Tiger Woods’ new (sad) schedule, Tyrrell Hatton's fun rehab routine, and PGA Tour pros pick the “best-looking” WAG
Welcome to another edition of The Grind where we realize we were wrong about the cardigan. I always thought it was an article of clothing reserved for old men, but as I expand my horizons (thanks in part to a GQ shoot in 2018 NBD) and, yes, tick off another birthday, I have come to understand its appeal.
So freaking classy. My apologies to cardigans everywhere. Arnie knew what's up. Anyway, here's what other important (and not-so-important) topics have us talking this week.
Tyrrell Hatton: In your face, Paul Azinger! At least, that’s what a lot of Europeans were feeling after the Brit won his first PGA Tour title—just a few months removed from wrist surgery (more on that later)—at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And what a hard-fought victory it was as Hatton became the first player to win a PGA Tour event with two over-par scores on the weekend since Geoff Ogilvy at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
Also, how good has this Florida Swing been? So much carnage! And we have another Winged Foot U.S. Open to look forward to in June! What a time to be alive! Except for that whole Coronavirus, of course.
European Tour playoff: The Qatar Masters was a wild ride down the stretch as Jorge Campillo went double bogey-bogey to drop into extra holes. But there, both he and David Drysdale put on a show, each birdieing the 18th hole TWICE (not a par 5, mind you) to keep things going. A third birdie by Campillo on his fifth attempt gave him his second win on “that” European Tour. Good for him, although most were rooting for the 44-year-old Drysdale to win his first in his (gulp) 498th start. Imagine getting into a playoff after all that time, coming up clutch with birdies on the first two extra holes, and still losing? Poor guy.
The Canadian Open(?): Oh, Canada! Thanks to a new metric (MOCCASINS) conceived by Golf Digest's Shane Ryan and brought to life by stats guru Mark Broadie, this tournament in the Great White North has been deemed the greatest of all non majors. OK, so it's just a seven-year sample size, but the RBC Canadian Open came in at No. 1 among regular events when it comes to producing the best leader boards based on its field during that time span.
The top three tournaments overall—again, according to MOCCASINS—were the PGA Championship, the Open Championship, and the Masters. Sorry, U.S. Open. But don't worry, you're still No. 1 in my unofficial CARNAGE ranking.
__Rich Beem:__The 2002 PGA champ and three-time PGA Tour winner has gotten very familiar with the/that European Tour thanks to his role with Sky Sports the past five years and he joined this week’s Golf Digest Podcast to discuss Azinger’s comments, his infamous victory shimmy, and the player he has a self-professed man-crush on. This was a fun one:
Rory McIlroy on Sundays: A quick look at the numbers reveals Rory has shot 67-68-69-73-68-76 on Sundays this season. Not bad, right? Well, sometimes stats don’t tell the entire story. McIlroy had those last four tournaments in his hands and didn’t convert any of them into wins. The good scores came thanks to late pushes after he had already lost the tournament. And the bad scores, like Sunday's 76 at Bay Hill, may have been enough to keep his top-five streak alive, but they were, well, bad.
Look, no one is immune to final-round pressure (other than peak Tiger), but I’d expect an all-time great—which he is as further evidenced by him becoming the third golfer to be ranked World No. 1 for 100 total weeks—like McIlroy to not play like a mere mortal on Sundays.
Brooks Koepka on any day: The four-time major champ’s struggles reached rock bottom (we think) with an accidental tribute to Kobe Bryant on Saturday. On the bright side, Koepka improved on that 81 by 10 shots on Sunday, but offered this blunt assessment of his game after. “Still shit. Still shit. But putting better.”
He’s right, it was better as he finished 44th in strokes gained putting among the 69 players who made the cut. For the season, though, he still ranks 208th(!) in that stat. Woof.
