Tiger Woods’ encouraging plan, Scottie Scheffler’s scary switch and the funniest rollback reactions
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we’re sorry for ever complaining about the FedEx Cup. The PGA Tour’s postseason makes 100 times more sense than how they settle things in college football!
That’s my man Jim Grobe (Go Deacs!) in the yellow sweater, but still, what a mess. Just pure chaos with seven teams having a legit claim for one of the four spots. ESPN could have really used Steve Sands and his whiteboard breaking down all the scenarios. Anyway, my condolences to all the Florida State fans and alums out there, including my parents. You got coal in your stockings this year, but on the bright side, there's still plenty of golf to talk about! Let's get to it.
Tiger Woods: He’s back! Again! OK, so an 18th-place finish in a 20-man field shows the 15-time major champ has a long way to go, but it was nice seeing him inside the ropes again after a seven-month layoff.
Woods struggled to finish off his rounds, but he still managed to shoot even par for four days while displaying some surprising pop for a guy who turns 48 in a couple weeks and has multiple body parts fused. The guy was routinely bombing it 330 yards and, officially, ranked eighth in driving distance and fourth in strokes gained off the tee. Unofficially, he ranked first in strokes gained: JACKED.
Seriously, look at him! The dude looks like he could bench press a grandstand. Most importantly, Tiger was still standing and smiling after four days of walking 18 holes and he felt good enough to say that he hopes to play about once-a-month(!) in 2024. What a Christmas present that would be to golf fans everywhere! And in a time when the sport seems as divided as ever, we could use something—or someone—we could all get behind.
Scottie Scheffler: While the former World No. 1 drew most of the attention, it was the current World No. 1 who won the tournament to take an even bigger hold on that top spot. More alarming to his peers is that Scheffler has a new putter—and he wielded it quite well, finishing sixth in strokes gained/putting for the week.
Between Scheffler's beloved Texas Longhorns getting into the College Football Playoffs, the Texas Rangers winning the World Series and Scheffler’s own great play, it’s been one heckuva year. And if he pairs improved putting with the historic run of ball-striking he’s on and he’s going to win a lot more than two times in 2024. Oh, and the Olson Putter Co. is going to sell a LOT more putters.
Golf balls: As in it might be time to go out and stock up on golf balls before this reported rollback (Shout-out to Golf Digest's Mike Stachura!) by golf's governing bodies takes effect. Golf Twitter certaining had its share of people planning to do that:
But as I said on Twitter, I’m also going to rollback when it comes to expressing too many rollback opinions because the pro-rollback people are just as nuts. Bottom line, though, I think it’s a lot of fuss because the top 1 percent of golfers are making the top 1 percent of golf courses “obsolete.” I’m certainly not bringing any courses to their knees with my power fade that might roll out to 260 on a dry day. Seems silly that I’d have to play a shorter ball. But at least us weekend hacks don’t have to worry about this until 2030 when I’ll be almost (gulp) 50. OK, now I'm really depressed.
Will Zalatoris’ new putter: First off, like with Tiger, it was great to see this young man out there after returning from a long layoff following back surgery. And when news got around that he had also switched to a new broomstick putter during his layoff, I jumped on a futures bet of him winning a major in 2024. Well, I may have gotten a little carried away, because his putting with the new flatstick (below, right) was worse than ever:
Zalatoris lost a staggering five strokes to the field on the greens on his way to finishing DFL in a 20-man field … by nine shots! Woof. I wonder if I can get that money back. Speaking of losing money …
This Iowa golf bar’s promotion: In what might be the most brazen promotion ever run, an Iowa golf simulator bar advertised it would serve free beer until Iowa scored a point against Michigan in the Big Ten championship game. This is a team that has been involved in the three lowest over/under lines in history, all this season. And to few people’s surprise, the Hawkeyes got shut out by the Wolverines. Ouch. That’s a LOT of free beer. Here was a post by the bar the following day.
Well, at least they didn’t go bankrupt! And now they have John Daly as their new ambassador:
What a world.
Getting dunked on: My high school basketball team used to be in the same Summer League as Ben Gordon when he was at Mount Vernon so I know a little something about this. And apparently Max Homa does as well. The six-time PGA Tour winner told a funny tale on Smylie Kaufman’s podcast about the Cal golf team playing pickup games against Keenan Allen and the Cal football team back in the day. And, yes, this turned out to be as big of a mismatch as it sounds:
Like that Iowa golf bar found out, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, Max.
Don’t worry, there’s still golf! You’ve got the Dunhill Championship on the DP World Tour and a fun mixed-team event, the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational combining the LPGA and PGA Tour. The team of Tony Finau and Nelly Korda are favorites in the latter, but I kinda fancy Rickie/Lexi and Sahith Theegala/Rose Zhang, who are both 11-to-1 odds.
Random tournament fact: Charl Schwartzel has won the Dunhill a record four times. Pablo Martin (two titles) is the only other player with multiple wins. Schwartzel also holds a record for his winning margin of 12(!) shots back in 2012.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—Charl Schwartzel will win this week: 28-to-1 odds
—Charl Schwartzel will win by 12 shots this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
—Tiger Woods will be back in the gym this week: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
A private showing of the GOAT?
Talk about living the dream.
CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (ON-COURSE DIVISION)
Jordan Spieth almost chipping a rock into the hole on his way to another up and down was classic Jordan Spieth.
And the fan who got the signed rock may have even had a better day than that Tiger fan.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (OFF-COURSE DIVISION)
Imagine being at a Drive Shack or Topgolf and seeing Bryson DeChambeau and Kyle Berkshire hitting BOMBS?
What an exhibition. Also, Bryson looks as jacked as Tiger. Look out for him at the majors in 2024.
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS
This is an old clip, but apparently actor Charlie Day can really play!
Need a “The gang plays golf” episode of "It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia."
THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Jessica Hadwin continues to be the Queen of Golf Twitter, this time tweeting about he suitcase "standoff" with husband Adam:
Thanks for making us non-pro-athlete husbands look good, Adam!
OK, so this guy may have set us back a bit. Not that I blame him …
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I’m ecstatic.” —Tiger Woods to our Dave Shedloski when asked to assess his week. Welcome back, Tiger. We’re ecstatic, too.
THIS AND THAT
Tiger Woods moved up 430 spots in the Official World Golf Ranking for finishing 18th in a 20-man event. He's now back inside the top 900! … Congrats to Michael Block on finishing T-27 at the Australian Open, another event he was ridiculed by many for receiving a sponsor's exemption. Go, Blockie, go! … Congrats as well to Joaquin Niemann on actually winning the event. We hadn't heard much from him in awhile! … And, finally, kudos to the RBC Canadian Open for changing its logo to honor Nick Taylor’s dramatic victory last year:
And kudos to Nick “The Logo” Taylor on becoming a national hero.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
What other tournaments should change their logo?
Where will we see Tiger play in 2024 first?
When do I get to move up to the senior tees?