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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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”