The Grind

Rory McIlroy's Raptors jinx, Phil Mickelson's "Pebble Beach" hole-in-one, Kylie Jenner's hideous golf swing

June 11, 2019

Welcome to another edition of The Grind where we are fully immersed in the “embarrassing injuries” phase of our life. In one day, I needed three band-aids for cuts sustained for the following activities: Shaving (pretty standard), changing an air filter (odd), and changing a towel on my golf bag (pathetic). And as if that wasn’t bad enough, I badly tweaked my back trying to put my shoes on while holding my daughter. Not quite Jim Furyk’s infamous teeth-brushing injury, but I’m getting close! On the bright side, maybe I’m also getting close to undergoing back fusion surgery and revitalizing my golf game? I can dream, right? Anyway, one guy with a fused back will be in action at Pebble Beach this week, but before that, there are plenty of other things to get to. Let’s be careful of coming down with some carpal tunnel and dive in.

WE'RE BUYING

Rory McIlroy: So much for McIlroy “not being able to close” or “not being able to play well in the final group”! The guy went out on Sunday and attacked Canada! McIlroy bogeyed two of his final three holes and still shot 61 to win the RBC Canadian Open by seven shots. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?! Also, can we stop picking at this guy’s game? No matter what McIlroy does, it never seems to be good enough. He has a bunch of high finishes, it’s “Why doesn’t he win more?" He wins the Players, it’s “Why has he gone so long without winning a major?” And on Sunday, it was “Why couldn’t he finish off a 59?” Poor guy. But seriously, Rory, it would have been nice to see you finish that round better. Sorry, couldn't help it. Also, did Rory jinx the Raptors by donning this Kyle Lowry jersey ahead of that heartbreaking Game 5 of the NBA Finals?

Mark Blinch/R&A

In any event, Rory better hope Drake doesn’t start showing up to his tournaments.

Lexi Thompson: Now THAT is how you bounce back from a close call. After losing the U.S. Women’s Open by a shot to Jeongeun Lee6, Thompson topped the South Korean by one at the Shoprite LPGA Classic by making eagle on the final hole.

It’s fitting that Lexi and Rory won the same weeks because no one hits it better than these two on their respective tours—and thus, no one is expected to win more. Also, there aren't enough closing par 5s in golf. Of course, we'll see the most famous one of all at Pebble Beach this week. Can't wait.

Alex Ross: Congrats to this rising junior at Davidson for firing one of the lowest—and most unexpected—scores in golf history. Ross shot 57 in the Dogwood Invitational. Yep. A freaking FIFTY-SEVEN. Check out this incredible scorecard:

Two things made this score even more remarkable: Ross shot 75 and 73 the first two rounds and didn't even win the tournament (Ross finished T-11 while Auburn's Brandon Mancheno was the champion). Anyway, whatever this dude is called on campus at Davidson, he’s now "Mr. 57. Or “Heinz.” Nah, let’s stick with Mr. 57 …

Michael Miller: Unless you read The Grind as much as my mom, you probably have no clue who I’m talking about, but while McIlroy was setting all of Canada ablaze, I was streaming Web.com Tour action on my phone. I’ve been covering Miller since he was an eighth-grader at Brewster (N.Y.) Middle School so forgive the cheering from the press box as the now 27-year-old finished solo second at the BMW Charity Championship. This, after he made just two cuts and earned all of three grand in his first 12 starts of the year. Now he’s got a chance to earn his PGA Tour card for next season. Amazing.

Oh, yeah, congrats to Rhein Gibson for winning—and not throwing anything at his caddie. But more importantly, it’s MILLER TIME, people!

WE'RE SELLING

Patrick Cantlay’s video: It wouldn’t be a U.S. Open if players weren’t posting videos showing how thick the rough is, but Cantlay’s clip was a bit much. The recent Memorial winner showed off a spot to the right of the ninth hole that went viral, and to be sure, the grass there is gnarly.

But here’s the problem: That area is mostly marked as a penalty area and any golf balls being caught there would be on the beach if not for the rough. So while there may be plenty of other things to complain about at Pebble Beach (Although, not the $600 green fee because these guys don’t have to worry about that), this is not one.

