Welcome to another edition of The Grind where we wish Johnny Miller had been there for the Presidents Cup. Big blown leads. A virtuoso performance by Tiger Woods. A near altercation between players. An actual altercation between a caddie and a fan. Shot-shaping galore. Johnny would have been in his element. Still, there’s plenty that went down Down Under for us to talk about. Let’s do it.
The U.S. captain led his team on the course. He led his squad in song on the team bus. Oh yeah, he also went 3-0-0 in his matches. And he started to remove his hat before his final winning putt had dropped. Baller!
What a remarkable way for Woods to cap what has been a remarkable year. He won the Masters. He tied Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record for career wins. He won the Presidents Cup by pulling double duty. And, again, he won the freaking MASTERS! Forget about the Brooks Koepka vs. Rory McIlroy debate, 2019 was the Year of Tiger. Well, the latest Year of Tiger.
Ernie Els: The South African didn’t reveal the analytics his team relied on, but whatever they were, it worked. Of course, the Big Easy also gets credit for creating such a cohesive unit and getting an overmatched group of golfers to play so well. Both teams obviously were in great hands. The difference wound up being the U.S. captain was also the best player in the event. Not much Ernie could do about that.
Royal Melbourne: Allow me to be the 2,317,840th person to say this in the past week: Royal Melbourne is awesome. It has WIDTH and ANGLES, and plays FAST AND FIRM. I enjoyed watching the action immensely and would love to get a crack at PLAYING IT ALONG THE GROUND there someday. After watching Woods take the place apart, I also wish more major championship venues were set up like this. Jack Nicklaus would be in serious trouble.
Patrick Reed: Only a singles win kept the week from being a total disaster for the 29-year-old. Check that, it was still a total disaster. Reed went 0-3 in team matches, deliberately brushed shoulders with Cameron Smith, and mocked his infamous bunker penalty the previous week by making a shoveling motion at the opposing crowd.
Yes, he was being heckled, but all that shushing seems innocent by comparison. And between the poor play and poor judgment, we can stop with all the “Captain America” stuff now. Tiger is Captain America. Both literally and figuratively.
Kessler Karain: Reed’s caddie and brother-in-law got into a physical altercation during Day 3 of the proceedings and then released one of the most bizarre apologies(?) ever:
“Mr. Glass”? These two really don’t know when to stop. It led to what has to be the first-ever caddie ejection from the Presidents Cup for Karain. And he and Patrick will be lucky if they’re asked back next time.
Q School heartbreak: The top 40 and ties earned Korn Ferry Tour starts for next season, but that number shrunk significantly when the last golfer on the course, Zack Zaback knocked out a dozen golfers at -11. Among those getting daggered? Monday qualifier hero Chip McDaniel and Austen Truslow, who is a hero in his own right for being so good despite chipping with one hand:
Not only did these guys just miss out on eight guaranteed starts next year, but they also didn’t get paid. Q School is rough. Better luck next time, guys.
The PGA Tour is off, but it’s the European Tour’s turn to head Down Under for the Australian PGA Championship. I plan to tune in because I’m hooked on Aussie golf now, and because the golfer I sponsor, Dave Coupland, will be getting his rookie campaign on the European Tour underway. Because I went a little crazy with Christmas gifts this year, LET’S GO, DAVE!
Random tournament fact: Cameron Smith is going for a three-peat in the event, but Harold Varner III is the last person to win this event before Cam. And (plug alert!) he just happens to be this week’s Golf Digest Podcast guest!
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—Johnny Miller would have been a fan of Reed’s antics: 1-MILLION -to-1 odds
—Cameron Smith will win again: 6-to-1 odds (Actual odds)
—Cameron Smith will feel safer without Patrick Reed around: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Tiger waited nearly 20 years to get a little revenge on caddie Paul Tesori for the “TIGER WHO?” hat at the 2000 Presidents Cup:
The man has incredible patience both on and off the course.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
First, Tiger led “Happy Birthday” to Rickie Fowler on the team bus:
And then, he and the rest of a sauced up bunch gave quite the rendition of “We are the Champions”:
Good times. Not quite “of the world” considering the U.S. lost to Europe at last year’s Ryder Cup, but close enough.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Abe wanted it, he got it.” —Tiger Woods after beating Abraham Ancer, who had mentioned wanted to play him a month prior. Mic. Drop.
THIS WEEK IN PROS ARE JUST LIKE US
Look at Justin Thomas complaining about not being given a short putt:
I do that all the time! Although, I’m not a former World No. 1. And I wouldn’t do it over that length. That was a legit three feet!
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLERS MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS
Speaking of Justin Thomas, he channeled Terrell Owens by screaming, “I love me some me!” on a winning putt. And T.O. was honored:
This really was the craziest Presidents Cup ever.
THIS WEEK IN PHIL BEING PHIL
Well played, Phil.
THIS WEEK IN PGA TOUR PRO-WAGS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
How about Erica Herman doing the full Yogi Berra leap onto her man?
We’ll allow it because Erica looks like she weighs less than the Presidents Cup trophy, but Tony Finau took things a bit too far by picking up his captain:
Guys, this is precious cargo! The man has a fused back!
Meanwhile in Spain, Jon Rahm got married to college sweetheart Kelley Cahill:
Looking good, guys—especially you, Jon. I was worried about what you’d wear after that Wimbledon debacle.
THIS AND THAT
Shout-out to Presidents Cup rookies Sungjae Im and Abraham Ancer for tying with Justin Thomas for the most points earned (3.5) during the week. And kudos to our Christopher Powers and Stephen Hennessey for making a few bucks off that. ... The shakeups continue at CBS Golf, where legendary producer Lance Barrow will step down after next year. But no major shakeups in TV rights as both CBS and NBC will maintain similar schedules of tournaments—just for a lot more money. It’s going to be a very merry Christmas in the Jay Monahan household. ... And finally, it’s going to be a good Christmas in my house as well. I’m taking a little time off and I’ve got the cupboard stocked with fruit snacks:
Happy holidays, everyone. And remember to eat responsibly. What? They’re made with REAL fruit!
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Will there be fewer commercials on CBS and NBC? (LOL)
Who is the best singer on Team USA?
Do I have enough fruit snacks to last through the winter?