1. Ernie Els plays a round with President Trump
And the world continues to get even stranger. A few weeks ago Bernhard Langer received an apologetic phone call from President Trump and now Ernie Els has played a round with the star of The Apprentice.
The Big Easy was living up to his name and relaxing at home, having pulled out of Pebble Beach with a sore neck, when he received a call from the director of golf at Trump National.
“Would you be available to play with the president of the United States of America?”
Rather than simply say no, Els replied: “Of course I would, what kind of question is that? I would play with him even if I was half dead.”
So Ernie and Donald and the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, made up a fourball with the director of golf David Trout who, you would imagine, had the strangest day of his life.
As for Els he added: “It was one of the most special groups of people I’ve been around. I played with the queen of Malaysia, I’ve played with other presidents, but this is the most powerful guy in the whole world and to see him in his full security detail, it’s impressive.”
Ooo, get you, Ernie!
He added: “I was all about, ‘Mr. President’ and ‘sir’ and all of that. I wanted to use that protocol because that’s what a man in that position deserves.”
As for the result Els started slowly but ‘got it going on the back nine, made some birdies and stuff. I’d call it a tie.’
Which probably means he won. By a lot.
2. Wie turns to Google for putting remedy
We’re all guilty of looking up quick fixes on YouTube. (How do I stop thinning my chips? I know, I’ll watch some barely audible bloke in baggy trousers from Milwaukee talk me through my recovery programme.)
But when you are a major champion as recently as 2014 – and the next big thing in golf c.2003 – you might think that there were better methods to try and reinvent your mediocre putting.
Michelle Wie finished 105th on the money list last year and she has finally abandoned her very odd table-top putting stance in favour of the claw.
So how do you go about adopting a different grip?
“I definitely Googled `The Claw’,” Wie said. “You should see my research. I Googled every one. I liked Phil [Mickelson]’s and Sergio [Garcia]’s. I tried everything out, and it feels good.”
Wie, who struggled with back spasms (the new in-thing golfing injury), had 27 putts in the first two rounds and finished the week at level par.
Here’s how it looks…
— #WomensAusOpen (@WomensAusOpen) February 14, 2017
3. Women to get Muirfield vote (soon, you would imagine – surely?)
Well, this was predictable. By the middle of March we will know whether women will be admitted at Muirfield. A second ballot has taken place and, after the first vote failed to achieve the two-thirds majority last year and they lost the Open Championship, it is hoped that things will be a little different this time.
A statement from the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns and runs Muirfield, read: “Voting in favour of the resolution to admit women as members is recommended, unanimously, by the captain, captain nominate and the club committee of the Honourable Company.”
When the vote does go through as expected the R&A will presumably reconsider their position and the Open and Muirfield can be friends again and the Open can return to probably the best course on the rota.
4. Tiger update: It gets worse
The weekly soap opera of Tiger Woods’ back continued with the news that he would be unable to sit down for 20 minutes for his press conference.
It was due to happen on the Tuesday at Riviera, was then put back to the Wednesday and then promptly cancelled.
“He flew out here and got to see one of his doctors,” his manager Mark Steinberg said. “Based on the work they did the last couple of days, they advised he just stay horizontal. It’s best to listen to the doctors. The ultimate goal is to get out and play. The hope was the spasms would calm down. And they haven’t.”
When he left Dubai the explanation of ‘back spasms’ didn’t sound overly bleak, now it does. The four-under total from the Bahamas, and 24 birdies, seems a lifetime away. Last week he didn’t get further than his hotel room in California.
What about the Masters? Well, he’s not playing at the Honda this week and is only pencilled in for Bay Hill ahead of Augusta. Back to Steiny…
“The goal is to get everything to calm down, have it calm down for a while, continue to get treatment and get back to a place where he’s chipping and putting and hitting balls. We’re not talking about an extended break.”
Woods was due to hand out the goodies at the prize giving for the Genesis Open, a tournament that benefits his foundation, but he wasn’t up to it.
5. Baby Johnson (No. 2) coming soon
With her fiancée battling to become the best golfer on the planet Paulina Gretzky broke the news on Saturday morning that the couple’s second baby is on its way.
Dustin Johnson’s other half did it the traditional way, posting ultrasound pics with the caption ‘Coming soon’ with their miniature dog looking on…