Ryder Cuppers’ Zoom backgrounds, Hovland’s hug and Tiger’s course | Rogers Report

Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods and Mike Trout

Ryder Cup, Tiger Woods

Hello, friends, and welcome to another week of the Rogers Report. Between the Tour Championship and Zach Johnson making his U.S. Ryder Cup team captain’s picks, the last few days have felt extremely busy — but in the best way.

Before we get to all of that, some personal news: I finally got a passport! That means I, like Justin Thomas, am good to go to Rome. Thank you to my coworkers who motivated me through pure doubt — it definitely helped push me across the finish line. Going through all the steps is exhausting! Or maybe (and more likely) I am in a lifelong battle with logistics.

Now let’s get to the less important stuff.

An honorable ace

American soccer player Ashley Hatch’s husband, Jeff Van Buren, recently made a hole-in-one, and they made the perfect video to capture its importance.

Hatch cleared part of her trophy wall to honor Van Buren’s incredible feat, which is now officially up there with an ESPY, so it’s in very good company.

In other hole-in-one news, I was working from my parents’ house last week when I heard a handful of men screaming. I (a worrier) ran outside thinking someone was hurt, but found a four men jumping up and down on the third tee box at Wannamoisett Country Club. Someone had made an ace!

Shout out to the acemaker’s pals for recording the whole scene on the green. I just hope my first hole-in-one has the same level of content capture…

Tiger’s new course

Tiger Woods (golf course architect version) is back. He and Mike Trout shared an update from Trout National with a fun little hype video.

As someone who knows absolutely nothing about course design (sorry, Donald Ross), I don’t have much to say about the land in the video. I see tractors and lots of dirt though, which seems like a good start. I instead decided to focus on a certain 15-time major champion in the clip.

As always, Eldrick looks very cool.

I must admit, however, that I’m a little sad to see that he has parted ways with his usual course-designer attire.

Over the last decade we’ve seen Woods rock some very memorable outfits while watching his courses come to life. The baggy light-wash jeans combined with the white golf belt is forever etched in my brain as one of the most “dad” outfits Woods has even worn. And now? We can’t tell if Tiger is going to tee it up at Augusta National or check out the routing of a new track. That, to me, is a shame.

Phil Mickelson’s Augusta National theft

I’ll start this section out with a confession. In 2015, I got so distracted while talking to a friend at the Boston College dining hall that I walked right out without paying for my lunch. I didn’t realize until after I devoured my Tuscan chicken sandwich and was en route to my philosophy class that I had forgotten to pay. I felt so guilty that when I went back two days later, I asked the cashier to charge me for my lunch twice. He laughed and declined while explaining that it wasn’t that big a deal. Crisis averted.

Anyway, Phil Mickelson shared a much more interesting personal theft anecdote last week — a story that took place at the Augusta National. He took a “short game practice only” sign from an Augusta National range during the 2005 and 2006 Masters in order to do his towel drill there. It worked the first year, but he didn’t have the same luck in 2006.

Props to Phil for sneaking in the “I’m not a betting man” line the same week that Billy Walters’ book, Gamblers: Secrets From a Life at Risk, hit stores. I’d pay to see the Augusta National security footage of this happening. Also, as the reigning champion, was Phil wearing his green jacket after the Champions Dinner when this all went down? Part of me wishes he had been caught (not because I’m a tattletale, but) because the story of a security guard thinking they had an intruder only to find out it was Phil Mickelson would’ve been hilarious. Imagine chasing Lefty down?

Rory’s kind gesture

Good guy alert! Rory McIlroy’s golf ball hit a fan in the arm at the Tour Championship (this isn’t the “good guy” part, don’t worry) and thankfully, the spectator lived to tell the tale despite a large bruise. McIlroy walked over to the fan, signed and wrote “sorry” on a glove and then gave it to the guy.

Rory McIlroy at the Tour Championship Paige Barber Bailey

Luckily for us, the victim’s daughter shared the whole story on social media.


When your dad gets hit by Rory at the @PGA TOUR Champions @RORY @#golf#eastlake

♬ Livin’ My Best Life – Dylan Scott

There have been a handful of stories about players giving golf balls, signed gloves and even a new phone to fans who have been hit by bad golf shots at Tour events this year. I can’t help but wonder if (assuming they didn’t get too hurt) this is sort of a genius move. Sure, you get a bruise. But you also get to meet a pro, you collect some sort of souvenir and you get a story for life. I hate to admit that it totally seems worth it.

Viktor Hovland’s wholesome hug

We all know that Viktor Hovland is playing some incredible golf right now, so I won’t bore you by doubling down on that storyline. Instead, I want to talk about my very favorite moment from the Tour Championship, which lasted about two full seconds on my television screen. Just moments after Hovland secured his victory at East Lake, he was seen embracing a state patrol officer as he walked off the green and toward the scoring tent.

I had some fun with the moment on Twitter (maybe I should say X now? I’ll get there eventually, but it just doesn’t feel right yet), but it allowed me to get the full story from someone online.

