The Grind

Phil Mickelson’s glorious calves, J.B. Holmes’ glacial pace, and one tour pro's creative way to combat slow play

February 19, 2019

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we're impressed by the power of Golf Twitter. Within a matter of days, Matt Kuchar was shamed into paying an extra $45,000 to the caddie who helped him win in November, and J.B. Holmes was shamed into, well, nothing actually. But boy, did he get roasted over his pace of play during his Genesis Open victory. There were so many great tweets, but this one topped them all:

Holmes found out that it’s easier to overcome TWO brain surgeries than one highly publicized slow play incident. Golf fans, still with their pitchforks out from J.B.’s infamous four-minute layup last year at Torrey Pines, turned on the Kentuckian worse than Papa John on Louisville basketball. But sadly, Golf Twitter couldn’t get Holmes to play faster—or the PGA Tour to enforce what is essentially, a worthless slow play rule. Keep it up, though, people. Change will (hopefully) come. Slowly.

WE'RE BUYING

J.B. Holmes: Let’s forget that Holmes moves slower on the course than corn-on-the-cob through your digestive system and focus on how he played at Riviera. The burly bomber made a hole-in-one on Friday and managed a final-round 70 despite two absolutely hideous three-putts on the back nine. It was quite a pillow fight between him and Justin Thomas down the stretch. A really, really slow pillow fight. But JB walked lumbered plumb-bobbed away with the most prestigious of his five PGA Tour titles.

Harry How/Getty Images

Tiger’s third rounds: For whatever reason, the third round has been Tiger time during his latest comeback. After leading the PGA Tour in third-round scoring last season (he was no better than 41st in any other round), Tiger torched Riviera with two eagles and three birdies in his first 10 holes on Saturday night/Sunday morning before settling for a 65. That 1:30 a.m. wake-up call caught up with him on the back nine of his final round on Sunday afternoon as he fell back to T-15, but we’re focusing on the positives (Plus, you're not supposed to win when you're the host). Woods managed to make things interesting despite making the cut on the number, and his five-under start through four holes (highlighted by the following eagle) generated more buzz than anything else during the week.

Positive buzz, that is. As mentioned, J.B. Holmes took some serious heat.

Shorts policy: From the better-late-than-never department, the PGA Tour, finally following the precedent set by the European Tour three years ago, will allow its players to wear shorts during practice rounds and pro-ams going forward.

That’s great, but what would be even better is a sign like that posted in locker rooms informing players they’re actually going to start enforcing the slow play policy. Anyway, the announcement also involved this cute video with James Hahn and Harold Varner III:

Good stuff, but get ready for a lot of “legs like out-of-bounds stakes” and “don’t skip leg day” jokes. Speaking of which. . .

Phil Mickelson’s calves: Phil Mickelson apparently hasn’t been skipping the latter. Look at these sculpted beauties!

I joked last week about taking up Phil’s crazy coffee ritual to improve swing speed and night vision, but I didn’t realize calves that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger jealous were also part of the equation. I also never thought I’d ask “What will Phil do next. . . in the gym?"

WE'RE SELLING

J.B. Holmes’ pace of play: If the PGA Tour’s official motto is “Live Under Par,” then J.B.’s should be "Live On The Clock.” Seriously, it was so bad that even fellow players started (sub)tweeting him:

Actually, the most telling part of the situation is that Holmes' group wasn’t even put on the clock during the final round. Of course, J.B. isn’t the only slow player out there. This is a far-reaching problem that isn’t going to get better if the PGA Tour doesn’t act. Holmes himself has said he’s not changing anything if he doesn’t have to and earlier in the week Adam Scott, who isn’t even a particularly slow player, volunteered to be penalized if it would help get the ball rolling. Sadly, his reward for being so honest was to be paired with Holmes the final two rounds. And the situation didn’t help his play—or my fantasy team. Thanks a lot, JB.

Matt Kuchar’s apology: I’m happy that El Tucan, the Mexican caddie who helped Kuchar win at Mayakoba, wound up getting the $50,000 he wanted and what was fair. And Kuchar’s released statement and subsequent apologies were exactly how a crisis management firm would draw it up. But it was all a bit too late. Two days before, Kuchar’s first real comments on the matter, when he said “$5,000 is a great week” and “I’m not losing sleep over this” after a month of this being out there, were anything but apologetic. And the heckling Kuchar received at Riviera is going to pale in comparison to the treatment he gets at Bethpage Black in May or in (gulp) Mexico this week. . . Also, what the heck was this?

