Golf Buzz

Rickie Fowler and fan
PGA Tour via Twitter
Rickie Fowler played it cool while his shot approached the flag, but his little fan clearly couldn't control his emotions.
 
Rickie Fowler isn't going to win the Tour Championship or the FedExCup today, but this video clip very likely is the best fan reaction shot of the year.
 
Check out how the "little Rickie" on the left reacts to a shot from Fowler, who is impassively watching the shot play out literally inches away from his rabid supporter:
 
September 26, 2015 - 8:07am
mark.aumann's picture
Vardon Trophy
USA Today Sports Images
Jason Day and Jordan Spieth are in a close battle for this year's Vardon Trophy.

There's another on-course battle going on at East Lake Golf Club this weekend between Jordan Spieth and Jason Day that involves one of the oldest and most prestigious awards in golf.

Since 1937, the PGA of America has awarded the Vardon Trophy -- named after legendary British professional Harry Vardon -- to the touring professional with the lowest adjusted scoring average.

VARDON TROPHY: Rory McIlroy wins award in 2014

Heading into the Tour Championship, Spieth had averaged 68.984 strokes per round in 87 total rounds. That's slightly better than Day's 69.163 average over 71 rounds. That's incredibly close -- a difference of .18 strokes over the entire season -- with just four rounds to be tabulated. And in either case, it'll be the first Vardon Trophy for the winner.

The final results will be released on Monday.

The award is based on a minimum of 60 rounds, with no incomplete rounds, in events co-sponsored or designated by the PGA Tour. The adjusted score is computed from the average score of the field at each event.

Rory McIlroy won the Vardon Trophy last season by averaging 68.82 strokes through 66 complete rounds. He edged Sergio Garcia (68.95), who completed 61 rounds. It was his second Vardon Trophy in three seasons. In 2013, Tiger Woods picked up his record ninth Vardon Trophy.

Fourteen players have won multiple Vardon trophies, but surprisingly, Jack Nicklaus is not among that group. Billy Casper and Lee Trevino have five each, while Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead won the Vardon Trophy four times.

The first winner was Harry Cooper in 1937, when the award was based on a point system. It was not awarded during World War II, then switched to adjusted scoring average when it resumed in 1947.

Whistling Straits
The PGA of America
Whistling Straits, which hosted an amazing PGA Championship last month, comes in at No. 27 on the new Top 100 Courses list from Golf Magazine.
 
Most of us will never play all the best courses in the world, but many of us will play some of them. And that's what makes the release of the various Top 100 Courses lists so much fun to pore over.
 
Golf Magazine released its latest biennial list of the Top 100 Courses today, and it's packed with many of the great layouts with which we're all familiar. Interestingly, its list of the top 10 contains many of the same courses as you'll find on the Golf Digest list that came out in January, but in a slightly different order.
 
Here's the brand-new Golf Magazine top 10:
 
1. Pine Valley
2. Cypress Point
3. Augusta National
4. Shinnecock Hills
5. Pebble Beach
6. Oakmont
7. National Golf Links
8. Merion (East Course)
9. Sand Hills
10. Pinehurst No. 2
 
And here's the Golf Digest top 10:
1. Augusta National
2. Pine Valley
3. Cypress Point
4. Shinnecock Hills
5. Merion (East Course)
6. Oakmont
7. Pebble Beach
8. National Golf Links
9. Winged Foot (West Course)
10. Fisher Island
 
At the elite level of these world-class layouts, there is no real difference in quality – it's just a matter of personal preference. Golf Magazine explains that its list is determined by a panel of 100 raters that includes major winners, course architects, journalists and a cadre of connoisseurs who have played all of the world's top 100 courses. There are no set-in-stone criteria they must follow, the magazine says, adding that "we have confidence in their sense of what constitutes 'greatness' in a course."
 
