Welcome to another edition of The Grind where we applaud the USGA for a fair setup at the 2019 U.S. Open. In the media center, that is. Conditions got tough during a few harrowing hours when the soda machine’s Coke AND Coke Zero went down and the chocolate-chip cookie placements were a bit spotty during the middle rounds, but those chocolate ice cream, dark chocolate-covered Haagen-Dazs bars more than made up for it.
In related news, I need a serious junk-food detox. But while I’m still on a sugar high, let’s rundown everything that happened during an exciting week at Pebble Beach.
Gary Woodland: Often confused with Brooks Koepka by fans, Woodland will be most happy to be compared with Brooks now that he’s a major champion as well. What a performance by G-Dub (Assuming Gary likes that better than the “GAR-BEAR!” screams we heard in the crowd) at Pebble Beach, highlighted by, well, a ton of highlights. Going two under on the three holes his tee shots found sand-filled divots during the week, those two crazy pars in a three-hole stretch on Saturday and yes, that chip off the 17th green on Sunday.
Not to mention him dropping one more bomb on 18 to win in style.
And we’re pretty sure he’s the first major champ to have defended a future NBA player (Kirk Hinrich) in a college basketball game:
Woodland may not have had the quickness to contend on that level in hoops, but he certainly has all the tools on the golf course. Between him and DJ, this year’s Presidents Cup team would be tough to beat on the court.
Brooks Koepka: Even when Koepka doesn’t win majors these days, he still makes history. This time, he became the first player in U.S. Open history to shoot four rounds in the 60s and lose while also becoming the first player to shoot five consecutive sub-70 rounds in the tournament. Koepka couldn’t quite match Willie Anderson’s three-peat from Model T times, but what an incredible performance. Also, I’m pretty sure ol’ Willie couldn’t bench-press 330 pounds and hit 330-yard 3-woods.
Viktor Hovland: Seriously, I’m gobbling up a bunch of stock in this guy, who finished T-14 and broke Jack Nicklaus’ record for the best score by an amateur in the U.S. Open. Hovland will start earning paychecks at this week’s Travelers Championship, and if you’re wondering how his game translates to the pros, considering he finished seventh in the field at Pebble Beach in strokes gained: off-the-tee, the same stat Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson rank 1-2 currently. Kid is a stud.
Pebble Beach: What other course do players and caddies stop mid-round to take photos? You really can’t say enough about how spectacular this place is.
And that’s coming from someone who was more excited about the media hotel being located near a Costco than on the beach. Anyway, I was legitimately sad to leave, and I hope I’m lucky enough to be back in 2027 when the U.S. Open returns next.
Pebble Beach’s setup: The only thing more stunning than the seaside views was the sea of red on the leader board. After two previous Pebble Beach U.S. Opens produced only one player under par (Tiger Woods during his epic 15-shot romp in 2000), this one gave us two guys finishing at double digits under par. And while I’m glad that (for once) the players were the story instead of the setup, I don’t think these results are good for the championship going forward. If the U.S. Open isn’t the toughest tournament to win, then it loses its identity. Fingers crossed that unexpected low wind speeds were the main cause of all the low scores. Start growing the rough at Winged Foot now. I want to see some CARNAGE next year.
Justin Rose: The Englishman walked off the first hole on Sunday with a share of the lead, but left Pebble Beach with a disappointing T-3. For all the great golf Rose has produced, he’s officially in the Dustin Johnson category of golfers who should have more than one major by now. On the bright side, Rose showed he can contend when his long game isn’t particularly sharp, but this one is going to sting for a while.
Rory McIlroy: As I said last week, we’re too hard on Rory, but … it’s hard not to be when he arrives at Pebble Beach following a seven-shot win in Canada, gets into serious contention heading into the weekend and … needs a closing birdie just to continue his incredible run of top-10s this season (11 in 14 PGA Tour starts). Obviously, the putter held him back, but his big miss with the driver on No. 2 during the final round led to a debilitating double bogey. All that being said, he’s still the guy I find myself seeking out on the range every chance I get:
What a swing. What a club twirl. What a mystery that this guy has now gone five years without winning a major.
