Golf Buzz

December 20, 2014 - 9:25am
Posted by:
Bob Denney
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Sowards-Skinner
Bob Denney/PGA of America
Bob Sowards, left, and Sonny Skinner, right, will be honored at the 48th PGA Professional National Championship.

By Bob Denney
PGA of America

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Former PGA Professional National Champion Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, and Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Georgia, put the finishing touches on their golf seasons Friday afternoon by winning the respective 2014 PGA Professional and Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Awards.

The twosome will be honored on June 26, at the 48th PGA Professional National Championship at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown, Pennsylvania.

Sowards, 46, a PGA Teaching Professional at New Albany (Ohio) Country Club, secured his fourth PGA Professional Player of the Year Award following a dominant month in the PGA Tournament Series in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He won two events, finished runner-up three times, and was the Series-leading money winner with $19,405 over the six-event schedule. He also posted the best scoring average (68.58) in the Series. Sowards was 41–under par over 12 rounds in the PGA Tournament Series presented by GOLF ADVISOR.

Related: PGA member becomes oldest person to ever record ace

The 2003 National Champion, Sowards finished with 1,090 total points, while 2014 PGA Professional National Champion Michael Block of Aliso Viejo, California, was runner-up with 1,072.5.

“You can’t play well one week. You have to play well all year and in my opinion that’s what the Player of the Year Award should be,” said Sowards, who earned three consecutive PGA Professional Player of the Year Awards, from 2003-05. “I came down here with a goal of winning two tournaments. I finished second the last three years and didn’t want another second. I made a slight change to my putting, closed my shoulders a little bit. As we all know, a slight tweak here and there can set you off. I putted it great down here.

“My game is so much better now than the last time I won this award (2005), thanks to my swing instructor, Jon Decker, the PGA Director of instruction at New Albany Country Club. I know where the ball is going every time. I am thinking my way around better and not taking as many chances.”

Skinner, a PGA Life Member who suffered severe damage to his left knee following a February automobile accident, earned a record fifth consecutive Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Award (2010-14). He finished with 1,278.19 points during a season that included winning the PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship and tying for 26th in the U.S. Senior Open.

Senior PGA Professional National Champion Frank Esposito Jr., the medalist in this fall’s Champions Tour Qualifying School, was runner-up with 1,017.44 points.

“Every year has its own challenges and this particular year, starting out with a car wreck, carrying a bum knee, manufacturing a golf swing and doing rehab, I felt very lucky to have been able to play,” said Skinner, 54, the only senior PGA Professional to also win a PGA Professional Player of the Year Award (2008). “I felt like I played off my right leg all year. The wreck could have been a lot worse, so I consider myself blessed. I’m very honored to win this award and represent the PGA in any way that I can.”

Skinner suffered tears in his patella tendon and the medial meniscus, which he said will require surgery within the next year.

The final PGA Professional and Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year standings were determined based on a point system involving national and PGA Section competitions from Jan. 1 through Dec. 19, 2014. 

2014 PGA Professional Player of the Year* Standings
(As of 12/19/14)

Rank   Name                                       PGA Section            Total Points
1.       Bob Sowards, Dublin, Ohio          Southern Ohio           1090.000
2.       Michael Block, Aliso Viejo, Calif.  Southern California    1072.500
3.       Rod Perry, Port Orange, Fla.        North Florida              890.000
4.       Jamie Broce, Ottawa Hills, Ohio   Northern Ohio            800.000
5.       Dustin Volk, Layton, Utah            Utah                          690.000
6.       Paul Scaletta, Jupiter, Fla.            South Florida             660.000
7.       Stuart Deane, Arlington, Texas    Northern Texas          625.000
8.       David Carr, Marysville, Calif.        Northern California    620.000
9.       Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga.       Georgia                     616.250
10.     Adam Rainaud, So. Hadley, Mass. Connecticut              575.000

*With one PGA Section points outstanding

2014 Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year* Standings
(As of 12/19/14)

