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.

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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.

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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?

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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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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”