The Grind

Phil Mickelson goes yard, Tiger Woods goes to the White House, and a Golf Twitter legend breaks through

May 7, 2019

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where Rory McIlroy turning 30 over the weekend officially makes us feel really old. Seriously, this dude is 30?

Ian Walton

Where does the time go?! In any event, let's take a bit more time to talk about everything else happening in the world of golf. And let's be thankful Rory has made big strides in the hair and fashion departments.

WE'RE BUYING

Max Homa: First off, I’m apparently the only person on Golf Twitter who is not good friends with Max. That made me kind of feel like a loser, but it didn’t make me any less excited for him picking up his first PGA Tour win at the Wells Fargo Championship. What a moment:

And Max, who along with Eddie Pepperell are the Kings of Golf Twitter, didn’t waste long getting back to his throne:

Two years removed from a nightmare season in which he only made two cuts and earned $18,008? And three months removed from being ranked 843rd in the Official World Golf Ranking? Yet on Sunday, with big names like McIlroy and Justin Rose, and Rickie Fowler, and Sergio Garcia chasing him, he played nearly flawless golf to pull away by three shots. We say it all the time, but golf is such a crazy sport.

So congrats to Max and his fiancee, With a check for $1.4 million, we’re guessing that wedding—in particular, the band—is going to be dope.

Joel Dahmen: Of course, it was hard not to root for this guy down the stretch at Quail Hollow as well. Look at his reaction to finally hitting a fairway during a pressure-packed final round:

Another one of the PGA Tour’s great personalities, Dahmen is also a heck of a good sport by celebrating with Homa. And a man after my own heart with his frugalness. Check out how he flew home after earning a (by far) career-best $853,000 payday:

With five top-20 finishes in his past seven starts, he’ll be flying private soon enough.

Tiger & Phil: Even well into their 40s and even on weeks where they don’t do anything significant on the golf course, these two legends still manage to steal the show. Phil Mickelson went yard during batting practice at Target Field:

Hitting BOMBS! Well, at least one bomb. What pop. What an athlete. And Tiger Woods went to the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

I just hope Tiger’s back held up while standing in the Rose Garden. That was quite a blow-by-blow of Woods’ entire career by President Trump.

Yang Kuang: Meanwhile on the European Tour, this 14-year-old Chinese sensation made the cut at the Volvo China Open and finished T-55.

Yep, he’s FOURTEEN. Incredible. And I don’t even want to think about how old I’ll be when he’s celebrating his 30th birthday. . .

WE'RE SELLING

Lydia Ko’s changes: From one emerging phenom to this struggling one, Ko announced she’s parting ways with another swing coach, Ted Oh. Like with Ko’s caddie, Ko’s instructor has been a revolving door in recent years, and the golfer once destined to break every LPGA record has just one win since July of 2016 after a T-61 at the LPGA Mediheal Championship over the weekend.

Flagstick-catching walk-off putts: Putting aside the question of whether putting with the flagstick in helps or hurts, I have to say that, personally, leaving it in for the entire round for the first time was delightful. One less thing to worry about and it definitely seemed to pick up the pace, which was what the USGA intended with the rule change. I also have no problem with the best players in the world doing it, but as we saw at the Asian Tour, it can cause a less pleasing finish to the eye. Teahee Lee rolled in the winning putt at the Maekyung Open, but the ball didn’t actually drop into the bottom of the cup, which caused a somewhat delayed reaction from the fans:

This guy:

Hey, give him credit for battling back with a 54 after that front-nine 63. Gutty performance.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to Texas for the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest, AKA the only golf course in the country with “Forest” in its name despite basically having zero trees. Trinity Forest got rave reviews last year in its debut despite playing a lot softer than intended by designers Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Aaron Wise didn’t mind. He shot a tournament-record 23-under par and won by three.

Random tournament fact: Tony Romo will be making his third career PGA Tour start and his first in the U.S. It will be a home game for the former Dallas Cowboys QB who is a Trinity Forest member.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

— Tony Romo will win this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

— Tony Romo will make the cut this week: 18-to-1 odds (Actual odds)

— Tony Romo will have a larger gallery than Aaron Wise (on Thursday and Friday): LOCK

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Classic pic. Classic caption. Well done, Keith Mitchell. Phil wound up missing the cut, but little did we know he was saving his energy to put on that batting practice clinic.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

For Rory’s birthday, the European Tour got Jack Bartlett to impersonate him:

Great stuff—especially the walk—but we’re guessing Rory liked the bag and cake he got better from the people at Wells Fargo.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS

Country music star Gary Allan crashed a golf cart in a bunker at TPC San Antonio:

And then there was the second "Black Masters” featuring Charles Barkley and the NBA on TNT gang. The Butler Cabin-esque black jacket ceremony featuring Shaq is a nice touch:

And Chuck’s swing is looking (pretty) good!

He just still has no clue where it’s going. . .

THIS WEEK IN BROOKS KOEPKA-JENA SIMS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

Poor Brooks. The guy even gets upstaged by fellow golfers when it comes to birthdays. Amid all the fuss over McIlroy’s 30th, Koepka turned 29 on Friday with little fanfare. At least, it looks like he had a great time with Jena on some tropical island:

And sailing around the island of Manhattan:

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"It'll be nice ... to be known not just as the Twitter funny guy, and hopefully as a decent golfer now.” — Max Homa, great tweeter, decent golfer.

THIS AND THAT

Congrats to Palm Desert High School sophomore Chris Wardrup for winning a 36-hole tournament by six shots after making a 10 on the first hole. It's not quite making a European Tour cut at 14, but pretty darn impressive. . . . Bubba Watson told Dan Patrick that Tiger Woods blocks his cell phone number because Bubba texts him too much. Add that to the list of adversities Woods has overcome during his comeback. . . . And finally, I’ve played one round of golf in 2019 while being rained out three times. Heck, I've been rained out as many times at the freaking driving range as I've played rounds:

This New York weather sucks. Get ready for a sloppy PGA Championship next week!

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Who would win a PGA Tour home run derby?

Who did Phil Mickelson bet on in the Kentucky Derby?

Has Bethpage Black improved its drainage system since 2009?


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