The New York Jets playing golf: Good lord, are these some hideous swings:

Of course, this is another opportunity to mention I recently had the pleasure of playing golf with former New York Giants star Justin Tuck. Now there’s a quality guy with a quality swing who played for a quality football franchise. Wait, did I mention I played golf with Justin Tuck? No big deal. Just me and a guy with two Super Bowl rings. What a legend. You certainly won’t find many Jets who can claim the same résumé. Just saying …

Canadian golfers: Mackenzie Hughes and Adam Hadwin played well at Hamilton Golf & Country Club, but it’s now been 65 years since a Canadian won the Canadian Open (Shout out to Pat Fletcher in 1954). Then again, it had been 40 years since a European won the U.S. Open when Graeme McDowell won in 2010. And then Rory McIlroy won the following year to give Northern Ireland a two-year reign of dominance in the event. In other words, hang in there, Canada. If you can win an NBA title (apologies in advance for the jinx, Raptors fans), than one of your own can win a Canadian Open in golf.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour heads to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open, AKA that place where Tiger Woods won by 15 shots and where par is (usually) good and players are never shy about voicing their opinions on course setup. Keep the videos coming, guys!

Random tournament fact: Gregory Havret was runner-up the last time the U.S. Open was played at Pebble in 2010. You probably don’t remember that. In fact, I whipped up a nice little refresher on some other things you might not recall from that year’s tournament. Please check it out—but only if you can handle a sad Anthony Kim reference.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

— Someone will flirt with shooting 57 59 61 at Pebble this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

— Someone will win by 15(!) shots at Pebble this week: 10 MILLION-to-1 odds

— Anthony Kim will be missed this week (as he is every week): LOCK

(THROWBACK) PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Luke Donald’s old photo collection continues to be a treasure trove of goodies:

I'd pay good money for access to his archives.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Phil Mickelson + Jim Nantz + A sick backyard golf hole = ELECTRIC CONTENT:

Not sure what the best part is. Nantz calling Phil’s shot or Mickelson’s celebration, which included him dropping the mic/wedge. Nantz, who normally shies away from making predictions, is on the record as saying Phil will win at Pebble. This was a pretty good start to what could be a magical week.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS (OTHER THAN THE NEW YORK JETS)

Tony Romo is beefing up his golf schedule this summer. He played in the Dogwood Invitational last week and next he'll play in the Northeast Amateur later this month. He may not have five majors—or one Super Bowl ring (my man Justin Tuck helped make sure of that)—but he could one-up Phil by becoming the only golfer with a hole-in-one in Jim Nantz’s backyard to also win that prestigious amateur event in Rhode Island. Unfortunately, Romo withdrew last week mid-tournament from the Dogwood with a bad back, which is what Kylie Jenner will have shortly if she keeps swinging like this …

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“No, because I’ll be hungover.” — Rory McIlroy when asked after his win if he wished the U.S. Open started the next day. Great response. I just hope he’s over his Jagermeister phase

THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

Apparently, Dustin Johnson can pull off death-defying flips the week of a major, but he can’t survive a staircase in rental homes.

Whatever you do, Dustin, don’t try putting on your shoes while holding Tatum. . .

THIS AND THAT

Congrats to Graeme McDowell, who will play in the Open Championship at his boyhood course, Royal Portrush, after qualifying thanks to a 30-footer on the 72nd hole at the Canadian Open. Good stuff, but was the R&A really not going to give G-Mac a special exemption? . . . Kudos to former LPGA player Val Skinner for the 20th anniversary of her charity golf event and nearing the $13 million mark in money raised for various causes. Very impressive. . . . Jason Day has hired Steve Williams, who caddied for Tiger during that 15-shot win in 2000, to be his guide at Pebble Beach. The move can’t hurt, but hopefully, for Day’s sake Stevie will pack a few extra golf balls in the bag this time. . . . The Golden Tee World Championship is coming to ESPN later this month. It's scary how excited a couple of my co-workers are about this news. . . . I’m still searching for my first hole-in-one, but I settled for making my first eagle in a long time by jarring a 60-degree wedge from about 80 yards. They I don’t call me “Mr. 60” around the office for no reason. . . . And finally, I let another major come without recording a follow-up song parody, but I've been busy doing some important parenting instead:

It's all part of my Training a Tiger (Fan) program. We'll get there.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Will Rory wear red on Sundays now?

Why aren’t there more 80-yard par 3s?

How will I get hurt next?


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