Lee Westwood’s Vegas wedding, golf’s new king of distance, and a shocking arrest at a Monday qualifier
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we have never taken this next major championship so seriously. I’m eating healthy, getting PT for the first time on my back, and even doing some stretching! Yep, I’m feeling pretty good about going back to Kiawah in two weeks for the 2021 HGGA Championship AKA my annual golf trip. I’ll even film me dropping a ball into the rough like Xander did at Torrey Pines. Speaking of which, I almost forgot there’s another major on the schedule this week. Whoops. Anyway, let’s get prepared for that and get caught up on everything else happening in golf. Then it’s back to stretching because I’m going to be spending a LOT of time just lying on the couch the next few days.
Garrick Higgo: How’s this for a run? T-4, win, T-8, win, T-64 (PGA Championship), win. Pretty heady stuff for this southpaw who has moved from 114th to 39th with that stretch, which included his maiden PGA Tour title in his first regular PGA Tour start at the Palmetto Championship.
Oh, yeah, he also just turned 22. And he’s got the full backing of another South African legend:
Yep, shares of GH stock are almost all bought up.
Wilco Nienaber: But Higgo wasn’t even the youngest South African golfer turning heads at Congaree Golf Club. And by turning heads, we mean that in the most literal sense:
This 21-year-old had quite the impressive PGA Tour debut with a T-14 in which he averaged more than 360(!) off the tee. Move over, Bryson. This guy hits 3-wood farther than your driver. That is, if Wilco carried a 3-wood. He doesn’t, because he hits it too far. Talk about a nice problem to have! American golf fans will get to see Nienaber and Higgo in action again at this week’s U.S. Open, but if they happen to be paired together, Garrick already has his strategy. “I don’t even watch where he hits it,” Higgo said. Smart man. It’s too deflating. And if the USGA doesn’t want to put Bryson and Brooks together, this dude would be another fun option.
Mito Pereira: This one has an asterisk next to it because it was spread out over two years due to COVID-19, but we finally have another BATTLEFIELD promotion! For the first time since 2016, a Korn Ferry Tour player has won three times in a season to get the call to the big leagues, so golf fans will be seeing this 26-year-old Chilean on the PGA Tour for the rest of the season.
Congrats, Mito. But if any of your new fellow PGA Tour pros tell you to meet on the ninth green at 9 p.m., don’t fall for it.
Chesson Hadley’s finish: Woof, that was rough. Hadley had one hand on the trophy before making back-to-back-to-back bogeys to finish on Sunday. Still, for a guy who had missed the cut in nine of his previous 11 starts, the T-2 goes a long way for the former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Hadley moved up nearly 100 spots in the Official World Golf Ranking to No. 229, he’s now inside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup list at No. 111, and most importantly, he has more money to pay for his Bojangles habit:
Getting arrested at a Monday qualifier: We know some crazy stuff goes down at Monday qualifiers, but what happened at this week’s Korn Ferry Tour one is off the charts. Good thing our buddy and now Firepit Collective staffer Ryan French (AKA Monday Q Info) was all over it. Apparently, Player A confronted Player B about not helping him look for his golf ball, and Player B wound up jumping on Player A and punching him. When other players tried to break it up, Player B’s dad who was caddying for him, wouldn’t let them by holding up a putter. It resulted with Player B getting arrested and Player A pressing assault charges on him. Wow. It even made the local news!
The moral of the story? Just help your playing partner search for his ball. Even if it’s one of those pretend courtesy looks.
Being late to your wedding: That’s what happened to Tyrrell Hatton and his bride Emily Braisher when their limo driver turned up an hour late to pick them up. At least they were just late for the ceremony and not the cocktail hour. That's where the real magic happens. Also, it looked like they ended up having a great day:
Funny enough, something similar happened on the day of my wedding and my groomsmen and I wound up piling into two Ubers to get to the church. Ah, memories. Anyway, if Tyrrell and Emily could survive "Toiletgate," they can survive anything.
