The Grind: Fun with Matt Every, busted brackets, and Kate Upton's Bay Hill return
By Alex Myers
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we've already moved on from March Madness brackets to Masters pools. Thanks for showing up, (insert any number of disappointing big-name college basketball teams)! Anyway, you know the golf season's first major is just around the corner when there's a big spike in the number of Jim Nantz-narrated radio commercials. "Insperity! It's what we do. . ." But Nantz is still occupied with that other tournament, and we still have a few other golf tournaments to discuss first as well. The Grind! It's what we do. . .
Matt Every: It's not Every-day you win your first PGA Tour title. It's even rarer when someone with the middle name King wins The King's tournament. OK, enough with the name jokes. Every's victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational earned him some special time with the host, by far the biggest payday of his career, and a coveted spot in the Masters. Even his Florida Gators advanced to the Sweet 16. Every-thing is going his way! Sorry, couldn't help it.
The Florida Swing: This four-week stretch had something for Every-one! (Last one, we promise.) Despite not producing the sexiest collection of winning names (Every, John Senden, Russell Henley and Patrick Reed), the tour's trip to Florida delivered when it came to drama and surprise endings (How did Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott not win?). Plus, you got to hear Johnny Miller for a month straight! Well, three out of four weeks. Sorry, Valspar Championship. . .
Karrie Webb: Just last month, Webb was making headlines for signing an incorrect scorecard and being disqualified. She's had two incredible comeback wins since. Webb came from five behind entering the final round at the Australian Open and this past weekend, she came from six back at the Founders Cup, firing a final-round 63 to top four players by one shot. At 39, the Hall of Famer is No. 2 on the LPGA money list. Speaking of the Hall. . .
World Golf Hall Of Fame: We applaud anything that makes entrance into golf's most exclusive club more difficult. Now, players meeting the criteria (15 wins or two majors) need 75 percent of the vote from a 16-person committee (up from the 50 percent of ballots given to hundreds of voters that got Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie inducted last time), which will vote every two years. Good. For awhile, we were trending toward having few top 10s making a player a lock to get into St. Augustine.
Adam Scott: Until Sunday afternoon, it wasn't a matter of if Scott would win at Bay Hill, but by how much. It also wasn't a matter of if he'd overtake Tiger Woods for the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, but how soon. Instead, Scott followed up a 62-68 start with a 71-76 finish to blow a seven-shot lead. On the bright side, he still gets to be Adam Scott.
Bubba Watson: Allergies are no joke, but it's tough to give any tour pro -- especially one who entered the week playing as well as anyone and who we may have played in our fantasy golf lineup -- a pass for pumping three straight balls into the water and making an 11 on a hole where coincidentally, John Daly once made an 18. On the bright side, he extended his tour-best streak without three-putting to 255 holes. Wait, he shot an 83 without a three-putt? Now that's impressive.
Fans heckling Kevin Na: Not that we're endorsing Na's slow pace of play, but how is this going to help? If anything, heckling Na on the course will only make him play slower. Also, as we said last week, Na isn't the only player to blame. In fact, Brandel Chamblee is on record as saying Jim Furyk is the slowest PGA Tour pro. Maybe we're not sending the right message by affectionately referring to Furyk as "The Grinder."
Masters "favorites": Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy can't close out tournaments, Tiger Woods and Jason Day can't even get healthy enough to play in tournaments, and who knows what is up with Phil Mickelson's back. At least, Tiger Woods' Stanford Cardinal upset third-seeded Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Best thing that's happened to Tiger in 2014. By far.
The PGA Tour begins its Texas two-step before the Masters. This week, its the Valero Texas Open, aka that tournament that is really excited to have Phil Mickelson in the field for the first time since 1992. No, like super, super excited:
Random tournament fact: Michael Miller will be making his PGA Tour debut on a sponsor's exemption. I know this because I covered the now 22-year-old when he was a high school star in Brewster, N.Y. He also happens to have a locker next to Mickelson this week. Good luck, Mike. Not getting pranked, that is.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Fans will heckle Phil Mickelson: 1 million-to-1 odds
-- Tiger Woods will watch one minute of the Valero Texas Open: 10-to-1 odds
-- Tiger Woods will watch every minute of Stanford's Sweet 16 game against Dayton: LOCK
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"But, yeah, I'm not like -- I'm definitely not top five in the word right now. Probably top 70." -- Matt Every, jokingly referencing Patrick Reed's recent statement. Actually, Matt, you're now all the way up to No. 44 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Don't be bashful!
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Via Kate Upton on Twitter: Had so much fun at Arnold Palmer Invitational #bayhill #theking #mattevery
Do you think Arnie, who shared the December cover of Golf Digest with Ms. Upton after meeting her at Bay Hill last year, was just a little disappointed when she returned with Detroit Tigers star Justin Verlander on her arm? Also, how random is the #MattEvery hashtag?
THIS WEEK IN PAULINA GRETZKY-DUSTIN JOHNSON JASON DUFNER-AMANDA DUFNER-LOUIE THE DOG PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Jason Dufner celebrated his 37th birthday on Monday. Jason Dufner is the man.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
How do you stand out in a crowd? Actually root for Kevin Na to play slow. The golfer noticed a group of fans wearing Kevin Na "Worth The Wait" T-shirts and went over to give them all hugs during Saturday's third round. Aww.
Later that day, Na was asked if he's a slow driver. His response? "I drive a Lamborghini." By the way, Na made his infamous 16 at the 2011 Valero Texas Open. Now witnessing that in person would definitely have been worth the wait.
THIS AND THAT
Jeff Maggert became the 17th golfer to win in his Champions Tour debut. The over-50 crowd better watch out for this young whippersnapper! . . . . Charles Barkley offered to play golf in Arizona with the North Dakota State head basketball coach after his emotional press conference following his team's exit from the NCAA Tournament. If he isn't already on a plane to Arizona from North Dakota, there is something seriously wrong with him. . . . Hunter Mahan withdrew from Bay Hill with a bad back on Sunday. Sean Foley might have to become a chiropractor on the side. . . . Speaking of insurable body parts, the Aflac duck hung out with Golf Channel's Holly Sonders last week. Lucky duck.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Who runs the official PGA Tour NCAA "office" pool?
Why do I always pick the wrong checkout line?
What exactly does Insperity do?