Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we declared we’re done with sports after watching the New England Patriots squeak through yet another playoff game. Why did the Chiefs’ Dee Ford line up offsides?! The game was over! WHY?! I really can’t take it anymore and I might just unplug my TV on Super Bowl Sunday. But there was a second part to my announcement. I’m done with sports EXCEPT Tiger Woods. And fortunately, just in time, he’s back again. How’s that for good timing?
There, that's better. Tiger’s return to Torrey is at the top of all golf fans’ minds this week, but there’s plenty else in golf to talk about. So let’s get started, because I need any distraction I can concoct these next two weeks.
Adam Long: Adam Long is a. . . (Looks up Adam Long on Wikipedia). . .
Um. . . That’s right, the dude who beat Phil Mickelson head-to-head to win the Desert Classic didn’t even have a Wikipedia page as of Sunday night (His family will be proud that has since changed), making him, yes, one of the longest LONG shots to win on the PGA Tour. Oh, by the way, Long is originally from New Orleans and he went to Duke. Here's what he looks like:
Amazingly, Long had only made one cut in five previous PGA Tour starts (A T-63 at the Safeway Open in October) and his lone prior win since turning pro in 2010 came on the Hooters Tour. What a cool story. So congrats, Adam. And hopefully, your encores are better than Derek Ernst's.
Phil Mickelson: I jokingly refer to myself as “Mr. 60” around the office due to my skills with a 60-degree wedge that are disproportionately good to the rest of my golf game. However, I’m afraid I have to concede the nickname to Mickelson, pretty handy with the 60-degree himself, who now has a PGA Tour record three rounds of 60 to his name. Incredible.
Of course, it’s also kind of incredible that none of those turned into 59s. And that he couldn’t quite beat Adam Long to win the Desert Classic, but it was another reminder that at 48, he’s not going away. Particularly on courses with light-to-no rough.
The Smoke Wagons: The fantasy golf team captained by yours truly and fellow Golf Digest scribe Joel Beall is officially set. And it’s loaded. We hope.
We just need Brooks Koepka to win at least one major, Beau Hossler and Luke List to win at least one tournament, and Adam Scott to take better advantage of that gorgeous golf swing. Hey, if a guy without a Wikipedia page can win a PGA Tour event, anything is possible.
John Smoltz: While Tony Romo was busy working, this fellow celebrity golf star was busy working on his links resume. Smoltz won the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, which doubled as the LPGA season opener (Congrats, also, to Eun Hee Ji), beating the likes of Mark Mulder and Mardy Fish. Keep in mind the 51-year-old qualified for his first U.S. Senior Open last year. Dude is legit.
John Smoltz’s putter?: His Bloodline putter is also legit. At least, by the rules. But should it be?
The USGA’s new rules forbid caddies from lining players up on the greens, but should you be able to use a putter that allows you to let go while you line up? As much as I love seeing Smoltz play well, this seems like a loophole that should be closed.
Julio Bell: This is one of the most brazen and bizarre things we’ve ever encountered. Bell, a Colombian businessman and former boxer who famously shot 93-105 after buying his way into a Web.com Tour event last year, apparently bought his way into the Diamond Resorts event. And on top of that, “La Maquina" bought a. . . commercial? For himself? Huh?
And since he was listed as an amateur (You know, an amateur golfer who pays for commercials of himself), he wasn't listed on the leader board so we don't know what he shot. What a clown.
Playing with fire: The LPGA’s Jaye Marie Green didn’t qualify for the season-opening event so instead of having the opportunity to play with Julio Bell, she played with fire.
Call me crazy, but I’d rather play with Julio Bell.
The PGA Tour heads to Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open, AKA that event Tiger always starts his year at, and where I believe Mr. Farmers, Rickie Fowler, is contractually obligated to play in until he's 86.
Random tournament fact: I’ve got some eyes on the ground at Torrey this week thanks to my mom and sister. Here’s a look at all the photos my mom sent me:
Glad to see she likes to
stalk follow Rory also.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
— A golfer without a Wikipedia page will win at Torrey Pines: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
— Tiger Woods will win at Torrey Pines: 12-to-1 odds (Actual odds)
— Tiger Woods would have found a way to beat Adam Long: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Golf is a crazy game, huh?
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
The European Tour has delivered so much great video content the past few years you could forgive them if they couldn't come up with ideas to start 2019. Instead, it focused on players trying to come up with (bad) ideas, and amazingly, it resulted in arguably the Euro Tour’s best video to date. Behold “The Content Committee”:
Henrik Stenson and Eddie Pepperell deserved Oscar nominations for their work.
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS (NOT NAMED JOHN SMOLTZ)
As first reported by Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte, Larry Fitzgerald made a hole-in-one at Seminole Golf Club. While playing with Barack Obama.
Looks like Larry—especially with that 10.7 handicap—is rounding into form just in time to defend his title at Pebble Beach next month!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
THIS WEEK IN "PROS ARE JUST LIKE US!"
The Instagram account we introduced last week, “Tiger Woods Doing Things,” is doing too many good things not to mention again. Check out this:
And my new personal favorite:
Keep these gems coming.
THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY AND BROOKS KOEPKA-JENA SIMS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Looks like the gang is having a great time in the Maldives. Here’s DJ and Paulina:
OK, so those are just photos they took of each other. And here’s some actual PDA from Brooks and Jena:
Maybe a bit too much too much PDA, emphasis on the A, if you know what I mean. . .
THIS WEEK IN OTHER TOUR PRO PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
NEW GOLF POWER COUPLE ALERT! Danielle Kang and Maverick McNealy are officially an item. Or whatever the kids are calling it these days. They still aren't Instagram official, though, so you have to settle for this split-screen photo:
“He’s a dork,” Kang told Golf Channel. “But he’s my dork.”
Aww. Still, I’m just disappointed Danielle didn’t tell me about this sooner. We played one round together and she shot 63. I thought we were tight, DK.
THIS AND THAT
Alvaro Ortiz won the Latin American Amateur Championship to earn Mexico’s first Masters invite in four decades. Good for him, especially since he’d finished runner-up the previous two years. . . . That being said, Ortiz would be wise not to leave his playing partners in the dust at Augusta National like he did during the third round when he was trying to avoid a slow-play penalty. Me thinks the green jackets wouldn’t appreciate that. . . . Tiger Woods won the GWAA’s Ben Hogan Award for overcoming "a physical handicap or serious injury to remain active in golf.” I’d say climbing nearly 1,200 spots in the world ranking is remaining pretty damn ACTIVE. . . . And finally, just to prove Tiger fever has arrived, check out this dude who couldn’t put Big Cat’s bio down, even amid a completely jammed-up subway car:
And no, despite the Wake Forest ring, that’s NOT me. I swear.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
How many bikinis does Jena Sims own?
How many bikinis does Brooks Koepka own?
Why do I continue to bet against the Patriots?