Golf Buzz

January 31, 2015 - 3:05pm
Posted by:
Doug Ferguson
mark.aumann's picture
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods failed to make the cut at this weekend's Waste Management Open in Phoenix.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods, coming off an 82 for his worst round as a pro, will be out of the top 50 in the world ranking for the first time in more than three years.

And if he doesn't turn his game around quickly, he will be ineligible for a World Golf Championship for only the second time in his career.

Woods was No. 1 in the world eight months ago. But after missing most of last year recovering from back surgery, and playing poorly in the few times he did play, Woods made his 2015 debut in the Phoenix Open at No. 47 in the world. He missed the cut by 12 shots.

FRUSTRATING FRIDAY: How Tiger Woods wound up shooting 82 at Phoenix

Woods will be no better than No. 53 next week, and could fall even farther depending on what happens at the Phoenix Open and Dubai Desert Classic. Woods has not been lower than 58th in the world since winning the first of his 79 title on the PGA Tour at the Las Vegas Invitational in October 1996.

He last was out of the top 50 on Nov. 27, 2011. Woods won the Chevron World Challenge the next week and moved up to No. 21.

Woods is playing next week at Torrey Pines, where he is an eight-time winner but last year missed the 54-hole cut. After a two-week break, he then plays the Honda Classic. He will have to be in the top 50 after the Honda Classic to be eligible for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.

The only other WGC event for which Woods didn't qualify was the HSBC Champions in 2011, another year marked by injuries and no wins.

The question as he left Phoenix was how quickly he could turn it around. Woods is in the early stages of a fifth swing change. He left Sean Foley during his four-month break from golf at the end of last year and has hired Chris Como as a consultant.

GENE FRENETTE: Don't give up on Tiger Woods just yet

More startling was his chipping. Woods says he doesn't have a feel for where the bottom of the club should be when he makes contact on his short-game shots. It was embarrassing at times at TPC Scottsdale. He chose to play safer shots along the ground than to get the ball more in the air. When he no option to pitch the ball in the air, he either flubbed it or bladed it.

Woods tied for last with club pro Michael Hopper. Including the 18-man field at the Hero World Challenge in December, he now has tied for last in two straight events.

He was going to attend the Super Bowl in nearby Glendale but instead flew home to Florida on Friday. His plans until he tees it up next week at the Farmers Insurance Open?

"Practice each and every day," Woods said. "Just work on it."

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Francesco Molinari
Francesco Molinari watches the flight of his tee shot on No. 16 Saturday.

The overflow crowd lining the grandstands at the famous 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is there for one thing -- to have a good time. Normally, that includes equal amounts of heckling, alcohol and sunburns.

But they're also there for the golf, hoping to see one of the rarest shots in golf -- a hole-in-one.

AMATEUR HOUR: Golfer in pro-am celebrates making an ace at No. 16 

And on Saturday, Francesco Molinari gave them what they came for. Watch this effort with a pitching wedge from 135 yards out:



Molinari's ace was greeted by a shower of water bottles, beer and other items tossed from the stands, which necessitated a short delay for cleanup before his playing partners could hit their tee shots.

THURSDAY'S HIGHLIGHT: Bubba Watson nearly aces par-4 17th at TPC Scottsdale

The roar was loud enough to be heard by the final group on the second hole. Even nearby residents knew something had happened:




Molinari's hole-in-ace was the ninth since the Waste Management Open moved to TPC Scottsdale in 1987. The last player to do it at No. 16? Jarrod Lyle in 2011.

