The Grind: Jimenez thrills, Tiger shows denim progress, and Kevin Durant meets a pair of major champs
By Alex Myers
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where Miguel Angel Jimenez has moved beyond the title of "the most interesting golfer in the world." He's now the most exciting story in golf. Who would have thought we'd be saying that about a 50-year-old with a ponytail midway through 2014? While upping the cool factor on the European Tour, the cigar-smoking, age-defying Jimenez has fellow golfers wondering why the heck they spend so much time in the gym. Keep it up, Miguel. Golf has turned its Tiger-less eyes to you.
I mean. . . how great is this guy?__ __
Miguel Angel Jimenez: We've got MAJ Fever and for good reason. At 50, he's playing arguably the best golf of his life. His latest win in Spain broke his own record as the oldest winner on the European Tour and took him back into the top 25 in the Official World Golf Ranking. It also came just two weeks after he got married. "I don't always go on honeymoons, but when I do, I like to win a golf tournament the next week." Or something like that.
Brendon Todd: Take notes, golf heavyweights. The man with two first names just showed you how you close out a golf tournament. Sure, he had to hit a chip lefty and drain a long par putt on No. 17, but Todd played a bogey-free final round to pick up his first PGA Tour win at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Impressive stuff from a guy who had never registered a top-5 finish in 76 previous starts.
Mike Weir: More surprising than Todd's victory was Weir's runner-up. In fact, Weir's solo second was his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour in more than four years. The Canadian's season stats indicate it was a bit of a fluke, but hey, if having one big week every four years works for Olympic athletes, why can't it work for him?
Tiger Woods' jeans: OK, so it's a little tough to tell from this pic from his annual "Tiger Jam," but it appears Tiger's denim problem is getting better. Of course, it would have been tough for it to get worse. . .
Focus on the jeans, people! Having the Denim Blues this bad is serious stuff.
Louis "Larry" Oosthuizen: A week after the Players got his first name wrong in the parking lot, friend Charl Schwartzel had fun at Oosthuizen's expense by getting Ping to put "Larry Oosthuizen" on his golf bag. It looked like Larry, sorry, Louis, would have the last laugh as he entered Sunday with a share of the 54-hole lead, but a final-round 74 dropped him to T-11 and left he 2010 British Open champ still in search of a first win on U.S. soil.
The Herald Sun: In response to the European Tour finishing the Madeira Islands Open after caddie Ian MacGregor died during the final round, a Melbourne-based newspaper ran a particularly distasteful cartoon. Some topics are better left untouched.
Fred Couples: Boom Boom made a boo boo when he failed to show up for his 9:40 a.m. Sunday tee time at the Regions Tradition (he was 15 shots off the lead at the time). Couples pulling out of this week's Senior PGA -- yes, that's back-to-back majors on the Champions Tour -- leads us to believe that he is seriously injured. But still, a no show is no good. It's not like his tee was THAT early . . .
Tiger Woods' U.S. Open chances: At media day for next month's Quicken Loans National, Woods said he's feeling better, but that he's still only chipping and putting and has no timetable for returning to competitive golf. On the bright side, he said his surgery has alleviated his concern that his career would be cut short by his bad back, and the time off has given him time to give his girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, some golf lessons.
Focusing on the short game first is better anyway. See? Maybe this back injury was a blessing in disguise.
The PGA Tour finishes its second mini-Texas swing at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, aka that tournament where golf fans can bask in all things Ben Hogan. Count on Hogan -- sorry, that's Mr. Hogan -- being mentioned by announcers more than the eventual winner.
Random tournament fact: Mr. Hogan won the inaugural playing of this event in 1946 and went on to win the tournament a record five times. If you watch this week's event, this will be seared into your brain.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Fred Couples missed his tee time because he got caught up watching a particularly gripping episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants": 1 million-to-1 odds.
-- Tiger Woods will win the U.S. Open: 10-to-1 odds (actual odds)
-- Odds I won't be taking that Tiger bet: LOCK
THIS WEEK IN DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY JASON DUFNER-AMANDA DUFNER AND KEVIN DURANT PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Oddly enough, this was the second golf-related photo the NBA's MVP showed up in this week. On Thursday night, he gave his game-worn sneakers to friend Bubba Watson. Kevin, if you're looking to get into golf, we suggest you let Jason, and not Bubba, give you a lesson. His swing is just a tad more conventional.
JUST BECAUSE PAULINA GRETZKY PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Jimenez's celebratory pic above was clearly the overall photo of the week, but Paulina's Instagram with an accompanying sticking-out-the-tongue emoticon wasn't bad, either.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Charles Barkley hasn't gotten any better at golf. Here's proof:
Kenny Perry won the first Champions Tour major of the season. Unfortunately, any senior majors without Miguel Angel Jimenez in the field get an asterisk. . . . The Iowa State men's golf team qualified for the NCAA Championship for the first time since 1953. Wow, that was the year Mr. Hogan won his "triple crown" of majors. . . . Speaking of milestones, it was nice to see Lizette Salas earn a breakthrough win on the LPGA Tour at Kingsmill. It was also nice watching the best women in the world play the same course that will be part of my annual golf trip/tournament next month. Look out guys, I was taking copious notes. . . . Lucy Li, 11, became the youngest female to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, breaking Lexi Thompson's record. Careless Googling may lead you to Lucy LIU (pictured), who as far as we know does not play golf, but does wear high heels to EVERY crime scene in the show "Elementary." What a great show.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Why didn't I take golf lessons as a little kid?
Has Miguel replaced Freddie as golf's most popular senior?
How is Charles Barkley still that bad at golf?