Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where, admittedly, we’re a bit bummed. No offense to Cameron Smith, but essentially everyone was rooting for Rory McIlroy to win that golf tournament—from Fingers-Crossed Kid to even Scottie Scheffler! Somewhere, even Michelob Ultra Guy was pulling for Tiger Woods’ friend.
Oh well. Apparently, Golf Gods don’t exist. Because if they did, they wouldn’t be this cruel. Unless. . . maybe . . . this is another Adam Scott situation in 2012! If that’s the case, McIlroy will be slipping on that even more elusive first green jacket come April.
Cameron Smith: What a performance, what a season. The Aussie is probably the front-runner for PGA Tour Player of the Year after adding a real major to the semi-major he won at the Players. (Although the vote among his peers could be interesting if these LIV Golf rumors are true!) And he did it thanks to five consecutive birdies during a Sunday back-nine 30 at St. Andrews. Which is obviously even more impressive than the 72-hole PGA Tour scoring record he shattered to start the year at Kapalua.
Cam is like the Klay Thompson of golf. When he gets hot, there’s nothing quite like it. And the laid-back fisherman would normally be a popular winner, but he reprised the role of Stewart Cink vs. Tom Watson in 2009—only with a flowing mullet instead of that hideous shaved head hat tan. Not that Smith minded once he was holding the claret jug. Amazingly, Smith is the second golfer with a mullet to win an Open at St. Andrews and he got a nice shout-out on Twitter from the first:
Daly must have also been proud to hear Smith estimate that he would drink 20 claret jugs worth of beer in celebration. Although, if he really wanted to follow in JD’s footsteps, he’d fill that bad boy with chocolate ice cream. In any event, the drinks will be flowing at Smith’s home club in Brisbane, where, according to his dad in an interview with the Daily Mail, Cam has bought a round of drinks for everyone following each of his PGA Tour wins. “It’s quite funny because as soon as the members find out,” Des Smith said, “ones who don’t normally have a beer line up.” Good for Cam. That’s going to be an extra long line this time.
Cameron Smith’s par save on 17: While the Aussie authored an all-time back-nine birdie binge to become the Champion Golfer of the Year, it was the par of the year that secured him the claret jug. Under any circumstances, this up-and-downaround the Road Hole bunker would have been outrageous. But to do it with the Open on the line? It’s the stuff of legend:
What an exquisite touch. What coolness under pressure. Here’s a fan angle that might make this improbable two-putt even more amazing:
I can’t even imagine what Rory’s reaction was when he finally saw that replay in his hotel room. On the slight chance he still hasn’t seen it, those around him should try to keep it that way.
Cameron Young: How about my fellow New York-Wake Forest product (more on the New York part later)? The 25-year-old continued an incredible PGA Tour rookie campaign with another close call in a major. Normally, eagling the 72nd hole to finish 19 under would be good enough to claim the trophy at one, but he, too, ran into the Cam Smith buzzsaw. Regardless, what a stud. That was some finish:
In a related note, if I ever have a son, I’m naming him Cameron. Heck, if I have another daughter, I’m naming her Cameron. What a great, versatile name. Camerons. So hot right now.
St. Andrews: It can’t be overstated what a special place this was and I was truly envious of everyone there last week. In fact, I had such St. Andrews withdrawal on Monday that I dug up this fun photo gallery (well, I found it fun) I did when I went there in 2015. It was the week before I got married and I couldn’t wait to go back—until my wife shot me a Tiger-in-his-competitive-prime stare when I brought it up a couple months back. Sigh. I should have waved from the Swilcan Bridge and paused for photos seven years ago, because like Tiger, that might be it for me at the Home of Golf.
Rory McIlroy’s major drought: Remember that story about Gerry McIlroy betting on his 15-year-old son to win a British Open in the next decade? And then Rory coming through in 2014? Who could have possibly imagined that if Gerry made a similar bet after that win that he would be sweating it out once again nearly another decade later? And yet here we are eight years after that win at Hoylake and almost eight years after McIlroy’s last win at any major at the 2014 PGA Championship. Crazy stuff—especially considering how this one went down.
McIlroy grabbed a share of the 54-hole lead, hit all 18 greens in regulation on Sunday, took a two-shot lead at one point, didn’t make a bogey, and still lost! It’s basically impossible! He also found ONE of St. Andrews’ 112 bunkers the entire week, holed out from it for eagle, and still lost! OK, I’m getting bummed out again. Time to go read Joel Beall’s terrific piece on Rory to cheer up. Or, go find an entire carton of chocolate ice cream. I don’t need a claret jug to drown my sorrows in the good stuff.
