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The Grind

Dustin Johnson and Paulina’s big weekend, Brooks Koepka and Jena’s big Super Bowl party, and a costly missed Taylor Swift omen

February 13, 2024

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we have a bit of BREAKING injury news to report. Somehow I managed a “major tear” of the medial meniscus on my right knee during the final swing of a recent speed-training session. Figures that I would get injured the year I finally did some offseason work on my game. What was I thinking? I’m too old to be messing around with stuff like that! And now my chances of winning a third straight HGGA green jacket are in serious jeopardy. Sigh. Anyway, the surgery is Friday, so send your Ts & Ps. In the meantime, here’s what else is going on in the world of golf … with golfers whose bodies aren’t breaking down.

WE’RE BUYING

Nick Taylor: How did we not see this coming? Nick TAYLOR? On the day TAYLOR Swift’s Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl? It was so obvious! Swifties would point out that the Canadian even made 13 (Swift’s favorite number) birdies over the weekend at TPC Scottsdale. It’s almost like it’s all … scripted.

Even plunking down a couple bucks on Nick would have more than covered my disastrous decision to bet against fate and KC. Anyway, this plucky Canadian is suddenly putting together a serious career with four PGA Tour titles after his showing at the WM Phoenix Open.

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Orlando Ramirez

When he’s in the hunt, he does not back down, including on Sunday when he birdied three of the final four holes to force a playoff—and then birdied No. 18 two more times to knock off Charley Hoffman (Poor Charley). More amazing is this 120-to-1 longshot makes it six consecutive weeks of guys with odds of 100-to-1 or higher winning to start 2024.

Dustin Johnson: It was another strong week for LIV Golf, which wrapped up in Las Vegas on Saturday so Brooks and Jena could get to a big Super Bowl party (more on that in a bit) and had a marquee final-round final group of DJ, Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau. That wound up fizzling a bit, but Johnson came away with his third career LIV title. Cue the DJ & Paulina PDA on the 18th green!

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Michael Reaves

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Michael Reaves

Aww. Just like the good old days of The Grind.

"Mr. 57": That’s what Cristobal Del Solar will be known as now—at least until someone on the PGA Tour shoots 57. The 30-year-old continued a great week for Chilean golf, following Joaquin Niemann’s LIV win by firing an opening 57(!) in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Astara Golf Championship.

Congrats, Cristobal. That being said, the course was only 6,254 yards, which is even a comfortable yardage for me. At least, when my knee is in one piece. And at nearly 9,000 feet of elevation, it was playing even shorter. And, yes, 19-year-old stud Aldrich Potgieter shot 59 the next day. But that’s still a ridiculous score. That being said, it’s also kind of ridiculous that neither Cristobal nor Aldrich came close to winning the tournament! Golf is a wild sport. But at least they’ll both have those framed scorecards to show off.

WE’RE SELLING

WM Phoenix Open crowd: First off, I think this tournament is fantastic. And in a sea of year-round PGA Tour events, it certainly stands out. But this year, things got a bit out of hand with stuff like this:

And this:

"Oh, don't 'Sir' me" is an all-timer from ZJ. But, anyway, every 10 minutes it seemed like there was another video going viral of fans getting into it with other fans, fans getting into it with players or fans just pissing themselves. As our Joel Beall eloquently pointed out, the tournament doesn’t need to make an overhaul, but it needs to do something before players stop wanting to come, or, worse, something really bad happens.

Jim Knous retiring: This was one of the best stories of the week and it got buried in all the other stuff happening. The journeyman known as “Hard K” is taking a (more) regular job with Ping in a few weeks to spend more time with his family, but after Monday qualifying for the WM Phoenix Open he made one more start and finished T-28 to make $53K.

So cool. So why am I selling it? Because there’s no way this winds up being his swan song! He's too good to hang up his spikes for good. Just like Ben Griffin or any other number of guys who "quit" being a tour pro for a steadier gig, he’ll be back. You know why? Because it’s a lot more fun playing in golf tournaments than sitting behind a desk.

