Wyndham Clark’s gift from Mother Nature, Kathryn Newton’s gift to Jimmy Fallon and golf loses a beloved legend
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we begin with the sad passing of a golf legend. Actually, I’m not even sure if Carl Weathers played golf, but he will always have a place in the game’s history because of playing one of the most memorable golf characters ever, Chubbs Peterson, in “Happy Gilmore.” And it appeared he had good taste in magazines, too:
Of course, there was much, much more to this great man, most famously him playing opposite Sylvester Stallone in the first four “Rocky” movies as the bombastic Apollo Creed. Before he became a big-time actor, he was a big-time athlete, playing pro football for the Oakland Raiders. And check out the dude’s pipes in this classic scene that hits a bit different now:
I bumped into Carl on a NYC elevator a few years back, and he couldn’t have seemed more warmer despite the fact that he was still an intimidating physical specimen in his 70s. Anyway, RIP to a legend. And in the words of Chubbs, time to go to our own “happy place” and talk some more golf. Please come along.
Wyndham Clark: In the last nine months, this guy has morphed into WINdham with victories in a major and now two PGA Tour signature events after claiming the title at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (Yes, it was shortened to 54 holes thanks to Mother Nature, but he still gets full credit for the win. Cue the LIV Golf jokes!) He also left the Monterey Peninsula with the lowest score in the storied history of Pebble Beach Golf Links thanks to that amazing 60 on Saturday. (Yes, it was lift, clean and place, but that’s still crazy good.)
Just an amazing tournament for Wyndham. Well, three quarters of a tournament. And he continued an amazing run of longshots on the tour since, surprisingly, he was 100-to-1 odds coming into the event. That shouldn’t be the case again for this former Oregon Duck—especially if they’re playing in the slop.
Joaquin Niemann: Meanwhile in sunny Mayakoba, the 25-year-old Chilean finally won his first LIV Golf title, and he did it in dramatic fashion by taking down one of his childhood idols, Sergio Garcia, in a four-hole playoff. Does he get paid overtime for playing 58 holes?
We kid, but after shooting an opening-round 59(!), he certainly wasn’t laughing about receiving a two-shot penalty after his second round that cut a four-shot lead heading into the final round to two. But Niemann overcame that and a long Sunday—it’s good to know that “It’s darker than it appears on camera” on the LIV Tour as well—for a victory that pairs nicely with his Australian Open title from December. Also, he was 0-2 in PGA Tour playoffs, so this must have felt good.
Speaking of Sunday, what a big day for LIV. Not only did the upstart circuit have the (golf) stage to itself with the PGA Tour's final round being postponed, but it had a dramatic finish involving Joaquin, Sergio and LIV newbie Jon Rahm. Say what you will about the origins of this league, but that was some really good golf watching. OK, back to the PGA Tour …
The PGA Tour’s new deal: I’m not a business expert, but an influx of up to $3 billion for an evaluation of $12 billion seems a lot better than no influx of cash and no evaluation of $12 billion. That’s exactly what the PGA Tour got with its new partnership with Strategic Sports Group. Here’s the $3 billion handshake between Jay Monahan and SSG manager John Henry:
OK, looks like a normal handshake. Anyway, the big thing here is the PGA Tour will now have a separate for-profit entity called PGA Tour Enterprises that current players can earn equity in through grants that vest over time. Again, this is way over my head, but the bottom line is PGA Tour pros will be rewarded with money other than tournament purses. What this means for a potential deal with the Saudi PIF Fund remains to be seen—especially since the players don’t even seem to agree on whether they should sign a deal. So while this doesn’t mean we’re any closer to having all the best players united again, it should at least help the tour. And, hopefully, all these big business minds don’t forget about the fans.
Pebble in winter time: Why is this tournament at Pebble Beach in the dead of winter? It’s insane. My parents happened to be going on a trip to San Francisco last week and as soon as they told me the dates I said you can’t go the week of the AT&T. You’re basically guaranteed bad weather!
I’m also selling the PGA Tour for knowing the forecast was going to be especially horrific on Sunday and Monday and not doing more to alter the schedule to try to get 72 holes in. Especially for a SIGNATURE event. Maybe this is the type of thing that new SSG partnership can figure out.
Joaquin Niemann’s complaints: It was a great week for the young Chilean, but not a great post-round interview in which he complained about not being in the major championships. Yes, he was somewhat prompted with the question, but he knew the deal when he signed with LIV Golf. Which is why Abraham Ancer told us on The Loop podcast last week that as much as he wants to play in those events, he won’t complain about not getting in. Also, Niemann is already in the PGA Championship and the Open.
Again, this isn’t to say that LIV guys like Niemann shouldn’t be in these events. Obviously, he’s good enough. But it’s just hard to feel bad for someone wanting to have his cake and eat it too.
