Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we're going to take it easy on pros choking under pressure for a while. Ben Hogan famously said, "golf and tournament golf are as different as tennis and ice hockey" -- and he was right. I found that out the hard way (again) on my annual buddies golf trip with a few bucks and a 22-year-old green jacket bought from the Salvation Army on the line. Out of nowhere I started hitting slices, skulling pitches and chunking chips in the championship match -- and I can't even use Tiger's "new release pattern" excuse. Nope, there's no other explanation other than I gagged my guts out. At least, a co-worker was nice enough to suggest I read this book before next year's tournament:
But enough about my golf. It's time for me to say what I think about everyone else's golf.
Bubba Watson: At the site of his maiden PGA Tour victory and a famous blowup at his caddie, Watson made another special memory by winning the Travelers Championship for a second time, beating Paul Casey on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. Bubba now has eight career tour wins, five of which have come in extra holes. Maybe I should talk to him about playing under pressure for green jackets.
Jeff Maggert: After a long career that produced just three PGA Tour titles, Maggert has won two senior majors in 2015, including topping Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer at the U.S. Senior Open over the weekend. Isn't the Champions Tour great? Maggert was so in control with a two-shot lead that he could be heard helping USGA president Tom O'Toole find his family in the crowd as he walked up the 18th hole. What a boss move.
Na Yeon Choi's 8-iron: Trailing Stacy Lewis by a shot with three holes to play, Choi holed out an 8-iron for eagle on 16 and then hit her tee shot to a foot on 17 with the same club to set up a birdie in her come-from-behind win in Arkansas. Lewis, meanwhile, has become the Jim Furyk of the LPGA with seven top threes, but no wins in her past 27 starts.
"Mr. 57": Do you believe in miracles? A Virginia golfer shot a 57 in the second round of a 54-hole, one-day tournament at Laurel Hill Golf Club last week. Yep, 54 holes in one day. Hard to believe, right? Oh, yeah, and a 57? With three holes-in-one, two of which came on par 4s? Hmm. We're giving Patrick Willis (not the recently retired San Francisco 49ers linebacker), 59, the benefit of the doubt because he's a plus-4 handicap who happens to be a retired Marine. "People are allowed to believe what they want to believe -- I fought for that freedom," Willis said. "But I know what I shot, my playing partners know what I shot and the people at the tournament do as well."
Phil Mickelson: A year after his name was linked to a federal insider-trading investigation (he was cleared), Lefty reportedly has been tied to more shady dealings. This time, a man has pleaded guilty to laundering nearly $3 million and it appears that money was transferred from Mickelson's account to an off-shore gambling operation. According to ESPN's report, Mickelson hasn't been charged with anything and isn't under investigation. Still, it's not a good look for one of golf's biggest stars.
Donald Trump: We appreciate Trump's contributions to the golf industry, but running for President? Of the United States? Imagine how much better he could make his golf courses with all the money he'll burn during his ill-fated campaign? What a waste.
Keegan's pre-shot routine: Taking nearly a minute to hit a golf shot is not good. Even if you wind up hitting a good shot. Bradley has always been a fidgety players, but this new routine is ridiculous. While we're young, Keegan. While we're young.
Paul Casey: How could he hit such a bad shot in a playoff?! Embarrassing. Oh. Right. Pressure. Never mind, Paul. Our apologies.
The PGA Tour heads to West Virginia for the Greenbrier Classic, aka that tournament that features plenty of commercials in which Bubba Watson talks about how awesome it is to live on the property.
Random tournament fact: Tiger Woods is playing in this event for the second time, after missing the cut in 2012. This is the first time he'll be playing in any event as the 220th-ranked player in the world.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Tiger Woods will hit every fairway this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
-- Tiger will have dinner at Bubba's pad: 10-to-1 odds
-- Keegan Bradley's playing partners will look away when it's his turn to hit: LOCK
PHOTO/TWEET OF THE WEEK
— Kevin Streelman (@Streels54) June 23, 2015
Misspelling the defending champ's name? Ouch. Unfortunately for Streelman, he didn't have the best week in his return to the Travelers. Streelman missed the cut and, well, this happened. . .
A bird pooped on my birdie plaque!!! ðð¥ð’© pic.twitter.com/RZXalgX2Sy
— Kevin Streelman (@Streels54) June 22, 2015
VIRAL VIDEO(S) OF THE WEEK
A frisbee golf hole-in-one usually wouldn't seem too exciting, but this one was pretty crazy. And it came at the 2015 Maple Hill Open! OK, no clue what that is, but it's a great clip with some fantastic reactions:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Bubba Watson on pressure/playoffs: "It's just about staying calm. That's what you have to do, you just breathe and walk slower, take some deep breaths . . ." That's good stuff, Bubba. Go on. Teach me! "And focus on the fact that no matter what you still come in second place." Oh, great. Thanks a lot, Bubba.
THIS WEEK IN MODELS PLAYING GOLF (SORT OF)
THIS WEEK IN
DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY JIMMY WALKER-ERIN WALKER AND LUKE DONALD-DIANE DONALD PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
The couple that plays golf together, stays together:
— Erin Walker (@tourwifetravels) June 23, 2015
And speaking of couples who have stayed together, the Donalds celebrated an anniversary:
A photo posted by Diane Donald (@dianedonald) on Jun 24, 2015 at 10:13am PDT
THIS AND THAT
Pablo Larrazabal topped Henrik Stenson by a stroke to win the BMW International Open in Munich. You have to mention where the tournament was because it seems BMW sponsors about 31 European Tour events. . . . Speaking of Germany, Bernhard Langer is still upset about the anchoring ban that will go into place starting next year. Tough break, Bernhard, but it's time to accept it and move on. . . . A New England golf course, Foxboro Country Club, showed support for suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by putting all No. 12 flags in the holes. New England fans are pretty sick. . . . Congrats to Josh Thomson for winning his first HGGA Championship at the fabulous Turning Stone Resort & Casino. Josh came up clutch against me in the championship match with a collection of up-and-downs that would have made Seve Ballesteros proud. And now, he'll get to wear the coveted green jacket -- just hopefully, not with that shirt again -- for the next year.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Will I ever win another green jacket?
Will Tiger ever win another major?
Should we both call a sport psychologist?