Tiger’s new logo: First off, the stuff from Tiger’s new clothing line—Sun Day Red—via TaylorMade looks great (Even if the space between “Sun” and “Day” looks odd). But as many on Golf Twitter have pointed out, how is the logo an actual tiger and not Tiger himself doing his iconic fist pump?

Seems like a missed opportunity, indeed. A BIG MISS, you might say.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to Hollywood for the Genesis Invitational, AKA that one Tiger Woods hosts, AKA that one Tiger Woods is making his return this week. Forget about that Super Bowl lull, people, because Tiger is BACK! And here’s a fantastic new Sun Day Red ad to get you fired up:

Chills. At one of the PGA Tour’s top venues (Riviera) and as one of the PGA Tour’s signature events, this event always has some extra juice, but this year seems even more hyped than normal.

Random tournament fact: Not to put a damper on things, but I believe this is the first PGA Tour event in which the prior two champs (Jon Rahm and Joaquin Niemann) aren’t eligible because they went to LIV. But again, it’s still a star-studded field. And again, Tiger! BACK!

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

—Someone will shoot a 57 at Riviera this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

—Tiger Woods will win this week: 130-to-1 odds (Hey, he could keep that longshot streak going)

—Tiger Woods will have the biggest crowds no matter how he plays: LOCK

PHOTO/TWEET OF THE WEEK

Fortunately, Adam has learned his lesson from last year’s Canadian Open when his buddy Nick Taylor won.

CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

You see? You can live it up at a golf tournament without ruining the experience for others. That’s just good, clean fun right there. Well, minus keeping that wedding dress clean.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS

Plenty of famous people got a crack at the famed 16th hole during Wednesday’s pro-am:

And we had a few of them, the always entertaining guys from Bob Does Sports, on this week’s episode of The Loop podcast. So have a day—and have a listen!

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION (NON-DJ/PAULINA DIVISION)

After Brooks Koepka claimed a LIV team title on Saturday with his Smash GC, he and Jena walked the red carpet on Sunday for some snazzy SI Swimsuit Super Bowl party and Brooks got a bit, um, handsy:

But our favorite has to be Sahith Theegala’s dad, Murli—for our money, the star of the first season of Netflix’s “Full Swing”—rocking this shirt in support of his son:

I want that shirt. But I want photos of Murli on it instead.

THIS WEEK IN PHIL BEING PHIL

When it comes to tossing around the pigskin, Phil Mickelson’s still got it:

Phil might have more arm strength than Brock Purdy. Kidding, Brock. Sort of.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"I want to kick all these young guys' butts, believe me. I want to beat them. I want to be in these signature events. I want to be one of the best in the world again. If I'm healthy I can compete, and I want to show these guys I've still got it." —Charley Hoffman. Good for you, Charley. That will be my attitude when I return from knee surgery. Only most of my golf buddies are even older than I am.

THIS AND THAT

Congrats to Dwight Freeney on getting into the NFL Hall of Fame just a few months after I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Jordan’s trusty golf partner for this Golf Digest piece. If any other aspiring HOFers want the same treatment, give me a holler! … Congrats to Charley Hoffman for earning a spot in the field at Riviera through his WM Phoenix Open performance after initially getting rejected by tournament host Tiger Woods. Awkward! … Longtime caddie Lance Bennett has been hired as Tiger’s new bag man. At least, for this week. Hope you can take “the needle,” Lance. … And, finally, I decided to give my amazing wife a break from cooking last week and whipped up a little tagliatelle with grilled chicken in a portobello mushroom sauce. NBD. At least, that’s what the package from Costco said it was:

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Don't act like you're not impressed.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

How the heck did Antonio Gates not get into the HOF?

Why the heck did I bet against Patrick Mahomes again?

Does Tiger have any good knee-rehab advice?