Tiger Woods digs through trash, Brooks Koepka goes sightseeing, and Holly Sonders celebrates a special golf anniversary
Welcome to another edition of The Grind where we’re beginning to think Tiger Woods picked the wrong tournament to host. Sure, winning the Genesis Invitational takes a back seat (get it?) to what the event means to his foundation, but wouldn’t it be nice to see Tiger’s charitable work prosper AND see him lift a trophy? However, even with the most auspicious of starts—an eagle putt that conjured Kobe Bryant’s memory—Tiger still finished last among those making the cut. Riviera, AKA The Riv, AKA RIV is PURE in every aspect except those bumpy Poa annua greens that, incredibly, have never yielded a win by Woods or Jack Nicklaus.
That’s right, the two greatest golfers of all time have taken 24 cracks at this famed track as pros and have one fewer win between them than James Hahn. Pretty crazy. Hmm. Is the tournament host allowed to switch the tournament venue? Just wondering. OK, let’s move on before I’m burned at the stake by the golf architecture crowd.
Adam Scott: Watch out, golf world, this guy has figured out how to putt again. It took Scott a bit longer than Webb Simpson, but he too, has found a way around the anchor ban. After somehow going 45 months without a win anywhere despite that perfect swing, Scott has now won his past two starts (he won the Australian PGA in December) and climbed back into the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking. And when it comes to popular winners, especially among the press, this year's winner of the Golf Writers Association of America ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award for dealing with the media is at least tied for the top spot. Plus, he's positively dreamy:
Katharine Lotze/Getty Images
And how about the run Australian golf has been on in 2020 with Scott joining Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman in the winner’s circle. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, indeed.
Inbee Park: Speaking of former World No. 1s ending winless droughts, WINBEE is back! The LPGA Hall-of-Famer picked up career win No. 20 at the Women's Australian Open.
Getting to 20 has a nice ring to it, but it also got Park off 19, which she said is an unlucky number in Korean culture. It also pushed the seven-time major champ and reigning gold medal winner closer to qualifying for the Olympics. Our money is on WINBEE getting it done. Man, I love saying that. WINBEE!
Scottie Scheffler: The 23-year-old only managed a T-30 at Riviera, but that’s about his worst finish in what has been a tremendous start to his rookie season on the PGA Tour with four top 10s, including three top fives. Scheffler joined this week’s Golf Digest Podcast to discuss his quick transition to the big leagues, the “throwback” club he still has in his golf bag, and why he’s holding off on buying a new ride (the dude is mature beyond his years):
And despite Scheffler only moving up to No. 51 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he got into his first World Golf Championship this week thanks to Tiger and a few others dropping out. His first of many, that is.
Mickey Wright: The golf world is in mourning following Wright passing away on Monday at 85. We—myself included—toss the term GOAT around way to much these days, but she was the actual GOAT of women’s golf. The numbers alone (82 LPGA wins, including 13 majors despite retiring from playing full-time at 34) back that up, but how about the fact that Ben Hogan, probably the game’s all-time best ball-striker, said Wright had the best swing he’s ever seen. If there’s higher praise than that, I’d like to know.
If you haven't read it, check out Guy Yocom's Golf Digest My Shot interview with her from three years ago. RIP, Mickey. I wish I could have seen you play.
Sunday Rory: I’m conflicted here because there are stats that indicate McIlroy is an excellent closer (converted 10 of 15 career solo 54-hole leads) and a not-so-excellent closer (only won three of the last 12 times he’s played in the final group on Sunday). But my very scientific eye test leads me to lean with the latter with all the missed opportunities McIlroy has racked up the past few seasons. People like to downplay Tiger by saying everyone used to choke around him, but Tiger not choking along with everyone else is what made him so great/unusual.
David Cannon/Getty Images
Sundays are tough, and McIlroy, who doomed himself this week with a triple bogey on the fifth hole, certainly isn't immune to the final-round pressure that affects players much less talented than him. Oh, by the way, Rory still finished T-5, which is his worst PGA Tour finish in his past five starts. Yeah, he’s really good.
