Welcome to another edition of The Grind where we have mixed feelings about Larry Fitzgerald’s latest romp at Pebble Beach. On one hand, winning a tournament involving 120 amateurs—many of whom are probably sandbaggers—in convincing fashion two out of three years seems about as mathematically possible as the New York Knicks winning the NBA title this season. Larry was in such control on Sunday he started filming the action!
On the other hand, since I put my handicap police hat on, I’ve had numerous people reach out to me, including Larry’s father, with glowing testimonials about the future NFL Hall-of-Famer (Imagine how good he's going to get when he finally retires?) and current GOAT of net scoring in golf. So perhaps it’s not right to label him a sandbagger. Although, to be fair, anyone who has ever won a net competition (myself included) has received some ribbing about their handicap. Also, I have never played a full round with Fitzgerald, so I can’t properly evaluate his current 9.0 handicap. Yep, that’s definitely how we should settle this debate. Larry, invite me out to Seminole or Whisper Rock for a few rounds and I'll be the judge. Preferably, before the cold front arrives here at the end of the week. Either location works for me. Let’s do this. Please.
Nick Taylor: How has this guy only won once before?! Faced with windy conditions and a pairing with a living legend who everyone was rooting for, this Canadian channeled Clint Eastwood and said, “Make my day.” After a back-nine stumble, a chip-in on 15 and a rare birdie on 17 gave him a four-shot, life-changing win at a place where just last year he announced a life-changing moment.
Vic Open/Min Woo Lee: While Golf Twitter bitched (a bit too much) about coverage of the AT&T Pebble Beach, this tournament rightfully drew rave reviews. Or rather, tournaments with simultaneous European Tour and LPGA events happening on the same course while men and women played for the same purse. Congrats to the two winners, Min Woo Lee and Hee Young Park:
Lee is particularly impressive. The 21-year-old Aussie who won the 2016 U.S. Junior was already the longest hitter on the European Tour despite weighing only 165 pounds. But he might have put on a few LBs celebrating his first win:
He just needs to work on his celebrations with his caddie:
Then again, so do most tour pros.
Golf Digest: That’s right, GOLF DIGEST. Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde partnered with Nick Taylor, received some serious Sunday airtime in that group that also included Phil Mickelson and Steve Young (NBD), and some serious praise from CBS’ Jim Nantz, who noted Taylor had “the calming influence of Jerry Tarde every step of the way.” Our boss did pretty well golfing his own ball, too, as he and Taylor finished T-2 in the Pro-Am, which is basically a win, because, well, Larry Fitzgerald. And how about Jerry’s sweater game?
Straight fire! OK, now we’re heading into potential brown-nosing territory. And Team Taylor/Tarde finished five shots back despite Nick winning the tournament by four, so it’s not like Jerry played like Tiger at Pebble in 2000. OK, now we’ve gone too far the other direction. … Anyway, staff writer Daniel Rapaport picked up Matthew Fitzpatrick’s staff bag and helped his Northwestern buddy make the cut:
Talk about a great side gig for a golf writer. Dan, you’re bringing in donuts or something the next time you’re in the office.
Ernie Els not captaining: After leading a spirited challenge at the 2019 Presidents Cup, the Big Easy said he’s done being the big cheese of the International squad. Too bad. The team seemed headed in a positive direction.
Rory McIlroy’s taste in movies: I love nearly everything about Rory McIlroy, especially his running interview series with the Independent’s Paul Kimmage. HOWEVAH, McIlroy made a real bogey with his assessment of "La La Land":
To be clear, I have no problem with him crying at a movie. "The Shawshank Redemption" gets me every time. Obviously. But "La La Land"?! And specifically the music of "La La Land"?! Rory, let’s go see a real musical sometime.
Bryson DeChambeau’s fitness ranking: All power to Bryson for getting yoked this off-season, but he’s the 24th fittest athlete on the planet? Really? He’s fitter than, oh, I don’t know, Russell Westbrook? Or DK Metcalf?!
