An ugly caddie rumor, a clean PGA Tour rookie, Ho-sung's big break, and LOCKS* for all four majors (*Predictions)
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we’re realizing, sadly, that booking a buddies golf trip gets more difficult as you get older. There are anniversaries, kids, and now even graduations of said kids to consider in the planning. Still, I was excited to reveal that Pinehurst had won the coveted bid for this year’s HGGA Championship, which has moved to August to replace the PGA Championship on the golf calendar. And then our gang found out that Pinehurst had already accepted another bid — to host the U.S. Kids World Championship.
Never have I been less of a fan of growing the game. Kidding. Sort of. Anyway, I’m sure we’ll figure it out, even if it means changing venues (Overlooked destinations/resorts, this is your chance to host a major!). In the meantime, here’s what else has us talking.
Matt Kuchar: In the span of a couple months, golf fans have gone from wondering if Kuchar would ever win again to wondering if this is finally the year he wins that first major. It won't be (more on that later), but with two victories in his last three starts the 40-year-old is playing about as well as ever. And his mean face is really rounding into shape:
Adam Svensson: The 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Canada only led the Sony for one day, but he provided the two funniest stories of the week. Following that first round, Svensson told the tale of him driving a golf cart into a water hazard while playing with his dad, and that wasn’t even his best yarn. Apparently, after winning his first pro tournament on the Web.com Tour last year, Svensson’s big purchase was a. . . Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner from Costco? “I don’t know, it seemed cool,” Svensson said. "Cordless.” As a proud Costco shopper and Dyson owner (Jealous of the cordless, though), I dig this dude’s style. If he ever wins a PGA Tour event, that will be one heckuva a Costco run.
Augusta National Women’s Amateur: This cool inaugural event (of course, it would be even cooler if the entire tournament was at Augusta National and not just the final round) is approaching, thus creating an invitation unlike any other. Sort of.
Good stuff. Speaking of important invites. . .
Ho-sung Choi’s invite: It’s really happening, folks! Ho-sung Choi is coming to the PGA Tour! And he’ll make his debut at Pebble Beach. Talk about an epic meeting of land and sea—and whirling follow-thrus.
Arep Kulal/Asian Tour
On Monday morning I was so excited about the news Game of Thrones was coming back the Sunday of the Masters I had Golf Digest director of photography Christian Iooss whip this beauty up:
But while I can’t wait for April or for Tiger's likely return at Torrey Pines next week, the Ho-sung news instantly put me in a slightly different mood. . .
Stiffing caddies: As Kuchar climbed the leader board an ugly rumor spread about him paying the local caddie he used during his last win a mere $3,000 of his winning $1.3 million check. But was El Tucan taken advantage of? Was $3,000 the agreed figure before the week started? Was there a tip on top? Did Kuchar throw in a few cases of Grey Goose? A lot of details still aren’t known so it’s unfair to judge, and our Joel Beall did a nice job discussing the matter. For the record, I don’t believe the guy deserved what Kuchar’s regular caddie would get (typically 10 percent of a win), but if his payday was really only 3K (about two tenths of one percent), that’s brutal.
Jordan Spieth’s start: After not meeting the PGA Tour's minimum events requirement last season, Spieth has really beefed up his schedule to start this season. Not that you would have noticed by his results. Despite playing in the Shriners, Mayakoba and now Sony, Spieth only has two missed cuts and a T-55 to show for showing up. Rough.
Xander’s topped tee shot: Last week’s winner despite an unusual drive during the final round, Schauffele told our E. Michael Johnson the much mocked shot wasn’t topped, but actually planned. "You know, I read a few things about how I topped that shot and I didn’t. That shot I hit was a bumped driver. . . . It's a new addition to my arsenal.“ Hmm. Either way, I’m selling the fact Xander can hit a golf ball in this manner farther than my normal tee shots. That being said, Traj master Gary Woodland definitely meant to do this:
Incredible. How has this dude never finished in the top 10 at the British Open?!
The PGA Tour heads to Palm Springs for the Desert Classic, AKA that one that used to be called the Bob Hope Classic. And the CareerBuilder Challenge, Palm Springs Golf Classic, the Bob Hope Desert Classic, the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, and the Humana Challenge.
Random tournament fact: The Desert Classic is NOT to be confused with next week's Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour. Interesting how that happened. . .
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
— Jon Rahm will repeat at the Desert Classic: 7-to-1 odds (Actual odds)
— Jon Rahm will win the 2019 Masters: 18-to-1 odds (Also actual odds)
— I’d caddie for Ho-sung for way less than $3,000: LOCK
Speaking of Masters odds, here are my picks to win golf’s four men’s major championships this year:
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If you win money off of this, I'll take a cut (even a low-ball local caddie cut). If you don't, I don't want to hear about it. Sound fair? Cool.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
A classic Kuchar grin. A Hawaiian rainbow. If this guy had stiffed a caddie recently, would the golf gods really let this happen?
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
This should be the next Southwestern “Wanna get away?” commercial:
Something tells me this caddie got tipped a lot worse than El Tucan.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (SCIENCE DIVISION)
We’ve heard a lot of talk about the new flagstick rule and its effects on putting stats, but one tour pro, Edoardo Molinari, actually did something to test it out. Three pros from Molinari’s golf academy ran a series of pretty scientific tests in the below video that concludes the flagstick helps on center-cut putts, but hurts on putts that graze it:
I’m sure Bryson DeChambeau could debunk the whole experiment in about 10 seconds, but I appreciate Edoardo’s effort.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (TRICK SHOT DIVISION)
This is mighty impressive, even by Joshua Kelley's lofty standards:
But to be clear, the new double hit rule only helps golfers who do it unintentionally. So don’t bother trying to learn to do this.
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS
Zac Efron is looking pretty good. I mean, Zac Efron’s golf swing is looking pretty good. . .
And Spiderman (Tom Holland) showed off some serious pop:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I think Jay-Z said it, 40 is the new 20.” — Matt Kuchar. It’s actually “30 is the new 20” but let’s not ruin this for Matt, AKA the tour's top cheeseball dad. You could sub Kuchar into this terrific Progressive commercial and no one would know the difference:
THIS WEEK IN "PROS ARE JUST LIKE US!"
If you haven’t seen the new Instagram handle “Tiger Woods Doing Things,” it’s a must. For one, there’s a simplistic charm to the photos and captions depicting Tiger doing (normal) things.
For another, whoever runs this has some real hidden gems.
My personal favorite (so far) is “Tiger Woods levitating to the green.”
Steiny, is that you?
THIS WEEK IN VIJAY SINGH’S SAVAGE WORKOUTS
What a beast.
THIS WEEK IN TOUR PRO PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
THIS AND THAT
Charles Howell made the cut at the Sony for the 18th consecutive year, picked up his 10th top 10 in the event and became the tournament’s all-time money leader despite never winning! No tournament has ever depicted a player’s career so perfectly. . . . Lucy Li accepted her invite to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Guess that settles the matter on whether she’s still considered an amateur after appearing in that Apple Watch ad. . . . In more official endorsement news, Jason Dufner will be wearing hats that say “DUDE” after signing a deal with Dude wipes. Yeah, they’re what you think they are. Good for Duf, although, we’ll miss seeing his eclectic collection of caps. . . . And finally, the wife and I had our first real date night since having our first kid last March. . .
Happy to say it lived up to the hype. Both the show and just having a date night.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
What would Johnny Miller think of The Book of Mormon?
Who will be Ho-sung Choi’s celebrity partner at Pebble?
Where will the 2019 HGGA Championship be held? (SEND BIDS NOW!)