Weekend CBS: Look, broadcasting a golf tournament is tough. I’ve talked to the entire CBS crew about this at length. That being said, Sunday was rough. Sure, there were the usual complaints about a lack of golf shots being shown, but it was one in particular, a topped tee shot by Harold Varner during the final round, that drew Golf Twitter’s ire. Here was one of the leaders playing one of golf’s iconic holes hitting an incredibly rare shot by a pro, and viewers didn’t see it until a highlight package about 90 minutes later. It doesn’t matter what voices CBS has covering the event—and they have great voices—that’s not good. Even HV3 himself would have wanted that shown! Well, maybe.
Brooks Koepka’s knee: This guy really manages to stay under the radar, even when he’s dropping significant news. Following his first round, a candid Koepka told Golf Channel, “I’m nowhere near 100 percent, I don’t know if my knee will ever be 100 percent.” And yet, this wasn’t a major story anywhere. Imagine if Giannis Antetokounmpo came out and said something like this? Or Patrick Mahomes? It would be a big deal! Anyway, of course Brooks said this the day after I bet on him. Suddenly, him being listed at 26-to-1 odds makes a lot more sense. . .
The PGA Tour heads South of the Border to the WGC-Mexico Championship, AKA that tournament with the wacky course and the wackier yardages due to the high altitude. Dustin Johnson is the defending champ and has won two of the three years at this venue, which proves both he and brother/caddie Austin are a lot better at math than most people give them credit.
Random tournament fact: I won’t be in Mexico, but I did eat lunch at a Mexican restaurant with David Feherty last week. . . so. . . pretty close.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—Club de Golf Chapultepec will be described as “PURE” as much as RIV: 1-MILLION -to-1 odds
—A Sunday leader will top a tee shot on the back nine: 10,000-to-1 odds
—If that does happen, though, NBC will at least show it: LOCK
PHOTO/TWEET OF THE WEEK
That got me. Nice job, Lou. Brooks lugged the Wanamaker Trophy all around San Francisco for the PGA Championship's media day. Talk about a grueling workout. Hopefully, his knee could handle it.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (Smooth division)
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (Not-so-smooth division)
Yeah, it was a rough week for Tiger.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I carried his ass in Australia.” —Tiger Woods on Justin Thomas. Every once in awhile, the mentor has to put the mentee in his place.
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS
Holly Sonders (Remember her? Of course you do) is still giving golf lessons. And her fiancé, Vegas Dave, is her newest pupil:
What a world. Also, Holly celebrated a special anniversary. Sort of.
By the way, if you’re reading this at work, you might want to stay clear of Holly’s Instagram. Hello? Are you still there? Sorry, I should have said that up front. My bad. Hope you don’t get fired.
THIS WEEK IN PGA TOUR PRO-WAGS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Adam Hadwin's wife, Jessica, got upstaged on Valentine’s Day by Tiger Woods:
Poor Jessica. That's tough to beat.
THIS WEEK IN PHIL BEING PHIL
THIS WEEK IN PROS ARE JUST LIKE US
In addition to HV3’s unfortunate tee shot, Ryan Palmer needed six shots to get out of a bunker on the 14th hole during the third round. SIX! Again, this was not aired, but here’s the Shot Tracker:
Give him credit. Most golfers I know would have gone to the hand wedge after the third one.
THIS AND THAT
Tony Romo will play in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Veritex Bank Championship (April 16-19) at Texas Rangers Golf Club. The best part is that the former Cowboys QB can still qualify for the Masters the week before! . . . Speaking of the Masters, Augusta National completed a tunnel to a new state-of-the-art TV compound. Of course, with anything Augusta National does, the state-of-the-art part is understood. . . . The NBA All-Star Game used an untimed (Elam) ending for the first time. Untimed, just like the PGA Tour! . . . And finally, I can tell you how to get to Sesame Street now. Pay a lot of money for tickets, then battle gridlocked Manhattan traffic to Madison Square Garden where you will pay a lot more money for photos and merch:
I can also tell you it was well worth it.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Which Sesame Street character would be the best golfer?
Is the Elam Ending in basketball here to stay?
Can Tiger install a Poa green in his Florida backyard?