Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we’re excited to have a PGA Tour Player of the Year debate all of a sudden. EMBRACE DEBATE, EVERYBODY! Brooks Koepka vs. Rory McIlroy is closer than you think with the purists pushing major championship performance while the McIlroy backers are all about that newfangled strokes gained stat. Golf suddenly has an MLB MVP nerds vs. dinosaurs argument on its hands. Maybe we should settle this with. . . shirtless photos?
Damn, still too close to call. No dad bods here! Anyway, let’s continue this conversation below, where I promise
all most of the golfers will be wearing clothes.
Rory McIlroy: It was only fitting that the man who played more great golf than anyone else on the planet this year won the season-long FedEx Cup at the Tour Championship. And while he didn’t play his best in the four majors, he certainly came through in the two most lucrative events of 2019, winning both this and the Players. Also, final pairings haven’t been kind to Rory, but he beat Brooks Koepka head to head on Sunday at East Lake to join Tiger Woods in the two-time FedEx Cup winners club:
We’re guessing McIlroy will have a similar reaction when he checks his bank account after that record $15 MILLION check comes through.
Brooks Koepka: The World No. 1 couldn’t quite cap another incredible season with a win, but it was still a heck of a campaign. Three wins, including a major and a World Golf Championship, plus two runner-ups and a T-4 in the other majors. McIlroy has suddenly picked up support for PGA Tour Player of the Year, but Brooks is still my vote for his amazing consistency in the game’s biggest events (he beat Rory head-to-head handily at all four). And for what it’s worth, Koepka was named the PGA of America’s POY, which is determined by a points system.
Please don’t hurt me, Brooks! I said I’d vote for you!
Jin Young Ko: There’s certainly no Player-of-the-Year debate on the LPGA Tour, where Ko continues to dominate. A five-shot victory at the CP Women’s Open gives her four wins, including two majors this season.
She also currently holds the craziest streak in professional golf having gone 106 consecutive holes without recording a bogey. Yep. One HUNDRED and six straight without a miscue. Incredible.
Tour Championship formula: Yes, the PGA Tour got lucky with a popular winner in Rory McIlroy. And yes, the tour was also lucky McIlroy wound up posting the low 72-hole score at East Lake (Speaking of getting lucky, how about that drain on No. 8?!). But everyone made way too big a deal about the staggered start. By the end of Day 1—really, by the time everyone teed off on Thursday—it couldn’t have been simpler to follow. Of course, it helped that the leader, Justin Thomas, didn’t go low in the first round, but basically, you just had to treat it like a 36-hole leader board with the first round having been previously played and go from there. Sorry, purists, but I’m in! Nice job, Commish!
I also don’t get the people knocking the event for being “all about the money.” Of course it’s all about the money! That has become the tournament/FedEx Cup’s identity, and in a sea of wrap-around season events that are indistinguishable at times, I don’t see anything wrong with that, either.
Lightning strikes: Having recently been pulled off the course while playing the Northern Trust Pro-Am before the storm really hit, I know how frustrating it is. But what happened at East Lake on Saturday shows why the PGA Tour is (and should be) so careful:
Six people were injured in the strike from debris that fell, but fortunately, none seriously. So the next time you think *Why aren’t they still playing?!,” remember this. Be safe out there, folks.
Dustin Johnson’s second half: After winning the WGC-Mexico Championship and finishing runner-up in the year’s first two majors, Johnson didn’t record anything better than a T-20 in his final eight starts of the season, capped by a last-place finish at East Lake. It’s a stunning drought for someone who has spent more time at World No. 1 the past three years than anyone. Puzzling. . . Sort of like. . .
Brooks Koepka’s shoes: As someone who wore the exact same thing to work on Monday as a guy on my train who looked to be at least 55 (although, I prefer to think that dude was a particularly cool 55-year old), I probably shouldn’t comment on current fashion. It reminded me of the scene in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” when Russell Brand sees some random old guy wearing the same Hawaiian shirt that he has on:
But, c’mon, zip ties? Are you kidding?!
Phil Mickelson once wore a binder clip on a bulky hat, but at least Phil’s served a purpose. OK, I’ll stop now. I’m starting to sound like a 55-year-old. . .
The PGA Tour is actually off for a couple weeks, but Rory McIlroy will be playing in the OMEGA European Masters in Switzerland. You’re always on the clock when you’re being sponsored! Wait, are the good people of Switzerland going to be forced to hear that awful “Hall of Fame” song all week? Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.
Also, this gives golf fans the opportunity to check out the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where PGA Tour cards are on the line, and the LPGA’s Cambia Portland Classic. And while we’re promoting non-PGA Tour events, give the World Long Drive Championship a chance. Which leads us to (segue alert!) our podcast with Kyle Berkshire:
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—Rory cares that Brooks won the PGA’s POY: 15 MILLION-to-1 odds
—Kyle Berkshire will win the World Long Drive: 1.4-to-1 odds (yep, he’s a heavy favorite)
—No one at the KFT Finals will have a zip tie on their shoes: LOCK
PHOTO(S) OF THE WEEK
Brooks Koepka’s ESPN Body Issue photos are finally here, and, well, have a look for yourself:
“It’s one of those things where all these people that talk crap and whatever on social media, they don’t have the balls to do it, and they wouldn’t look that good,” Koepka said
Can't argue with that!
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
What did we do before Phil joined Twitter?
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (NON-PHIL DIVISION)
Talk about being in the zone.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s fashion, bro.” —Brooks Koepka.
THIS WEEK IN TOUR PRO PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
A rare Rory and Erica sighting!
Awww. "Good news, honey! We can afford to re-do the upstairs bathroom now!"
THIS WEEK IN PHIL BEING PHIL
Get a load of this beach bod!
Good for you, Phil. And way to upstage Brooks on the very day his nudes came out:
Of course, I felt cooler before I realized Phil basically responded to everyone on Twitter that day.
THIS AND THAT
How about Brandt Jobe's week? First, he impresses Russell Wilson with his arm:
And then he chases down Fred Couples to win the Boeing Classic. Not bad. . . . Congrats to Viktor Hovland on comfortably earning his PGA Tour card through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals after coming up just short during the regular season. Get to know this name. Now. . . . Congrats to Matthew NeSmith on making the leap as well after winning his first Korn Ferry title at the Albertsons Boise Open. That must have been one heckuva party in Idaho. . . . Shout-out to Bob Vokey for the 56-degree wedge (I wrote about my one-on-one fitting with the legend earlier this year) that has now holed a bunker shot in two of my past three rounds. I had previously holed one bunker shot in my life. Voke! My man! . . . Speaking of, my most recent sand highlight came on the 10th hole at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. Perhaps the most Instagrammed golf course in New York, my first trip lived up to the hype. Here's an obligatory pic of the par-3 16th:
What a special place.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
What’s the best course to never host a major championship?
What will Rory McIlroy spend that $15 million on?
Are you ready for some football?