Tony Romo’s wild week, Phil Mickelson’s funny chat with Larry David, and my meeting with Tiger Woods(!)
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we may never wash our right hand again. Yep, that’s right, it happened. After more than a decade of lurking around Tiger Woods, I finally got an official introduction to the GOAT. And a couple co-workers were able to document this historic occasion:
No, I won’t reveal what we were talking about. That’s private. I also can’t remember because it was such a blur. But basically, it was just two dudes yucking it up over golf. No big deal. Kidding. It was a BIG deal. And Tiger, I was also kidding about not washing my hand since our encounter. Totally kidding … I swear … so let’s do it again sometime. In the meantime, here’s what else is going on in the world of golf.
Cameron Champ: I wasn’t expecting the end of the Safeway Open to get me to cry, but there I was tearing up watching a young golfer hug his father in celebration while on the phone with his dying grandfather, PaPa Champ, who got him into the game. What a moving scene. As someone whose own grandfather did the same (RIP Poppa Myers), it hit me about as hard as Champ hits a golf ball.
Speaking of which, Champ became just the eighth golfer in the past 20 years to win a PGA Tour event while leading the field in driving distance and scrambling. And he showed off both those aspects of his game on the 72nd hole with a 369-yard drive down the middle and a beautiful chip to set up his winning birdie.
That was a special moment, and Champ is a special player. And with the Sanderson Farms rooster to go along with the Safeway Open wine barrel, he’s got quite a special trophy collection already.
Tony Romo: I’ll admit, I thought the Tony Romo PGA Tour experience had worn out its welcome a bit with him accepting his fourth sponsor’s exemption into an event where he had no local ties. But Romo had the sports world talking (Hence, why tournaments keep inviting him) following an opening 70 that put him in great shape to make the cut. Romo beat his first-round playing partners—PGA Tour members Beau Hossler and Michael Gellerman—by a combined 10(!) shots on Thursday. How ‘bout that Cowboy!
Of course, his Friday performance, a four-over 76, wasn't quite as spectacular, but Romo did beat a dozen tour pros even while missing the cut. He returned to his day job for CBS on Sunday, and after watching parts of that Bears-Vikings game he and Jim Nantz were forced to sit through, I can see why the former QB wanted to get out of work so badly.
Rory’s bunker lessons: A couple weeks ago, Rory McIlroy gave Justin Timberlake a bunker lesson. Now Timberlake is doing things like this:
Sign me up for a lesson, Rors.
Rory’s “course setup” complaints: I love Rory McIlroy. I love that he speaks his mind. I just think in this case, he’s not properly representing the whole story. McIlroy roasted the European Tour for its easy setups, but the timing was bad considering he had just finished the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which is a pro-am. A pro-am in which Rory played with his dad, Gerry, who shot a gross 69 (three under) at Kingsbarns!
Can you imagine being so good at golf that you complain about a course being too easy? Must be nice, am I right? Also kudos to Gerry for carrying his son to a T-1 finish in the team competition. Sadly, the McIlroys lost on a tiebreaker to Tommy Fleetwood and his partner because Fleetwood shot a lower score (64) on Sunday than Rory (67). Way to let your dad down, Rory. Kidding. Sort of.
“Spitgate”: Romo’s score had sports fans abuzz on Thursday, but a shot he hit on Friday wound up setting Golf Twitter aflame. The QB accidentally hit into triple coverage (the threesome in front) on a par 5 with a 3-wood from 278(!) yards to five feet. Then this happened:
Here’s how PGA Tour rookie Kristoffer Ventura explained it:
We'll take your word for it, Kris. A (OSU) Cowboy wouldn’t do that to another Cowboy.
“Flipgate”: Former PGA Tour pro and current Korean Tour money leader Bio Kim was suspended for three YEARS for flipping off a fan whose cellphone made noise during a tournament he eventually won:
Allow me to echo Ryan’s sentiments. A THREE-YEAR ban for this?! Wow. That is harsh. And how about that photo of Kim kneeling before the Korean media begging for forgiveness? Geez, it’s not like he killed the fan with the cell phone. Anyway, let's just say it's a good thing Sergio Garcia doesn't play on the Korean Tour …
The PGA Tour heads to Las Vegas for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, AKA that tournament Smylie Kaufman won. Man, I can't believe four years have passed since that. Keep grinding, Smylie. Hopefully, you'll be back on tour full time next year.
Random tournament fact: Patrick Cantlay has won and finished runner-up the past two years in Vegas. That's a lot of money to play with at the blackjack tables.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—Someone will spit on Brooks Koepka's golf ball this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
—Phil Mickelson will win the Shriners Open: 100-to-1 odds (Actual odds. Wow.)
—Vegas casinos will get a boost this week: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Again, what a scene. All the best to the Champs during this bittersweet time.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
This compilation of PGA Tour stars hitting tee shots over the corner of the Old Course Hotel on the famed Road Hole is mesmerizing:
Juuuuust a bit different from this video that made the rounds a couple weeks ago:
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“No matter if I win one more tournament, 10 more tournaments, whatever it may be, this will be the greatest moment in my golfing career for sure." —Cameron Champ
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS (NOT NAMED TONY ROMO)
Michael Strahan participated in Tiger Woods’ newest charity golf event, the Nexus Cup, and challenged the host to a putting contest on Liberty National's 18th green. Not only did Woods roll a 20-footer in on his first attempt, but he celebrated like he had just won the Masters. Check it out (40-second mark):
That and Strahan arguing with Lawrence Taylor over QB sack supremacy were the highlights of the event. Well, other than meeting Tiger. Did I mention I met Tiger?
THIS WEEK IN PHIL BEING PHIL
Mickelson struggled at the Safeway Open, missing the cut in his first event of the 2019-’20 season, but he really stepped up his game when it came to his latest "Phireside With Phil" video.
Larry David?! After playing golf (Would that be called a "Round and chat"?) with the comedic legend? Pretty, pretty, pretty good. Yeah, yeah, everyone else already made the same joke, but I don’t care. The part when they talk about Phil’s Hall of Fame jacket was particularly good. Netflix, pick up this show already!
THIS WEEK IN EDDIE PEPPERELL BEING EDDIE PEPPERELL
He should legally change his name to Eddie PeppereLOL.
THIS AND THAT
M.J. Hur won the LPGA’s Indy Women in Tech Championship by four shots at Brickyard Crossing Golf Club. You could say she “raced away with the title.” Get it? Sorry. … Congrats to Victor Perez on winning his first European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Perez shot a final-round 70 and still finished (Look away, Rory!) 22 under par. … Five golfers, according to a Reuters report, had their drivers fail tests ahead of the Safeway Open now that the PGA Tour has really started to crack down. Kinda makes you wonder how many hot clubs have been in players’ bags in recent years. … China’s Yuxin Lin won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, earning an invitation to next year’s Masters. It will be the second trip to Augusta National for the 18-year-old. Impressive. … And finally, Costco had to refund its latest batch of golf balls because they were cutting too easily. Bad job making the balls, but good job reacting by my favorite store. And if they are looking to hire someone for quality control their golf balls, I have just the person:
My daughter needs to start earning her keep at some point.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Did anyone test Tony Romo’s 3-wood?
Is Costco ever going to bring back chocolate froyo?
Should I go for the bro-hug with Tiger next time?