A longer drought than Jim Furyk's ends, the surprising best shot of the year, and the best(?) abs in pro golf
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where there's nothing we like more than seeing a long-suffering golfer win. Those years of hard work and waiting just make that payoff all the more sweeter. In other words, I was really excited -- and relieved -- to finally win my first Golf Digest major at the Spring Opener! What, did you think I was talking about Jim Furyk? I'll get to him in due time, but first, this is me sinking the winning putt on our office putting green ("Royal Wilton") in front of a huge gallery:
And finally, this is me on Letterman:
Man, I really had Dave going with my office cafeteria tales. What a wild week -- and that's just my golf! OK, OK, let's get to everything else that happened.
Jim Furyk: On a more serious note, thank goodness this guy finally won a golf tournament. It was getting rough to watch and had this victory been snatched away by Kevin Kisner, we would have feared for Furyk's well-being. But Furyk won for the first time in 100 starts on the PGA Tour, and more impressively, he did it in clutch fashion at the RBC Heritage. Sure, it's easier to shoot 63 on Sunday when you're coming from behind, but to birdie both playoff holes? Including one after Kisner had already made birdie?
Jordan Spieth: After a media blitz of NYC, a tired Masters champ returned to action at Hilton Head, finally took off his green jacket and promptly shot 74 on no practice, snapping a streak of 16 consecutive sub-par rounds. But looking like he might miss a cut and take some time off, Spieth rallied with a 62 on Friday and finished T-11. It wasn't a fifth consecutive top-two finish, but it was pretty impressive considering the circumstances.
Sei Young Kim: Furyk's win was exciting, but it will be tough for any tournament to top the dramatic finish we saw on the LPGA Tour in Hawaii. Kim chipped in on No. 18 to force a playoff with Inbee Park and then holed her approach shot from 154 yards minutes later on the same hole for a walk-off eagle. The 22-year-old South Korean is the first player to win twice on the LPGA this season and she leads the way in the Rolex Player of the Year standings. Not bad for a rookie. And not a bad vertical, either.
Freddie Jacobson's putting: Lost in the performances by Jim Furyk and Jordan Spieth, Jacobson broke a PGA Tour record by extending his streak without a three-putt to 524 holes and counting. That's more than 29 full rounds of golf since his last three-putt. Most people have never gone 29 holes without one.
Freddie Jacobson's ball-striking: While he ranks first in three-putt avoidance and third in strokes gained/putting, Jacobson ranks 173rd in strokes gained/tee to green. As a result, he's only 141st on the FedEx Cup standings. Maybe that "putt for dough" bit is a little overrated.
Graeme McDowell: We thought we were finally seeing signs of life from the 2010 U.S. Open champ when he shared the 18-hole lead at Harbour Town. But he only shot two under the rest of the week at a course where he's won before to finish a disappointing T-26. On the bright side, that's G-Mac's best PGA Tour finish of 2015. On the bad side, that's his best PGA Tour finish of 2015.
Swan songs: Even though he made the cut at Harbour Town, Tom Watson said he's thinking about making the 2016 Masters his last one. At St. Andrews in July, Watson will make his last British Open start. So will Nick Faldo. And this comes on the heels of Ben Crenshaw playing his final Masters. These send-offs are kind of cool, but they're also kind of sad. Great players are getting old -- and so are we.
CBS: With Sunday tee times (smartly) moved way up because of a bad weather forecast, CBS (foolishly) only provided tape-delayed coverage. It's 2015, people!!! Anyone who actually cares about following the tournament was getting a play-by-play on Twitter, so why not live stream the action on CBS' website? The network could have still aired the tournament on a delay in its 3-6 window and gotten the same people who haven't discovered the Internet yet to watch. And even that part of the population in Savannah got hosed when their local CBS affiliate cut away just before Furyk's winning putt to show a weather update that the weather was fine. We just hope Jim Furyk's parents weren't watching in Savannah. They can only take so much.
The PGA Tour heads to New Orleans for the Zurich Classic, aka that tournament where that big gator always seems to be hanging out on the 18th hole. Last year, John Peterson, an experienced gator handler, helped keep play going by bravely nudging the large reptile back into the lake so his playing partner could hit a shot. John Peterson should have his own show on the Discovery Channel.
Random tournament fact: This tournament began at City Park Golf Courses in New Orleans, where it was played until 1962. If City Park sounds familiar, that's the place where a man was living in a tree protesting a new golf course being built there -- until he fell out of the tree.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Someone will go chip-in, hole out from 150 yards again to win: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
-- John Peterson will get that gator to roll over and do other tricks this year: 10-to-1 odds
-- This week's winner won't fist pump as hard as Jim Furyk: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Jim Furyk with his putter already dropped about to unleash the most vicious fist pump by anyone not named Tiger Woods as his winning putt disappears into the hole. Perfect.
____[#image: /photos/55ad7d18add713143b42ce1b]|||blog-jim-furyk-pump-0421.jpg|||VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
The Jacksonville Jaguars mascot put everyone to shame at the Players media day by winning the closest-to-the-pin contest on the par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. The shot -- in full costume, no less -- was so good, it made us wonder if Jags kicker and plus-handicapper Josh Scobee was behind it. Turns out the mascot, Curtis Dvorak, is a scratch player himself. Sorry, Sei Young Kim, but this is the shot of the week and maybe the year:
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) April 15, 2015
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (NOT INVOLVING A MASCOT)
From the graceful to the not-so graceful, this LPGA fan had a rough day in Hawaii when his beloved hat got blown into a water hazard. He wound up retrieving it, but only after he got soaked, lost his beer and had his embarrassing moment go viral.
THIS WEEK IN BELEN MOZO MAKING US FEEL BAD WITH SHOWING OFF HER TRAINING
Score not reflecting my game again. Disappointed in the golf course but quite pleased with my off-course work ð pic.twitter.com/9fbAHF7dFD
— BelÃ©n Mozo (@BelenMozo) April 17, 2015
THIS WEEK IN NATALIE GULBIS TRAINING TAKING RANDOM SELFIES
A photo posted by Natalie Gulbis (@natalie_gulbis) on Apr 20, 2015 at 9:54am PDT
OK. . .
THIS AND THAT
The USGA announced mobile devices less than seven inches long will be allowed at the U.S. Open. In other words, as long as you don't have Zach Morris' cell phone from "Saved by the Bell," you should be good at Chambers Bay. . . . Olin Browne won on the Champions Tour in an event cut to 36 holes by bad weather. We guess that counts. . . . Kiradech Aphibarnrat won on the European Tour. APHIBARNRAT! A great golfer with an even better name. . . . Rory McIlroy was reportedly in Rochester, N.Y., to visit Erica Stoll. A weekend in Rochester? Sounds like things are getting pretty serious. . . . United Airlines is adding flights from Denver to North Bend this summer, which will make traveling to Bandon Dunes a lot more convenient. My golf group has taken note and this could help Bandon land a future HGGA Championship.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Who has the best abs in pro golf?
Do kids today even know what "Saved by the Bell" is?
Who has worn their new jacket more: Jordan Spieth or me?