Golf Buzz

May 9, 2014 - 7:46am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler
USA Today Sports Images
Flop shots don't get any better than the one Rickie Fowler pulled off on Thursday at TPC Sawgrass.

The flop shot is one of the most difficult to execute in golf. It requires a full swing, with an open clubface at close range. Chicken out at the last second and you can roll sod over your golf ball.

Get really agressive and miss your spot by mere millimeters? Congratulations. You probably just skulled a wedge and your attempt at a 20-yard shot sailed some 150 yards.

RELATED: Players Championship leaderboard | Kaymer leads after Round 1 | Famous hole-in-three

For years, Phil Mickelson has been the master of the flop shot. On Thursday, in the first round of the Players Championship, Rickie Fowler showed the world he commands the flop shot too.

Fowler got off to a poor start with a double bogey at the first hole. A birdie and a bogey later, he was still 2 over through five holes. Fowler birdied No. 6 and seemed to be gaining momentum, but flew the green with his approach shot at the par-4 seventh hole.

That's when the magic happened. Faced with -- by all counts -- an extremely difficult up and down just to make par, Fowler wowed spectators by executing the perfect flop shot that landed on the green like a feather and rolled into the hole for an unlikely birdie to pull back to even par.

Check it out here:

 

 

Fowler finished the round with a 1-under 71 was eight shots behind first-round leader Martin Kaymer.

Check out this video to see how you can learn to play a flop shot:

 

 

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

Johnny Manziel
Jason Dufner via Twitter
Jason Dufner was thrilled that his hometown Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Manziel.
Just about the time the first round of The Players Championship ended on Thursday, the National Football League draft began. And the PGA Tour players were all in – especially when it came to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
 
"Johnny Football" dominated the chatter – both positive and negative – among the tour players throughout the evening, and his eventual selection by the Cleveland Browns brought a big reaction from Cleveland native Jason Dufner.
 
The Duf most defintely wasn't happy early, when the Browns traded down from No. 4.
 
"Each year I get excited for the Browns draft day, and each year I watch them trade picks and end up drafting less then 6 players," Dufner tweeted. "Awesome!!!"
 
Soon thereafter, Dallas resident Hunter Mahan wondered whether Manziel might be headed to Minnesota. 
 
"I don't think so," replied Billy Horschel. "His style of play doesn't fit with AP [Adrian Peterson] as your running back."
 
Mahan, however, wasn't convinced. "How many Super Bowls has AP won?," he asked. "They need a QB. He needs Manziel."
 
"Don't disagree," Horschel replied to Mahan. "But I don't think Manziel is the right QB."
 
Meanwhile, Ed Loar kicked in a vote for his hometown Cowboys to grab Johnny Football. "Please let Johnny fall to #16," he tweeted. "It'd be awesome to listen to [Dallas sports radio station] @dfwticket if Jerra drafted him!!"
 
That brought this quick response from another DFW denizen, Paul Stankowski: "That's just mean. Please No!"
 
All this brought us down to the ninth pick, which Cleveland got from Buffalo.
 
"You know it, get ready for it!!!," Dufner said, posting a doctored photo of Manziel in a Browns uniform.
 
Mahan agreed: "Johnny football to Cleveland!!"
 
The Browns, however, didn't go there. Instead, they selected defensive back Justin Gilbert from Mahan's alma mater, Oklahoma State.
 
At that point, Horschel tweeted Dufner with a simple: "?????????????????"
 
Dufner was either flabbergasted or dropped his phone, because there was no immediate response.
 
Fort Worth resident J.J. Killeen had an answer, though. His tweet: "Browns? #MistakeByTheLake."
 
Manziel's continuing presence on the draft board brought out some serious anxiety among Cowboys fans who most definitely did not want him in Big D.
 
SMU product and former U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft pleaded: "Please please someone take Johnny Manziel before Jerry Jones gets the opportunity to do something stupid!"
 
Brad Fritsch echoed that sentiment. "Oh my god, PLEASE don't let Johnny Manziel be available when the Cowboys pick," he tweeted. "I like him, he could be great...but please no. #Jerrymove."
 
Horschel, however, predicted that Johnny football would indeed wind up in Dallas. "I think Dallas picks Manziel if he falls to them," he tweeted. "Jerry is a money making man and he knows how much more he will make with Johnny. #texasboy."
 
Killeen then joked that the "Browns are gonna trade up to get that dude from Michigan that @clownejd [Jadeveon Clowney] decapitated" in that now-famous highlight.
 
Then it came time for the Cowboys to pick, and indeed – as some had predicted – Johnny Football almost broke Twitter.
 
--Colt Knost: "Don't do it jerry!!!!"
 
--Cliff Kresge: "Johnny "Dallas Football" Manziel.... Sounds pretty good."
 
--Jason Enloe: "This just in. Cowboys make another bad draft pick.#defensewinschampionships."
 
--Paul Stankowski: "Hahahahhahahahahaaaahaahaa."
 
--Jordan Spieth: "Here it comes.. Are we going to take #Manziel."
 
--Hunter Mahan: "do it Jerry!!!"
 
--Joe Ogilvie: "Draft Johnny Football, trade Tony Romo for a defender."
 
And the Cowboys – passed on Manziel, taking offensive lineman Zack Martin out of Notre Dame instead.
 
--Paul Stankowski : "Whew."
 
--Brad Fritsch: "THANK YOU. Someone locked Jerry in the bathroom without his phone."
 
--Kelly Kraft: "Thank you Jerry!!"
 
--Hunter Mahan: "Wow."
 
--Kyle Thompson: "If I was Johnny Football I'd have my nose buried in a book right now. #nothingtoseehere."
 
