Padraig Harrington's frugal victory feast, a golfer's new reality show, caddies get mad and more models take up golf
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we're always in the mood for a good comeback story. Here was this week's uplifting plot: A great golfer who hasn't won a major championship since 2008 tinkers with his golf swing and falls to depths in the Official World Golf Ranking he hasn't seen since turning pro. But in his 40s, he gets a sponsor's exemption into an event he won a decade earlier and rallies to win again on a major championship course. Inspirational stuff. Congrats to Padraig Harrington, and hang in there, Tiger. You've got time to figure this out.
Padraig Harrington: For a second straight week, the World No. 297 won on the PGA Tour. This time it was Harrington, 43, who hadn't won since capturing back-to-back majors at the British Open and PGA Championship in 2008, and had earned less than $1 million in his 41 previous tour starts since 2012. But after winning the Honda Classic in a playoff over 21-year-old Daniel Berger, the popular Irishman showed he still has the guts under pressure that made him a three-time major winner -- and a good accountant.
Lydia Ko: We might just have to give the 17-year-old phenom a permanent slot in this section. Ko won for a second week in a row, capturing the New Zealand Open for a remarkable 10th professional title. By comparison, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy didn't reach double digits in wins until they were 24.
The Loves: Talk about great timing. On the same day Davis Love III was officially introduced as the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, his son, Dru, picked up his first collegiate title. Congrats, Dru, but you're going to really have to kick things in gear if you're going to play for your dad at Hazeltine next year.
The Parneviks: This Swedish clan didn't win any golf tournaments, but its new TV reality show is set to come out in the next couple weeks. Jesper described it as a reality cross between The Office and Modern Family. Sounds awesome. Now we just need to find a way to be able to stream TV3 in Sweden.
Ian Poulter: Poulter had his first 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event and was looking for his first stroke-play win in the U.S., but things got away from him during a wild final round. Poulter hit five balls in the water -- one more and we would have permanently dubbed him "two sleeves" -- on his way to a 74 and a T-3 finish. "It's a shame to hand tournaments away. I've handed one away this week," Poulter said. No arguments here.
Bad caddie treatment: The strained relationship between PGA Tour caddies and the tour didn't improve last week when loopers had to huddle in a metal shed during a Saturday thunderstorm while their bosses took cover in the clubhouse. Yeah, that lawsuit isn't going away anytime soon. Robert Streb's caddie, Steve Catlan, shared this photo on Instagram:
Dan Olsen: A former PGA Tour player appeared on a radio show last Friday and claimed Tiger Woods is serving a 30-day suspension. Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, as well as the PGA Tour strongly denied the claims on Monday. A little later, Olsen retracted his statement and issued an apology. Just a guess, but Olsen has probably spent more time talking to lawyers the past few days than he has in his entire life.
Rory's 2015 U.S. debut: Not since Tiger's heyday has a player been such an overwhelming favorite at a PGA Tour event, but McIlroy's 2015 U.S. debut at the Honda Classic was a total dud. His 73-74 left him three shots off the cut line. "I'm pissed off," a candid McIlroy said afterward. So was everyone who plays fantasy golf.
The PGA Tour moves from Palm Beach and "The Bear Trap" to Miami and Trump National Doral, aka "The Blue Monster," aka "The Trump Trap." OK, so we made that last one up.
Random tournament fact: The entire top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking is in the field this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. It's the first time that's happened since the 2012 PGA Championship. Wait, that has to be a misprint because Tiger Woods isn't playing. Oh. Right.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- A player will hit five balls in the water in the final round and only lose by one shot: 1 million-to-1 odds
-- Donald Trump will interrupt that final round to land his helicopter on the course: 5-to-1 odds
-- The 297th-ranked golfer in the world (Steve Webster) will NOT win on the PGA Tour this week: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
1st celebration meal. pic.twitter.com/VlpOb1OTBJ
— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) March 2, 2015
After downing Daniel Berger in a playoff, Paddy celebrated by downing a burger. Was Paddy sending a message? Chew on that.
"GOLF BABE" PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Courtesy of Instagram handle @golfbabes, we introduce Hayden Sylte. Hayden (@haydensylte) is a reporter for Golfcentraldaily.com and is an assistant pro at Dove Canyon Golf Club, where her father, Russell, is the director of operations at the Orange Country, Calif., course.
She has also perfected the art of hitting tee shots while wearing high heels.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
It's getting to the point where we might need a weekly "this week in Sports Illustrated swimsuit models playing golf" section. Cover girl Hannah Davis became the latest to take up the game, posting this aggressive swing:
A video posted by Hannah Davis (@hanni_davis) on Feb 25, 2015 at 11:56am PST
COMMERCIAL OF THE WEEK
Nike did a great job jamming Tiger, Rory, Wiesy, Barkley and Bo Jackson into a 30-second ad. And yes, Bo still knows.
This is actually a throwback photo with LeBron James from Dec. 19. In fact, it's the last photo Amanda posted of herself and her hubby, which is especially perplexing considering how good a slimmed-down Duf is looking these days. Where have you gone, Amanda?! Come back to us!
THIS AND THAT
While Lydia Ko was winning the New Zealand Open, Amy Yang won the Honda LPGA Thailand. It's rare when the LPGA takes a back seat to another women's golf tournament, but that's exactly what happened this week. . . . Andy Sullivan won his second European Tour title in South Africa in just over a month for his second career Euro Tour victory. No one would think twice if he legally changed his middle name to "Johannesburg." . . . Dru Love wasn't the only big name to earn his first collegiate win this week. University of Texas sophomore Beau Hossler broke through as well. We'll never forget that time he led the U.S. Open as a high school junior. . . . Jack Nicklaus is coming out with his own line of ice cream. Sounds fantastic, Jack, but instead of a press release, could you send some samples next time? . . . Speaking of delicious desserts, you know what's the most underrated moment of the year if you work in an office? When you get the Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies you ordered delivered to your desk.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Is Padraig Harrington a slow food orderer?
Is this brutal winter ever going to end?
Where were the llamas going?