The PGA Tour heads to Torrey Pines for the 2021 U.S. Open, which means it’s time for Yanni’s incomparable “IN CELEBRATION OF MAN.” Hit it!
So good! And so glad it’s back for the U.S. Open!
Random tournament fact: I get so many memories listening to that, but none better than 2008 when Tiger Woods won at Torrey Pines on a broken leg. In fact, I loved that event so much I put together a list of 33 things you might not remember from that magical week. Sadly, the GOAT won’t be there, but Jon Rahm will be after having to WD from the Memorial with a six-shot lead due to a positive COVID test.
A win wouldn’t quite measure up to what Tiger did here 13 years ago, but it would be a nice payback from the golf gods.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—I will get tired of listening to In Celebration of Man this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
—Jon Rahm will win the U.S. Open this week: 10-to-1 odds (Actual odds, favorite)
—You will hear “EXPECT ANYTHING DIFFERENT?!” putt a few times this week: LOCK
PHOTO/TWEET/VIDEO OF THE WEEK
J.T. Poston got absolutely soaked during a rainstorm because his caddie, Aaron Flener, forgot to pack his umbrella:
You hate to see it. But you love to see a golfer sticking up for his caddie like this by sharing the blame:
And Flener followed it up with this funny video:
Although, they probably don’t need it this week because they’re in San Diego, where it never rains. Believe me, because I constantly hear all about it from my parents who live there.
(ARCHIVE) VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Special shout-out to one of the GOAT viral videos in PGA Tour history: The Golf Boys. Can you believe this beauty involving Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, and Ben Crane is now 10 years old?! Time flies when you’re having fun—or doing whatever it is they were doing in this video:
Too bad this was long before Player Impact Program. These guys would have cleaned up.
THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Congrats to Lee Westwood and Helen Storey for getting married . . . in Las Vegas! What a baller move!
This after taking in a Golden Knights game:
Pucks! How romantic! Next up, the “honeymoon”! At the U.S. Open. . .
Remember, Helen is also Lee’s top caddie so there's work to be done. And the only thing that could make this month better for them is a first major. Well, and an actual honeymoon.
THIS WEEK IN PHIL BEING PHIL BRYSON BEING BRYSON
Bryson DeChambeau’s latest YouTube video features his “SECRET WEAPON,” trainer Greg Roskopf, and lasts for 45 minutes. I didn’t watch it, because I had no interest and also because colleague Chris Powers watched it and wrote a review. Apologies to Chris. Anyway, here it is in case you’re having a really, really slow day:
Also, is this guy really a SECRET WEAPON if you’re blabbing all about him for 45 minutes? Just saying.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"I will tell you right now I was more nervous on one knee than I was on 18 at Augusta, there’s no question about that. I don’t even know what I said. I know I didn’t say what I was trying to say, I know I didn’t say it in the right order, but she said, ‘Yes,’ so that’s all that matters." —Will Zalatoris on Golf Digest’s Be Right podcast last week. Please subscribe if you haven’t done so already! And hopefully, Will’s limo shows up on time whenever the wedding is.
THIS AND THAT
Congrats to Matilda Castren for winning her first LPGA Tour title and becoming the first Finnish winner in LPGA history. Somewhere Mikko Ilonen is smiling. . . . Dustin Johnson is now third on the PGA Tour’s all-time money list at $71.6 million after passing Jim Furyk. So, yeah, maybe we shouldn’t feel too bad for him if he has any more major heartbreaks. . . . Sadly, according to Brad Faxon, Bryson DeChambeau turned down the chance to play with Brooks “Brooksy” Koepka for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open. C’mon, Bryson, do your part to grow the game! . . . And finally, like I said I’ve been trying to eat better and these Lundberg buffalo ranch rice cake minis have become my go-to “healthy” snack/treat:
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Will Bryson and Brooksy ever make nice?
Will the Golf Boys ever make another music video?
Why did I wait so long to start stretching?