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The Grind

Scottie Scheffler’s scary switch, the craziest part of Anthony Kim’s comeback, and the strangest sound in golf

March 12, 2024

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we are really glad we finally saw “Oppenheimer” in time for the Oscars. Otherwise that would have been a real snooze to watch. Except, of course, for Ryan Gosling’s performance of “I’m Just Ken” from (COMPANY PLUG ALERT!) the underappreciated “Barbie.”

Legendary. A golf movie has still yet to win an Academy Award, but hopefully the Emmys will show “Full Swing” some love. Hopefully, everyone is caught up on Season 2 and ready to check out our special star-studded podcast breaking it all down:

And in the meantime, golf’s current leading man put on quite a performance himself over a weekend that saw a couple special cameos as well. Let’s dive in.

WE’RE BUYING

Scottie Scheffler: Specifically, I’m buying his new putter. As in, I might literally buy it. We’ve talked about the flatstick holding Scottie back during his historic run of ball-striking—the guy had 12 top-5 finishes in 12 months without a win—but that was not the case at Bay Hill as he finished fifth in strokes gained putting, including first on Sunday when he made all 16 of his putts within 10 feet.

Add it all up and it was a five-shot coronation at the King’s place. Despite that year-long winless “drought”, Scheffler still has more wins in the past two years than anyone. Scottie’s peers seemed in awe of him like me watching Ryan Gosling at the Oscars.

And the Arnold Palmer Invitational victory—and that $4 million first-place check—came just a few weeks after Rory McIlroy suggested that Scheffler should switch to a mallet putter, which he did. Now, Scottie claims he was already making the switch, but if he wasn’t, well, McIlroy might owe the rest of the PGA Tour an apology.

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Keyur Khamar

Not sure about the beard, but that’s a nice-looking cardigan.

Matteo Manassero: The best story of the week came in South Africa, however, where this former prodigy finally won again on the DP World Tour after an 11-year drought that saw him sink to incredible depths and even quit the game for a brief period. Manassero won four times on the Euro Tour as a teen, but called career win No. 5 “the best day of my life on the golf course.”

The guy had an 11-YEAR drought and he’s still only 30! Good for you, Matteo. This is like that “Goonies” actor disappearing and then winning an Oscar last year. If you’ve got talent, it’s in there somewhere. It’s too bad Manassero missed out on playing the Ryder Cup in his home country last year, but there’s still plenty of time for him to make the European squad.

Abraham Ancer: People forget about this guy when talking about LIV’s top talents and that’s somewhat fair given his LIV track record since leaving the PGA Tour. But Ancer won twice last year on the Asian Tour and at the Pan American Games and could sense a victory coming when we spoke to him on The Loop podcast a few weeks back. And he was right. Abe didn’t make things easy, blowing a five-shot lead after 36 holes, but he delivered this clutch knockout blow in the playoff:

With Abe being one of our favorite pod guests, I’m happy for Abe. Now please don’t tar and feather me for saying that.

Bailey Tardy: Another great story of adversity, Tardy finally won her maiden LPGA title at 27. This after narrowly missing out on earning her card three times and spending five years toiling away on the Epson Tour. And not only did she win the Blue Bay LPGA in China, she won by four shots and pulled away from playing partner Lydia Ko in the final round.

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Zhizhao Wu

"It was a lot of self-reflecting trying to figure out if I was even good enough to be on the LPGA, if I wanted it enough," Tardy said after. "The life on the road is not for everybody, and so I just didn't know if this was the profession for me. Now that I'm an LPGA winner I'm so happy I stuck to it. This is a dream come true." OK, so that might have been the best story of the week in golf.

WE’RE SELLING

A smaller PGA Tour: Count Rory McIlroy and Wyndham Clark among those that think the PGA Tour should . . . shrink. This despite the fact that the tour has already implemented limited fields at most of its biggest events like the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And this despite the fact that both fans—and most PGA Tour pros—don’t even seem to be in favor of that. “Probably won’t be very popular for saying this, but I’m all for less players and less tour cards, and the best of the best.” See? Even Rory knows it. Talk about not giving the people what they want.

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BRENNAN ASPLEN

McIlroy thinks a smaller group would make it more “cutthroat” to get on and Wyndham agreed. Which, of course, is funny because a few years ago we’re guessing Wyndy wouldn’t have liked being on the outside looking in. Anyway, hopefully this doesn’t happen.