After his round, Molinari had this to say on Twitter:



January 30, 2015 - 11:50pm
john.holmes's picture
Rickie Fowler
USA Today Sports Images
Want to wager on Rickie Fowler and the Super Bowl in the same bet? You can in Las Vegas this weekend.
Sunday is, of course, the Super Bowl, as well as the final rounds of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Some of the big sports books have created prop bets, where you can wager on golf and the gridiron at the same time. 
Among those offering the hybrid bets, as Will Gray over at the Golf Channel noted, is the WestGate Las Vegas SportsBook. which bills itself as the world's largest race and sports book.
Just to whet your appetite, here's a foursome of their cross-sports wagers for your consideration. To place your bets, of course, you have to go to Vegas:
--Jordan Spieth's final-round score in Phoenix (-32.5) vs. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson's rushing yards
--Rickie Fowler's final-round score in Phoenix (-19.5) vs. New England receiver Brandon LaFell's receiving yards
--Rory McIlroy's final-round score in Dubai (-14.5) vs. Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin's total receiving yards
--Rory McIlroy's number of final-round birdies (Pick 'Em) vs. New England tight end Rob Gronkowski's total number of receptions
The numbers in parentheses indicate that these are spread bets. So, for example, Spieth's final-round score would have to be 33 or more strokes lower than Wilson's rushing total for your bet on Spieth to pay off – or 32 strokes or less for your bet on Wilson to pay off.
And just for the record, the betting lines shown here might have changed since they were issued, and we bring them to your attention for entertainment purposes only.
Keegan Bradley at the Waste Management Phoenix Open
USA Today Sports Images
Keegan Bradley is using a regulation-length Odyssey Versa 90 Sabertooth putter in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
If you haven't seen Keegan Bradley play golf lately, you might have noticed something different this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Bradley carded a cool 6-under 65 Thursday using a regulation-length putter, and followed up with a 73 in the rain on Friday.
In fact, he put his famous long putter away right after the Ryder Cup, and has played exclusively with a conventional putter ever since. After trying a Scotty Cameron Futura X5 Tour Dual Balance putter recently, he's playing an Odyssey Versa 90 Sabertooth putter in Phoenix.
"I haven't touched it. I still travel with it, but I haven't used it or even thought about going back to it," Bradley said of his long putter.
So if he hasn't thought about going back to it, why bring it along?
"I don't know," he admitted. "I heard that Webb [Simpson, who is also making the switch to a regulation-length putter] snapped his putter. I think that's actually smart. I don't know why I travel with it, because I have no plans to use it. I feel like it's a lot of superstition. I can't explain it. You don't have a clue how many superstitions I've got."
The Phoenix Open is Bradley's fourth event since making the switch and he's pleased with the way he's been putting.
"I played China, didn't do very well [tied for 64th at the HSBC Champions]. I actually putted pretty well. Then Tiger's tournament [tied for 3rd at the Hero World Challenge], putted really well, probably the best I putted for a tournament in a long time, as a whole," he explained. "And at Humana [tied for 48th at the Humana Challenge], I putted just okay. I didn't putt bad, didn't putt great. Just middle ground. But, you know, I'm realizing the fact that I'm going to have bad weeks and bad days putting just like I would with the belly putter."
In terms of getting used to his new short putter, Bradley said he's finding both positives and negatives.
"I have so much more touch with my short putter. I feel like I have – best way to explain it, I feel like I have more of the hole to use," he explained. "With the belly putter, I felt like every putt I hit I had to hammer in the back. I couldn't finesse any putts in. I feel like I have more of the hole to work with. 
The downside, he is discovering, is that he has to worry about his set-up much more now than with the belly putter. 
"Now I'm constantly having to be aware of my ball position, where I'm holding the club, my posture," he added. "Those are things I didn't have to worry as much about. There are pluses and minuses to both."
He had one pretty good "plus" on Friday, draining a 49-foot putt for birdie on No. 8. Check it out:
January 30, 2015 - 4:15pm
Michael.Benzie's picture
Rickie Fowler
You Tube, PGA Tour
Rickie Fowler nailed a massive putt of more than 70 feet for eagle on the par-5 third hole Friday.

Rickie Fowler nailed a massive eagle putt of more than 70 feet on the par-5 third hole to make a momentary charge up the leaderboard Friday. He had the eagle 3 as well as a birdie on the sixth hole. With one bogey, he was still climbing the leaderboard after a 2-under 70 on Thursday.