Rank   Name                                                       PGA Section       Total Points
1.       Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga.                      Georgia                1278.190
2.       Frank Esposito Jr., Monroe Township, N.J.   New Jersey           1017.440
3.       Jerry Haas, Winston-Salem, N.C.                 Carolinas              850.000
4.       Blaine McCallister, Jacksonville, Fla.            North Florida        741.830
5.       Todd McCorkle, Birmingham, Ala.               Dixie                    725.773
6.       Steve Schneiter, Sandy, Utah                       Utah                      678.920
7.       Rick Schuller, Chester, Va.                          Middle Atlantic       640.170
8.       Brian Cairns, Walled Lake, Mich.                 Michigan                598.964
9.       Gene Fieger, Naples, Fla.                           South Florida          573.330
10.     Don Berry, Rogers, Minn.                           Minnesota              553.667

*With one PGA Section points outstanding  

December 19, 2014 - 1:24pm
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Jim Furyk
PGA Tour/Twitter
Jim Furyk won $10,000 for the charity of his choice.

If you weren't watching the Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars football game on Thursday night -- and a game featuring two teams that entered the game with a combined four wins isn't the biggest game of the year -- then you probably missed an interesting closest to the pin contest. 

At halftime of the game at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, PGA Tour players Jim Furyk, Harris English, Luke Guthrie and David Lingmerth competed in the contest with the Jaguars' mascot, Jaxson de Ville, and NFL Network broadcasters Rich Eisen and Marshall Faulk. 

The octet hit from a deck in the stands and aimed at a pin that was placed at midfield. After competing in a first round, the four Tour professionals advanced to the finals and then Furyk placed his shot the closest to win $10,000 for a charity of his choice. 

 

 

Related: Jim Furyk 'dufners' with the Jaguars mascot

This wasn't the first time we've seen something like this at halftime of a football game this year. Steve Stricker did it at a Wisconsin Badgers game for a chance to earn a fan tickets to the 2015 PGA Championship. Brandt Snedeker also hit some shots at a Titans game this year to raise money for domestic violence awareness. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 19, 2014 - 11:27am
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Manny Ramirez
MLB.com
Manny Ramirez played golf for the first time in his life at the Ortiz Classic. His first two swings didn't go so well.

From time to time, we've shown you golf swings from professional athletes. Some have been good, some have needed some work but were serviceable.

This isn't one of those.

Former MLB star Manny Ramirez played golf for the first time in his life recently at former teammate David Ortiz's charity golf outing. And his first two swings didn't go to plan. 

 

Related: More celebrity golf swings

In his career, Ramirez was one of the most feared power hitters in the game and helped the Boston Red Sox break their 86-year-old World Series-drought in 2004. Throwing him a high fastball was dangerous, but apparently pitchers could have gotten him out if they had just placed the ball on a golf tee. 

To be fair to Ramirez, it was his first time and Jennifer Mercedes, the one who captured the swing on Instagram, did say that Ramirez was able to get a hold of a few later on in the day. 

Related: David Ortiz pranked with exploding golf ball

One of the newest Red Sox, outfielder Hanley Ramirez, was also at Ortiz's event and showed off his swing. 

 

@hanleyramirez13 and his golf swing. #boston #redsox #Dodgers #MLB #OrtizClassic14 #LaChicaDeportes

A video posted by jennifer mercedes (@lachicadeportes) on

A number of baseball players were at the outing, and you can see how their swings looked in this video from MLB.com. 

 

 

 

 

December 19, 2014 - 9:54am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Gus Andreone
PGA.com
At 103 years old, Gus Andreone is the PGA's oldest member. After his hole-in-one on Wednesday, he's also likely to be the oldest person -- man or woman -- to record an ace.

The news of PGA Professional Gus Andreone's hole-in-one was obviously a big deal. The 103-year-old man recorded the eighth ace of his career on the 113-yard, 14th hole of the Lakes Course at Palm Aire in Sarasota, Fla. But as the news traveled the social waves, it also became clear that this was in all likelihood a record event, that Andreone is the oldest person to record a hole-in-one.

There's no sure way to know, but we can say that nobody older has ever notified a golf institution with proper verfication. 

RELATED: Share your hole-in-one story with PGA.com

Cliff Schrock, Editor at the Golf Digest Resource Center, believes the record is now Andreone's.

"We would see Mr. Andreone's ace as the oldest for male or female golfers if Palm Aire's Lakes Course is indeed a regulation layout. It looks that way to me on their website," Schrock told PGA.com in an e-mail.

