GR running diary: Bourbon and Hot Brown on Wed.

By Jason CrookAugust 7, 2014, 2:00 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Here’s some (not) food for thought for you. If you’re ever invited to a party – I’ll pick something completely arbitrary like a party at the Louisville Slugger Museum on Tuesday night of PGA Championship week – and this party features a buffet, and a 25-minute tour where you will not see this buffet, here are my instructions: Eat first, people are animals. By the time you get back from this tour, there’s a good chance all of the food besides the mushrooms will be gone. Mostly because that’s not food, it’s mushrooms.

Wednesday - Grill Room goes around the town

5:55 a.m. ET – Alarm clock goes off. I hate the world slightly less today than I did yesterday. If time could be quantified into hate, then I hate the world two hours less this morning than I did yesterday. Progress.

7:20 – Arrive at Valhalla.

8:02 – Hit the media center for what one volunteer described as “The Breakfast of Champions,” coffee and Gatorade. We might have slightly different versions of “champions.”

8:23 – Make arrangements for my “Around the Town” day in Louisville.

9:05 – Leave Valhalla.

9:34 – Drive past the No. 4-ranked attraction in all of Louisville – the Cave Hill Cemetery. Place looks dead, absolutely nothing going on. I decide to continue on my way.

9:45 – Get to the Muhammad Ali Center, notice a lot of kids on day trips, possibly with camps.

10:13 – Lots of interesting info about one of the greatest athletes of all time, also lots of interesting kids with snot bubbles coming out of their noses.

11:03 – Leave the Muhammad Ali Center. Not that I wouldn’t go back there, but I’d make sure I bring my not-to-be-born-anytime-soon kids. I decide to overcompensate and act my age. Bourbon distillery, here I come. After little debate and even less convincing with myself, I decide on the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience.

11:49 – After learning plenty about bourbon that I’m glad I now know, yet not sure what to do with this newfound knowledge besides rattle it off in annoying fashion to my friends the next time they bring a bottle over, we are given some samples.


12:19 p.m. ET – Receive news about Tiger Woods being in Louisville. What a coincidence, I just found the perfect medication for his back.

12:27 – That’s it for the distillery tour, while it violated my “using my brain too much while drinking” rule, it fit in perfectly with some of my other sight-seeing ideology, like “free booze.” It gets a Grill Room recommendation, so it’s got that going for it.

12:38 – Decide it’s finally time to throw away my inhibitions and dive into this thing Louisvillians (it’s a thing, I looked it up) call a “Hot Brown.” Although it boasts one of the grossest names for anything in the history of names, and things, I’ve been told I have to try one. And since you only YOLO once, today’s the day ...

12:45 – I head down to the Hot Brown spot. I’m told this place has the best Hot Browns, as if that is somehow supposed to comfort me. The waitress asks me what I would like to drink.  I say “I’ll have a Samuel Jackson.” Somewhere in South Africa, Dave Chappelle snickers to himself. The waitress gives me a blank stare. So I just order a water and a Hot Brown, at the bargain-basement price of $16. She tells me it will be about 15 minutes.

12:47 – I notice several others in the restaurant sitting alone and eating or ordering this Hot Brown. It gives me a sense of camaraderie with the people. The guy to my left doesn’t believe the waitress when she tells him it will be 15 minutes. He decides to openly time her, leaving his smartphone on the table. It was at this moment I pretty much determined he had just ordered a side of spit.

1:02 – Hot Brown arrives. It is hot, but to my surprise not brown at all. It actually looks pretty appetizing. The best way I can describe it is an open-faced sandwich, with turkey breast, a super-rich cheesy sauce called Mornay, bacon, more cheese and some tomatoes and green seasoning on top, I guess to make it healthy.

1:03 – First bite, absolutely incredible. Cheesy, gooey, crunchy and I didn’t even get bacon on that bite.

1:04 – All the same feelings as the first, but then add bacon. Even better.

1:05 – Four bites in. I feel like I’m going to die.

1:15 – Stopped eating five minutes ago, have a strong urge to keel over and take a nap on this bench. Grill Room recommends two bites maximum of a Hot Brown. There’s a really easy joke you can make here if you so choose, but we’re above that toilet humor on this blog. (Not really).

2:00 – Fighting through my Hot Brown-induced coma, I make it to Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby and more importantly, the Dufners’ second-to-last vacation. My connection for this expedition hasn’t called me back, so I explain to the lady guarding the front entrance that I am exploring the town for the Grill Room. I’m given a free pass to anywhere but actually on the track. Our fans are the best.


2:20 – Make it up to Millionaires Row, which is where I assume the Dufners watched this year’s Derby, mostly because they’re millionaires.

3:00 – Realize I’ve been at Churchill Downs entirely too long for a place where there is absolutely nothing going on. I’d definitely recommend this place for a visit, I’d just try to time it so that there are horses there, too, and maybe a few other people. I would have to imagine that would be more fun.

3:13 – Driving back to the hotel when I happen to notice Papa John's Stadium, the 55,000-seat home of the University of Louisville Cardinals football team. Now what kind of American would I be if I didn’t stop in a football stadium on my tour of the city? I walked right in and took some pictures. They probably knew the Grill Room was coming. Sounds like everyone was put on alert today. Seems like an awesome place to take in a game.

4:05 – See a “For Escort Service Call” street sign. Had to pull over and snap a picture. Mostly to save the number in case I have to cross the street later. Why are you all giving your computers weird looks? What were you thinking it was for?


In conclusion, my day on the town in Louisville proved this city has it all. Stuff for the family. Stuff for grown-ups. Awesome and gross food at the exact same time.  Escort services. Throw in a little golf and you got yourself quite the party. Until next time … which will be tomorrow, and judging from the last couple days, I’d guess bright and early.

You can see all of Grill Room's images from around the town here, and in case you missed it, check out Tuesday's action from Louisville in the Grill Room's running diary.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.