Tiger Woods’ new (sad) schedule: We talked last week about Woods opting to stay away from back-to-back starts, but now he seems to be staying away from non-major starts in general with his decision to skip this week’s Players Championship. The 44-year-old with a fused back is getting closer to a post-crash Ben Hogan (another big cardigan guy) schedule and as sad of a prospect as that is for golf fans, I don’t blame him. Heck, I’m not even 40 yet and I worry about throwing out my back every morning I get out of bed. Those weighted blankets are no joke.
The PGA Tour continues its Florida Swing with the Players Championship, AKA the PLAYERS, AKA that place where even Tiger Woods made a quadruple bogey on the island hole last year. At least Tiger fans don’t have to worry about seeing something like that again with Woods sitting out this week. By the way, I also happen to be a late scratch from TPC Sawgrass, unfortunately. And it has nothing to do with Tiger not being there. I swear. OK, well, maybe it has a little bit to do with that. . .
Random tournament fact: Despite all the debating, the Players Championship is not a major. However, TPC Sawgrass could wind up hosting one this year.
As much fun as that would be, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Stay safe out there, folks. And remember to keep washing your hands.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—Tiger will play as many events as Sungjae Im this year: 1-MILLION -to-1 odds
—Brooks Koepka will win the Players: 45-to-1 odds (Actual odds. . . value?)
—The Ponte Vedra Beach Chili’s will do a lot less business without me in town: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
That’s the infamous Hinkle Tree being removed from the Inverness Club. The tree, which was planted by the eighth tee before the second round of the 1979 U.S. Open to keep players (notably Lon Hinkle) from using a shortcut to reach the par 5 in two, was cut down after winds recently uprooted it. So RIP Hinkle Tree, but what you stood for won’t be forgotten by the USGA. Protect par at all costs. Even if that means buying a tree for $120 during a golf tournament.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Another week, another full-court putt made at a basketball game. This time the prize was. . . free bacon for a year?
As far as prizes go, this isn’t quite as good as a free car that 84-year-old lady recently got, but it’s a heckuva lot better than the pile of scratch-off tickets the Knicks recently gave some dude for hitting a half-court shot. And in terms of free food, you could do a lot worse than bacon. Mmm. Bacon.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I drank a lot of red wine and played Xbox.” —Tyrrell Hatton on what he did while recovering from his wrist surgery in November.
Right now, there are a lot of college kids wondering why they aren’t better at golf.
THIS WEEK IN PGA TOUR PRO-WAGS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
OK, so that is a few weeks old, but it’s the most recent photo we could obtain of this cute couple. Why are we highlighting the Baddeleys, you ask? Because Golf Digest’s latest PGA Tour pro survey OFFICIALLY (sort of) answered an often-asked question concerning WAGs and Richelle came out on top:
Good job by Dave Shedloski and John Huggan doing some important reporting. Just imagining Huggy asking that question made my week. Anyway, the magazine even included this fun illustration:
So congrats to Richelle! And congrats to Aaron! Good going, guy!
THIS AND THAT
Tommy Fleetwood’s active-leading PGA Tour cut streak ended at 33. Pretty good for someone who has only won on that European Tour. . . . Congrats to Ernie Els on winning his first PGA Tour Champions title in his third start and for easily being the guy PGA Tour pros would want on their side in a bar fight, according to our survey. The Big Easy may have been a unanimous choice if he wasn’t 50. . . . The PGA Tour’s new TV deal ensures CBS will continue to broadcast at least 19 events through 2030. In other words, Golf Twitter has something to collectively bitch about for another decade. . . . And as always, my wife—who gets my vote for "best-looking golf writer WAG"—made me this delicious M&M and Kit-Kat encrusted chocolate cake for my birthday:
Although this year, she had to substitute some Cadbury milk chocolate bars around the perimeter because someone* (*me) had already eaten some of the Kit Kats. Anyway, I’m not complaining.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Would Tiger have played if this week was the Masters?
What tree/bunker/lake would you remove from your home course?
What item of food would you like to win a year’s supply of?
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