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The Grind

Nelly Korda’s rare trifecta, Justin Thomas’ public fail, and a spirited Masters promo gone viral

April 02, 2024

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we still can’t believe Scottie Scheffler’s final birdie putt in Houston didn’t drop. If nothing else, it was a reminder that all golfers—even the World No. 1—are humans.

Well, maybe not Tiger Woods during certain stretches of his career, but you get the point. It was also a reminder of how classy both Scottie and his wife, Meredith, are. In addition to Scottie’s sportsmanship display after losing in gut-wrenching fashion, check out Meredith congratulating Stephan Jaeger’s wife on their family’s first PGA Tour title:

You love to see it. Of course, Scottie was the beneficiary of Wyndham Clark’s brutal lipout at the Players just a couple weeks back, so these things go both ways. And the last time someone won three straight PGA Tour events heading into the Masters was Dustin Johnson in 2017 and he fell down some stairs and had to WD on the eve of the tournament. So maybe it's for the best that Scottie missed. In any event, we’re back after a fun, but exhausting first trip to California with the kids and there’s a LOT to talk about. Let’s get to it.

WE’RE BUYING

Nelly Korda: Golf fans were expecting a trifecta with Scheffler, but got one with Korda instead as she won a third consecutive LPGA event at the Ford Championship. Korda is the first since Ariya Jutanugarn in 2016 to pull off the feat and the first American to win three straight since Nancy Lopez in 1978—or 20 years before Korda was born.

Korda has dealt with a bunch of injuries the past few years, but she’s back to World No. 1 and absolutely cooking right now. "It's easy to compare for sure, but I think that the golf that I'm playing right now, hopefully it leads me to the year that I had in 2021 or better," Korda said. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the LPGA.

Stephan Jaeger: His maiden win may have come in stunning fashion as he was able to “slay the dragon,” but it certainly wasn’t a surprise to those who have been following him closely. Always a talented player—he was briefly the sport’s “Mr. 58” on the Korn Ferry Tour before Jim Furyk stole the title on the PGA Tour a few weeks later—Jaeger is now much longer off the tee (Yes, he hits Jaeger Bombs) as our Luke Kerr-Dineen has written about. And Scheffler couldn’t steal this title from him.

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Icon Sportswire

“Yeah, 100 percent. I expected him to make it,” Jaeger said after. “And I'm not mad at him for missing it.” Well said. A darling of the golf gambling community, Jaeger’s win was popular among golf bettors, and, again, not unexpected. Jaeger, who will make his first Masters start next week, currently ranks 14th on tour in total strokes gained. This won’t be the last time he’s hoisting a trophy.

Keita Nakajima: And we can certainly say the same about this young man. The rising Japanese star who shattered Jon Rahm’s record for most weeks as the world’s top-ranked amateur is starting to rack up wins as a pro. After three wins on the Japan Tour last year, he notched DP World Tour title No. 1 in India:

Graham Uden

At 23, Nakajima is the latest reminder that today’s players are ready to win as soon as they turn pro. And more motivation for the older guard to get those wins while they can, because the wave of young talent coming out on tour never stops.

Danielle Kang’s arm: Brian Harman made golfers look good with his ceremonial first pitch at the Braves game last year, but Kang’s effort—on Opening Day no less—was even more impressive. The LPGA star didn’t have quite the heat, but look at the accuracy!

It’s early in the MLB season, but there are already a few teams who would love to add a pitcher with that kind of command.

WE’RE SELLING

Chris DiMarco’s comments: Plenty has been said about this and there’s debate over whether DiMarco was joking so we’re not going to spend too much time on it. That being said, the fact that he could say what he did about wishing LIV would buy the PGA Tour Champions so 50-year-old-plus golfers could "play for a little real money out here" and it seemed completely believable perfectly encapsulates how many golfers have acted the past few years. And that’s sad.

