PGA Championship

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The Grind

Brooks Koepka’s career-first, Phil Mickelson’s majors threat and a college golf team’s travel nightmare

May 07, 2024

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we didn’t think we could love the New York Knicks anymore, but then Josh Hart sent out the following tweet the day after knocking down the big shot to knock the Philadelphia 76ers out of the NBA Playoffs:

My man is in the midst of a title run and he’s still got golf on the brain? And angling for a JUNIOR membership to boot? What a legend. And how about this response from another New York legend, Justin Tuck?

Josh, I was going to offer to take you on a muny tour around Westchester, but I can’t compete with that offer. Anyway, good luck with your search—and with the Pacers. OK, here’s what else has us talking.

WE’RE BUYING

Brooks Koepka: Uh-oh, Brooks Koepka is rounding into form just in time for a major championship. A major he happens to be the defending champ at. This is a tale as old as time, but what made Koepka’s latest victory in Singapore extra special was that it was the first time he has been able to lift up his son, Crew, before hoisting up the trophy:

Aww. Also, Koepka now has four LIV titles, the most of any player. Careful, Brooks. Keep winning like that and you’re going to lose that whole “He only cares about the majors” rep.

Taylor Pendrith: The long-hitting Canadian finally put it all together to claim his first PGA Tour title in his 74th career start. And it was only fitting that he did so with a two-putt birdie on the 72nd hole after two booming shots on the closing par 5 at TPC Craig Ranch. And like Brooks, Taylor was able to celebrate with his child:

He also talked as much about runner-up Ben Kohles (more on him in a sec) as he did about himself. Classic nice-guy Canadians, eh?

Kris Kim: But arguably the most impressive performance in Dallas came from the guy who finished 65th. That’s because that guy was actually a kid. Not that he plays like one.

Introducing this 16-year-old English amateur, who made the cut in his PGA Tour debut. And who defeated 15-year-old Miles Russell, the world’s top-ranked junior, at last year’s Junior Ryder Cup:

We’ve got a long way to go—heck, the kid can't even drive yet—but we could be looking at golf’s next great rivalry! But, just in case we’re not, stay in school, kids.

WE’RE SELLING

Ben Kohles’ finish: Man, this was tough to watch:

Poor guy. So close to a first PGA Tour title. But on the bright side, this wasn’t some fluke. The guy is the reigning Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year and he looked pretty darn comfortable until that final pitch shot. He handled it all with class. And he’ll be back.

Talor Gooch’s choice: Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about Gooch and the U.S. Open. Clearly still upset by getting bumped from last year’s event because the USGA changed its criteria, the reigning LIV POY was asked if he’d be trying to qualify this year and gave this blunt, two-word response: “I’m not.”

I get Gooch being a little ticked about last year and about being ranked 600th in the world or whatever, but he knew this all might be the case when he signed up for LIV. And he made about $40 million last year. Gooch says he did receive an invite into the PGA Championship again, but he’s in his prime and playing some of the best golf of his life and he’s not even going to try to qualify for his national championship? Weak.

Little Rock’s travel nightmare: After the Little Rock Women’s Golf team qualified for its first NCAA regional in school history, it had quite an ordeal getting the team and all its gear to College Station, Texas. As Golfweek reported, delayed flights due to storms caused the team to get there a day late, but all their clubs took an extra day, finally arriving on the eve of the tournament. What’s worse is that the team’s coach, Jenna Birch, tried to drive all the stuff there herself, but the airlines wouldn’t let her.

The good news is they all got everything in time to play, but it’s just the latest golf bag travel story. I’m glad I don’t have a connecting flight when I go on my big golf trip to French Lick this summer, but I’ll still be holding my breath until my clubs are in my hands there.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to Charlotte for the Wells Fargo Invitational, AKA that event at Quail Hollow that was always kind of a big deal but is now an even bigger deal with signature event status and a $20 MILLION purse. Even though Scottie Scheffler is OUT as he and his wife, Meredith, await the birth of their first child. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg on what should be a busy week. The PGA Tour is also playing the inaugural Myrtle Beach Classic, the PGA Tour Champions has its first major of the year at the Regions Tradition, and Nelly Korda goes for a record sixth consecutive win on the LPGA at the Cognizant Founders Cup. Not to mention all the hoops (Knicks!) and pucks (Rangers!) going on. And to talk about that stuff, TNT's Darren Pang joined this week's pod:

Random tournament fact: This is the last year of Wells Fargo’s deal with the PGA Tour so this event will be called something else next year. Anyone want to join forces and sponsor a PGA Tour event? And by join forces, I mean, you put up the $15 million needed and I swoop in to play in the pro-am?

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

—Players at Quail Hollow are upset Scottie Scheffler isn't there: 20 MILLION-to-1 odds

—Brooks Koepka will win the PGA Championship: 16-to-1 odds, down from 20-to-1 odds

—Brooks Koepka fully expects to win the PGA Championship (again): LOCK

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

A.) It’s a great pic, and B.) there’s one person noticeably absent: Jason Day. But the Aussie had the ultimate excuse for not being there: It was his wife’s birthday. Smart man, Jason. Smart man.

TWEET OF THE WEEK (DELETED DIVISION)

A 53-year-old Phil Mickelson making a major championship threat using the FAAFO acronym was not something I saw coming.

CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK

That's right, our Sam Weinman got an EXCLUSIVE interview with CPG (and Hank Jones) himself. Fantastic stuff.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (PHIL BEING PHIL DIVISION)

Now that’s more classic Phil right there.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (BLOCKIE BEING BLOCKIE DIVISION)

We warned you last week we’ve entered Michael Block Szn. Go, Blockie, go.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (CELEBRITY DIVISION)

Keon Coleman delivered an all-time response at his NFL combine interview with the Bills about his golf game: "I'm Tiger WishHeCould. I'm not Tiger Woods."

And just like that, Keon Coleman became my new favorite non-New York Giant.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

No one celebrates their own winning like the Canadians. This time there was no Adam Hadwin trying to bring out some champagne and getting crushed by a security guard, but there was Mackenzie Hughes—Taylor Pendrith’s college teammate—getting some Miller Lites on the 18th green:

Cue Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick singing “THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR!” And speaking of friends, how about this emotional interview from Pendrith's longtime caddie and even longer-time buddy, Mitch Theoret:

You love to see it.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF ATTENTION

It's one thing to win five LPGA events in a row. Nelly Korda right now? It's another to attend the MET GALA!

Wow. As Will Ferrell's character in "Zoolander" would say: Nelly, so hot right now.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“My goal is to ruin the logo.” —Tiger Woods to Carson Daly on his new Sun Day Red logo that includes 15 stripes for each of his 15 major wins. So far. Go get ‘em, Cat. And check out this entire great interview:

THIS AND THAT

Speaking of Tiger Woods, the 15-time major champ accepted a special exemption into the 2024 U.S. Open. Talor Gooch’s must have been lost in the mail. … Speaking of the 2024 U.S. Open, NBC announced Brandel Chamblee will be part of a four-man both at Pinehurst No. 2. This is great news. Let Brandel COOK. …After 25 years, Jim Furyk and Mike “Fluff” Cowan are parting ways. A sad end of an era, but that’s a pretty darn good run. … And, finally, my 6-year-old actually asked to go to the driving range the other day:

Nearly brought a tear to my eye.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Will Tiger Woods ever "ruin" that logo?

What would be the best beverage to be sprayed with?

Does anyone want to host Josh Hart (and me) at their club?