Watch below to see the long putt in dreary conditions at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

SCORES: Waste Management Phoenix Open Leaderboard | Photos


January 30, 2015 - 9:52am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Payne Stewart
PGA of America
Payne Stewart at the 1999 Ryder Cup, one month before his death.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece orginially ran on Oct. 25, 2014, the 15th anniversary of Payne Stewart's tragic death.

It's hard to believe, but Saturday marks the 15th anniversary of the tragic passing of one of golf's most charismatic figures, Payne Stewart.

Stewart, an 11-time PGA Tour winner and three-time major champion, perished in a LearJet plane accident on Oct. 25, 1999, when the cabin lost pressure. All on board died of hypoxia -- a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

The plane, still on auto-pilot, crashed in a field in Mina, S.D., when it eventually ran out of fuel. Stewart's agents Robert Fraley and Van Ardan, and pilots Michael Kling and Stephanie Bellegarrigue, along with Bruce Borland, a highly regarded golf course architect with the Jack Nicklaus design company, also perished.

Stewart was 42 at the time of his death. He was just four months removed from what would prove to be his final major championship victory, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, an incredible tournament where Stewart outlasted a then-majorless Phil Mickelson.

Watch highlights from that '99 U.S. Open here:

The plane incident happened just one month -- nearly to the day -- after Stewart was part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team that mounted a then record-setting, final day, come from behind victory in the 1999 matches at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

That was Stewart's last public appearance and, if ever there was an everlasting way to remember someone, that was it.

Stewart had always been known for two things -- his distinctive clothing (plus-fours and tam-o-shanter hat) and his intensity. Before those 1999 Ryder Cup matches, Stewart mixed things up a bit when he suggested that based on the strength of the European team -- or perceived lack thereof -- they should be caddying for the U.S. team not playing against them.

Harsh, no doubt, but that was Stewart's personality. He loved dishing it out, but also had a heart the size of the Wanamaker Trophy that he won in the 1989 PGA Championship.

In his Sunday singles match, Stewart displayed the type of sportsmanship he'll forever be remembered for. His opponent Colin Montgomerie was having a horrible week with the Boston galleries heckling his every move. With the Ryder Cup already secured late that afternoon for the Americans, Stewart picked up Montgomerie's golf ball on the 18th hole and conceded the match out of courtesy.

It was mature, it was classy, it was the right thing to do. It exemplified the person Payne Stewart had come to be.

During the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Rickie Fowler paid homage to Stewart with his clothing for the first round:

The rememberance by Fowler proved to be good karma. He tied for second at the U.S. Open.


Justin Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champ, also paid tribute to Stewart to Pinehurst back in June. After holing his final putt, Rose gave the famous fist in the air reaction Stewart gave when his winning putt dropped in 1999. You can see video of it here:

To understand just how long Stewart has been gone, here are a few things that have happened since he left us far too early:


- Tiger Woods had just two major championships on his resume before Stewart's passing. Woods has had 12 since.

- Phil Mickelson, major-less before Stewart's passing, has won five of them since.

- Woods (2000, 2002 and 2008) and Retief Goosen (2001, 2004) joined Stewart, Willie Anderson, Alex Smith, John McDermott, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ralph Guldahl, Ben Hogan, Cary Middlecoff, Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Andy North, Hale Irwin, Curtis Strange, Ernie Els and Lee Janzen as the only winners of multiple U.S. Opens.

- Seven Ryder Cups have been played. The U.S. has gone 1-6 over that time, with the lone victory coming in 2008 at Valhalla, when Stewart's dear friend, Paul Azinger, was the U.S. captain.

- And, for the younger crowd, Twitter, Facebook, iPhones, iPods and blogs didn't even exist until well after 1999.

Stewart has been missed and will continue to be missed. Unfortunately, we'll never have the chance to see him captain a U.S. Ryder Cup team -- something that surely would have come to fruition.

Though he passed so young, Stewart left us with so many great on-course memories.

Even still, it's hard to believe it's been 15 years.

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