Justin Thomas’ chugging skills: On a much lighter note, this effort from Thomas at a New York Rangers game was, well, it was pretty sad as well:

JT otherwise had a successful NYC trip, including a Knicks game and an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. But if that happens with a normal glass, now you have to wonder how much beer Thomas has wasted trying to chug out of the Wanamaker trophy. (Side note: In addition to the Rangers being great, the Knicks are so BACK if they can get healthy for the playoffs and celebs are coming to Madison Square Garden in droves. Go New York, go New York, go!)

Cameron Young’s tough drive home: This is a bit of an oldie, but it happened while my wife and I were lugging our kids around the San Diego area so it really hit home. After a heartbreaking runner-up to Peter Malnati in Tampa that gave my fellow Westchester/Wake Forest guy a record seven PGA Tour runner-ups without a win, he offered up this incredible quote:

Been there, done that, Cam. I feel you. Let’s hope the next time your family is piling into the car on a Sunday night you at least have a trophy to make things better.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour has its final Masters tuneup at the Valero Texas Open, AKA that event that’s played on a course designed by Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia. Not awkward at all. And speaking of those guys, LIV will be back in action in Miami at a former PGA Tour course, Doral. There, Anthony Kim will make the first U.S. start of his comeback.

Random tournament fact: Tom Adrounie will be making his second career PGA Tour start this week after Monday qualifying. We bring this up because his attempt at Monday qualifying in San Antonio last year went a LOT differently:

Just sleeping through an important tee time and not even coming close to getting there. Amazing. Also, my first reaction—and probably the first reaction for Cam Young—is that I’m guessing Tom isn’t a dad. Sleeping to 8:30? LOL MBN.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

—Tom will sleep through his Thursday tee at the Valero: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

—Anthony Kim will win at Doral: 1,000-to-1 odds

—Scottie Scheffler is working a lot on short putts during his off week: LOCK

TWEET OF THE WEEK

CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (GOLF PROMO DIVISION)

Shout-out ot Allie LaForce for really getting into the Masters spirit during an in-game promo:

That’s a pro’s pro right there.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (GOLF FAN DIVISION)

No one is happier about the Masters than this 60-year-old who showed off his first tickets to his mailman after finally winning the ticket lottery:

Enjoy it, man.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (WILDLIFE DIVISION)

Check out these two gators tussling on a Florida (Where else?) golf course:

Wild stuff. Whoever was filming that got way, way (WAY) too close for comfort.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS

Travis Kelce’s buddies tried to rattle him by blaring some Taylor Swift as he hit a shot.

It backfired. You can’t rattle a great athlete like Travis.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

Loved this from Joel Dahmen supporting his buddy Stephen Jaeger by screaming “JAEGER BOMB!”

But don’t love all the reminders of drinking those back in the day.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Nothing. He don’t listen anyway.” —John Daly on what advice he’d give to a young John Daly.

Perfect. On the flip side, I wish I could just go back a week to tell myself to put some sunscreen on at Sea World. You can really cook watching those shows sitting in metal stands.

THIS AND THAT

Congrats to Cameron Young on being named to the new TGL New York team. Let the Cam Young-NYC jokes flow:

Congrats to Caitlin Clark on leading the Iowa women’s basketball team to another Final Four and breaking records every game it seems. I had the pleasure of interviewing this superstar—and surprisingly avid golfer—last year for this Golf Digest story. . . . CBS will air a special on Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters win on Masters Saturday. Count me in! . . . Thanks to Matt Fitzpatrick for dropping by this week’s The Loop podcast, where we also had a spirited discussion about Masters Champions Dinner menus. If you’ve followed this column, my answers will NOT be a surprise. . . . And, finally, you know I have to share at least one photo from our California trip that included grandparents, cousins, whales, and lots and lots of Legos:

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And as I write this while it's 40 degrees and rainy on April 2, I miss San Diego more and more.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

When is spring actually going to get here?

What advice would you give your younger self?

Does Caitlin want to play any golf in New York this summer?