Accoridng to Schrock: The oldest male previously was Otto Bucher, 99, of Geneva, Switzerland on the 130-yard 12th hole at La Manga (Spain) Club in January 1985. He noted that 101-year-old Harold Stilson aced the 16th hole (108 yards) in 2001 at Deerfield Country Club in Deerfield Beach, Fla., but that course, however, has nine par-3 holes.

"We stubborn traditionalists don't like to recognize records unless they take place on a regulation course," Schrock said.

As such, Mr. Stilson was listed with an asterisk.

Golf Digest had Elsie McLean as the oldest player for her hole-in-one in 2007 at Bidwell Park Golf course; she was 102.

Andreone has long been a fixture, serving the PGA of America for over 75 years.

There's a wooden statue of Andreone, the creation of Palm Aire club member John Gray, which overlooks the Gus Andreone Practice and Teaching Facility. The statue, presented in 2011 to honor Andreone on his 100th birthday, "symbolizes the humble man's unpretentious affection for the game, his profession and what it means to wake up every day knowing that there's more golf to be played," wrote PGA Senior Association Writer Bob Denney.

Perhaps just as incredible as the ace itself is the length of time between Andreone's first ace and his latest: 75 years. His first came in 1939.

RELATED: Andreone, PGA's oldest member, still going strong at 103 years old

ESPN's SportsCenter even gave Andreone some well-deserved recognition on Twitter:

Here's a video piece we did with Andreone at Palm Aire on Sept. 30, 2011 -- his 100th birthday. At the time, Andreone was the third oldest-living PGA member.

Believe it or not, the 103 years young Andreone still plays golf three times per week.

In the video, Andreone says his "par" for the course these days is "90."

"If I shoot a bogey on every hole, that's a 90," he said.

With that being the case, we can tell you Andreone shot a nifty 7-under 83 (in relation to his par) on Wednesday in the round that included his latest ace.

Wow.

We'll leave you with this beauty from Andreone: "As long as I can swing a club, I'll be playing golf." 

December 18, 2014 - 9:17am
Posted by:
Bob Denney
tj.auclair's picture
Gus Andreone
Bob Denney/PGA
Gus Andreone of Sarasota, Florida, the oldest member of the PGA of America, scored his eighth career hole-in-one on Wednesday.

By Bob Denney
PGA of America

SARASOTA, Fla. (Dec. 17, 2015) -- Gus Andreone of Sarasota, Florida, the oldest member of the PGA of America, said he counts himself among the most blessed golfers. The 103-year-old PGA Life Member recorded his eighth career hole-in-one during a "Wacky Wednesday" golf outing at Palm Aire Country Club.

It is likely that he also now becomes the oldest person to record a hole in one. Previous news reports had the 2007 ace by Elsie McLean as the oldest person to ace a hole at 102.

RELATED: Share your hole-in-one story with PGA.com | NFL QB's rare par-4 ace

Andreone, who plays three times weekly, used a driver from the green tees on the 113-yard No. 14 hole of the Lakes Course. "I hit it solid and the ball then hit the ground about 30 yards from the green and kept rolling, rolling and rolling," said Andreone. "It fell into the hole, which was cut on the right middle part of the green. Miracles do happen once in a while." Andreone pocketed $80 for earning a "skin" in the weekly club event.

The former Secretary of the Tri-State PGA Section, Andreone's playing partners were Palm Aire members Bob Clarke, Wayne Webster and Bob Goldman. Andreone, currently the longest serving PGA member at 75.6 years, won the Pennsylvania Lottery in 1983. He added a pair of wins in the Fantasy Five Lottery games after moving to Florida.

His first hole-in-one came in 1939 and his previous ace before Wednesday was in the 1990s on the No. 17 hole at the Lakes Course.

Andreone was celebrated in the clubhouse by Palm Aire members. He turned in a round of 83, while playing a 4,535-yard layout. "Each day is a blessing and you never know what it will bring," said Andreone.

December 18, 2014 - 8:56am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
golf bloopers
YouTube
This is one of the all-time greatest golf bloopers we've ever seen.

Are you sitting at your desk, staring at the clock, counting down the minutes and seconds to your holiday break?

Us too.

RELATED: The biggest duffs, fluffs, mishits and bad shots of 2014

Luckily, here's a 12-second video you can play on a constant loop sure to keep you entertained for the next two days:

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you one of the greatest (and maybe most painful) golf bloopers of all time:

h/t to GolfDigest.com's Luke Kerr-Dineen