The Grind: Patrick Reed rallies, Holly Sonders sizzles, and the lamest national championship bet
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we wonder if watching Monday Night Golf will ever be a regular thing. Wasn't that fun? Hey, as technology advances, it's bound to be possible even when the PGA Tour isn't playing in Hawaii. Someone just needs to find a better way to light up an entire golf course -- or figure out a way to control the sun. (There's an innovative idea for you, Fox Sports!) And we'll also need to find an announcer. Oh, who are we kidding? It'll be Jim Nantz. He gets every good gig.
Patrick Reed: Trailing by four shots with four to go, Reed reached the remaining two par 5s on Kapalua's Plantation Course in two to set up two easy birdies and holed out a wedge on No. 16 for an unlikely eagle. His 20-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole made him the champion of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, giving him a fourth PGA Tour title in 17 months. The victory also made Reed, 24, just the fifth player (Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are the others) in the last 25 years to win at least four times on the PGA Tour before age 25. Very impressive. Maybe that was the "top five" he was speaking of last year.
Now about that tan line. . .
Andy Sullivan: Sullivan shot a 67 then pulled off an incredible birdie from the left trees on the first extra hole to win the South African Open in a playoff over Charl Schwartzel. It was the first European Tour title for the 28-year-old Englishman. Sullivan also authored the shot of the year thus far with this recovery (skip to the :17 mark) from the trees to set up his winning birdie:
Even without him, it was a great start to 2015 and it's gotten us even more excited for the next key date in the golf calendar. . .
Tiger Woods' return: The 14-time major champion announced he'll make his 2015 debut by playing in the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the first time in 14 years. Some friendly advice, Tiger. Don't get involved in the caddie races or the throwing of footballs or anything else that happens on that raucous 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. You're nearly 40. And your back is more fragile than those peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches you enjoy so much.
Charl Schwartzel: With a chance to win his national open for the first time, Schwartzel fell apart with a double bogey and two bogeys over his final five holes of regulation. The 2011 Masters champ has won just twice on the European Tour since that breakthrough major victory and is still looking for a second PGA Tour title.
Jimmy Walker: The breakout star of 2014 had a glorious chance to get 2015 off to a fantastic start, but he blew a late three-shot lead and failed to birdie the Plantation Course's closing par 5 in both regulation and the playoff. We can't be too tough on a guy who shot a final-round 69 and made only two bogeys in four days. Walker simply became the latest golfer to prove that just because you've "learned how to win golf tournaments," doesn't mean you're incapable of ever losing them again.
Day & Crane's "big bet": Ohio resident Jason Day has become a big Ohio State Buckeyes fan and Ben Crane was a standout golfer at the University of Oregon. Naturally, with both golfers hanging out in Hawaii this week, they made a wager on the college football national title game. The big bet? One hundred pushups. That's weak, guys. Is this the PGA Tour or an episode of "The Biggest Loser?"
The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii for the Sony Open. We hope those pesky hackers didn't steal any tournament secrets.
Random tournament fact: This is one of the tournaments where Jimmy Walker "learned how to win" last year.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Ben Crane can do 100 pushups in a row: 1 million-to-1 odds
-- Patrick Reed will actually be ranked in the top 5 at some point this season: Even odds
-- Phil Mickelson will bet more than 100 pushups on the Super Bowl: LOCK
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
Former Golf Channel star Holly Sonders and current Golf Channel siren Lauren Thompson headlined Golf Magazine's Most Beautiful Women in Golf photo shoot:
Curiously, Keegan Bradley's girlfriend, Jillian Stacey, was the only WAG to make the cut. Hmm. We can think of a few more. . .
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Miss Universe contestants taking golf swings under the watchful guise of Donald Trump? We'd say more, but our own Luke Kerr-Dineen already did a fantastic job of breaking it all down:
Why are we showing you this lunatic? Because he happened to be wearing a Pine Valley shirt. Balmer probably wasn't as excited to learn his club dropped to No. 2 on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses.
THIS WEEK IN NATALIE GULBIS MAKING US FEEL BAD WITH HER TRAINING
Gulbis posted several photos of her workout routines last week:
Thanks, Natalie, for being so, um, helpful.
TWEET/INSTAGRAM OF THE WEEK
A photo posted by Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) on Jan 7, 2015 at 6:21pm PST
Because of course Bubba Watson dresses like this on date night.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Golf is a frustrating sport. You can hit a nice shot, then the next one you can hit it in the water. You know, in that sense, it is a little frustrating, but I think that game has allowed us to kind of deal with a little bit of adversity and frustration and has helped us in the long run." -- University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Unfortunately for Mariota's Ducks, his lessons learned from golf weren't enough to overcome fellow golfer Urban Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes in the national championship game.
THIS WEEK IN JASON DUFNER-AMANDA DUFNER PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION/ADVERTISEMENTS
Vineyard Vines announced a new deal with Amanda Dufner -- and her husband -- on Monday. Actually, Jason is becoming somewhat of an endorsement pioneer. First, he became the first golfer sponsored by a TV network when he signed a deal with Fox Business last April and now he's the biggest star to ever represent the preppy clothing company.
THIS AND THAT
Rory McIlroy supported Marshawn Lynch's right to be un-talkative to the media. That's fine as long as Rory doesn't start taking a page out of Lynch's book. . . . Tim Clark says he'll play with an anchored putter as long as he's allowed. Tim Clark is a strike-while-the-iron-is-hot kind of guy. . . . Apparently, Jeb Bush is one of the country's biggest proponents of fast play in golf. We wonder if he'll go with that or overhauling education as his main platform when he runs for President. . . . First a magazine and then an instructional video. For the second time in the past two months, I noticed Golf Digest making an appearance on an episode of "Seinfeld." Of course, the tape would make more sense being on a shelf in Kramer's apartment, but that would require him actually owning a bookcase.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
How many PGA Tour titles will Patrick Reed end up with?
How many national titles will Urban Meyer end up with?
How did Seinfeld only end up with ONE Golden Globe win?
-- Alex Myers is an Associate Editor for GolfDigest.com. Feel free to email him and please follow him on Twitter since he has self-esteem issues.