 
For me, one of the most fun parts of perusing the lists is seeing what the raters think of the best new courses and those courses that have undergone significant renovations. A great example is the No. 92-ranked Blue Monster at Trump Doral, which Golf Magazine sums up this way:
 
"An extraordinary makeover from Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner took what had become a tired resort course and turned it into one of the toughest tests on the PGA Tour, a fire-breather that once again lived up to its name. Newly installed teeth in the form of added yardage, altered angles, contoured greens and steeper slopes around the greens have dramatically altered the layout, strengthening it in every way."
 
Another fun thing to do is check out where the various major championship venues rank. For example, 2015 PGA Championship host venue Whistling Straits comes in at No. 27, while 2016 PGA Championship venues Baltusrol (Lower Course) comes in at No. 32. These two courses couldn't be more different in look and attitude, yet they're only five spots apart in the ranking.
 
Okay, no more spoilers from me. Check the list out for yourself. And if you want to compare it to the current Golf Digest list, you can find it here.
 
Scott Piercy
USA Today Sports Images
Scott Piercy had seven bogeys, two birdies and zero pars on his outward nine Friday at East Lake.
 
By the time the PGA Tour whittles its field down to the top 30 for the Tour Championship, that field is pretty much guys who are on top of their games.
 
That includes Scott Piercy – until today. Piercy just played the first nine holes of his second round at East Lake with not a single par on his card. And the thing is, he's not exactly playing bad.
 
 
In his outward 5-over 40, he had seven bogeys and two birdies. He birdied the two par 3s – Nos. 2 and 6 – and bogeyed everything else.
 
Ironically, his playing partner today, Charley Hoffman, carded nine straight pars over those same nine holes.
 
And finally, mercifully, Piercy's streak came to an end on the 10th hole, where he knocked in a two-footer for par.
 
 
Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell hits his second shot on the 13th hole Friday at the European Open.

If ever a round of golf needed a jolt of positivity, it was Graeme McDowell's second round at the 2015 Porsche European Open.

McDowell was hovering near the cutline when he hit his tee shot on the par 4 13th.

That tee shot ended up in some very heavy rough, leaving him with nothing but a lay-up.

"This is bad," the commentator can be heard saying as McDowell hacked through the tall grass.

Then McDowell rallied in a really big way.

 

 

 

Graeme McDowell with the par of the season!

Posted by European Tour on Friday, September 25, 2015

 

 

The effort would help McDowell to a round of 70 and put him at 4-under for the tournament.

He'll be around for the weekend. His memory of this par save will stick around a lot longer than that.

Yoenis Cespedes
Yoenis Cespedes via Twitter
New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has been playing for for less than two years, but clearly has the golf bug.
 
The PGA Tour's playoffs conclude this weekend, but Major League Baseball's pennant races are still going strong. The New York Mets – to the surprise of many, including me – are romping to the division title in the National League East.
 
One big reason for their shocking surge is their midseason acquisition of Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes. Since his arrival via trade at the end of July, the Cuban slugger has hit 17 home runs, driven in 41 runs and prompted some to consider him an MVP candidate as the catalyst for the Mets' unexpected turnaround.
 
Cespedes also won the Home Run Derby before the All-Star Game in both 2013 and 2014 and, at 29, surely has several more good years of baseball ahead of him. Even so, he's already entertaining big ideas for his future in another game – professional golf.
 
 
"I've been thinking about it," he said in a recent profile in The New York Daily News. "If there is an opportunity to play professionally later, maybe not [the PGA Tour], but I would like to play golf professionally." 
 
Cespedes, who only picked up the game 18 months ago, clearly has the golf bug. He says he plays "here [New York], Florida, all places," and often plays with pitcher Jon Niese, his new Mets teammate. 
 
Professional golf, even at the mini-tour level, is an entirely different animal. But Cespedes sounds as confident about his prospects as he does about baseball.
 
"Some people who have been playing golf for years and they learn that I've only played a year and a half, they can't believe it," he says, "and they say, 'Incredible.'"