Or any NFL player for that matter? Even the kickers are jacked. Or . . . Brooks Koepka? Sure thing, Sports Illustrated. That being said, I love how this list just stokes the silly Brooks/Bryson feud. Live look at Brooks right now:
The PGA Tour heads to La La Land (Get your tissues ready, Rory!) for the Genesis Invitational, AKA that event Tiger hosts at Riviera, which always prompts lectures from all the golf architect geeks on Twitter. Get ready for a week of hearing about the 10th hole!
Random tournament fact: Tiger Woods has never won in 10 starts as a pro at Riviera, the most times he’s ever played a PGA Tour course without winning. He also teed it up as an amateur in 1992 and 1993, missing the cut both times. Rest assured, you will be able to recite all these facts from memory by week’s end.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—Larry Fitzgerald will be let back onto Pebble Beach property next year if he still has a 9 handicap: 1-MILLION -to-1 odds
—Tiger Woods will finally win at Riviera this week: 18-to-1 odds (Actual odds)
—Rory will be ribbed for his "La La Land"/"Pretty Woman" comments this week: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Check out this incredible shot Tim Herron took of Pebble Beach’s 18th hole:
Same, Tim. Still, it’s a great photo. By whomever took it.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Shout-out to Sam Harrop for this fantastic song parody about Tony Finau’s lack of wins. The Charles Howell and Rocco Mediate lines killed me:
And good to see Tony is a good sport:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“There’s more than just guys, you know. It just makes sense. We should do this more often. The fact that this happens only once in a year is just nonsense.” —Geoff Ogilvy on the Victorian Open. Well said, Geoff. And Ogilvy had Golf Twitter in a tizzy talking about karma as he grabbed a share of the 36-hole lead in the event. Too bad there’s no such thing as karma and he finished last among the 38 golfers who made the three-day cut.
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS (NOT NAMED LARRY FITZGERALD)
Seeing Macklemore take six practice swings before topping one off the tee was tough, but the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am still produced some fun celebrity moments with Bill Murray. As usual. Here he is sweeping a putt in backward:
And here he is swiping and swigging a shot of tequila from a fan:
Long live this man.
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS (NOT AT PEBBLE BEACH)
The Rory McIlroy-Caroline Wozniacki engagement didn’t last, but it looks like the former World No. 1 women’s tennis player has held onto a thing or two from her ex when it comes to the golf swing:
THIS WEEK IN PGA TOUR PRO-WAGS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Justin Thomas used his off week to give the two special ladies in his life a nice night at a Las Vegas Golden Knights game:
Awww. And JT, if that’s your girlfriend’s idea of a romantic night out, she’s definitely a keeper.
THIS WEEK IN PHIL BEING PHIL
I would have moved this up to the “buy” section, but it was already getting too long. But even with a tough finish, Phil Mickelson had himself a great week. Just days after saying he’d turn down a potential special exemption into the U.S. Open if he didn’t qualify, Mickelson nearly took care of that himself with a third-place finish. And he did it with his usual flair. Only Phil would be able to pull off a bunker shot like this AND immediately rank it:
Then the following day, he got up and down from here!
He may be outside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but he’s still the game’s No. 1 content king. And it would be a travesty if he’s not battling the grandstands at Winged Foot in June. Again, CONTENT.
THIS AND THAT
Phil Mickelson became the third player (joining Sam Snead and Raymond Floyd) to record a PGA Tour top 10 in 30 consecutive seasons. Now that’s some impressive, um, phitness. … Editor-in-Chief Tarde hopped on this week's Golf Digest Podcast to talk about that Pebble Beach experience and tell a great Phil story:
And finally, check out this guy who was really ready to mark his golf ball. At Costco.
Spring can’t get here soon enough.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Does that dude belong to a good golf club?
If so, does he need a fourth?
Can I bet on Larry Fitzgerald at Pebble Beach next year?