OK, let’s move on. For good. Even my wife is sick of hearing me talk about this.

Having a putter stolen: This would be a bad thing at any time, but it’s obviously worse when it happens during a tournament. A tournament you’re playing well in.

Ormsby had just advanced to the match-play portion of the European Tour’s unique Handa World Super 6 Perth, but was quickly knocked out on Sunday without his trusted Scotty Cameron. Poor Wade.

Falling into a bunker: That’s what happened to LPGA tour pro Bronte Law during the third round of the Australian Open.

Rough. I’m also selling the fact there was no video of this. Like the “Sergio Tapes,” this needs to come to light.

ON TAP

With the West Coast Swing in the books, the PGA Tour heads south of the border for the WGC-Mexico Championship, AKA that event Phil won last year. Imagine how much better he’ll play this year with those glorious calves? The rest of the field is in trouble.

Random tournament fact: At 7,800 feet above sea level, Club de Golf Chapultepec causes more caddie-player calculations than any other course on tour. In other words, Bryson DeChambeau is going to love this place.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

— A PGA Tour star will get penalized for slow play in Mexico: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

— Phil Mickelson will defend his title this week: 25-to-1 odds

— Phil Mickelson will get asked about his leg day routine this week: LOCK

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK

How cool is that? Congrats to Nelly Korda on capping quite an impressive Grand Slam.

And one tour pro, Matt Every, found a creative solution to dealing with slow play at the Web.com Tour’s Lecom Sunset Classic:

Bet Adam Scott and Justin Thomas would have liked to have a chair playing with J.B. on Sunday. . .

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

This side-by-side look at 16-year-old Tiger and 43-year-old Tiger teeing off Riviera’s first hole is mesmerizing:

THIS WEEK IN PHIL BEING PHIL

In addition to showing off his calves, Phil gave us two memorable Mickelson moments at Riviera. The first one, a bunker-to-bunker-to-bunker sand hole out for par that sadly didn’t end up counting:

And then this glorious flop shot over the grandstands on No. 18:

Never a dull moment with this guy.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS

Sure thing, Jose. Should we pencil you in for the Masters hot dog eating contest as well?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"These are my people here, I love Hollywood. I've always wanted to be an actor. I can't remember lines, though, so I wouldn't be very good at it, but I could look cool running down the street.” —Bubba Watson

THIS WEEK IN "PROS ARE JUST LIKE US!"

We’ve got a couple great options this week, starting with Justin Thomas’ shank on Sunday at Riviera:

Of course, unlike us, JT laughed it off and then saved par. Amazing. But there was no saving par for Ben DeArmond on the second hole of his Web.com Tour debut. The club pro put six balls in the water before hitting a tee shot in play and made 17. DeArmond’s dad even started calling him Roy, a reference to Tin Cup’s Roy McAvoy, a couple holes later. But even through all that, he battled back to shoot 37 on the back nine. And then did this the next day:

Well done, Roy—I mean, Ben.

THIS AND THAT

Congrats to Mark Hubbard for picking up his first Web.com Tour title at the Lecom Suncoast Classic, although it’s still not his biggest win on the golf course. You might remember him as the guy who proposed to his now wife on Pebble Beach’s 18th during the 2015 AT&T:

Jordan Spieth hit for the cycle with a bogey, double bogey, triple bogey, and quadruple bogey on his way to shooting 81 in the final round and now he's not in any of the four threesomes featured on PGA Tour Live in Mexico this week. The Golden Child is officially in a slump. . . . President Donald Trump installed a $50,000 simulator in the White House, but says he hasn't used it. What a waste. . . . And finally, I went to great lengths to re-stock the office mini-fridge with Coke Zeros, putting them in a Bud Light box because I couldn’t carry an entire Costco-sized case from my home:

And now everyone on my morning commute thinks I’m a raging alcoholic.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

What’s the most famous shank in golf history?

Who would be the best actor on the PGA Tour?

Did Matt Kuchar thank J.B. Holmes for taking the tour's villain baton?


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