LIV Golf’s (potential) announcing team: To be clear, I’m selling LIV poaching David Feherty and possibly Charles Barkley(!) because I love those guys and I don’t want to lose them to YouTube telecasts. It’s one thing to come after the PGA Tour’s top talent, but to go after the top TV talent? That hurts. Also, what a potential dagger to basketball fans. “Inside The NBA” is the greatest show on TV and the Chuckster is obviously the biggest reason why. I’m getting sad again just thinking about it. Where’s that ice cream?!
Non New Yorkers’ New York knowledge: The funniest moment from the 150th Open Championship came when a reporter (we’re guessing from the UK) tried to get to the bottom of how Cameron Young could be so good at golf despite growing up on “the streets of New York” and going to high school in the Bronx. Young’s response that his high school, Fordham Prep, is basically on a college campus and that he literally lived on one of the country’s best golf courses, where his dad is the longtime head pro, was perfect:
But then there was this from ESPN later on:
Oak Hill is in Rochester, which is a FIVE-hour drive from where Young grew up. New York isn’t just New York City, people! It’s actually a pretty big state! Not that I should talk considering my UK-Great Britian confusion . . .
The PGA Tour heads to Minnesota for the 3M Open, AKA that one where Matthew Wolff looked like he might be the next Tiger a few years back. Of course, Wolff won’t be back this year because the 23-year-old will be enjoying all that extra time off that comes after signing a LIV Golf contract. He must have been thrilled to not be in the British Open field last week as well.
Random tournament fact: The winning score at TPC Twin Cities has gotten higher each year so far, from Wolff’s 263 in 2019 to Michael Thompson’s 265 in 2020 to Cameron(!) Champ’s 269 last year. What does this mean? Probably nothing. It’s a random tournament fact.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
—There will be a better par than Cameron Smith at 17 this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
—Cameron Smith is going to buy himself a bigger fishing boat: LOCK
—There are going to be a lot more Camerons born to golf-playing parents: Also a LOCK
And the honor goes to . . . once again . . . Max Homa!
Take a putter out of this man’s hands and he looks like any other dope trying to jam his luggage into those tight overhead bins:
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (FEELS DIVISION)
The drama at St. Andrews on Sunday was palpable, but the most moving moment of the week happened on Friday as Tiger Woods made (gulp) potentially his final walk up 18 as a competitor:
What a freaking scene. Or, like Max said, a movie.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (DAGGERS DIVISION)
A hot mic captured a hilarious exchange between Justin Thomas and Shane Lowry on Friday, a day after JT topped his tee shot on the 18th hole:
Great stuff. More hot mics, please!
THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Turns out Tiger’s rare public display of emotion was in part caused by a subtle gesture by one of his bros:
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS
Tony Romo teed it up at the Wisconsin State Amateur at Sand Valley:
Good for him, but let’s focus on Sand Valley, which was also just the site of me winning the green jacket at the 2022 HGGA Championship. What a month it’s been for that resort! Some are calling it The (New) Home of Golf.
“I don’t know if I’ll be physically able to play another British Open here at St. Andrews. I certainly feel like I’ll be able to play more British Opens, but I don’t know if I’ll be around when it comes back around here. So the warmth and the ovation at 18, it got to me.” —Tiger Woods. It got to us, too, Tiger.
Congrats to Chez Reavie for winning his third PGA Tour title at the Barracuda Championship. That’s right, there was another PGA Tour event last week. . . . Similarly, congrats to Alex Noren for finishing runner-up after deciding to give up his Open Championship first alternate spot and fly to California from Scotland! Turns out, Noren would have gotten into the field at St. Andrews, but it looks like he made the right choice. We guess. . . . Kudos to Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas for winning the LPGA’s team event, the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Salas ended a winless drought that goes back to 2014—just not the winless drought going back to 2014 that most golf fans were hoping would end on Sunday. . . . Tournament favorite Megha Ganne was disqualified from the U.S. Girls Junior for signing an incorrect scorecard. After Thomas Bjorn did this last week, it’s good to know this isn’t just an old head problem. . . . And, finally, Cameron Young wasn’t the only Met-area golfer to have a big week. Big congrats to Mike Miller for capturing his second New York State Open at Bethpage Black, and he did it in Tiger-at-Pebble-in-2000 fashion:
And to those wondering, yes, Bethpage Black is in New York, but it’s not in New York City. It’s in Long Island. It’s not close to where Cameron Young grew up, and it’s NOT near Oak Hill. Thus ends today’s geography lesson.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Will Tiger Woods compete at St. Andrews again?
Will I ever get back to St. Andrews again?
Has anyone checked on Fingers-Crossed Kid?