The PGA Tour heads cross country to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship, AKA that tournament where Jordan Spieth holed a walk-off bunker shot in 2017 and Jim Furyk shot 58 in 2016. Both guys are back and they’ve brought a bunch of their big-name pals to an event that has really taken off in recent years. And speaking of taking off, Hovland and fellow Oklahoma State teammate Matthew Wolff will both make their pro debuts this week. Watch out.
Random tournament fact: Bubba Watson is the defending champ and a three-time winner at TPC River Highlands. He trails only Billy Casper for the most victories in the tournament’s history.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
— Players will complain about the set up at TPC River Highlands: 1 MILLION-to-1
— Brooks Koepka will win next month’s Open Championship: 6-to-1 odds (Actual odds)
— Winged Foot will be tougher next year than Pebble played this year: LOCK
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Pick a Pebble Beach photo, any Pebble Beach photo:
Goodbye, my love …
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Remember when Gary Woodland was in that video with Amy Bockerstette? Here it is again in case you missed it:
Well, the newly crowned champ shared his big moment with a sweet FaceTime chat after his winning press conference:
I’m not crying, you’re crying. OK fine, I’m crying.
(ARCHIVE) VIDEO OF THE WEEK
You know how Tiger always talks about guys on tour giving and taking “the needle”? (Jokes, that is, not steroids. C’mon, people, get your heads out of the gutter.) Well, Tiger’s son has been taking notes on how to rib people. Check out what he said to dad:
Kid’s got jokes!
PHOTO OF THE WEEK (NON-PEBBLE BEACH SCENERY DIVISION)
Henrik Stenson hit a fan with a golf ball, then went over and pretended he got hit by laying down on the grass with the guy:
Henrik Stenson remains the best.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“If you want to quote me, he is a cockroach. He won’t go away.” — Xander Schauffele on Brooks Koepka. Thanks, Xander. We will quote you.
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS
Check out former Eagles star Mike Vick making an eagle:
Dude looks like he could still run a 4.3 40. In golf attire.
THIS WEEK IN
DUSTIN JOHNSON-PAULINA GRETZKY BROOKS KOEPKA-JENA SIMS PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
After cameras caught Koepka snubbing Jena of a smooch before the final round at Bethpage Black, did this kiss cost Koepka a fifth major championship?
We’re guessing Brooks heard about it after the incident at the PGA, but c’mon, you can’t change up your routine like that! You’ve gotta sacrifice. Just look at Dan Woodland, who didn’t even talk to his son over the weekend for fear of breaking up Gary’s “no-hitter.” Bad job, Jena and Brooks.
THIS AND THAT
Xander Schauffele has finished in the top three in three of his past five major starts. This doesn’t help the 10-to-1 bet I made on him winning a major this season, but he’s getting close! … Brooks Koepka revealed he doesn’t drink coffee and has never had a hot beverage in his life. That is weird. As someone who doesn’t eat cheese, seafood, or nuts, however, I’m probably not in a position to call anyone else’s food/drink habits weird. … After making the cut at the U.S. Open, Chip McDaniel took a red-eye cross country and Monday qualified for the Travelers Championship. Knowing how worthless I am after taking a red-eye, this blows my mind. … Congrats to my good friend and golf buddy, Josh Thomson, on making his first hole-in-one. Yes, I’m actually happy for him and yes, I’m extremely jealous. … And finally, shout-out to co-worker Joel Beall for a great week of content, but more so for putting up with rooming with me the entire time:
And if I look like I’m asleep in the photo, that was probably because the soda machine was down right then.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Why isn’t the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach more often?
Who can bench more: Brooks or Gary?
Can either of them snack more than me?