The Grind: Jason Day wins, Victor Dubuisson emerges, and Rory starts planning a wedding
By Alex Myers
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we're thankful for the match-play refresher we received over the weekend. Some important lessons? 1. A golfer should always display good sportsmanship -- but not too much good sportsmanship; 2. No lead is safe, especially against Graeme McDowell; 3. Always expect your opponent to succeed. Even if his golf ball is lodged against a cactus in the desert. Even if this happens two holes in a row.
We could keep going, but instead, let's just say "good, good" and move on.
Jason Day: Well, it's about time! We've been waiting for nearly four years for the young Australian to win again on the PGA Tour, but now that he has title No. 2 under his belt -- and the WGC-Match Play is a pretty big one at that -- we expect the wins to come a little more regularly. And that means more celebrations with his lovely wife Ellie, which is never a bad thing ...
Victor Dubuisson: "Bonjour!" "C'est la vie!" "Les Miserables!" Golf fans scream the darnedest things when a Frenchman is in contention. Dubuisson gained quite a following over the weekend with a pair of desert par escapes that would have made Harry Houdini proud. Hey, how do you say "magician" in French? (Goes to Google Translate.) Oh, it's just "magicien"? That was easy. "Magicien!"
Butch Harmon: We could have put third-place finisher Rickie Fowler in this spot, but instead, we'll highlight his new instructor. After missing three straight cuts, the swing changes appear to be kicking in. The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Fowler was bombing drives past his opponents and taking dead aim at flagsticks with long irons from 250 yards. Hmm. (Starts devouring Butch Harmon tips). Between Fowler and three-time winner Jimmy Walker, Harmon has a commanding lead on the unofficial Teacher of the Year Award. And yes, well played, Rickie.
Graeme McDowell: G-Mac's run to the quarterfinals may have been more improbable than Dubuisson's desert par saves. He never led in any of the first three rounds until winning on the match's final hole. His sheepish reaction after he did it again Friday was even better. "I've just robbed three players at this tournament, and I can't believe I'm still in it." The magic ran out when McDowell made a huge mistake Saturday: He jumped out to an early lead. You see? Match play is all about sticking to your game plan.
Sergio Garcia: We wanted to stick up for Sergio The Magnanimous. We like Garcia The Gracious. We even picked him to win the whole thing. Wait, that's right, we picked him to win! C'mon, Sergio! How do you give an 18-foot putt?! Nick Faldo called it "ridiculous," and we agree. Something tells us you wouldn't be quite as generous if you were playing Tiger Woods . . .
Nick Faldo: Speaking of Faldo, from the outset of Sunday's broadcast, the TV analyst made it clear that he had worked a lot during the week (he appeared on both Golf Channel's and CBS' coverage) -- "32 hours and counting," he moaned. Yeah, tough life, guy. To make matters worse, he seemed to have trouble following the championship match Sunday, twice prematurely declaring Day a winner. Don't worry, Nick, you get a break with Johnny and the NBC gang taking over for the next four weeks.
Gary Woodland: What's worse than traveling to Tucson just to be knocked out in the first round? Getting knocked out in the first round despite being 3 up with three holes to go. After Woodland worked his way into that position, he lost the next four holes to G-Mac. That hurts. It also recalled a similar meltdown at Torrey Pines earlier this year.
Jason Dufner's hair: Bro, it's time for a cut.
The PGA Tour heads to Palm Beach and the Honda Classic for the start of the Florida Swing. Some might argue this is the "real" start of the season (Yes, that would be the fourth "real" start of the new wraparound season) with a fantastic field that includes Tiger and Rory. It helps when they can probably walk to the tournament from their homes.
Random tournament fact: This event is home to "The Bear Trap." OK, so you probably knew that. More likely, you don't know the course's official name is still PGA National.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Rory McIlroy will withdraw because of a wisdom tooth again: 1 million-to-1 odds
-- Johnny Miller will correctly pronounce Victor Dubuisson's name the first time he brings him up: 10 million-to-1 odds
-- Johnny Miller will still do a better job than Nick Faldo: LOCK
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"For a 23-year-old kid, he's got a lot of game." 26-year-old grizzled veteran Jason Day on Victor Dubuisson.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK (NOT INVOLVING JASON DUFNER'S HAIR)
Ian Poulter and 50 Cent took a picture together at the Daytona 500. Of course, this could also be described as the "something I'd never thought I'd see moment of the week."
THIS WEEK IN PAULINA GRETZKY-DUSTIN JOHNSON PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS
"Fun Weekend In Miami w My Newly Single BFF," Paulina wrote on Instagram.
I don't know about you but I couldn't stop focusing on . . . Paulina's odd use of capital letters.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
How could it be anything else? Victor Dubuisson makes not one, but two of the most unbelievable pressure par saves you'll ever see. On back-to-back holes.
We wonder when his new instructional DVD, "Golf In The Desert," will hit stores.
THIS AND THAT
Harold Ramis (left), the director of "Caddyshack," among other comedic masterpieces, died Monday at 69. For a non-golfer, he sure gave golfers a lot of laughs, and we are forever thankful. . . . Johnny Miller admitted, "the pressure got me" in major championships, particularly during his three runner-ups at the Masters. Don't worry, in the same interview, Johnny also said his iron game "frankly, was better than Jack's." That's more like it! . . . Frank Nobilo said on a conference call that Rory McIlroy was in New York ahead of the Honda Classic to visit with a wedding planner. So if he really starts beefing up his tournament schedule, we'll know why.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
What would Seve think of Victor?
What would Seve say to Sergio?
Do you know what gophers can do to a golf course?!