Viktor Hovland’s exciting 'Christmas present,' Tiger Woods’ awkward handshake, and the most sketchy scorecard we’ve ever seen
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we are still buzzing ringing from our first trip on the Polar Express. You know, because of the sleigh bells. Anyway, did you know you could make it all the way to the North Pole and back in plenty of time to watch some afternoon football? What a whirlwind! There was plenty to nitpick about the old train (No heat or bathrooms for a 90-minute ride?), but the most important thing is that the kids loved it.
So we’ll most likely be returning passengers next year. Although to guarantee seats we might need to book right now. What a business. They probably make enough to sponsor a PGA Tour event. In other news, there was plenty of stuff going on in the world of golf, including a “Christmas present” to an entire country. Let’s get to it. I finally have full feeling back in my fingers.
Viktor Hovland: This guy has taken that “Resort King” title and absolutely run with it. After successfully defending his title at the Hero World Challenge, Hovland now has five PGA Tour titles (although the two Hero ones are unofficial) and they’ve all come in tropical locations (Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Bahamas). Which makes total sense because the dude is from (*checks notes*) Norway.
Just look at this crazy stat:
And check out this video of Norwegian announcers going absolutely crazy over his win:
A “Christmas present!” “Santa without a beard!” “The Freak!” So good. Hovland also became the only player other than tournament host Tiger Woods to go back-to-back in this event. “That’s badass,” he said upon learning that fact. Yes it is, Viktor. Of course, what would really be badass (for Hovland) is if one of these tropical resorts ever hosts a major.
Australian Open(s): It wasn’t technically a major, but it may have been a major breakthrough for the sport as this historic event was contested simultaneously as both a men’s and women’s championship. Yep, the guys and the gals playing the same course at the same time for the same prize money. Pretty darn cool.
We’re buying winners Adrian Meronk and Ashleigh Buhai as well, in particular Meronk who won a second career DP World Tour title to climb into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking and all but wrap up the first-ever Masters invite for a Polish golfer. Hopefully, that will help soften the blow of getting knocked out of the World Cup by France that same day.
Anne van Dam: The woman with arguably the best golf swing on the planet is also one heck of an athlete. Here’s Anne finishing off an Ironman!
Or is it an Ironwoman? Either way, the best part of Anne’s accomplishment is she’s raising money for Jane Park’s two-year-old daughter, Grace, who was hospitalized last summer with seizures and brain swelling. Way to go, Anne.
Tiger in the booth: Golf fans were forced to wait a bit longer for Tiger’s return on the course, but his appearances in the TV booth were fantastic as always. Imagine how great it would have been if he took the retiring Nick Faldo’s place as CBS’ lead analyst? Just for the majors. And, obviously, just when he’s not playing in the afternoons.
Anyway, I’m sure whatever gig he wants is open to him if he ever chooses to go that route. For the time being, we were glad to hear him say, he still wants to "get a big one." That would be the best Christmas present ever. Whenever it happens.
Tiger’s handshake with Zinger: However, there was one noticeable, awkard moment involving Tiger on TV. And it came when Thursday's closing handshake between him and NBC’s Paul Azinger was completely butchered. We’re used to seeing golfers mess these things up, but this one was particularly brutal:
Yikes. And how about that reaction from Azinger? Again, AWKWARD!
Getting your nose bitten off: As someone who has been all over the golf fight beat, I can safely say these altercations are getting more violent. And no instance we’ve come across is as gruesome as what happened in Biloxi, Mississippi, where a golf argument led to one man biting off the other man’s nose. Yep, that's for real. And no, Mike Tyson wasn’t involved. Look, we all take this game a bit too seriously from time to time, but at the end of the day, it’s still just a game. Be careful out there, folks.
This scramble score: And be careful of getting your clock cleaned by crooks at club events as well. There’s always that one group that posts an outrageous number, but this is the most egregious example that we’ve ever seen:
A 46! LOL. C’mon, now. And to add one extra dagger, a 47 was crossed out and changed to that final outlandish number. Either there were a lot of generous gives or there were some seriously sketchy handicaps involved. We hope they enjoyed their pro shop credit. Actually, no we don’t.
OK, let’s try this again . . . TIGER WOODS IS BACK! FOR REAL! (WE THINK!) It’s just one round and there are golf carts involved, but the 15-time major champ will tee it up with Rory McIlroy against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth on Saturday at Pelican Golf Club in the latest edition of THE MATCH.
Random tournament fact: Tiger is 1-1 in two appearances in THE MATCH, but he’s 1-0 when it’s a team event. He teamed up with Peyton Manning to take down Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in 2020.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—Phil Mickelson will play in the next edition of THE MATCH: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
—Tiger/Rory will win THE MATCH VII: +105 odds (Actual odds, slight underdogs)
—Sportsbooks are really hoping that doesn’t happen: LOCK
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Glad our Evin Priest was on the scene to report this:
Helluva flex by Adam. Love it.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Tiger. Charlie. Sunday red. Love it. And can’t wait to see them in action next weekend at the Father-Son.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Some lucky guy got a private putting lesson from Tiger freaking Woods. And, not surprisingly, it looked like it worked!
OK, now I know what I'm asking Santa for this year.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (NON-GOAT DIVISION)
Cam Smith celebrated his Australian PGA Championship title by going to a pub—and re-watching his Australian PGA Championship title:
Say what you will about LIV Golf, but it’s hard not to like Cam Smith.
THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Find yourself a caddie that looks at you like Aaron Flener looks at J.T. Poston. And if you can find a caddie that’s got some serious pipes, even better, because he can sing at your wedding:
What an awesome scene.
THIS WEEK IN PEOPLE OTHER THAN ME MAKING HOLES-IN-ONE
Introducing Ryan Iverson for not only making an ace, but making one on a par 4. But not just any par 4. Ryan pulled off the feat on No. 12 at Kapalua’s Plantation Course, which if you remember, is where Dustin Johnson missed an ace by an inch during his eight-shot romp at the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions. Well, Ryan certainly remembered because while he was basking in the glow of his first-ever hole-in-one, he taunted DJ:
Good stuff, Ryan. I'm very jealous of your ace—and your pop off the tee—but good job.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I told (Charlie), don’t copy my swing, copy Rory’s.” — Tiger Woods. That might be the greatest compliment issued in the history of mankind.
THIS AND THAT
Congrats to Patricia Meunier-Lebouc for winning a Minor League Golf Tour—as the only woman in the field!
What a big week for women competing alongside men. . . . And speaking of that, the QBE Shootout will turn into a joint PGA Tour-LPGA Tour event beginning next year. Sounds like a great idea to us. . . . But wait, there’s more women’s golf love! Kudos to the LPGA for introducing advanced stats this season—and to Minjee Lee for leading the way with an amazing 2.02 strokes gained approach last season. Considering Tiger Woods is the only person to do that on the PGA Tour, that’s pretty darn good. . . . And, finally, after mom and dad took the girls to the Polar Express we put this blowup Christmas Unicorn up in the front yard:
Just let me know when and where we collect our Parents of the Year Award.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
How many strokes would Ben Hogan have gained on approach shots?
How many miles has that Polar Express logged?
How much is that unicorn going to affect my electric bill?