Golf Buzz

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There are amazing golf stories that you hear sometimes that seem too good to be true, mainly because nobody official was there to witness it.

For example, making birdie-eagle-ace over a three-hole stretch? That's almost too good to be true. Except in this case, it is.

That's because it was done on Feb. 16 at Fresno's Airways Golf Course by none other than retired PGA Professional Steve Menchinella in the company of three other golf professionals. The feat was confirmed in a story you can read here by the Fresno Bee's Bryant-Jon Anteola

According to the story, the 75-year-old Menchinella -- head golf professional at Sunnyside Country Club for 41 years and general manager for 13 -- was playing a casual round one week ago with Kings Country Club professional Tom James, current Sunnyside professional Steve Pellegrine and Kings Country Club director of golf Paul Wightman.

Menchinella's round started off with four routine pars, and then the fun began. He birdied the par-3 fifth hole, then faced a 120-yard approach shot after his drive at the par-4 sixth. He pulled out a 9-iron and the shot went right at the flag and in.

"I can’t see that far, but it seemed like it just disappeared,” Menchinella was quoted as saying in the Bee article. “We went up, saw it went in and we were all laughing and high-fived each other.”

The seventh hole is a 115-yard par 3, so Menchinella used the same 9-iron from the teeing ground. And lo and behold, the ball went in the cup for a hole-in-one.

Three holes. Five shots. Five under par. And by Menchinella's count, his 11th career ace.

“It was by far the neatest thing I’ve seen on the course,” James said in the article. “I think you’d have better odds at winning the Powerball.”

Menchinella finished with a 4-under 67, which also meant he shot eight strokes lower than his age.

“It’s always fun to shoot your age or way under your age,” Menchinella was quoted as saying. “Then to go 5-under in three holes, that was amazing."


Justin Leonard
PGA Tour/YouTube
Justin Leonard walks after his ball after his first putt didn't make it over the ridge on an eagle attempt.

If golf had the equivalent of balls and strikes, it would probably look something like this 2-putt birdie from Justin Leonard.

Leonard was about 60 feet away Saturday with an eagle chance on the first hole at Riviera.

The ridge through the middle of his putt had different ideas and kindly returned the ball to Leonard.

Turns out it didn't matter much.



Lenoard would finish the day at 7-under, tied for 14th going into Sunday's final round.

USA Today Sports Images
Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson had nearly identical lies at the 18th -- and both made huge par-savers.

If you just happened to look at the scorecard, pars for Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy at the 18th hole Saturday at Riviera Country Club doesn't seem like that much of a deal.

But what pars they were.

Both players missed the 18th green on their approach shots, leaving themselves almost identical shots, short-siding the hole in a low area next to the grandstand. With the green sloping quickly away, just getting the ball on the green and taking a two-putt bogey seemed likely. But these are two of the best players in the world -- and with good reason.

Watch this shot by Watson, who was clinging to a one-stroke lead at the time.



McIlroy was several groups in front of Watson when his approach went awry. His recovery nearly hit the flagstick, but rolled several feet by, leaving him with this tricky par-saver.



That puts McIlroy just two shots behind Watson heading into Sunday's final round.

Just a couple of outstanding pars that don't look that impressive on the scorecard.


PGA Tour/YouTube
James Hahn was left with this 61-footer for birdie at No. 3 Thursday.

James Hahn won the 2015 Northern Trust Open, so he knows his way around Riviera Country Club. Even so, when you leave yourself a 61-foot birdie putt, the odds of making it seems pretty far-fetched.

Most amateurs would love to cozy it close and walk off with a two-putt par. But Hahn is no amateur. Watch what he does with this huge right-to-left breaker at the par-3, fourth hole in Thursday's first round.



To quote another famous Han -- Han Solo -- "Never tell me the odds!"

Bubba Watson
USA Today Sports Images
Bubba Watson might be hearing a lot more from son Caleb if Justin Bieber's drum tips pay off.
Bubba Watson is out in Los Angeles this week for the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, and he's taken some time to see some sights. Earlier this week, he dropped by the set of "2 Broke Girls" and met the cast of "Girl Meets World." 
He also got Justin Bieber to show his young son Caleb around a drum set. Nice!
Bubba has long been a "Belieber." He and Bieber have apparently been friends for a few years and, after he won the Masters last year, he told TMZ Sports that he'd love to get the Beebs to sign on as the fifth member of the Golf Boys.
"Obviously I love Justin Bieber, so I'm trying to get him to join the band," he said, "but he's not doing it right now."
Well, maybe this little musical interlude will get the golf ball rolling toward a third Golf Boys video – and the first with a special guest star. The worlds of golf and music can only hope.
Vintage clubs at Northern Trust Open
PGA Tour via YouTube
Players like Rory McIlroy, Stuart Appleby, Anirban Lahiri, Kevin Na, Charley Hoffman and Jamie Donaldson took a few whacks with some classic old clubs at Riviera.
The PGA Tour event now known as the Northern Trust Open is marking its 90th anniversary this year and, to celebrate the occasion, a handful of players stopped by the range to hit some vintage golf clubs from various eras.
Being the old man of the staff, I used persimmon woods when I first started out, and to this day I believe they feel better your hand than any metal club could ever feel. I've also hit a few hickory clubs over the years, and to this day I believe they feel … well, interesting.
So anyway, it was fun to see the reactions of players like Rory McIlroy, Stuart Appleby, Anirban Lahiri, Kevin Na, Charley Hoffman and Jamie Donaldson as they took a few whacks with these classic old clubs. The rapid advances in technology over the past couple of decades means that, as McIlroy said, even the clubs from the 1990s are like antiques to him.
It's too bad the video crew didn't have access to ShotTracker or a Trackman so we could get a definitive view of how far – or short – the balls were flying off these classic sticks. But you could get a pretty good idea based on the players' faces as they watched the balls in flight.
For the record, the tournament – created as the Los Angeles Open – was first played in 1926. The total purse that year was $10,000 – at the time the largest prize in golf – and the inaugural champion was "Lighthorse" Harry Cooper. No doubt even the oldest of the clubs being swung today would have felt pretty good to him.
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