How cool is that? I am now a big fan of two men named Butch in the golf industry: Harmon and this gentleman from the State Patrol. And not to get too serious, but I love this moment for what it represents. It encapsulates the exact reason why I love golf so, so much — because of the unlikely friendships that come out of it and the way it brings people together. Not all of my pals are from the golf world, but the sport seems to be an underlying theme in many of my friendships. Whether we met at an event, have a mutual friend in golf or simply enjoy watching the same pros tee it up, golf has connected me with so many great people over the last [age redacted] years. In the wild, it’d be pretty unlikely that a kid from Norway who now resides in Oklahoma and a Georgia state patrol officer would hit it off. In golf, it just makes sense.

The U.S. Ryder Cup Team’s Zoom backgrounds

All eyes were on Zach Johnson (and social media) on Tuesday morning as the United States Ryder Cup captain made his picks for Rome.

We already know that Johnson went with Collin Morikawa, Sam Burns, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka. So let’s use this space to take a closer look at what the heck was going on during the captain’s picks Zoom call this morning.

We’ll start at the top left, with Mr. Sam Burns.

Burns looks like the ultimate frat star here. He’s rocking a mullet and an Augusta National polo. This isn’t the kind of shirt you get at the merchandise center at Augusta National. You can only get it from the club’s pro shop, which is a huge flex. Plus he’s got a a staff bag and a signed Presidents Cup flag behind him. All in all, I give his Zoom presentation an eight out of 10.

We’ll skip over the captain and check out Rickie Fowler’s setup next.

Rickie Fowler Ryder Cup

The beloved Fowler got a little festive on Tuesday morning! If you look closely, you’ll see that he’s rocking a Ryder Cup t-shirt. Aside from the captain himself, Fowler is the only one in some sort of Ryder Cup swag, which earns him some extra points. That, plus the fact that his wall is decked out in golf swing art, makes his Zoom meeting setup the best one here. Ten out of 10 for Mr. Fowler.

On to the second row! Let’s take a look at Brooks Koepka’s Zoom situation.

Brooks Koepka Ryder Cup

Koepka is a brand-new dad, so the fact that his hair is grown out, he isn’t clean-shaven and he looks a little overtired makes total sense. What doesn’t make total sense is that white sculpture in the background. Or it didn’t make sense to me (as a non-art history major) until I did a quick Google search. It appears to be The Winged Victory of Samothrace, or the Nike of Samothrace, which (again, according to Google) represents the goddess of Victory about to alight on a ship whose sailors have just won a sea battle. So basically, this is the perfect thing for a man who is sponsored by Nike and is about to head into battle to have in his living room.

Sorry if I went too far there, I’ve spent the last year or so trying to decode every move Taylor Swift has made so it just comes naturally at this point. At a first glance, Koepka’s background might earn him a generous four out of 10. After figuring out the sculpture, he gets an 11 out of 10. Also, imagine if Koepka’s walls were covered with Smash GC signage? That would’ve really gotten people talking.

On to two-time major champion Collin Morikawa.

Collin Morikawa Ryder Cup

This Zoom setup screams “in a virtual college lecture in April of 2020” to me. I’ll be honest, Morikawa didn’t give us much to work with here. He’s got his AirPods in while sitting on a couch with some nicely decorated throw pillows in front of a couple of windows. He looks extremely attentive which, again, makes it look like he’s in class. I’ll give him a solid 6.5 out of 10.

Let’s move on to Jordan Spieth’s Zoom background.

This one says “mature homeowner” to me. We can’t see a lot, but what we can see definitely leaves us wanting more. The cabinets look sleek, the floor is clean, the brown bag in the bottom right shows that the house is lived in and we get the sense that the Spieths are into funky wallpaper from the left side of the frame. Company man Jordan Spieth is rocking an Under Armour hoodie, which makes the whole thing feel relaxed and casual. I give this a nine out of 10, taking away a point because Spieth’s setup is missing some sort of AT&T “it can wait” campaign sign.

And finally, we’re on to Justin Thomas.

I’m not gonna lie, JT looks tired here. Can you blame him? He said he’s had a lot of sleepless nights waiting to learn if he’s on the Ryder Cup team. And then when he found out he was on it last night, he couldn’t sleep due to excitement. Anyways, let’s take a quick peek into JT’s living room.

Justin Thomas Ryder Cup

This Zoom setup is one I like a lot because I can see a lot! We’ve got the television mounted above the fireplace, shelves with lots of fun decor and even some exposed beams. JT appears to stick to neutral colors in his home, which is very different from the Greyson Clothiers apparel he rocks on the course. Interesting! Justin Thomas gets a 10 out of 10 solely due to the fact that he let us see so much of his living room.

That’s all for this week, folks. I look forward to seeing the Zoom backgrounds of Luke Donald and, like, Adrian Meronk next week.

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Claire Rogers

Golf.com Editor