Nick Dunlap’s pro debut: Welcome to the bigs, kid! Making his first start since turning pro after that historic win at the American Express, the 20-year-old sophomore finished DFL at Pebble Beach.
Hey, it happens. And Nick is going to be fine. But it shows there is a difference when you’re playing with money on the line. Remember Justin Rose finishing T-4 at the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale as an amateur, turning pro and, then, promptly missing his first 20 cuts? On the bright side, this $20 million event didn’t have a cut so he still earned $32,000. That would go a long way back at his Alabama dorm room.
The PGA Tour heads to Arizona for the WM Phoenix Open, AKA that one where Joel Dahmen and Harry Higgs took their shirts off.
It promises to be another wild week at TPC Scottsdale, especially on that 16th hole. The field won’t be as good as last year with it not being a signature event, but the weather in Scottsdale will be excellent. As always. Now that’s a place to host a winter golf event. Elsewhere, LIV will be in Las Vegas with its own party hole. Oh, and speaking of Las Vegas, there’s also a little game going on there called the SUPER BOWL. In honor of that, we had Super Bowl champ and New York Giants legend Victor Cruz on this week’s episode of The Loop podcast:
As for this year’s game, I’ve flipped back and forth on this outcome more than Rory regarding LIV, but I’m currently leaning Kansans City. I think. Be careful out there, folks. It could be an expensive week.
Random tournament fact: Scottie Scheffler has won at TPC Scottsdale the past two years. The only player to pull off a three-peat in this event? Some guy named Arnold Palmer.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—This week’s PGA Tour event will be shortened to 54 holes: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
—Scottie Scheffler will win: 5-to-1 odds (Actual odds, big favorite)
—People will be upset no matter how much Taylor Swift is shown: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Wyndham Clark celebrated his latest win with a $29(!) ice cream sundae from the Pebble Beach Tap Room:
Damn, that looks good. But for $29 I could get a dozen ice cream sundaes from Costco. Just saying.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
What a beautiful tweet/obit. We’ll call it an otwit.
CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (WELL PLAYED DIVISION)
It looks like Christian McCaffrey and Kyle Juszczyk have their heads in the right place ahead of the Big Game:
OK, I’m back on San Fran.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (POORLY PLAYED DIVISION)
Turns out, the NFL’s GOAT (excluding my guy Jerry Rice) is human after all!
Don’t worry, Tom. You still looked fantastic in that cardigan.
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS (NON-NFL DIVISION)
Actress Kathryn Newton made an appearance on “The Tonight Show,” showed off her golf swing (while in heels), and brought host Jimmy Fallon quite a gift:
Wow. Great job. Kathryn, you can come on The Loop podcast anytime and we won’t expect you to bring anything.
THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
OK, we’re stretching the affection part with this, but it’s a long, long term bet between golf buddies. Check this out:
And after I wrote about it, the 3-handicap sent me this photo and said he just shot an 81 to the 16's 100:
My money is on the 3-handicap, but the 30-year aspect to this makes it a fascinating wager. May the best man win.
THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF SMOOTHNESS
Look at this swing!
How is that even possible?! That dude is the Mayor of Tempo Town.
THIS WEEK IN JIM NANTZ BEING JIM NANTZ
Turns out, the legendary play-by-play man bought the stadium phone he made the call on to learn he had been hired by CBS, and has it hanging on his wall at home:
Amazing. That's simultaneously one of the coolest—and craziest—things I've ever seen.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Heck yeah, I looked forward to it even when I was playing football. This is the highlight of the year. Every time you get that invitation that comes in the mail, you open it up like a kid in the candy store. It's the invitation that you always want when you see it come in the mail. My kids even know now, like, 'Dad, it came in the mail!' Like yes, yes, yes." —Larry Fitzgerald on getting his invite to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am every year. We love Larry. Even if he’s a bit of a sandbagger. Or used to be. Love you, Larry. And love that sweater:
On you, that is. Not sure I could pull that off.
THIS AND THAT
Kudos to KFT winner Isaiah Salinda for winning his first career title by eight(!) shots, and doing it just a few weeks from having his appendix removed. What a warrior. … According to LIV’s media guide, Phil Mickelson has 47(!!) career holes-in-one. That’s impressive, but it’s also disgusting. … Costco is being sued by TaylorMade for patent infringement over their new line of Kirkland irons. I have no clue how this will shake out in court, but if it leads to the hot dog/soda combo costing more than $1.50, I’ll be furious. … And, finally, less than a month after I learned my beloved Costco churro was being discontinued, I found out my go-to Cheesecake Factory order, chicken marsala, is being taken off the menu. Their menu is literally the size of a book, but they’re taking off the one thing I always get?! How is that possible?!
I can’t catch a (culinary) break right now.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Who is the greatest golf movie character ever?
How much has Phil paid in bar tabs for those 47 aces?
What should be my new go-to Cheesecake Factory order?