The Grind

Hideki Matsuyama’s historic week, Tiger Woods’ quick exit, and a PGA Tour winner saves someone’s life

February 20, 2024

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we thought we had the perfect timing for our knee surgery. Friday morning ahead of a long weekend and with Tiger Woods playing? I was positively giddy about laying in bed and doing nothing. And then, well, you know. Almost as soon as I got comfortably set up, Woods was being carted off the golf course.


Sean M. Haffey

Sigh. We didn't even get to see his new Sun Day Red Sunday red polo! At least it wasn’t injury related—although some suspected foul play:

OK, probably not. Anyway, feel better soon, Tiger. And if you want to stop by to watch some sports, let me know. In the meantime, here’s what else had us talking.


Hideki Matsuyama: When this guy is on, it’s truly a sight to see. His final round 62—the lowest score ever shot by a winner at Riviera—was reminiscent of the Sunday 61 he shot at Firestone in 2017 to win the WGC-Bridgestone. Now with this WGC-Genesis Genesis Invitational title, the 31-year-old has nine PGA Tour titles—including a green jacket—passing K.J. Choi as the tour’s winningest player from Asia.

He also ended the crazy streak of six consecutive wins on tour by guys having odds of 100-to-1 or longer. And it wound up not being close despite beginning Sunday six shots back. The most impressive part was a 10-minute stretch in which he his back-to-back shots to tap-in range on 15 and 16—not easy holes, by the way!

And in typical Hideki fashion, he didn't look happy about either! That's when you know he's really locked in. After being plagued by a neck injury the past couple years, the Japanese star looks to be back in top form. And that also might be the brightest shirt ever won by a PGA Tour winner. Seriously, don’t look directly at that thing or you may hurt your eyes.

Will Zalatoris: My fellow Demon Deacon didn’t win, but he did enough to show that more wins—particularly in big events—are coming. He also finished T-2 despite playing with a heavy heart. Zalatoris was his usual brilliant self with the irons (fourth in the field in strokes gained: approach), but he’s wielding that big putter better than ever, gaining more than two shots on the greens and ranking 15th for the tournament.


Michael Owens

If Scottie Scheffler putted like that, he’d never lose.

Sangmoon Bae: The two-time PGA Tour winner finished T-9 at the Malaysia Open, but the most impressive part of his week came on the eve of the tournament.

The Presidents Cup - Round Three

Chris Condon

According to the Korean PGA, Bae saved the life of a restaurant worker while out to dinner. “At the time, people were gathered around the unconscious employee,” said Young-Soo Kim, who was eating with Bae. “Sangmoon said, ‘You can’t just leave him alone,’ and he quickly performed CPR. After that, the employee woke up," Kim said. “Thanks to Sangmoon’s busy work, he was able to save his precious life.” Amazing. What a hero. Between this and Sangmoon serving that mandatory military service a few years back, he’s got the making of quite an interesting documentary.


Patrick Cantlay/Xande Schauffele’s Sunday: When you look up the definition of “comfortable pairing” in the dictionary, you’d see a photo of these two California besties. And yet, they couldn’t have looked any less comfortable trying to close out the Genesis Invitational from the final pairing on Sunday.


Tracy Wilcox

Maybe they were too comfortable? In any event, neither got anything going and neither were even in contention the final few holes. And now these two top-10 (and borderline top-5 players) have gone a combined 37 months without a victory. When making my major championship bets this year, it’s going to be tough to forget about this disappointing finish for both.

Jordan Spieth’s DQ: But at least they got to finish the tournament, unlike Spieth who was disqualified on Friday night after signing an incorrect scorecard. And according to Xander, that mistake might have had something to do with the three-time major champ having to make an emergency bathroom run.

That's rough. I’m not saying the rule that says you have to keep your own score should be wiped out altogether, but there should be a local rule on the PGA Tour in 2024 that doesn’t make players abide by it. Everyone following the tournament not only knows how many shots Spieth took in his round, but they know exactly how far and where each of those shots went. But he gets knocked out of the tournament for a simple accounting mistake? Use some logic, people! That’s ridiculous. Not to mention, the fans suffered by not getting to see him play over the weekend. And again, if he was having bathroom issues, even more of a reason to cut the guy some slack.

Riviera’s 4th hole: Ben Hogan once called this “the greatest par 3 in America,” but with all due respect to Ben, he wasn’t playing it under the same conditions they’re playing it today. At 230 yards with a bunker guarding the left side, the play is clearly to run it on from the front right. Only problem is that with the kikuyu grass, it makes that really hard to do. So a year after only 16 percent of golfers at the Genesis Invitational hit the green, only 15 percent puled it off this year.

That led to this bold—but logical—request made by Adam Schenk to tournament host Tiger Woods:

At this rate, Tiger might want to put out a suggestion box next year.


The PGA Tour heads to Mexico for the Mexican Open, AKA that one Tony Finau always plays well in. After finishing runner-up to Jon Rahm in 2022, the first year this became a PGA Tour event, Finau beat Rahm by three shots in 2023. Without Rahm playing this year due to his defection to LIV, well, this is Tony’s tournament to lose.


Orlando Ramirez

Random tournament fact: Roberto De Vicenzo won this event three times. Apparently, he had an easier time confirming a correct scorecard here than at Augusta National (or Spieth at Riviera).


—A golfer will save someone’s life in Mexico this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

—Tony Finau will win again in Mexico: 7-to-1 odds (Actual odds, favorite)

—Jordan Spieth will never sign an incorrect scorecard again: LOCK


We never get tired of seeing super famous people doing super normal things:

Also, apparently GOATs don’t like pickles. Interesting.


Jordan Spieth had a great reminder for Hideki on Sunday:

Turns out, all those math classes as a kid can come in handy!



Tommy Fleetwood made a hole-in-one . . . out of a cargo plane!

OK, so we’ll call that a “hole-in-one,” but still, pretty cool.


Josh Allen continued his whirlwind of celebrity golf appearances by playing with Tiger Woods in the Genesis Invitational Pro-Am:

And Woods was most impressed by the questions Allen asked on the course:

Sounds like a future AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner.


Ben Griffin’s caddie drove six hours to the Phoenix airport to track down his boss’ golf clubs ahead of the Genesis:

Now that’s a loyal employee. Too bad Genesis missed a great opportunity for some branded content.


"To win in this tournament was one of my goals ever since I became pro. After Tiger being the host, that goal became a lot more bigger. A little disappointed that I wasn't able to take a picture with Tiger today." —Hideki Matsuyama. We’re guessing that check for $4 MILLION will help soften the blow.


Verne Lundqvist will be calling his final Masters and sporting event in April. Jim Nantz wrote a beautiful farewell to “Uncle Verne” and CBS Sports chairman, Sean McManus, in this month’s Golf Digest. . . . YouTube golf creators will be competing for a PGA Tour exemption at “The Q at Myrtle Beach” on March 4. Great opportunity and a great idea. . . . After another week of dominating from tee to green but finishing dead last in the field in putting for Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy suggested that he “try a mallet.” Hey, couldn’t hurt. Because literally nothing could hurt Scottie’s putting more at this point. . . . And finally, my recovery thus far hasn’t been all about watching TV. I cracked open this 30th edition of Michael Bamberger’s “To The Linksland” and barely put it down before finishing less than 24 hours later:


Somehow I had never read that classic, but better late than never.


Who will replace Verne in the 16th tower?

Who will replace their putter first: Scottie or Rory?

Why are airlines so bad at handling golf clubs?