The Grind: Waiting on Na, fearing the Florida Swing, and reliving a nightmarish choke
By Alex Myers
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we . . . hold up a second . . . hang on a minute . . . just waiting for Kevin Na to hit his next shot. OK, we're good to go. Look, we'd probably move a little slower if we knew millions of people were watching us work. Should we put a comma here? Do we need more of an explanation there? Can we mention Paulina Gretzky again? That kind of constant scrutiny would be awful . . . OK, before we start to stall let's move on to what else has us talking.
John Senden: The greens-in-regulation machine finally picked up his second PGA Tour title at the Valspar Championship after a seven-year wait. All it took was him missing a green on the 16th hole and knocking in a chip shot for an unlikely birdie. Golf is a funny game.
Fred Couples: Freddie birdied the final two holes at the Toshiba Classic to beat Bernhard Langer by one and pick up his 10th Champions Tour title. Rounding into form just in time for the Masters, we see . . .
The Snake Pit: Really, this is more about enjoying the difficult Florida Swing thus far. This is the first time since 1990 (not counting majors and opposite-field events) that three consecutive PGA Tour events have been won at single digits under par. But we'll admit it, talking about The Bear Trap, Blue Monster and The Snake Pit the past three weeks has been fun.
Golden Tate: We love to hear when athletes from other sports are really into golf, even if their logic is a bit suspect. Tate, formerly a wide receiver for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, signed a lucrative free-agent deal with the Detroit Lions and said golf was a big reason for why he chose Detroit over playing in Arizona. Hey, his heart is in the right place. Plus, his name makes us think of playing Golden Tee.
John Daly: In the second round of the Valspar Championship, Daly shot the worst score of his PGA Tour career -- and that's saying a LOT. The 90 included a 12 on the 16th hole (The Snake Pit strikes again!). We play golf with a guy named Josh who calls a round of 18 over par "the standard." No, Josh isn't a particularly good golfer, and no, Daly didn't meet "the standard" on the par-71 Copperhead Course at Innisbrook. Not good.
Kevin Na: If you remember the 2012 Players, then watching Na over the weekend was an absolute treat. Still, he remains known more for his slow play -- although Na's certainly not the only PGA Tour player at fault -- and his pace was as big of a storyline as Senden's win at the Valspar Championship. Said Robert Garrigus' caddie, Brent Henley, "It ain't fair playing with Kevin Na, it ain't fair." If that sounds like a whiny excuse, it isn't. The numbers actually back up that claim.
Robert Garrigus: That being said, Garrigus still shot a Sunday 75 to finish a disappointing T-4. Garrigus is now 0-for-4 when holding a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour. In other words, he'd have to close the deal the next 54 times to match Tiger Woods' mark. Speaking of poor play under pressure . . .
My clutch putting: I call out players for poor play under pressure on a weekly basis, so it's only fair to rip myself when deserved. Monday, I had a chance to win an eight-person putting contest at the office (That's an $8 purse, which equals a fine meal at Cosi) and I choked. Thanks to Luke Kerr-Dineen, who coincidentally wound up winning, for capturing one of the biggest daggers of my sports career -- and my pained reaction -- on his phone. It might take awhile to get over this one.
The PGA Tour's Florida Swing concludes with the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, aka that place without a scary nickname and where it seems like Tiger Woods hits a walk-off putt every year. Lately, the term walk-off putt means a different thing for Woods, but he and his bad back will give it a go this week in search of a record ninth win in a single tour event. He pulled out of the tournament on Tuesday evening with a bad back.
Random tournament fact: If you thought John Daly's 12 in Tampa was bad, try this: In the final round at Bay Hill in 1998, Daly made an 18 on the par-5 sixth hole, his worst recorded score on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately, he won't be in the field this week to try to top that mark.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Kevin Na will be told to slow down on the course: 1 million-to-1 odds
-- NBC announcers will dub holes No. 16-18 at Bay Hill "The King's Dungeon" to add a little juice to the event: Even odds
-- At 84, Arnold Palmer will still be the coolest person at Bay Hill: LOCK
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"It was a good 12. I got up-and-down for a 12." -- John Daly
Hmm. By that logic, Jean Van de Velde's triple bogey at the 1999 British Open was a great 7.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
One of the good things about the LPGA having so many weeks off is it gives Natalie more time to work on her tan.
THIS WEEK IN PAULINA GRETZKY-DUSTIN JOHNSON PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
They're back!!! It had been more than a month since our favorite lovebirds posted a pic, but it looks like they're making up for lost time.
"Nothing else matters" Paulina wrote on her Instagram account. Very sweet. She then posted this pic three days later.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Tom Watson's one-handed backward chip shot on the par-3 eighth hole in the opening round of the Toshiba Classic was an instant classic.
Charley Hull won her first pro title thanks to a final-round 62 in Morocco. She turns 18 this week. . . . Not to be outdone, 15-year-old New Zealander Inia Logan shot a 59 in a junior tournament over the weekend on a par-68 course. It could have been a par-60 course and we would have been impressed. . . . A model is suing Playboy and a radio host for a golf stunt gone awry. Let's just say teeing a ball up on any part of your body isn't a good idea. . . . Rory and Caroline are reported to be planning a November wedding in New York. Smart move. That date should cut the cost down considerably. . . . I had a chance to return to my high school as a guest speaker for career day last week as you can see from the name tag. I know, I know, those poor kids.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Why would 'Wozilroy' get married in New York?
Is John Daly available for positive speaking engagements?
Will I ever get over that missed putt?