--Tom Gillis: "Johnny football better go get a sub or a sandwich. He's could be in for a long haul. @krisblanks [Kris Blanks] might get drafted before him."
 
One person who definitely loved the Cowboys' pick was Dufner. He again tweeted his photo of Manziel in a Browns uniform, and said, "Yes it's happening..."
 
Things calmed down for a few minutes – until Cleveland came up again with the 22nd pick. Manziel was still on the board. 
 
"Hunter Mahan: "Here you go @JasonDufner!!"
 
And, finally, the Browns came through for Dufner and all his fellow long-suffering fans.
 
"Yes!!!!!," Dufner tweeted, quickly followed by: "Yes yes yes yes!!!!!"
 
"Browns are gonna be fun to watch next year!!!!!!," Troy Merritt tweeted.
 
"Pretty sure Cleveland just stole a franchise QB. Worth the risk IMO," Brad Fritsch ‏agreed.
 
One dissenting note came from Ed Loar, who opined: "Cleveland..where QB's go to die."
 
There was no tempering Dufner's enthusiasm, though. He ended his long, nerve-wracking night with one final tweet:
 
 
May 8, 2014 - 1:34pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Justin Leonard
USA Today Sports Images
You can't really begin a round of golf any better than Justin Leonard did at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday.

What's better than starting your round off with a birdie?

Easy -- starting your round off with an eagle. That's precisely what Justin Leonard did on the first hole at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday in the first round of the Players Championship.

RELATED: Remember Fred Couples' hole-in-three? | Players Championship leaderboard

From the middle of the fairway on the 423-yard, par-4 first hole, Leonard -- the 1998 Players Champion -- faced a 147-yard approach shot. He hit as perfect a shot as one can, slam-dunking it into the hole for an eagle and destroying the cup in the process.

The cup was in such rough shape, the grounds crew had to fix it.

See the video here:

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

May 8, 2014 - 11:32am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Fred Couples
USA Today Sports Images
We all know some pars are better than others. But there's never been one as good as the one Fred Couples made on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in the first round of the 1999 Players Championship.

Today's first round of the Players Championship marks the 15th anniversary of one of the craziest pars you'll ever see.

In the first round of the 1999 Players Championship (it was played in the month of March then and remained that way until switching to May in 2007), fan favorite Fred Couples stepped to the tee on the world-famous, par-3, island-green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.

Like many before him -- and countless thousands since then -- Couples splashed his tee shot into the water. Nothing special, unique, or crazy there.

RELATED: Players Championship leaderboard | Photos: Players Championship & more

But what happened next was amazing... arguably even more amazing than when Couples aced the same hole in 1997.

Couples re-teed and, playing his third shot, proceeded to knock that shot into the hole, on the fly, for the most unlikely of pars.

"I don't really know how hard I was trying on my third shot," Couples, a two-time Players Champion, admitted years later (he shot a 77 in that opening round, by the way). "If I don't make that shot, I think I shoot 80, 81 and probably miss the cut. Three days later, I was in fourth place."

Here's the video of that shot:

 

 

And how about the reaction from Couples? Cool as cool gets, just as you'd expect.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

Zach Guthrie
Luke Guthrie via Twitter
Zach Guthrie, who caddies for his brother Luke, took his cut on the island-green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass on Wednesday in the caddie contest won by Chris Callas.

One of the most fun parts of Players Championship Week is the one-hole caddie tournament – on the "island-green" par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.

It was held again on Wednesday, and this year's winner is Chris Callas, who lugs the bag for Shawn Stefani. He hit the winning shot to within 7 feet, 8 inches of the cup.

And the stat you really want to know: Of the 111 caddies to take a swing, a whopping 51 of them hit their shots into the water. (By contrast, 44 players went into the drink during the four rounds of the 2013 Players Championship).

For his victory, Callas received a cash prize (the amount of which wasn't revealed) and, perhaps even better, a VIP parking spot in the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse lot Thursday through Sunday.

Though it's all in fun, the caddie contest honors the memory of Bruce Edwards, the longtime caddie for Tom Watson who died in 2004 from Lou Gehrig's Disease. The PGA Tour players Players contribute to the prize fund and, to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Edwards' death, the PGA Tour itself matched the prize fund and donated that to the Bruce Edwards Foundation.

Here's the reaction from the winner:

 

 

May 7, 2014 - 2:01pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson Show
What would you do if Bubba Watson casually showed up to a golf store and challenged you to a long-drive contest?

While he's been away from the PGA Tour since winning the Masters for the second time in three years, Bubba Watson has been active on Twitter (@bubbawatson) promoting his new, web show, "The Bubba Watson Show."

It looks like there have been three already. But, this latest effort -- uploaded on Tuesday -- is pretty cool.

Watson shows up unannounced to a Golfsmith store, wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Once inside, he challenges staff and customers to a putting contest and then a driving contest on one of the store's simulators.

RELATED: Watson makes first PGA Tour start since winning Masters at Players Championship

While the staff is trying to dig up a PING driver for Watson for the long-drive contest, he encourages the gentleman he's facing to warm up.

"I already played this morning," the man says.

To which Watson replies, "Listen, you're old. You need to go ahead and warm up. You need to warm up. I can tell."

Impressively, the man hits a 250-yard drive. Then Watson, joking about the flex on the driver he's been handed, proceeds to crush one.

"Three-thirty-nine (yards) biggun," Watson brags.

After signing a couple of autographs and sinking a long putt with a hybrid, Watson buys the hybrid as well as a dozen Pro-V1 golf balls before taking off. All in all, a cool video.

Click here to see the video.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.