People raining on AK’s parade: Speaking of smaller circuits, I mocked the fact that Anthony Kim has a bunch of HATERS last week, because no athlete has been more universally propped up the past decade. But to be fair, now that he’s on LIV, there are a lot of, um, detractors coming out of the woodwork. Such was the case on Sunday when AK fired a 65 for my birthday (Thanks, AK! My co-workers couldn’t even be bothered to wish me happy birthday on Slack!) and a good portion of Golf Twitter mocked it by pointing out he still finished 50th of 54 players.

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Eurasia Sport Images

While that’s the case, the dude still shot 65, which was tied for the fifth-lowest round of Sunday in Hong Kong. This is only his sixth competitive round in the past DOZEN years. And, apparently, he hasn’t even been fit for new golf clubs yet, something most weekend hackers have done!

So while I’m not ready to say he’s ever going to return to being one of the best players on the planet, I’m still impressed.

This sound: Have a listen to the whistling(?) sound that DP World Tour player Daniel Van Tonder makes when he hits a golf ball:

That’s wild. It’s not as bad as Monica Seles grunting back in the day, but it’s just as jarring because you don’t hear other golfers making noises like that. Or, making noises at all. But, hey, whatever works.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour continues its Florida Swing by heading to TPC Sawgrass for the PLAYERS Championship, AKA that one This is the 50th edition of this bad boy, and to celebrate, our Luke Kerr-Dineen and Jamie Kennedy decided to rank the 50 greatest golfers during that time based on their best season (Scheffler’s 2023 lands at No. 26). Fun stuff. Embrace debate! And Anthony Kim will make the first non-LIV start of his comeback at the Asian Tour's International Series Macau, an event that actually has a cut! It should also be noted that Tiger Woods will NOT be teeing it up at TPC Sawgrass. Sigh. But to talk about all things Tiger, including an excellent upcoming book on his career, we had Bob Harig on this week's Golf Digest The Loop podcast:

Random tournament fact: No one has ever won back-to-back Players titles at TPC Sawgrass. So even defending champ Scottie Scheffler, who like at Bay Hill won by five here last year, has his work cut out for him this week. (He’ll probably only win by three shots this time.)

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

—Scottie Scheffler will go back to his previous putter this week: 4 MILLION-to-1 odds

—Scottie Scheffler will win again this week at the Players: 6-to-1 odds (Actual odds)

—Scottie Scheffler isn’t done putting up historic seasons: LOCK

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Adam Schenk. Golf dad.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK

VIRAL VIDEO(S) OF THE WEEK (SUCCESS DIVISION)

Are they making these contests easier? Anyway, I feel for the guy only winning 5K while the other gets a new car. Tough break.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (FAIL DIVISION)

Poor Tommy.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (WILDLIFE DIVISION)

Better that many kangaroos than gators.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS

Really wanted to find something Ryan Gosling-related for this part, but I can’t find a single photo of him on a golf course. Hmm. So here’s Steph Curry doing a golf celebration after draining another deep three-pointer:

When you’re the reigning celebrity golf king, you’ve got to always be working on your game.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

It had been so long since Meredith got to give her man a winning kiss on the 18th green that we nearly missed her entire pregnancy!

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Keyur Khamar

The couple is expecting their first child at the end of April. Imagine the cute pic possibilities if he’s able to take home the green jacket for a second time?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“There's probably only a couple of players in the world that can live with him playing like that. Not sure I'm one of them. I was obviously just disappointed I didn't put any pressure on him early. I got off to a bad start, he got off to a good start. I was a few shots behind all at the end of the day. I'm sure Wyndham feels the same. But, yeah, he showed today why he's world No. 1.” —Shane Lowry, who saw Scottie’s latest masterpiece up close.

THIS AND THAT

Congrats to Brice Garnett for winning the Puerto Rico Open six years after winning his other PGA Tour title in the Dominican Republic. Forget Viktor Hovland, this guy is the Resort Golf King! . . . Chris Kirk’s caddie puts trivia questions in his yardage book. Talk about a brilliant way to sharpen your knowledge of the world—and overcome slow play. . . . Bryson DeChambeau’s Crushers, the defending LIV team champs, won for a second consecutive week. Is the 4Aces dynasty already over? . . . And, finally, shout-out to my soon-to-be six(!)-year-old for the fantastic birthday card featuring a drawing of me playing golf:

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She gets me.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Where does “Oppenheimer” rank among all-time great movies?

Where will Scottie Scheffer rank among all-time great golfers?

Does Ryan Gosling really not play golf? (And would he want to play with me?)