haas is winning this week: 800-to-1 odds (Actual odds)

—Grayson Murray will win again this week: 130-to-1 odds

—Grayson Murray won’t be 500-to-1 the rest of the year: LOCK

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

That’s PGA Tour rookie Alejandro Tosti, who is known for (among other things) being a speedy player, waiting on the rest of his group. Settle in, Alejandro. There’s going to be a lot more of that in your career.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

In case you didn’t know, Kip Henley was Grayson Murray’s caddie for his two Korn Ferry Tour victories last year before being blindsided by an off-season layoff. Henley thought he’d found a good, young horse to ride, but instead could only watch as his former boss won his first start without him. So, yeah, “ouchy” is right. That would have been a $150K week, but instead Jay Green is now a PGA Tour winning caddie (Congrat to Jay, by the way). Such is life in pro golf, but you can’t blame Kip for being upset. Hopefully he was the mystery gambler who bet on Grayson.

CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

The fact that this happened while Keegan was going through his whole AimPoint process made this even better. Can’t wait for Alejandro Tosti to get paired with Keegan!

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS

First, you had Larry Fitzgerald getting a lesson from Rory McIlroy on a Dubai driving range:

Watch out to the field (again) at Pebble Beach. And then you had Tyrrell Hatton and the most-talented person on earth, Jamie Foxx, hanging out at the Sony Open:

I have no clue what that means, but I love seeing these videos of Foxx getting into golf. Jamie, I’m always looking for a fourth. Or maybe we could collaborate on a golf song parody! Let me know! You’re the greatest!

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

Look away, Kip Henley …

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Kevin C. Cox

The double trophy kiss! That’s a rare one!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“At the end of the day, I just want to prove you can do hard things. I want to prove to my kids nobody is going to tell you you can't do anything. You can overcome tough, scary decisions in your life. Not everything is easy. This came out of nowhere for me, but I'm not going to let it stop me.” —Gary Woodland, who made his return from brain surgery in September. Go, Gary, go.

THIS AND THAT

Congrats to Michael Block for winning the PGA Professional Player of the Year Award. Talk about an obvious one, but hey, at least golf got one year-end award right. … Congrats to Judy Rankin for being named the winner of the 2024 PGA of America Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. Another no-brainer. … Daniel Berger will make his PGA Tour return after an 18-month injury layoff at The American Express. Not quite as dramatic as Gary Woodland’s comeback, but good for Daniel as well. … Webb Simpson says he’s “written letters to everybody” asking for sponsor's exemptions into tournaments. Maybe he should ask Ken Weyand for some advice. … And finally, I tried the new double chocolate chunk cookie at Costco over the weekend:

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And while it’s quite good, nothing can ever replace the churro. I still can't believe it's really gone. RIP Costco churro.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Is the Costco churro the most underrated dessert ever?

Are the Counting Crows the most underrated band ever?

Is this PGA Tour-LIV partnership ever going to happen?